Hello and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your business guide to the gaming and media industries. This Thursday, we take a closer look at some of the announcements Amazon made during its fall hardware event. Also: Within sells Wonderscope and the surprising secret behind QR codes.
What is a TV, anyway?
When Amazon executives unveiled the company’s fall hardware lineup at an online-only press event yesterday, they also showed off a number of new devices aimed at helping people stream their favorite movies and shows. And while devices like a 3rd Gen Fire TV Cube and a new Fire TV Voice Remote have held a few surprises, an interesting trend has emerged across multiple device categories.
Your smart display is now a TV. Amazon revealed yesterday that, through a software update, it is bringing the Fire TV experience to its Echo Show 15 smart displays, which now double as TVs.
- Amazon Entertainment’s vice president of devices and services, Daniel Rausch, told Protocol that 70% of Echo Show owners have watched video content on their smart displays in the past month.
- “We were frankly surprised by the amount of entertainment content [people were consuming]”, Rausch said. “That’s what led us to this conclusion to bring the entire catalog of Fire TV to [the Echo Show 15].”
- The Echo Show 15 isn’t just the first device that essentially turns into a TV with a simple software update; for many customers, it will also be their very first touchscreen TV.
- Rausch told me that Amazon first put a spin on Fire TV when it integrated the platform into cars like the new BMW 7 Series.
- Some Fire TV apps already support native touch input, Rausch said, while others can be controlled with a virtual remote displayed on the same screen. Plus, there’s always voice control.
- Rausch declined to say if Amazon plans to bring the Fire TV experience to any of its other Echo Show smart displays.
Amazon isn’t done blurring the lines between TVs and other devices. The company also announced a new line of flagship Fire TVs called the Omni QLED series that comes with built-in sensors to detect your presence in the living room. Once you enter the room, the TV will turn on, displaying a new default ambient experience.
- This Ambient Mode includes a rotating gallery of artwork suitable for the big screen and an option to show off family photos – features that might sound familiar to anyone who’s used Google’s Chromecast devices before.
- Additionally, Amazon is also bringing Alexa widgets dedicated to the ambient experience of the new TV.
- These include a calendar widget, sticky notes with messages from family members, quick access to smart home controls, video viewing recommendations, and more.
- The widgets look a lot like the ones Amazon first launched on the Echo Show 15 home screen earlier this year, but Rausch suggested there were some subtle differences.
- “It’s a real 10 foot experience that we’ve built around these widgets,” he said.
- Again, Rausch wouldn’t say if Amazon intended to bring this ambient experience and widgets to other Fire TV devices.
TVs become smart displays, smart displays become televisions, and the cars are transformed into living rooms. All of this led me to ask Rausch if it was time for Amazon to merge all of its smart display and entertainment platforms. Why not do it all on Fire TV, with an ambient mode for those times when you don’t want to watch TV?
Rausch insisted that was the wrong approach. “Each of these experiences is very tailored to the device and the context in which customers are using it,” he told me. That may be true, but I suspect we’ll still see many of these devices and contexts coalesce over time.
A MESSAGE FROM QUALCOMM
Every great tech product you rely on every day, from the smartphone in your pocket to the music streaming service and the navigation system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by proprietary laws. intellectual (IP).
Before its Meta deal, Within sells the Wonderscope app
Within, the immersive media startup best known for its VR fitness app Supernatural, is selling an earlier bet: educational software maker Amira Learning has struck a deal with Within to acquire Wonderscope, an interactive AR storytelling app Within launched for the first time. times in 2018.
- Wonderscope is an app for iPhone and iPad that uses Apple’s ARKit technology to bring stories to life in people’s living rooms.
- Wonderscope stories include a version of “Little Red Riding Hood” and a Halloween-themed story about the ghosts of the house, among others.
- The stories encourage children to read aloud and engage with their animated protagonists, which complements Amira’s approach of using AI for guided reading exercises.
- Amira now wants to “iterate on an app that leverages Wonderscope’s AR technology and Amira’s AI,” according to a spokesperson for Within.
- That’s good news for Wonderscope fans: the app had been essentially dormant since 2019, when Within pivoted to focus on Supernatural.
The acquisition of Within by Meta, meanwhile, remains pending. Meta announced its intention to buy Within last year; Meta was reportedly willing to spend $500 million to get his hands on Supernatural. The FTC sued in July to stop the acquisition. Hearings in the case are scheduled for December.
In other news
The SEC is suing former MoviePass executives for fraud. Mitch Lowe and Ted Farnsworth, the two executives who reduced the cost of the service to $10 a month, allegedly misrepresented the valuation and monetization potential of the service to investors.
Razer wants to participate in the portable gaming boom. Razer on Wednesday announced a 5G Android gaming device in partnership with Verizon and Qualcomm. It’s part of a new wave of Switch and Steam Deck-like handhelds focused on cloud gaming.
OnlyFans is launching a comedy contest for its porn-free branch. The jokes write themselves… and are worth a total of 100,000 pounds.
The return of Cyberpunk results in a big increase in sales. CDPR’s Revitalized Cyberpunk 2077 just passed the 20 million mark in salesup from 18 million in April, thanks to a Steam sale, the Netflix anime “Edgerunners” and nearly two years of bug fixes and fixes.
Netflix is testing more aggressive anti-sharing measures. The company has disconnected some users across Latin America and is asking them to subscribe to their own plans.
Epix is renamed MGM+. The name change will take effect in early 2023, according to MGM’s new owner, Amazon.
Ubisoft’s pirated game has another problem. Skull & Bones, a major new game property from Ubisoft, has been delayed from November to March next year, Kotaku reported. The title has been stuck in development since 2013.
Only 50.5% of American households now subscribe to cable. Pay TV penetration is at its lowest level in more than 30 years according to MoffettNathanson, and services like YouTube TV and Sling are unable to stop the erosion.
How QR codes are created
A MESSAGE FROM QUALCOMM
If we want our country’s rich history of innovation to continue, experts say, we need to create an ecosystem of intellectual property protection that helps ensure that technological innovation will thrive.
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