Apple wins 2014 ‘Outstanding Commercial’ Emmy Award for ‘Misunderstood’ holiday ad

Here’s some good news for Apple amid several months of controversy surrounding the Cupertino-company’s marketing efforts: Apples’ 2013 Holiday season television commercial “Misunderstood” has won a Creative Arts Emmy Award for most “outstanding commercial” in 2014. The award was announced on the Emmy’s winners list last night, and the Creative Arts Emmy Awards are presented for “guest performers on television dramas and comedy series, as well as the many talented artists and craftspeople behind the scenes to create television excellence.” The main, televised Emmy Awards ceremony takes place on August 25th…

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Cue: The current TV experience “sucks,” billion-dollar Apple TV business will get bigger this year

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Speaking at Code Conference Wednesday night, Apple’s head of online services Eddy Cue took a swipe at the current state of television and presented his take on where the future of that industry lies. According to Cue, Apple TV sales have risen in recent years and over 20 million of the set-top box have been sold to date. Cue says that the device is billion-dollar business now and is expected to continue growing.

However, the Apple TV isn’t a true TV replacement. Cue took a few moments to point out just how much using TV “sucks” and bemoan the current range of DVR devices. He even went so far as to compare current technology with the VCRs of a bygone era—and he’s not wrong. Cue cited drawbacks such as having to remember to set a recording or trying to manage storage on the recorder as reasons on-demand streaming through the Apple TV is growing in popularity.

That’s not to say he’s especially fond of today’s on-demand systems either, though. Not only did Cue have sharp criticisms for modern recording tech, he even jabbed at the streaming experience on the iPad, noting that the process of authenticating with a cable provider to access streaming content is less-than-ideal. So what’s his solution?

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Apple reportedly discussing the possibility of a TV streaming service with Comcast

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is now in talks with Comcast about the possibility of a collaborative television streaming service. The plan, according to the report, is for Comcast to provide preferential streaming treatment to an Apple-built set-top box like the existing Apple TV.

The service would allow subscribers to stream live TV shows as well as on-demand content provided by Comcast. The agreement between the two companies would allow Apple’s box to continue streaming smoothly even when other connections were bogged down by high traffic and bypass bandwidth issues.

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Opinion: Will the spring launch of Amazon/Nexus/Apple TV signal the beginning of the end of live, broadcast TV?

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Streaming TV is heating-up. We’re expecting a new Apple TV box to be announced in April, Amazon looks set to launch its own box in March and Google is reputed to be not far behind with a Nexus-branded box.

So-called cord-cutting – people who give up their cable TV subscriptions in favor of streaming content over the web – is growing in popularity. Mobile TV viewing on tablets is increasingly common.

All of which makes me wonder whether we’re witnessing the beginning of the end of live TV … ?  Read more

Americans officially living in post-PC world, spending more time using mobile apps & web

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According to new data from Nielsen, Americans now spend more time using mobile web and apps on their smartphones than they do online on their PCs, reports Engadget.

That shift toward mobile is affecting how many spend their free time. Americans spent an average of 34 hours per month using mobile apps and browsers in 2013; that’s more time than they spent online with their PCs, which chewed up 27 hours …  Read more

WWE Wrestling Network coming to Apple TV, company executive suggests

Earlier this year, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) held a press conference to announce that it will be bringing its wrestling content to television and mobile devices via a new WWE Network. At the event, WWE Chief Revenue and Marketing officer Michelle Wilson announced hardware partners and that the network will provide its content via a 24/7 stream that costs $9.99 per month.

As shown in the video below (5:30 in), Wilson said that the network would become available on a slew of devices, including iOS devices, Android devices, Rokus, Amazon Kindle devices, Xbox hardware, and PlayStations. Rounding out the list of supported devices, Wilson said, is “a connected device that I am not allowed to mention at this press conference…”

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Review: Seiki’s 39-inch 4K TV as a display for a 2013 MacBook Pro with Intel Iris

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On Black Friday week, Amazon ($449) and Sears ($499) went into a price war on the 39-inch “120Hz” Seiki 4K displays culminating in a Sub-$400 price (that I jumped on) for the 39-inch variant.

I’ve been using it as a 4K, 3840×2160 display for my MacBook Pro 2013 base model (no discrete graphics) off and on for a week.

How is it as a HDTV? Can you use it as a 4K display? Should you? Here’s my take: Read more

Apple completes buyout of PrimeSense, the 3D body sensor company responsible for Microsoft’s Kinect

Globes reports that Apple has completed its purchase of PrimeSense, the Israel-based firm behind the technology in Microsoft’s Kinect sensor, and Apple confirmed the acquisition to AllThingsD. As noted earlier this year, the deal will cost Apple somewhere between $300-350 million. PrimeSense previously denied any talks with Apple.

On Friday, the acquisition of Israeli gesture recognition company PrimeSense Ltd. by Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) was closed. The deal, which has not been formally announced, was made at a company value of $300-350 million, and follows lengthy negotiations by PrimeSense with several potential buyers.

The sensor firm is no longer working with Microsoft, as the Xbox manufacturer has moved to all in-house work for its latest Kinect-based technology. With Apple reportedly working on a gesture-controlled 3D interface, possibly for some sort of television-related product (or a media hub to rival the Xbox One, perhaps?), the PrimeSense purchase makes perfect sense.

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Yahoo Screen app and PBS arrive on Apple TV, free SNL, Daily Show, Colbert, live news & public TV now on the big screen

Back in September Yahoo launched a new Yahoo Screen iOS app, a TV remote-like experience for browsing content from Yahoo and sending content to your TV via AirPlay. Today the company announced that it is launching the Yahoo Screen experience directly on the Apple TV.

Yahoo Screen on Apple TV helps you quickly find all the great video Yahoo has to offer —Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, live news and events, music and original Yahoo programs — so you can enjoy on your big screen.

The app appears to be a similar experience as the iOS app, allowing users to browse through content hosted on Yahoo across categories such as news, sports, food and entertainment and instantly stream content to their TV. Yahoo! has made new deals with Viacom that will bring content from Comedy Central and elsewhere, and it will also live stream original Yahoo programs, news, and live events. A few of the shows already available on Yahoo Screen include Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. You’ll also find content from MLB, UFC, The Onion, ABC News, Martha Stewart, and more.

The apps are being pushed out over the air to the Apple TV in the U.S. now, and we’ve also discovered that a new PBS channel has arrived today (pictured above). The app doesn’t require users to have a TV subscription to access content, but it does require users to sign in using Google+, Facebook, or the app’s registration in order to access PBS broadcasts for their location. The app doesn’t have live content, but it does have many of the network’s new shows shortly after they’ve aired.

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Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects A7-based Apple TV in 2014, television set in 2015-2016

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Ever since hearing that Steve Jobs had “cracked” the TV industry, Apple fans have been waiting for the day the company would release an actual television set. For now, Apple has given us the Apple TV set-top box, but some analysts now believe that Apple is gearing up to deliver an actual television in the next few years. Ming-Chi Kuo today noted that an updated Apple TV box running on Apple’s new A7 processor is expected in 2014, with an actual television set to follow in 2015 or 2016. The prediction also includes a warning that Apple TV sales will be limited unless Apple can find a way to integrate new TV services and content.

We expect Apple to launch a new version of the Apple TV with an A7 processor in 2014, and we forecast 2014 shipments to total 8.2mn units. Shipment growth will be limited unless Apple is able to integrate more TV content, services and its App Store, in our view.
We believe the slowdown in Apple TV shipments suggests Apple faces challenges in integrating TV content and services. If Apple wants to launch iTV, the challenges of integrating content and service are more difficult considering the different TV content ecosystems (e.g. cable operators) in various countries. Moreover, establishing an iTV supply chain is very costly. Thus we believe iTV launch will be delayed to end-2015 or early 2016 at the earliest.

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Report: Apple negotiating w/ media companies for pay TV service, working on full-fledged TV set

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A new report from Quartz today offers some details on Apple’s content negotiations for a much rumored revamped Apple TV. Most of the report echoes what we’ve heard several times in the past– Apple is apparently talking with HBO, Disney, MTV and others about a new TV service. According to Quartz, it could include a pay TV service that would see Apple “essentially becoming a cable company itself,” as well as the release of a “full-fledged television set”:

One alternative being considered is that Apple could essentially become a cable company itself. Under that scenario, sources say, Apple would launch what is formally known as a virtual multichannel video programming distributor. Apple is still interested in striking deals with cable companies that would allow people to plug their cable lines into the back of the TV set, bypassing a cable box, sources say. But at least two years of negotiations haven’t progressed very far.

Sources say Apple has concluded that it doesn’t need all, even most, content providers on board before it can release a TV set that people would buy. It just needs enough good programming to distinguish the new product, which will try to simplify the experience of connecting internet video to the TV.

The report doesn’t offer up any details that we didn’t hear around this same time last year (and the year before that), but it appears Apple could be closer to reaching the deals it needs to launch the next-generation of Apple TV. Earlier today we reported that former Hulu SVP Pete Distad has now officially started his new role at Apple as Product Marketing VP and is thought to be leading Apple executives through negotiations with cable and media companies.  Read more

Apple to announce Time Warner Apple TV integration in the coming months, hiring Hulu SVP to negotiate deals

pete_distadAccording to reports from Bloomberg, Apple is close to reaching a deal with Time Warner to offer TV shows on Apple TV, while also apparently recruiting Hulu exec Pete Distad to lead negotiations for content:

The companies plan to announce an agreement within a few months, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The iPhone maker is also hiring Pete Distad from online-video service Hulu, where he was senior vice president in charge of marketing and distribution, to help Apple executives in negotiations with media and cable companies, two people with familiar with the matter said.

Distad is currently SVP of Marketing and Distribution at Hulu and in charge of content distribution and customer acquisition/retention on the company’s management team. According to his bio Distad’s current duties at Hulu include “subscriber acquisition and retention, paid, on-channel, and brand marketing, distribution and promotional partnerships, and content marketing.” Read more