Author: Brian Heater

Why Spotify is betting big on podcasting

Podcasting revenues hit $314 million in 2017, according to a third-party survey released last summer. It’s a large number for what’s been historically regarded as a niche and difficult to monetize medium, but still pales in comparison to the additional $400-$500 million Spotify says it’s willing to spend on the space this year alone. Two major acquisitions announced early today already comprise a massive commitment to the category. The purchase of Gimlet was reported to have made up nearly half that figure, at $230 million. While no number has been revealed for the purchase of Anchor, Spotify no doubt...

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Samsung pulls the plug on ‘Supreme’ collaboration

When Samsung announced a collaboration with Supreme at an event back in December, it didn’t go over great. It wasn’t that people weren’t excited about the potential of rocking a Supreme-branded Galaxy Note or whatever, so much as which Supreme the company had struck a deal with. You see, there’s Supreme, the U.S.-based streetwear company beloved by hypebeasts everywhere, and then there’s “Supreme.” Or, in this case, Supreme Italia. There are all sorts of intellectual property-related reasons the company is allowed to exist with near identical signage, but the long and short of it is that the deal rubbed...

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Google intros a pair of Android accessibility features for people with hearing loss

Google this morning unveiled a pair of new Android features for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. As the company notes in a blog post this morning, the WHO estimates that 900 million people will be living with heading loss by 2055. The ubiquity of mobile devices — Android in particular — offers a promising potential to help open the lines of communication. Live Transcribe is, perhaps, the more compelling of the two offerings. As its name implies, the feature transcribes audio in real-time, so users with hearing loss can read text, in order to enable a...

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LittleBits lays off employees as it shifts focus toward education

New York City open-source maker startup LittleBits began to lay off staff last month, TechCrunch has learned. The loss of jobs comes as the company looks to shift more focus toward the K-12 market. Education-specific offerings have been lucrative for the company in its eight-year existence, but recent products have found the company embracing licensed products, courtesy of its involvement with Disney’s hardware accelerator. LittleBits confirmed the layoffs as part of an internal restructuring, in a statement offered to TechCrunch. “The true potential that littleBits provides teachers, parents, and the children is far beyond your standard ‘off the shelf’ gift or toy. In order to have the greatest impact in shaping the next generation of Changemakers, we are prioritizing our business around the K-12 education market,” the company says. “As you can imagine, the education market’s needs are vastly different than that of retail. Given this, we had to re-shape our internal structure, which ultimately led to a reduction in staff.” It has yet to offer a specific number, but TechCrunch believes the number to be around 15. Not huge in the grand scheme of things, but no doubt a hit to a staff of this size, which numbered around 100, after its acquisition of DIY Co, last summer. That acquisition, LittleBits’ first, will no doubt play a role in the restructuring, going forward. It’s hard not to see...

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Foxconn says Wisconsin factory plans are back on after talk with Trump

It seems Foxconn’s plans for a $10 billion Wisconsin plant are back on. After a couple of years of back and forths, the manufacturing giant says it’s recommitting to plans for a plant in the upper Midwest. A statement today cited a phone call between chairman/founder Terry Gou and Donald Trump. “After productive discussions between the White House and the company, and after a personal conversation between President Donald J. Trump and Chairman Terry Gou, Foxconn is moving forward with our planned construction of a Gen 6 fab facility, which will be at the heart of the Wisconsin Valley...

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Huawei’s folding phone debuts this month

Huawei mobile chief Richard Yu has already made mention of the company’s upcoming foldable phone amid talks of smartphone world domination. This morning, however, we caught our first glimpse of the handset in profile, along with the promise of more, arriving February 24, during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Foldables are very much heating up to be the highlight of the 2019 smartphone race. Royole’s already shipping a handset to devs, and Samsung is set to give us a lot more info at an Unpacked event a mere days before MWC kicks off. Xiaomi’s offering is merely a concept,...

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Sony posts strong music earnings, as gaming business disappoints

Sony posted record quarterly earnings this week, on the strength of very strong music profits. Those numbers were catapulted thanks to the company’s $2.3 billion acquisition of EMI, as part of an ever-consolidating music industry. The electronics giant’s operating profit rose to $3.46 billion for the quarter — up from $3.21 billion a year prior, marking the highest single quarter profit for the company. Things were less rosy on the gaming front, however, where the company has been hit by declining hardware sales of its mature PS4 consoles for the holiday quarter. The console sold 8.1 million units for...

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Carbon is 3D printing custom football helmet liners for Riddell

Just in time to ride the last of the pre-Super Bowl buzz, Carbon today announced that it’s teaming up with sports equipment giant Riddell to 3D print customized football helmet padding. Referred to as “Diamond technology,” the collaboration creates lattice design pads of resin that are custom built to a player’s dimensions and position. Carbon says the pads were created by analyzing data from more than five million on-field collisions collected by Riddell smart helmets. [embedded content] “We scan heads, and then you’ve got the shell of the helmet,” Carbon co-founder and CEO Joseph DeSimone told TechCrunch. “The gap between the head and the shell is now customized. That space is now custom to everybody, and we fill that space with a lattice that controls the impact of the sport. It allows you to get really great performance as you control the impact that the players see.” The technology arrives as the health impacts of football are receiving stronger scrutiny. The repetitive nature of football hits has been tied to a number of unfortunate side effects, including, notably, CTE. A recent study found that the dementia-causing condition was found in 110 out of 111 brains of autopsied football players.  “As someone who’s spent thousands of hours watching film, I know that no two players play the same way,” quarterback and Riddell spokesperson Peyton Manning said in a release tied...

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