Rental kiosk service Redbox will increase daily rental fees on December 2, and parent company Outerwall expects to see an "adverse impact" on rental volumes. Daily DVD rentals will increase from $1.50 up to $2 per night and Blu-ray movies will rise from $1.50 to $2 per night. A video game increase from $2 up to $3 per night will go into effect on Jan. 6, 2015.
"I would expect consumers that continue to use Redbox to adjust their usage patterns with reduced basket sizes and/or holding periods along with being more aggressive with promotional-offer usage," said Eric Wold, B. Riley & Co. analyst, in a research note.
I don't mind paying extra for movie rentals, but hope to see extra kiosks - and less issue with downed kiosks - if everyone is going to have to pay more. Redbox offers enough free rental codes, or rent one, get one free rentals - but this could reduce the number of rentals a person may get month-to-month.
The cloud is growing in popularity, and is having a major impact on the current state of the gaming market. A combination of cloud gaming capable devices, hardware makers jumping into market, and increasing network performance will push the market to new levels in 2015, according to the Strategy Analytics tech research group.
For example, NVIDIA Grid Game Streaming Service and PlayStation Now will end the year with almost 30 million devices, and that number is expected to increase 500 percent up to 150 million consumers by the end of 2015.
"2014 is proving to be a watershed moment with major players putting their credibility and brand names on the line to make cloud gaming work," said Michael Goodman, Strategy Analytics' Director of Digital Media Strategies. "While broadband speeds and consumer acceptance of subscription models have come a long away, access to content remains an issue for all services. The major video game publishers have so far successfully managed an incremental transition from physical to digital media, but cloud gaming offers publishers a new revenue stream."
Hardware maker ASRock introduced the X99 WS-E/10G motherboard, the latest X99 enthusiast and workstation motherboard supporting Dual Intel X540 10GBase-T LAN, quad LAN, Windows Server OS, and supporting PCIe Gen3 video cards (4-way SLI or CrossFire X).
ASRock included support for LGA 2011-3 CPUs that range from 18 core 160W Xeon E5-16000/2600 V3 CPUs to unlocked Intel Core i7 CPUs. The X99 WS-E/10G also has eight DDR4 memory slots with support for UDIMM/RDIMM memory modules up to 128GB capacity. There are 12 SATA3 ports, 1 SATA Express 10Gb/s connector, 1 PCIe Gen2 x4 M.2 slot, a SATA DOM and a USB DOM.
The motherboard supports the Intel X540 Ethernet controller, with the single chip able to support dual 10G BASE-T LAN ports, significantly faster than regular gigabit LAN. 10GBase-T can be easily integrated, but the 10GBase-T Ethernet card is pricing, along with a higher level of power consumption.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone has underwhelmed consumers, reportedly selling 40 percent lower than some predictions, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. The Korean electronics giant has sold 12 million units during the first three months of availability - a whopping 4 million less than the S4 through the same time period.
It's worth noting that Samsung's biggest market is the United States, and S5 sales have gone up - but have dropped more than 50 percent in China - as Samsung must prepare to fend off Apple, Xiaomi, and Lenovo in 2015.
To help counter this trend, Samsung is going to shake up its management team, and co-CEO Yoon Boo-Keun, current head of Samsung's TV business, will be shifted to focus more on mobile.
The Apple iPad led the tech industry as the go-to choice for use in US schools and universities, but is now fighting to keep up with Google Chromebook-powered devices. The iPad may have all of the marketing hype, but cash-strapped school districts and universities are finding Chromebooks to be a great bargain.
"We are seeing great demand of Chromebooks in education primarily because of its low price point," said Rajani Singh, IDC senior research analyst. "The education market is very, very price sensitive."
Tech companies want to compete in school districts, community colleges and universities, which they believe will give them lucrative long-term contracts. Companies are willing to sacrifice higher profit margins in their attempt to appeal to school administrators.
Smartphone and tablet owners are facing an increased security threat, as criminals target their devices, with one in six global smartphone owners suffering a cyberattack. Even with the increased number of threats faced, many devices still don't have any type of anti-virus and anti-malware software installed. A tremendous amount of data is now being kept on mobile devices, especially as users log into mobile banking and email accounts, and malware is being designed to target this data.
"The rapid rise in demand for online banking and retail combined with very little security on devices has created a massive opportunity for cybercriminals leaving many people and businesses extremely vulnerable," said Ori Eisen, 41st Parameter founder.
At the very least, consumers should install some form of anti-malware protection on their smartphone or tablet. Ensuring these products are also password-protected is an important step to help keep out some criminals, along with being careful on clicking suspicious links and downloading apps from unknown sources.
As companies and governments struggle to reduce the threat of cybercrime, it seems the criminals behind these attacks are only becoming even more organized. The threats have evolved from 1990s and 2000s, while groups realized the revenue they would be able to generate from their activities. Trying to identify and arrest criminals launching attacks over the Internet remains extremely difficult, with multiple governments potentially involved in a single investigation, cybersecurity researchers warn.
"One of the biggest challenges is to figure out who has jurisdiction," said Larry Bridwell, a global security specialist, in a recent interview with ConsumerAffairs. "A US consumer might have their credit card stolen from a server in Canada, controlled by a hacker in Eastern Europe."
The Chinese and Russian governments are largely blamed for funding state-sponsored groups, but the actual criminals involved can be found around the world - the United States, Eastern Europe, South America and Asia are popular locations for large amounts of cybercriminals.
If you check for your local police department on Twitter, Facebook or some other social media platform, it's likely you can find them being relatively active. Law enforcement officers are able to communicate with citizens in an informal manner, while also receiving tips and information regarding local activities. In fact, 82 percent of recent survey respondents think digital tools assist in improving police services, while 79 percent would choose digital interaction over face-to-face communications.
"Social media has been called by some the 21st-century method of walking the beat and interacting with citizens to gain the information needed by police to keep the community safe and solve crime," said Glenn Springfield, the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office public information officer. "People are so much more comfortable using their computing, staying behind their screen and not having to talk to somebody. Some people are shy and don't want to call the police."
In addition to interacting with citizens interacting with police via social media, don't be surprised if the local police agencies are more proactive in tracking social media. Keeping active on the Internet allows law enforcement to be more proactive while collecting information for investigations.
The use of mini-drones has captured the attention of military contractors, but have great potential in the private world and commercial industry.
It wasn't too long ago when drones in the private sector were extremely expensive, but as technological advances develop, the overall price is continuing to drop. In addition, there is a booming private sector dedicated to the design and sale of drones that can be easily flown by citizens. In the future, drones will continue to expand away outside of military and government use, and will develop even further among private citizens.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently drafting guidelines that will outline private drone use - but until then - the market is still essentially a new-age version of the wild west.
The New Mexico Spaceport Authority is trying to attract new customers willing to launch commercial flights from Spaceport America, but those efforts hit a bump in the road when Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo suffered a "serious anomaly" that left one test pilot dead. With the Virgin Galactic flights delayed, New Mexico could lose up to $1.7 million per year, as authority officials try to find new temporary revenue streams.
Leasing the facility for outside functions such as photo and video shoots, fashion shows and similar activities will help ease the financial bleeding - but the true benefit could be from UP Aerospace and other future rocket launches. SpaceX's tests of a reusable rocket is expected to begin in spring 2015, which will add much-needed revenue.
The State of New Mexico has invested almost $220 million into space tourism, but lawmakers are increasingly concerned about the state's investment.