By adaptive - October 26th, 2015

Pandora plunges, Google’s new parent company Alphabet soars, as YouTube rolls out a new ad-free subscription service. Andrew Tolve reports.

In this week’s Digest: YouTube Red, Spotify, Apple Music, Google, PewDiePie, Sing It!, Untitled CollegeHumor Project, Pandora, BlackBerry, Blackphone, SecuSmart, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, HTC, Fossil, Tag Heuer, HTC and Sharp.

In the news

So hello to YouTube Red, YouTube’s first subscription service. For $9.99 a month (same as Spotify, Apple Music, et al), YouTube Red subscribers will enjoy all YouTube content ad free. That’s correct, Google, the inventor of online ads, is offering a subscription service for ad free content. The service is a mashup of YouTube and Google Play Music, so if you’re a current Play Music subscriber, you’ll automatically become a YouTube Red enlistee. YouTube Red will allow you to capture and save videos to watch offline, as well as to keep listening to music when you switch to another app on your phone. Finally, the app will feature original content series a la Netflix and Amazon Prime. YouTube Red content providers are random at this point — PewDiePie, Sing It!, Untitled CollegeHumor Project — but it’s something to keep an eye on. The service launches October 28.

In the money

$18.68 billion. That’s how much Google’s new parent company, Alphabet, reported in third quarter earnings. As of October 2, 2015, Google turned its core business of search and online ad revenue into a subsidiary of a larger company that pursues “other bets”, such as self-driving cars and health apps, all with a mobile focus. Analysts had expected a lofty $18.53 billion in revenue for the reorganized company, which it comfortably surpassed. Let the Google — errr, make that Alphabet — world domination begin.

Pandora lost $85.9 million in share value in one day after its third quarter earnings report. The company nearly hit its quarterly revenue estimates of $313 million ($311.6 million is nothing to raise alarm), but traders are smelling blood as Apple Music continues to gain traction and steal mobile subscribers away, as do competitors like Spotify.

In other news

Priv, BlackBerry’s first Android smartphone, is open for pre-ordering in the U.S. and Canada. The handset has both a touchscreen and a slide out keyboard and a plethora of security and privacy features, similar to Blackphone and SecuSmart. Whether these features, and the BlackBerry name, will be enough to entice enterprise users away from the iPhone is a big if — one that BlackBerry’s future as a hardware maker may well be riding on. Prices start at $699.

Amazon may have sacked the Fire Phone, but the Fire Tablet is still alive and kicking. The latest generation starts at just $50, which is a whole lot of holiday happiness for less than most people spend on their monthly smartphone bill. The iPad, by comparison, starts at $269. The device shines brightest in its Amazon shopping functionality and its ability to sync with other Amazon services, like Prime video, Kindle e-books and Audible audiobooks.

On the smartwatch front, watch company Fossil launched the Q Collection, a line of connected accessories that include a Bluetooth-enabled analog wristwatch (starting at $175) and a pair of fitness bands that look more like jewelry than rubber fitness equipment. Check out the collection here.

Tag Heuer is finally coming out with its first smartwatch, The Tag Heuer connected watch, on November 9. The company launched an ambiguous, although very cool looking, image of the watch here. Worth $1800? You be the judge.

Apple unveiled a series of upgrades for its trio of productivity apps, Pages, Keynote and Numbers. Odds are your company doesn’t use these apps anyway, electing for Microsoft Office instead, but if not, rejoice! The updates make it easier to track and view changes over time, create charts with date, time and duration values and easily rearrange data and text. Full breakdown of upgrades here.

HTC, pioneer of the first Android smartphone, is out with a new flagship smartphone, the One A9. The device is an upgrade from HTC’s existing One M9 handset, with a better processor, more gigs of memory and onboard storage and a better forward- and rear-facing camera (the name still stinks, but we’ll let that slide). Retail price is set at $399.99, which will give users something to think about compared to $649 for the entry level iPhone 6s.

Finally, ever fret that humans these days are becoming too lonely, even though social media and mobile phones promise to keep us more connected than ever before? Worry not, Sharp is out with RoBoHoN, a robot smartphone that will keep you company every second of the day. The phone has hands and feet and a lovable, smiling face. Voice-recognition technology allows it to respond to whatever you say, from the philosophical to the mundane. The device has launched in Japan, where we suspect it will stay, but you never know. Maybe this is the next big global phenomenon?

Creepy video here.

The Mobile Digest is a biweekly lowdown on the world of mobile, combining Open Mobile Media analysis with information from industry press releases.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to Open Mobile Media. 

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