Nike recently discontinued Nike Fuel bands and fired a bunch of related staff. However, President and CEO Mark Parker said the company still plans to be a part of wearables going forward through partnerships to create more reach for the existing Fuel system. Does this mean that Nike is out of the fitness tracking wristband business? Is Nike going to concentrate on software and apps and let others figure out the hardware? Or, does it mean that fitness tracking wristbands were a fad? Nike may stand for excellence in sports and fitness, but Nike Fuel did not stand for excellence in fitness tracking technology. Its unique combination of hardware and software was an experiment in fitness tracking, but Fuel points were an arbitrary metric that helped you accomplish nothing. It may be a sign that fitness tracking wristbands a fad, but the Quantified Self movement – of which fitness tracking wristbands are only one small part – is going to be here for long while. So get ready: this is just the beginning.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is tearing her way through the content celebrities, it seems.
First, news star Katie Couric. Then, prominent tech reviewer David Pogue.
Now, it seems, she has engaged herself in preliminary discussions with Ryan Seacrest’s multi-pronged entertainment production company about what one source called “interesting business opportunities.”
Oooh, I like interesting! Maybe a singing competition? Nope, he’s been there. Maybe a radio show? Yipes, he’s done that. Perhaps a New Year’s broadcast from New York’s Times Square. Does this guy get any sleep?
While Seacrest has indeed been all over the map, it’s largely been in traditional media zones like television. You may thank him now for unleashing the Kardashians upon the world, as well as the “Shahs of Sunset.”
But, the energetic media mogul has been increasingly interested in moving into the digital entertainment arena – he’s also been increasing his personal investing in the space.
Hence, Yahoo and Mayer, who has been personally using her own tech celeb status to try to interest a number of prominent media types to come look at the company as a viable platform for high-profile endeavors.
This has been tried by the Silicon Valley Internet giant many times before, mostly without a lot of groundbreaking. That said: Netflix’s “House of Cards,” people!
And, of course, Yahoo already has some great and successful – though less flashy – content efforts going, especially in sports and finance. These have been flat-out terrific over the years, though the new streaming content redesign does not do them any favors, IMHO.
Apparently, Mayer wants more.
Any deal with Seacrest would not be like the one that Couric is mulling with Yahoo. She is talking to Mayer about doing an interview show that would run on the Yahoo home page. And Pogue will be working on a consumer tech vertical that apparently needs staff.
Sources said it would be to create some kind of original content, though sources also said the discussions are too early to tell. But, I’d expect video to be a big element in all these efforts.
As I previously wrote:
Strengthening its online video efforts has been a recent key focus for Mayer in reviving Yahoo’s fortunes, along with mobile, and sources said that she has talked a lot internally about creating some kind of competitor to Google’s YouTube. Yahoo already tried unsuccessfully to buy France’s Dailymotion, and has since been mulling other major acquisitions in the space.
Mayer has waded into the arena herself (like I said, she’s a hey-look-at-me CEO) in an unusual – but highly entertaining – video presentation of Yahoo’s second-quarter earnings that was formulated in a news-broadcast style.
On the show – which it most certainly was – she stressed the intent to make video a “primary area of investment over the next year.” It’s not just for jazz-hands purposes; video ads are a big area of revenue growth online as traditional graphical ads fade. Yahoo itself has seen a sharp falloff of those key moneymaking ads under Mayer’s regime, part of a larger trend impacting everyone.
I pinged Yahoo for a comment, and a spokesperson for Seacrest declined to comment.
If you’ve been waiting for a price drop to buy a Microsoft Surface tablet, your time is now. Microsoft recently announced a significant price cut in its entry-level Surface RT tablets. These are the less powerful Surface tablets on the market, and don’t run the full version of Windows 8. However, the Surface RTs are decent in their own right, and are now $150 cheaper. A 32 gig model now runs $349, and doubling the storage to 64 gigs will cost $100 more at $449. The price cut was likely the result of a few factors, including poor sales numbers and new models likely to hit store shelves later this year. The line of Surface tablets has yet to truly take off, but Microsoft is rumored to be debuting new accessories for the Surface soon, including a battery-equipped keyboard cover. If you’re looking to try out a lite version of Windows 8 or are just looking for a mid-range tablet option, the Surface RT is now available at $349, its lowest price ever.
If you’ve ever wanted to take massively-sized photographs without lugging around a DSLR camera, I’ve got a smartphone for you. Last week, Nokia unveiled the Windows 8-powered Lumia 1020, complete with a 41-megapixel PureView camera and Carl Zeiss optics. Yep, you heard me right – 41 megapixels. The massive 41-megapixel images are processed by new Pro Camera and Smart Camera software, which are also hitting other Lumias soon. Since a 41-megapixel image is far too big for a mobile upload, the Lumia 1020 actually saves two versions of each photo you take: the full 41-megapixel image as well as a 5-megapixel version, which is far more conducive to sharing on Facebook. The rest of the Lumia 1020’s specs are good, not great: it features a 4.5-inch AMOLED display, a dual-core processor and 32 gigs of storage. If you’ve absolutely got to own the phone with the best built-in camera on the market, the Nokia Lumia 1020 will hit AT&T store shelves exclusively on July 26 for $299 with a new two-year contract.
T-Mobile made waves in the mobile market recently when it ended cell phone contracts and changed the way you bought new phones: no more subsidies, but rather a down payment and small monthly installments. Its new program, ‘Jump,’ takes that strategy to the next level and gives you the option to get a new smartphone twice a year. While T-Mobile customers could already buy a new phone whenever they want, they’d be on the hook for the rest of the payments on their old device. Jump waives all future payments on your old phone and lets you start fresh with a new device. For ten bucks a month – plus a trade-in of your old device – Jump lets you get a shiny new phone twice a year. The new program won’t save you much – if any – money, and you can’t gift your old phones to family or friends once you upgrade. But if you want to make sure you always have the best phone on the market, hey, you might as well Jump.
Corning, the maker of Gorilla Glass, has routinely made your smartphone’s screen better and more damage-resistant, but the company is about to take things to a whole other level. Taking the stage at the MIT Mobile Technology Summit, Corning showed off new display technology that goes far beyond screen protection. Its new Gorilla Glass will feature anti-microbial coating, which will kill virtually all microbes on the screen’s surface over two hours. It’s not an instant clean, but it’s better than carrying around a filthy phone in your pocket all day. The new Gorilla Glass will also make your phone’s screen way more transparent, which means checking your phone in broad daylight is going to be much, much easier. We’ve all tried to read an e-mail on our phone in a parking lot on a bright summer day – it just doesn’t work. Thanks to Corning, borrowing a phone from a friend in the future will not only be a far better – and less icky – experience.
Once T-Mobile unveiled Jump, its program that gives you access to a phone upgrade every six months, AT&T and Verizon answered by announcing their own early upgrade plans. Verizon Edge lets you get a shiny new smartphone every six months, while AT&T Next gives you a new phone once a year. Like T-Mobile Jump, both programs require a trade-in of your old device when you upgrade, but unlike Jump, neither program requires a separate monthly fee. And you’re not eligible to upgrade to a new device until you’ve paid off half the cost of your phone. But that’s not the whole story. T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon build the cost of phone subsidies into their monthly service fees, so with all these plans you’re actually paying for the phone twice. Once, built into your monthly phone bill and again in the installment plan. Next and Edge won’t save you money, so go pick the phone with the features you want, and get another new one for free in two years.