With a click of a button in the Xfinity Store, Comcast subscribers will soon be able to purchase access to House of Cards — Netflix is not required. The option should hit the service soon. Only the first season of the show is currently available.
Variety is reporting today that the Emmy-winning series is available through a deal Comcast struck with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The news comes from Neil Smit, Comcast Cable president and CEO, speaking today at Deutsche Bank’s 2014 Media, Internet and Telecom Conference.
“Orange is the New Black” will be available on the Xfinity Store on May 13th through a similar deal with Lionsgate.
The price, if there is one, is not noted in the Variety report.
The deal with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment also provides new movies to Comcast subscribers. “American Hustle,” “Breaking Bad,” “Captain Phillips,” “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2,” “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “21 Jump Street” all hit Comcast’s streaming service tomorrow.
The Xfinity Store launched in November as a sort of answer to Netflix and Amazon Instant video. Like its counterparts Xfinity Store offers on-demand video streaming on a variety of devices but it’s limited to just Comcast subscribers. Content is available for purchase and rental although there is free content on it as well.
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Kabam, the free-to-play gaming company that has raised some $125 million in venture funding and looks to be among those weighing up an IPO, has acquired Phoenix Age, a games studio based in San Francisco. The deal was done for diversification: it will give Kabam some strong franchises, and games developing talent, specifically in the area of role-playing games.
“Phoenix Age’s hit games and world-class talent further solidify Kabam’s leadership role in the free-to-play games space while expanding Kabam into new genres,” said Kent Wakeford, COO for Kabam, in a statement.
Phoenix Age, which was founded in 2009, is the developer behind the mobile games Underworld Empire and Castle Age, with the first out on Facebook and iOS and the latter on iOS. It also has a third game still in development. It has 44 employees, who will continue to work out of its existing offices.
For Phoenix Age, consolidation with a bigger company is an obvious route to helping it scale (it appears to have been bootstrapped up to now): “We couldn’t be more excited about joining Kabam,” said Edwin Shew, co-founder of Phoenix Age, in a statement. “Becoming part of their team instantly gives us the expertise, experience and infrastructure to scale our games to a global level we couldn’t achieve independently.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed but we’re trying to find out.
Kabam describes the deal as its “first acquisition in 2014,” which in a way seems to imply that we will be seeing more. The company last year went through a secondary stock sale that valued the company at $700 million and it says that four of its games — led by Kingdoms of Camelot — grossed more than $100 million by the end of 2013, with $360 million in revenues for the year. It estimates that 2014 sales will be between $550 million and $650 million.
Although CEO Kevin Chou has not ruled out an IPO, it’s worth wondering if Kabam will follow the route of the likes of Zynga and look to the public markets for future growth, or whether it will stay private, or find a middle ground and go the way of new exchanges like the NASDAQ Private Market.
To date Kabam has made seven acquisitions including Phoenix Age. The others are Exploding Barrel Games, WonderHill, Fearless Studios, Gravity Bear, Wild Shadow Studios and Balanced Worlds.
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BBC Releases 30th Anniversary Edition Of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Text Adventure Game. You Have Died (And Gone To Gaming Heaven)
You are on a blog. The latest news is at the top and scrolls down infinitely. The first story is about the 30th Anniversary Edition of Infocom’s Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy text adventure game. There is also a story about Samsung here.
READ HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY STORY
The story is about the 30th anniversary edition of Infocom’s famous Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy text adventure game. It was one of the true gems of its genre, featuring the writing talents of Douglas Adams and Steve Meretzky. You notice a discussion of text adventure games near the bottom of the story.
The discussion links to Wikipedia where insufferable whippersnappers can learn that, before we had all these fancy graphics, we had to use our imagination when playing role-playing games. Text adventures were, arguably, an interstitial technology that came around the same time as King’s Quest and Sierra brought graphics to RPGs. This, in turn, led to the great western vs. eastern dichotomy in turn-based, first-person and party-based play which spawned such greats as Skyrim, World of Warcraft, and the Final Fantasy series. Little did the folks at Infocom know, however, that people would love their games 30 years after they were released.
The BBC commissioned a remake of HGTTG ten years ago and this is a reworking of that original game. The game is very hard.
Sorry, you can’t do that here.
Remember, rage quitting never helped anyone back in the day, especially considering it took a good ten minutes or so just to load these games on a tape drive. What should really make you angry is that this game is 30 years old and if you remember playing it then you’ve been running around with details from this game in your head for three decades and probably an inflated sense of its importance in your life. It also means that you are really old, dude.
Are you sure?
If you need help you can visit this walk-through. You can play more Infocom games here.
*****You have died.*****
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In the space between one iPhone launch and the next, a number of things happen: rumors abound, analysts throw out predictions on sales figures, specs trickle out slowly, and most entertainingly, designers build out concepts for us to drool over.
This is one such concept design, from Sam Beckett, which is actually quite realistic. Meet the promising, yet entirely imagined, iPhone Air.
We’ve heard rumors that Apple will be adding some real estate to the display of the next-generation iPhone, and Beckett’s video shows a display that’s 17 percent larger with 68 percent more pixels. Specifically, his concept has a 4.7-inch 1080p display, with 468 pixels per inch.
The “iPhone Air” also measures 7mm thick, which is slightly (0.6mm) less girthy than the iPhone 5s. Beckett also suggests tossing out that Corning Gorilla Glass (which has been a staple of the iPhone for so many years) for a sapphire crystal display. Sapphire crystal is the same material used in current iPhones’ cameras, and is responsible for that fun blue/purple glare you get in some photos.
Finally, Beckett’s concept uses a 10-megapixel shooter and a faster A8 chip.
What’s interesting about the “iPhone Air” concept is that it doesn’t go too far out in terms of design. In fact, it looks almost identical to the iPhone 5s design, with the same TouchId sensor and a similar look and feel in terms of shape.
Most concept designers do something more crazy with their iPhone ideas, like curving the entire back of the phone or pulling from iPad designs. But not Beckett. Everything shown in this video seems possible, given Apple’s engineering prowess, though it may affect the bottom line considering the extra costs for these adjustments.
Again: This video was not created by Apple, nor were the designs shown within it.
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Waterloo’s Thalmic Labs is shipping out its Myo gesture control band alpha units to developers to get them building software compatible with the new hardware, and it’s already resulting in some incredibly impressive early demos. The Myo team compiled a few of those together into a single short teaser video, but it’s enough to spark the imagination and whet my appetite for when the Myo hardware finally ships to consumers.
You’ll see the robot controlled by Myo that we posted about before, created by Canadian robotics startup Clearpath, but also in-game control with the armband in a space combat sim, use of the accessory as a remote camera trigger, and an early example of integration between Thalmic’s interface device and Oculus VR’s Rift immersive gaming headset.
Myo has a lot of potential, but the Oculus Rift integration is potentially the most interesting piece of the puzzle, to both observers and investors. The gesture control armband does indeed look like a multifunction device with a lot of potential use cases, but that won’t sell it to everyday consumers. If Myo wants to avoid the fate of past devices like the Leap Motion Controller that got a lot of hype pre-release, but then seemed a bit aimless and without a real killer use case when it shipped.
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Drifty, a participant in the TechStars Cloud 2013 incubator, and makers of a suite of tools for mobile developers building apps and websites, most notably, the Ionic framework, has closed on a million in seed funding, the company is announcing. The funding comes from Arthur Ventures, and will help the company grow its team and continue development on the Ionic framework.
The startup was founded in 2012 by Ben Sperry (CEO) and Max Lynch (CTO), childhood friends who have been working together since high school, building various online projects. Before starting Drifty, both worked at other startups developing mobile MMORPG games.
The two decided to start Drifty to help developers build mobile apps and responsive websites, Sperry says. Today its two products Codiqa and Jetstrap offer simple drag-and-drop prototyping to over 250,000 developers around the world, he adds, and the company has grown revenue by 10x, while bootstrapping its way to profitability in 2013.
But as they worked on building their first two tools, the team realized there was also a big opportunity in cross-platform mobile development, in terms of introducing tools that would allow developers to take better advantage of web technologies.
Ionic, launched late last year, intended to fill that gap, with its open source HTML5 mobile app framework that lets developers build native-feeling apps using web technologies, like HTML, CSS and AngularJS.
Explains Sperry, Ionic is similar in some ways to something like Sencha Touch, but is licensed differently. “It’s completely, 100% open-sourced. It’s MIT-licensed, which means anyone can use it, commercial or personal – it doesn’t matter to us,” he says. Sencha’s framework has a more proprietary license, Sperry adds. “We don’t think that’s the right way to offer a framework, which is why we made ours free.”
The product promises better performance, clean and simple design, and is modeled off of native mobile development SDKs to make it easier for mobile developers who have built for iOS or Android in the past, the website explains. After the coding is complete, developers using Ionic push the app through PhoneGap for deployment. As noted, Ionic competes with other mobile UI frameworks, including jQuery Mobile, Sencha Touch, and others.
These days, over 200 apps are being created with Ionic every day, says Sperry, and traffic is nearly doubling month-over-month. The project is also now one of the top 260 on GitHub, and has seen thousands of mobile apps based on Ionic built to date, typically those from smaller companies or developers doing client work for others.
With the additional funding, the founders plan to now focus solely on developing Ionic further, with plans to improve gestures and animations, plus roll out mobile services in 2014 that would make using Ionic a viable alternative to native app development. Areas of focus include things like analytics, notifications, and testing service. These would help the company generate revenue from its free platform.
The Madison, Wisconsin-area startup is currently a team of nine, and is looking to double its team going forward, mainly by hiring developers.
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There’s been a lot of discussion and debate around the benefit to brands of building a presence on Facebook and Twitter. At the same time, LinkedIn has been ramping up its efforts to get brands to create content and promote it through advertising.
To illustrate the benefits of building a successful sponsored group, LinkedIn pointed me to Connect: Women’s Professional Network, which was launched nearly two years ago, in April 2012, and is “powered by Citi”. Connect is full of career- and finance-focused content aimed at women, such as this post about International Women’s Day and this discussion of communication challenges in the workplace, and it’s overseen by Jacky Carter, full-time community manager at LinkedIn.
Linda Descano, managing director at Citi and head of content and social, told me that the bank had been “talking to women about money, about the intersection of money and their life, since 2000” through its digital initiative Women And Co. She said building the Connect group on LinkedIn was an attempt to extend Women Co. by giving its members “new ways to network and to move their careers forward.”
Put another way, Descano suggested that when women visit the main Women Co. site, they come “with their CFO hat on, in terms of how they’re managing their money.” On the other hand, when they visit LinkedIn, “They’ve got their CEO hat on, because they’re CEO of their careers,” and the content is adjusted accordingly.
The strategy seems to be working — the group now has more than 260,000 members, and it’s the third-most engaged group on LinkedIn (behind TED and the Harvard Business School), according to Jonathan Lister, LinkedIn’s vice president of marketing solutions for North America. The professional networking site reports that those members are 2.6 times more likely to say that Citi is a company that they’d want to work for and 2.4 times more likely to say that they’re going to seek out more information about Citi products and services.
Also, 60 percent of group members could identify Citi as the sponsor of of the group, an increase of 50 percent since its launch. (And hey, it may not be exactly what Citi wants, but I think that if group members can’t identify the sponsor, it also speaks to some degree of editorial quality and independence.)
“Citi knew that while a clear brand strategy is vital in any content marketing effort, it takes a great deal of momentum to drive discovery and engagement,” Lister told me via email. “They knew that close and constant communication with their target customer is the key to raising awareness and enhancing relationships. Citi’s been publishing through Women Co for more than a decade, so they have the long-term view of what this takes.”
The group has taken on a life of its own outside of LinkedIn, with about 30 real-world meetups over the past couple of years. I asked Descano if there was ever a tension between allowing Connect to exist as its own entity and as a promotional vehicle for Citi, and she said she’s satisfied as long as the group “stays authentic” to the initial vision and provides insights to consumers.
“I think we spent a lot of time upfront really working through the partnership and the interactions and the decision matrix for our two brands,” Descano added. “If we didn’t put that work in upfront, we would have had more bumps.”
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