WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Netflix Inc has urged the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to reject the pending $48 billion merger of AT&T Inc and DirecTV unless its concerns about the deal are addressed.
A Netflix spokeswoman said on Tuesday that the video streaming company does not oppose the merger in principle but is rather seeking remedies that would help resolve its competitive concerns.
“While we are participating in the government’s review, we are not opposing the merger,” the spokeswoman, Anne Marie Squeo, said in a statement. “We’ve been highlighting concerns about AT&T’s broadband practices and the need for appropriate remedies since last September.”
According to regulatory disclosures posted on Tuesday, Netflix representatives met recently with more than 20 FCC officials and raised concerns about the combined company’s gatekeeping power as it would become the country’s largest pay-TV provider with potentially expansive broadband reach.
Though the filing does not amount to a formal “petition to deny” the merger, it marks the strongest language yet from Netflix on the proposed merger of the No. 2 wireless carrier and the largest U.S. satellite-TV company. Previous FCC filings from Netflix on the deal called for approval with conditions.
“The combination of these companies would increase the incentive and ability to limit competition and innovation in the online video space,” Squeo said.
Netflix’s April 30 meeting with the FCC’s merger reviewers came just days after the agency’s strong opposition helped thwart another mega-deal between the two largest U.S. cable providers, Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc.
The growing online video and over-the-top video markets became a critical issue in the review of that merger, fueled by heated opposition from Netflix, Dish Network Corp, some media companies and public interest groups.
(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Peter Galloway)
Even though Android is the largest computing platform in the world, it still falls behind the iPhone in one specific area.
New apps still usually launch on iOS before they make their way to Android, with buzzy livestreaming apps Meerkat and Periscope being the latest examples (Periscope still isn’t on Android, and Meerkat just launched for Android last week).
But now, Google could be adding a new feature to its Google Play Store that may incentivize developers to side with Android right away.
Google is reportedly testing a system that would let developers try out different versions of their apps’ profile pages in the Google Play Store, according to The Information’s Amir Efrati.
This would give developers the freedom to see if small price changes, such as switching from $1.99 to $2.99, would have an impact on how many people download the app. Or, they could experiment with different layouts, such as different color themes and video placement among other things to see if any of these factors affect how many people download their apps.
It might not seem like a significant change, but it gives developers a new level of flexibility they can’t get through Apple.
It’s costly to launch an app on both iOS and Android at the same time, which is why many companies choose one platform to start out with. Most people are compelled to develop for iOS before Android for two key reasons: Android is fragmented, so features may not work as well on low-end older phones, and people with iPhones are just willing to spend more money, according to Y Media Labs CEO Ashish Toshniwal.
“The main reason is that Android has all kinds of users,” Toshniwal said in a previous interview with Business Insider. “Android has a lot of like low-resolution phones as well. But iOS doesn’t have anything like that. They come up with new versions of the same phone. The quality is just really consistent on iOS, and they don’t have any cheap phones. Inherently they’re [Android] trying to capture a market that’s much less price conscious.”
But, if developers think a testing tool like the one Efrati described could help them make more money off their apps, it could give them a big reason to develop an Android version of their app at launch instead of iOS.
Travis Katz, the CEO of travel app Gogobot, even told Efrati that he believes the new feature could boost his apps’ conversion rates by about 30-50%.
Apple is getting ready to introduce a new television experience. Multiple sources, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, say Apple will soon introduce a new streaming service that offers about 25 channels from the likes of ABC and Fox for $30 to $40 a month.
It might debut at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which starts June 8.
We’re still not sure what Apple’s streaming service will look or feel like, but it would be wise to take a cue from Netflix, one of the most popular streaming services out there.
Netflix doesn’t always have the best or most popular movies, but people love Netflix because they can watch as much as they want without repeatedly taking out their wallets.
And that’s the key.
Tons of people already use iTunes — it’s the most popular media player in the world for storing music, movies, and TV shows — and it also houses the biggest multimedia vendor in the world in the iTunes Store.
The iTunes Store has almost every new movie and TV show you could think of, but there’s one major problem: Its pricing structure is downright medieval.
Most new movies from the iTunes Store still cost around $5 to rent or $20 to own. And when you rent a movie, you only have 24 hours to finish it once you’ve started playing it.
Compare that to Netflix, which lets you watch as many movies as you want, as many times as you want, at a much more reasonable price of $8 a month. It’s easy to see why Netflix is a clear winner in the streaming age.
Netflix gets its content by paying companies a set amount of money to license movies and TV shows for a certain period of time. The iTunes Store licensing structure is centered around pay-per-view: People buy or rent your content, and you get a percentage of that pie.
But let’s assume Apple can do everything Netflix can, and then some, since it has much deeper pockets. Apple could persuade content makers and distributors to be paid a flat fee — probably higher than what Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu Plus offers — to offer their movies and TV shows for a set period of time on their new streaming service. All that, plus live TV, could be a game changer.
Imagine this: For $15 to $20 a month, you get total access to the iTunes Store — on any device, be it an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV. You can stream all the new movies and TV shows right after they air, and you can watch them as many times as you want. No more rental rules and restrictions.
The added incentive for the new Apple TV would be the ability to get live TV for an extra $30 to $40, where the same rules would apply: You can watch new or old episodes from certain channels at any time you want, including sporting events, as many times as you want, ideally with no commercial interruptions.
The iTunes Store proved an excellent deterrent to online piracy when it debuted back in 2003, but in the age of Spotify and Netflix, it’s all about being able to endlessly binge on streaming content at a fair, set price. So it’s time for iTunes to become less of a “Store” and more of a “Service.”
If the new Apple TV had these subscription offerings — plus a slick new remote, which The New York Times reports is in the works — I know I’d buy one.
Today, the 174 videos have been viewed by over 30 million people around the world, from the US to North Korea, all claiming that the peaceful sounds are helping them study, sleep, and concentrate better.
Far and away his most popular video is the 8-hour shot of a bridge over the River Bonet near Manorhamilton in Ireland’s County Leitrim, where Lawson himself is from.
In it, Lawson captures the sound of the river, bird songs, and rustling leaves. He decided to make the long eight-hour video after getting requests from fans that his earlier nature videos were helping them fall asleep, but that the sounds ended too soon.
“Insomnia suffers would fall asleep listening to some of my videos, but they’d wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of silence,” Lawson told BBC. “That’s when I started making eight-hour long videos, like the waterfall on the River Bonet. If people woke up during the night, they’d be met with the sound of nature. It would put them back to sleep again.”
Since it was uploaded two years ago, the eight-hour waterfall scene has been viewed over 6.5 million times on YouTube.
It has become so popular in fact that it has even attracted the attention of psychologists at the University College Hospital of London who have included the sounds in a clinical trial to help intensive care patients suffering from stress, according to BBC.
“Thank you so much for doing this,” wrote YouTube user Jacob Homstrom. “I’ve listened to this every day for the last week. I would pay to have this on.”
“Since I found this video, I’ve had longer sleeps and better days,” another YouTube user Steve Goggin wrote. “I struggled to go to sleep in complete silence something was missing and it frustrated me more every morning when I wake up. Now all I do is slip my earphones in, close my eyes and within a couple minutes, that beautiful sound sets me to sleep and I feel so much better in the mornings.”
Other commenters from all over the world thank Lawson for helping with their anxiety disorders, helping them study, and providing relaxing background sounds as they go about their day.
While the effects of Lawson’s videos seem too good to be true, there’s research to back them up.
A 2012 study by China’s Peking University found that 75% of study participants had a more restful sleep when they were exposed to “pink” noise, or sounds that carry a consistent frequency such as rain falling or leaves rustling.
There are also numerous apps and sound machines dedicated to sleep-inducing sounds. The main difference is that Lawson’s videos are free as well as provide visuals, which some users have used to help them concentrate while meditating.
Lawson uploads a new relaxing video every week and tries to respond to every single commenter. You can subscribe to his YouTube channel here.
SEE ALSO: 17 tricks for falling asleep faster
Nokia’s “Here” mapping division is up for sale, and Facebook is just one of many potential buyers.
But the social networking company has already signed a deal to use Here maps for its mobile apps, and is also testing whether Nokia Here maps could be used to power location services in native apps such as Instagram and Messenger on Android.
While neither company has officially announced the new mapping partnership, both confirmed the new relationship to TechCrunch.
Nokia said last month it was considering selling off Here after announcing plans to purchase French network gear rival Alcatel-Lucent. Samsung, Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and even Yahoo are also rumoured to be interested in buying the company, even though a sale has not yet been confirmed.
Uber, which currently relies on Google Maps, could also be in the running. The relationship between Uber and Google, which invested $258 million in the car-sharing app in 2013, has grown prickly in recent months, as both companies make moves toward self-driving cars. Google is also reportedly working on a competing ride-hailing service.
Here maps are largely based on automotive-grade mapping equipment developed by Navteq, which Nokia acquired for $8.1 billion in 2008. The division is now estimated to be worth somewhere between $2 billion and $4 billion, TechCrunch reports.
Mobile will by far be the biggest driver of digital-video ad spend over the next few years.
Mobile video ad revenue will grow more than 3x faster than desktop through 2020.
Why is digital video growing so quickly? Consider:
In all-new in-depth research from BI Intelligence, we dig into the rise of digital video and find that overall US digital-video advertising revenue will top nearly $5 billion this year, and grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.9%. Total revenue will reach $13.3 billion by year-end 2020, according to BI Intelligence estimates based on historical data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).
Here are some of the other key takeaways from the report:
In full, the report:
To access the full report from BI Intelligence, sign up for a 14-day trial here. Members also gain access to new in-depth reports, hundreds of charts and datasets, as well as daily newsletters on the digital industry.
Before Stephen Curry was Under Armour’s biggest star, he was rejected by Nike. Nike passed over the basketball star twice, reports Darren Rovell at ESPN. “Two years ago, Nike had a chance to pay Curry a lot of money and lock him up for the future. After offering less than $2.5 million a year, Nike […]
A critical flaw in the Oscar award-winning documentary featuring Edward Snowden has been further exposed by one of the film’s central characters.
“Citizenfour” includes extensive footage of filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald meeting with the former NSA contractor in Hong Kong.
The film sets the stage for Snowden’s collaboration with Poitras by telling the story of NSA whistleblower William Binney, a 32-year veteran of the US intelligence community and one of the most respected code breakers in NSA history.
Binney tells Poitras how he built a program called “Stellarwind” that served as a pervasive domestic spying apparatus after the 9/11 attacks. The mathematician is shown praising Snowden’s actions throughout the film.
But the film lacks the context that Binney doesn’t agree with all of Snowden actions.
“Among the leaked documents are details of foreign-intelligence gathering that do not fall under the heading of unlawful threats to American democracy — what Snowden described as his only concern,” George Packer of The New Yorker, who spent time with Poitras and co. in Germany, wrote in his detailed review of the film. “Binney, generally a fervent Snowden supporter, told USA Today that Snowden’s references to ‘hacking into China’ went too far: ‘So he is transitioning from whistle-blower to a traitor.”
Binney recently discussed his ‘traitor’ comments with Business Insider.
He reiterated that he believed Snowden did not act in the public’s interest when he revealed “operational details of specific attacks on computers, including internet protocol (IP) addresses, dates of attacks and whether a computer was still being monitored remotely” to Lana Lam of the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
“As I have said in the past, revealing specific targets or successes of US intelligence activities is not in the public interest,” Binney told Business Insider over email after discussing the topic at a private luncheon.
He then confirmed that he stands by what he said to USA Today after the SCMP leaks: “You have fairly quoted me on USA Today.”
Greenwald, for his part, agrees with Binney. He told the Daily Beast in June 2013 that he would not have “disclosed the specific IP addresses in China and Hong Kong the NSA is hacking.”
The comments by Binney are an issue for “Citizenfour” and its supporters: An NSA legend-turned-whistleblower asserts that Snowden clearly crossed a line when he began leaking information on legitimate NSA activities.
One of Snowden’s legal advisors weighed in on Business Insider’s interview, apparently without realizing that Binney confirmed that he was quoted accurately.
Snowden allegedly stole up to 1.77 million NSA document while working at two consecutive jobs for US government contractors in Hawaii from March 2012 to May 2013.
The 31-year-old gave an estimated 200,000 documents to Poitras and Greenwald in early June 2013.
The whereabouts of the rest of the documents, besides the ones he showed to SCMP, are unknown.
Greece Talks on Hold Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for economic affairs, warns Debt Talks on Hold Until Greece Agrees Reforms. Greece’s eurozone creditors will not discuss how to get the country’s sovereign debt back on a sustainable path until Athens agrees to a new economic reform programme that would release €7.2bn in desperately needed […]
Unlike Cisco, EMC, or Oracle, Hewlett-Packard has had many CEOs thanks to a rocky period where it was hiring and dismissing them in fairly rapid succession.
One of them, Carly Fiorina, is running for president and is showcasing her time as CEO of HP as an example of why she’s a qualified leader. (Her record at HP is controversial, though, and ended when the board showed her the door.)
In a recent interview with the Skimm, Fiorina talked briefly about her career including this little nugget about how she got her start:
“I began my career as a secretary at a small real estate firm after dropping out of law school,” she said.
She eventually got a job at AT&T as a management trainee, rose to become a vice president there, and oversaw the spin-off of Lucent from AT&T, which is what led HP to hire her as CEO.
She was HP’s first female CEO, but, obviously, not its last.
Meg Whitman is currently running the company.
History will judge if her tenure at HP is spectacular or controversial, as she’s currently splitting HP into two new, huge Fortune 50 companies, and will stay at the helm of one, while becoming chairman of the other.
Whitman’s career as major tech company CEO also came from an unusual route. She cut her teeth in the world of consumer products, working first for Procter & Gamble, then Disney and at Hasbro, leading Hasbro’s Playskool division, where she was responsible, among other things, for one the company’s oldest and most precious toys: Mr. Potato Head.
Whitman was eventually recruited by eBay to become its CEO, and had to be mightily convinced to leave Mr. Potato Head to take the job.
Mark Hurd, another former HP CEO (and current Oracle CEO, a job he shares with Safra Catz), also started his career in a most un-tech-CEO-like way.
He was a tennis pro.
After a short time on the pro circuit, he decided he wasn’t good enough to become a break-out star, so he took a job at NCR as an entry-level salesperson.
He worked his way up to NCR’s CEO, before HP recruited him. His stint at HP ended badly, too, with his resignation, though he is doing well again at Oracle.
A secretary-turned-CEO running for president; a toymaker-turned-CEO on her way to running two Fortune 50 companies; a tennis pro who has also run two Fortune 50 companies … sometimes the most dramatic careers come from the most surprising beginnings.
SEE ALSO: Cisco’s new CEO choice is a shocker
Chris Dixon, a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz, is optimistic about New York’s tech scene.
Onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt on Tuesday, Dixon predicted that 10 Silicon Alley companies will be worth $1 billion or more in the coming three to five years.
On the heels of Etsy’s successful IPO, this statement doesn’t come as much of a surprise. And there already are a few New York tech companies that have reached billion-dollar valuations, like coworking startup WeWork and MongoDB.
But it’s still some positive words for a tech market that’s often criticized for being smaller than Silicon Valley.
In New York, “There’s a certain minimum critical mass you need, and I think we’re getting there,” Dixon said. “It just takes time. I think of it as, Silicon Valley has had over 50 years of developing, and the other cities that are most relevant right now are New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle.”
Besides talking about the potential of New York’s tech scene, Dixon also talked about his investment thesis.
He says that the best way to figure out what the new trends in tech are is to look at what hobbyists and developers are excited about. “What the smartest people do on the weekends is what the rest of people will do in 10 years for work,” he said, referring to things like bitcoin, virtual reality, drones, and 3D printing. “They’re smart and gravitate toward interesting things. That has historically been a very good indicator of where the future’s going.”
Good Morning – Today is series s3L and the SPILL is UP. Yesterday a warning with ASTERISKS was given that the NORMAL lean (down) coming into Monday would be suspect due to the last half hour of action on Friday. Bingo-the warning was right. Beginning early last week special focus was given everyday that 2112 […]
I am on the road this week in San Francisco, but I wanted to share this wonderful collection of charts from Jim Bianco of Bianco research: There’s much more after the jump
Symbol Name Puts Calls RealTime P/C Avg P/C ICON Iconix Brand Group Inc 6,871 31 221.65 1.86 AAP Advance Auto Parts 11,276 54 208.81 1.35 CLR Continental Resources Inc 9,042 293 30.86 1.76 CIM Chimera Investment Corporation New 4,614 150 30.76 0.43 DDS Dillards Inc 2,591 87 29.78 1.39 WLK Westlake Chemical Corp 3,330 148 […]
Digit is a money-saving app that saw its fair share of controversy following its official release earlier this year.
The way it works is pretty straightforward: its secret algorithm tracks your income and spending patterns, and every 2 to 3 days, automatically saves a small amount of money that you won’t even notice is missing.
The money gets transferred to a separate Digit savings account, held in one of its partner banks like Wells Fargo or BofI Federal Bank. Users can also manually set their savings amount or withdraw their savings anytime they want.
But what appears to have gotten some people boggled was the fact that the users don’t earn any interest on their savings. Instead, Digit takes all the interest that accrues and spends it on its operating costs. Its logic: users get free access to Digit and save money they normally would have spent elsewhere.
Nonetheless, Digit has been able to grow at a mind-boggling pace. It was saving its users about $1 million a month in total back when it launched in February. Digit now says it’s saving $1 million for its users every week. Its user base has grown 10x in that span – all through word-of-mouth (although there is a referral program where users earn $5 for signing up a new user).
Investors are loving it too. On Tuesday, Digit announced that it’s raised another $11.3 million from General Catalyst Partners, with existing investors Baseline Ventures and Google Ventures re-upping into this round as well. All told, Digit has raised a total of $13.8 million in five months.
“We’re taking care of something that is key to your financial health, just removing a lot of the financial stress from your brain,” Digit CEO Ethan Bloch told Business Insider.
Bloch wasn’t deterred by the criticism about the company’s controversial interest policy. When asked about the interest side of the business, Bloch simply said, “It’s the only thing people can use to attack us.”
When regular banks are charging billions of dollars in service fees and overdraft fees, Digit’s free service is much more appealing to its users, who are primarily Millennials and low-income workers, Bloch argues. Plus, the actual interest users would have saved isn’t significant, he says. “Let’s say an average Digit user saves about $2,000 for a year. Then you’d give up around 20 cents in interest, or a little less than that over the course of the year on interest today,” he said.
“We always have been working to pay interest, but we knew it wasn’t a critical component, which shows in the adoption,” Bloch said. “But it’s still an idea. If you have a savings account, you should earn something.”
Bloch said he plans to spend the money on further growing his team and boosting the product’s quality. He also mentioned long term goals of going even more downmarket, to find ways to help people without checking accounts to save money, or possibly creating an automatic retirement account.
But for now, he seems laser-focused on just continuing Digit’s rapid expansion. “We just want to continue to grow that relationship with the customer,” he said.
Notes: This CoreLogic House Price Index report is for March. The recent Case-Shiller index release was for February. The CoreLogic HPI is a three month weighted average and is not seasonally adjusted (NSA).
CoreLogic® … today released its March 2015 CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI®) which shows that home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased by 5.9 percent in March 2015 compared with March 2014. This change represents 37 months of consecutive year-over-year increases in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased by 2 percent in March 2015 compared with February 2015.
Including distressed sales in March, 27 states plus the District of Columbia were at or within 10 percent of their peak prices. Seven states, including Colorado, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming, reached new home price highs since January 1976 when the CoreLogic HPI started.
Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased by 6.1 percent in March 2015 compared with March 2014 and increased by 2 percent month over month compared with February 2015. …
“The homes for sale inventory continues to be limited while buyer demand has picked up with low mortgage rates and improving consumer confidence,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “As a result, there has been continued upward pressure on prices in most markets, with our national monthly index up 2 percent for March 2015 and up approximately 6 percent from a year ago.”
This graph shows the national CoreLogic HPI data since 1976. January 2000 = 100.
The index was up 2.0% in March, and is up 5.9% over the last year.
This index is not seasonally adjusted, and this was a solid month-to-month increase.
The second graph is from CoreLogic. The year-over-year comparison has been positive for thirty seven consecutive months suggesting house prices bottomed early in 2012 on a national basis (the bump in 2010 was related to the tax credit).
The YoY increase had mostly moved sideways over the last eight months, but might be increasing a little faster now.
What on earth should we make of Mike Huckabee’s 2016 candidacy. He’s announcing Tuesday that he’s running for president — we know that much. And the polling says he is a legit contender for the Republican nomination. Yet there’s evidence that the fatal flaw of his 2008 run — namely, an inability to widen his […]