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Amazon Pulls a Twitch on Google
August 25, 2014
Amazon has inked a deal to acquire Twitch Interactive, a real-time video platform for gamers. Prior to the disclosure, rumors had been building that it was on track to snatch Twitch from Google, which reportedly had been very close to buying it. The pending acquisition was rumored to be for upwards of $1 billion. However, Amazon said it was buying the company for $970 million cash.
SoundCloud to Run Ads, Share the Loot
August 22, 2014
SoundCloud on Thursday launched On SoundCloud, a program that will facilitate advertising on the site. Membership initially is by invitation only; SoundCloud will roll it out to a select number of artists. It later plans to bring on more advertisers and make the program available to the general membership. The announcement sparked a mixed response. "Really dude?" wrote "creator 1,000,001. "Ads?"
Hack Day Produces Oculix, a Mind-Blowing Trip Through the Netflix Catalog
August 21, 2014
A team of Netflix programmers merged the company's videos with the virtual reality capability offered by the Oculus Rift headset as a fun project on Netflix Hack Day. The Oculix media app lets users browse a floating 3D Netflix video catalog using head turning movements and hand gestures. Once a selection is made, the user can watch the video in a VR theater setting.
Nook Redux: Is B&N Shooting Itself in the Foot?
August 21, 2014
After Barnes & Noble bled serious cash trying to create its own Nook e-reading tablets to compete with Amazon's Fire and Apple's iPad -- eventually, scrapping most of the Nook-building unit -- I figured it was pretty much down for the count. Letting Samsung give select tablets the "Nook" brand seemed more like a cry for help them a business decision that had much chance of success.
Netflix Ponies Up for Better TWC Net Connection
August 21, 2014
Netflix on Tuesday announced that it has signed an interconnection agreement with Time Warner Cable, marking the fourth such deal the content provider has signed with a major Internet service provider. Netflix in recent months has signed similar agreements with Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. News of the agreement has raised fresh concerns about the future of Net neutrality.
To Your Health: Intel Inside Your Headphones
August 16, 2014
Intel on Friday announced it is working with rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's SMS Audio to develop earbuds that will monitor users' heart rates. The SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones will have an earhook and will be powered by the user's smartphone. They will be sweat- and water-resistant. The earbuds will be available from SMS Audio in Q4; pricing has not yet been announced.
The New Golden Age of TV
August 15, 2014
Over the top, or OTT, video-streaming service Netflix has been doing something right. Netflix snagged 15 prime-time Emmy nominations for its original series, including best drama for House of Cards and best comedy for Orange Is the New Black. The company launched in 1997 as a DVD-by-mail service and successfully transitioned into becoming the leading online video service.
Vevo Music Videos Get Pinned
August 14, 2014
Pinterest said Wednesday that it has signed a deal that will allow users to create boards that include their favorite Vevo music videos. They now will be able to share, search for and watch Vevo videos on Pinterest, as well as pin videos to Pinterest straight from Vevo.com or the Vevo iOS app. The move is an indication that Pinterest is serious about providing a broader social platform.
Amazon Gives Disney a Swift Kick in the Shins
August 11, 2014
Amazon, which has for some time been locked in a battle with publishing giant Hachette over the pricing of e-books, has broadened the battlefield to take on Disney. It has stopped taking preorders of Disney DVD and Blu-ray discs. Amazon earlier this year stopped taking preorders for Hachette books. It also lengthened delivery times and reduced discounts for books published by Hachette.
NPR One Lets Listeners Hear Radio Their Way
August 06, 2014
NPR last week launched a mobile app that gives modern listeners a new way to access personalized radio content. NPR One provides mobile device users a stream of news stories based on their preferences. They can curate a playlist of their favorite NPR podcasts -- such as Fresh Air, for instance -- as well as stories aired on their local public radio station.
PlayStation Now Hints at Bright Game-Streaming Future
July 31, 2014
Sony's PlayStation Now has entered open beta, making it available for the first time to all PlayStation 4 owners in the U.S. and Canada. The game-streaming service had been in a private beta period since January. PS4 users now can choose from more than 100 titles for rental periods from four hours to 90 days. Pricing ranges from $2.99 to $19.99, with a $1.99 option coming in a few weeks.
Swell Deal Could Give Apple Something to Talk About
July 29, 2014
It appears Apple is close to acquiring talk radio app Swell for $30 million. Much of Swell's development team reportedly will be joining Apple, and the app is expected to be shut down sometime this week. Although Swell managed to raise $7.2 million from the likes of DFJ, Google Ventures and InterWest Partners, it hasn't been able to get much traction in the crowded iTunes App Store.
Google May Give YouTube a Sibling
July 25, 2014
Google apparently is adding another prominent streaming video service to nestle alongside YouTube in its stable. It reportedly has acquired Twitch for around $1 billion. When the deal will be announced and the official purchase price are not yet clear, though Twitch investors are said to be pleased with their return. Twitch allows gamers to stream their gameplay and commentary to others.
Linux Gaming: If You Build It, Will They Come?
July 25, 2014
For long-suffering Linux users who have endured the dearth of high-quality action games on their open source desktops, the wait for better game developer support soon may be over. New technology is making Linux more attractive to game makers. Until now, game makers have relied primarily on Windows PCs and gaming consoles powered by proprietary alternatives to the Linux OS.
Pay TV Could Find a Silver Lining in the Looming OTT Cloud
July 23, 2014
The video content industry long has relied on pay-TV services as a significant revenue source, but digital technologies -- namely OTT services -- are impacting pay-TV rights and revenues. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. broadband households now own one or more devices capable of delivering online content to TV sets, and younger viewers have altered their video consumption habits accordingly.
Nvidia's Shield Tablet Earns Praise for Hardware, Shrugs for Games
July 22, 2014
Nvidia is expanding its Shield line of gaming products with the launch of a gaming tablet and accompanying wireless controller. Designed for high performance, the tablet is powered by Nvidia's Tegra K1 processor, which includes 192 graphics processing unit cores. It will be frequently updated with software updates designed to draw stronger performance and additional capabilities from the hardware.
Dish's Hopper DVR Is No Aereo
July 17, 2014
Dish Network this week chalked up another legal victory for its Hopper DVR service. An appeals court rejected Fox's bid to disallow some features in the Hopper platform, namely the place-shifting capabilities of Dish Anywhere and Hopper Transfers. Dish Anywhere gives Hopper customers the option to view content remotely from Internet-connected devices like tablets, smartphones and computers.
Super Smash Bros. Packs In 3 More Fighters
July 14, 2014
Blockbuster fighting game series Super Smash Bros. is expanding its ranks with the addition of three new characters. The fourth title in the series will continue the tradition of pitting characters from a string of Nintendo franchises against each other. The latest to join the cast are Lucina and Robin from Fire Emblem: Awakening and Captain Falcon of F-Zero fame.
Aereo Aims to Make Lemonade From Supreme Court's Lemons
July 11, 2014
After the Supreme Court appeared to deliver a death blow to Aereo, it has latched onto a part of the Court's decision in an effort to stay alive. The Court determined that Aereo flouted copyright rules by retransmitting programming without a license. Aereo let users watch broadcast TV over the Internet for a monthly fee. Its goal was to give consumers greater TV-viewing flexibility.
Nadella Spells Out Microsoft's Bold Ambitions
July 10, 2014
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Thursday mapped out his vision for the company's future, emphasizing cloud and mobile computing, in a letter to all employees. "More recently, we have described ourselves as a 'devices and services' company. While the devices and services description was helpful in starting our transformation, we now need to hone in on our unique strategy," Nadella wrote.
Reading Rainbow Finds Pot of Gold
July 07, 2014
Reading Rainbow's Kickstarter campaign hit a significant milestone last week: It not only raised the $1 million it originally sought to create a Web version of the popular children's television show within the first 24 hours of the campaign, but also wrapped the 35-day effort with an additional $4.4 million for a grand total of $5,408,916 in donations. The project was organized by LeVar Burton.
Google's in the Mood for Songza
July 02, 2014
Google has acquired music-streaming service Songza, adding to its portfolio of streaming media properties. Songza provides custom music playlists intended to match whatever situation listeners find themselves in, effectively providing a fitting soundtrack to their lives. Users select playlists based on time of day, genre, current activity or ambiance.
Yahoo Saves Greendale in 'Community' Rescue
July 02, 2014
Fans of the sitcom Community have cause to celebrate after Yahoo renewed the show for a sixth season. Creator and showrunner Dan Harmon has signed on, along with seven core cast members. The season will have at least 13 episodes and will air weekly starting this fall. NBC ran the show, which centers on the fictional Greendale Community College, for five seasons before canceling it.
YouTube Adds More Tools to Creators' Belts
July 01, 2014
YouTube last week announced the addition of new bells and whistles for videographers, apparently to encourage them to create more high-quality content. Among the new tools is a creator studio smartphone app for viewing analytics and managing channels, among other things. An updated audio library offers thousands of royalty-free sound effects, along with more free songs.

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