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Instagram Stories To Get Advertising

January 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc’s Instagram is adding more than 30 advertising partners to one of its fastest-growing features, Instagram Stories, in a bid to boost advertising revenue.

The social media company will become a more important player in maintaining Facebook’s growth in advertising revenue in 2017. During the last two earnings calls, Facebook executives said they may soon reach a limit on the amount of ads they can place before users, one of the factors that had driven ad revenue growth.

Instagram is expected to generate $3.64 billion in worldwide ad revenue this year, nearly double that of 2016, according to eMarketer. That would represent 12.3 percent of Facebook’s global ad business, up from 8.4 percent in 2016. In the United States, eMarketer said it expects Instagram to account for more than 20 percent of Facebook’s ad revenue.

eMarketer also found that 74 percent of U.S. companies plan to use Instagram this year, up from 53 percent in 2016. This level of use would allow Instagram to surpass Twitter.

Media buyers are optimistic about Instagram’s ability to maintain Facebook’s place, second only to Alphabet Inc’s Google, in the digital ad marketplace. “Instagram could end up being as strong a revenue component for Facebook as YouTube has been for Google,” said Noah Mallin, head of social for ad agency MEC Wavemaker.

In Instagram Stories, users and businesses can post a string of photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. It launched in August and now has 150 million daily active users, according to Jim Squires, director of market operations for Instagram.

The new ad product will show full-screen ads intermittently as users swipe through photos and videos on Instagram Stories. The company is testing it with major advertisers including General Motors Co, Nike Inc and Airbnb, which is using it to promote its product Trips on Airbnb.

Time Warner Inc’s Turner Sports will test ads for cable network TNT’s airing of the National Basketball Association’s All-Star Game in New Orleans next month.

Companies normally test new advertising products with a select group of advertisers before a wider roll out.

“It’s definitely gained importance,” said Ian Schafer, founder and chairman of ad agency Deep Focus, who said he plans to spend more money with Instagram.

Twitter Being Sued As ‘Powerful Weapon For Terrorism’

January 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The families of three Americans murdered in ISIS terror attacks have filed suit against Twitter for allegedly knowingly providing support for the terrorist group and acting as a “powerful weapon for terrorism.”

The suit was filed over the weekend in a federal court in New York City on behalf of the relatives of three U.S. nationals who were killed by ISIS in the March 22, 2016, terrorist attacks in Brussels and the Nov. 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris. At least 32 people died in the Brussels attack and about 130 in the attack in Paris.

The suit alleges that Twitter has violated, and continues to violate, the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act. The plaintiffs are asking for a jury trial and monetary damages to be determined at trial.

 Twitter did not reply to a request for comment.

“Twitter’s social media platform and services provide tremendous utility and value to ISIS as a tool to connect its members and to facilitate the terrorist group’s ability to communicate, recruit members, plan and carry out attacks, and strike fear in its enemies,” the suit alleges. “ISIS has used Twitter to cultivate and maintain an image of brutality, to instill greater fear and intimidation, and to appear unstoppable …”

The lawsuit also contends that specifically for the Brussels and Paris attacks, ISIS used Twitter to issue threats, as well as to announce and celebrate the attacks.

The lawsuit was filed by the family of siblings Alexander Pinczowski and Sascha Pinczowski, who were killed in Brussels, and the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, who was killed in Paris.

Will Twitter Be Around For All Of 2017?

December 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

It has taken a while, but we are finally getting analysts to describe situations in the way we do. Trip Chowdhry, the managing director of equity research at Global Equities Research shocked the market when he described Twitter as being “toast.”

We would have liked it better had he added Twitter was now the Norwegian Blue of the tech world but we can’t have everything.

Chowdhry’s comment followed chief technology officer, Adam Messinger, tweeted that he would leave the company and “take some time off.” Meanwhile Josh McFarland, vice president of product at Twitter, also said he was exiting the company. Both exits were announced on the same day.

Last month, Adam Bain stepped down as chief operating officer last month to be replaced by chief financial officer Anthony Noto, who has yet to be replaced. Twitter has also lost leaders from business development, media and commerce, media partnerships, human resources, and engineering this year.

Chowdhry said that many Twitter investors were foolishly building an investment thesis based on complete stupidity. The company was toast and not worth $10 a share, he added.

A $10 price tag would represent a more than 44 percent decline in the U.S. technology company’s shares on Tuesday’s closing price.

He said Twitter’s data quality was “horrible.” Many pollsters used Twitter data to predict a Hillary Clinton win in the US election but the fact that Donald Trump won shows that data quality is poor. This was because Twitter allowed too many fake users on the platform, Chowdhry claims.

“If data quality is bad, ad targeting is bad, and if ad targeting is bad, advertisers are not happy, and hence monetisation will remain challenging for Twitter,” Chowdhry said.

Twitter’s average monthly active users for the third quarter increased to 317 million, up 4 million from its second quarter, while earnings beat market expectations. The US social media giant also announced plans to lay off about 350 people, or 9 percent of its global workforce.

Courtesy-Fud

Twitter Suffers Another Loss

December 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

twitter-logo-4-150x150Twitter Inc’s Chief Technology Officer Adam Messinger announced via a tweet on Tuesday he would be leaving the company, the latest in a string of high-profile executive departures.

Messinger had been working with Twitter for five years and became the CTO in March 2013. Prior to joining Twitter in 2011, he was vice president of development at Oracle Corp.

Engineering Vice President Ed Ho will now take over all product and engineering and report directly to Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, Recode reported, citing people familiar with the restructuring.

“We’re taking steps to streamline and flatten the organization by elevating our engineering, product and design functions, with each area now reporting directly to Jack,” a company spokesperson said in an email.

As chief technology officer, Messinger was responsible for engineering, product development, and design at the microblogging company, amid efforts to find new products and features to grow its user numbers.

San Francisco-based Twitter has faced a string of departures, including in its product team, which has had three heads in less than a year.

No one individual was essential, but the fact that they all left should be concerning, especially since Dorsey is splitting his time between Square Inc and Twitter, Wedbush Securities Inc analyst Michael Pachter said.

Twitter’s Chief Operating Officer Adam Bain left the company last month, handing over the reins to Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto.

Josh McFarland, vice president of product at Twitter, also said on Tuesday that he would leave the company to join Silicon Valley venture firm Greylock Partners.

Twitter said in October it would lay off 9 percent of its employees and shut down video app Vine to keep its costs down.

LinkedIn’s Lynda.com Reports Hacking

December 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

lynda-150x150Lynda.com, the online learning subsidiary of LinkedIn, has reset passwords for some of its subscribers after it discovered recently that an unauthorized external party had accessed a database containing user data.

The passwords of close to 55,000 affected users were reset as a precautionary measure and they have been notified of the issue, LinkedIn said in a statement over the weekend.

The professional network is also notifying about 9.5 million Lynda.com users who “had learner data, but no protected password information,” in the breached database. “We have no evidence that any of this data has been made publicly available and we have taken additional steps to secure Lynda.com accounts,” according to the statement.

In a notice to users, Lynda.com said that the database breach could have included some of the users’ Lynda.com learning data, such as contact information and courses viewed. It added that it was warning users out of an abundance of caution.

The company said in a reply on Twitter that it was taking the issue very seriously and was working with law enforcement.

Lynda.com was acquired by LinkedIn for $1.5 billion in a cash and stock deal. The parent was in turn acquired by Microsoft this month after meeting regulatory approval from the European Union for the all-cash transaction worth US$26.2 billion.

 

IBM Announces Watson App For iPad

December 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

watson-for-ipad-150x150IBM has officially unveiled Watson Analytics Mobile for iPad — an app that can be used along with a free personal or paid enterprise Watson account.

The app can import data from a cloud-based Watson account into a spreadsheet or CSV format, as well as use apps such as OneDrive and Dropbox to import files. In addition, Twitter hashtags can be entered directly into the app for analysis.

Most features are available to free-account users — except for analyzing Twitter hashtags, although if you’re new to Watson, you’ll get a 30-day trial of that.

The app “is not a replacement for the Watson Analytics web application,” according to an e-mail from Marc Altshuller, general manager of business analytics at IBM Analytics. “As such, the mobile app focuses primarily on the discovery capabilities.” Those include answering ad-hoc questions, using natural language queries to discover patterns in data, and asking questions with voice commands.

In a quick test of the new app, it was clear that Web Watson has considerably more power. Like many mobile apps extracting useful information from data, Watson Analytics Mobile for iPad performed well with sample sales data that had well-understood values such as revenues, expenses, and countries. Some data prep might be useful for other types of data before expecting easy natural-language answers to queries, though.

The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store.

 

Will Facebook Get Acquired By Evil Google?

December 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The word on the information street is that Google wants to buy Facebook. It is entirely speculative, but could have legs.

Information leaked suggests that talks are well advanced between the two companies.

Anecdotal evidence from many Facebook users suggests that talks are well advanced and the companies are already sharing experimental data, between themselves, of user data. Other sources suggest that Microsoft (Vole) is also interested in Facebook and, conversely, that Facebook is interested in buying Microsoft.

None of the companies cared enough to comment to Fudzilla at press time. 

Courtesy-Fud

Researchers Working On App To Prevent Death During Dangerous Selfies

November 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

dangerous-selfie-150x150Researchers are attempting to design an app that could prevent people from being killed while taking dangerous selfies.

Carnegie Mellon University announced that researchers there are working with colleagues at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology in Delhi, India to take on the issue of deadly selfies.

People around the globe have been putting themselves in reckless situations – on railroad tracks, on cliff edges — to grab a memorable selfie. Researchers found that individuals died falling from high places, while the most group deaths happened around water, with some dying in capsized boats.

“In India, a number of deaths occurred when friends or lovers posed on railroad tracks, which is widely regarded as a symbol of long-term commitment in that culture,” Carnegie Mellon reported. “Gun-related deaths in selfies occurred only in the U.S. and Russia. Road- and vehicle-related selfies and animal-related selfies also were associated with deaths.”

“In India, a number of deaths occurred when friends or lovers posed on railroad tracks, which is widely regarded as a symbol of long-term commitment in that culture,” Carnegie Mellon reported. “Gun-related deaths in selfies occurred only in the U.S. and Russia. Road- and vehicle-related selfies and animal-related selfies also were associated with deaths.”

According to Carnegie Mellon, the system was able to tell the difference between a dangerous selfie and one that is not risky 73% of the time.

That technology will be critical to developing an app that could be used to decrease the number of selfie deaths.

An app, which has not yet been developed, could be designed to warn a user or even disable the phone if a selfie is being taken in a dangerous situation. The problem, though, is that some people might use a warning as bragging rights that they’re brave enough to put themselves in a dangerous situation.

“There can be no app for stupidity,” Hemank Lamba, a Ph.D. student in Carnegie Mellon’s Institute for Software Research, said in a statement.

The app also could be used to pinpoint areas where people are routinely taking dangerous selfies so they could be marked as “no selfie” zones.

Carnegie Mellon also noted that an app could be used for augmented reality games, like Pokemon Go, to keep users from putting themselves in risky situations while playing.

 

Is Word-Of-Mouth The Best Way To Advertise Games?

November 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

Last week, over three and a half years after its initial release, Digital Extremes’ free-to-play shooter Warframe broke its concurrent player record with expansion The War Within, hitting Steam’s top three on the weekend of release, recording a maximum of 68,530 players online at once and logging an incredible 1.2 million hours of playtime in a single day. Across PC and the more recent Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game, over 1 million of the 26 million players who have registered since the game’s 2013 launch had played by November’s halfway point, beating all previous monthly unique records with a fortnight to go.

Those are impressive numbers, especially for a game at a point in its lifecycle where it could certainly be forgiven for slowing down – and it’s no anomalous bump. Instead, a quick glance at SteamSpy’s graphs for the game show a steadily increasing number of players for the game, as well as a very healthy schedule of updates, patches and big content drops. Rather than leeching users to other games as it ages, Warframe is going from strength to strength.

Meridith Braun, VP Publishing at Digital Extremes, says that it’s been a tight compromise of strategies – resulting in a success which far exceeds the expectations of a game which was initially seen as something of a make or break exercise. Key to that, she says, has been a careful acquisition process, but not one which has come at the cost of long term curation and engagement of existing players.

“It’s definitely a balancing act between catering development to new players and veterans of the game,” Braun explains, “but after 3.5 years, the core of the game has grown so much that for new players there are literally hundreds of hours of missions, quests, customising and exploring game systems before they catch up to where veteran players are.

“Whilst many of our updates focus on adding new content and improving game systems that our veterans are most interested in, earlier this year we took a fresh look at the new player experience and released an update that refined some of the tutorials, updated the UI, tied quests together to help the lore flow better, and revamped the market for easier functionality. It was not our most played update, like The Second Dream or The War Within, but it served a long-tail purpose of making Warframe more inviting and easier to understand for new players. It helps them navigate to the really intricate depths of the game with the intent to retain them long-term.”

“We spend very little compared to other free-to-play games that focus a large amount of their budgets on acquisition”

Polishing the tip of the spear is a tried and tested acquisition technique, but it’s not usually a way of sidestepping the vast costs which many companies associate with gathering new players. Warframe’s marketing, though, was forged in a crucible of necessity, at a time when budgets were almost non-existent. As a result, the studio has learned to maximise the gain from channels which deliver users without draining revenue, although the financial success of the game has also enabled them to operate in areas previously well beyond their price range.

“We spend very little compared to other free-to-play games that focus a large amount of their budgets on acquisition,” says Braun. “Warframe was a passion project – the studio’s ‘Hail Mary’ pass, if you will. There was barely budget to buy an account server for the game, let alone to spend on marketing at the time. We turned to viral everything to get the word out: live streaming, social media, Reddit, forums, PR, knocking on partner’s doors for promotional opportunities. Once we launched in open beta and more players got a taste of the game, it was clear we had something unique on our hands. Since then our acquisition strategy has focused primarily on our update schedule and community involvement.

“We discovered early on that frequent significant updates – updates that added dramatic gameplay changes, enhancements and content, and transparency with our community, brought in droves of new players. Now that we have more wiggle room in our coffers, we work the usual acquisition channels – online CPA-focused advertising, social media, streaming, etc. – but nothing beats age old word-of-mouth between players telling their friends to join in on a game that only gets better and better over time.”

What’s perhaps even more unusual about the current high that Warframe finds itself riding upon is that it comes at a time when the AAA shooter market is crowded with a wide spread of very high quality competitors – many of which are under-performing at retail. The game’s peak numbers come at a point when there are brand new Battlefield and Call of Duty games at market, as well as extremely well reviewed releases like the Titanfall and Dishonored sequels.

“Warframe was a passion project – the studio’s ‘Hail Mary’ pass, if you will. There was barely budget to buy an account server for the game, let alone to spend on marketing at the time”

Braun very much sees free-to-play as playing a significant part in the difficulties which Warframe’s boxed rivals are experiencing.

“I think we’re seeing the F2P model disrupting the standard retail model for larger budget games,” she says. “The continued rise of AAA-quality, free-to-play games coming to market – and their ability to fill the long gaps between large IP releases – is taking a bite out of the big game market. Just this year it was great to see F2P titles like Paragon and Paladins launch to great fanfare and numbers, I’m sure they both had some effect on the big budget FPS games alongside Warframe.

“It’s hard to compete with free. Sure, we want people to eventually pay for the entertainment they’re receiving – but when you have the ability to try out a game for free for as long as you want, a game with equally great production value, and then decide if it’s a game that deserves your money, that’s pretty stiff competition. The larger games also aren’t built to be as agile and reactive to the market after they ship. Free games at their core are made to continually update and improve, offering incredible value and entertainment over a longer period of time.”

Blizzard probably has a few things to say about the notion that free-to-play games offer the best long-term player engagement and responsive improvement, and Braun freely admits that games like Overwatch share that strategy of player curation. Warframe, she says, also offers something else, though. Because it wasn’t a Blizzard game, born almost fully-fledged and slickly functional, early adopters have had the joy of watching it smooth out its rougher edges.

“When Warframe first launched it was a shell of the size of game it has become, and our players have stayed with our growth throughout its life-span. They enjoy taking the ride with us, being a part of the evolution, experiencing game development from the front seat. If you’re not thinking about long-term engagement and game service at the heart of your game design as a good part of the future of gaming, you may have yet to come to grips with the dwindling projections of one-and-done games.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Oracle To Acquire Cloud Infrastructure Provider Dyn

November 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

oracle-logoOracle plans to purchase internet performance and DNS provider Dyn in an effort to boost its cloud-based offerings as well as challenge infrastructure and platform service leaders like Amazon and Microsoft.

Dyn, in the news last month when it was targeted in a massive distributed denial-of-service attack, operates a global network that makes 40 billion traffic optimization decisions each day for more than 3,500 enterprise customers, including Netflix and Twitter.

Dyn monitors and optimizes internet applications and cloud services with the goal of delivering faster access and reduced page-load times. Dyn’s services will give Oracle a one-stop shop for enterprise customers looking for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS), Oracle said in a press release Monday.

Oracle has made an aggressive play in the cloud in recent months, with Executive Chairman Larry Ellison promising in September to give Amazon’s AWS “serious competition.” Some observers have questioned whether the company can catch up to Amazon and Microsoft, however.

Oracle has invested heavily in its cloud platform and has ambitions to be a market leader, but its strength right now lies in cloud support of its own applications, said Paul Miller, a senior analyst at Forrester.

“Oracle’s cloud makes most sense to customers already heavily invested in Oracle’s ecosystem of tools and applications,” Miller said.

Many existing Oracle customers also have a big investment in their own data centers, and that isn’t likely to change for several years, Miller added. So Oracle “mostly tells a hybrid cloud story in which some workloads run in public clouds, and others run on a customer’s premises, in a customer’s chosen co-location facility, or wherever,” he said.

In the hybrid service model, the Dyn acquisition makes sense, Miller said. Dyn’s network optimization services can help Oracle speed up its own network traffic and help the company and its customers “optimize the flow of data between Oracle’s data centers and a customer’s own facilities,” he added. “That optimization makes data flow faster and also saves everyone money.”

Customers should keep an eye on Oracle, he said.

“With a clear commitment to public cloud platforms and a strong history of success, clients would be foolish to write off this provider,” Forrester said in a report last month. “For those already invested in Oracle’s platform and applications, there may be no better choice.”

Oracle declined to comment on the acquisition and didn’t release terms of the deal.

 

Facebook, Google Offer Up Plan To Stop Spread Of ‘Fake News’

November 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

facebook-banned2-150x150Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc both announced plans geared towards halting the spread of “fake news” on the internet by targeting how some purveyors of phony content make money: advertising.

Google said it is working on a policy change to prevent websites that misrepresent content from using its AdSense advertising network, while Facebook updated its advertising policies to spell out that its ban on deceptive and misleading content applies to fake news.

The shifts comes as Google, Facebook and Twitter Inc face a backlash over the role they played in the U.S. presidential election by allowing the spread of false and often malicious information that might have swayed voters toward Republican candidate Donald Trump.

The issue has provoked a fierce debate within Facebook especially, with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg insisting twice in recent days that the site had no role in influencing the election.

Facebook’s steps are limited to its ad policies, and do not target fake news sites shared by users on their news feeds.

“We do not integrate or display ads in apps or sites containing content that is illegal, misleading or deceptive, which includes fake news,” Facebook said in a statement, adding that it will continue to vet publishers to ensure compliance.

Google’s move similarly does not address the issue of fake news or hoaxes appearing in Google search results. That happened in the last few days, when a search for ‘final election count’ for a time took users to a fake news story saying Trump won the popular vote. Votes are still being counted, with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton showing a slight lead.

Nor does Google suggest that the company has moved to a mechanism for rating the accuracy of particular articles.

Rather, the change is aimed at assuring that publishers on the network are legitimate and eliminating financial incentives that appear to have driven the production of much fake news.

“Moving forward, we will restrict ad serving on pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose of the web property,” Google said in a statement.

The company did not detail how it would implement or enforce the new policy.

Hackers Breach 412M Accounts On FriendFinder Dating Website

November 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

friendfinder-network-150x150Over 412 million accounts on dating and entertainment website FriendFinder Networks have reportedly been exposed, the second time that the network has been breached in two years, according to a popular breach notification website.

The websites that have been breached include adultfriendfinder.com, described as the “world’s largest sex and swinger community,” which accounted for over 339.7 million of the 412 million accounts exposed, LeakedSource said Sunday.

Other network sites that had user accounts exposed were cams.com with 62.6 million exposed, penthouse.com with 7 million, stripshow.com with 1.4 million, icams.com with about 1 million and an unidentified website adding 35,372 users whose accounts were exposed.

The sites were hacked in October through a local file inclusion vulnerability on FriendFinder Networks that was reported at about the same time by a researcher. Soon after disclosing the vulnerability, the researcher, who used the Twitter handle 1×0123 and is also known as Revolver, stated on Twitter that the issue was resolved, and “…no customer information ever left their site,” according to CSO’s Salted Hash.

FriendFinder did not immediately comment. The network, however confirmed to ZDNet that it identifed and fixed a vulnerability that “was related to the ability to access source code through an injection vulnerability.”

LeakedSource said it found that passwords were stored in plain visible format or using the weak SHA1 hashed (peppered) algorithm, increasing the possibility of their misuse. LeakedSource claimed it had cracked over 99 percent of all the passwords from the databases to plain text.

It also found that about 15 million users had an email in the format of: email@address.com@deleted1.com, suggesting that information on users who earlier tried to delete their accounts was still around.

The FriendFinder Networks hack, if confirmed, would outstrip that of Myspace in its impact. The exposure of an estimated 360 million accounts of Myspace users was reported earlier this year. The FriendFinder hack also has the potential of being more embarrassing for a number of users, because of the sensitive transactions on its sites.

Is Electronic Arts Bullish On Next Quarter?

November 7, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

The second fiscal quarter is historically the quietest stretch for Electronic Arts, but the three months ended September 30 gave the publisher reason for optimism heading into the crucial holiday season. The company today released its second quarter results, beating its net income guidance and showing strong growth in its EA Sports Ultimate Team efforts.

“Q2 was an excellent quarter for Electronic Arts, led by breakthrough new EA Sports titles engaging players across console and mobile,” CEO Andrew Wilson said. “We are in an outstanding position for the quarter ahead, with two of the highest-rated games of this console generation in Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, global competitive gaming tournaments underway, and our first virtual reality experiences coming soon. Across all platforms, this holiday season will be a fantastic time to play.”

While Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 launched after the second quarter, EA used the report to tout the games’ early achievements. For Battlefield 1, the company said the total player base during the first week of release nearly doubled that of 2013’s Battlefield 4. As for Titanfall 2, which just launched last Friday, the company said dozens of press outlets had given review scores the equivalent of a 90 out of 100 or above.

As for the releases actually covered by EA’s second quarter results, they would include EA Sports mainstays Madden 17 and FIFA 17. The company said “20% more players were engaged” in FIFA 17 during its first week than in the first week of FIFA 16, but made no mention of specific performance for Madden. However, the EA Sports Ultimate Team game modes appear to be healthy, as EA said Ultimate Team’s net sales between the FIFA, Madden, and NHL series are up 15% year-over-year on a trailing 12-month basis.

For the second quarter, EA reported net revenues of $898 million, up 10% from last year, but short of the $915 million it had given as guidance. However, the company’s net loss for the quarter of $38 million was a significant improvement on the previous second quarter’s net loss of $140 million, and better than the projected $51 million net loss.

EA gave the early performance of FIFA 17 and the holiday slate of releases as reason enough to adjust its full-year expectations, with the company now expecting net revenue for the year ending March 31, 2017 to be $4.775 billion, up from $4.75 billion. Net income for the year is also projected to reach $848 million, compared to the previous guidance of $809 million.

Update: On the earnings call, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen addressed the early feedback on Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, noting that it’s too early to update any sales projections but that there’s “incredible excitement” around both and the company is “very optimistic” not just for this holiday season but for the longer term. Citing the fact that “quite a few players” were still playing Battlefield 4 years after it released, Jorgensen said he expects similar long-term interest in both titles. More generally, looking at EA’s business, Jorgensen is also encouraged by the opportunity that this generation’s consoles and the mid-cycle upgrades affords a big publisher like EA since the console installed base is already up 33% in the West compared to the previous generation, he said.

Interestingly, when asked about one of EA’s big upcoming titles, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Jorgensen effectively said that EA is not afraid to push the title back yet again (it was originally scheduled for 2016 but is now loosely slated for Q4, which ends next March). While that shouldn’t be read as a sign of trouble – Jorgensen said Mass Effect is “tracking extremely well” – it appears EA wants to be 100% sure that the game does not need any additional time before it commits more fully to a release date.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Cisco Lays Out Ambitious Plans For Spark Chat Collaboration Tool

November 4, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

cisco-spark-chat-150x150During Cisco’s conference for channel partners, the company spelled out ambitious goal for its Spark chat platform and announced two moves to make it more attractive to enterprises.

Spark is now the centerpiece of Cisco’s collaboration portfolio, which spans voice calling, videoconferencing, document sharing, and other capabilities. Like Slack or Microsoft Teams, the messaging platform is designed to be the virtual home base for teams of employees, from which they branch out into other collaboration tools and productivity applications.

There are already 60 third-party applications integrated with Spark, but Cisco is aiming higher, particularly with SaaS integrations like the one it announced last month with Salesforce.

“Every as-a-service application that has any level of interaction should have Spark and our collaboration portfolio integrated deeply into it,” Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said in a keynote address at the partner conference.

To help promote the integrations that already exist, Cisco announced an online store called Depot where enterprises can find apps that work with Spark. In addition to Salesforce, the lineup includes big names like Microsoft Office 365, Box, DropBox, Zendesk, Google Drive, and Twitter. Depot is also where customers can go to integrate their own applications with Spark.

Also at the conference, the company announced a new software license for Spark and all its other collaboration products.

The new license, called the Spark Flex Plan, costs as little as US$21 per user, per month. It covers all Cisco collaboration software and services, both on the customer’s premises and in the cloud. Each employee covered by the license can use Cisco’s on-premises calling and meeting tools, plus WebEx, Jabber, Spark, and other products.

Enterprises can migrate at their own pace to the cloud-based counterparts of any Cisco on-premises collaboration tool without buying any new licenses. Cisco hopes they eventually will because it’s emphasizing software, services, and the cloud for collaboration. All of the company’s collaboration offerings are now available via the cloud, Robbins said.

Twitter Job Cuts Said To Be Coming This Week

October 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

twitter-logo-150x150Twitter is said t be reducing its workforce by about 300 people or 8 percent of its entire staff, as the company attempts to trim costs in trying times.

The widespread job cuts could come before the company releases its third-quarter earnings on Thursday, according to Bloomberg, which cited people familiar with the matter. It cautioned that the precise number of jobs affected could change.

A Twitter spokeswoman said in an email that the company doesn’t comment on rumor or speculation.

Twitter announced in October last year that it was laying off 336 employees.

Unlike many of its peers, the company has failed to grow significantly the number of its users or adequately monetize through advertising the number of users it already has on the site.

For the second quarter of 2016, the company reported that average monthly active users (MAUs) of the service for the quarter were 313 million, up 3 percent year-over-year and compared to 310 million in the previous quarter. Revenue at $602 million was up 20 percent year-over-year, but the company posted a loss of over $100 million under generally accepted accounting principles.

The company has been trying to give users better ways to express themselves on Twitter, including through streaming video and by not counting @names in replies and media attachments in the 140-character limit for a tweet.

The company had hired bankers to explore a sale, but Salesforce.com, The Walt Disney Company and Alphabet, which had shown interest, later backed out from the process, according to reports. The company has seen a steep decline in its share price over the last one year.

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