Spotify Intros Its Own Voice Assistant for Popular Music App

Audio streaming service Spotify unveiled a voice assistant with the wake phrase “Hey Spotify” on Android and iOS. Unlike other voice assistants, the app must be open to work; it will play a song, pull up a playlist and tune into a radio station as well as skip and pause. App researcher Jane Manchun Wong reported that the mobile version of the feature has been in the works for at least a year. It is enabled via the “settings” button in the Spotify app where the user turns on “voice interactions.” Spotify is now facing privacy questions. Continue reading Spotify Intros Its Own Voice Assistant for Popular Music App

Huawei Feels Pinch of U.S. Sanctions, Ericsson Contests Ban

Huawei Technologies’ revenue in 2020 Q4 dropped 11.2 percent to 220.1 billion yuan (about $33.6 billion) from a year earlier. For 2020, revenue grew 3.8 percent to a record-breaking 891.4 billion yuan, but the Q4 drop represents how U.S. sanctions inked in September have made it difficult for Huawei to source advanced chips. Huawei revealed it was one of its slowest years ever for revenue growth. Swedish company Ericsson has been the biggest beneficiary, now surpassing Huawei’s cellular equipment sales. However, the company is defending Huawei, citing the importance of free trade. Continue reading Huawei Feels Pinch of U.S. Sanctions, Ericsson Contests Ban

MPAA Reports on Threat of Geolocation Piracy to Streaming

The Motion Picture Association submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative stating that VPNs, DNS masks and Tor networks can be a direct threat to legitimate streaming services. MPAA membership has been limited to top Hollywood studios such as Disney and Warner Bros. but that changed last year when Netflix joined. The mission, however, remains the same, which is to deter global piracy. The association goes after copyright infringers, be they site owners or app developers, and is also involved in lobbying. Continue reading MPAA Reports on Threat of Geolocation Piracy to Streaming

Spotify’s Ad Business and User Activity Are Trending Upward

With the COVID-19 pandemic, music streaming and media services provider Spotify Technology experienced deep losses in the quarter ending June 30 including declines in daily active users and listening time as well as payroll taxes that were higher than expected. Now the Stockholm-based company reported that its advertising business is improving just as its listeners’ time spent on the app reached pre-pandemic levels. In fact, by the end of the same quarter, all regions served by Spotify — with the exception of Latin America — returned to those levels. Continue reading Spotify’s Ad Business and User Activity Are Trending Upward

Huawei Inks 40 Contracts to Build and Operate 5G Networks

Huawei Technologies has inked 40 commercial contracts for 5G technology, leading its Q1 revenue to leap 39 percent to 179.7 billion yuan ($26.8 billion). The Chinese company also stated that it has shipped about 70,000 5G base stations, making it a leading supplier of 5G gear. Huawei’s net-profit margin rose a bit to 8 percent. The company also introduced what it calls the world’s first 5G-communication hardware for the auto industry. Its MH5000 module is built on its newly launched Balong 5000 5G chip. Continue reading Huawei Inks 40 Contracts to Build and Operate 5G Networks

Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Apple Music now has more paid subscriptions in the U.S. than popular music streamer Spotify, as the global competition ramps up between the two rivals. According to those familiar with the matter, Apple Music surpassed 28 million U.S. subscribers by February, compared to Spotify’s 26 million subscribers (the figures only include paid subscriptions, not trial users). When including nonpaying music fans of its ad-supported offering, Spotify still holds the lead in the number of overall users in the U.S. To slow Apple’s progress, Spotify recently introduced new promotions, such as a discounted subscription bundle with Hulu. Continue reading Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Spotify Commits to Podcast Network With Major Acquisitions

Streaming music giant Spotify has signaled its commitment to building a leading podcast network with strategic acquisitions of podcast publishing platform Anchor and podcast content creator Gimlet Media. The purchases are part of the company’s plan to produce more original programming, grow Spotify’s audience, and eventually become the top global audio platform. Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek predicts that expanding podcast offerings will lead to a future in which non-music audio content will represent 20 percent of listening via Spotify. Continue reading Spotify Commits to Podcast Network With Major Acquisitions

‘Angry Birds FPS’ Offers New Experience for Magic Leap One

Magic Leap says its newly released Magic Leap One Creator Edition mixed reality glasses are “like living in the future ahead of everyone else.” Journalists got a sneak peek of the mixed reality “Angry Birds” on the Magic Leap goggles. On October 9-10 at the first L.E.A.P. developers conference in Los Angeles, the company will show off more apps and more of the interface. One reviewer added that the company is “taking a leap of faith” that the applications will be compelling enough to convince many users to shell out $2,295. Continue reading ‘Angry Birds FPS’ Offers New Experience for Magic Leap One

Spotify Licensing Deals Could Have Impact on Music Industry

Stockholm-based Spotify is making a move that could challenge traditional royalty models and the major record labels that have long led the music industry. Spotify has struck licensing deals directly with a handful of independent artists over the last year, giving the artists a larger monetary cut and ownership of their recordings. The financial details include advance payments of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to sources, considered “modest” in the music industry. Spotify has released few details about the deals. Continue reading Spotify Licensing Deals Could Have Impact on Music Industry

2018 FIFA World Cup Is Shattering Live-Streaming Records

Streaming video tech company Akamai, which has been supporting live streaming for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, reports that the tournament is the largest sporting event in which the company has been involved. The World Cup from Russia has experienced a major increase in live-streaming traffic, with the first 10 days surpassing traffic for all 64 matches of the 2014 event in Brazil. According to Akamai, the current tournament has delivered more than twice the streaming video traffic of four years ago and more than 15 times the video delivered in 2010. Continue reading 2018 FIFA World Cup Is Shattering Live-Streaming Records

Instagram Users Can Feature Popular Music in Their Stories

Instagram Stories, which currently touts 400 million daily users, now offers a new feature that enables users to add clips of popular songs to their photos and videos. The feature is initially available to Android and iOS users in six countries (including the U.S.), with plans to roll out to additional regions soon. Facebook’s recent deals with major and indie music labels will enable Instagram users to select up to 15 seconds of music from the likes of Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Demi Lovato and Maroon 5 to create soundtracks for each post. Continue reading Instagram Users Can Feature Popular Music in Their Stories

New YouTube Premium and Music Services Go International

On Monday, YouTube increased international distribution of YouTube Premium, with its streaming hit “Cobra Kai” and other original content — and YouTube Music, with the Beatles’ album catalog. Both services have been available in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and South Korea, and the move represents a major push into international territories. YouTube Music, which is offered as an ad-supported free service or as the subscription-based Music Premium, is now available in both forms in the U.K. Continue reading New YouTube Premium and Music Services Go International

Vestberg Named Next Verizon Chief Exec, McAdam to Retire

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam announced he plans to step down from his position on August 1, at which point Hans Vestberg will take over as chief exec. Vestberg joined Verizon last year as the company’s chief technology officer and EVP and president of Global Networks, after serving for seven years as CEO of Swedish telecom and networking company Ericsson. McAdam has been Verizon’s CEO since August 2011 and its chairman since January 2012. He will remain executive chairman until the end of the year and serve as non-executive chairman thereafter. Continue reading Vestberg Named Next Verizon Chief Exec, McAdam to Retire

PayPal to Acquire European Payments Startup iZettle for $2.2B

PayPal plans to make the largest purchase in its history: $2.2 billion for Stockholm-based financial tech startup iZettle. The purchase puts PayPal in thousands of brick-and-mortar retail shops around the world, and sharpens its rivalry with Square, which focuses on small businesses with physical locations. Dubbed the “Square of Europe,” iZettle produces technology and devices that allow almost half a million businesses in a dozen European countries, Brazil and Mexico to accept credit cards. Continue reading PayPal to Acquire European Payments Startup iZettle for $2.2B

Spotify Expands Free Offerings, Looks to Extend Market Lead

Spotify is offering more free music in an effort to ultimately increase its number of paid subscribers. The popular streaming service has introduced an updated version of its free mobile app that offers non-paying users more on-demand tracks from 15 pre-populated playlists. Some of the playlists — such as “Discover Weekly” — are personalized for individual users. Spotify, already the world’s largest paid music service (and now a public company), is expanding its freemium model with the goal of one day reaching billions of users, while maintaining its lead over #2 subscription service Apple Music and other competitors. Continue reading Spotify Expands Free Offerings, Looks to Extend Market Lead

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