Apple Needs to Secure Key Music Deals Before Beats Launch

Apple is expected to launch its Beats Music streaming service at next month’s developers conference, but the tech giant has not been able to finalize deals with several of the major music labels yet. Originally, Apple tried to negotiate favorable deals with music labels that would allow the company to sell Beats Music for $2 to $5 less per month than the industry standard $10. Meanwhile, Jay Z’s new streaming service, Tidal, claims its deals give artists four times the royalty rate of Spotify. Continue reading Apple Needs to Secure Key Music Deals Before Beats Launch

Amazon’s New Kindle Voyage E-Reader a Hit with Reviewers

The Kindle Voyage, the latest e-reader from Amazon, hit stores Monday, and reviewers from numerous publications are saying that this may be the best e-reader yet. The Voyage is the thinnest Kindle yet at only 7.6 millimeters thick. New features that enhance the reading experience include a PagePress function to turn pages, a high-contrast and high-resolution display of 330 pixels per inch, and an adaptive front light. The only drawback for some consumers may be the $199 price tag. Continue reading Amazon’s New Kindle Voyage E-Reader a Hit with Reviewers

Spotify Lowers Music Streaming Prices with Family Discount

Subscription music service Spotify introduced a new family plan that will allow subscribers to add up to four more Spotify accounts for half-price. Under the new plan, Spotify would charge $10 for the primary account holder and $5 for each additional account holder. Other streaming music services are also trying to lower prices as CD and download sales continue to plummet. Apple, which owns the Beats Music streaming service, is negotiating with record labels to cut prices. Continue reading Spotify Lowers Music Streaming Prices with Family Discount

New Matter’s MOD-t Makes 3D Printing Easy and Affordable

Startup New Matter, led by veteran engineer Steve Schell, has developed a $250 3D printer called the “MOD-t.” New Matter’s digital platform may be as groundbreaking as the low-cost hardware itself. Schell found three obstacles with 3D printers: first, they are too complicated for ordinary people to experiment with; second, it is hard to find high-quality objects to print; and third, the price is prohibitive. New Matter has created a printer that may be simple and affordable enough for most consumers. Continue reading New Matter’s MOD-t Makes 3D Printing Easy and Affordable

Is the Amazon-Hachette Dispute About More Than Book Sales?

Amazon is making books unavailable for pre-ordering and extending shipping times due to its dispute with one of the country’s largest publishers, Hachette Book Group. These tactics put pressure on Hachette as the two companies negotiate new terms of a deal for Amazon to sell the publisher’s books online. Amazon wants to increase its cut of the sales from Hachette books and e-books. In a statement Tuesday night, the online retailer said it does not expect the dispute to be resolved any time soon. Continue reading Is the Amazon-Hachette Dispute About More Than Book Sales?

Ultra HD: Consumer Adoption on the Rise with Lower Prices

New data from analyst IDC finds that shipments of 4K televisions have reached over one million per month and are projected to reach upward of 15.2 million for 2014. Consumer adoption is on the rise as the average selling price has dropped 85 percent worldwide in the last two years, from $7,851 in 2012 to $1,120 in 2014. A new report from BI Intelligence predicts a faster adoption curve than HDTV, with 4K TVs to be found in more than half of North American homes within 10 years. Continue reading Ultra HD: Consumer Adoption on the Rise with Lower Prices

YouTube in Talks to Acquire Video Game Streaming Site Twitch

Google-owned YouTube is reportedly in active discussions to purchase live video-game streaming service Twitch. While Variety indicates a deal has already been reached for more than $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal more conservatively reports that the two companies are in talks, but in the early stages of a potential deal. Twitch was launched in 2011 by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear, the co-founders of Justin.tv, which was one of the first sites to live-stream user-generated video. Continue reading YouTube in Talks to Acquire Video Game Streaming Site Twitch

Report: UHD TV to Reach One-Third of U.S. Households by 2020

According to a new report from Strategy Analytics, Ultra High-Definition is poised for rapid adoption in the U.S., with a projected 33 percent of households expected to have UHD TV sets by 2020. The report, “Ultra High-Definition TV Displays: Global Market Forecast: 2012-2020,” predicts that North America will become the leading region in UHD penetration by 2020, and entry level prices for UHD TVs will drop below $2,000 this year from one or more of the major brands. Continue reading Report: UHD TV to Reach One-Third of U.S. Households by 2020

Google Glass Available to All, IHS Breaks Down Materials Cost

Google announced Tuesday evening that its Google Glass product, although still in beta, is now available to anyone in the U.S. while supplies last. IHS released a product breakdown of Glass, and says that the cost of hardware and manufacturing is approximately $152, a small fraction of the product’s $1500 selling price. While IHS did note nonmaterial expenses such as software development, engineering and tooling, Google claims that the IHS cost estimate is “wildly off.” Continue reading Google Glass Available to All, IHS Breaks Down Materials Cost

GM Scheduled to Launch Cars Equipped with 4G LTE Service

General Motors released prices for its first vehicles equipped with built-in LTE 4G, essentially turning the cars into rolling Wi-Fi hot spots. The automaker will launch its 2015 models in the next month, and plans to release more than 30 new vehicles with LTE broadband connectivity, as well as numerous new communications, safety, and navigation services. The communications service will be provided by AT&T, and the cars will come with a free, three-month trial with three gigabytes of data. Continue reading GM Scheduled to Launch Cars Equipped with 4G LTE Service

AT&T Could Reach $50 Billion Deal for DirecTV in Two Weeks

AT&T is close to striking a $50 billion deal to acquire satellite TV provider DirecTV, according to people familiar with the matter. An agreement between the two companies involving a mix of cash and AT&T stock could be reached within two weeks. Insiders say the two sides are discussing a share price for DirecTV in the low to mid-nineties (at $95 a share, such a deal would value DirecTV at almost $48 billion). The deal comes as AT&T considers video distribution a potentially key initiative for its future. Continue reading AT&T Could Reach $50 Billion Deal for DirecTV in Two Weeks

FedEx Responds to E-Commerce Boom with Increased Pricing

While FedEx has traditionally charged to ship packages based solely on weight, the company has changed its policy to also price packages according to size. The move is expected to increase the price of over a third of FedEx’s U.S. ground shipments, and dramatically impact e-commerce companies. The next question is whether or not UPS will follow FedEx’s lead and consider a new pricing strategy as well. In the past, UPS and FedEx have kept similar pricing, rather than use pricing as a competitive advantage. Continue reading FedEx Responds to E-Commerce Boom with Increased Pricing

Netflix Raises Monthly Subscription Rate for New Customers

Netflix has raised its monthly price for new subscribers by $1 to $8.99, marking its first price increase in three years. CEO Reed Hastings recently announced that a price increase would likely be necessary to meet the rising costs of movies and TV shows. The video streaming service introduced a new $7.99 plan for subscribers not concerned with high-definition or the ability to stream programs on multiple devices, while a $11.99 premium plan lets users stream shows to four devices at once. Continue reading Netflix Raises Monthly Subscription Rate for New Customers

Samsung Works to Stay Atop Competitive Smartphone Market

Top smartphone maker Samsung Electronics lost global market share for the first time in four years, falling to 31.2 percent of the market. Samsung’s profit margin on smartphones remained at the same 19.8 percent from last year, but the rising costs of smartphone component parts will make it difficult to maintain the same profits. Meanwhile, Apple’s market shares are also slipping, as affordable alternatives from Lenovo and Huawei are on the rise in the smartphone market. Continue reading Samsung Works to Stay Atop Competitive Smartphone Market

Sprint in Talks with Banks to Fund Acquisition of T-Mobile

Sprint is reportedly meeting with five different banks, including JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, to expedite its bid for rival T-Mobile. Insiders say that Sprint, which is owned by Japan’s SoftBank, hopes to finance much of T-Mobile’s estimated $50 billion price with corporate bonds. The remaining amount would likely be covered by syndicated loans and convertible bonds. Sprint, which is also working to ease regulatory concerns regarding the deal, is expected to make a formal offer by June or July. Continue reading Sprint in Talks with Banks to Fund Acquisition of T-Mobile

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