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Report: Apple to Funnel Megabucks Into Original TV Content Development
August 17, 2017
Apple reportedly has decided to put more than $1 billion toward the acquisition and development of original programming, part of a long-awaited rollout of a new television and film experience. The investment will leverage Apple's thus far underwhelming Apple TV business, bolstering its core video and music library to fulfill the promise of disrupting traditional television and film studios.
What's Next in the Volatile Pay-TV Services Market?
June 26, 2017
There recently has been an erosion in penetration of pay-TV subscriptions in the United States. They have fallen from a high of 86 percent in 2014 to 83 percent in early 2017, based on Parks Associates recent consumer research. Despite signs in late 2015 and early 2016 that the U.S. cable TV industry finally had reversed years of subscriber losses, the numbers declined again.
Verizon Makes New Oath
June 19, 2017
Verizon last week completed its US$4.5 billion acquisition of Yahoo's operating business assets, merging it with its existing AOL business to create Oath. The new subsidiary encompasses more than 50 media and technology brands -- including HuffPost; Yahoo Sports, Finance and Mail; AOL.com; Makers; Tumblr; TechCrunch; Flickr; and Build Studios.
Nintendo's New Lineup Electrifies E3
June 16, 2017
Nintendo previewed an impressive lineup of gaming content at E3 2017 this week, by many accounts. Its collection of new titles and targeted versions of some of the industry's hottest third-party content seemed to validate surprisingly strong sales of the Nintendo Switch console. Moving easily from a living room big screen to a mobile gaming device, the Switch already has gained a significant following.
Art, History and 3D Printing
June 15, 2017
The Tech Museum of Innovation last month debuted an exhibit that includes numerous installations with an interactive component. Visitors can don Occulus VR headsets to appreciate classical works of art in virtual reality -- a completely new museum experience. There long has been a debate on what constitutes "art" -- and opinions have differed as to how music, film, radio and TV fit in.
Xbox One X: More Speed, More Muscle
June 14, 2017
Microsoft earlier this week announced the next version of its Xbox line of gaming consoles, ahead of E3 2017, now ongoing in Los Angeles. The new Xbox One X, which goes on sale Nov. 7 for $499, is slimmer than previous models and packed with power. With a 6-teraflop Scorpio engine, the One X has 40 percent faster graphics performance than its chief rival, Sony's PS4 Pro.
Gadget Ogling: Apple at Home
June 12, 2017
The battle for your home just got a little more intense as Apple pulled back the curtain on HomePod, its smart speaker that seeks to hold dominion over your home empire and all the gadgets that reside within. HomePod holds a 4-inch woofer and seven tweeters, and it has six microphones to pick up your voice commands for Siri, wherever you happen to be in the room.
'Arms' Could Help Nintendo Fight Its Way Back Into the Ring
June 9, 2017
Arms, the highly anticipated fighting game for Nintendo's Switch, will be available next Friday, and based on the early reviews, the company just may have found the magic bullet. Nintendo's Switch console, launched earlier this year, has been something of a surprise success. Prior to its launch, it seemed like a risky play for the company, which has been bobbing and weaving in recent years.
E3 2017: Enhancements, Expectations and Perhaps Excitement
June 8, 2017
All of the major video game developers, publishers and console hardware makers, as well as many retail buyers and the gaming press, will descend on Los Angeles for E3 2017 next week. The annual event -- a showcase for computer, video and mobile games and related products -- will kick off officially on Tuesday and run through Thursday at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Plex Advances Cord-Cutting Case With Live OTA TV
June 2, 2017
Video streaming service Plex on Thursday announced the availability of a beta version of its Plex Live TV. The live-TV streaming launch follows last year's introduction of the Plex DVR, which provides users with free over-the-air access to 86 of Nielsen's 100 most watched shows in the United States. Plex Live TV currently is available only on Android TV and iOS devices.
Facebook's Original Programming Plans Take Shape
May 31, 2017
Facebook last week signed agreements with several content firms -- among them Vox, Buzzfeed, ATTN and Group Nine Media, according to reports. The deals are widely viewed as part of the company's strategy to attract millennials to its live-streaming Web content. Facebook will offer multi-tiered programming, according to a report that cited sources familiar with the plans.
Microsoft's Mixer Could Shake Up the Streaming Game
May 25, 2017
Microsoft on Thursday announced Mixer, a rebranded version of its game-streaming service previously known as "Beam." In addition to the name change, the service will include a number of new features designed to attract more gamers. The added features will unlock new possibilities for social streaming, while also helping viewers find specific content across the service, according to Microsoft.
Hulu Aims to Reinvent Live TV Experience
May 4, 2017
Hulu has announced a new live-streaming television service for $39.99 per month, which will place the company in direct competition with newly launched services from DirecTV Now, YouTube and other OTT content providers. The Hulu with Live TV beta will offer 50 channels of live-streaming television -- including sports, news, entertainment, children's programming and local network affiliates.
New Deals Turn Twitter's Content Stream Into a River
May 2, 2017
Twitter has announced a partnership with Bloomberg to launch a 24-hour streaming news service -- one of a dozen new content deals Twitter has entered to drive user engagement. CEO Jack Dorsey and a group of top executives announced the slate of programming agreements -- which include concerts from Live Nation, sports from Major League Baseball and the WNBA, and a morning news show from BuzzFeed.
Duty Calls Popular Shooter Back to World War II
April 28, 2017
Call of Duty will return to its World War II roots when the latest title arrives this November, publisher Activision Blizzard has announced. The franchise has been a steady hit maker since its 2003 debut. Various titles in the series have become regular staples in e-sports tournaments and Major League Gaming. Call of Duty is one of the most popular series in video game history.
Google Spins VR Experiences on the Web
April 14, 2017
Google on Thursday announced compatibility of its WebVR on Chrome with its low-cost Google Cardboard virtual reality system. It also launched WebVR Experiments, an online showcase for virtuality reality content in development. WebVR became available on Daydream-ready phones earlier this year. The newly launched WebVR Experiments are essentially proof-of-concept offerings.
Why VR Is Failing
April 10, 2017
As a market, we seem to have trouble learning that three key elements are necessary for a new technology to take hold: It has to appear complete, it has to be compelling, and it has to seem like a value -- that is, be affordable. Compared to what we have today, the car that opened up the automotive market in the U.S. was none of those things -- yet it was incredibly successful.
YouTube Jumps into the Live TV Streaming Fray
March 1, 2017
YouTube has jumped headfirst into the growing market for live streaming television with the announcement of YouTube TV, a service aimed squarely at cord cutters. The $35-a-month service will offer live sitcoms, dramas, news and sports from ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, CW, Telemundo and other networks. It will include local TV stations offering news and sports in broadcast areas where customers live.
Facebook Gets More In-Your-Face
February 17, 2017
Facebook this week announced new features for News Feeds videos, along with an app for TV. News Feed videos now have sound turned on by default in mobile devices. This can be disabled in the Settings menu. A larger format to present vertical videos now is standard on iOS and Android devices. The feature became available as a preview last year. A Watch and Scroll feature lets users minimize the video they're watching and drag it to any corner of the screen.
Can Former Amazon Fire TV Exec Save Apple TV From Itself?
February 9, 2017
Apple has hired Tim Twerdahl, the former head of Amazon's Fire TV unit, in an effort to revive its struggling Apple TV business, which has been losing market share to rival streaming content services. Twerdahl reportedly joined Apple this month as VP in charge of product marketing for Apple TV, and the company shifted the unit's former head to a post responsible for negotiating content deals.
Facebook Aims to Carve Out a Spot in the Living Room
February 2, 2017
Facebook is working on a video app for set-top boxes, according to a Wednesday report. The social network wants to deliver longer-form video content -- and with it video ads -- to the living room TV, the one screen it has been unable to reach. The Facebook app soon could be available on a variety of set-top boxes, including Apple TV. The initiative reportedly began in earnest last summer, after incubating for years as a concept.
Netflix Surprises Itself With Gangbusters Membership Growth
January 20, 2017
Netflix generated $8.3 billion in global streaming revenue in 2016, with 35 percent year-over-year growth, it reported Wednesday. The company ended last year with 93.8 million members, including 19 million net additions -- up from 17.4 million new subscribers in 2015. Netflix's global revenue for the fourth quarter of 2016 grew by 41 percent year-over-year to $2.4 billion, and 7.05 million net new members joined during that time period.
Nintendo Banks on Switch Hit
January 14, 2017
Nintendo on Thursday announced the Nintendo Switch handheld gaming console, its long-awaited successor to the poorly received Wii 2. The $300 Switch will hit the streets March 3. Purchasers will get the console, two Joy-Con controllers, a Joy-Con Grip, a set of Joy-Con wrist straps, a Nintendo Switch dock, an HDMI cable and an AC adapter. The Switch can be used as an independent handheld player.
Apple May Show Up Fashionably Late at the Original TV Party
January 12, 2017
Apple reportedly plans to follow premium channels HBO and Showtime, as well as streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, in creating its own original TV shows and movies. The company may be negotiating agreements with veteran content producers to buy the rights to scripted television programs. It likely will offer its content through an over-the-top service similar to Netflix.
Gadget Ogling: The CES Spectacular Edition
January 12, 2017
Trust Razer to come up with something completely ridiculous that I need in my life immediately. Project Ariana is a projector that incorporates Razer's full-spectrum lighting system, Chroma. It uses a wide-angle lens to project images. Its 3D depth-sensing cameras detect objects in a room and adjust for them accordingly so that it still projects a flat image.
Nvidia Lays Out Bold Strategy at CES
January 6, 2017
Nvidia offered a bold new strategy at this week's International CES in Las Vegas. The company, which has been a leader in hardware graphics technology for decades, recently has expanded into the realms of artificial intelligence, deep learning and automotive tech. Graphical support and video delivery will however remain a key component of the company's strategy, according to Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang.
Netflix Offers Offline Option at Long Last
December 2, 2016
Giving in to years of customer pressure, Netflix has announced that a limited number of television shows and movies will be available for viewing offline without a live connection to the Internet. Customers have been asking for a way to view content on airplanes or other locations where Internet service might be unavailable or expensive, noted Eddy Wu, director of product innovation at Netflix.
Gadget Ogling: Big Bendy Screens, Chatterbox Robots, and TV in the Cloud
November 22, 2016
I'm at long last about to start setting up my new home office. Goodbye, Ikea dining table. Hello, fancy new desk. When I actually have my new setup, I'd like to have a monitor at long last to complement my laptop. AOC's latest is under serious consideration. The AG352QCX is a 35-inch, curved behemoth with two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI 2.0 input, VGA, DVI, audio in and out ports, and DisplayPort 1.2.
Tech on TV: A Little Realism Goes a Long Way
October 27, 2016
Watching TV shows often requires the suspension of disbelief -- that is, a willingness to press pause on one's critical faculties in order to believe the unbelievable. Realism often must be secondary to story, in other words. This very often is necessary when computers are used to advance plot lines, when programmers and hackers alike can produce tremendous results in seconds.
Battlefield 1: Big, Bombastic and Very Loosely Based
October 25, 2016
If filmmaker Michael Bay -- known for the Transformers and other over-the-top films -- were to decide to make a World War I movie, and if he chose to rely on comic books for research, the result would be very much like Electronic Arts' newly released video game Battlefield 1. This latest entry in the popular series moves the action from recent modern settings to the Great War.
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How do you feel about flying on a pilotless plane?
No way -- if there's a screw-up, you can't just jump out.
I'd do it -- flights are pretty much entirely automated anyway.
I'm skeptical but open minded, especially if fares would be much less.
I would try it if there were *someone* on board to take over in a pinch.
It's the wave of the future -- I'm resigned to it.