Adobe Acquires Figma For $20 Billion, Taking Out One Of Its Biggest Rivals In Digital Design

Over the past several years, Figma has built its name as a forward-thinking and collaborative design platform and a formidable competitor to Adobe, the giant in the creative apps market. That rivalry ended on Thursday when Adobe announced that it has struck a $20 billion deal to acquire Figma.

The acquisition will allow Adobe to incorporate Figma’s popular design tools into its widely-used portfolio of creative apps. But the acquisition also means that Adobe will once again be taking a major competitor off the market and bringing it under its own umbrella, to the dismay of many designers who rely on the tool and are wary of another critical platform joining the company’s Creative Cloud service. And they have a point: with Figma off the market, the list of companies capable of challenging Adobe’s empire just got meaningfully smaller.

Adobe has a history of buying up some of the biggest tools in the creative space, acquiring companies like Frame.io, a video production collaboration tool, and Behance, which lets people showcase their creative work. (Belsky first joined Adobe through this acquisition.) The company has bought a lot of companies — even Photoshop was an acquisition. That makes the Figma purchase all the more concerning for designers; one of the few notable challengers to Adobe has been swept up, meaning Adobe will continue to consolidate creative app power in one location.

Source: The Verge

Nikon Exiting The DSLR Market To Focus On Mirrorless Models

Japanese camera maker Nikon will withdraw from the single-lens reflex camera business and shift toward digital offerings amid intensifying competition from smartphone cameras, Nikkei has learned.

Nikon’s SLR cameras have been widely used by professional photographers for more than 60 years and have come to be seen as synonymous with the Japanese company.

It now plans to focus resources on mirrorless cameras, which have become mainstream products on the back of more advanced digital technologies.

Nikon’s cameras have been losing out to smartphones, which increasingly feature powerful cameras. Nikon aims to beat them by offering products with more unique features.

Since June 2020, when Nikon launched its flagship D6 SLR, no new SLR models have been released. The company has already stopped development of compact digital cameras.

From now on, Nikon intends to focus on digital mirrorless cameras, but production and distribution of existing SLR models will continue.

Nikon is the second largest SLR maker after Canon. An SLR camera uses a mirror to reflect an image the photographer sees through the viewfinder.

Nikon dates from 1917 and adopted the company name in 1946. It released its first SLR in 1959, and has long been held in high esteem by professional photographers and journalists. It made its name offering top quality alternatives to German makes such as Leica that once dominated the market.

By the late 1990s, Nikon had made the switch to digital SLRs. Last year, it sold more than 400,000 SLRs, competing head to head with global leader Canon. SLRs are also produced by Ricoh under the brand Pentax.

Mirrorless cameras have a different viewing system and use image sensors that convert light into electrical signals. Like SLRs, they can accept interchangeable lenses that offer much more range than the fixed focal lengths used in most smartphone cameras. A feature of Nikon cameras has been the F-mount introduced in 1959. It has always allowed photographers to use a wide range of old lenses on recent SLRs.

Shipments of mirrorless cameras overtook SLRs for the first time in 2020 with 2.93 million and 2.37 million units shipped respectively, according to Japan’s Camera & Imaging Products Association.

There has been an overall decline, however. The combined market peaked at 11.67 million cameras in 2017, but had fallen to 5.34 million by 2021.

The dramatic falloff has forced Nikon to focus on the segment that still has potential to grow. In 2021, the market for mirrorless cameras expanded 31% to 324.5 billion yen, even as that for SLR cameras dropped 6% to 91.2 billion yen.

Mirrorless cameras have powerful capabilities. Artificial intelligence provides facial and pupil recognition. They can also identify animals, vehicles and objects. 

The Nikon Z9, released last year, can shoot 120 images per second — more than ten times faster that most SLRs without the wear and tear of a moving mirror. This makes them ideal for sports and wildlife photography. Mirrorless cameras are lighter, smaller and virtually silent. 

Mirrorless cameras have also been coming down in price to below 100,000 yen ($730), which is less than comparable SLRs.

With enhanced viewfinders and less lag, the quicker image processing helps photographers in fast-moving situations. 

Mirrorless cameras already account for half the revenue from Nikon’s imaging products business, compared with about 30% for SLRs. In the year ending in March, sales of imaging products totaled 178.2 billion yen, or 33% of total group revenues.

Rival Canon also plans to follow Nikon and stop producing flagship SLR models within a few years. 

Source: Nikkei Asia

New York City Removes Its Last Payphone From Service In Favor Of High-Speed Wi-Fi Kiosks To Meet Daily Communication Needs

It’s the end of an era: New York City removed its last public payphone on Monday.

The boxy enclosures were once an iconic symbol across the city. But the rise of cellphones made the booths obsolete.

The effort to replace public pay telephones across the city kicked off in 2014 when the de Blasio administration solicited proposals to reimagine the offering, the city’s Office of Technology and Innovation said in a news release.

Officials selected CityBridge to develop and operate LinkNYC kiosks, which offer services such as free phone calls, Wi-Fi and device charging. The city began removing street payphones in 2015 to replace them with the LinkNYC kiosks.

There are nearly 2,000 kiosks across the city, according to a map from LinkNYC.

“Just like we transitioned from the horse and buggy to the automobile and from the automobile to the airplane, the digital evolution has progressed from payphones to high-speed Wi-Fi kiosks to meet the demands of our rapidly changing daily communications needs,” Commissioner Matthew Fraser said in the release.

The last public pay telephone will be displayed at the Museum of the City of New York as part of an exhibit looking back at life in the city before computers.

Source: CNBC

NFT Art Will Never Be Mass-Market — NFT Licenses May Be

Visa got itself a fancy new Twitter avatar this August, and even though it didn’t stay up for long, the 8-bit-styled picture of a visibly unamused woman with a stylish mohawk still made dozens of headlines. It was not just about the relatively hefty price tag of $150,000. The mere fact that the financial giant bought a nonfungible token (NFT) representing the image from the CryptoPunks collection set off fireworks in the media. It was the best marketing spend Visa’s done all year — the ROI on news articles alone must have paid for the purchase tenfold.

Yes, even Visa “apes in” on NFTs these days, to use an expression NFT collectors drop a lot in the era of the wealthy pouring millions into JPEGs of apes. But even though the technology’s journey from memes to riches has taken it into the digital art world, I don’t think that this will be its mass-market use case.

By now, everyone knows that NFTs essentially bring uniqueness and scarcity, a feature associated with traditional high art, into all shapes and forms of digital art, which is otherwise infinitely reproducible with the good old copy-paste. A link to a specific picture, audio clip or video is sent to the blockchain as part of a transaction, and there we are — even though the file can still be copy-pasted, only one wallet owns its token. That’s where it becomes a posh thing: Donning an NFT image as a Twitter avatar is like wearing a Rolex watch with your name engraved on it. It’s a status symbol to be appreciated by those in the know.

That said, high art and luxury are by definition antonymous to the mass market, as high price and uniqueness are their key selling points. Someone who’s bleeding money can buy a link for millions, but that’s because they might as well burn their money for fun, and they want to show off their wealth to the world. Good luck charging a Regular Joe $150,000 for a link to a picture, though. The focus on NFTs as art by definition limits a promising technology to a relatively small, albeit inarguably posh and eccentric, niche.

The good thing here is that the big NFT digital art sales are making headlines, which is helping to bring NFTs into the mainstream. However, this will not be the main use of NFTs further down the road, but rather a new and expensive plaything for the wealthy and some especially fervent crypto-personalities and communities.

First of all, NFTs already have a mass-market use case — they are very much at home in gaming, with CryptoKitties gathering a ton of headlines back in the day. From Axie Infinity to all the newer titles, NFTs are powering a plethora of digital economies, and there, they bring more than sheer uniqueness to the table.

Yes, it’s nice that your NFT sword is unique and has your name on its token, but what’s nicer is that it can decapitate a dragon in one swing, unlike any other, non-unique weapon. And decapitated reptiles are what people are ready to pay for. Fortnite, a free game, brought its publisher $5.1 billion in 2020 on sales of in-game cosmetics, and gamers are already paying for non-unique weapons, mounts, castles and spaceships in dozens of other games. NFTs are just the next step in this direction. And believe it or not, in some developing countries, NFT games have already become a valid source of income.’

What looks just as promising is the idea of using NFTs in the corporate world, as part of traditional business processes. The fields where NFTs will likely take off in a big way, if not become the new default way of doing things, aren’t as sexy as high-end luxury. They will, however, greatly benefit from the key feature that NFTs bring to the table: The ability to confirm the authenticity of the associated digital asset. This could be, for example, as simple as the hash of a financial document saved as an NFT on a private or a public blockchain to check whether it’s been tampered with later on.

Software licensing and authentication seems like one of the areas where NFTs will shine, given enough time, with the bonus of possible interoperability. Corporations and individuals alike could shop for licensed software pieces on a single platform, leasing it for as long as needed. This would cut the costs, while also keeping chief information officers’ peace of mind as they have an extra layer of security knowing that any digital asset can be safely and quickly authenticated.

Those of you as old as I am remember buying copies of Windows or Adobe CS3 and having a sticker on the back of the box with your serial number. Lose the box, and that was it. This was replaced by SaaS log-ins that stored your serial number, or platforms like Steam and Apple’s App Store, which held your digital asset — except, of course, unless Apple decides it doesn’t have the rights to “Goonies HD” in the store and simply removes your purchase. You bought it? Too bad. Same if the platform was shut down, or if the company decides you somehow violated their 2,000-page terms of service that you agreed with without reading through. The point is, with subscription-based SaaS, you own nothing, even if the solution is deployed on-premise.

Let’s say you’re buying an asset, any digital asset — music, a movie, a license for the software, limited use rights to a photo, whatever. At the moment of purchase, the platform mints a non-fungible token pointing to the original file or download location. The token acts as your proof of purchase. You store the asset locally, most likely accessing it through an app that would use your token to verify ownership (or, for example, if the license period hasn’t ended) whenever you try to interact with it, which would prevent copy-paste distribution and other IP infringements.

With the right design, such a system would even allow the transfer of ownership rights, as long as they are legally baked into the NFT. This way, after enjoying your copy of the “Goonies,” you can gift it to a friend or re-sell it, potentially with a small royalty to be paid either to whoever owns the rights for the movie or to the original seller. The latter, by the way, partially addresses the issue that fueled the shift to SaaS in the first place. Companies don’t want a secondary market because it competes with their sales, but with royalties built into NFTs, they would have a stake in every subsequent re-sale. In other words, each copy of a movie sold becomes a gift that keeps on giving.

Granted, though, the ownership part is what needs more work, especially on the legal front. None of these concepts have been tested, but they need to be, whether by an artist or a collector, just to set the precedent and start charting out a playbook for this terra incognita. Technical expertise and business or legal expertise are not the same thing. Some of us remember the EOS token sale, and how much of the funds raised had to be held until the SEC finished their investigation. Projects talking about their legality and proving their legality in court are two different things.

While the NFTs are not without their flaws, dismissing them as an inherently toxic and fraudulent technology this early into their development is, at best, rushed. Instead, what the field needs are more regulation on the one hand and more entrepreneurship on the other. Art and business walk hand-in-hand these days, and as NFTs mature, their journey from memes to riches will most likely similarly lead them into the corporate world.

Source: Cointelegraph

Retro Tech: Polaroids

Way before cell phone cameras, we took selfies with Polaroids. Marques Brownlee explores how the first Polaroid camera, the Polaroid SX-70, turned us all into amateur photographers and paved the way for our social media-obsessed culture. Fellow YouTube creator and model Karlie Kloss teams up with Marques to make photo filters the retro way — with bleach. And Peter Mckinnon stops by to play “Dope or Nope.”

Sherwin-Williams Fires Ohio University Senior And TikTok Star Tony Piloseno For Filming Paint-Mixing Videos At Work

An Ohio University senior who worked a part-time job at a local Sherwin-Williams store was fired after the company discovered his popular paint-mixing TikTok channel @tonesterpaints, which currently has over 1.2 million followers.

Tony Piloseno said that for months he’d been pointing to his viral account as an example of what Sherwin-Williams could do on social media and by marketing its brand to a younger audience.

But instead it led corporate personnel to investigate his social media account, and they ultimately fired him after determining he was making “these videos during [his] working hours” and with company equipment.

According to termination papers Piloseno provided to BuzzFeed News, the official offense the company handed down to him was “gross misconduct,” which included the offenses of “wasting properties [and] facilities,” and “seriously embarrass[ing] the Company or its products.”

“They first accused me of stealing — I told them I purchased all my paint,” he said. “They made me answer a bunch of questions like when I was doing this, where, if there was anyone in the store while I was doing [filming]. There was never anyone with me while I doing it.”

Source: BuzzFeed News

Ticketmaster To Require Negative COVID-19 Test Result Or Vaccination Verification In Order To Attend Concerts

Many details of the plan, which is still in development phase, will rely on three separate components — the Ticketmaster digital ticket app, third party health information companies like CLEAR Health Pass or IBM’s Digital Health Pass and testing and vaccine distribution providers like Labcorp and the CVS Minute Clinic.

Here’s how it would work, if approved: After purchasing a ticket for a concert, fans would need to verify that they have already been vaccinated (which would provide approximately one year of COVID-19 protection) or test negative for coronavirus approximately 24 to 72 hours prior to the concert. The length of coverage a test would provide would be governed by regional health authorities — if attendees of a Friday night concert had to be tested 48 hours in advance, most could start the testing process the day before the event. If it was a 24-hour window,  most people would likely be tested the same day of the event at a lab or a health clinic.

Once the test was complete, the fan would instruct the lab to deliver the results to their health pass company, like CLEAR or IBM. If the tests were negative, or the fan was vaccinated, the health pass company would verify the attendee’s COVID-19 status to Ticketmaster, which would then issue the fan the credentials needed to access the event. If a fan tested positive or didn’t take a test to verify their status, they would not be granted access to the event. There are still many details to work out, but the goal of the program is for fans to take care of vaccines and testing prior to the concert and not show up hoping to be tested onsite.

Source: Billboard