Apple will pre-load the Beats subscription music service into iOS sometime next year, launching the app on all iPhones and iPads. This is an important effort for Apple, as iTunes song and album downloads are on the decline, and marks the company's first major effort in subscription music.
Apple wants to rely on Beats to put pressure on Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, and other competitors fighting in the online music subscription space. The company acquired Beats for $3 billion and many analysts were unsure what the company would do with the Beats subscription service. However, Apple wants to develop the online music offering to find new revenue to counter dropping iTunes music sales.
Ensuring apps are pre-installed on smartphones and tablets is a good method to reach new potential subscribers - and Beats has an estimated 110,000 subscribers - so there is plenty of room for long-term growth.
It would appear some Google Android 5.0 Lollipop early adopters are having trouble with their update, with Google Nexus 7 tablets running slowly and crashing. Apps built by Adobe Air are being automatically uninstalled and users cannot reinstall the missing apps - Adobe has escalated the problem with Google, trying to find a solution as quickly as possible.
Google has promoted Android 5.0 as a "quantum leap forward" and demand for the mobile OS has accelerated. However, user problems might have other Android supporters rethinking updating their smartphones and tablets until these problems are resolved.
Google Nexus, LG Electronics, NVIDIA and Motorola have rolled out Android Lollipop updates for their mobile devices, but with apps crashing or freezing, it's possible to hear even more user complaints in the near future. If nothing else, Google is likely working quickly to ensure these problems are fixed as more devices are expected to receive the update.
Walmart is desperate to compete with Amazon, Best Buy, and other rivals ahead of Christmas, and have been getting tricked by a price-matching scam. People are creating fake Amazon selling accounts and listing Sony PlayStation 4 units as low as $50, taking a screenshot of the online price, and taking it to a local Walmart to claim their prize. Other sneaky customers were picking up PS4 bundles for $100, but it looks like Walmart has wised up and has altered its price matching policy.
Previously, Walmart was getting scammed into selling $60 Nintendo Wii U and 3DS bundles, thanks to a mistake on the Sears website. Customers quickly jumped on the erroneous listing, and found that Walmart met the price match even with a wrong price on a rivals website.
"We're committed to providing low prices every day," the Walmart website proudly boasts. "On everything. So if you find a lower advertised price on an identical product, tell us and we'll match it. Right at the register."
Electronic Arts and other game studios are enjoying an increasingly competitive game console market - and while the Sony PlayStation 4 has dominated the sales charts, the Microsoft Xbox One certainly has time to catch up. Microsoft has cut the price of the Xbox One and has seen a steady increase in console sales, showing the company has plenty of fight left.
As of late October, there have been more than 13.5 million PS4 units shipped, while Xbox One has shipped 10 million units. Both companies are preparing for what should be a slugfest in the 2014 Christmas holiday shopping season, with great deals expected on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
"Clearly Sony has jumped out to a lead with a great console and I think a great strategy," said Blake Jorgensen, Electronic Arts CFO, but admitted "Microsoft is catching up quickly."
Powermat wireless charging stations will be introduced into 200 San Francisco Bay Area Starbucks locations, as the company plans to launch nationwide rollout before heading to Europe and Asia within 12 months. The chargers will be built directly into tables and bars inside of Starbucks, and the popular coffee chain hopes to win over patrons with the wireless charging offering.
It was announced earlier this year that Starbucks was testing the wireless charging stations in the Bay Area, but trying to find them in-store proved difficult for many guests. The Power Matter Alliance produces the Powermat technology, and is supported by Starbucks, Google and AT&T.
"The availability of Powermat Spots in Starbucks is transformative for San Francisco Bay residents who no longer have to worry about making it through their day with limited battery power," said Ran Poliakine, Powermat Technologies CEO, in a press statement. "They know that the nearest charge is only as far away as the nearest Starbucks."
The online PC gaming industry will grow from $24.4 billion this year up to an estimated $30.7 billion in 2017, the performance marketing agency Ad2Games and analyst firm Newzoo recently reported. The PC and MMO game market will account for 31 percent of international video game revenue, with Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America expected to see 95 percent of growth over the next three years.
Trying to expand to attract - and retain - new gamers proves to be extremely expensive, with costs as low as 37 cents up to $5.63 per user, the report indicates.
The sector will see 7.9 percent year-over-year growth over the next three years, while free-to-play video games continue to woo new gamers. These types of games
Similar to the United States and UK, German government agencies and companies are facing a mounting number of cyberattacks from foreign countries. Not surprisingly, it would appear a large number of the attacks are from suspected state-sponsored groups in China and Russia - and are extremely difficult to defend against. The German government is investing more resources into boosting cybersecurity to prevent successful breaches against its agencies and private companies.
There are an estimated 3,000 daily attacks targeting German government agencies, with five of those attacks blamed on foreign intelligence services. As a significant global power, there is a risk of cyberespionage from foreign governments trying to steal secrets to elevate their own political and military efforts.
"We have seen that there are ever more frequent attacks by foreign intelligence agencies on the German government IT infrastructure," said Hans Georg Maassen, the German domestic intelligence (BfV) chief. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA snooped on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone, along with spying on other German government officials.
The US energy grid is a popular target for cybercriminals, most of them likely state-sponsored hackers, with 79 reported hacking incidents investigated by the Department of Homeland Security's Computer Emergency Readiness Team. Although it's a drop from the 145 investigated incidents from 2013, there is a significant issue of US critical infrastructure being targeted by skilled cybercriminals.
There have been at least 50 customized pieces of malware designed to target energy companies, and their security efforts haven't been able to hold up. The Russian BlackEnergy malware was found on software assigned to control US electrical turbines - and while there were no attempts to disrupt the machinery - is a clear indicator that cybersecurity efforts need to be boosted immediately.
"Our grid is definitely vulnerable," said David Kennedy, TrustedSec CEO. "The energy industry is pretty far behind most other industries when it comes to security best practices and maintaining systems."
More than 90 percent of US households currently have at least three or more Internet-connected devices, according to a recent report published by Ericsson. The average household has 5.2 connected devices per household, and that number will increase as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to be common place.
The Ericsson survey also found that 97 percent of households have at least one mobile phone, while mobile phone saturation continues to increase. By 2020, 90 percent of the global population over six years of age will own a mobile phone - and many phone owners will be using smartphones.
At the end of 2013 there were 1.9 billion smartphone subscriptions, and that number is expected to increase up to 2.7 billion by the end of this year. Analysts believe that number will increase 15 percent each year through 2020, as smartphones become more affordable.
The expansion of 4K content and high frame rate movies present graphically appealing content, but digital animation studios are struggling, a recent industry expert noted. Production schedules could be impacted due to high-resolution images, forcing studios to reconsider how they create films.
"They are both going to present a huge challenge," said Bruno Mahe, Illumination Mac Guff technical head recently told the BBC. Traditional animated films are viewed at 2K resolution with 24 frames per resolution, but 4K boosts the videos up to 4K resolution and 48fps - and it isn't an easy transition.
In addition to slowing down production, studios also need increasingly powerful render farms to produce images and send them to other animation facilities.