Report: Yahoo in Talks to Acquire Hulu (Again)
The gradual transformation of Yahoo, led by former Googler Marissa Mayer's aggressive software acquisitions and internal reorganization strategy, appears to be moving ahead at full steam. Now, according to a new report, the company is in talks to snap up online video site Hulu.
Initially launched as a free, advertiser-supported video aggregation site in 2007, today Hulu's premium service, Hulu Plus, has garnered well over 4 million paid subscribers, in addition to those who watch for free. While that trails far behind the roughly 36 million Netflix streaming subsribers, it nevertheless makes Hulu a viable player in the race to monetize online video, a strategy even the leading video site, YouTube, is reportedly only just beginning to consider.
The news of Yahoo's interest in Hulu comes via All Things D in a report that claims Mayer met with the company's executives recently in what is termed as a "getting-to-know-you" meeting. According to the site's sources, no firm bid has been made for the video site, but the meeting itself is a hint at Mayer's interest, particularly in light of Yahoo's recent failed bid to acquire another high-profile video site, Dailymotion. Yahoo's bid to purchase a majority stake in the France-based site, reportedly worth roughly $300 million, was ultimately blocked by the French government.
Yahoo already boasts a significant online video audience of its own at about 55 million unique viewers per month, second only to YouTube's 150 million unique viewers, according to comScore. But acquiring a rapidly growing online video subscription service like Hulu could supercharge Yahoo's recent efforts to establish more major video content partnerships.
Neither Yahoo nor Hulu has commented on the rumors.
iOS 7 Rumors Point to Redesigned Interface, Vehicle Integration
In advance of June's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), which will likely include news of iOS 7, rumors about what the revamped mobile OS will include are now hitting the Web.
Citing sources who have seen or been briefed on the upcoming platform, 9to5Mac reported that iOS 7 will offer a redesigned user interface that may attract new customers, but could be troublesome for long-time users.
The new interface is "very, very flat," according to two 9to5Mac sources. One likened it to Microsoft's Windows Phone "Metro" UI, while another said it ditches Apple's well-known skeuomorphic designs.
While iDevice users can expect a tweaked look — new icons for Apple's native apps, and new tool bars and tab bars — core apps and system functions like the Lock and Home screens will operate in mostly the same way as iOS 6, 9to5Mac said.
Microsoft Teases Immersive ‘IllumiRoom’ Gaming Experience
Ahead of Microsoft's May 21 Xbox launch, the team at Microsoft Research this week revealed more details about IllumiRoom, which brings a more immersive and interactive gaming experience right to your living room.
IllumiRoom is described as "a proof-of-concept system that augments the area surrounding a television with projected visualizations to enhance traditional gaming experiences," which means everything from extending gameplay to the borders of your living room to making it appear as though it's snowing inside the house.
"Peripheral projected illusions can change the appearance of the room, induce apparent motion, extend the field of view, and enable entirely new physical gaming experiences," the team said in a research paper about the project.
To bring IllumiRoom to life, the team used a commodity wide field of view projector (InFocus IN126ST) and a Microsoft Kinect sensor, which were mounted behind a player's head as they sat on a couch in front of the TV. The Kinect sensor captured the color and geometry of the scene, and the projector displayed the illusions around the TV screen. The system is self-calibrating, the team said, so it can work in any living room.
Report: Mac OS X 10.9 Taking Page From iOS
Apple's next Mac OS X update is likely to arrive this summer, with a few updates that bring it even more in line with iOS, 9to5Mac reported.
OS X 10.9, codenamed "Cabernet," will not be a complete system overhaul. According to 9to5Mac, which cited unnamed sources, new operating system subtleties include Finder tags and a tabbed browsing mode. And, to the benefit of OS X "power users," version 10.9 reportedly allows the ability to run full-screen apps on one monitor, while accessing other desktop spaces on a second screen.
Other changes include a redesigned Safari back-end, for improved page loading, speed, and efficiency, 9to5Mac said, as well as app switching and pausing tricks, which trickle down to CPU and battery-life improvements.
The OS update seems to be more about dressing up existing features than it is about introducing new ones, which TechCrunch pointed out stays in line with Apple's recent OS X development strategy. Most alterations will be reserved for under-the-hood improvements, which won't affect users in a big way.
Microsoft Sources Tease New Xbox Video, Achievement Features
We're less than one month away from the big reveal of Microsoft's new Xbox gaming console – name and all – and eager gamers are still glued at every word and detail that leaks out about the new device, truthful or speculative.
While much has been talked about, guessed at, and revealed about the hardware and overall setup of the new console, there hasn't been as much chit-chat about the software. Specifically, what Microsoft has in mind for the new interface and all the various Xbox features contained within.
Polygon's Brian Crecente recently published a new bit of rumormongering – based on information undisclosed sources close to Microsoft revealed to the site – that hints at some of Microsoft's intentions for the software side of its to-be-announced Xbox. According to Crecente's sources, the Xbox will supposedly also come with the same kind of video-capturing setup that's already been announced for Sony's PlayStation 4 – jealousy, anyone?
The console will allegedly be able to create an ongoing record of one's gameplay, similar to how a DVR can automatically record the show a person is watching in case a viewer wants to skip around, pause the action, or go back to the beginning – the metaphor's a bit stretched for gaming, we realize. The crux of the recording setup, however, is that gamers will be able to go back and pick out highlights of their gaming sessions for eventual upload to sites like Facebook, Ustream, or YouTube (to name a few).
Report: Amazon Plans Set-Top Streaming Box
Amazon has already conquered the online retail world, made great strides in the e-reader/tablet market, and entered the realm of TV and movie streaming. So what's next?
According to Bloomberg, Amazon is planning to release a television set-top box to stream video via the Internet.
Citing sources close to the matter, the news outlet reported that the unnamed device will hit shelves later this year, providing consumers with another option to stream content — inevitably including Amazon Video on Demand offerings. Amazon could also pull applications from its marketplace to integrate into the product, much like the Apple TV already does.
If the rumors are true, the online retailer is essentially playing catch-up with the competition, like Apple, Roku, Boxee, Microsoft, and Sony, which already have their own set-top box, or a game console, that delivers the same programming.
Still, it could live in harmony with services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, all of which are currently available on Kindle Fire tablets.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Microsoft Unveiling Next-Gen Xbox on May 21
Microsoft will unveil its next-generation Xbox gaming console on May 21 at its Redmond headquarters.
"Tune in for the live reveal, May 21 at 10 AM PDT on http://xbox.com, @Xbox Live, and Spike TV. #XboxReveal," the @Xbox account tweeted this afternoon.
Microsoft also invited reporters to attend the launch event. That invite tips "A New Generation Revealed," and promises a presentation from Don Mattrick, president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, and the Xbox team.
Microsoft rival Sony unveiled its next-gen console, the PS4, in late February. But the two hour+ New York City presentation focused heavily on games and specs and didn't actually include a glimpse of the actual PS4 hardware. Will Microsoft do the same?
Larry Hyrb, director of programming for the Xbox Live network, said in a blog post that the May 21 event will "mark the beginning of a new generation of games, TV and entertainment."
"On that day, we'll share our vision for Xbox, and give you a real taste of the future," he wrote. "Then, 19-days later at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, we'll continue the conversation and showcase our full lineup of blockbuster games."
Rumors about a new Xbox have been swirling for months, but really got going in January when Microsoft posted a countdown to the E3 gaming conference on its blog, which many interpreted as a countdown to the next version of the Xbox.
Apple’s WWDC Kicks Off June 10 in San Francisco
Apple said today that it will hold its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco from June 10-14.
Tickets cost $1,599 each, and buyers must be part of the iOS Developer, iOS Developer Enterprise, or Mac Developer programs as of 5:30 a.m. Pacific this morning. Developers who are 13-17 years old must have an eligible parent or guardian buy their ticket, Apple said.
"We look forward to gathering at WWDC 2013 with the incredible community of iOS and OS X developers," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said in a statement. "Our developers have had the most prolific and profitable year ever, and we're excited to show them the latest advances in software technologies and developer tools to help them create innovative new apps. We can't wait to get new versions of iOS and OS X into their hands at WWDC."
Apple promised an in-depth look at "what's next in iOS and OS X." Last year's WWDC provided a sneak peek at iOS 6 and Mac OS X Mountain Lion, and included the launch of the 15-inch MacBook with Retina display.
Survey: One in Five Would Buy Apple’s ‘iWatch’
Ah, the power of marketing.
It's no secret that Apple commands a legion of loyalists among its fan base – the kind of enthusiastic shoppers who absolutely must have the newest iteration of anything Apple brings to the market, be it a thinner laptop, a higher-resolution tablet, a fancier iPhone, et cetera.
But what about products Apple hasn't even released yet, let alone announced? The fervor clearly continues to run high – that, or shoppers are already clamoring for the future of digital watches, as a new customer survey from ChangeWave Research indicates that one in five of those polled would be interested in picking up an "iWatch."
Or, well, whatever the rumored watch device that Apple's cooking up might ultimately be called.
ChangeWave polled a total of 1,713 consumers in North America to generate its results, and a total of 19 percent indicated that they would be "very" or "somewhat" likely to purchase Apple's rumored watch device – sight unseen, we note. To break that figure down a bit further, five percent indicated "very" and 14 percent said "somewhat."