The end of this story was written the day the
Motion Picture Association of America sued users of Popcorn Time - the MPAA has officially shut down several torrent-related sites, including the system that powers Popcorn Time. This was accomplished through court cases in Canada and New Zealand, and resulted in the shutdown of PopcornTime.io, which happened on October 9th, and YTS, which ended min-October.
Chris Dodd, MPAA Chairman said,
Popcorn Time and YTS are illegal platforms that exist for one clear reason: to distribute stolen copies of the latest motion pictures and television shows without compensating the people who worked so hard to make them.
The problem for the MPAA with a move like this is, while the website that serves the apps might have been shut down, it is easy enough to register another domain and update the software. In fact, that appears to be exactly what happened. The apps have been updated and continue to operate, and the website has a note reminding people to ensure they are using the latest version. This is likely because it is now interacting with a new torrent system instead of popcorntime.io.
If the MPAA is actually interested in preventing, or at least reducing piracy of its content, they might want to reconsider their tactics. This type of brute force approach has never worked. Copy protection on cable, VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray have always been easy to circumvent using cables available at almost any electronics retailer. In fact, many people never even knew that recording movies and television off of television was technologically prevented because of how easy circumvention has been.
Pulling down websites is the same kind of brute force approach. The web isn't the simple place that the MPAA thinks that it is. In fact, it is a very complicated place, where software is easy to move and software is easy to update. It is more like the Hydra of ancient Greece, where you cut off its head and 2 more grow back. It is likely that the newest version of the software has a collection of domains it checks looking for content, all with the same back-end software. So, all they have accomplished here is to make the beast stronger than before.
How might they successfully combat the problem? I'm not sure, but perhaps less expensive licensing agreements could be a start, allowing companies like Hulu and Netflix to keep their costs down, or increase their overall catalog size. What are your ideas? Let us know in the comments.
As the US carriers began implementing 4G technologies, Sprint was first to market, but took a different path from the rest of the pack. While Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile all decided to go the GSM route with LTE, Sprint decided to stick with the technology that had served them well since the beginning, CDMA, opting for WiMAX technology. That choice ended up not sticking, and the company transitioned to LTE as well. Two years ago, though, Sprint
purchased Clearwire (their WiMAX provider) in an attempt to keep their WiMAX network operational long enough to fulfill outstanding contracts.
In October of last year the company announced their intentions to shut down the WiMAX network on November 6, 2015. They gave everyone with a dog in the fight 13 months to make arrangements to transition off of the older technology onto LTE. The date was chosen because it put everyone with a WiMAX phone out of contract and eligible for a new device. It also gave larger network partners time to transition as well.
As it turns out, some organizations did not take the opportunity to prepare for the shutdown. In fact, a group of nonprofit organizations were caught so off-guard that they sued Sprint to prevent the shutdown. The group claimed that the technology shutdown violated their contract with Clearwire and they asked for an injunction to prevent the shutdown.
A Massachusetts Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction, preventing Sprint from ending service on their WiMAX network in certain areas used by the plaintiffs, Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen. The judge said the "plaintiffs have demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits," leading to the injunction. It gives those involved an extra 90 days to try and solve the problem or further the lawsuit.
In this instance, they do seem to have a case. Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen have a 30 year contract with Clearwire for WiMAX coverage with unlimited data, but Sprint wants to enhance their LTE coverage using the current WiMAX spectrum and wants to throttle the speeds after 6GB. The groups said,
(It's a) near lethal blow to plaintiffs' non-profit users whether they be educational institutions, which educate children in traditional brick and mortar schools, or children who attend cyber schools because they do not have access to brick and mortar schools, or the senior or disabled person whose lifeline to medical care and other benefits is through the Internet.
Sprint responded saying,
We do hope that Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen will take this time to work cooperatively with Sprint to resolve the contract dispute. Our goal is to ensure that our EBS partners and our subscribers can use Sprint's best 4G LTE advanced broadband services as soon as possible.
It's likely that this will be resolved quickly one way or another, as Sprint's near- and long-term network upgrades depend on recapturing this spectrum, and will likely not let this sit for long.
Almost exactly a year ago, Microsoft announced that they would be offering unlimited OneDrive storage to subscribers of Office 365. The feature rolled out fairly quickly to Office 365 Business customers, but it took a while to roll out to the consumer-level subscribers. As you would expect, offering unlimited storage to users resulted in some users storing A LOT of stuff in the cloud. The company said,
Since we started to roll out unlimited cloud storage to Office 365 consumer subscribers, a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings. In some instances, this exceeded 75 TB per user or 14,000 times the average.
That's a lot of data, but that's why it's unlimited, right? Wrong, apparently. When Microsoft saw that some users were using so much storage of their advertised unlimited storage, the company panicked. In fact, they panicked A LOT.
We're no longer planning to offer unlimited storage to Office 365 Home, Personal, or University subscribers. Starting now, those subscriptions will include 1 TB of OneDrive storage.
100 GB and 200 GB paid plans are going away as an option for new users and will be replaced with a 50 GB plan for $1.99 per month in early 2016.
Free OneDrive storage will decrease from 15 GB to 5 GB for all users, current and new. The 15 GB camera roll storage bonus will also be discontinued. These changes will start rolling out in early 2016.
What this means is that a few bad apples ruined it for all of us. An average user who syncs their photos to OneDrive will lose 25GB of storage because of the unrelated actions of other people. The good news is that there are some options to help keep you afloat. If you are a free user who is currently using more than 5GB of storage, you can take advantage of a promotion to get a free year of Office 365 Personal, giving you a full year to figure out how to get under quota, or keep it past the year and continue to get 1TB of storage. You can also purchase an additional 50GB of storage for $1.99 per month.
For those who had their Office 365 Personal account mostly for the unlimited storage, you have the ability to cancel your subscription with a prorated refund. For the rest of us, though, 5GB is enough to store all of our pictures, and probably a ton of documents, as well.
The world of casual games has changed a lot in the past few years. While not long ago companies like PopCap and Yahoo! Games ruled the marketplace, today the landscape is dominated by companies like Zynga and King. But, while Zynga has had trouble keeping on top,
losing that position to King in 2013, the latter has continued to see successes. In fact, 2014 saw $1.4 billion in revenue from their Candy Crush franchise.
In 2009, Electronic Arts saw the writing on the wall and purchased Playfish for $300 million, and PopCap 2 years later for $750 million (base). 2 years later, though, EA
shut down Playfish, upsetting many with the loss of games like SimCity Social. While many saw this as an attempt by EA to exit the casual space, it actually turned out that they were attempting to focus their efforts into the more popular and profitable PopCap.
In an attempt to compete with the more established EA in the social marketplace, Activision Blizzard announced this week that they have
acquired King Digital for an astounding $5.9 billion. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said of the acquisition,
The combined revenues and profits solidify our position as the largest, most profitable standalone company in interactive entertainment. With a combined global network of more than half a billion monthly active users, our potential to reach audiences around the world on the device of their choosing enables us to deliver great games to even bigger audiences than ever before.
Riccardo, Sebastian, and Stephane are some of the best minds in the business, and we have long-admired King for consistently creating incredibly fun, deeply engaging free-to-play games that capture the imaginations of players across ages and demographics. Activision Blizzard will provide King with experience, support and investment to continue to build on their tremendous legacy and reach new potential. We share an unwavering commitment to attracting and developing the best talent in the business, and we are excited about what we will be able to accomplish together.
King CEO Riccardo Zacconi added,
We are excited to be entering into this Acquisition with Activision Blizzard. Since 2003, we have built one of the largest player networks on mobile and Facebook, with 474 million monthly active users in the third quarter 2015, and our talented team has created some of the most successful mobile game franchises. We believe that the Acquisition will position us very well for the next phase of our company's evolution and will bring clear benefits to our players and employees. We will combine our expertise in mobile and free-to-play with Activision Blizzard's world-class brands and proven track record of building and sustaining the most successful franchises, to bring the best games in the world to millions of players worldwide. We are very much looking forward to working with Activision Blizzard. We have two teams that, together, will have an amazing footprint, innovative technology, and leadership across platforms, and unique, established IPs to delight one of the largest networks of players in the world.
What will this newly combined company be able to accomplish? There is no real telling, but they are adding a group of incredibly talented developers, designers and game creators to the family. Perhaps it will breathe some creative life into the company - something that is desperately needed as they trudge down the road of annual iterations as opposed to creating new, exciting content.
What do you think? Is this massive purchase good for Activision and King? Let us know in the comments.