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Music Industry Rebounds on Streaming Subscription Surge
September 23, 2016
The music industry is showing its best surge in revenue in nearly two decades, led by a major shift toward streaming subscription services by Apple, Spotify and others firms, according to a new mid-year report the RIAA released this week. The report shows an 8.1 percent gain in retail revenue to $3.4 billion during the first half of 2016, the strongest growth since the late 1990s.
New Apple Products Have the Right Gaming Stuff
September 17, 2016
Apple wants to attract gaming fans to the more powerful graphics and processing power embedded in its new iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 products. The iPhone 7 features the new A10 Fusion chip -- the most powerful ever in a smartphone, according to the company. The CPU fuses two high-performance cores that run twice as fast as the iPhone 6 with much more efficient use of battery power.
Pandora Plus Trades Ad Views for Extra Features
September 16, 2016
Pandora on Thursday launched Pandora Plus, a replacement for its $5-a-month Pandora One streaming music service. The 4 million Pandora One subscribers will be switched over to Plus, which will continue to offer ad-free listening at the same price. However, Pandora Plus also offers an opt-in video advertising feature that lets users skip or replay songs. Plus also has an offline mode.
Sony's PS4 Pro Gets the Jump on 4K, HDR TVs
September 8, 2016
Sony on Wednesday officially unveiled the powered-up PlayStation 4 Pro, which features smoother graphics, thanks to higher frame rates. This new version of Sony's bestselling video game console includes support for 4K resolution and high dynamic range, making it fully compatible with 4K/UHD displays. Some developers will add PS4 Pro support to existing games, as well as upcoming releases.
It's Time for Comcast to Get Off the Wireless Fence
September 8, 2016
Comcast tried to give wireless a go several years ago. It failed. It pulled out of wireless, sold its spectrum and was done. Now, wireless has expanded and changed, and competitors like AT&T's U-verse and DirecTV are using wireless to deliver television programming. I'll bet Comcast now wishes it never sold off its wireless spectrum. So, what can we expect from the company going forward?
Echo Owners May Get Their Own Kind of Music
September 1, 2016
Amazon is planning two music subscription services, according to rumors that began circulating last week. One is a $10 a month offering that is similar to Spotify and Apple Music, and the other is a $4-$5 a month cut-rate service available only on Amazon's Echo device. Amazon reportedly wants to launch both in September, but it has yet to finalize deals with major music labels and publishers.
Intel's Kaby Lake Chip Promises Deeper Internet Immersion
August 31, 2016
Facing a shrinking market for personal computers and a stalled market for tablets, Intel on Tuesday unveiled its 7th-generation processors, code-named "Kaby Lake," which deliver more speed and power than its 6th-generation chipsets, while improving battery efficiency. Intel has positioned the new Kaby Lake chipsets as ideal for the immersive Internet.
Sony Tips PS4 Slim Standard Strategy
August 22, 2016
Sony reportedly plans to roll out a slimmed-down standard version of its popular PlayStation 4 video game console next month. The news follows the company's announcement earlier this year that it would introduce a higher-end version of the console with enhanced graphics, aimed at hard-core gamers. The new PS4 standard model could be Sony's way of attracting more casual users.
Intel's Project Alloy Tosses Reality Into a Blender
August 17, 2016
Intel on Tuesday presented its virtual reality vision -- a vision that mixes virtual and real worlds into a kind of merged reality -- to developers attending a conference in San Francisco. Mixing reality and unreality sometimes can be a recipe for disaster, but Intel thinks it will be a formula for success. At the center of Intel's vision is its Project Alloy mobile headset and its cutting edge RealSense software.
Microsoft to Add Beam's Live-Streaming Skills to Xbox
August 16, 2016
Microsoft last week announced a deal to acquire live-streaming startup Beam. It plans to use Beam's interactive technology to enhance the Xbox Live experience. Beam, which was the winner of Techcrunch Disrupt earlier this year, has attracted a number of top investors, including Techstars, Courtside Ventures and Ore Ventures. The deal is designed to help make Xbox Live more social and fun.
Is This the Beginning of the End for the Set-Top Box?
August 12, 2016
C Spire started out as a privately owned wireless competitor in Mississippi. Since then, it has expanded in several directions. Its focus last year was on installing high-speed Internet in a few Mississippi cities. Now it is partnering with MobiTV to offer a new television service for the home. The service will not use the set-top boxes common with cable TV.
No Man's Sky: The Universe So Far Feels Good
August 10, 2016
One of the most highly anticipated gaming titles ever, No Man's Sky from indie developer Hello Games, has arrived -- and it could have a major impact on the resurgent gaming world this season. The title made its PS4 debut on Tuesday in North America. It will be available for the PC on Friday. The long-awaited game takes players on a mind-bending journey of space exploration.
Time Warner Cable Really Doesn't Like Me
August 9, 2016
After surviving well over a year as a cord-cutter, I recently returned to the cable fold -- and after less than a month, I'm having major regrets. The problem isn't with the service itself or even with the pricing. The problem is with the lies. I wasn't entirely happy with my cord-cutting solution, but I wasn't eager to go back to a high-priced cable service either.
Apple Might Need to Think Different About TV
August 5, 2016
Apple's tough negotiating stance apparently has hobbled its efforts to bring entertainment industry companies on board with its planned streaming TV service. Talks with Disney, 21st Century Fox and CBS reportedly have fallen through. Had the entertainment and cable TV industry given in, Apple's demands would have turned current practices topsy-turvy.
Nintendo Investors' Futile Hunt for Pokémon Go Profits
August 4, 2016
Nintendo investors who thought they would score big returns after the successful launch of Pokémon Go found that actual profits were more elusive than the colorful characters. Nintendo last week made it painfully clear that The Pokémon Co. and Niantic were far better positioned than it was to reap financial rewards. Much of that revenue potential lies in a wealth of in-app purchases.
Time Warner Bets Heavily on Hulu
August 4, 2016
Time Warner on Wednesday announced it has entered an agreement to buy a 10 percent stake in online-streaming service Hulu, in a bid to leverage its lineup of television and film content on multiple viewing platforms. With the new investment, Time Warner will join a joint venture that includes some of the nation's largest media companies, including The Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and Comcast.
Nintendo's Q1 Reflects Struggles Unrelated to Pokemon Go Success
July 27, 2016
Nintendo shares fell sharply in Tokyo on Wednesday, following its release of a first-quarter earnings report that disappointed analyst expectations. The company reported a drop of 31 percent in net sales and an operating loss of about $48 million, which it attributed to growing strength in the Japanese yen but which likely had more to do with dismal sales of the Wii U, which it is phasing out.
KickassTorrents Owner Faces 20-Plus Years in Stir
July 26, 2016
Polish authorities last week arrested the alleged owner of pirate website KickassTorrents, or KAT, 30-year-old Artem Vauln of Kharkiv, Ukraine. Vaulin faces charges in the United States of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Conspiracy to commit money laundering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Netflix Shares Fall as Subscriber Growth Hits a Wall
July 20, 2016
Shares of Netflix fell sharply Tuesday after it reported lower-than-expected second quarter earnings, which the company blamed on subscriber growth that fell short of forecasts. Netflix added 1.7 million subscribers in the quarter, pushing its total membership to more than 83 million, the company told shareholders. However, that growth was far less than the 2.5 million it had projected.
Hackers Claim Credit for Pokemon Go No-Go
July 19, 2016
Pokemon Go, the augmented reality overnight sensation, experienced sluggish performance over the weekend, possibly from a hacker attack on its login servers. Shortly after Pokemon Go devs tweeted that the game was rolling out to 26 additional countries, this tweet appeared: "Trainers! We have been working to fix the server issues. ... We'll post an update soon."
Valve to Close the Spigot on Gambling Operations
July 18, 2016
Valve last week announced it would take action against third-party sites that run illegal gambling operations. A number of gambling sites have been leveraging the Steam gaming platform -- in particular, the Counter-Strike game -- to create massive operations that convert virtual skins into cash, Valve said. Valve denied allegations that it has in any way profited from those illegal sites.
Nintendo's NES Classic Targets Gaming Geezers
July 15, 2016
Nintendo on Thursday unveiled its latest gaming console: the NES Classic Edition, a mini replica of the original home console that can connect directly to a TV via an HDMI cable. The system features 30 built-in games from the 8-bit era, including fan favorites such as Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, PAC-MAN and Kirby's Adventure.
Pokemon Go Devs Scramble to Fix Big Privacy Goof
July 14, 2016
Just days after Pokemon Go sent Nintendo shares soaring in Tokyo, the game's developers were scrambling to close a massive privacy hole. The iOS version of the mobile game -- which superimposes figures onto real-world environments through augmented reality technology -- apparently had a default setting that required users to grant broad permissions to access their Google accounts.
Nintendo Shares Surge on Pokemon Go Juggernaut
July 12, 2016
Nintendo shares soared on Monday after its new augmented reality mobile app, Pokemon Go, burst out of the gate over the weekend in the U.S and in key markets around the globe. The company's shares rose 36 percent in two days, after downloads of the Pokemon Go app raced to the top of iOS and Android charts in the U.S. The wave of demand exceeded expectations, said Morgan Stanley MUFG analyst Mia Nagasaka.
Twitter to Carry Live Convention Coverage on the Web
July 11, 2016
Twitter will stream CBS News' live coverage of the Republication and Democratic National Conventions, the companies announced Monday. Twitter and CBS previously partnered on one of each party's presidential primary debates. In both instances, CBS' coverage included real-time metrics and curated tweets, and questions Twitter users submitted during the broadcasts were put to the candidates.
Augmented Reality Mobile Game Puts Pokemon in Real World
July 9, 2016
Pokemon Go, the highly anticipated augmented reality game from Niantic Labs, is finally available for download for iOS and Android mobile devices in the U.S., as well as in New Zealand and Australia. Niantic, the former Google unit behind the popular augmented reality game Ingress, has teamed up with The Pokemon Company and Nintendo to bring the iconic Pokemon title to mobile platforms.
Nothing Ghostly About Devialet's Phantom Gold Sound
June 30, 2016
Devialet, the French company that has built a reputation in the audio market for high-end wireless speakers, on Tuesday announced its newest addition: the $3,000 Phantom Gold. The Phantom Gold looks something like a futuristic Faberge egg, and it's priced like one, too. That said, it has some ear-pleasing and ear-splitting specs. Devialet has given it a power boost to 4,500 watts.
BitTorrent Dips Toes Into Ad Stream
June 24, 2016
BitTorrent on Thursday announced a revamp of its Bundle offering as a pilot project, giving it a new name, "BitTorrent Now." Heavily used by independent musicians and filmmakers, as well as the BBC and other organizations, the service now accepts ads. BitTorrent Now's first streaming app is available for Android. Apps for iOS and Apple TV are in the works.
Twitter Applies '140' Rule to Video Seconds
June 22, 2016
Twitter on Tuesday launched enhanced video services that will allow users to post longer videos -- up to 140 seconds. It also announced a new platform for celebrities and public figures to share their stories. Because sports, news, music and other videos increasingly are the type of content that goes viral on Twitter, the company decided to expand content parameters.
Google: Dare to Daydream
June 18, 2016
Google's Cardboard has proved to the masses that virtual reality is more than a pipe dream. Inexpensive cardboard headsets leverage smartphones to create makeshift head-mounted displays for low-level VR experiences. For those whose fancies of owning a US$600 Rift or a $900 Vive were out of reach, Cardboard was a way to keep their imaginations captive while Google was dreaming of Daydream.
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What do you think of politically inspired Internet memes?
They tend to be brutally honest about their targets.
They're usually cheap shots based on lies.
They're often stupid but amusing.
They can have a dangerous influence on uninformed people.
They don't impress me one way or the other.