Powered by Blackfire: The Onkyo NCP-302 Wireless Network Speaker

Powered by Blackfire: The Onkyo NCP-302 Wireless Network Speaker

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This past February and March, Onkyo rolled out a new set of firmware updates for select A/V and hi-fi components and systems initializing Blackfire’s FireConnect wireless multi-room audio distribution. Now, Onkyo has released their NCP-302 Wireless Network Speaker featuring FireConnect by Blackfire Research for the US market, another major step in expanding the Blackfire wireless home entertainment ecosystem. The NCP-302 can link with Onkyo master components such as AVRs, work as a standalone speaker, or can be grouped to create a wireless, multi-room audio system via Blackfire’s FireConnect. FireConnect provides reliable, fast and flexible performance, enabling dynamic, real-time wireless streaming.

With your choice of black or white, this 2.6 kg speaker will look smart anywhere in your home. The NCP-302 features dual-band 5 GHz/2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, built-in Chromecast, and online streaming services such as Spotify, TIDAL, Deezer, Pandora, and TuneIn. With the Onkyo Controller app, you can control playback, explore services, and distribute audio throughout your home, all from your mobile device.

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Onkyo Press Release:

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Featured Music Friday: DAMN

Featured Music Friday: DAMN

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DAMN. Kendrick Lamar dropped one of the most influential rap albums of this decade on Good Friday. The celebrated rapper, whose 2015 “To Pimp a Butterfly” won him a Grammy for “Best Rap Album” takes an introspective turn this time around, focusing on our most basic, primal elements, with song titles like: “BLOOD,” “DNA,” “PRIDE,” “LUST,” “FEAR,” and “GOD.” On DAMN. Lamar proves he is not only the most talented rapper around, but a masterful storyteller to boot. Lamar isn’t propagating old narratives, but rather, he weaves the building blocks of his life through breathless raps and unrelenting rhymes. Directly addressing those who criticized his lyrics on police brutality on To Pimp a Butterfly’s, “Alright,” Lamar digs down deep (“DNA”), exposing the contents of his history, as well as those of his haters. His talent in storytelling culminates in “DUCKWORTH,” the album’s mind-boggling closing track, and a story that’s stranger than fiction. Kendrick captivatingly sews together two strangers’ lives, leading up to a confrontation that could have ended in his father’s death at the hands of the future rapper’s producer. The album ends where it begins with “BLOOD” – the life Lamar would have led if his father was killed and his mentor incarcerated – as another victim of senseless gun violence. Featured Music Friday is brought to you by Blackfire Research.

On this Day in Music History: May 25, 1973

On this Day in Music History: May 25, 1973

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Brought to you by Blackfire Research….On this day in 1973, celebrated singer-songwriter, Carole King, performed a free concert in New York City’s Central Park for an audience of roughly 70,000 people. The most successful female songwriter of the 1960’s and 1970’s, King had released her most critically acclaimed album, “Tapestry,” just two years prior. The album, which went on to be one of the best selling albums of all time, solidified her title as “The Queen of Rock.” The Central Park Concert, which lasted an hour and fifteen minutes, took place on the Great Lawn behind the Delacorte Theater and drew the largest crowd the city’s Parks Department had seen at the time. Celebrities in attendance included Joni Mitchell and Jack Nicholson. The concert was staged by Chip Monck, who previously helped mastermind a little music festival called Woodstock. King began the night with “Beautiful,” and ended with “You’ve Got a Friend.”

In the Shadow of Giants by Rohit Verma

In the Shadow of Giants by Rohit Verma

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Something you hear a lot in Silicon Valley is how hard it is for the little guy to compete against the Googles, the Facebooks, and the Amazons of the world. They have a platform. And, it’s hard to compete against a platform.

A lot of the value of platforms is driven by data and how that data can be used to optimize business decisions. The Economist magazine claims that “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data”. No surprise, then, that substantial investment focus by Amazon and Google is in artificial intelligence (see CBInsights’s very detailed analyses on these two companies). For a good understanding of the incumbent value of platforms, however, Facebook’s relatively clean business model is the easiest to examine.

Facebook revenue increased almost 6 times from $5B in 2012 to $28B in 2016. Certainly, a secular increase in internet advertising spend explains part of the trend. More fundamental in this growth, though, is the increase in the number of daily users from 0.6B to 1.2B, and the time each user spends on Facebook properties. More time, individually and as a group, means more opportunity to serve up advertising. And, very importantly, optimizing what ads to serve up and how (hello AI). In that same period, average revenue per user grew from $5 to $16.

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In essence, the platform and the value that it provides is a simple function: # users x time per user. A startup has to do a great job maximizing the amount of time users spend on its properties. But, to achieve a compelling financial model, it will inevitably need a large number of users. Snap ended 2015 with 107M daily users, and averaged $0.6 per user. By 2016, number of users had risen to 158M, and average revenue per user to $2.7.

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Facebook’s strategy is focused on pushing these two numbers up, and the bulk of the $25B it has spent since 2012 to acquire companies was directed at Instagram and Whatsapp. It also made an unsuccessful run at Snap. That failure led to Facebook mimicking Snap by offering camera-related features on its platforms. Instagram Stories alone has reached 200 million active users. Which exceeds Snap’s total active users, showcasing the power of platforms. Facebook now has 1.2B daily users that spend an hour a day on its combined properties. A digital river of information that Facebook gleefully monetizes.

Not every startup can be Snap, and achieving meaningful volume may require leveraging existing platforms. For which the platforms will get a meaningful cut. The other lever that startups have, is to maximize the amount of time users spend on them. Some of the most popular categories of applications are:

  • Social media and browsing: Facebook – an hour a day for each user
  • Video: Netflix – 2 hours; YouTube – 1 hour
  • Gaming: as a category, 2 hours a day
  • Music: Pandora – 1 hour

The killer app would be one that combines all, or a significant subset of these applications into one unified platform.

Sources: “The new face of Facebook” The Economist; “Google Strategy Teardown” CBInsights; “Amazon Strategy Teardown” CBInsights; Blackfire Research