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Facebook Aims to Blaze New Gaming Trail on iPads
June 17, 2014
Facebook on Monday unveiled an iPad app update designed to make the site a hub for game, video and content discovery. A new panel appears on the right-hand side of the iPad providing news and entertainment. Games are heavily featured. More than 70 percent of Facebook for iPad users played a Facebook-connected game in the past 90 days, the company noted.
Beats Debuts Brawn-Friendly Bluetooth Earphones
June 12, 2014
To stay in tune with new owner Apple's frequent product updates, Beats is expanding its line of audio devices. Powerbeats 2 Wireless is the company's first set of wireless earphones. Designed with athletes in mind, they offer the signature Beats audio quality that fans have come to expect. Miami Heat basketball player LeBron James was involved in developing the Powerbeats 2 Wireless earphones.
Sony Storms Out of the E3 Gate
June 10, 2014
Sony laid down its markers for PlayStation's months and years ahead with a slew of announcements at the E3 gaming trade show. PlayStation 4 has been handily outselling Xbox One since the consoles launched at the end of 2013. E3 is a key battleground for Sony and Microsoft, as they reveal upcoming software and hardware to entice new customers or keep existing users plugged into their ecosystems.
DoJ to Brush Cobwebs Off Music Licensing Agreements
June 06, 2014
The U.S. Department of Justice this week said it would review long-held agreements with two major performing-rights organizations with an eye to updating them to reflect the climate of the music industry more accurately. The DoJ's agreements with ASCAP and BMI have been in place for more than 70 years. The consent decrees were last updated in 2001 and 1994 respectively.
Amazon Plans to Stream Music to Prime Members' Ears
May 30, 2014
Amazon reportedly is gearing up to launch a streaming music service this summer, taking on competitors like Pandora and Spotify. The streaming service would be part of Amazon's $99 per year Prime service, which offers subscribers free two-day shipping on many items, video streaming and an e-book lending library. The digital catalog would be limited to titles that are at least six months old.
The Real Reason Apple Bought Beats: Addiction
May 30, 2014
I get the sense that a good many Apple enthusiasts are confused by its acquisition of Beats Electronics. Sure, many are nodding their heads, saying that Beats is good for Apple and makes total sense. The headphones are selling well. With 250,000 paying subscribers, the Beats Music service is taking off fast, and it can only be elevated by Apple's global brand and infrastructure.
Wheels Greased for Summer Yahoo-Tube Debut
May 28, 2014
Yahoo is in advanced talks to launch its own online video channel this year, a product meant to rival Google's YouTube, based on a report citing unnamed sources. The news has intrigued the online video and advertising industry because it would introduce some very welcome competition into this channel, owned largely -- but not completely -- by Google.
Sony, China Strike PlayStation Deal
May 27, 2014
Japanese electronics giant Sony has inked a deal in China to manufacture and sell PlayStation consoles in the Middle Kingdom. The partnership creates two joint ventures with Shanghai Oriental Pearl, which will enable Sony to operate out of Shanghai's free trade zone. China's early-2014 approval of videogame consoles from foreign companies reversed a years-long ban.
4K Ultra HD: A New Era in Video Content
May 27, 2014
Since the start of 2014, the buzz around consumer video technology has centered on 4K Ultra High Definition video. At both the Consumer Electronics Show and the National Association of Broadcasters Show, the exhibit halls were filled with massive screens showing incredibly clear, vibrant video images. As a result, companies throughout the video ecosystem are trying to assess the impact of 4K.
Minecraft Stakes Next-Gen Claim
May 23, 2014
Mojang on Thursday announced that its popular game Minecraft soon will be available to users of the Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita consoles. "Apologies for the delay, but putting Minecraft on new consoles is a serious business," explained Owen Hill, Mojang's chief word officer. All three editions are due to arrive in August.
Facebook Wants to Eavesdrop on Your Entertainment
May 23, 2014
Facebook is rolling out a new feature that encourages users to share their entertainment experiences on mobile devices. The new audio identifier uses the gadget's microphone to listen in on any content playing. When posting a status update, a Facebook user will see an audio icon on the screen, searching to identify a song, TV show or movie. If it finds a match, the user can choose to share it.
Iran Releases Fans Detained Over Music Video
May 22, 2014
Iran has released at least some of the people who appeared in a music video for a song by American pop artist Pharrell Williams. The video, set to the Williams tune "Happy," showed people dancing on rooftops of the capital of Tehran. It is not clear if all of the people arrested for making the Tehran-based video have been released or if they later will be put on trial.
AT&T Catches a Wave
May 22, 2014
Change is good. Industry consolidation seems to come in waves, and the next wave seems to be starting. Together, AT&T and DirecTV will be a strong new competitor in the pay-television space. That's great. Unless traditional cable-TV companies get their act together, this merger could be another nail in their coffin. This is a busy time in the industry.
Google's EU Migraine Rears Up
May 21, 2014
Yeah, about that breakthrough between Google and European antitrust regulators... The European Union's antitrust chief might pursue a tougher stance on Google than the one outlined in a February agreement, which was believed to have end -- finally -- the legal circus between the two sides. Google had agreed to display rivals' links more prominently in its search results, a chief concern.
AT&T Gambles on DirecTV
May 20, 2014
AT&T has agreed to acquire DirecTV in order to expand its consumer offerings across additional platforms and better compete in the ever-evolving telecom industry. The merger of the U.S.' second-largest wireless provider and second-largest pay-TV company would be worth about $48.5 billion. With the inclusion of DirecTV's net debt, the total transaction value would rise to $67.1 billion.
Microsoft Circles Back to Halo
May 17, 2014
Microsoft is returning to one of its biggest franchises with the announcement of a new Halo game, set to debut next year for the Xbox One. Accompanying the release of the title is a new TV show based on the series. The release of Microsoft's latest console, the Xbox One, provided the opportunity to rethink how to move the franchise forward while highlighting the console's assets.
Flappy Bird 2 Due in August, Paternity Uncertain
May 16, 2014
Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen this week said that the wildly popular mobile game will return in August and also that he is working on a brand-new offering. After dropping a tantalizing hint back in March, Nguyen on Wednesday told CNBC that the new Flappy Bird will deliver multiplayer capabilities and be "less addictive." On Thursday, however, he said that he was not the one creating the game.
Microsoft Dis-Kinects Xbox One
May 14, 2014
With Sony's PlayStation 4 increasing its commanding lead over the Xbox One, Microsoft made a play Tuesday to goose sales of its computer game console. The company announced it would start selling Xbox One without its Kinect controller -- which allows a $100 price cut -- and it removed the requirement that Xbox users subscribe to Live Gold to access streaming services they already subscribe to.
AT&T May Be Suiting Up to Battle Comcast
May 13, 2014
AT&T has been negotiating to buy DirecTV for close to $50 billion, based on reports that surfaced Monday. The deal, which has not been confirmed by the companies, could close within a few weeks. The current option on the table, according to anonymous sources, would be largely a stock trade but it would include some cash, with AT&T offering in the low- to mid-$90s per share for DirecTV.
Nintendo's Plan B
May 12, 2014
Aiming in part to counteract losses sustained on its Wii U gaming device, Nintendo reportedly is setting its sights on emerging markets and planning a brand-new console and games with those markets in mind. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata last week cited higher entertainment budgets among many emerging nations' middle-class consumers as part of his company's rationale for looking farther afield.
The Next Generation of In-Car Entertainment
May 12, 2014
Over the next several months, we will see a massive step forward in the systems we use in our cars to connect to our phones, listen to music and watch videos. As I write this, the new Kenwood Excelon DNN991HD is being installed in my project car, and it promises pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. In August, Jaguar will start supplying a new AV system provided by Intel.
Netflix Newbies Hit With Steeper Price
May 09, 2014
Netflix is hiking subscription fees for new users of its streaming video service effective immediately, while current members will have a grace period before they must start paying the increased rates. Subscribers in the U.S. and Canada will fork over an extra dollar a month, with the fee jumping to $8.99. Existing subscribers will pay their current fees for two years.
Breaking Down the Crazy Apple-Buying-Beats Riff
May 09, 2014
The hottest -- and possibly craziest -- tech rumor of the week is, hands down, that Apple is in negotiations to acquire Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion. Based on a single report, the story has been fanned into a raging inferno faster than a wildfire on a hot August day. Unfortunately, the only cited source for the rumor is "people familiar with the deal."
Nintendo Won't Include Gay Characters in Sim Game
May 08, 2014
Nintendo won't include same-sex romantic activities in English editions of an upcoming life simulator game. The company has faced pressure, including a fan-fueled social media campaign, to let users have gay relationships in Tomodachi Life, a game whose characters are modeled after real people. The company never meant for the game to be a "social commentary," Nintendo of America said.

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