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Streaming music is the present and future, not the death of music

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and musicians don't seem overly enthusiastic that music listeners would rather stream music instead of pay for individual downloads. Taylor Swift's decision to pull her music catalog from Spotify, which hurt her music listeners more than the streaming service, didn't earn much praise.

 

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The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said its music revenue dropped 0.4 year-over-year, accounting for $14.97 billion in 2014 - while revenues have slid for more than one decade. However, the number of subscribers to a premium streaming service continues to increase, from 28 million in 2013 up to an estimated 41 million people in 2015.

 

To start the year, a report indicated the streaming music market is absolutely booming, as paid downloads continue to slide - and that has many people in the record business concerned. The transition from physical album sales and paid downloads towards streaming music will continue, and record labels trying to pressure streaming services won't do any good - music listeners want to be able to use services such as Spotify and Pandora, but are willing to pay to do so.

Consumer Reports: Comcast, Time Warner struggle to win over customers

Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter are notorious for their poor customer support, which they've tried to improve, and are in the basement yet again, according to a recent survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

 

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The survey studies TV, Internet, and phone service subscriptions, or bundled packaged for all three services - and the results may not be surprising, yet are still extremely frustrating. Overall, 20 of 24 TV service companies received the lowest score Consumer Reports dishes out, while 39 ISPs received a middling score for Internet service.

 

"Today more than 90 percent of all our appointments are one-hour windows or specific time of day," a Time Warner spokesperson told CNET. "We're bringing dramatically faster Internet speeds and more than 20,000 on-demand choices to customers in markets throughout the country, and we've also introduced a new six-tuner, 1-terabyte DVR to meet viewer demand. And we're going to keep working every day to make TWC the most reliable, highest-value choice in the areas we serve."

Continue reading 'Consumer Reports: Comcast, Time Warner struggle to win over customers' (full post)

GameStop trying to evolve to avoid sharing same fate as Blockbuster

Game retailer GameStop released strong Q1 2015 results, up 8.1 percent (3.34) to $44.18 to end the day, after many investors predicting the company's stock would actually suffer. Overall, the retailer also saw an average 8.6 percent in same store sales year-over-year, as the company continues to evolve during changing times.

 

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"We're such a complex animal," said Paul Raines, CEO at GameStop, in a statement published by BloombergBusiness. "There is no elevator pitch for GameStop." It's an incredible announcement, as more gamers and financial investors feel GameStop will eventually end up just like Blockbuster: gone.

 

Amazingly, the store has managed to evolve despite many gamers choosing to download and install game content, leaving behind physical game sales. However, GameStop has 30 percent to 40 percent market share in digitally licensed content, providing extra game levels and other DLCs.

Continue reading 'GameStop trying to evolve to avoid sharing same fate as Blockbuster' (full post)

Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht receives life sentence

US District Judge Katherine Forrest has given Ross Ulbricht, the founder and operator of Silk Road, a life sentence in prison. The underground website was involved in more than 1.5 million transactions that netted $214 million, and Ulbricht was described as the "kingpin of a worldwide digital drug trafficking enterprise."

 

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Ulbricht was convicted of distributing narcotics on the Internet and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, among other charges. He automatically faced a minimum 20-year prison sentence, though it was expected he would receive a much harsher sentence. The judge noted: "What you did in connection with Silk Road was terribly destructive to our social fabric..."

 

"He developed a blueprint for a new way to use the Internet to undermine the law and facilitate criminal transactions," according to a statement from the US attorney for the Southern District of New York. "Using that blueprint, others have followed in Ulbricht's footsteps, establishing new 'dark markets' in the mold of Silk Road, some selling an even broader range of illicit goods and services."

Continue reading 'Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht receives life sentence' (full post)

Making sense of Taylor Swift's decision to pull music from Spotify

Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify, with her record label showing little interest in working with the music service. Unfortunately, her decision doesn't actually hurt Spotify, and leaves her music fans with one less outlet to listen to her music.

 

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It's unknown how much money Spotify actually paid out to Swift's record label, Big Machine, though most of her money is made from live music concerts and promotional appearances.

 

Spotify, the No. 1 streaming service, pays a whopping 70 percent of revenue directly to the music labels - writing a check for around $1 billion in 2014 - with the number of subscribers increasing in 2015. However, the record labels only collect less than one penny for each song played through the popular service.

Continue reading 'Making sense of Taylor Swift's decision to pull music from Spotify' (full post)

Apple appoints Jony Ive as the company's first Chief Design Officer

Jony Ive has been an integral part of Apple for quite sometime now, with the company recently promoting him from Senior Vice President, to Apple's first-ever Chief Design Officer.

 

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Ive's new role as Chief Design Officer will have him "oversee the company's broader design efforts" reports Engadget, but there will be "leaders dedicated to user interfaces", the site adds. Ive has explained the move, saying that it "frees [him] up" from the usual management role, and let's him focus on design work.

 

Apple's new "spaceship" campus has had Ive's eye on design helping the futuristic new campus and its design, but this new role for Ive might hopefully change the direction of the look and design of the future iPhone.

Report: Charter close to dropping $55 billion for Time Warner Cable

Comcast couldn't get a deal done to purchase Time Warner Cable, but it looks like Charter Communications is one step closer. Charter and TWC are reportedly close to a $55 billion acquisition deal, in what would help create a sudden new cable powerhouse.

 

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The $55 billion acquisition is 47 percent higher than what Charter offered in 2014 - and 14 percent higher than TWC's most recently closing stock price. It's possible a public announcement could be made as soon as Tuesday morning, with the deal pending government approval.

 

Following news that Comcast was unable to acquire TWC, there seemed to be immediate interest from Charter once again. The Comcast-TWC merger would have given the company around 40 percent control of the competitive high-speed broadband market - while a Charter-TWC deal would be about 20 percent overall market share.

Microsoft rumored to be looking at acquiring BlackBerry

It's that time again folks, where BlackBerry is being eyed up and down for an acquisition... from Microsoft. Yes, the maker of Windows and the Xbox is reportedly looking at acquiring BlackBerry.

 

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Alternate sources are saying that even the likes of Xiaomi, Lenovo and Huawei are also interested in picking at the bones of the former company known as Research in Motion. Microsoft is reportedly talking with a few investment firms about a possible acquisition of BlackBerry, where it would upgrade its entire line of business mobile solutions and its patent portfolio in the Internet of Vehicles (IoV) as well as the mobile platform and communications sectors.

Palmer Luckey being sued by his previous employee over the Oculus Rift

Palmer Luckey is in some very hot water, and unfortunately, this event is happening in the real-world and not a virtual one. The founder of Oculus VR has been accused of stealing confidential information with his previous employer, and "passing it off as his own" reports Reuters.

 

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Hawaii-based Total Recall Technologies has said that it hired Luckey in 2011, where he was tasked at building a prototype head mounted display. Luckey signed a confidentiality agreement, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday. In the second half of 2011 and well into 2012, Luckey took feedback and information to "improve the design of the display" reports Reuters. Luckey then reportedly used that information he learned and took to Kickstarter to build his own headset, which has turned into the Oculus Rift.

 

Total Recall Technologies is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, but it hasn't mentioned a specific amount. This could be quite damaging to not only Oculus VR, but Facebook, with Luckey in the firing line. Oculus, Facebook and Luckey have all reportedly denied comment thus far. With the Oculus Rift set to nearly start the VR headset market by itself, I'm sure that amount of considerable.

Smartwatch maker Pebble rumored to be in financial troubles

Even though Pebble raised $1 million just 49 minutes for its new smartwatch, breaking Kickstarter records, the smartwatch maker is reportedly experiencing financial troubles, reports TechCrunch.

 

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Sources close to the site have said that Pebble is "trouble maintaining its growth and has turned to a Silicon Valley bank for a $5 million loan and $5 million line of credit. Valley VCs have been turning down the company's requests for new capital". Pebble currently employs 150 employees, and is still on the look out for more. But even after one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever, Pebble is still chasing additional funds from VCs in order to continue its growth, with the company even applying for a bank loan "in order to stay afloat".

 

Many employees are reportedly unhappy with the direction of Pebble, as it has moved away from its original intentions, and now looking to compete against the likes of Apple and its Watch, Google with its various Android Wear-powered devices, and more. A current employee of Pebble said: "We're a young company. The outlook for Pebble is very positive. It's been a remarkable journey thus far".

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