Microsoft’s HoloLens is now available to rent

Microsoft has spent much of the past couple of years arguing its vision of an augmented reality future with the HoloLens. Now, it’s realizing that for potential buyers of the company’s enterprise-focused Commercial Suite...

Microsoft revamps its startup programs with $500M commitment and new co-selling program

Over the last few years, Microsoft has launched a number of programs for startups that range from free BizSpark credits for Azure and Microsoft’s developer and productivity tools, to Microsoft Ventures and the Microsoft...

Bulk retailer Sam’s Club adds free shipping in bid to compete with Amazon

If you can’t beat ‘em, shift to a similar business model. In its struggles to adapt to to a post-Amazon retail landscape, Walmart subsidiary Sam’s Club is adopting an online membership model notably similar...

Twitter’s Dorsey downplays acquisition possibilities, sees ‘strength to our independence’

If you’re a Twitter shareholder wondering if the company is about to get acquired, co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey doesn’t want you to get that impression. “There’s a lot of strength to our independence,” he...

Time Warner will be fine even if the AT&T acquisition doesn’t go through

Time Warner will be fine even if the government blocks the bid from AT&T to buy the company. That’s the word from John Martin, the free-wheeling chief executive of Time Warner subsidiary Turner Inc., who...

Apple is developing a scripted basketball show inspired by Kevin Durant’s life

The Warriors are currently atop the Western Conference standings, but from the looks of it, Kevin Durant is shaping up to be every bit as in demand off the court. Roughly a month ago, YouTube announced that it was partnering with the star small forward’s video business to offer up original sports programming. Now Apple’s getting in on the action. The company announced today that it’s partnering with Durant’s Thirty Five Media and Imagine Media to create a new scripted series. Written and directed by Reggie Rock Bythewood (Notorious, Get on the Bus), Swagger will be based on Durant’s early life. “Working with Imagine Entertainment on this project is an unbelievable opportunity for our company, Thirty Five Media,” Durant said in a release tied to the announcement. “They hold a well-respected place in the industry and have such a proven track record, that they’re going to do an amazing job collaborating with Reggie to bring this idea to life. I’ve lived and breathed basketball since I was a kid, and the idea for the show draws not just from my knowledge of that world, but the unique personalities involved and the drive that makes young players’ stories so compelling.” The show marks the second high profile media deal for Durant in the space of a month, though Apple’s approach is notably different than the YouTube partnership, which is primarily focused on short form sports and documentary content. It also marks the latest in a number of recent announcements from Apple, as the company makes an aggressive push into original scripted content. The list also includes a pair of shows with Reese Witherspoon on board as producer, a series from La La Land’s Damien Chazelle and a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s 80s classic, Amazing Stories. Of course, none of the above have actually debuted — and Apple has yet to really outline its play to take on the likes of Netflix and Hulu– but after Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps, well, just about anything would feel like a step in the right direction. We’ll see if it’s any match for LeBron’s planned House Party reboot. This Warrior/Cavs rivalry is really starting to heat up.

Microsoft acquires classroom collaboration startup Chalkup to expand Microsoft Teams

Microsoft is beefing up its Slack-like collaboration software, Microsoft Teams, with the technology (and the founder) from collaboration software startup Chalkup. Following the acquisition, Microsoft says it will bring some of the features Chalkup...

Amazon greenlights the fifth season of Bosch

Amazon Prime Video’s longest running hour-long original series is back for yet another season. The company has greenlit Season 5 of Bosch, the Emmy-nominated series based on Michael Connelly’s detective/crime fiction novels. Bosch follows LAPD Detective...

Apple and Android are destroying the Swiss Watch industry

In Q4 2017 – essentially during the last holiday season – market research firm Canalys found that more people bought Apple watches than Swiss watches. Two million more, to be exact. Brian Heater has more data but this news is quite problematic for the folks eating Coquilles St-Jacques on the slopes of the Jura mountains. The numbers are estimates based on market data but they still point to a trend. In Q1 2016 Apple shipped 1.5 million watches to Switzerlands 5.9 million. The intervening quarters were about the same until the launch of the Apple Watch 3 in September 2017, just in time for holiday shopping. The boost of a new phone and a new watch at the same time meant a perfect storm for upgraders, driving the total number of Apple Watches sold past the Swiss watch sales numbers. This switch does not mean Apple will maintain that lead – they have one product while Switzerland has thousands – but comparing a single company’s output to an entire industry’s in this case is telling. Wearing watches is, as we all remind each other, is passé. “I check the time on my phone,” we said for almost a decade as phones became more ubiquitous. Meanwhile watch manufacturers abandoned the low end and began selling to the high end consumer, the connoisseur. Take a look at this chart: Sales of low- to mid-tier watches – and a mid-tier watch can range in price between $500 and $3,000 (and I would even lump many $10,000 watches in the mid-tier category) – were stagnant while the true cash cows, the expensive watches for the ultra-rich, fell slowly from a high in 2014. This coincides with falling purchases in China as what amounted to sumptuary laws reduced the number of expensive gifts given to corrupt officials. Sales are up as December 2017 but don’t expect much of a bump past the current slide. As a lover of all things mechanical – I did ruin a few years of my life writing a book about a watch – I look at these trends with dismay and a bit of schadenfreude. As I’ve said again and again the Swiss Watch industry brought this on itself. While they claim great numbers and great success year after year the small manufacturers are eating each other up while nearly every major watch brand is snooping around for outside buyers. There is no money in churning out mechanical timepieces to an increasingly disinterested public. As time ticks ever forward things will change. The once mighty Swiss houses will sink under the weight of their accreted laurel-resting and Apple will move on to embedded brain implants and leave watches behind. The result, after a battle that raged for more than four decades, will be a dead Swiss industry catering to a world that has moved on.

UK outs extremism blocking tool and could force tech firms to use it

The UK government’s pressure on tech giants to do more about online extremism just got weaponized. The Home Secretary has today announced a machine learning tool, developed with public money by a local AI...

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