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Sony

Sony Is Weighing a Sale of Film, TV Business (nypost.com) 30

Sony could be exploring the sale of its film and television unit just a week after announcing the departure of Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. From a report: Tokyo's Sony Corp. is listening to bank pitches about a potential sale of its film and TV operations, several sources told The Post. "Every bank is pushing pitches," said one person familiar with the process. Another confirmed that banks have paid a flurry of visits to Tokyo to advise on a sale of Sonyâ(TM)s film and TV business. The Post was first to report that the Japanese owners were ready to listen to bid proposals if they had the right number attached. CBS CEO Leslie Moonves has long signaled interest in acquiring the asset, though several Chinese bidders could be in the wings. Sony CEO Kaz Hirai has denied any intent to sell the firm during the five years he's been in the top slot at the company. Still, he has not appointed a successor to Lynton, despite knowing of his intention to depart for some time. That has sparked speculation that there may be no position to fill.
Television

3D TV Is Dead (cnet.com) 353

While Samsung dropped 3D support in 2016, LG and Sony -- the last two major TV makers to support the 3D feature in their TVs -- will stop doing so in 2017. None of their TVs, including the high-end OLED TV models, will be able to show 3D movies and TV shows. As a result, 3D TV is dead. The question is no longer when (or even why) 3D TVs will become obsolete, it's will 3D TVs ever rise again? CNET reports: The 3D feature has been offered on select televisions since 2010, when the theatrical success of "Avatar" in 3D helped encourage renewed interest in the technology. In addition to a 3D-capable TV, it requires specialized glasses for each viewer and the 3D version of a TV show or movie -- although some TVs also offer a simulated 3D effect mode. Despite enthusiasm at the box office and years of 3D TVs being available at affordable prices, the technology never really caught on at home. DirecTV canceled its 24/7 3D channel in 2012 and ESPN followed suit a year later. There are plenty of 3D Blu-ray discs still being released, such as "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," but if you want to watch them at home you'll need a TV from 2016 or earlier -- or a home theater projector. Those market trends are clear: Sales of 3D home video gear have declined every year since 2012. According to data from the NPD Group, 3D TV represents just 8 percent of total TV sales dollars for the full year of 2016, down from 16 percent in 2015 and 23 percent in 2012. Native 3D-capable Blu-ray players fell to just 11 percent of the market in 2016, compared to 25 percent in 2015 and 40 percent in 2012. As for whether or not 3D TVs will ever become popular again, David Katzmaier writes via CNET, based on his own "anecdotal experience as a TV reviewer": Over the years, the one thing most people told me about the 3D feature on their televisions was that they never used it. Sure, some people occasionally enjoyed a 3D movie on Blu-ray, but the majority of people I talked to tried it once or twice, maybe, then never picked up the glasses again. I don't think most viewers will miss 3D. I have never awarded points in my reviews for the feature, and 3D performance (which I stopped testing in 2016) has never figured into my ratings. I've had a 3D TV at home since 2011 and I've only used the feature a couple of times, mainly in brief demos to friends and family. Over the 2016 holiday break I offered my family the choice to watch "The Force Awakens" in 2D or 3D, and (after I reminded everyone they had to wear the glasses) 2D was the unanimous choice. But some viewers will be sad to see the feature go. There's even a change.org petition for LG to bring back the feature, which currently stands at 3,981 supporters. Of course 3D TV could come back to life, but I'd be surprised if it happened before TV makers perfect a way to watch it without glasses.
PlayStation (Games)

Report: PS4 Is Selling Twice As Well As Xbox One (arstechnica.com) 129

The latest numbers released by analysts suggest that the Sony PlayStation 4 is selling twice as many units worldwide as the Xbox One since both systems launched in late 2013. The data comes from a new SuperData report on the Nintendo Switch, which is backed up by Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad. SuperData mentions an installed base of 26 million Xbox One units and 55 million PS4 units. Ars Technica reports: Ahmad's chart suggests that Microsoft may have sold slightly more than half of the 53.4 million PS4 units that Sony recently announced it had sold through January 1. Specific numbers aside, though, it's clear Microsoft has done little to close its console sales gap with Sony over the past year -- and may have actually lost ground in that time. The last time we did our own estimate of worldwide console sales, through the end of 2015, we showed the Xbox One with about 57 percent as many systems sold as the PS4 (21.49 million vs. 37.7 million). That lines up broadly with numbers leaked by EA at the time, which suggest the Xbox One had sold about 52.9 percent as well as the PS4 (19 million vs. 35.9 million). One year later, that ratio has dipped to just above or even a bit below 50 percent, according to these reports. The relative sales performance of the Xbox One and PS4 doesn't say anything direct about the health or quality of those platforms, of course. Microsoft doesn't seem to be in any danger of abandoning the Xbox One platform any time soon and has, in fact, recently committed to upgrading it via Project Scorpio later this year. The gap between PS4 and Xbox One sales becomes important only if it becomes so big that publishers start to consider the Xbox One market as a minor afterthought that can be safely ignored for everything but niche games.
Businesses

Head of Sony Entertainment, Michael Lynton, To Step Down (deadline.com) 9

Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton has told his employees that he is stepping down from the company. He will however be staying with the company for six months to help in the transition. Lynton's note to the staff reads: Dear Colleagues,

Today I will be announcing my resignation from Sony to focus on my position as Chairman of the Board of Snap Inc. This was not an easy decision for me, and one that I arrived at after long and careful consideration. Sony Corp will be issuing an internal note from Kaz to all Sony global employees as well as a press release describing the details and timing of my transition, which I have included below.

As some of you are already aware, I have been involved with Snapchat since its early days. Given Snapchat's growth -- and my growing role and responsibilities in it -- I recently determined that the time was right to make a change.

I leave Sony with great pride in all we have accomplished together -- from our greatest victories to overcoming our biggest challenges. Together we: Produced terrific films such as American Hustle, Captain Phillips, The Social Network, Spider-man, Skyfall and Spectre; and hit TV shows like Breaking Bad, The Blacklist, The Goldbergs, The Crown and Kevin Can Wait; Grew our worldwide networks business to 178 countries, including India with our ownership of the IPL cricket rights the Ten Sports Network; Completed the Lot's most significant capital improvement projects in decades including the Jack and Harry Cohn buildings, Calley Park and the beautiful new 8-story Akio Morita building, which brought Sony Music and Sony/ATV Music Publishing employees onto the Lot for the first time; Completed the $750 million acquisition of the Michael Jackson Estate's stake in Sony/ATV, making us 100% owners; And triumphed over the most devastating and disruptive cyber-attack in corporate history, keeping studio operations running and not missing a single day of production.

IBM

IBM Is First Company To Get 8,000 US Patents In One Year, Breaking Record (silicon.co.uk) 94

Reader Mickeycaskill writes: For the 24th year in a row, IBM received the most patents of any company in the US. But for the first time it got more than 8,000 -- the first firm in any industry to do so. In total, its inventors were granted 8,088 patents in 2016, covering areas as diverse as artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive computing, cloud, health and cyber security.
That's equal to more than 22 patents a day generated by its researchers, engineers and designers, with more than a third of the patents relating to AI, cognitive computing and cloud computing alone. IBM is betting big on cloud and other services, having spun off its hardware units like servers and PCs to Lenovo. The other nine companies in the top ten list of 2016 US patent recipients consist of: Samsung electronics (with 5,518 patents), Canon (3,665), Qualcomm (2,897), Google (2,835), Intel (2,784), LG Electronics (2,428), Microsoft (2,398), Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (2,288) and Sony (2,181).

Television

Ask Slashdot: Why Did 3D TVs and Stereoscopic 3D Television Broadcasting Fail? 435

dryriver writes: Just a few years ago the future seemed bright for 3D TVs. The 3D film Avatar smashed all box office records. Every Hollywood studio wanted to make big 3D films. The major TV set manufacturers from LG to Phillips to Panasonic all wanted in on the 3D TV action. A 3D disc format called Blu-ray 3D was agreed on. Sony went as far as putting free 3D TVs in popular pubs in London to show Brits how cool watching football ("Soccer" in the U.S.) in Stereo 3D is. Tens of millions of dollars of 3D TV related ads ran on TV stations across the world. 3D Televisions and 3D content was, simply put, the biggest show in town for a while as far as consumer electronics goes. Then the whole circus gradually collapsed -- 3D TVs failed to sell well and create the multi-billion dollar profits anticipated. 3D at home failed to catch on with consumers. Shooting genuine stereo 3D films (not "post conversions") proved to be expensive and technically challenging. Blu-ray 3D was only modestly successful. Even Nvidia's stereo 3D solutions for PC gamers failed. What, in your opinion, went wrong? Were early 3D TV sets too highly priced? Were there too few 3D films and 3D TV stations available to watch (aka "The Content Problem")? Did people hate wearing active/passive plastic 3D glasses in the living room? Was the price of Blu-ray 3D films and Blu-ray 3D players set too high? Was there something wrong with the stereo 3D effect the industry tried to popularize? Did too many people suffer 3D viewing related "headaches," "dizzyness," "eyesight problems," and similar? Was the then -- still quite new -- 1080p HD 2D television simply "good enough" for the average TV viewer? Another related question: If things went so wrong with 3D TVs, what guarantee is there that the new 3D VR/AR trend won't collapse along similar lines as well?
Security

Android Ransomware Infects LG Smart TV, Company 'Refuses' To Help (bleepingcomputer.com) 295

Security firms have been warning us for more than a year about the possibility of Android malware jumping from phones and tablets to other Android-powered devices, such smart TVs. The latest incident involving ransomware on a smart TV involves software engineer Darren Cauthon, who revealed that the LG smart TV of one of his family members was infected with ransomware right on Christmas day. What's worse? He claims LG wouldn't help him with perform factory reset of the device. From a report: Based on a screenshot Cauthon posted online, the smart TV appears to be infected with a version of the Cyber. Police ransomware, also known as FLocker, Frantic Locker, or Dogspectus. The infected TV is one of the last generations of LG smart TVs that ran Google TV, a smart TV platform developed by Google together with Intel, Sony, and Logitech. Google TV launched in 2010, but Google discontinued the project in June 2014. In the meantime, LG has moved on from Google TV, and the company's TVs now run WebOS. Cauthon says he tried to reset the TV to factory settings, but the reset procedure available online didn't work. When the software engineer contacted LG, the company told him to visit one of their service centers, where one of its employees could reset his TV.
Privacy

Sony Music Apologises To Britney Spears, Fans After Fake RIP Tweet Sent (abc.net.au) 52

Sony Music Entertainment has apologised to Britney Spears fans after its Twitter account was hacked and fake statements saying that the pop music icon had died were posted online. From a report: Sony Music, a unit of Sony Corp, said in a short statement that its social media account was "compromised" but that the situation "has been rectified." The company said it "apologises to Britney Spears and her fans for any confusion." Funnily enough, after Sony Music Entertainment Twitter account was hacked and started tweeting about the death of Spears, another hacker group called OurMine hacked Sony's account to note that Spears is not dead.
United States

Samsung Note 7 User Base Still Larger Than LG V20, OnePlus 3T Combined (indianexpress.com) 29

Even after two months of an official global recall for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, 10 percent of the units sold are still in use. From a report: Research firm Apteligent reports that the number of Galaxy Note 7 phones in use outnumbers LG V20 and OnePlus 3T combined. According to 9to5Mac, which has shared details from Apteligent's research, while the Moto Z beats the Galaxy Note 7 in terms of usage, the margin is quite low. The report also adds that flagship smartphones such as Google Pixel, Pixel XL and Sony Xperia XZ which were announced around the same time as Note 7's recall have managed to outnumber its user base.
Security

Zero-Days Hitting Fedora and Ubuntu Open Desktops To a World of Hurt (arstechnica.com) 164

An anonymous reader writes: It's the year of the Linux desktop getting pwned. Chris Evans (not the red white and blue one) has released a number of linux zero day exploits, the most recent of which employs specially crafted audio files to compromise linux desktop machines. Ars Technica reports: "'I like to prove that vulnerabilities are not just theoretical -- that they are actually exploitable to cause real problems,' Evans told Ars when explaining why he developed -- and released -- an exploit for fully patched systems. 'Unfortunately, there's still the occasional vulnerability disclosure that is met with skepticism about exploitability. I'm helping to stamp that out.' Like Evans' previous Linux zero-day, the proof-of-concept attacks released Tuesday exploit a memory-corruption vulnerability closely tied to GStreamer, a media framework that by default ships with many mainstream Linux distributions. This time, the exploit takes aim at a flaw in a software library alternately known as Game Music Emu and libgme, which is used to emulate music from game consoles. The two audio files are encoded in the SPC music format used in the Super Nintendo Entertainment System console from the 1990s. Both take aim at a heap overflow bug contained in code that emulates the console's Sony SPC700 processor. By changing the .spc extension to .flac and .mp3, GSteamer and Game Music Emu automatically open them."
Sony

150 Filmmakers and Photojournalists Call On Nikon, Sony, and Canon To Build in Encryption (zdnet.com) 229

Some of the world's leading photojournalists and filmmakers are calling on the manufacturers of the cameras they use to add encryption to their products, as the number of threats they face from having their devices seized is "literally too high to count." From a ZDNet report: Over 150 documentary makers and reporters signed an open letter by the Freedom of the Press Foundation, asking for camera makers -- including Nikon, Sony, and Canon -- to ensure that their work is protected while often "attempting to uncover wrongdoing in the interests of justice." "Documentary filmmakers and photojournalists work in some of the most dangerous parts of the world, often risking their lives to get footage of newsworthy events to the public," said Trevor Timm, the foundation's executive director. But, he said, "they face a variety of threats from border security guards, local police, intelligence agents, terrorists, and criminals when attempting to safely return their footage so that it can be edited and published." The filmmakers say that camera security has lagged behind the rest of the industry, leaving their work "dangerously vulnerable."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF: The Music Industry Shouldn't Be Able To Cut Off Your Internet Access (eff.org) 88

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electronic Frontier Foundation: No one should have to fear losing their internet connection because of unfounded accusations. But some rights holders want to use copyright law to force your Internet service provider (ISP) to cut off your access whenever they say so, and in a case the Washington Post called "the copyright case that should worry all Internet providers," they're hoping the courts will help them. We first wrote about this case -- BMG v. Cox Communications -- when it was filed back in 2014, and last month, EFF, Public Knowledge (PK), and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) urged the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to overturn a ruling that ISP Cox Communications was liable for copyright infringement. EFF, PK and CDT advised the court to consider the importance of Internet access in daily life in determining when copyright law requires an ISP to cut off someone's Internet subscription. The case turns in part on a provision in copyright law that gives internet intermediaries a safe harbor -- legal protection against some copyright infringement lawsuits -- provided they follow certain procedures. Online platforms like Facebook and YouTube, along with other internet intermediaries, have to "reasonably implement" a policy for terminating "subscribers and account holders" that are "repeat infringers" in "appropriate circumstances." But given the importance of Internet access, the circumstances where it's appropriate to cut off a home Internet subscription entirely are few and far between. The law as written is flexible enough that providers can design and implement policies that make sense for the nature of their service and their subscribers' circumstances. A repeat infringer policy for the company that provides your link to the Internet as a whole should take into account the essential nature of internet access and the severe harm caused by disconnection. But music publisher BMG wants to use this provision to force ISPs to become tougher enforcers of copyright law. According to BMG, ISPs should be required both to forward rights holders' threatening demand letters to their subscribers and terminate a subscriber's Internet access whenever rights holders allege that person has repeatedly violated copyright law. A subscriber is a "repeat infringer" and subject to termination, they argue, whenever they say so. Cox's appeal of the ruling raises two very important issues: (1) Who should be considered a "repeat infringer" who should be cut off from the Internet, and (2) whether ISPs must either cede to rights holders' demands or monitor their subscribers' internet habits to avoid liability. Slashdot reader waspleg adds: Two landmark Supreme Court cases, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., and Sony Corp. of America v. Universal Studios made clear that if a service is capable of significant lawful uses, and the provider doesn't actively encourage users to commit copyright infringement, the provider shouldn't be held responsible when someone nonetheless uses the service unlawfully.
Nintendo

Nintendo Legend Miyamoto: Mario Needs To Evolve To Survive (cnet.com) 88

Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo's legendary game designer, and his fellow developers were tinkering with a "one-button control scheme" for Mario, where all a player can do is make Mario jump. This dead simple idea became the crux of the company's new Super Mario Run, one of the most anticipated mobile-app games of the year. CNET adds: "We found a great way to make an accessible Mario game and bring it to iPhone and reach a lot of people," Miyamoto said Thursday through his translator. "That's when we decided to make Super Mario Run." Super Mario Run may become a critical next step for Nintendo, which has struggled for years to maintain its relevance in gaming against Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox, as well as a surge of mobile gaming apps. This year, it garnered some attention from Pokemon Go, though it's only partly involved in that game. Now, two more Nintendo mobile gaming apps -- Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem -- are on the way, which could provide the Japanese company with a big boost.
Businesses

Google, HTC, Oculus, Samsung, Sony Join Forces To Create Global VR Association (techcrunch.com) 59

Google, HTC, Oculus, Samsung, Sony and Acer have teamed up to form the Global Virtual Reality Association (GVRA) in an effort to reduce fragmentation and failure in the industry. GVRA aims to "unlock and maximize VR's potential," but there are little details as to what this may mean for consumers. TechCrunch reports: What many in the VR community have been thirsting for is some unification of standards in terms of software and hardware. Games bought in the Oculus store don't play on the Vive or PS VR. Sensors for the Vive don't work on Oculus. Sony doesn't play nice with anyone else's standards etc. etc. Valve, which makes the Steam store and SteamVR platform for the HTC Vive and others, is notably not a member of this collective so any hopes of a unified standard (like its OpenVR platform) emerging from this collective is likely not in the cards. From the GVRA press release: "The goal of the Global Virtual Reality Association is to promote responsible development and adoption of VR globally. The association's members will develop and share best practices, conduct research, and bring the international VR community together as the technology progresses. The group will also serve a resource for consumers, policymakers, and industry interested in VR."
Sony

Backdoor Accounts Found in 80 Sony IP Security Camera Models (pcworld.com) 55

Many network security cameras made by Sony could be taken over by hackers and infected with botnet malware if their firmware is not updated to the latest version. Researchers from SEC Consult have found two backdoor accounts that exist in 80 models of professional Sony security cameras, mainly used by companies and government agencies given their high price, PCWorld reports. From the article: One set of hard-coded credentials is in the Web interface and allows a remote attacker to send requests that would enable the Telnet service on the camera, the SEC Consult researchers said in an advisory Tuesday. The second hard-coded password is for the root account that could be used to take full control of the camera over Telnet. The researchers established that the password is static based on its cryptographic hash and, while they haven't actually cracked it, they believe it's only a matter of time until someone does. Sony released a patch to the affected camera models last week.
Sony

Sony Has Sold 50 Million PlayStation 4 Units (gamespot.com) 73

Sony today shared sales figures of the PlayStation 4, saying the gaming console surpassed 50 million units as of this week. The console was launched in November 2013, and hit 40 million sales mark in May this year. In a statement, the company said, via GameSpot: "We're truly delighted that the PS4 community continues to flourish since launch three years ago," Sony Interactive Entertainment boss Andrew House said in a statement. "With tremendous support from our fans and partners across the globe, this year we were able to deliver an unprecedented lineup of hardware, including the new slimmer PS4, PS4 Pro, and PlayStation VR. We will continue to provide the best gaming experiences available through our ground-breaking software lineup and network services, as we focus on accelerating our business and expanding the PS4 ecosystem."According to an estimate Nvidia provided in August, Microsoft's Xbox One has an install base of 29 million.
Crime

Foxconn Employee Faces 10-Year Prison Sentence For Stealing 5,700 iPhones Worth $1.5 Million (thenextweb.com) 45

A Taiwanese Foxconn manager faces a stiff prison sentence after he stole 5,700 iPhones from his employer, and went to sell them for $1.56 million. The Next Web reports: Foxconn is a tech manufacturing giant. It makes a lot of things, including laptops for HP, phones for Apple, games consoles for Sony, and its workers so depressed it has to install suicide nets. The Taiwanese manager at the center of this crime -- known only by his family name, Tsai -- worked in the testing department at Foxconn's factory in Shenzhen, mainland China. According to Taiwanese prosecutors, Tsai ordered eight of his subordinates to smuggle out thousands of iPhones which were used by the company for testing and quality assurance purposes. These were destined to be scrapped after use. The stolen iPhones (mostly iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s models) made their way to stores in Shenzhen, and went on to make Tsai and his accomplices nearly $1.56 million USD (Tw$50 million). Tsai has since been charged with breach of trust and, if found guilty, he faces a maximum 10-year jail term.
United States

This Cyber Monday Was the Biggest Online Shopping Day, Ever (zdnet.com) 56

Cyber Monday is likely to have been the biggest online shopping day in history, according to an analysis of visits to US retail websites. Online spending in the US yesterday hit a new record with $3.39bn spent online, a 10.2 percent increase year-over-year -- ahead even of Black Friday, when $3.34bn was spent. ZDNet adds:Cyber Monday is expected to generate slightly less mobile revenue than Black Friday at $1.19bn, but that's still a 48 percent increase on last year, according to the analysis by Adobe. Consumers have spent a total of $39.9bn online so far this month, it said, up 7.4 percent on last November, with 27 out of 28 days seeing online sales of over $1bn. The five best-selling toys in terms of quantity sold on Cyber Monday were Lego, Shopkins, Nerf, Barbie, and Little Live Pets. The five best-selling electronic products were Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox, Samsung 4K TVs, Apple iPads, and Amazon Fire tablets, the company said.
PlayStation (Games)

'No Man's Sky' Releases Huge New 'Foundation' Update (thenextweb.com) 112

"No Man's Sky changed a great deal this morning, getting new modes and a ton of gameplay tweaks thanks to update 1.1, the largest one yet," reports Kotaku. Calling it "the first of many free updates," the game's developers introduced a new Minecraft-style Creative Mode which "allows players to explore the universe without limits, and build a huge base," plus a tougher Survival Mode, "creating a much more challenging endurance experience." The Next Web calls it "features that really should have been in the game from Day One." Now, when you stumble upon a desolate outpost, you can build your own base on it, which can be upgraded with new housing, hydroponics, research, and storage buildings. If all goes well, you'll start to attract alien settlers who bring their own skills to your new society. As your stockpiles of resources begin to swell, you'll want to schlep them across the galaxy to other bases and trade terminals. Which is where freighters come in... Oh, and did I mention you can now stack items five times per inventory slot, meaning you can carry more stuff? Handy. "The discussion around No Man's Sky since release has been intense and dramatic," Hello Games announced Friday, describing update 1.1 as "putting in place a foundation for things to come... the first small step in a longer journey." Hello Games founder Sean Murray tweeted "We're getting better as quickly as we can for the players who invested in us," adding "Thank you for sticking with us." At 2 a.m. this morning, he tweeted "If you could have lived our lives over the last months, you'd know how meaningful this is," adding "Here's the update..."
Sony

Sony Accused of Censoring Negative Feedback On Its Bravia TVs Ahead of Black Fri (ibtimes.co.uk) 40

An anonymous reader writes: Disgruntled owners of Sony's Bravia televisions have accused the company of "censoring" its community forums by preventing users from reporting technical issues. Several users say the company has locked threads containing complaints about its 4K televisions to suppress negative feedback in the run-up to the high-spending season. One of the threads removed by Sony contained 90 pages-worth of reports of input lag issues affecting its 2016 line of ultra-high definition (UHD) Bravia sets. The thread is titled, "Buyers beware, it looks almost the entire 4K 'HDR capable' TV line up from Sony are trash for 4K and HDR gaming" and clicking on the link now brings up an empty page with the error message: "the topic you are trying to access is not available."

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