Archive for November, 2012

What’s Next for Kik, One of the Original Mobile Messaging Hotshots

November 29, 2012  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Mobile messaging apps — WhatsApp, KakaoTalk, Line, WeChat, Voxer, Kik, etc — are in an interesting spot. They are some of the largest, most-used and best-loved apps in the world. They dominate their various countries and regions. But it’s not necessarily clear how they evolve and become long-lasting businesses. Are they social networks? Alternatives to mobile carriers? Or what? Kik Messenger was early in this category, launching in late 2010 as the first app that mined users’ address books to find friends when they sign up ( before that was more closely regulated ). After explosive growth as a cross-platform alternative to the popular BlackBerry chat app BBM — it got its first million users in 15 days — Kik lost a step when it was blocked and sued by Research in Motion. (That was particularly crushing given Kik founder and CEO Ted Livingston had interned at RIM and stayed in touch with the company as he dropped out of college to found his start-up.) Livingston said this week that his app has not been standing still. Kik still signs up 100,000 new users per day, for a total of 30 million registered users. Even after the lawsuit, Kik managed to close $8 million in Series A funding from RRE Ventures, Spark Capital, and Union Square Ventures — and $4.3 million since then in bridge funding from the same investors as it’s paid legal bills and plotted its next move

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AMPAS extends paper ballot deadline

November 29, 2012  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Film News: Entries may be received until Dec. 14

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AMPAS extends paper ballot deadline

November 29, 2012  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Film News: Entries may be received until Dec. 14

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Joe, Anthony Russo plan ‘Life Briefly’

November 29, 2012  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Film News: Family drama follows blind musical prodigy

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Microsoft Puts Price Tag on Intel-Powered Surface Pro, With Models Starting at $899

November 29, 2012  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

It won’t be available until January, but Microsoft said Thursday that its Intel-powered Surface Pro tablet will start at $899. That price is for the 64 gigabyte model, with a 128GB model selling for $999. Both models include a digital pen, but don’t include either of the two keyboard covers, which cost roughly an additional $130. “It’s hard to believe it’s been just over a month since Surface with Windows RT hit the market,” Surface project head Panos Panay said in a blog post . “The response from Surface customers has been fantastic and exciting to see.” The Nvidia-powered Surface RT went on sale at Microsoft stores and via its Web site on Oct. 26, and starts at $499 . The Intel-equipped Surface pro uses a similar casing, and includes the signature kickstand, but is bigger on both the specifications front and when it comes to size and weight. Its core i5 chip powers a 1,920 pixel by 1,080 pixel display. And because it is running an Intel chip and Windows 8 rather than an ARM processor and Windows RT, Surface Pro can run existing Windows programs, as opposed to only those designed for the Windows 8 store. It is heavier and thicker than the current Surface RT model, coming in at just under two pounds and 14 millimeters thick. Microsoft announced both Surface models back in June , but until now had said relatively little about the Intel-powered model. The company said earlier this week that it has sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses, but hasn’t commented on Surface sales specifically, other than a comment by CEO Steve Ballmer that it was off to a modest start .

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Starz Tries Out Transmedia With Spartacus

November 29, 2012  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Ahead of its final season of flagship show Spartacus , Starz is trying something new: a vast suite of second-screen applications called The Battle for Nuceria —social-media based mini-games, content starring the show's actors, and "missions" that take the player all over the show's ancient-world setting. But it's the show's final season. "I think, one, regardless of it being the last season, we want to reward the fans," said Kelly Bumann, svp of digital marketing for the network. Increasingly, marketers are relying on involved fan service to get the word out about scripted shows; the best advertisement, after all, is a testimonial from your friends, and Starz has fed its fandom at Comicon and elsewhere as the series has gone through changes. Lead actor Andy Whitfield died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, but the series was able to maintain its fan following, so Battle for Nuceria is a way to give the fans a last hurrah before the series heads off to Elysium Fields after its last story, War of the Damned . "The missions tie specifically to the plotline, and you play as part of a rebel army, and you have a voice in that army," said Erin Dwyer, exec director of digital marketing for originals. "This group will be able to watch the first episode of the final season before the premiere date, if you do your mission." But of course, TV networks don't spend money to say thank you. " DaVinci's Demons comes right after Spartacus , and without being overt, we're trying to get them to stick around and see what comes next," Bumann said. In fact, a lot of Battle for Nuceria seems tailor-made for sponsorship, but doesn't have a sponsor plugged in. You can "train" your character in the games by checking in at a gym, but not a specific gym. You can buy supplies by checking in at a grocery stores, but not a specific grocery store. They'll say, "'The rebel army's in need of provisions and strength,' so if you're in a town that doesn't have a Crunch or a 24, you can check-in at any fitness location." And did Starz look for folks to help bear the cost of the complex program? "We did explore that—from a marketing perspective, we do want to find synergistic partners." For now, it's just for fun, but as Starz launches Da Vinci's Demons , it seems likely that the network will be exploring ways to bring in advertisers who can help promote the transmedia experience. This isn't an isolated idea. Along with yet more gaming product around Spartacus (network partner Ubisoft is launching a free-to-play fighting game called Gods of the Arena on XBox Live Arcade next year), other networks like AMC and Syfy are experimenting with transmedia experiences of different dimensions—Syfy the wildly ambitious massively-multiplayer online game/TV series Defiance with Trion Worlds developing the game component; AMC a multi-installment game from legendary adventure gaming developer Telltale around its hit series The Walking Dead . As scripted series bleed onto other screens with other capabilities, scripted producers are taking the next logical step and looking for ways to include the viewer in the story.

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RIM Shares Rally on Upgrade, BlackBerry 10 Qwerty Phone

November 29, 2012  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Today brought with it some good news for Research In Motion: an upgrade from Goldman Sachs. In a hesitantly positive note to clients, Goldman analyst Simona Jankowski raised her rating on the BlackBerry maker to “buy” from “neutral,” saying the company’s chances for recovery are improving. “We expect RIM’s results will exceed Street estimates over the next four quarters,” Jankowski wrote in a note to clients. “We now assess a 30 percent chance of success for BB10 given positive early reviews, broad-based carrier support, attractive features and interest by carriers and consumers in broadening the field beyond Android/iOS.” A “30 percent chance of success” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of RIM’s prospects. The company remains a long shot against formidable competition . But Jankowski’s tentative vote of confidence, along with news that RIM has released to developers a new BlackBerry 10 with Qwerty keyboard for testing, was enough to push the company’s stock into another rally. At $11.93, the RIM shares are trading up well over 7 percent as I write this.

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What Jeff Zucker Actually Said About Running CNN Today [Updated]

November 29, 2012  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

After yesterday's "no comment" from Time Warner head Jeff Bewkes (actually, he said, " We'll have an announcement soon "), CNN has officially announced that Jeff Zucker has been hired to replace Jim Walton as head of CNN Worldwide.

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Jeff Zucker Officially Named Head of CNN

November 29, 2012  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

After last night's "no comment" from Time Warner head Jeff Bewkes (actually, what he said was, "we'll have an announcement soon"), CNN has officially announced that Jeff Zucker has been hired to replace Jim Walton as head of CNN Worldwide. Walton and Zucker will talk to reporters later this morning, so expect an update later today. The news broke on Tuesday. Zucker is the former head of NBCUniversal and current producer of ABC Television Distribution's syndicated talk show

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Lionsgate stock closes at all-time high

November 29, 2012  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Film News: 'Breaking Dawn' boosts shares to $16.86 on Wall Street

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