Google is reportedly looking to sell Zagat

Google is planning to offload Zagat, the restaurant reviews service it snagged for $ 151 million in 2011, amidst plans to reign in its mammoth portfolio, according to sources who spoke to Reuters. The company has reportedly held “informal talks” with interested parties for a deal that would encompass the Zagat brand name and website. There’s no word on how much Google is after for the service, with the big G keeping mum on the matter. We’ve reached out just in case it gives up on the silent treatment.

Former Google exec Marissa Mayer championed the Zagat acquisition, and its listings were quickly added to Maps and Google+ Local pages, with Zagat.com becoming a free service. A redesigned app and website followed in 2013. Then everything went quiet. Years passed without an app update in sight (aside from the odd bug fix). Finally, in 2016, Google gave iPhone users a cleaner app design and some location-based recommendation features. On the flip side, the tech titan recently expanded its search snippets for restaurants with the addition of waiting times.

Zagat’s small team is a blip in Alphabet’s infrastructure, dwarfed by its other units, which encompass everything from consumer hardware (think Pixel and Google Home) to its “other bets” (high-risk ventures like Waymo, X, and Verily). Although Google remains its kingpin, these gambits are also showing signs of growth.

Established by Tim and Nina Zagat in 1979, Zagat began life as a burgundy-coloured pocket-guide to restaurants and cities. In its current guise, the site features a mix of crowdsourced reviews and editorials.

Source: Reuters

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Samsung’s chip business kept things looking up to start 2017

Samsung’s Q1 2017 earnings are in, showing the company’s highest quarterly profit since Q3 2013. That’s despite the Galaxy Note 7 recall, and a markdown in the price of its Galaxy Note 7, apparently because the company’s chip business (making memory, processors and camera sensors for phones) is booming. As a company, it brought home the $ 8.75 billion in operating profit expected, and looks forward to better results next quarter, since it will include sales of the new Galaxy S8 phones.

On a call with reporters, execs reaffirmed that reports of a reddish tint on some S8s are a “natural difference” in the OLED technology that it will let users tweak after a software update. Samsung also mentioned “the launch of a new flagship smartphone in the second half,” but didn’t tag the Galaxy Note name to whatever that presumably large-screened device will be. It also did not play into any expectations for an OLED iPhone that it could supply screens for, simply saying that “YoY revenue growth in the OLED business is forecast on the back of increased flexible panel shipments in the second half.”

Source: Samsung

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Apple is looking to make its own Netflix-beating TV shows

Apple is planning on investing in original TV shows, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. With iPhone sales on the decline, people close to the company have revealed that it will attempt to gain Apple Music subscribers by adding original video content to the service. While this move has been rumoured since the relaunch of Apple TV, the company has apparently now started reaching out to Holywood producers, planning to offer original video content by the end of 2017.

Instead of investing in a full library of scripted content, however, Apple is initially setting its sights on a few high-quality original concepts. The same sources claim that Apple is seeking to rival the quality of shows like HBO’s Westworld and Netflix’s Stranger Things, with original movies possibly coming further down the line.

The report claims that Apple is still yet to buy any scripts due to internal debates about how to handle its business model. While Netflix refuses to share any kind of viewer figures or demographic data, Holywood producers believe that Apple will be far more open about how its original content performs.

While surprising, this wouldn’t be Apple’s first foray into publishing video content. Seeing the phenomenal success of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, Apple Music recently bought the rights to broadcast its own 30 minute version of the series. The company also revealed that it’s creating a semi-autobiographical documentary series called ‘Vital Signs’ starring Dr. Dre, due to premiere on Apple Music later this year.

While significant, both confirmed shows are firmly rooted in music. This rumoured expansion could mark Apple’s first step into non-music-related video content. Despite that, this seems to be a way to lure subscribers away from Apple Music competitor Spotify, rather than serving as a rival to purely video streaming services like Netflix. At last count, Apple Music had 20 million subscribers and Spotify double that.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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