Sony's answer to iTunes will close in February
The official PlayStation blog on Wednesday posted an announcement letting PlayStation users know about a new partnership with Spotify. The service includes existing playlists for those who already have Spotify accounts. The post also, however, contained the news that Sony's own Music Unlimited service will be discontinued in late March.
Companies could potentially pull older music to avoid paying
A new lawsuit has targeted Google, Rdio, Sony, and Apple (including Beats Music) over the music royalties associated with pre-1972 recordings, new reports say. Zenbu Magazines, which owns copyrights on many pre-1972 songs, says that the companies have been making money streaming recordings without paying their copyright holders. Within US copyright law, compositions have been protected since 1831, but sound recordings were only added in 1972, meaning that while owners of pre-1972 compositions have been paid for public performances, people holding equally-aged recording rights typically haven't.
Free games, subscription time, compensation offered to US PlayStation owners
Sony is providing compensation to PlayStation Network users in the United States affected by a major breach in April 2011, half a year after agreeing to a settlement stemming from a class action lawsuit. The original attack, resulting in the closure of the online service and Qriocity for close to a month, risked the personal data and payment details of more than 77 million accounts.
Apple leaps ahead of LG in latter's home market
Apple has seen significant surges in the Japanese, Chinese, and South Korean smartphone markets since the introduction of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last September, according to a study by Counterpoint Research. The most significant performance is reportedly in South Korea, where in November Apple leapt from under 15 percent marketshare to 33 percent. That put the company ahead of LG, slotted at just 14 percent, and significantly closer to Samsung, which dropped from 60 to 46 percent. LG and Samsung are both local to Korea, and have traditionally enjoyed a homefield advantage.
Smartphone, television arms potentially at risk in cost-saving effort
Sony may be open to letting go of its mobile phone arm, along with its television businesses, a report claims. Officials at the electronics manufacturer allegedly close to CEO Kazuo Hirai believe the chief is thinking about getting rid of the two loss-making arms of the company, as a measure to rectify its expected full-year net loss forecast of 230 billion yen ($1.9 billion).
News from the video game industry for the week of January 4
Every Sunday at Electronista and MacNN, we offer a one-stop look at a few of the significant events that occurred in the video game industry during the previous week. In this week's look back in the Weekly Game Replay, we discuss a new game in the Baldur's Gate series from Beamdog, the closure of Zombie Studios, Hellblade coming to PC, the lawsuit over EA using retired NFL player likenesses in Madden NFL moving forward, and Sony delaying the release of the PlayStation 4 in China.
Sony targets audiophiles with four-figure price tag
Sony has introduced a new flagship Walkman, the NW-ZX2, that serves as the successor to the ZX1 model that was introduced less than six months ago. The revised edition marks Sony's latest attempt to engage the audiophile market, with its core feature being capable of playing Hi-Res Audio formats, traditional lower-bitrate audio files, streaming content and other media. Electronista stopped by Sony's CES booth to try out the new gadget, and ponder its four-figure price tag.
Android smartphone will sport limited production numbers, $6,000 price tag
Las Vegas is often associated with excess, usually when it comes to money. It's most fitting, then, that Tonino Lamborghini Mobile brought their latest offering, the 88 Tauri smartphone, to CES in Sin City in order to promote it. The headline-grabbing stat about the hand-made device is its starting price tag -- $6,000.
High-resolution audio playback touted in updated Walkman music player
The Walkman brand is alive and well, with Sony revealing the latest iteration in the product line at CES. The Walkman NW-ZX2 is a high-resolution portable music player that is an upgrade to last years' ZX1, capable of playing 24-bit 192KHz FLAC, Linear PCM, AIFF, Apple Lossless, and WAV files, as well as more standard MP3 and WMA content.
Sony pushing heavily into 4k video with new line of visual products
Sony's launch keynote to the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show has concluded, with the manufacturer announcing a big push into 4K for the year. A total of 11 new 4K Bravia LCD TVs will be brought to market across three series in the year. Additionally, the company is refreshing its Action Cam line, with its newest 4K Handycam -- which is 30 percent smaller and 20 percent lighter than the model that is being replaced.
LG, Sony, Denon among early supporting hardware brands
Google has announced that its Cast technology will soon be able to send audio-only feeds to devices such as speakers and AV receivers. Users will be able to cast from Android and iOS apps, as well the web, presumably via Chrome for Windows, OS X, and Chrome OS. Some compatible services will include Deezer, Google Play Music, NPR One, Pandora, Rdio, and TuneIn.
Sony extends PlayStation Plus subscriptions as apology for holiday downtime
Subscribers to Sony's PlayStation Plus service will receive a five-day extension to their subscription, if they had an active or free trial as of December 25, as an apology for the hacker-induced downtime over the holiday period. The company is also going to provide a one-time 10-percent discount code for the PlayStation Store to all PlayStation Network users later this month, with discount details being published on the PlayStation blog in the future.
New information yields the possibility of at least one ex-employee playing a role
The saga of "who really stole all that data from Sony" continues, in spite of the FBI's adherence to its findings that North Korea alone was responsible. Independent investigations by security organizations have expanded the suspect list to include ex-employees, while net vandals Lizard Squad have, in their continuing quest for attention, claimed partial credit.
Cellphone makers asked to make data more secure regardless
Taiwan's National Communications Commission has issued a report clearing a variety of companies of breaking local data privacy laws, according to Reuters. The organization says that all 12 of the previously-implicated cellphone brands -- including Apple, Huawei, Samsung, LG, Sony, ZTE, and Xiaomi -- are in the clear, despite Xiaomi being the impetus for the investigation. In August, Xiaomi apologized and promised to make changes after a Finnish security firm discovered Xiaomi software was collecting address book data without permission.
News from the video game industry for the week of December 21
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN offer up a single article with some of the significant happenings in the video game industry for the previous week. In this edition of the Weekly Game Replay, we take a look at Nintendo winning two patent disputes, the catch with the free game offer for Assassin's Creed Unity issues, new details on Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, Resident Evil HD cross-buy, and expansion of PlayStation Now to non-Sony devices.
US government blamed by North Korea for Internet downtime
North Korea has blamed the United States for its national Internet outages, according to reports. At the same time, other reports suggest that the insular country may not be behind the original Sony Pictures hack in the first place, with the suggestion that it was actually pulled off by a former employee who had direct access to the studio's network.
Besides being terrible, nobody benefits besides Sony from The Interview
To much fanfare, and terrible reviews, Sony Pictures finally released The Interview -- a contentious, and some say trite, light comedy vehicle where a pair of bumbling reporters are recruited by the CIA to assassinate the leader of North Korea. Conventional media, and governmental figures, have put this forth as a victory for the US' right to freedom of expression, and a defiant Sony agrees. However, viewing the picture isn't the act of defiance and patriotism that Sony wants you to think it is - in fact, viewers are now supporting a company that has called for censorship of journalists and US citizens alike, in the interest of corporate secrets.
Google, Sony, Microsoft all hosting the movie for purchase or rent
Sony and others have unveiled a massive effort to make the Sony Pictures title The Interview available online. Google's YouTube Movies paid service paved the way with its announcement a bit earlier today, with Google Play, Xbox Videos, and a special Sony website all having declared that the movie would be available at 1PM ET. The picture will cost $6 to rent, and $15 to own in HD.
Samsung Smart TVs to gain PlayStation Now in 2015
Sony's PlayStation Now is heading to new Samsung smart televisions. The game streaming service, which allows gamers to play hundreds of PlayStation 3 games without the console, will be available on "select" Samsung TVs arriving in the first half of 2015. Samsung has yet to state which sets will receive PlayStation Now, but more details are likely to surface during CES next month.
News from the video game industry for the week of December 14
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN put together a one-stop article for some of the major news in the video game industry in the past week. In this week's edition of the Weekly Game Replay, we look at Valve's handling of Hatred on Steam Greenlight, Mojang and Telltale Games team up for a narrative-based Minecraft game, a judge gives the go-ahead on a Killzone resolution lawsuit, World of Warcraft is exploring in-game purchasable game time tokens, and Majesco Entertainment's receiving an investor cash infusion.
US continues to claim NK responsible for Sony hack, pirate release of movie possible?
In an interview recorded on Friday, President Obama clarified his remarks last week regarding the Sony Pictures hack. The president denies swirling discussions about the hack being an act of war, and called it "an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive." Additionally, late Sunday, tweets purport that hacker collective Anonymous is about to wade into the fray against North Korea for its role in the event.
Jim Hood claims MPAA has no sway, despite taking MPAA funds
Google has launched its own legal effort to stop Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood's effort with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to pin the search engine as the cause of the world's piracy problem. Google claims in the court filing in Mississippi's district court that Hood has filed a "burdensome, retaliatory" subpoena against it, which would require a massive financial and labor effort to comply, for no real gain other than extra-judiciary punishment. Hood has responded, and is "calling a time out, so that cooler heads may prevail."
Six movie studios, including Sony, provided $500,000 per year for the MPAA's campaign against Google
In the past weeks, quite a lot has been revealed about Sony's role in ongoing anti-piracy efforts due to the leak of emails as part of the fallout of the North Korean-based GOP attack on the studio. In a post on Thursday on the Google Public Policy Blog, Kent Walker, Google SVP and general counsel, outlined even more leaks that describe a combined and carefully planned effort by Sony and five other studios that began this year to provide funding and legal support for the MPAA's efforts to court State Attorney Generals and target Google directly.
FBI, diplomats had previously denied direct North Korean involvement
US government officials now believe North Korea is, in fact, behind the attack of Sony Pictures Entertainment's computer system and subsequent data leaks, according to reports. The government is also said to be preparing to make an official statement about its findings, which may arrive as soon as tomorrow, though apparently there is still some internal debate as to what kind of response to make to the insular country. Previously, the FBI had said it had "no evidence" of a direct North Korean connection, though the country was suspected from the outset.
Google Glass-style Sony headset clips onto existing eyewear, sunglasses
Sony has unveiled its own take on the Google Glass wearable concept, with a similar heads-up display. The Single-Lens Display Module is a two-section unit which can be temporarily attached to a normal pair of glasses or sunglasses, providing a small Glass-style OLED screen to one side of the user's field of view which can be used to show various kinds of data useful to the wearer at that moment.
'Christmas dump' incoming with more 'interesting' Sony Pictures data
Months before the hacker intrusion on Sony Pictures' network, analyst firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) performed an analysis on the company's security, and found it lacking. More than 100 devices were found to be unmonitored by corporate security following an incomplete transition from a private security firm to an in-house team. As a result, any Sony response to network intrusion would be, in the words of the auditors, "slow, fragmented, and incomplete, if it would even happen at all." However, corrective actions proposed by PWC seemingly went undone, which left the doors to the company open, sometimes literally, facilitating the attack.
NPD claims 1.2M Xbox One consoles sold in US in November
Microsoft has beaten Sony for the first time in a long while, in terms of console sales. Sales data from NPD reveals that the Xbox One outsold the PlayStation 4 in the United States for the month of November, with the pre-holiday spending breaking a sales streak Sony has enjoyed since the launch of its console in the country last year.
Leading theories of state sponsored attack put forth by Sony, others in doubt
The assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's cyber division, Joe Demarest, has declared that the government of North Korea, at least, doesn't appear to be the instigator of the Sony Pictures attack. Speaking at a cybersecurity conference, the chief said that despite the attack package being compiled in Korean "there is no attribution to North Korea at this point."
Continued data leaks, attacks threatened if movie release halted
Hackers behind the Sony Pictures intrusion have made a more public demand for the company to stop the release of an upcoming film. The demand from the "Guardians of Peace" is accompanied by another large release of internal data, with information about aliases used by celebrities, as well as more contact information for the stars and their assistants.
Series of attacks mirrors similar incidents by same group in August
Sony has suffered its second major hacking incident in recent weeks, with its PlayStation console users being the target this time. The company's PlayStation Network services were knocked offline late last night before returning to normal earlier this morning, in an attack which coincides with the 20th anniversary of Sony's original game console release.
News from the video game industry for the week of November 30
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN offer up some of the news direct from the video game world in one article. During this week's Weekly Game Replay, we look at a slew of news from the PlayStation Experience and Game Awards in Las Vegas, the leak of the next Assassin's Creed game, Australian stores pulling Grand Theft Auto 5, a new studio from 2K Games, and gameplay footage from the upcoming Legend of Zelda Wii U game.
Apple, Samsung, HTC among identified parties
Taiwan's National Communications Commission has found 12 cellphone makers to be violating the country's Personal Information Protection Act, according to the Wall Street Journal. PIPA covers the "collection, processing and use of personal information"; the NCC has yet to say exactly how the companies broke regulations, but does explain that it discovered the issue while investigating charges that Chinese firm Xiaomi was collecting and transmitting user data without permission.
TV From Sky app goes live on PlayStation 4 in UK
British broadcaster Sky has added its streaming app to the PlayStation 4. Named TV From Sky instead of the usual Sky Go brand, the app provides online access to a number of live Sky television channels, as well as a wide selection of on-demand and catch-up TV shows via the console, for subscribers of the satellite television service.
FBI gives guidance to major US corporations, including who to notify during attack
While not specifically naming any names, the FBI has warned that a major cyberattack has taken place against US businesses in the last two weeks. The advisory, likely given in the wake of the enormous Sony breach, gives some details about the tools used in the assault, and provides advice to the businesses on how to respond to the package, which includes informing the FBI.
Fury, Annie, other leaked films shared over 1M times collectively
A number of Sony movies have been leaked following the Sony Pictures hack last week, according to reports. At least five movies are circulating on file-sharing sites, and while unreleased films including Mr Turner and Annie are being pirated before a theatrical release, the recent Fury is claimed to be receiving a considerable amount of attention, despite still being shown in cinemas.
Rumored Sony e-paper watch to focus on style, not competing with smartwatches
Sony may be working on a smartwatch using e-paper for release next year, according to a report. Said to be part of a "venture-style approach" to product creation by Bloomberg, the electronics company is apparently making the device in preparation for a release sometime next year, though it may not offer the same level of functionality as Sony's existing smartwatch offerings.
Advertising promised 'game changing' features in ads, Sony never delivered
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Sony Computer Entertainment America reached a settlement today over advertising promises that were made for the PlayStation Vita leading up to its launch in February 2012. According to the FTC, Sony and advertising agency Deutsch LA promised "game changing" features in a 2011 ad campaign that misled consumers.
Three-year plan involves increasing revenues in Sony PlayStation, device arms
Sony is reducing the number of different products it will be shipping in the future, following poor quarterly financial results. The $1.2 billion loss in November has prompted the company to make a similar change as a recent Samsung announcement, but rather than just cutting down its smartphone range, Sony will also be shrinking its line-up of televisions.
Rumor claims Xperia Z4 to have 5.4-inch Quad HD-resolution display
Sony's next iteration of the Xperia mobile device line could be unveiled as early as January, according to a rumor. It is claimed the Xperia Z4 and a larger Xperia Z4 Ultra will be shown off during CES at the start of next year, barely four months after the company revealed the Xperia Z3 range, and almost two months before the first-year anniversary of the Xperia Z2's launch.
Buys rights from Sony for reported $30 million; Boyle still to direct
As a follow-up to a story we reported on last week, Universal Studios has officially bought the rights to the Steve Jobs biopic already in pre-production from Sony, which had placed the project in "turnaround" on Thursday. Universal is said to have paid Sony $30 million to transfer the picture to the latter's control, retaining director Danny Boyle and reportedly confirming actor Michael Fassbender to play the lead role. There is still no firm announcement on when shooting will commence.
Starbucks adds Powermat wireless charging to 200 San Francisco stores
Starbucks is expanding its wireless charging efforts, by adding more Duracell Powermat charges to 200 locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, ahead of plans to offer it across the United States and possibly in Europe and Asia by next year. For customers without a compatible wireless charging device, Duracell Powermat "Rings" will be available to borrow and return for each visit, or can be bought for $10 each.
Improved image stabilization, autofocus speed touted in Sony A7 II
An updated version of the Sony Alpha 7 has been launched in Japan. The A7 II is a 24.3-megapixel full-frame mirrorless camera and the first of its kind to have a five-axis sensor-shift image stabilization system, one which is said to reduce shake by up to 4.5 CIPA-standard stops, and is capable of automatically combining it with the in-lens stabilization of an E-mount lens with OSS.
Project has seen original director, star, now studio drop out in pre-production
The Sony-backed Steve Jobs biographical movie, based in part on Walter Issacson's biography of the Apple co-founder, has proven to be nearly as mercurial as the reputation of its subject. In recent weeks, not one but two rumored stars of the project have dropped out, the original director was replaced with an Oscar-winning substitute, and now -- according to trade magazine Deadline -- Sony has put the film in "turnaround," offering it to sale to other studios, with Universal said to be making a play for it.
Device might allegedly reach 'DSLR-quality imagery'
The next-generation iPhone may represent Apple's "biggest camera jump ever," says Daring Fireball's John Gruber. In a recent podcast episode, Gruber explains that "a birdie of a birdie" tells him that the camera will adopt a "kind of weird two-lens system where the back camera uses two lenses and it somehow takes it up into DSLR-quality imagery." That could imply a camera similar to the one in the HTC One M8, which uses an extra lens to provide more image data and enable post-processed focus shifts.
Ecobee3 gains shelf space alongside Honeywell smart thermostat
Starting on Monday, Apple Stores are now carrying at least one rival to Google-owned Nest's self-titled smart Learning Thermostat. The Ecobee3 offers an advantage over the Nest in terms of multi-room support, utilizing sensors that can be bought separately to bring more intelligent energy management to the full home rather than relying on a single point of reference. Like Nest and Honeywell's rival entry, the smart device can be managed through a smartphone app from anywhere with a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. The Ecobee3 sells for the same price as the Nest, $250.
New 21MP Exmor RS sensor adds HDR still images, faster focus on moving objects
Sony has unveiled a new model in its Exmor RS imaging sensor range for smartphones and tablets. The Exmor RS IMX230 module is a 21-megapixel model similar in size to those used in the Xperia Z2 and Z3 ranges, but it is claimed to be the first CMOS sensor for smartphones to have onboard image plane phase detection autofocus signal processing, allowing for quicker focusing on fast-moving objects.
PlayStation Vue to offer around 75 channels, cloud storage of shows
Sony has unveiled its rumored Internet TV service, one which will launch this month in the United States as a beta. PlayStation Vue will allow owners of Sony's game consoles to watch a variety of locally-available television channels, along with on-demand and catch-up functionality, and the ability to store some television programs on the cloud.
LG G Watch R available to purchase on Google Play for $299
LG's G Watch R is now available to purchase from Google Play, just as the smartwatch is about to appear in stores in the United States. The Android Wear smartwatch, complete with a 1.3-inch round P-OLED display and a heart rate monitor, finally joins the original G Watch on the Google online store, though it is priced at a rather expensive $299.
Strong sales of PlayStation 4 not enough to reclaim profitability
Earlier this week, Sony reported its quarterly earnings, missing already-bad Wall Street estimates. Friday, Sony reported a staggering $1.2 billion loss, even with the company having unloaded its television and PC operations. The only bright spot in Sony's future appears to be the PlayStation 4. Much of the bad news came from an operating loss of 172.0 billion yen ($1.6 billion) attributed to the company's mobile communications segment. This compares to an operating profit of 8.8 billion yen in the same quarter a year ago.
Jessica Chastain could take unidentified role
Actor Seth Rogen may have been cast to star as Steve Wozniak in Sony's upcoming Steve Jobs biopic, sources tell Variety. Rogen is best known for his comedy roles, starring in movies like Neighbors and This is the End, but he has also appeared in dramas such as 50/50. The sources add that Jessica Chastain is under consideration for the movie as well, but what role she might play is unknown.