The UpStream

Beats Exec Heads Up iTunes Radio After Apple Acquisition

posted Friday Aug 8, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Beats Exec Heads Up iTunes Radio After Apple Acquisition

With the $3 billion acquisition now in the past, Apple is looking ahead with Beats Electronics. Aside from a possible lawsuit with Bose looming, Apple is quickly blending Beats into its everyday business operations. So much so that former head of Beats Music, Ian Rogers, will now be running iTunes Radio.

We knew that Interscope Records founder Jimmy Iovine and hip hop icon Dr. Dre were already joining the Apple family but now with Rogers coming on to lead the failing Apple music-streaming service, three of the most important people that made Beats successful are now within the Apple empire. Apple posted on its site about the acquisition, saying that,

Today we are excited to officially welcome Beats Music and Beats Electronics to the Apple family. Music has always held a special place in our hearts, and we're thrilled to join forces with a group of people who love it as much as we do. Beats cofounders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre have created beautiful products that have helped millions of people deepen their connection to music. We're delighted to be working with the team to elevate that experience even further. And we can't wait to hear what's next.

So what's next? We're not sure yet. All we know is Rogers has extensive background in running media businesses, as he used to run Yahoo's media operations before moving over to Beats. Sources say that his role will include bringing iTunes Radio to the forefront of the iTunes business model to compete with Pandora and Spotify.

On top of the announcement, Apple is also slashing 200 jobs out of the 700 employees coming over from Beats. The departments losing its positions will be from HR, financing and customer support, all departments where Apple already has covered. Apple has gone on record to say it is looking for new positions for those losing their jobs.

Prenda Law Dealt Final Blow in Appeals Court

posted Sunday Aug 3, 2014 by Scott Ertz

The process of dealing with a troll can be arduous. If you need proof, ask those involved in a Prenda Law suit. The company filed suit against thousands of individuals for illegally downloading pornography owned by Lightspeed Media. Soon after, it was alleged that they themselves planted the torrents with intent to file these suits. Shortly after, Comcast confirmed this theory, ending any chance they had of a legal success. Their appeals cases have not gone better, with even judges harassing them in court.

This week, a seemingly final blow was dealt to the trio of nut jobs, Paul Duffy, John Steele, and Paul Hansmeier - they will be forced to pay full legal fees for successful defendant Anthony Smith, as well as Comcast and SBC Internet, who were regretfully dragged into the ridiculous suit. A lower court already passed this judgment but, as Chief Judge Diane Wood put it,

They did not, however, file a motion either to clarify the nature of the sanctions or to stay the order. Instead, they simply did not pay.

These fees, which have had a 10% idiot fee added, now add up to $287,000. With a ruling this high up, it will set a good precedent for further appeals cases. Maybe one day the copyright trolls will end their insane attacks on individuals, but it doesn't seem like it will happen soon. The concept is not new; RIAA sued people over illegally downloading music, often targeting people who had no physical capability.

In this case, however, the brazen disregard for the legal system, not to mention the intelligence of the individuals involved, might well poison the legal system against the trolling concept. Where RIAA was respectful, Prenda has been truly insane. This might be frustrating for the people currently involved, it could help finally put the whole concept to rest.

ICANN Says Countries Don't Own Their Top-Level Domains

posted Saturday Aug 2, 2014 by Scott Ertz

ICANN Says Countries Don't Own Their Top-Level Domains

A weird series of circumstances has led to a request to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees the Internet on behalf of the US government, to turn over ownership of the country code Top-Level Domains for Iran (.ir), North Korea (.kp) and Syria (.sy). The request comes as part of a financial judgment against the countries for sponsoring terrorism. Unfortunately for them, this might not be possible.

ccTLDs are the easily recognized as the two letter suffix at the end of many websites. In the United States, the most common you might come in contact with are .us (United States), .tv (Tuvalu), .fm (Federated States of Micronesia) and .ly (Libya). Obviously some ccTLDs are highly sought-after for their English meanings, with common websites like Twitch.tv, last.fm and bit.ly taking advantage of these country codes. All of these suffixes, however, are either managed by someone in the nations in question or on behalf of the country (.tv is managed by GoDaddy).

These ccTLDs are not owned by the countries, though. In fact, they are not owned by anyone. The ICANN describes ccTLDs as "simply the provision of routing and administrative services for the domain names registered within that ccTLD." In other words, they are essentially nothing more than an Internet version of postal codes - a way of describing where the website resides, not who "owns" them. This makes sense, of course, as new TLDs have been added that are not country code related.

The group says that changing the master management would radically change the way the Internet works.

Forced re-delegation of these ccTLDs would destroy whatever value may exist in these ccTLDs, would wipe out the hundreds of thousands of domain name registrations in the ccTLDs, and could lead to fragmentation of the Internet.

There is very little chance that ICANN would agree to change the management if the registrations under those TLDs would be damaged, even if there was a technological way to accomplish this, which it would appear there is not. This is precisely why ICANN made the decision to de-centralize the infrastructure in the first place.

ESPN Looking to Expand eSports Coverage After Successful 'The International' Broadcast

posted Saturday Aug 2, 2014 by Scott Ertz

ESPN Looking to Expand eSports Coverage After Successful 'The International' Broadcast

Over the past few years, eSports have grown from a small niche following to a semi-major market. With games like Dota 2 and the Call of Duty gaining immense followings, it was mostly a matter of time before it became truly mainstream. That seems to have happened this week with ESPN's coverage of Valve's The International, a Dota 2 championship with almost $11 million in prizes.

The coverage was available through the company's online offering, ESPN3, with a special documentary airing on ESPN 2. An unnamed source said that the top viewing platform was the Xbox app, which is interesting considering the tournament is for a PC game. I guess that shows the power of Microsoft's media-game hybrid console approach.

Fortunately, as the source says, the company was "delighted" with the broadcast results. In fact, they are planning on increasing their future offerings based on these results. According to the unnamed source,

ESPN have seen enough recent successes with esports and are about to double down. The numbers they hit with The International have only cemented the view that the time is right.

ESPN's next eSports-related project is Major League Gaming's Call of Duty league. After their last partnership at the Austin X Games, where no games were broadcast, combined with a successful broadcast of The International, it is possible that this time around we could see some real coverage of MLG from ESPN. The source said,

They are in advanced talks to bring that product to both ESPN web properties as well as their TV stations, and they are in the preliminary stages of looking at other games.

Unfortunately, ESPN is not corroborating these statements, but they are also not ruling it out.

ESPN3 has carried similar events in the past, including MLG and EA. We recognized The International as an opportunity to deliver a championship event, but have not committed to any other eSports coverage at this time.

Whether or not they decide to produce live coverage of the next MLG tournament, even discussing the possibility is a great step for eSports in the mainstream.

FDA Disagrees With FTC on Health Tech

posted Saturday Aug 2, 2014 by Scott Ertz

FDA Disagrees With FTC on Health Tech

Last week, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill stated that she was concerned about the nature of health tech, particularly health apps. She is afraid that the data collected by these apps, and their connected devices, might be used to predict future health conditions. Because of this fear, she believes that health tech should be regulated heavier, with her leading a charge to do just that.

Of course, she is right that data-based predictions are a reality, as that is exactly why these products exist. Why else would you gather and record this type of data if you weren't interested in using it to predict possible patterns and health concerns? Fortunately the Food and Drug Administration agrees with me and not the FTC, changing policy on pre-market approvals.

The organization has announced a plan to lift restrictions on several types of health devices, including direct-to-consumer products, many of which are connected with apps. These devices include exercise equipment, fertility diagnostic devices, hearing aids, talking first aid kits, thermometers and stethoscopes. The FDA said in regards to the new plans,

The FDA believes devices... are sufficiently well understood and do not present risks that require premarket 21 notification (510(k)) review to assure their safety and effectiveness.

This advisory does not go into effect immediately; the FDA has opened up a 60 day comment period before it goes from advisory to policy. Hopefully, for the sake of all of the mobile and wearable tech startups out there with unique and interesting ideas, this will not only become policy, but will be opened up even further.

Xbox Almost Ready to Launch Digital Preloading of Games

posted Sunday Jul 27, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo

Xbox Almost Ready to Launch Digital Preloading of Games

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, has taken to the media again to announce that the company is still committed to the Xbox One and that the Xbox hasn't completely lost its vision. With that in mind, Spencer said we'll see some of the true "next-gen" promised additions in the coming months.

We've talked about rounds of updates for the Xbox One in the past, and we harp on it because of the fact that the updates were merely things we were promised at launch before Microsoft backtracked on everything. So it is with great pleasure that I can say that Mr. Phil Spencer himself promised the gaming community that we'll see digital pre-orders making their way to the console. This means that you'll soon be able to pre-purchase a game before it's launched and will be able to play it as soon as it releases, without having to go to the store or wait for a download to finish after midnight. Instead, the Xbox One, just like a PC, will be able to download the full game ahead of time, and will be ready for 12:01 AM.

Of course, this is a big deal and something that I've wanted to see on these current generation consoles since November, and the PlayStation 4 already had this feature. How do we know this is coming to the Xbox One? Well, a Twitter user asked Spencer,

Will the digital preorder system become available on the next xbox preview update or anytime soon would love to start preordering!

And succinctly, @XboxP3 (Phil Spencer's account) responded with, "Stay tuned on this. Not long."

We probably won't see this in the August update though. Last week, Major Nelson pretty much laid out those expectations, however Microsoft is known to throw in a few surprises from time to time. It would be nice to see digital pre-ordering made available before this fall's sports titles hit stores. The ability to play NHL or FIFA right at midnight would be something I'd personally appreciate.

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