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.
Electronic Arts announced their departure from E3 2016, instead hosting off-site events in LA and London where anyone can play their games. This came as quite a shock to some people in the industry, but not to us here. In fact, we have predicted for a few years that the event, which is incredibly poorly run, would implode on itself.
This week, that prediction came closer to reality with 3 more companies announcing that they will not be showing at the event. First comes the biggest of the group, Activision Blizzard, who said in
a blog post,
In June, we're going to be at E3 showcasing gameplay from Infinity Ward's ambitious new game. We're looking forward to sharing exciting new details about the next great Call of Duty game in partnership with our friends at PlayStation. We're proud to be participating in this premier video game event, but won't have an Activision booth on the show floor.
Not to be outdone, Disney Interactive and Wargaming, the company behind World of Tanks, announced that they, too, will not have a booth this year, either. This is going to leave A LOT of floor space empty open at the event this year, and is hopefully going to force the ESA, who produces the show, to reconsider a lot about how they run the show. Rich Taylor, senior vice president of communications, said,
Each and every show, we have conversations with attendees, exhibitors, the retailers, the community. Our objective is to deliver the highest value we can. We continue to go through that process. We are listening and talking and asking right up to the show. We are in full service mode at the show to make it as high quality as possible. I'd argue that is why it's such a successful.
Clearly they have not done a great job of this in the past, but perhaps serious consequences to a lackluster show will make them look differently at what they do.
The whole world seems to be focused right now on Apple and their battle against the legal system, though mostly because they have been sucked into a marketing campaign they don't understand. Apple has convinced people that the battle is over encryption and wanting to protect user data. While that isn't really what is happening here, it would certainly be a weird time for a company to announce the removal of encryption entirely from their devices.
This week, Amazon filed a brief with the court supporting Apple's fight against the government. In the same week, it was revealed that Amazon had removed the ability for users to encrypt their data on their Kindle Fire and, to a much lesser extent, Fire Phone. This removal came last fall when Fire OS 5 launched. Their claim is that users simply didn't use the feature, and therefore decided to remove it entirely.
After discovering this change, the public backlash was severe to say the least. Organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation spoke out against the move,
Removing device encryption due to lack of customer use is an incredibly poor excuse for weakening the security of those customers that did use the feature.
Given that the information stored on a tablet can be just as sensitive as that stored on a phone or on a computer, Amazon should instead be pushing to make device encryption the default - not removing it.
Bowing to pressure, the company has backtracked, announcing that the feature will be returned.
We will return the option for full-disk encryption with a Fire OS update coming this spring.
This is a good move, because device encryption is something that is more and more important today. Devices are stolen all the time, even when you're incredibly careful. Tablets are stolen by TSA often if left in checked bags, phones are stolen in coffee shops and keeping the data encrypted can protect your most sensitive data. Let's hope that Amazon returns this feature in short order, maybe even as the default for the device.