Tag: business

Apple confirms it’s buying music recognition app Shazam

Well, that was fast. Following reports on Friday that Apple was planning to buy music recognition app Shazam, CNBC reports that Cupertino has confirmed the purchase. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but TechCrunch estimates the agreement to be worth around $400 million. The site was also the first to report news of the acquisition Friday afternoon.

"We are thrilled that Shazam and its talented team will be joining Apple. Since the launch of the App Store, Shazam has consistently ranked as one of the most popular apps for iOS," Apple said in a statement to CNBC. "Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users."

As we mentioned last week, Shazam's tech already works with Siri to identify songs and it's available for use on both iOS and the desktop. Pairing Shazam with Apple Music makes a lot of sense, but given the fact that the app also offers image recognition tools, Tim Cook & Co. could have bigger plans for its new purchase than just audio.

Source: CNBC


Apple confirms it’s buying music recognition app Shazam

Well, that was fast. Following reports on Friday that Apple was planning to buy music recognition app Shazam, CNBC reports that Cupertino has confirmed the purchase. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but TechCrunch estimates the agreement to be worth around $400 million. The site was also the first to report news of the acquisition Friday afternoon.

"We are thrilled that Shazam and its talented team will be joining Apple. Since the launch of the App Store, Shazam has consistently ranked as one of the most popular apps for iOS," Apple said in a statement to CNBC. "Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users."

As we mentioned last week, Shazam's tech already works with Siri to identify songs and it's available for use on both iOS and the desktop. Pairing Shazam with Apple Music makes a lot of sense, but given the fact that the app also offers image recognition tools, Tim Cook & Co. could have bigger plans for its new purchase than just audio.

Source: CNBC


Ataribox pre-orders start this week, without any game details

Excited for the Ataribox? Well, starting December 14th, you'll be able to lay down $250 - $300 for the retro-modern console. The company emailed the news to fans recently and even teased that there will be a chance for the "earliest supporters" to snag one at a discounted price. No, there still isn't a firm release date for the console (last we heard was "late spring 2018"), or word on its included games. So, you know, proceed at your own risk regardless of how cool those design prototypes might look.


Tech pioneers tell FCC: ‘You don’t understand how the internet works’

Today, pioneers of the internet such as Steve Wozniak, Tim Berners-Lee and Vinton Cerf sent a letter to the FCC telling them, "You don't understand how the internet works." The letter calls on the FCC to cancel the December 14th vote, which would repeal net neutrality.

The letter specifically says, "it is important to understand that the FCC's proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology." These problems were outlined in detail and sent to the FCC as part of a 43-page-long comment back in July. The FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead "premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained," according to the letter.

The letter also calls out the problems with issues with the FCC's comment system. FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel wrote a powerful op-ed at Wired asking for an investigation into the public comments on the proposal, after it came to light that around a million comments were fraudulently filed using the names of real people. Another half million were from Russian email addresses. The letter makes it clear that the FCC has failed to respond to a FOIA request from the attorney general of New York about these problems.

We've discussed in detail how the repeal of net neutrality would be disastrous, and also how it would hurt artists and small businesses the most. Plenty of companies and organizations have come out against the repeal, but it's unclear whether the ongoing commentary surrounding the issue is having any effect on the FCC. Apparently we'll find out on December 14th.

Source: Pioneers for Net Neutrality


Verizon’s NFL streaming isn’t restricted to its own customers anymore

Verizon and the NFL signed a new $2 billion, five-year deal today. In it, Verizon traded its previous status as the exclusive US wireless carrier for NFL games for the exclusive rights to livestream games to any device, whether a cell phone, a computer or a streaming device attached to a TV. The new deal kicks off in January 2018, and brings the NFL playoffs fo Yahoo and Yahoo Sports.

The key here is that the in-market games (this doesn't cover Sunday afternoon out-of-market games) are available to anyone, regardless of carrier or service provider. Verizon has the rights to stream these games through its Oath properties (such as Yahoo Sports), which apparently it sees as more valuable than restricting these games to its current, paying customers. Previously, Verizon's deal with the NFL only covered mobile streaming.

This is a big shift in Verizon's thinking. The company seems to be using the NFL deal as a traffic driver to sites such as Yahoo Sports. The agreement also covers access to NFL highlights and news throughout the year. Presumably, all of this will be available within the Yahoo Sports app.

Via: Variety

Source: Verizon


First US bitcoin futures start trading at 6PM Eastern

Bitcoin is one step closer to becoming a part of the mainstream financial world. Cboe is launching the first US bitcoin futures exchange at 6PM Eastern, giving speculators a chance to bet on the value of the cryptocurrency through a listed (XBT), regulated entity. You don't use a digital wallet or otherwise require bitcoins -- instead, you trade and settle futures contracts using cash, with a $10 minimum price interval and a $1 transaction fee from January onward. There aren't any price limits, and you can short your futures (that is, immediately sell them in hopes of turning a quick profit) if your broker allows it.

This isn't going to be as huge as the expected Nasdaq bitcoin futures exchange. Also, don't be surprised if your brokerage of choice either doesn't allow bitcoin futures trading or limits what you can do. Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade and others are barring trades at the moment, while Interactive Brokers is both preventing customers from shorting futures and setting a minimum margin of 50 percent. Goldman Sachs is open to them, but only expects to approve futures trading for some of its clients.

Still, Cboe's exchange could be important. The regulation and added transparency may give more legitimacy to bitcoin, particularly among institutions and investors who see it as a wild experiment. Also, it could help calm down bitcoin's extreme volatility in recent months. A single bitcoin is worth about $15,550 as of this writing, or roughly $10,000 more than it was worth in mid-October -- those kinds of increases (and the crashes that follow) aren't healthy for a financial industry that needs some predictability. As futures have historically calmed markets down once introduced, there's a chance bitcoin could enjoy much-needed stability.

Via: Guardian

Source: Cboe


Apple is reportedly buying Shazam and its music identification tech

In a bit of Friday afternoon news, TechCrunch reports that Apple plans to buy Shazam, the company behind the popular audio identification software and app. Apparently, the site's sources indicate the deal could be announced Monday, but it's quick to note the timing on these things isn't always solid. As you can imagine, rumored terms of the deal, including a sale price, aren't reliable just yet. The acquisition would give Apple ownership of the music, TV and movie identifying tech and a group of features it could easily take advantage of with its own products.

Of course, Shazam already works on both iOS and OS X. The song ID feature was added to iPhones (through Siri) with iOS 8 and it hit the desktop back in 2014. Shazam also goes to work on much more than phones and PCs. Most recently, the music discovery tech was added to Samsung smart TVs. The company also has a background listening tool that's always ready to recognize a song or audio clip. Sounds like a good feature for a smart speaker, eh?

Shazam does more than just audio identification, too. In 2015, the company began recognizing packaged goods, books, magazines and other merchandise -- another area Apple would likely be interested in improving its own offerings. We've reached out to Apple for comment on the report and we'll update this post if we hear back.

Update: Bloomberg is also reporting that a deal could be announced as soon as Monday.

Source: TechCrunch


Apple’s Jony Ive will return to his design management role

Apple's chief design officer, Jony Ive, is picking his old management duties back up again, 9to5Mac reports. Back in 2015, Ive was upgraded to chief design officer from senior VP and day-to-day management was taken over by Alan Dye and Richard Howarth. Earlier today, 9to5Mac noted that Dye and Howarth were no longer listed on Apple's leadership page and now word's out that Ive is back at the management helm. In a statement to Bloomberg, an Apple spokesperson said, "With the completion of Apple Park, Apple's design leaders and teams are again reporting directly to Jony Ive, who remains focused purely on design."

Apple has come under fire for some of its recent design choices, like the way its Pencil and Mouse charge, the lack of ports in the MacBook and, of course, that iPhone X notch. That may or may not have anything to do with Ive's return, but as 9to5Mac notes, the writing may have been on the wall. Dye and Howarth haven't really been in the spotlight much since becoming senior VPs while Ive has retained a fair amount of public exposure.

We've reached out to Apple for comment and we'll update this post when we hear more.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Bloomberg


Patreon’s fee change punishes supporters who make small pledges

This week, the popular patronage system Patreon made an announcement that has shaken its user base to the core: It's implementing a fee change that will gut the current pledge system and is already devastating people who rely on it to support their creative endeavors.

If you're unfamiliar with Patreon, it's a service that allows individual people to financially support creators, such as webcomics authors, writers, podcasters and YouTube stars. Rather than a service like PayPal or Venmo, which offers one-time payments, Patreon operates on a per-month basis. Supporters pledge a certain amount per month -- $1 is the minimum -- and their cards are automatically charged at the beginning of the month for the amount they've committed across the platform. And obviously Patreon takes a cut, which is how it makes money.

Until now, it's been a pretty simple, no-frills system that many people in creative fields have taken advantage of. Musician Amanda Palmer, podcaster Sam Harris, YouTube star Jackson Bird and comics creator Jon Rosenberg are just a few of the big names that use the service.

Amanda Palmer Performs At Union Chapel, London

In the interest of full disclosure, I personally use Patreon to cover the expenses of a podcast I'm the cohost of, called Desi Geek Girls. We make a reasonable amount per month, but we certainly aren't dependent on it. That's not the case for many creators, who rely on the service to support themselves on a day-to-day basis, using the service to pay rent, purchase groceries and buy equipment and supplies for their creative endeavors.

This week, though, Patreon introduced new changes that turns all of this upside down. On Wednesday, the service sent an email to creators outlining changes to the fee structure of pledges. Rather than extracting a processing fee from the creator side, Patreon is going to start charging supporters extra. The new service fee is 2.9 percent plus 35 cents per pledge. It's effective on December 18th for new pledges and as of January 1st for existing ones. Additionally, patrons will now be charged individually on the date of their pledge anniversary, rather than in bulk at the beginning of the month.

Now, this may not seem like a lot, but from anecdotal and personal experience, $1 pledges make up the backbone of Patreon. Generally speaking, people have a limited amount they're able to pledge, and rather than send $10 to one thing, they will often send $1 to 10 different projects they want to support. This new fee structure will wreak havoc on that system. Every $1 pledge will cost patrons $1.38 under this new model. Small donors are, in essence, going to pay 38 percent more under this new system. This change incentivizes bigger individual pledges. One $10 pledge will now cost a supporter $10.64 per month, while ten $1 pledges will be $13.80. This change will gut the $1, and perhaps the $5, economy on Patreon.

After the backlash, Patreon updated its announcement post to address some of its users' concerns and explain the fee change further. The team claims that creators and patrons both found the old payments system incredibly confusing, which resulted in thousands of support tickets from confused customers. The fee structure was also unclear -- a 5 percent fee from Patreon, plus a processing fee that ranged from 2 percent to 10 percent from a third party. It's true that this updated model simplifies things. The issue is who is bearing the burden of these fees.

Patreon has positioned this change as a benefit to creators; their announcement email had the subject line "Creators now take home exactly 95 percent." When creators receive their pledges every month, there is always some variability in exactly how much makes it to their accounts because of Patreon's fees. Now, creators will receive 95 percent of what they're pledged; Patreon will take the other 5 percent, plus the service fee from patrons. While this "streamlining" of fees might make things more predictable, it's already having negative effects. The creator of the popular webcomic Questionable Content, Jeph Jacques, told Engadget that as of this morning, he's lost between 200 and 250 patrons, out of over 5,000. Meanwhile, comic creator Kate Leth told Engadget she's lost around 50 supporters, out of almost 1,500. The fee change went public yesterday, and hasn't even starting hitting people's wallets yet.

It's not just about number of patrons, though. It's about percentages. Ryan North, the writer of Marvel's The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and creator of the popular webcomic Dinosaur Comics, told Engadget that in November, he had 734 patrons (He has 687 at the time of this writing, for comparison). Fifty-three percent, or 392, were at $1 or less. An additional 278 are at the $3 level. That's a whopping 91 percent of North's supporters. This illustrates how important small donors are, and they already might be getting scared off.

Creators have asked Patreon if they can continue to bear the burden of the service fees. The answer has been a resounding "no." Everyone has to move to the new model, whether they like it or not, and for both creator and patron, it's not good for the bottom line. Patreon maintains that this fee change "was never (and still isn't) about making more money for Patreon as a company." While many users of the service have taken issue with that statement, positioning this as a cash grab, the fact is that Patreon is a company. It has the right to try and increase its revenue. But claiming that it's trying to do what's best for both creators and supporters, when both are vocal about how this change is harmful, is disingenuous, to say the least.


Facebook reveals how it handles harassment inside US offices

Facebook has been publicly searching for a solution to harassment, hate speech and bullying on the site for years -- and at the same time, less publicly, the company has been honing its internal approach to these subjects. Today, Facebook published its US harassment policy, in full, in an attempt to "be as transparent as possible, share best practices, and learn from one another -- recognizing that policies will evolve as we gain experience," according to COO Sheryl Sandberg and VP of People Lori Goler.

Executives decided to publish the policy now because there's a broader conversation happening in Silicon Valley, Hollywood and across the nation about the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace, Goler told TechCrunch.

"Lots of really brave women have raised their hands recently to take a stand to begin the process of changing culture and raising awareness," she said. "I think this a moment where, together, companies can create lasting change. It seems like a good time to foster the conversation."

Facebook's policies note that it doesn't restrict the definition of harassment by legal terms: The company may find an employee violates its rules even if he or she isn't engaging in unlawful harassment. "We consider whether a reasonable person could conclude that the conduct created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, or demeaning environment," the policy reads.

Examples of harassment, according to Facebook, include making derogatory or insensitive jokes, using slurs or epithets, leering or making inappropriate gestures, initiating unwelcome sexual advances and intentionally excluding someone from normal workplace conversations. The policy also makes it clear that rationalizations like "I was joking" or "I didn't mean it that way" are not adequate defenses against claims of harassment, nor is being under the influence of alcohol.

Facebook looks like a lot of tech companies in the Bay Area: It's mostly white and male. No employees have come forward with stories of rampant harassment at the company, though in May The Wall Street Journal reported female-authored code at Facebook was rejected more often than men's by 35 percent.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Facebook