ByteDance Buys Startup Pico, Virtual Reality Headset Maker

TikTok parent company ByteDance has acquired startup Pico, which, according to IDC, was the third largest virtual reality headset manufacturer worldwide in Q1 2021, with shipments growing 44.7. percent year-over-year. The purchase marks ByteDance’s first step into virtual reality and the company said that Pico’s “comprehensive suite of software and hardware technologies, as well as the talent and deep expertise of the team, will support both our entry to the VR space and long-term investment in this emerging field.” Continue reading ByteDance Buys Startup Pico, Virtual Reality Headset Maker

ATSC Meets in Washington to Report on NextGen TV Rollout

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), after a year-long hiatus, resumed in-person meetings on August 26 in Washington D.C. The all-day event (also streamed for remote viewing) updated the progress made to deploy the ATSC 3.0 DTV standard (NextGen TV), which will also enable distance learning and automotive applications. ATSC president Madeleine Noland noted that sales of ATSC 3.0 televisions are “now exceeding previous expectations.” For the first time, ATSC 3.0 sets at lower price points are becoming available. Continue reading ATSC Meets in Washington to Report on NextGen TV Rollout

Facebook Steps into Workplace VR with Horizon Workrooms

During the COVID-19 pandemic, IDC reported that Facebook sold more Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets than before. Now Facebook offers Quest 2 owners Horizon Workrooms, a free VR service that offers virtual meeting rooms. Users can participate with a customized cartoon avatar and the room offers virtual white boards for drawing and writing, a step towards what chief executive Mark Zuckerberg dubs the “mixed-reality future” for its 3.5 billion users. Zuckerberg introduced Workrooms in VR with employees and reporters in attendance. Continue reading Facebook Steps into Workplace VR with Horizon Workrooms

Sony’s Funimation Pursues Anime with Crunchyroll Purchase

AT&T closed the sale of its anime streamer Crunchyroll to Sony’s Funimation Global Group for $1.175 billion in cash. Funimation is a joint venture between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment subsidiary Aniplex. According to Sony Pictures chair and chief executive Tony Vinciquerra, the goal is to “create a unified anime subscription experience as soon as possible.” The two services will remain separate initially. Crunchyroll currently has 5+ million paying subscribers globally and 120 million registered users in 200+ countries. Continue reading Sony’s Funimation Pursues Anime with Crunchyroll Purchase

Vizio Upgrades Content, Navigation, Discovery for WatchFree

Vizio refreshed its WatchFree+ streaming service (that now sports a plus sign) with a new look, customized recommendations and new navigation features to improve search and discovery. Also on tap is a programming guide with hundreds of free channels across multiple genres and a “featured” category for seasonal content, themed collections, pop-up channels for limited time programming and Vizio-exclusive custom-curated channels including Fork and Flight for food and travel and Investigation for true-crime shows. Continue reading Vizio Upgrades Content, Navigation, Discovery for WatchFree

Samsung Profits, Revenues Climb with Semiconductor Sales

In Q2 2021, Samsung Electronics posted a 73 percent increase in net profit to about $8.37 billion (9.63 trillion won), and a revenue increase of 20 percent to 63.57 trillion won, both numbers surpassing analyst expectations. Although the South Korean company’s sales of smartphones was relatively weak, its semiconductors — used by Apple and Sony among others — were snapped up by Big Tech companies churning out PCs, servers and other devices requiring chipsets. Samsung’s chip division saw upticks in operating profit and revenue. Continue reading Samsung Profits, Revenues Climb with Semiconductor Sales

Valve to Launch Steam Deck Handheld Device for PC Games

This December, Washington-based game company Valve will debut its long-anticipated Steam Deck, a handheld device for PC gaming with models priced at $399 with 64GB of eMMC storage, $529 with 256GB of NVMe SSD, and the top-of-the-line $649 version with 512GB of high-speed NVMe SSD storage. Steam Deck is additionally being promoted as a handheld PC, allowing users to install and operate web browsers, other game stores (including Epic Games Store) and other video streaming services. It can also be connected to a keyboard and mouse and offers a cloud saving feature. Continue reading Valve to Launch Steam Deck Handheld Device for PC Games

Nintendo’s New Switch Features OLED Display, More Storage

On October 8, Nintendo will debut a new $350 Switch, the first major hardware upgrade to the console originally introduced in 2017 for $299. Available in time for holiday season sales, the new Switch will feature a larger 7-inch OLED screen and 64GB of onboard storage, double the original, as well as improved audio and an adjustable stand and dock. What consumers will not find, however, is an upgrade to a 4K display, a highly anticipated feature that would match the console offerings from Microsoft and Sony. Continue reading Nintendo’s New Switch Features OLED Display, More Storage

Chip Shortage Continues to Have an Impact Across Industries

Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger revealed it may take two years to ramp up chip production, while Advanced Micro Devices chief executive Lisa Su noted that her company is prioritizing high-end chips found in a PlayStation 5 game console or Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card over “lower-powered parts.” The auto manufacturing sector has been hit hard by the semiconductor shortage — with some indicating no end in sight. At John Deere, chief technology officer Jahmy Hindman said that he expects “we’re into this for the next 12 to 18 months.”  Continue reading Chip Shortage Continues to Have an Impact Across Industries

Shortage of Integrated Circuits Will Drive Up Cost of Displays

Sales of televisions, laptops, tablets and other electronic devices have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people switched to working and learning online. It also sparked a shortage of semiconductors that is now predicted to last until 2023. NPD reported that, also as a result of the shortage, prices of larger TV sets have skyrocketed about 30 percent year-over-year from last summer, and some manufacturers of tablets and other devices relying on chips are warning about imminent price increases due to shortages. Continue reading Shortage of Integrated Circuits Will Drive Up Cost of Displays

Apple, Epic Games Trial to Determine Anticompetition Charge

The lawsuit between Apple and Epic Games has come to trial and is expected to last about three weeks. Epic sued the Big Tech company over its App Store rule that developers must use its payment system, for which it charges a 30 percent fee. Epic Games has also sued tech giant Google for the same issue on its Play Store. The European Union has similarly charged Apple with violating antitrust laws. At the trial, Epic’s lawyers will argue a legal theory that Apple is using its dominant position to stifle competition. Continue reading Apple, Epic Games Trial to Determine Anticompetition Charge

Microsoft Lowers Share with Game Developers to 12 Percent

Microsoft just slashed the revenue cut it takes from PC games on Windows from 30 percent to 12 percent, effective August 1, in a move to lure more game developers to its platform. Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty said that, “a clear, no-strings-attached revenue share means developers can bring more games to more players and find greater commercial success from doing so.” The change will not affect Xbox console games. Microsoft’s new revenue split is the same that Epic Games offers to PC game developers. Continue reading Microsoft Lowers Share with Game Developers to 12 Percent

Sony Unveils 4K Streaming Service for Latest Bravia XR TVs

Sony debuted its Bravia Core (the ‘CORE’ stands for ‘Centre of Real Entertainment’), a 4K streaming service exclusive and free to owners of its 2021 Bravia XR TVs. Its content draws from the Sony Pictures library for new releases and older movies. Sony stated that Core provides lossless 4K streaming at a much higher bitrate than Netflix and other streaming services,” HDR, DTS sound and “the largest IMAX Enhanced movie collection.” The service, accessed through the Bravia Core app, is not available on older Sony smart TVs or other devices. Continue reading Sony Unveils 4K Streaming Service for Latest Bravia XR TVs

TV Maker Vizio Goes Public on the New York Stock Exchange

Irvine, California-based smart TV maker Vizio had its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange last week, offering 12.25 million shares priced at $21, valuing the company at about $3.9 billion. Vizio chairman and chief executive William Wang, who founded the company in 2002, is focused on the SmartCast streaming platform. Among smart TVs in North America, Vizio is second only to Samsung. Vizio’s platform business grew four-fold from 2018 to 2020, to $147.2 million, with total revenue topping $2 billion in 2020. Continue reading TV Maker Vizio Goes Public on the New York Stock Exchange

Game Platform Roblox Goes Public, Now Valued at $45 Billion

Gaming platform Roblox went public on Wednesday and saw its shares rise from a reference price of $45 to $69.50, valuing the company at $45 billion. A year ago, the company was valued at $4 billion. The NPD Group reported that a record-breaking $56.9 billion was spent on gaming in the U.S. in 2020, up 27 percent from 2019. Sony enjoyed a 62 percent rise in profit, and Microsoft recorded a first-ever $5 billion in quarterly gaming revenue. In a hot gaming market, Roblox delayed its listing to more accurately price its shares. Continue reading Game Platform Roblox Goes Public, Now Valued at $45 Billion

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