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Analysis-Vision Pro headset is Apple’s next Mac and TV combined

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4/4
Analysis-Vision Pro headset is Apple's next Mac and TV combined
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Apple’s Vision Pro headset is displayed on the day it goes on sale for the first time in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 2, 2024. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

2/4

By Stephen Nellis and Dawn Chmielewski

(Reuters) -Apple’s Vision Pro could upend how people watch television at home and how they use computers at work, potentially positioning the headset to be a successor to both traditional television and the Mac.

The $3,500 headset, which blends three-dimensional digital content with a view of the outside world, landed in the company’s physical U.S. stores on Friday. It enters a market crowded with lower-cost rivals from Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:), HTC and others that have mostly been confined to the video game market and failed to find a mass audience.

Apple (NASDAQ:) has had mixed results courting developers. Netflix (NASDAQ:), one of the most popular consumer video apps, said late Friday it is not making a new app for the Vision Pro, though consumers can watch movies and series on the device’s web browser.

YouTube, which could not immediately be reached for comment, said in a Bloomberg report that it is not planning to launch a new app for the device but consumers can instead use the Safari web browser. The music streaming service, Spotify (NYSE:), also has not developed an app for the product’s launch, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The pricey device comes with custom computing chips and difficult-to-manufacture displays that rivals lack. Analysts who have tried the headset say these features could make the device a threat to almost every large two-dimensional screen at home or work.

Walt Disney (NYSE:) has quietly worked with Apple for years on an app for the Vision Pro’s launch, the latest in a history of collaboration between the two companies.

“When we saw this, it became evident it was a new canvas for how we can tell stories in a way that hasn’t been done before,” said Aaron LaBerge, chief technology officer of Disney Entertainment. “And so it became pretty obvious that we wanted to do something here just as a way to stretch ourselves.”

The Disney+ app envelops movie viewers in one of four environments, so they can watch “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” from the seat of a fictional X-34 landspeeder craft on the planet of Tatooine, like a futuristic drive-in movie theater, or catch “Avengers: Endgame” from inside Avengers Tower in midtown Manhattan. Viewers can also watch 42 Disney films in 3D, including box office hits “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “Black Panther” and “Inside Out.”

Jamie Voris, chief technology officer at Walt Disney Studios, said filmmakers such as “The Lion King” director Jon Favreau and James Cameron of “Avatar” are interested in telling stories in new ways. Disney will soon introduce an experience it teased in a clip screened at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference last June, in which consumers interact with its Marvel Studios animated anthology series, “What If?”

The device also opens new ways to experience live sporting events or theme park rides, LaBerge said.

“It speaks really well to what we do best, which is bring our characters and stories into the real world and bring you closer to the people that you care about,” said Voris.

It’s not clear that a mixed-reality device was what late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had in mind when he confided to biographer Walter Isaacson that, in developing a next-generation television, “I finally cracked it.” But to analysts like Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies, the Vision Pro seemed like it fulfilled that long-ago promise.

“I don’t know if this is what Jobs meant when he said ‘I cracked TV,'” said Bajarin. “But the platform element is what makes it more interesting than if they launched a TV. It can be productivity. It can be social. … It could become a much bigger deal and a much bigger opportunity than if it were just a TV.”

To be sure, the pricey Vision Pro will not be a quick best-seller. In a note to investors, Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said Apple has told its supply chain to expect to build only 1 million units – and even that might be Apple preparing excess capacity ahead of consumer demand.

Apple’s approach “suggests a lack of confidence that consumers will feel compelled to buy immediately without needing to be convinced by in-store demos,” Sacconaghi wrote.

But the high price presents less of a barrier to business purchasers.

Jay Wright, chief executive of Campfire, a startup that makes software for using headsets to collaborate remotely on three-dimensional files such as engine designs, noted that the original Mac computer in 1984 cost the equivalent of nearly $7,500 today. But small businesses flocked to the Mac for its ability to create and print documents and brochures.

“It’s important to recognize this is not a consumer accessory device, like Apple Watch. This is a whole new computing platform,” Wright said. “I’m of the opinion that this is more like what comes after the Mac than what comes after the iPhone.”

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Esports Entertainment Group transitions to OTC Markets

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Esports Entertainment Group transitions to OTC Markets
© Reuters.

ST. JULIAN’S, Malta – Esports Entertainment Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: GMBL), a prominent iGaming and esports content provider, announced today that it will voluntarily delist from the Nasdaq Stock Market. Starting on Wednesday, the company’s securities, including common stock and warrants, will be suspended from Nasdaq and will begin trading on the OTC Pink Market, with plans to move to the OTCQB Venture Market subsequently.

The company, which operates globally and is licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), focuses on esports wagering and providing business-to-business esports solutions. It boasts a significant esports venue management system deployed in over 1,000 locations worldwide, spanning colleges and universities.

Esports Entertainment Group’s strategic aim is to leverage its industry position to tap into the multi-billion-dollar esports and wagering market. It also targets the burgeoning sector of short-form esports content, which is conducive to betting due to its competitive and fast-paced nature.

The company provides consumer-focused wagering through its MGA-licensed brands and plans to distribute esports content aligned with its growth strategy. This move to the OTC Markets comes amid broader strategic efforts, although the company has cautioned that forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could affect actual results.

This update is based on a press release statement and reflects the company’s current operational adjustments. It should be noted that any forward-looking statements are subject to various factors that could significantly impact the company’s actual performance.

InvestingPro Insights

As Esports Entertainment Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: GMBL) prepares to transition from the Nasdaq Stock Market to the OTC Pink Market, investors are closely monitoring the company’s financial health and market performance. According to InvestingPro data, the company’s market capitalization stands at a modest 1.38M USD. Despite challenging market conditions, GMBL has maintained impressive gross profit margins, with the last twelve months as of Q1 2024 reporting a margin of 64.87%. This indicates a strong ability to control costs relative to revenue—a crucial factor in the highly competitive esports and iGaming industries.

However, the road ahead appears fraught with challenges. Revenue has seen a significant decline, with a decrease of 68.86% over the last twelve months as of Q1 2024. Additionally, the company’s stock has experienced a substantial downturn, with a one-year price total return as of the 51st day of 2024 plummeting by an alarming 99.95%. This level of price volatility is a critical consideration for investors, as highlighted by one of the InvestingPro Tips, which notes that GMBL stock generally trades with high price volatility.

For those considering a deeper analysis of Esports Entertainment Group, Inc., there are additional InvestingPro Tips available that could shed light on the company’s cash burn rate, short-term obligations, and analyst expectations regarding profitability. In total, there are 17 additional InvestingPro Tips that can be accessed to help investors make more informed decisions. For readers looking to take advantage of this resource, use the coupon code PRONEWS24 to get an additional 10% off a yearly or biyearly Pro and Pro+ subscription at InvestingPro.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

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Cox Communications wins order overturning $1 billion US copyright verdict

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Cox Communications wins order overturning $1 billion US copyright verdict
© Reuters.

By Blake Brittain

(Reuters) -Cox Communications, the cable television and internet service provider, convinced a U.S. appeals court to throw out a $1 billion jury verdict in favor of several major record labels that had accused it of failing to curb user piracy, setting the stage for a new trial on the matter.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia ruled on Tuesday that the amount of damages was not justified and that a federal district court should hold a new trial to determine the appropriate amount.

A Virginia jury in 2019 found Cox, the largest unit of privately owned Cox Enterprises, liable for its customers’ violations of over 10,000 copyrights belonging to labels including Sony (NYSE:) Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group (AS:).

Representatives for Cox and the labels did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision.

More than 50 labels teamed up to sue Cox in 2018, in what was seen as a test of the obligations of internet service providers (ISPs) to thwart piracy.

The labels accused Cox of failing to address thousands of infringement notices, cut off access for repeat infringers, or take reasonable measures to deter pirates.

Atlanta-based Cox had told the 4th Circuit that upholding the verdict would force ISPs to boot households or businesses based on “isolated and potentially inaccurate allegations,” or require intrusive oversight of customers’ internet usage.

Other ISPs, including Charter Communications (NASDAQ:), Frontier Communications (OTC:) and Astound Broadband, formerly RCN, have also been sued by the record labels.

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Analysis-Barclays maps uncertain route to a simpler, stronger future

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Analysis-Barclays maps uncertain route to a simpler, stronger future
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A branch of Barclays Bank is seen, in London, Britain, February 23, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

By Sinead Cruise, Lawrence White and Iain Withers

LONDON (Reuters) – Barclays, unveiling its biggest revamp since 2016, sought to appease investors seeking a clearer route to less volatile returns.

Yet the British lender’s plan to dedicate fewer financial resources to its investment bank is at odds with ambitions to expand in some of the unit’s higher-risk businesses, investors said.

Barclays has historically devoted much of its capital to investment banking, roiling more conservative shareholders who say other businesses posting more reliable profits have been under-invested as a result.

The bank will continue to allocate the lion’s share of its firepower to investment banking, and while a bigger push into domestic lending is broadly welcomed, some analysts and investors are unconvinced the bank can grow market share enough to meet its lofty revenue goals, against strong competition and a skittish UK economy.

Barclays’ long-awaited strategic update presented on Tuesday will have the bank return at least 10 billion pounds ($12.66 billion) to investors and reorganize into five units from the current three business lines, a move it said would create a simpler and better balanced bank.

This so-called “re-segmentation” aims to give investors greater transparency of performance in each division, unlike the previous structure which reported corporate lending and investment banking revenues together, the bank said.

In a key part of the overhaul, Barclays will reduce the share of risk-weighted assets (RWA) devoted to its investment bank to around 50% by 2026 from about 63%.

In turn, the bank plans to deploy around 30 billion pounds more to its UK consumer, corporate lending and private banking arms that generate higher returns.

“Today’s announcement from Barclays is welcome as far as it goes,” said Jeremy Hosking, founder and portfolio manager at Hosking Partners.

“But shareholders are still waiting for a diagnosis of the 15-year share price undervaluation of the bank, in particular as to whether it is cyclical or structural.”

Barclays shares rose as much as 9.4% on Tuesday and closed up 8.6% – their biggest daily gain since November 2020. In the last 12 months, they have lost over 7%, compared with a 4.2% rise in a key regional banking index

The average returns on tangible equity (RoTE) in the businesses the bank has pledged to invest in ranged from 18% to 31% in the two years to end-2023, compared with a more modest 10% at the investment bank, company figures show.

By reallocating its capital, Barclays says revenue will grow to around 30 billion by 2026 from 25.4 billion pounds in 2023.

Scepticism abounds. Many analysts and commentators said the rejig did not reflect a “de-risking” of the investment bank but rather an ambition to grow other units faster to reduce the investment bank’s outsized influence on group profit.

And with such strong competition posed by NatWest Group in British small business lending, Lloyds Banking Group (LON:) in mortgages and HSBC in corporate lending, Barclays’ big UK bet is not guaranteed to succeed.

STANDING STILL

What is more, the capital underpinning Barclays’ investment bank will still far exceed that deployed by rivals, such as BNP Paribas (OTC:) and UBS in their investment banks. Both lenders boast healthier valuations than Barclays and similarly handsome shareholder payout plans.

Within the investment bank, Barclays intends to further grow its financing business, Chief Executive C.S. Venkatakrishnan told investors on Tuesday, referring to the lucrative but potentially risky practice of lending money to large institutional clients against stocks or bonds as collateral.

Barclays has invested heavily in the business, growing revenues from 1.8 billion pounds at an undisclosed point to 2.9 billion in 2023, he said.

Analysts at Citi estimate the investment bank is expected to account for 2.7 billion pounds of the targeted 4.6 billion-pound increase in group revenues by 2026, a goal they describe as “highly ambitious”.

Those revenue goals, they say, rely on a 900 million pound bounce in the industry’s overall fee pool over the period and 1.2 billion pounds of growth in equity capital markets and advisory fees as well as additional sales to existing clients.

Other investors and analysts voiced doubts whether the plan will offer as much reassurance as executives hope.

“The buybacks will help, but the second part of the picture is growing revenue,” Sajeer Ahmed, portfolio manager at Aegon (NYSE:) Asset Management, told Reuters.

“Fund managers will treat this part of the investment case with scepticism. In particular, because it involves growing the investment bank.”

Growth will require a breakthrough in select segments, namely the buying and selling of European interest-rate products, equity derivatives and securitisation where Barclays is currently ranked outside the sector’s top five players.

Rupak Ghose, a corporate strategist and financial markets analyst, said the strategic objectives outlined by Barclays were unlikely to bolster the bank’s shares over the long term.

“This is a big return of capital but I fear a dead cat bounce,” he said.

($1 = 0.7897 pounds)

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