It's CNET's opinion that Verizon's ad highlighting that not enough women go into technology fields is the top tech ad of the year, and Microsoft's ad on its Facebook page admiring a short film that featured Mac Books is also a winner. And so is EA's ad for "Madden" featuring Kevin Hart. But Amazon's ad for its Fire phone, not so much. See CNET's winners and losers at the jump.
A hack of Sony's PlayStation Network that knocked it (and Xbox Live) offline right around Christmas is getting back on point. Super hacking victim Sony now says that PlayStation Network should be up and running for all of its consoles. The company, which has had a really bad year, though with a silver lining (see other brief), warns that there might be some "intermittency" as it gets back up.
Retailers will just meet industry sales forecasts, thanks, in part, to online rivals, led by Amazon. Super Saturday - the last pre-Christmas Saturday (on Dec. 20 this year) - didn't save the slow gift-buying season, which included a disappointing Black Friday. "The past weekend will not save this holiday season," said Craig Johnson, president of the retail and consumer product-oriented private equity fund Customer Growth Partners. "But combined with online sales, it would certainly save the year from being a dismal one."
In October, Marriott Hotel Services came to a $600,000 settlement with the FCC over allegations that the hotel chain blocked WiFi signals from guests' hotspots, forcing them to use the chain's custom networks. Google, Microsoft, and Wireless Industry trade groups want the FCC to prevent hotels from doing that. The American Hotel & Lodging Association, Marriott International, Inc., and Ryman Hospitality Properties submitted a public comment on Marriott's behalf on last Friday, saying that the hotel was merely exercising "reasonable network management practices."
Nearly a year ago at CES 2014, Sony announced the cloud-based gaming service PlayStation Now. It would let users access PlayStation 3 games without requiring a PS3. The company says that besides Sony machines, the gaming system will be available to Samsung Smart TVs at some point in 2015. It will be accessed via an app downloaded through the TV's Smart Hub. "[O]ur vision has been to open the world of PlayStation to the masses by offering the service on the devices they use every day," said Masayasu Ito, EVP of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
Tiger Woods has been off the PGA Tour for much of 2014 and has not won a Major since 2008, but his status as a golf personality and endorser still has a resounding effect worldwide. That is part of the reason golf sponsorships worldwide in 2014 will top $1.6 billion, more than the NFL, MLB, NBA and tennis. BMW, Bank of America, MasterCard and Coca-Cola are leading the way.
Google has introduced prototypes for a self-driving car. The company released a photo and a video, "A First Drive," featuring a variety of people taking a test ride/drive/spin in the cars. "It was cool," said a woman named Thida, in the video. "It was kind of a space age experience." This is really a second debut for the cars. Google showed off non-functional versions in May, but the project team has been busy since then.
Under Armour has signed a multi-year deal to become the official uniform supplier for the Yomiuri Giants, the most storied franchise in the history of Japanese baseball. The deal takes effect with the 2015 Nippon Professional Baseball League season. The company also has alliances with Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League, Rugby Canada, Welsh Rugby Union, Colo-Colo of the Chilean Primera Divisin and Toluca of Mexico's Liga MX. Over the past year, the brand has launched in Brazil, Chile, Panama, the Philippines, Singapore and Shanghai.
Among the top restaurant deals in 2014, Burger King Worldwide Inc. made a $11.4 billion proposed deal for Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons Inc., and CEC Entertainment went private and then bought Peter Piper Pizza. Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. acquired Rusty Taco. Read on to get a rundown on the 10 top mergers and acquisitions.
PepsiCo is trying out a more sustainable future of bottled beverages. Drinkfinity, developed in Brazil, and initially only available in that country, is a "personal and portable hydration system," consisting of pods that are inserted into the top of a reusable bottle filled with water and squeezed. Drinkfinity can be had in Brazil from an online store offering a $34 Welcome Kit consisting of the vessel and two 10-packs of pods in a choice of five flavors.