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ELEAGUE Officially Launches on TBS

posted Friday May 27, 2016 by Scott Ertz

ELEAGUE Officially Launches on TBS

In the United States, it's been a long time coming. Videogames are a big deal here, but somehow professional gaming has never taken hold on television. Sure, sites like Twitch have given a rise in popularity but never in the mainstream.

This week TBS premiered ELEAGUE, both online and on television. Tuesday through Thursday we saw content online with the programming jumping to TBS Primetime on Friday. This isn't the first time we've seen a television network attempt to broadcast professional gaming, but previous attempts never quite felt serious. TBS however has definitely taken a different approach.

By pumping up the audience online during the week and then shifting to cable, they encouraged more people to view it. They brought in the best teams from around the world. They brought in announcers who knew what they were doing. They built sets and studios that are appropriate for the content. They even conduct floor interviews.

With all of that said, how did it go? In their first week they saw 92,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch during the week, and over 509,000 viewers on TBS Friday night. For a basic cable show at 10 PM on Friday night, a half a million viewers is great. For professional gaming on television that number is unbelievable.

They didn't just dominate in viewers either. They received over 700 million Twitter impressions during the week, with 360 million of those impressions being Friday night. Those social media numbers alone are worth being proud of.

The problem, of course, is that this was a look in audience. People wanted to see what ELEAGUE was going to be all about. Would the broadcast be good? Would it be worth watching long term? First week numbers are never a good indication of what's to come. However this is definitely specialized content. I can't imagine people stumbled across it on accident and stayed for an extended period. The people watching wanted to be there. The important question for TBS is will they be there again next week?

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Apple Loses Patent Case, Might Lose iMessage and FaceTime, At Least Temporarily

posted Friday May 27, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Apple Loses Patent Case, Might Lose iMessage and FaceTime, At Least Temporarily

In 2012, Apple was sued by a patent holder, VirnetX, for violating their patents with FaceTime and iMessage. In particular, VirnetX owns 4 patents that describe a particular process for secure, highly available communications, which they claim several of Apple's products use without permission. Apple first lost this suit in 2012, then vowing to fight the ruling, which would cost them $368 million. After redesigning the software and another court loss, the result is $626 million in penalty.

To add insult to injury, VirnetX is asking for additional relief in the form of an additional $190 million, and a permanent injunction blocking Apple from providing these features until such a time that the two companies can reach a licensing agreement on the patents. Assumable, the redesign of the software did not get it far enough away from the patents to protect Apple from additional penalties or suit.

Apple is asking, in exchange, for a new trial, claiming among other things that the lawyers for VirnetX misrepresented the evidence, and even the false information did not support the infringement claim. They claim that the company is going for a broad injunction in hopes of finagling a larger licensing fee; essentially extortion.

The judge has not yet ruled on the additional requests, but said he would "get orders out as quickly as possible."

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Kanye West Reverses on Album, Makes It Available Everywhere

posted Sunday Apr 3, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Kanye West Reverses on Album, Makes It Available Everywhere

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.

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The Problems with Microsoft's Tay [Editorial]

posted Sunday Apr 3, 2016 by Scott Ertz

The Problems with Microsoft's Tay [Editorial]

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.

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Capcom Entering Mobile in a Big Way

posted Sunday Apr 3, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Capcom Entering Mobile in a Big Way

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.

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Part Suppliers are Worried About Success of iPhone SE

posted Sunday Apr 3, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Part Suppliers are Worried About Success of iPhone SE

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.

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