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Sony names new PlayStation chief as PS5 speculation grows

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Kenichiro Yoshida, president and chief executive officer of Sony, speaks at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Kenichiro Yoshida, president and chief executive officer of Sony, speaks at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Sony’s gaming division appointed senior executive Jim Ryan as its new president and CEO on Tuesday.

Ryan will be appointed to his new role on April 1, taking the reins from John Kodera, Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) said in a statement.

The executive previously served as SIE’s deputy president and was head of global sales and marketing before that.

“Our Game & Network Services business has grown into the Sony Group’s largest business in terms of both sales and operating income,” Yoshida said in a statement. “Furthermore, our business in this domain holds significant importance as our growth driver going forward.”

He added: “At the same time, this industry is relentlessly fast-moving, and to remain the market leader, we must constantly evolve ourselves with a sense of urgency.”

The move marks the second time in two years that the company has named a new PlayStation boss — Kodera was appointed in October 2017 — and comes after it reported a drop in profits and sales of its PlayStation 4 console.

Speculation has been growing over the firm’s next big console, as the PS4 approaches the end of its lifecycle. Sony President and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida confirmed last year that the product was in development, but remained tight-lipped on the branding and features.

Tom Wijman, senior market analyst at gaming research firm Newzoo, said the leadership change was likely about Sony’s renewed focus on the services side of its business, the PlayStation Network, or PSN.

“Two key trends play a role here: firstly, game franchises are slowly turning into entertainment franchises,” Wijman said. “Secondly, in an era of gaming-as-a-service and the upcoming games subscriptions, owning IP (intellectual property) is very valuable.”

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Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp down across US, Europe

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Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were down Sunday.

All three social media platforms, including Facebook Messenger, were not loading as of early Sunday morning.

Downdetector.com, a site that monitors site outages, shows Facebook was down since 6:30 a.m. EST in much of the world, with thousands of reported outages concentrated in northeastern U.S., Europe and the Philippines.

Facebook appeared to be back up and running for most users by 9 a.m. EST.

It was not immediately clear what caused the outage or how long the platforms would be down.

An email requesting comment about the outage was sent to Facebook and Instagram.

#FacebookDown, #instagramdown and #whatsappdown were all trending on Twitter globally.

Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014.

There are more than 1.52 billion daily active Facebook users, according to the social media network’s website.

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The Disney+ launch kicks off Game of Thrones for streaming services

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The Game of Thrones final-season premiere is this weekend. But in a larger media sense, it began Thursday.

Disney’s announcement this week that Disney+ will launch Nov. 12 for $6.99 per month will set off a battle royal among streaming services.

By the end of the year, consumers will have enough streaming content at their disposal to start asking the big question: Which of these services do I need, and which can I live without?

This is a question for cord-cutters and pay-TV subscribers alike. Consumers won’t pay for everything.

Disney+ is all about family programming. That puts a target on Viacom‘s Noggin, for example, which is actually more expensive than Disney+ at $7.99 a month. Disney+ could replace it for families with kids who can live without Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig and Dora the Explorer.

If not, those parents will need to make a cut elsewhere.

Amazon Prime Video will almost certainly be safe from any Disney-inspired purge. The video is basically a throw-in for free shipping for most households.

Is Netflix at risk? Probably not. Netflix’s massive scale (nearly 150 million households worldwide) has allowed it to spend more than everyone else on streaming, which should mean it will continue to have a lot of high quality new programming. Wall Street analysts expect Netflix to spend close to $15 billion on programming this year. To put that in perspective, Disney said it would spend $1 billion on original content spend for Disney+ by 2020.

When the kids go to bed, Netflix will still rule the living room. Netflix and chill probably isn’t going anywhere. Still, the company’s ability to raise prices may be shackled a bit. Disney’s $6.99-per-month offering could skew the consumer value proposition somewhat.

Hulu has 25 million subscribers and may benefit from a bundled offering with Disney+ and ESPN+. Disney owns 60 percent of Hulu and announced a bundled offering is likely coming by the end of the year on Thursday. Hulu offers some strong originals and a lot of network TV shows that aren’t available with other streaming services. It makes a fine pairing for consumers who aren’t interested in live sports. For those that are, we’ll have to wait and see if Disney offers a compelling bundle of Disney+ and Hulu with Live TV.

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World’s biggest airplane, built for rockets

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Aviation has a new number one in size, as a one-of-a-kind airplane completed its first test flight on Saturday morning above California’s Mojave desert.

The test makes the immense Stratolaunch the largest airplane in the world to fly, with a wingspan measuring 385 feet — wider than a football field is long. The plane flew for 2½ hours over the Mojave at altitudes up to 17,000 feet, hitting a maximum speed of 189 miles per hour. With two fuselages and six Boeing 747 engines. Stratolaunch is built to launch rockets from the air.

Stratolaunch is an “air launch” system, meaning that the aircraft will carry rockets up to about 35,000 feet and then drop the rocket. One of the advantages of such a system, touted by Stratolaunch as well as Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit, is that flying in and out of a traditional runway gives greater flexibility and, eventually, will allow for quick turnaround between launches.

The company has had various partnerships, as well as internal plans, for the rockets that Stratolaunch will carry. SpaceX was one of the company’s earliest partners but Stratolaunch later switched to a contract with Northrop Grumman-owned Orbital ATK to fly the Pegeasus XL rocket. Stratolaunch’s plan to develop its own fleet of rockets was scrapped in January.



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