HBO has announced that it's ordered two additional seasons of Game of Thrones, which just started its fourth season this past Sunday. It makes sense, as the show was recently recognized as the most torrented television show out there, proving its popularity. Even with the rampant piracy, the season 3 finale was seen by over 5 million people.
If you didn't realize, Game of Thrones is based on A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. It's comprised of five books, which two more to come. This means that Game of Thrones producers have plenty of content to pull from. In fact, Game of Thrones seasons 3 and 4 are based on Storm of Swords, the third novel in the series.
"Game of Thrones is a phenomenon like no other," said Michael Mobardo, president of HBO programming. "David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with their talented collaborators, continue to surpass themselves, and we look forward to more of their dazzling storytelling."
The Game of Thrones season 4 premier garnered 6.6 million viewers. To put that into perspective, that is the most-viewed HBO show since the last episode of The Sopranos brought in 12 million viewers in 2007. Game of Thrones is expected to have a 7 or 8 season run when all is said and done.
This morning Amazon sent out invitations for an April 2nd event that invites us to "Please join us for an update on our video business." In the background is a couch, with a few pieces of popcorn spilled on it. It looks like the company may finally launch the long-rumored Amazon Video set-top box, a product that would compete with devices like the Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku products. Amazon's box may even differentiate itself by offering gaming right out of the gate, as we saw a prototype of an Amazon game controller leaked a couple of weeks ago. There are plenty of Android games that Amazon could see success with with game controller support built-in.
We'll know for sure on April 2, and we'll bring you the full details.
Update: It looks like Amazon may also launch a free video streaming service at this event as well!
This morning, HTC officially announced the HTC One (M8) during a New York City press conference. It's the new flagship device from the company, replacing last year's original HTC One smartphone, which we thought was the best Android phone of the year (you can see our original HTC One review here.) HTC did what it could to make the device better in every way, including a unique camera system. With that said, there's a lot to go over, so let's get to it.
Amazon has announced that the cost of Amazon Prime will be increasing to $99 per year this morning (up from $79 per year,) the first time the service has seen a price increase since it launched nine years ago. The company cites increased fuel and transportation costs, alongside increased usage by Prime members, as the reason for the price bump.
Despite the price increase, Amazon Prime is still a fantastic service, introduced back in 2005, that provided unlimited free two-day shipping for millions of items, alongside Prime Instant Video, and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. When broken down, the monthly cost goes from about $6.58 up to $8.25 per month, making the cost 26 cents more than the price of a monthly Netflix streaming membership.
The price increase goes into effect on April 17th, so if you aren't yet a Prime member, you can lock in the lower rate now.
If you're an Amazon Prime member, does the price increase turn you off from keeping your subscription?
WWe has unveiled its initial programming lineup for the WWE Network, the first-ever 24/7 hybrid streaming network with content vault, highlighted by WrestleMania 30 on Sunday, April 6 at 7:00 p.m. ET live from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. WWE is looking to make some big moves, also including for the first time ever, the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony entirety, live on Saturday, April 5 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
The WWE Network will officially launch on Monday, Feb. 24 at 9:00 a.m. ET, and fans will instantly have access to live programming and the most comprehensive WWE video-on-demand library upon signing up at WWE.com for $9.99 per month with six-month commitment. Content will be viewable through the WWE App on connected devices, including Roku, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Apple TV, and Xbox 360. Portable devices can also get in the action, as the Network will also be available on iOS devices, including Apple iPad and iPhone, Amazon’s Kindle Fire devices, and Android devices, as well as on desktops and laptops through WWE.com.
We've got the full content lineup for you after the break.
TigerDirect is the latest retailer to announce that it will accept Bitcoin as a payment method. The company specializes in selling computer hardware, accessories, gadgets, and similar kit. The company will use BitPay as its Bitcoin payment processor, making it the largest BitPay client. If you've got some Bitcoin that you'd like to spend on some tech, you can do it now at TigerDirect--online only though, as the retail locations aren't down with virtual currency just yet. Hey--maybe you can buy yourself some Bitcoin mining hardware with your Bitcoin. Spend money to make money, right?
Amazingly, Pizza Hut has announced that it's sold $1 million worth of pizzas through its Xbox 360 app in just the first four months of the app's availability. The app allows Xbox 360 users to place orders for some cheesy goodness right from their game consoles, ensuring that they wouldn't have to pick up the phone and talk to another human being to conduct the transaction.
"It's been a source of unbelievable growth for us," Pizza Hut PR head Doug Terfehr told Polygon. "Just the explosion of people who wanted to download it, experiment with it, play with it with Kinect. As soon as we did one, everyone was contacting us to do the next [one]."
Earlier this month, Pizza hut celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first online pizza order, which took place in 1994 on Pizza Hut PizzaNet. Believe it or not, the large pepperoni, muchroom, extra-cheese pizza was the first item ever ordered online--not just for pizza, but anything. Pretty crazy.
Google just announced that it will acquire Nest, the company that sells the popular and impressive connected Smart Thermostat and Protect smoke alarm devices, for $3.2 billion. With the deal, Nest founders Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers will join Google, bringing the two men who pretty much brought the iPod to life into Google's clutches.
"They’re already delivering amazing products you can buy right now–thermostats that save energy and smoke/CO alarms that can help keep your family safe," said Google CEO Larry Page in a statement. "We are excited to bring great experiences to more homes in more countries and fulfill their dreams!"
Google says that Nest will continue to operate independently, and Nest says that the customer data will be kept separate from the rest of Google data mining. We've seen similar promises from other companies Google has purchased in the past, and many of them were broken. We'll see how this one pans out. The acquisition is now pending regulatory review, and will likely take a few months to close.
In what has to be seen as one of the biggest tech stories of the year, it's finally been announced that Apple's iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c will be available on China Mobile, the largest cell phone carrier in the world, beginning on January 17, 2014. Both devices will support the China Mobile TD-LTE and TD-SCDMA cellular networks. Interested customers can pre-register for a device beginning December 25th.
“China is an extremely important market for Apple and our partnership with China Mobile presents us the opportunity to bring iPhone to the customers of the world’s largest network,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in the release.
It'll definitely be interesting to see what this does for iPhone worldwide marketshare, as China Mobile has 760 million customers.
The final piece of the Xbox One launch puzzle was solved yesterday when Microsoft confirmed that the console will launch on November 22nd. For those who don't have amazing an amazing memory, this is the same day that the Xbox 360 launched eight years ago. As previously announced, the Xbox One will cost $499, and will include the console, a controller, wired mono headset, and the new Kinect sensor.
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