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E3 2014 - You know what $2 billion buys you? It buys you a lot of things, but one of those things is the attraction of talent. Oculus VR has been on a hiring spree since Facebook acquired the VR startup in March, with the creator of Crash Bandicoot, Jason Rubin, now joining the Oculus VR team.
Oculus VR has hired Rubin as its Head of Worldwide Studios, where he will be leading the company's first-party content development. Rubin has said: "There have only been a handful of times in my life where I saw something that I knew would change everything. The awe-inspiring tech Oculus is building is a portal into an incredible world that my daughter will one day consider to be normal. The moment I put it on, I wanted to help define that future".
Travel website Expedia has announced that it will begin accepting the cryptocurrency bitcoin for bookings on its website.
It's just a trial phase for now, but if the reception's positive enough Expedia plans on introducing the currency for other services. For now it is using Coinbase as the platform.
Bitcoin use is picking up apace and it seems that big companies are beginning to take it seriously as an alternative payment option.
Honeywell is getting set to compete directly against Nest in the smart thermostat market. The new thermostat is called the Lyric and it will sell for $279. It will be able to connect via Wi-Fi and can be controlled by the user's smartphone.
Honeywell plans to make Lyric a platform with other products using the same connectivity with smartphones and other devices via Wi-Fi. The Lyric thermostat can be purchased now via HVAC contractors. It will turn up in Lowes stores around the US in August.
Sources who claim to be familiar with Amazon's plans have stepped forward to say that the ecommerce giant plans to rollout a marketplace for local services this year. Local services could cover a vast range of services with offerings like babysitters, handymen, and performers for birthday parties among other things.
The sources claim that Amazon plans to test the demand and logistics of the service in a smaller area before it rolls the service out around the country. Amazon has taken that same small test approach with its grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh.
Hyundai has been working on a new sort of zero emissions vehicle that doesn't rely on gasoline for power. It also doesn't rely on electricity from an outlet to get around either. The car is a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and it has landed in California this week. The fuel cell powered Tucson marks commercial availability of mass-produces fuel cell vehicles in the US.
Other automakers have put fuel cell vehicles on the roads in the past, including Honda and others, but in limited numbers. The big challenge is the small number of hydrogen refueling stations that are available. That low number of refueling stations will continue to hamper the growth of the hydrogen fuel cell market for years to come.
Amazon has announced a new plan that will allow it to compete more directly with PayPal. Amazon plans to start processing payments for startup companies and other firms. The service will launch soon and allows over 240 million active users to use the credit card details stored on Amazon to pay for services.
Services that users can pay for using Amazon's new payment service including things like monthly phone bills, digital music subscriptions, and more. Amazon will charge a fee for each transaction. Amazon currently acts as the middleman for a number of companies and this move will broaden that role.
With sales revenues for the World Cup 2014 finals lower than expected so far, FIFA is tipped to arrange more pay TV deals for future football events.
The soccer association's reported revenue for 2014 finals sales is at 1.733 billion dollars. Europe makes up half of the total, followed by Asia and North Africa at 22 percent. Although the figures are hardly paltry, according to analyst company IHS they're less than expected and a lack of growth for TV rights for the finals could lead to more pay TV deals in the future.
And although there's not much of a question about Brazil's dedication to the world of soccer, timezone differences may impact viewing figures in key markets, according to IHS.
Oculus VR continues to be a black hole for some of the best talent in the industry, with Jason Holtman joining the team that is now under the wings of Facebook. Holtman has both Microsoft and Valve on his resume, so this is a nice addition to the Oculus VR team.
Holtman will lead the business development and partnership of Oculus VR "with a focus on building the world's best developer and player VR ecosystem". During his introductory post, Holtman talked of his love for Battlezone, which was a green-and-white wireframe game on the Atari in the early 80s.
He wrote: "Battlezone is widely regarded as one of the first VR games, and looking back, those mountains still excite me. I want to fly, walk across alien landscapes, and nose around the Great Pyramids. And that's the most telling thing about VR: the possibilities are obvious, immediate, and endless. So, I'm humbled to become a part of this team. I'm not one of the pioneering scientists or engineers in virtual reality, but I am one of the people that can't stop grinning every time I see something new inside the headset, and I'm looking forward to helping shape the transformative experiences that inspire the next generation of developers".
Even though traditional pay-TV operators added subscribers during the first quarter, U.S. consumers are still exploring the possibility of "cord cutting," instead choosing Netflix, Hulu, and other video content services. Around 15 percent of adult broadband users currently subscribing to cable and satellite pay TV services are likely to cancel service within the next six months, according to the TDG Research firm.
"TDG has been researching the 'cord cutting' phenomenon for more than six years, thus giving us a unique historical perspective on the subject," said Michael Greeson, TDG president, in a press statement.
Intense promotional offerings, seasonal additions, and special offers have given pay-TV operators a reprieve, and there aren't legitimate pay-TV alternatives at the moment. Companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Hulu, and others are providing video content to customers - in addition to premium content providers like HBO and Showtime - but changes will need to continue.
Popular hardware and software retailer Newegg plans to expand even further overseas, targeting India, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore and Poland this time around. Newegg currently serves the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and China, with tech shoppers hoping to see the company expand further.
To ease into these international markets, products will initially ship from the United States, but local distribution centers will be the next step. Expanding overseas will allow Newegg to compete with Amazon and local e-tailers focused on hardware and software in what were carefully selected markets.
Meanwhile, Newegg is still evaluating whether it would be feasible to accept bitcoin payments, after a growing number of customers request cryptocurrency payment. It's unknown when Newegg will make a final decision as to whether or not bitcoins will be accepted.