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Brave Browser Digital Rewards Comes To YouTube

December 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Brave Software, the company responsible for the niche Brave browser, earlier this month opened its digital currency-based reward system to YouTube content creators, giving users a way to send influencers small amounts of cash.

“Audiences can use the Brave Payments system to reward their favorite YouTube creators with Basic Attention Tokens (BAT),” read an unsigned post to the company’s blog. “YouTube viewers can either distribute contributions based on the time they spend viewing material or by ‘pinning’ a set amount for a particular channel.”

The experiment was the first to depart from Brave’s usual reimbursement rules, which let browser users select nothing more specific than a domain as a BAT destination.

Brave Software’s underlying model and its business plan are, to put it mildly, unusual. The browser puts a price on online users’ attention with blockchain-based tokens that eventually will be traded between publishers, advertisers and consumers willing to view ads. At the moment, however, the only real money in the system is what individual users have loaded into their electronic wallets as they experiment with the browser.

The BAT concept is designed as a substitute for traditional online advertising, which Brave Software claims is broken. “[Brave] enables a direct monetary relationship between the content creator and their audience,” the blog post continued. “Users can decide who to compensate.”

To be eligible for receipt of BATs – which can be converted into physical currency – content creators must verify their identity and their YouTube channel with Brave Software, meaning that for significant participation, the browser maker must get the word out. It was unclear whether Brave Software plans such an outreach, and if so, how or whether it would rely on its users to tell content creators to register.

By compensating creators individually, and directly, Brave Software avoids paying YouTube, the platform. Brave Software pointed out that the scheme may be especially interesting to those who don’t meet the 10,000-lifetime-view minimum that YouTube requires before it begins sharing advertising revenue with those who shoot videos.

The strategy can also be scaled, Brave Software contended. “We plan on extending BAT to additional user-generated content platforms so that more creators can benefit from audience support,” said the company.

Brave’s YouTube plan may be attractive to some advertisers, said Lizzy Foo Kune, principal research analyst at Gartner, in an interview. Marketers searching for alternatives to traditional web advertising, she argued, are looking at influencers, among them people with popular YouTube channels, to boost their brands.

“This might be enticing from a marketer’s point of view, [to conduct] influence marketing by directing the payments back to the creators,” she said.

Brave’s approach seems pertinent to niche or regional marketing and advertising, Foo Kune added, because it could provide revenue to YouTube-based influencers – like some of the “YouTube beauty personalities” highlighted in a recent piece in the New York Times – who have a small but growing audience.

Dropbox Debuts ‘Showcase’ New Product Aimed At Freelancers

October 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Dropbox has rolled out a new portfolio feature, Showcase, designed to help independent workers and small teams of professionals display and share documents more easily.

The idea is that freelance workers such as architects and designers can store content in Showcase before sharing information with clients. Documents are arranged in a branded portfolio in a “secure and polished way,” with customizable layouts, said Dropbox director of product, Vishal Kapoor. It is also possible to add text captions to files to introduce content topics to help create a narrative around what’s being shared.

Dropbox, which recently rebranded to appeal to “creatives,” has identified a large target audience: it is estimated that 35% of the U.S. workforce is now freelance, a group that as of 2016 totaled to 55 million people.

“Dropbox has quite a following in creative and media companies,” said ESG senior analyst Terri McClure. “Showcase complements that really well – it’s really nice for when a story needs to accompany files or other collateral. In the creative space, it is really important to control the narrative and set the stage for discussions.”

Showcase is aimed at overcoming some of the problems users face when sharing documents. For example, a marketing consultant might want to know if their client has actually opened more than just the first of a batch of five files. With Showcase they can track who has viewed, downloaded or commented on documents within the portfolio.

Files stored in Showcase are synced with Dropbox, meaning that any changes are instantly updated.

While Showcase is targeted at independent workers, it is just as suited to small teams of people within large companies, said Kapoor.

“Say a large enterprise has sales and marketing that are collaborating with each other. When the work is done they share it internally within the organization or externally outside of the organization,” he said. “We think that Showcase is not just limited to independent workers, but scales very well.”

Showcase is launching as part of a new pricing tier: Dropbox Professional. This also includes Dropbox Smart Sync, unveiled earlier this year, which lets users view all of their Dropbox documents from a single device, whether they are stored locally on a hard drive or in the cloud.

“There are millions of freelancers and self-employed small business users that need many of the features previously available only in the business plans,” said ESG’s McClure. “This fixes that.”

The Professional tier is available for $199 a year and includes 1TB of storage. It offers data protection and security features such as two-step authentication and remote-wipe, as well as priority chat support.

BlackBerry Announces New Motion Smartphone

October 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The all-touchscreen BlackBerry Motion was officially unveiled at an electronics trade show in Dubai, just days after images of the new phone leaked online.

The new handset features a 5.5-inch HD display, 4GB of RAM and a 4,000mAh battery with support for QuickCharge 3.0. The Motion, which was unveiled at the GITEX 2017 trade show, is also rated IP67 for dust and water resistance.

The BlackBerry Motion is a follow-up to the KeyOne, the first phone released under a licensing agreement TCL has with BlackBerry to build and sell the devices. BlackBerry has detached itself from the hardware side, focusing on business security and software.

TCL, best known for making budget televisions and phones (under the Alcatel OneTouch brand), hopes to win some business customers of its own with its take on the BlackBerry family. The Motion is intended to show that the KeyOne isn’t a one-off product, and that TCL intends to create a new portfolio of products with the BlackBerry name.

The BlackBerry Motion will initially launch in the Middle East.

 

Rovio To Move Forward With IPO

September 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Finnish mobile games giant Rovio has confirmed plans to publicly offer its shares through the Helsinki arm of NASDAQ.

The Angry Birds firm released a statement detailing its intentions, revealing that it is planning “a share issue of approximately €30m”, which equates to $36m. Shares will also be sold by Trema International Holdings – currently the firm’s largest shareholder – and “certain other shareholders”.

This confirms ongoing reports that Rovio would consider an IPO, something the studio said was a possibility back in June. Last month, the rumours strengthened with suggestions that the IPO could raise $400m, valuing the company at $2bn.

The aim of the IPO is to enable Rovio to continue its growth, give it access to capital markets and “broaden its ownership base”, as well as build on the company’s brand awareness.

Throughout the statement Rovio refers to itself as a games-first entertainment company, although it also draws attention to the success of last year’s film The Angry Birds Movie and its ongoing merchandise business.

Rovio also notes that, as of June 2017, its games have been downloaded more than 3.7bn times, with an average monthly active userbase of 80m during the second quarter of this year.

CEO Kati Levoranta reiterated that the studio’s most recent releases – Angry Birds Evolution, Battle Bay and Angry Birds Match – have also outperformed all previously launched titles in select key performance indicators, giving Rovio cause to be optimistic about the IPO. Last month, Rovio revealed these releases had helped double its quarterly earnings year-on-year.

“Today, Rovio is stronger than ever and is well positioned in the fast growing mobile gaming market with our diversified games portfolio, proven game development talent and operational excellence as well as our large existing user base.  I am confident in our games-first strategy,” said Levoranta.

“The contemplated IPO and listing are an important milestone in developing Rovio into an even stronger games-first entertainment company.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Angry Bird’s Rovio Returns To Profit, Possible IPO

August 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Finnish mobile games and animation studio Rovio Entertainment Ltd announced that its sales in the first half of the year nearly doubled following the success of “The Angry Birds Movie.”

First-half revenue rose to 152.6 million euros ($179.7 million) from 78.5 million a year earlier, while adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization increased to 41.8 million euros from 11.0 million a year ago.

Following years of falling earnings, job cuts and restructuring, Rovio returned to profit in 2016 as the 3D Hollywood movie release revived the Angry Birds brand and gave a boost to game sales.

First-half revenue from games increased by 76 percent to 117.9 million euros. Rovio’s main titles include “Angry Birds 2,” “Angry Birds Friends” and the new multiplayer game “Battle Bay.”

This year’s growth is also due to movie revenues that had not shown in Rovio’s numbers previously.

The company is now planning a sequel to the Angry Birds movie with Columbia Pictures, scheduled for release in 2019.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Rovio was planning a possible initial public offering.

Rovio, which had earlier said a listing could be possible in the future, declined to comment.

Netflix Acquires Comics Publisher Millarworld

August 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Netflix Inc has announced that it has purchased comics publisher Millarworld, bringing on board renowned comic book writer Mark Millar and a host of character franchises it can mine for TV shows and movies.

It is the first acquisition by Netflix, the 20-year-old streaming-video pioneer that is building a library of original series and films in a bid to hook new customers around the world.

Two of Millarworld’s best-known comics, “Kick-Ass” and “Kingsman,” are not part of the deal, whose terms Netflix did not disclose.

The purchase of a character stable mimics the strategy of Walt Disney Co. Disney bought Marvel Studios in 2009 and has churned out blockbuster movies, TV series and toys based on its superheroes. Some Marvel shows run on Netflix.

Mark Millar, a Scottish writer and former Marvel employee, runs Millarworld with his wife, Lucy.

Three of Millarworld’s franchises – “Wanted,” “Kick-Ass” and “Kingsman” — have been adapted into films that have taken in nearly $913 million combined at global box offices.

Although “Kick-Ass” and “Kingsman” are not part of the deal, it does bring Netflix a range of other franchises across genres from science fiction to fantasy, plus superheroes and real-world characters.

“Mark is as close as you can get to a modern-day Stan Lee,” Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, said in a statement, referring to the 94-year-old creator of comic book franchises such as “Spider-Man,” “Avengers” and “X-Men.”

T-Mobile Continues Winning Streak, Adds 1.3M New Customers

July 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The nation’s third-largest mobile carrier said it added 1.3 million net new customers in the second quarter, aided largely by the 786,000 new phone customers on a post-paid plan, or who pay at the end of the month. The figure topped at least one Wall Street firm’s expectations.

The numbers underscore the fact that despite the rival carriers throwing themselves at you for your business, T-Mobile continues to win over new customers. The heightened pressure has resulted in more deals for consumers, including Sprint offering a year of service for free(excluding taxes and fees), and its prepaid arm Virgin Mobile going with an all-iPhone model with a rate of $1 for the first year of service. AT&T is throwing its DirecTV Now streaming service into its unlimited plan for $10 extra. Likewise, it was the first full quarter that Verizon offered its unlimited plan.

T-Mobile, conversely, has been relatively tame and quietly raised the price of its One Plus unlimited plan by $10, matching the price of Verizon’s $80 unlimited data plan.

Unlike in previous quarters, T-Mobile is the first of the big carriers to report results, so we won’t know for sure how well it fared relative to its competitors. The company has consistently outstripped its rivals in subscriber growth, leading the industry for 14 straight quarters.

One weak spot during the second quarter was T-Mobile’s prepaid business, which only saw 94,000 new customers, potentially because of the Virgin plan. T-Mobile sells prepaid service through its MetroPCS brand.

“MetroPCS continues to perform strongly, but we chose not to respond to irrational offers from some of our competitors during the second quarter,” T-Mobile said in its earnings report.

T-Mobile posted a second-quarter profit of $581 million, or 67 cents, compared with a year-ago profit of $225 million, or 25 cents a share. Revenue rose 10 percent to $10.2 billion.

Analysts, on average, estimated T-Mobile would earn 38 cents a share and post revenue of $9.8 billion, according to Yahoo Finance.

Nokia And Zeiss Team Up Again For Phone Camera

July 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia mobile phones of the future, you could pack a stellar camera as a headline feature.

Phone maker HMD on Thursday announced an exclusive partnership with imaging experts Zeiss that will see the two work together to develop cameras for upcoming Nokia phones.

Frustratingly, we don’t yet know when exactly we we’ll see a high-end flagship Nokia phone, but at least we know now that when we do it’s likely to have a camera with Zeiss credentials. The two companies will be collaborating on all aspects of camera tech, meaning lenses, sensors, software — the whole package.

The partnership is “very long term,” according to HMD’s chief marketing officer, Pekka Rantala, although he wouldn’t specify exactly how long he meant by that. As for what we can expect the focus of the partnership to be, it looks like it could encompass anything and everything.

“Video is an area we could see a lot of innovation in,” Rantala told CNET in a briefing. “Definitely AR is one of the big things. And we are here to brainstorm.”

It’s not the first time Nokia and Zeiss have teamed up. They also worked together back in the noughts on the Nokia N series, which preceded the more recent Lumia line. In the Lumia series we saw some experimental technology from the two that resulted in the PureView brand, which was all about lossless images, and a phone that boasted a staggering 41 megapixels.

It’s unlikely we’ll see anything like that again from HMD. “The answer is not to emphasize one number when it comes to megapixels,” said Rantala. Dual cameras, on the other hand, are “a very interesting idea,” he said. “That will give new possibilities for a player like us to possibly explore new experiences.”

For now HMD is concentrating on selling the Nokia 3, 5 and 6 (and of course the 3310), but it’s at least given us some idea of what’s coming next. “We have saved some space below three and above six for some expansion of the portfolio,” said Rantala.

Presuming you can count at least to 10, that’s a pretty self-explanatory hint.

Layoffs Loom Large At AOL And Yahoo

June 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Citing anonymous sources, Recode is reporting that AOL and Yahoo are gearing up to issue over 1,000 pink slips as they get set to merge under a new media division at Verizon. This, the report notes, is still less than 20 percent of the total workforce.

The two companies are set to be merged under a new media division at Verizon called Oath, and layoffs are expected to deal with positions that are doubled up under the new brand. According to The Street, an AOL spokesperson did not comment on layoffs, but did acknowledge changes. “Consistent with what we have said since the deal was announced, we will be aligning our global organization to the strategy,” the spokesperson said.

Yahoo shareholders are set to vote on a proposal to authorize the sale of Yahoo to Verizon at a special meeting today.

Neither Yahoo nor AOL immediately responded to a request for comment.

Are Fitness Trackers Good At Tracking Calories

June 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Fitness devices are reasonable at monitoring heart rate but can’t track calories burnt to save their lives.

Euan Ashley, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford University, carried out some research on seven top fitness trackers to see how accurate they were.

The wrist-worn wearable devices included the Apple Watch, Basis Peak, Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band, Mio Alpha 2, PulseOn, and Samsung Gear S2. They were pitted against gold standard medical gear.

Ashley said that while he was surprised at how good the gear was at measuring heart rate, the estimates of calorie burn was pretty pants.

“We were unpleasantly surprised at how poor the calorie estimates were for the devices — they were really all over the map.”

The team tested seven — with 31 women and 29 men each wearing multiple devices at a time while using treadmills to walk or run, cycling on exercise bikes or simply sitting.

The results, published in the Journal of Personalised Medicine said that the most errors on energy expenditure were far greater, ranging from the lowest at 27.4 percent for the FitBit Surge to the highest error of 92.6 percent for the PulseOn device.

The errors in energy expenditure, said Ashley, could be down to a range of factors including problems with the devices’ algorithms or poor data input by users. Errors were found to vary due to factors including sex and mode of exercise [isn’t sex a mode of exercise? ed]

The team says the findings have ramifications for those relying on their fitness trackers as a measure of their health.

“When you consider that people are using these estimates to make lifestyle decisions like what they are going to eat for lunch then I think that is something that is worth knowing and people should know to take these estimates with more than a pinch of salt,” Ashley said.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple To Drop Imagination Technologies, Takes GPU Design In-house

April 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple will soon discontinue using intellectual property from Imagination Technologies Group for graphics processing units for its iPhone and other devices, as it is developing a separate, independent graphics design for its products, the chip technology company said Monday.

But the U.K. company is not giving up without a fight as it doubts Apple can develop a brand new GPU without infringing Imagination’s intellectual property.

Apple held an 8.5 percent share of the issued share capital of Imagination as of April 30 last year. The iPhone maker said in a filing in March last year that it had discussions with Imagination about a possible acquisition, though it did not have plans to make an offer at that time. Apple is Imagination’s largest customer and it described the iPhone maker as “essential to the business of the Group” in its annual report for 2016.

The iPhone 7 currently has graphics based on the Rogue architecture from Imagination, which was announced in 2010. Since then Imagination has announced Furian, a new PowerVR graphics architecture as an upgrade.

Imagination said Monday it had supplied under a licensing agreement the technology and the intellectual property that is the basis of GPUs in Apple’s iPhones, iPads, iPods, watches and TVs. The firm said it had been informed by Apple that it will no longer use Imagination’s intellectual property in new products in 15 months to two years time.

Imagination has raised doubts whether Apple can develop a brand new GPU architecture from basics without infringing the U.K. company’s intellectual property rights.

“Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination’s technology, without violating Imagination’s patents, intellectual property and confidential information,” Imagination said. The company said it had requested evidence but Apple had declined to provide it.

Apple declined to comment on Imagination’s statement.

The iPhone vendor’s notification has led Imagination to discuss with Apple alternative commercial arrangements for the current license and royalty agreement, Imagination said.

Shares of the chip technology company fell by over 60 percent in early trading in London.

Samsung Debuts Two New Tablets

February 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung Electronics unveiled two new tablets, marking its first major announcement since being forced to cancel the flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after some of the devices caught fire.

The Galaxy Tab S3 and the Galaxy Book were presented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in past years the scene of major Samsung launches. This year, Samsung has postponed the presentation of the Galaxy S8, its next key device.

Instead, it took the wraps off the Galaxy Tab S3 and the Galaxy Book, which comes in a 10.6-inch and a 12-inch version.

The Galaxy Book will run on Microsoft Windows 10. The Tab S3 will have speakers by Harman-owned AKG, Samsung’s first use of the brand since agreeing to buy Harman for $8 billion last year.

Samsung withdrew the Galaxy Note 7 last October after faulty batteries led some devices to catch fire, leading to a loss of consumer trust, wiping out $5.3 billion of operating profit, and allowing Apple’s iPhone to overtake it in sales.

Samsung’s smartphone market share dropped to 17.7 percent in the fourth quarter, while Apple’s rose to 17.8 percent, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.

Samsung is expected to launch the S8 in April. In the meantime, dozens of device makers are launching new phones at Mobile World Congress, hoping to exploit the gap Samsung has left.

Facebook Pursuing Deal To Live Stream MLB Baseball Games

February 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc is currently negotiating with Major League Baseball to live stream one game per week during the upcoming season, which could be a key win as the social media platform works to offer more live sports, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Facebook has pushed to sign deals with owners of sports rights to live stream their games, going after an audience that competitor Twitter Inc is also trying to capture, according to sports media consultants.

For social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, live streaming sports is key to attracting people since sports is one of the few types of content that people still watch live.

“Facebook is aggressively going after sports content and they are now one of a number of competitors to traditional media outlets that are going after sports programming,” said sports media consultant Lee Berke. “It makes perfect sense that they would be going after name brand properties like the MLB.”

The companies were in advanced talks, according to one source. It was unclear which games MLB would live stream on Facebook. A representative for Facebook and MLB declined to comment.

By partnering with Facebook, MLB would get access to a young audience at a massive scale, consultants said.

The size of Facebook’s reach was a big reason Univision Communications Inc decided to use Facebook Live to live stream Mexican soccer matches in English, said Tonia O’Connor, chief commercial officer and president of content distribution at Univision.

Under that deal, Facebook will live stream 46 matches by Mexican soccer league Liga MX in 2017. Terms were not disclosed.

Over the past few months, Facebook has live streamed global basketball and soccer matches and table tennis.

Fitbit Struggles Continues, Announces Layoffs

February 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Fitbit has revealed that it will institute cost measures and layoff of 6% of its global workforce after experiencing softer-than-expected holiday demand for fitness trackers.

The company and analysts said despite the negative news, there is still a future market for wearable devices as well as for smartwatches made by Apple, Samsung and, soon, Fitbit itself.

In its preliminary financial results for the fourth quarter of 2016, Fitbit said it sold 6.5 million devices, with revenues expected to reach up to $580 million, down from previous guidance of $750 million.

“We are confident this performance is not reflective of the value of our brand, market-leading platform and the company’s long-term potential,” said co-founder and CEO James Park, in a statement.

“We believe the evolving wearables market continues to present growth opportunities for us that we will capitalize on by investing in our core product offerings, while expanding in the smartwatch category to diversify revenue and capture share of the over-$10 billion global smartwatch market,” he added.

Park said consumers want a “stylish, well-designed” smartwatch that has “general purpose functionality with a focus on health and fitness.” Fitbit recently acquired Pebble, Vector Watch and Coin (with its mobile payments technology) to “position the company for long-term success.”

Park and co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Eric Friedman said they will reduce their 2017 salaries to $1. The layoffs will affect about 110 workers, while expenses will be reduced by about $200 million to about $850 million in 2017. The reorganization will affect sales and marketing groups and create “optimization” of the company’s research and development efforts.

Jitesh Ubrani, an analyst at IDC, said he didn’t think Fitbit’s fourth-quarter results signaled a long-term decline for wearables and smartwatches.

“I don’t think the entire category is in trouble just yet,” he said in an email. “Fitbit is indicative of the larger trend that growth will be slower. This is more of a pause than a continued decline.”

Fitness devices in general have been a “commodity, and a lot of initial excitement has subsided,” Ubrani said. Apple Watches and Android Wear devices have been successful in finding specific niches for sports and fashion, “but none have had mass appeal.”

Rovio Seeks New Gaming Path, Opening Studio In London

January 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Finnish mobile games and animation developer Rovio Entertainment is intensifying its search for new hit games by opening a studio in London to focus on multiplayer games that would not rely on the company’s Angry Birds brand.

Privately-held Rovio has struggled in recent years as profits from the Angry Birds franchise dropped, prompting deep job cuts and divestments.

But last year Rovio launched an animated Angry Birds 3D Hollywood film that it said did well at the box office and yielded new licensing deals.

 Rovio is now looking to build a team of about 20 people in London to create “massively multiplayer online” (MMO) games that support a large number of players simultaneously, with a focus on new characters.

“MMO is a genre that is growing in mobile, but it is not fully saturated. We are not looking for a niche position but a very wide, inclusive game,” Wilhelm Taht, head of games, told Reuters.

The original Angry Birds game, in which players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal the birds’ eggs, was launched in 2009 and it remains the top paid mobile app of all time.

Rovio exploited the brand early on by licensing its use on a string of consumer products. But the company’s failure to bring out new hit games resulted in falling profit, prompting Rovio to cut more than 300 jobs in 2014 and 2015.

“In the long term, our new characters may generate intellectual property and even a brand,” Taht said.

Rovio has a series of smartphone games based on Angry Birds characters. In 2015 it published a puzzle game called Nibblers and it will soon put out Battle Bay, a real-time multiplayer game.

Rovio is not looking to launch a large number of games this year, Taht added.

“Perhaps there’s been some change in our thinking here,” he said. “The market is favorable for games that will live long and that are operated with a service mindset.”

Asked about Nintendo’s hit smartphone game Pokemon GO, Taht said the game truly put augmented reality (AR) on the gaming map.

“We will, of course, be following AR as a technology and a tool,” he said.

In the first half of 2016 Rovio booked a small operating profit, compared with a loss a year earlier, help by growth in game sales.

Rovio has around 200 employees spread between its four game studios in Finland and Sweden and about 400 in total.

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