There’s just something about TV services that get human blood boiling, and it seems DirecTV’s much hyped DirecTV Now cable alternative hasn’t been able to shake that curse. The service’s Twitter account and support forums have been absolutely buried with user complaints ranging from channels not working to customers not being able to even sign in to the service whatsoever. +
Digital music streaming company Spotify is reportedly now the No.2 source of revenue for major music labels. The report comes from Business Insider and cites an anonymous source, who claims that while revenue earned by major labels from Spotify is nowhere near that of iTunes, it has catapulted ahead of competitors since launching in the United States last summer. An estimated 23 million people used Spotify’s streaming music service last month, which is available for free with advertising breaks or at two paid subscription levels that each offer ad-free music streaming. Spotify recently brought its new radio service to its iPhone and iPad app, allowing users to create artist, song or playlist-based streaming radio stations similar to those offered by rival Pandora. The move is seen by some as a potentially significant blow to Pandora, and the company’s stock has taken a hit recently as a result. More →
According to CEO Joe Kennedy, Pandora has surpassed 150 million users in the United States and is the second most downloaded app in the history of Apple’s App Store, CNET reported on Wednesday. The Internet radio service has big plans for the future and is working with automakers to integrate the service into virtually all future vehicles. “We truly believe this is just the beginning,” Kennedy said at the CTIA Wireless trade show in New Orleans. Over the past year, the company has faced increased competition from streaming service Spotify, however it doesn’t seem to have affected Pandora’s continued growth. More →
Samsung is hosting a press conference on Thursday during which it will unveil the next installment in one of the most successful smartphone franchises of all time. The Galaxy S III is expected to be a technological marvel, packing a gigantic high-definition Super AMOLED display, a quad-core Exynos processor, 4G LTE, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and more into an ultra-thin ceramic case. Samsung has gone to great lengths to keep its new flagship phone under wraps, but an inevitable series of leaks paints what is likely a complete picture of the Galaxy S III. The flow of rumors will finally come to an end on Thursday as Samsung takes the wraps off its next Galaxy phone in London, and the company is streaming its “Unpacked 2012” press conference live for eager Android fans around the world. The event kicks off at 2:00 p.m. EDT, 11:00 a.m. PDT on Thursday, and the live stream can be found on the read link below. More →
Spotify on Tuesday announced that its highly anticipated iPad application is now available for download in Apple’s App Store. The free app allows premium Spotify subscribers to access the company’s huge portfolio of music, stream tracks and playlists, and share songs. The new Spotify iPad app also features gapless playback, a crossfade function and AirPlay integration, allowing users to stream music wirelessly from the iPad to AirPlay-compatible devices. Spotify’s full press release follows below along with a video. More →
Apple is reportedly in talks to stream films owned by EPIX — a joint venture among Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Lionsgate — across a variety of devices, including the long-anticipated iTV, according to a report from Reuters. Two people with knowledge of the negotiations told the publication that the talks are in the preliminary stages and no agreement is considered near. The Cupertino-based company is reportedly looking to beef up the content offered through its Apple TV set-top box and upcoming devices. An agreement could prove troublesome, however, due to EPIX’s $200 million agreement with Netflix, which gave the company exclusive streaming rights through September. More →
Microsoft is reportedly preparing to unveil a new streaming music service at the annual E3 conference later this year. Citing unnamed sources, The Verge reports that the new streaming service will work across several platforms including Xbox, Windows 8, Windows Phone, iOS and Android, accessible through a native app or a web browser. Code-named “Woodstock,” the service is reportedly comparable to Spotify, potentially allowing users to stream unlimited music. The service will also seemingly feature deep Facebook integration and a “scan and match” cloud locker feature similar to iTunes Match. According to The Verge, the service will be part of a larger effort to shift away from Microsoft’s Zune brand. More →
Netflix posted its financial results for the first quarter of 2012 after the bell on Monday. The company reported a loss of $0.08 per share, or$5 million, on $870 million in revenue, beating analysts’ consensus. Netflix posted a profit of $1.11 per share on $719 million in revenue in the first quarter last year, and Wall Street was expecting a loss of $0.27 per share on $866 million in sales this past quarter. All eyes were on Netflix’s subscriber additions this quarter, and the company said it added nearly 3 million streaming customers in the first quarter, including 1.21 million international streaming subscribers. The company shed more than one million DVD rental subscribers in the U.S. after losing 2.76 million DVD subscribers in the fourth quarter. Netflix’s global streaming subscriber count now sits at more than 26 million, up from 24.4 million at the end of the fourth quarter. In the second quarter, Netflix expects a net loss of between $6 million and $8 million as domestic streaming subscriber totals reach between 23.6 million and 24.2 million, below the Street’s estimates of 24.5 million. Shares of Netflix stock tumbled nearly 15% in after-hours trading on Monday following the release of the company’s earnings report. More →
A small group of coders claiming to be part of the hacker group “Anonymous” are creating a new social music platform, WIRED reported on Thursday. The goal of the project is to create a service that seamlessly pulls together songs that are streamed across the Internet. The project, called Anontune, will be able to aggregate songs from third-party sources such as YouTube and SoundCloud, and it will allow users to arrange them into playlists and share with others — anonymously. The Anontune system relies on executing a Java applet, and running code that was written by members of Anonymous carries obvious risks. The service is only 20% complete according to the report, however the creators hope the final version will improve the way people engage with music. A video announcement from Anonymous follows below. More →
CTIA Wireless is shaping up to be a bit slow this year and despite the overlap in timing, it appears Samsung will look elsewhere to unveil its next-generation flagship smartphone. The South Korea-based consumer electronics giant circulated invitations on Monday to a press conference that will take place in London on May 3rd. While Samsung does not specifically name the highly anticipated Galaxy S III smartphone on the invitation — the only relevant text is “come and meet the next Galaxy” — it is widely believed that the company’s new flagship device will be the focus of the event. BGR exclusively reported in January that the Galaxy S III will feature a 1.5GHz quad-core Exynos processor, a 4.8-inch full-HD 1080p display, an 8-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera for HD video chats, 4G LTE, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and an ultra-thin case made of ceramic. Samsung Mobile’s “Unpacked” event will begin at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, 11:00 a.m. Pacific on Thursday, May 3rd, and the event will be live-streamed at http://www.facebook.com/samsungmobile.
Online retail giant Amazon is said to be stretching the truth regarding the size of its streaming content library when reporting numbers to the public. According to a report from Fast Company, the “17,000 movies and television shows” Amazon claims to offer Amazon Prime customers is inflated by roughly 10 times. Amazon Prime members have free, unlimited access to Amazon’s streaming content catalog, which can be viewed using a number of devices including a Roku set-top box and Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet. Rather than counting a TV series toward the total content tally Amazon claims its users have access to, Amazon counts each individual episode of a TV show toward that 17,000-title total. So, for example, Fox’s “24” counts not once but 192 times, and various versions of the “Power Rangers” show add 715 shows to Amazon’s catalog. The actual size of Amazon’s library? 1,745 movies and 150 television series. Netflix, which has been said to have a catalog of 60,000 streaming titles, actually has approximately 13,000 different titles including 9,500 movies and 3,500 TV series, the report claims.
Netflix in 2006 held an open competition to find the collaborative filtering algorithm that would best predict whether or not a user would like a particular film or TV show based on previous ratings. The grand prize of $1 million was awarded to a team called “BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos” in 2009. The team’s algorithm was found to be 10% more effect than Netflix’s own recommendation service, however the company never implemented the team’s solution into its own service. “We evaluated some of the new methods offline but the additional accuracy gains that we measured did not seem to justify the engineering effort needed to bring them into a production environment,” Netflix finally explained in a recent blog post. “Also, our focus on improving Netflix personalization had shifted to the next level by then.” The company said because the majority its users were streaming videos rather than renting DVDs, it wasn’t logical to integrate the algorithm into its recommendation service, which is different for its streaming service and DVD rental program. More →
Spotify is the darling of tech blogs, but the overwhelming media hype leading up to the service’s U.S. launch has seemingly not carried over to end users. According to a recent report from the New York Post, paid subscriber growth in the U.S. has failed to meet expectations thus far. Spotify launched stateside roughly nine months ago and the service amassed 250,000 paid subscribers in its first three months. According to the Post, Spotify is now home to 3 million users in the U.S., but only 600,000 are paying either $4.99 or $9.99 per month for premium service while the remaining 80% enjoy free basic service. “People aren’t 100 percent happy,” the Post’s source said, noting that Spotify plans to remove the limit of five plays per month on individual songs for free subscribers in an effort to bolster user loyalty.