February 25, 2021
Good morning, and welcome to Protocol Next Up. This week, I take a closer look at Paramount+, the new streaming service from ViacomCBS, and explain why we soon may all turn to VR to test and train our brain.
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When Trevor Noah took the stage at ViacomCBS' investor event Wednesday afternoon to announce his own streaming service, Trevor+ — "My plus sign could mean anything!" he said — I was almost ready to believe him.
Of course, it was meant to be a joke, a way to highlight that Noah's "Daily Show" will stream on Paramount+, the new service that was actually being unveiled at the event. But the idea of yet another service seemed not completely out of the question. And that may ultimately be a big problem for Noah's bosses.
First things first: some details. Paramount+ is launching on March 4, succeeds CBS All Access and will cost $9.99 per month. The company plans to launch an ad-supported tier with a slightly smaller content bundle for half that price in June, and also aims to go live in Latin America and Canada on day one.
But there are rather a lot of caveats, just in case that all sounds too unbelievably wonderful:
Confused? I doubt you're alone. Watching Wednesday's presentation, I couldn't help but wonder how this pitch will fare with consumers who already have tons of stuff to watch.
ViacomCBS has its work cut out to refine the messaging for Paramount+. Or, you know, it could always launch Trevor+.
"Cord cutting is going to explode in 2021/2022 … the bundle is being eviscerated in front of our eyes." —LightShed Partners analyst Richard Greenfield, responding to ViacomCBS announcing its Paramount+ streaming service.
"I think it's a really interesting format from a creation perspective, but I suspect that from the consumption perspective, most of the time consumed will still be on-demand." —Spotify CEO Daniel Ek on potential competition from Clubhouse and similar live audio services.
You have to find the right solution that meets both your internal and external collaboration needs.
That's why competitive businesses today are turning to Slack, the channel-based messaging platform, to close communication gaps with partners and customers in the age of remote work.
With headsets finally reaching a broader audience, many have been wondering: What will be the next killer app for VR? Gaming has been a major driver, but fitness has also emerged as a surprisingly compelling use case, with consumers replacing gyms closed by lockdowns with VR exercise. Portugal-based VR startup Virtuleap believes mental workouts could be next.
Virtuleap promises virtual brain training from its Enhance VR app: During daily 15-minute sessions, users get to play short games and puzzles that test their motor skills, episodic memory, attention and more. Each game is based on proven scientific cognitive tests, but what really makes them work is the immersion of VR, explained Virtuleap CEO Amir Bozorgzadeh. "The body believes it's real," he said.
Enhance is built on an AWS-powered backend that collects more than 200,000 data points for three minutes of gameplay. The company is also asking users about their emotional state and sleep habits at the beginning of every session, and has begun to add third-party data, including from fitness trackers.
Virtuleap ultimately wants to develop a kind of gym for your brain, something you visit habitually to track and improve mental fitness not because it's fun, but because you know it's good for you. To get there, the startup is taking a bit of a different path than the Calms and Lumositys of this world.
Tuesday evening, news broke that consumer electronics retailer Fry's was closing all of its stores effective immediately. Not a big surprise to anyone who actually visited one of their stores over the past few years, but it's still a very sad end to a very weird and wonderful chain. Fry's was one of those stores that truly had everything. CPUs, hard drives and anything else you'd need to build your own computer; routers, streaming devices, cables, electronics components; a random assortment of toys and knickknacks (my daughter bought her first kite at Fry's); an in-house cafe that served truly terrible sandwiches; a whole aisle of adult magazines and DVDs, further indicating that the chain's proprietors never really understood the internet; that long row of candy on the way to the cash registers; and of course, those amazing decorations, with each and every store following a different theme. Sooner or later, someone is probably going to recreate all of them in VR. Until then, you can marvel at the photos fellow Fry's fans have shared on Twitter.
Thanks for reading — see you next week!