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Why Apple Will Win The Augmented Reality Race




Apple has revealed several auspicious AR developments. In June, the company launched ARKit, an open-source platform that lets developers build AR applications for iPhones and iPads.

While other tech titans like Facebook and Google are developing virtual reality (VR) headsets, which offer full immersion in virtual worlds, Cook believes AR will be a bigger opportunity because it is less intrusive. Few people want to be “enclosed in something,” he explained last year.

Analysts predict that when Apple updates iOS later in 2017, the company could load AR software onto as many as one billion mobile devices that currently run on iOS.
ARKit is a springboard that Apple will use for a much larger push into AR. However, Cook has kept his cards close to his chest about his specific plans for the medium. It would make sense to begin with the iPhone—it is a mass-market device and, with the introduction of ARKit, much of the heavy lifting for building AR apps has been removed for iOS development teams.

Introducing AR into a billion smartphones would also give Apple the opportunity to learn about user behavior and experience. The company could then use that insight to build a long-term plan for its rumored "Apple Glasses." Apple is methodically laying the groundwork for a closed ecosystem of hardware, software, developers, tools, and consumers—in typical Apple fashion.


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Why AT&T could put the TV advertising revolution on hold




With the pending acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T is well-positioned to fundamentally change how television ads are bought and sold. Take the content from Time Warner and DirectTV, combine it with AT&T’s ever-expanding trove of subscription data, then add Brian Lesser -- the former GroupM CEO who joined AT&T this month to lead a mysterious new advertising division -- and you’ve got a solid blueprint for disruption.

But there are good reasons AT&T might decide not to follow that path.

Earlier this month, AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens spoke excitedly about how much more money the company could charge for "addressable ads," meaning those that use viewer data to deliver TV ads tailored to specific households.

Stephens’ enthusiasm is understandable. Advertisers are forever in search of greater media efficiencies, and the network that lets them buy TV ads the way they’ve long been buying digital ones -- narrowly targeting potential customers instead of paying for every eyeball watching -- could quickly grab an outsize slice of the $71 billion TV advertising market.

There’s little doubt that the addressable model represents the future of TV ad buying. And AT&T is well poised to get there before anyone else. But it’s important to remember that it’s quality, creative content that keeps audiences engaged. And no one can corner the market on that. AT&T is smart to continue assembling its forces for the coming revolution. But it’s also not foolish enough to fire the first shot prematurely.


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White men still dominate behind-the-camera jobs in TV




Television industry executives have pledged to do a better job of hiring women and minorities—not just as stars but as writers, directors and producers. Executive producers—a group that includes program creators, production and financing executives, and top writers or directors—are among the most important behind-the-scenes roles in TV.
In recent years, Hollywood has been been dogged by criticism of its lack of opportunity for women and people of color. Activists called out the Oscars for nominating no minority actors for two years in a row, forcing the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences to recruit a more diverse membership.

TV critics have assailed all the networks for failing to hire more diverse casts, none more so than CBS. This summer, two Asian-American actors quit the TV show “Hawaii Five-O’’ amid reports they were paid less than their white peers. The co-heads of CBS studios got an earful from reporters earlier this month for fielding another crop of shows starring almost exclusively white men and cast by an all-white casting department.

“Unless you are putting the thumb on the scale that diversity and inclusion is a mandate, people default to people that they know,’’ Sarah Aubrey, executive video president of original programming at TNT, said in an interview. “We can’t rely on the same old pools of people, and the same pools of stories too.’’

“Am I happy with the balance of showrunner diversity? Not even close,” NBC’s Salke said. “We’re constantly pushing to do better.”

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Facebook, Apple, and Google will hasten the next era of TV




The rush into scripted video by tech giants is going to accelerate an evolution of entertainment that’s already underway. We’re already moving away from the idea that drama is a 60-minute exercise with four bathroom breaks. Internet-centric companies have already begun changing the rules with binge-watching, flexible running times, fewer commercials, and crowd-sourced content. The brainpower—and just plain power—of the most valued tech firms will change things even more.

Just as the cable revolution overturned broadcast, the net is destined to become the dominant mode of video, both in terms of transit and programming. The cable industry is seemingly protected by its built-in local monopolies, but as broadband connections proliferate—by now rendering the copper cable connection almost obsolete—the only thing propping up the status quo is a business arrangement that bundles channels together for a steep price. As more people cut the cord—and as smaller bundles become more popular—we will reach a tipping point that sees the collapse of cable.

That’s why the entrance of many of the remaining big tech companies really matters. These powerful corporations—the true masters of our current universe—are in the attention business, and they don’t necessarily hew to Hollywood’s often unexamined practices. Just as HBO, born of the cable era, changed programming with the idea of ad-free, movie-quality television, internet-era Netflix has proven that new programming models (like binge watching) can further upend viewing habits. The obsessively iterative internet companies—motivated by a determination to bolster their respective business models—will make an even bigger difference.


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Market analysts see a coming boom in virtual and augmented reality




Worldwide spending on virtual and augmented reality is expected to double each year through 2021, say the analysts at IDC, a market research firm based in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Consumer sales for things like headsets and games are currently the top driver of overall spending, followed by sales in the manufacturing and retail sectors. In the US, some of those sectors could ultimately overtake consumer sales by 2021.

"Other segments like government, transportation, and education will utilize the transformative capabilities of these technologies," said Marcus Torchia, research director of IDC Customer Insights & Analysis.

Virtual and augmented reality is a hotbed of investment and development right now, spurred by a recent spike in interest fueled by new hardware like Microsoft’s Hololens, reality-altering apps like Snapchat, and even games like Pokemon Go. Google Lens and Apple’s ARKit are also expected to spur consumer interest and development. And Facebook’s in the mix, too.


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Steven Soderbergh has a new plan to make Hollywood movies outside the control of big studios




“Logan Lucky” masterfully shows off Soderbergh’s talents. The story of two brothers trying to pull a heist at a NASCAR race has the mainstream appeal of an “Ocean’s” movie with a hint of the eclectic style found in his indie work.

All of that has led to one of the most anticipated movies to end the summer, and it wasn’t done with the help of a studio’s test groups and millions of advertising dollars. Instead, Soderbergh launched his own company, Fingerprint Releasing, where he oversees the entire marketing and release of “Logan Lucky.” If the movie performs well when it opens on August 18, it could be a model other auteurs like Soderbergh could follow from now on, and never have to deal with a studio again.

For some, the model sounds like a form of a “service deal,” where a producer hires a distributor on a flat fee to market and release a movie, and the distributor takes a cut of the box office. This method has become more popular since the emergence of streaming giants Netflix and Amazon, which make service deals when doing theatrical releases of their titles. But the practice itself has been going on for decades. George Lucas didn’t want to relinquish the rights to "Star Wars" back in 1977, so he just licensed it and the two sequels that followed to 20th Century Fox.

Then there are others who believe this auteur DIY model won’t be that popular, because most filmmakers aren’t up for “getting their hands dirty” in the distribution phase of a movie’s life like Soderbergh is.

Soderbergh’s model may not lead to a revolt of studio moviemaking, but it’s becoming clear he’s found a way to no longer need its services.


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