Current UpStream Contributor
Interim Segment Host
With over ten years of audio engineering experience, Nick's addition to the PLuGHiTz Corporation is best served when he is behind the mixing board every Sunday night to produce the audio side of their PLuGHiTz Live! Radio show. While mixing live every week, his previous radio show hosting experience gives him the ability to co-host as well, giving each show a unique flare with his slightly off-center, yet still realistic take on all things tech. An integral part of the show, you can find Nick always enveloped in coming up with new (and sometimes crazy) ideas and content for the show and you can always expect the most direct opinion on the stories that he feels need to be shared with the world. During the few hours where Nick isn't sleeping or working on ways to improve the company, he spends his free time going to hockey and football games and playing the latest titles on Xbox 360. Email him for his gamertag and add him today for a fun escape from the normal monotony and annoyance that the Xbox LIVE gaming community can sometimes be!
Recent UpStream Articles
posted Sunday Jun 9, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
After COO David Ko took over the company and went through a period of serious consolidation and reduction, trouble still loomed for Zynga. More recently, Zynga lost its top spot as social gaming king and it would appear that things are getting worse as the months progress. Now, the gaming studio will undergo another round of staff terminations.
Zynga announced this week that it will be cutting almost another 20 percent of its total workforce, 520 people, as they will continue to cut costs everywhere they can to save the company as a whole. Zynga reps say that this measure will save yet another $80 million a year from their bottom line. In total, this will bring the total work force that's left down to about 2,300, which is even less than when they began their IPO in December of 2011, at nearly 2,700 employees. Even worse, the stock price dropped another 12 percent this week to $3 a share, bringing it to 70 percent below what the IPO was initially at.
CEO Mark Pincus said in a blog post that,
The scale that served us so well in building and delivering the leading social gaming service on the Web is now making it hard to successfully lead across mobile and multiplatform, which is where social games are going to be played.
The layoffs will include employees who are both new and seniors in the company, and will affect the San Francisco studio. Moreover, the New York, LA and Dallas offices will be shutting down for good, which obviously means the reductions in those cities did not work out in the long run.
Naturally, employees have been very upset about this news and took to the web to post their frustrations. Senior designer Matthew Cox spoke on the layoffs, mentioning that 55 employees, the whole office, was the casualty in the LA studio, however the severance was "very generous." We hope that the talented individuals from the company land on their feet and find a more prosperous work environment soon.read more...
posted Saturday Jun 8, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
Things haven't been looking so great for HTC. While some phones have been fantastic, like the HTC One, others haven't seen such great results, like the Facebook-heavy HTC First. Sales haven't been the best and the company has faced some tough times. With less than three years under his belt, Chief Operating Officer Matthew Costello has resigned from his position with HTC after another dismal sales quarter and shares being down over 75 percent from two years ago.
According to HTC, Fred Liu, the president of engineering and operations, will be handling the COO position until further notice. For Costello, oddly enough he will not be departing the company entirely. Instead, the former COO will move to Europe and will become an executive adviser to the company. Odds are that this will be the case until Liu is comfortable in his new position, and then Costello will be let go. All of this is happening after HTC posted a net income loss of almost 100 percent in the last quarter. Plus, Costello isn't the only person who has left the company. Before him, the finance, design and marketing chiefs have all left the company in the past two years as well.
New Chief Marketing Officer Ben Ho said that things have to turn around for HTC. He mentioned in a statement that the company is going to be more bold and prominent in its advertising campaigns. Of course, the HTC One is probably going to be at the helm of the marketing campaign moving forward. However, Ho didn't speak on any budget for any campaigns moving forward.
We're going to be bolder with marketing in the second half. We're not going to hide our brand anymore.
HTC's CEO, Peter Chou, spoke on driving sales back to the brand as a whole, and said that their highlight phone, the HTC One, will have what it takes to do that.
Response for our flagship device has been strong and demand has exceeded our expectations. We are confident that the business steps we have taken and continue to take are the right ones to lead to a strong resurgence of the HTC brand.
Could the new wave of execs running the company be what HTC needs to make a profit next quarter? Seeing as though this quarter marked the lowest recorded profit in company history, it is obvious things need to change, and fast. I would love to see HTC get into more Windows Phone devices, as people are starting to become frustrated and confused by seeing so many different HTC-branded devices out there all running different iterations of Android. The user experience from one phone to the next, even with the same version of Android, can be completely different depending on the carrier and I think customers are getting tired of re-adjusting to the same stifled product. What do you think? Comment below.read more...
posted Sunday Jun 2, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
If you've been following our coverage, you'll know we've been keeping you plugged in to what was happening with the whole "Motorola wants to ban the Xbox 360" saga. Back in December there was an update in which the International Trade Commission (ITC) said they would not decide on the matter until next year. Well, next year is now here and we have another update for you; it just happened to slip through the cracks last week because, you know, there was a bunch of other news involving Microsoft happening.
Start up your Xbox 360s and rejoice at the fact that Microsoft has won the case versus Motorola. The ITC has found that Microsoft is not guilty of any sort of patent infringement that Motorola was claiming they were doing. These patents, by the way, were involving the methods in which the 360 handled video transmission and compression, along with several claims on the console's Wi-Fi capabilities. So, as it stands, Microsoft only has to pay Motorola 3.5 cents per Xbox 360 sold, but Google - who owns Motorola - still has to pay Microsoft in upwards of $10 per Android handset sold. I believe this makes Microsoft the clear victor, no matter which way you look at it.
Obviously happy, a Microsoft spokesperson said,
This is a win for Xbox customers and confirms our view that Google had no grounds to block our products.
And, with their tail between their legs, a Motorola rep said,
We're disappointed with this decision and are evaluating our options.read more...
posted Sunday Jun 2, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
Best Buy has been in the news a lot lately. From cutting its workforce in August along with its retail footprint to posting an $81 million loss this quarter, trouble seems to keep up with the yellow tag store. This week, in the earnings call that the company announced the big loss in, Best Buy also said they will be shrinking the amount of floor space they give DVDs and Blu-ray discs. They, like many people, have discovered that people are buying physical media less and less, and have decided to - albeit a little late - actively do something about losing money in this area. So, who hasn't seen this radical outlook on the current state of the entertainment industry yet? FYE.
Yes, the company FYE, who has been closing stores down nationwide to a point where they don't even exist in some large markets, has decided to go the other route and instead expand its DVD section to cater to the customers who will be potentially ousted by Best Buy. With FYE posting a $1.8 million profit gain, $800,000 lower than the previous year's Q1, along with an almost $30 million revenue drop year-to-year, the company needs to take drastic measures to really stop the bleeding. And, with as many store closures as we've seen from them, you'd think it would be enough, but sadly FYE feels that this move will actually have them seeing more positive numbers moving forward.
Of course there are some stats to look at. FYE has seen a 6.6 percent drop, on average, in sales overall with each passing quarter. This, they say, is due to less foot traffic and very lackluster sales in the music department. For DVDs and Blu-ray discs, sales haven't even gone up a percent, but still make up almost half of the total income for FYE. So why bank on that category providing revenue and profit growth instead of closing 26 more stores? CEO Bob Higgins, said,
Video sales continue to be driven by strong sales of Blu-ray as competitors exit the DVD business, and the strength and depth of our (disc) selection provides us with a competitive advantage. We've always considered (Best Buy) our No. 1 competitor (in packaged media). We didn't get any impact in the last quarter, but I would expect that in the future we will.
I don't know how far into the future FYE will even make it in the first place. Some analysts are thinking FYE is genius for taking this tactic, but even rental services like Netflix and Redbox are seeing a decline in physical disc rentals, especially now that even Redbox has moved to video streaming. What do you make of this? Is this a smart move for FYE? Sound off in the comments below.read more...
Home Media Magazine:Best Buy CEO: Physical Media Space Shrinking for a Reason
posted Sunday Jun 2, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
When Spotify picked up a second round of funding late last year I knew big things were going to be in store for the music-streaming service, and it wasn't just going to be expanding to eight new markets. Instead, Spotify finally introduced something I've been wanting to see for ages now - a "find new music" feature that isn't the current What's New tab of common Billboard hits.
Six months ago Spotify announced the Discover tab in a press conference but, until this week, nobody saw or heard anything else about. Now, using a better system than what Pandora uses to play you your next track based on what you've "liked," Spotify's Discover software uses your current listening habits, artists and playlists to come up with relevant artists that they think you may be interested it. Further, the service also offers curated content from Tunigo, Pitchfork and Songkick, just to add some more options to your music diet.
Even better, there's an option called Audio Preview, giving you the ability to hear a new track without leaving your place in your current music-listening cycle. Simply click and hold on any play button on any song in the Discover tab and you'll hear said song. Let go of the mouse button and you're right back to where you were. Now, if you don't see all of this yet, don't worry, as this is being rolled out to the web player first, and gradually to mobile and the PC software, so some may get it before others.
Overall, I really like the direction of where Spotify is heading. The company has found the right mix of social to include into its offering, and then has extended the option to listen to music the way you want to, in a very natural and unforced way. The only other competitor that has been able to do that somewhat seamlessly is Xbox Music - and that's simply because you have to get used to not calling it Zune anymore. In the case of Spotify, I'm finally able to have new, and in some cases relatively unknown, artists come right to my screen, without having to search out specific songs and hopefully stumble across some new tunes. Oh, on that note, has anyone else heard of the group RAC? They do some fantastic remixes!read more...