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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
HBO to Rerun Hit Shows on Amazon Prime
April 24, 2014
HBO and Amazon on Wednesday announced a content-sharing partnership that for the first time will allow viewers to see HBO shows on a different platform. Starting May 21, Amazon Prime Instant Video users will have access to some of HBO's hits that are now off the air, including The Sopranos, The Wire, Eastbound & Down, and Enlightened.
Next iOS May Add Shazam Music Discovery
April 18, 2014
Have you ever heard a song you never heard before while you were out and about and wished you knew its title and artist? iOS soon may be able to tell you. Apple reportedly is working with Shazam Entertainment to incorporate into iOS 8 a feature that allows a song's title and artist to be identified from a sound grab through the microphone in an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
Sonos Swings Into Google's Playground
April 10, 2014
A new partnership between Sonos and Google means that users of the Google Play Music app for Android now can stream music to their Sonos speakers directly from the app itself. Available in 25 countries, the new capability effectively eliminates the need to use Sonos' Controller app as an intermediary. It represents Sonos' first such integration partnership with a major music streaming service.
Which Screen Comes Second Now?
April 08, 2014
Which came first, the mobile device or the television? OK, that one is easy -- but which comes first now -- the mobile device or the television? The answer is probably television, but it's not quite as obvious, is it? Television is the dominant screen for most consumers today, but signs are growing that the mobile screen might well supercede it at some point.
Microsoft Adds Sci-Fi Series to Xbox Originals
April 08, 2014
Microsoft added to its list of original programming for its Xbox gaming system Monday with the announcement of a new science fiction series called Humans. Based on a hit TV series in Sweden, Humans is a cooperative effort of Xbox Entertainment Studios and UK broadcaster Channel 4. It is scheduled to air next year exclusively on the Xbox platform and Channel 4.
Courtroom Drama: Hollywood Sues Megaupload
April 08, 2014
Six Hollywood studios have banded together in a copyright infringement lawsuit against Megaupload, the wildly popular though now shuttered site that, in its heyday, was ground zero for file-sharing. The suit doesn't specify an amount of damages, but does say that the studios should be entitled to $150,000 per copyright infringement, as well as profits earned by Megaupload.
Amazon Fire TV Fails to Rage but Glows Hot
April 08, 2014
The Amazon Fire TV, available for $99 from Amazon, hasn't yet made any jaw-dropping leaps forward, but it is an excellent set-top box that, in some ways, breaks ahead of the Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Roku competition. There's a lot to explain here. First, the Amazon Fire TV isn't just another box that lets you stream movies and video to your living room HDTV. It's solid, svelte, sexy and fast.
Record Labels Slam Russian Social Net With Piracy Suit
April 04, 2014
Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music on Thursday filed legal proceedings against vKontakte, or VK, charging that the Russian social network operates a music service that deliberately facilitates widespread copyright infringement. VK operates an unlicensed music service involving a large collection of copyright-infringing tracks, the companies charge.
How to Watch TV on Your Laptop
April 03, 2014
The big TV news this week is about hardware, with Amazon launching its Fire TV to rival Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast. Speculation had been hot and heavy that Amazon would launch its own pay-TV service, but that hasn't happened... yet. That's what the real TV wars likely will be fought over, though -- how content reaches consumers. A major battle will kick off this month in the Supreme Court.
Amazon Sets TV on Fire
April 02, 2014
Amazon on Wednesday put paid to the buzz circulating around its plans for a set-top box, announcing Amazon Fire TV at a New York event. The size of a CD box and just over half an inch thick, Fire TV takes on set-top boxes, the iPod, Apple TV and game consoles. It plugs into users' HDTVs to provide instant access to Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, Showtime and Amazon videos.

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