Six weeks ago, the increasingly confused Kayne West released a new album, The Life of Pablo. The release came with a strange caveat, though: it would be available exclusively to Tidal, the beleaguered streaming service owned by fellow rapper Jay-Z. There would be no purchasing anywhere, or streaming anywhere else - only on the one service. West was adamant about this decision, tweeting,
My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale... You can only get it on Tidal.
This decision, while appearing to be supportive of a new version of the music industry, was actually a sign of confusion. More and more people are moving to streaming, but very few are moving to Tidal, and some people do still prefer to purchase an album to own. The movie industry knows this and continues to support DVD/Blu-Ray. The scenario this created for Kanye was no one switched to Tidal to listen to his music, and a digital version of the album became almost immediately available on torrent sites worldwide.
Kanye's initial reaction was as rational as his decision to go Tidal-exclusive: he threatened to sue The Pirate Bay, an organization with no entities in any country where Kanye could file said suit. Assumedly after a lawyer explained this very large roadblock to this plans, he abandoned them.
Apparently time does makes fools of us all, as this week all of that became nonsense. As of right now, the album which will always be a Tidal exclusive, is available on Groove, iTunes, Spotify and more. The availability is not just streaming, either, as it is available for purchase from the Windows Store. If you are a fan of Kanye, go enjoy his latest album on your favorite platform. If you're not, just wait a little while for his next confusing tweet.
Since last we spoke, Microsoft launched a really cool new research project named Tay. Tay was designed to be a teenaged chat bot who existed on Twitter and Kik, but Twitter was, as usual, the problem. As Tay was an artificial intelligence, she was designed to learn from her interactions with the world and pick up new sayings and information. Unfortunately, Tay wasn't warned about Twitter and things went... unexpectedly.
Within a few hours, Tay was taught to be racist, sexist and more. Her tweets got... interesting very quickly and Microsoft pulled the plug, likely to prevent further embarrassment. After she was accidentally reactivated for a short while and lost control of herself, tweeting the same message to basically anyone who tagged her, she was pulled down again and her tweets were made private.
There are, of course, some problems here, but very few of them are the ones that have been publicly spoken about. Yes, she was apparently very easy to train, and was recruited into some sort of digital bigotry cult. The problem, however, is not with Microsoft, but instead with the people who trained her. The things that were said to Tay are not much, if any, different from the types of things that were said on Twitter during the early days of the GamerGate situation. They are not any different from the comments you find on seemingly innocuous videos on YouTube. The problem here is not with Tay but with the internet.
We have all heard the stories about kids who are so harassed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. that they end up taking their lives. Tay did not do that, unless you consider her mental breakdown at the end. Instead her personality and beliefs were heavily influenced by the things she was told online. This is the type of thing that happens online every day. In fact, it is so effective that ISIS uses these exact same practices to recruit members on Twitter.
If we truly want to fix the problems with Tay, we need to fix the culture of the internet that triggered Tay's personality change.
At this point, no company can ignore the growing demand for mobile gaming. As new companies like Zynga and King have popped up and dominated the space, existing companies have scrambled to figure out how to compete. EA responded by purchasing studios. Activision initially responded by panicking. Capcom, however, has been cautiously watching and waiting.
This week, the company announced that they would be pursuing mobile in a big way. In fact, they have reorganized and created a mobile-centric studio to focus on this aspect of the industry. As part of the announcement, the company also announced first 4 titles that will come out of this new business division, coming from the existing intellectual properties of Monster Hunter, Sengoku BASARA and Mega Man.
As Nintendo has been proving recently, entering the mobile world with proven, successful IP, Nintendo has entered the world with their Mii collection, with Pokémon not far behind. By bringing titles and characters that people are already familiar with and are already successful to the smaller screen, you can capitalize on existing marketing and loyalty.
For Capcom, these 4 new titles will be released within their next fiscal year, which runs through March 31, 2017. That doesn't necessarily mean we have to wait a full year to see these games launch, but it is always possible that we have a long wait ahead of us.
When Apple announced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, there were many people who were really excited about the ability to finally get ahold of an iPhone with a screen comparable to the rest of the industry. Unfortunately for Apple, there were others who were unhappy with the larger size, hoping to keep something closer to what they have always known. Those dreams would be dashed, however, as there were only these larger phones.
With the biannual increment there were still only the larger format screens, but nothing to directly replace the iPhone 5s which was officially 2 years old and missing all of the new features to the Apple ecosystem. Finally, Apple has announced a "new" handset, the iPhone SE, which is designed to fill that gap.
At first glance you would think it was an iPhone 5s, and you would not be far off. In fact, the device itself is nearly identical to the former device from the outside, but with some new stuff under the hood. Essentially, you will be getting an iPhone 6s inside of an iPhone 5s body. While this product obviously is designed to fill a consumer need, like that iPhone 5c, but like the 5c, it is not expected to succeed in the market.
According to sources inside the industry, there are concerns about the success of the new device. Despite launching the new phone, as well as a smaller iPad Pro, Apple's parts order quantities have not changed from last quarter. This indicates to the suppliers that Apple themselves have no real hopes of success for these products. According to the source,
Overall chip orders placed by Apple for the second quarter will only be slightly higher than those for the first quarter, despite the upcoming availability of its 4-inch iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro devices, said the sources.
Shipments for the new iPhone SE will be unable to offset the fall in shipments for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus devices in the second quarter, the sources continued. The shipment target for the SE in the second quarter is four to five million units, the sources said.
While this may not be a completely accurate indicator, it is not something that can be ignored. Of course, Apple could just be acting cautiously in the wake of the disaster that was the iPhone 5c, but they could also be indicating their own dislike or distrust in the concept of pandering.
Live video streaming is not a new concept. Livestream, Justin.tv, Stickam, Ustream and the like got started a long time ago. Despite that fact, software seems to come cyclically, with old concepts becoming popular again in short bursts. Video streaming has hit that mark with services like Twitter's Periscope and Facebook Live dominating the market for casual, mobile usage.
This has caused several services to reconsider their businesses. This week we heard 2 of the larger competitors announce just such a pivot. First Stre.am, the smaller of the two, announced that they will be adding a new focus on mobile gaming. With new additions to Android, it is easy to stream your screen similar to what Twitch offers for traditional gaming.
Stre.am will be competing with slightly more established services, such as Kamcord and Mobcrush, both of whom were prepared for these new features and have a Twitch-like focus on mobile gaming, like Boom Beach and Clash of Clans. Kamcord has received over 200,000 unique views for a single broadcast, making them a formidable competitor. Luckily for Stre.am, it is a new and emerging market, so there is room for competition.
On the other hand, Meerkat, who was the first name on the scene for mobile streaming, has been a little less forward about their intentions. In a statement on Medium, the company said,
We found the best Meerkat moments happened when people who knew each other (either in person or online) came together live and interacted in realtime. We saw this in the conversations when the threads would go on and on and on. We especially saw this in cameo when broadcasters were able to see their audience and interact in a more human way, people passed around the camera for a campfire chat session. And we saw many of these groups have the best repeat behavior of anyone.
While not detailed information, it does suggest that the company is looking into competing with Blab. Their model is interesting, though it is missing many features that would keep our company from considering it for use. The lack of 16x9 or high-res video, for example, keeps it more of a toy than a successful platform.
If Meerkat is capable of using what they already know and creating a similar service without the serious limiting factors, it is possible that Meerkat could return to popularity and possibly profitability.
The fight for Yahoo's future has been an interesting, winding journey. One day they want to sell off their stake in Alibaba, the next day they want to keep that and sell off their core businesses. All along, CEO Marissa Mayer has fought the sell-off of major properties and investments, She has maintained that the company's turnaround plan is close to producing fruit.
This week, the company's CFO Ken Goldman said at a conference that the sell-off plans have evolved once again. Rather than selling off core business units and investments, they are looking for alternatives. One of those alternatives is to sell between $1 and $3 billion worth of non-core assets. Goldman said that all non-essential assets, including patents, land and business units are all up for grabs.
Depending on the patents, this could be either really good or really bad. Over the past 3 years, the company has generated $600 million in revenue just from the licensing of patents. Rather than selling off what they have, they could potentially focus harder on finding new patent licensing deals to increase revenue, without becoming a patent troll. They could make some quick cash selling those patents and their licensing deals, so long as they get free use of the patents from their new owners.
Goldman did not confirm who was interested in making offers, but rumors have surfaced that Time Inc. and Verizon are among the interested parties. Several shareholders and investors are pressuring the company to act fast, as return on investment has been low for a long time.