Apple to Set Up Research & Development Center in China – Their chief executive said the center will be in the city of Shenzhen, China – a major global hub for electronics manufacturing. It is also the home of Foxconn, who make the Apple iPhone. Both it and a separate center in Beijing will allow Apple to attract top local talent.
Amazon Expands Into Subscription Music – Amazon Music Unlimited already charges consumers $10 a month for an ad-free, on-demand catalog of tens of millions of tracks. If you have Amazon Prime, you get a discounted rate of $8 a month on top of the $99 yearly Prime cost. If you are willing to make Amazon’s Echo your only source for listening to streaming, you can get the service for the cheapest rate around, only $4 a month. This will help Amazon dominate music streaming in homes in a voice-command future, letting their rivals duke it out to win control of mobile listening. Giving access to Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa, has also been a way to hook consumers. (The Echo is a very small single speaker with no bass and mono only.) In the year past, consumers have shifted to all-your-eat music subscriptions, but Spotify and Apple Music are doing their race on the smart phones, while Echo’s low price and emphasis on voice are what sets Amazon apart. There are new ways to ask Alexa to play songs. It’s machine learning is designed to return more personalized options as you use it, so eventually you can just ask it to “play music.”
White is the New Black in Home Electronics – We probably all remember the Maxell and other commercials of the guy in the chair being blown away by the sound from his speakers. What doesn’t hold up is the black cassette tape, black deck and black speakers. Today living room gadgets are moving away from the mustachioed bachelor-pad look to the far more modern: all white or off-white. Even Sonos has a white version of its subwoofer first introduced in 2012. Amazon offers a white Echo and white Echo Dot. Even the Xbox One S comes in white now. It’s the near-universal Airbnb aesthetic that’s painting living rooms in a palette of matte white and white-washed wood. But the living room may not be joining the movement to white anytime soon. Most components are still black. Maybe someone will invent an OLED or LCD display that turns white when it’s turned off.
Light Shone on Black Classical Music & Performers – The Color of Music Festival in Charleston, South Carolina highlights black classical composers and performers. The series will include sessions on French contributions to black classical music, black opera legends, and the legacy of conductor-composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The Chamber Music Series includes performance by the Kanneh-Mason Trio and will feature sopranos Brandie Sutton and Magali Leger.