Yesterday, two major brands in audio had competing product debuts on separate coasts. In Cupertino, California, Apple debuted the second generation of the AirPods Pro. In New York City, Bose debuted its new QuietComfort EarBuds 2. And in the tale of two headphones, the latter is focused on being music-first rather than being distracted by also making other types of tech.
“When you look at the landscape, you have these incredible tech giants that are out there that are making TVs and laptops and phones and TV shows and music platforms and ad networks,” Bose Chief Marketing Officer Jim Mollica told Digiday. “We only create products and experiences for music.”
Mollica never mentioned Apple by name, but in an interview yesterday afternoon, he said the company has created a new platform for marketing the EarBuds II that aims to highlight the various ways music is integrated into people’s lives.
While paid advertising still has its purpose throughout marketing, it cannot be the primary element of what you do, and how you communicate and engage consumers.
Jim Mollica, CMO, Bose
This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.
When you talk about having a new brand platform, what does that entail?
While paid advertising still has its purpose throughout marketing, it cannot be the primary element of what you do, and how you communicate and engage consumers. We can all skip ads. You’re streaming, you’re DVRing — you’re skipping ads online, blocking them, with all of those other elements. That all leads to a much more difficult environment in which to connect so you need to find different, more authentic and organic ways to connect.
Many advertisers have had issues reaching audiences because of changes made by Apple and various new data privacy laws. Has that been a challenge for Bose, and is some of the content strategy been to compensate for that?
I look at this as more of like a publisher, and the filter with which we’re using for this is around music, and people that love music and sound. Last year, we had a campaign that we launched and there were probably 50 different segments that were behavioral and psychographic attached to it as opposed to traditional demos. And that’s really looking at people, what they think and how they behave. Those content tracks are helping to feed content that will be very different for you and different for me.
It’s a lot of work creating those types of content. We created a studio, partly internally, partly with some production companies different than agencies that were churning out probably 250 different pieces of content a week. That’s a different kind of model. It doesn’t mean everything’s going to get the polish of an above-the-line TV spot, but it can perform incredibly well for different audiences.
How much is paid media versus organic and how has ad spending evolved with various products and amid shifts in the economic outlook?
You want to have some level of consistent [ad] spend over a period of time. When you take long lulls — or even medium lulls — to get back to a relevant point takes a lot longer. And for a period of time, Bose had underspent in certain markets and you’re going to see us start to come into these markets in a stronger fashion. So we will have the biggest media push that we’ve had in a very long time with this latest campaign. That’s sort of an overarching presence.
From my standpoint, if you’re going to make the content, you have to put pay dollars behind it to get it to be seen…As we move into this campaign and future campaigns, it’s really around where sound is important and where we can have outsized influence or cultural moments. You’re gonna see us have big content creations and spends around the start of the NFL season, music sports around certain athletes. If it draws big audiences, there’s a big connective tissue there.
How have your findings about marketing insights informed Bose’s product development strategy?
We were looking at the role that music played in people’s lives — how it showed up on a daily basis and so we created all of these listening moments that happen — and we started to see the types of products that people use for these different moments. It started to show where there were opportunities. For example, as portable speakers — Bluetooth speakers — what we realized is that the amount of time that people actually use them for going out to a location like a park or a beach, and putting that speaker down and having a party or gathering with friends and family is very, very rare. However, it becomes a massive aspirational use case for that, and people actually buy the product with that in mind. So you start to think about how that product is used, how portable it is and what types of features it has for that moment. That goes into product development. It also changes the way that we started creating content.
Lifestyle and music — just like Fashion Week, just like art— are intertwined.
A lot of the competition in the audio hardware space seems to be focused on lifestyle marketing. Are you looking to expand beyond core audiophiles?
I don’t think you can separate lifestyle from music. Lifestyle and music — just like Fashion Week, just like art— are intertwined. It’s very hard to say that you’re going to separate this, because music drives culture. Music is defined by culture. Music is created by what’s happening in that moment. They call them artists for a reason; They’re creating this craft. That element of lifestyle and providing people with inspiration and a soundtrack to do extraordinary things…That’s why you’ll see us combine our content creation with interesting artists, interesting athletes, interesting entrepreneurs, and interesting chefs. This expands.
With everyone focused on video, it seems like maybe there’s a white space for audio.
It’s funny you say that, because you have YouTube music, which is still video-focused and audio is just with an overlay, right? You have Tidal, which may get a larger audience, ultimately, because of the focus on sound quality there. You’re going to see as technology improves that sound quality will explode and then at some point, there will be room for more personal curation from people, tastemakers and individuals as opposed to just [artificial intelligence]…The audiences will only start to continue to grow as you see this renaissance of audio continue to swell.
One of the most irritating (and slightly painful) parts of joining a Microsoft Teams call could soon be fixed by a new update.
The video conferencing service is a popular choice for many companies, meaning calls with large numbers of participants joining at the same time, and from the same location (such as a meeting room) are a common occurrence.
However, often when multiple people join a meeting in the same room, a feedback loop is created, which causes echo, which in most cases quickly escalates to howling – with Microsoft likening the noise to when a musician holds the mic too close to a loudspeaker.
Fortunately, a new fix is coming for Microsoft Teams users. In its entry in the official Microsoft 365 roadmap (opens in new tab), the new “Ultrasound Howling Detection” describes how it aims to prevent this noise for users on Windows and Mac across the world.
Microsoft says that the update should mean if multiple users on laptops join from the same location, it will share with the user that another Teams Device is detected in their vicinity and is already joined with audio to the current meeting.
If a user has already joined with their audio on, Microsoft Teams will automatically mute the mic and speakers of any new the person who then joins the call, hopefully putting an end to the howling and screeching feedback.
Thankfully, the update is already listed as being in development, with an expected general availability date of March 2023, so users shouldn’t have to wait too long to enjoy.
The new updates are the result of using a machine learning model trained on 30,000 hours of speech samples, and include echo cancellation, better adjusting audio in poor acoustic environments, and allowing users to speak and hear at the same time without interruptions.
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Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK’s leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he’s not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods lands in theaters on March 17. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)
The final trailer for Shazam! Fury of the Gods has debuted online – and it looks even more charming, funnier, frenetic, and darker than its predecessor.
Shazam’s sequel flick arrives in theaters worldwide on March 17, so it’s about time we were given another look at the forthcoming DC Extended Universe movie (read our DC movies in order guide to find out where it’ll fit in that timeline). Luckily, Warner Bros. has duly obliged. Check it out below:
Okay, there’s some messy CGI and a slightly corny vibe about Shazam 2. But hey, the first problem can be ironed out before the superhero film takes flight, while the latter is part of what makes this movie series spellbinding (see what we did there?).
But we digress – you’re here because you want to find out what you missed from Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ new trailer. Below, we’ve pointed out six things you might have overlooked. So, what are you waiting for? Shout “Shazam!” and let’s dive in.
1. Who are the Daughters of Atlas?
For a film centered around Shazam, we don’t actually see the titular superhero appear in the official trailer for the first 20 seconds.
Instead, we get another glimpse at Fury of the Gods‘ villains, aka the Daughters of Atlas. The powerful trio comprises the power-hungry Hespera (Helen Millen), dragon-riding Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Athena (Rachel Zegler), the latter of whom seems particularly torn about how the sisters are going about their business.
So, why are they gunning for Shazam and his superpowered foster siblings? Essentially, when Billy Batson was gifted his abilities by Djimon Hounsou’s wizard in the film film (available now on HBO Max), one of those powers was the Stamina of Atlas. The Daughters of Atlas aren’t too happy about their father’s ability being passed down to a child, so they want to take back what is theirs – and they’ll do it so by any means necessary.
2. Mythological monsters
Shazam’s first DCEU outing featured some horror-imbued creatures in the form of the Seven Deadly Sins. How, then, do you go about topping (or, at the very least) matching what came before? Throw in a bunch of myth-based monsters, of course.
Kalypso’s imposing dragon is the most notable inclusion. It feature prominently throughout the trailer, and we even get an amusing Game of Thrones reference from Shazam – “Hey, Khaleesi!” – in the movie. Hey, Warner Bros. loves to mention its suite of IPs in as many of its films as possible.
But Kalypso’s wyvern isn’t the only fairy-tale-based beast we see. Minotaurs, griffons, and demonic unicorns are just three of the other monsters who’ll turn up in Fury of the Gods. Basically, don’t expect this to be an easy fight for Shazam and company to save the world.
3. You can’t get the staff these days
Saving earth from a new titanic threat will be even harder when Shazam’s adoptive family are stripped of their powers, too. And it seems that the staff, which was wielded by Hounsou’s wizard in the first movie, is the key to giving and taking those abilities away.
In 2019’s Shazam!, the titular hero gave powers to his foster siblings to help him combat the Seven Deadly Sins and Doctor Sivana. They’ve still got those power in Fury of the Gods, too, but they won’t have them for long, based by what the trailer suggests.
The footage shows Freddy Freeman and Mary Bromfield being drained of their abilities by the Daughters of Atlas at various points. The trio are using the wizard’s staff to rob the teens of their powers, so it’s clearly of major importance to the movie’s main players.
Later, we see Shazam wielding it – not before he asks the wizard to take his powers back, mind you, when he becomes convinced he can’t defeat the Daughters of Atlas. Anyway, Shazam’s brandishing of the staff suggests he needs it to boost his own abilities if he’s going to defeat the movie’s antagonists and give his siblings their powers back. Expect the staff to play a vital role in Fury of the Gods‘ plot, then.
4. Prison break
In order to get the wizard’s staff, it seems the Daughters of Atlas go after Hounsou’s magic wielder to obtain it.
We see Hounsou’s character imprisoned at various points, including a shot of Hespera chastising him for giving the power of the gods to Billy, Freddy, and company. “You ripped it from our father’s core,” she tells him, which implies Hounsou’s wizard might not be as mighty and heroic as we were led to believe.
Anyway, Hounsou’s wizard interacts with Shazam later in the trailer, so he clearly escapes captivity. Whether he does so alone, or he enlists Shazam’s help – does that magic-infused dust, which he sends through his prison cell window, have something to do with it? – is unclear. Regardless, we’ll see Hounsou’s character break out at some stage.
5. Is that you, Doctor Strange?
Remember when we said Zegler’s Athena doesn’t seem as keen to destroy earth as her sisters? That’s because, at the 1: 14 mark, we see her use her powers with a uncertain look on her face. You wouldn’t look like that if you were convinced you were doing the right thing, would you?
Based on the fact she’s pushed away by Kalypso (using the staff no less), seconds later, it seems she’ll be swapping sides at some stage.
Interestingly, it seems the wizard’s staff can do more than give or take a person’s powers away. One perceived ability certainly has an air of the Doctor Strange/Marvel-based mystic arts about them. Just look at the Escher-style nature of how the scenery bends and folds in on itself when Athena is pushed back, and when Shazam evades numerous buildings at the 1: 44 mark. We’d be very surprised if DC and Warner Bros. didn’t take a leaf out of the MCU’s book with such an aesthetic.
6. Light the way
Shazam and his fellow superheroes get a costume upgrade in Fury of the Gods. The group’s threads are more streamlined and less plastic-looking this time around, which is pleasing to see.
Fans had been worried, though, that these suits wouldn’t feature one of the first movie’s most underrated (if somewhat tacky) aspects: the glowing lightning bolt on Shazam’s chest. Shazam’s costume in the 2019 movie was manufactured in a way that allowed the bolt to physically light up, avoiding the problem of having to add awkward lighting effects during the post-production phase.
Thankfully, Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ official trailer confirms that Shazam’s lightning bolt will glow. However, given the sleeker look of the costumes this time around, it appears that the illumination effect has been added in post. Regardless of how it’s been implemented, we’re just glad it’s a feature that’s been retained.
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Jokes aside about Chrome’s incognito mode, the ability to open a private tab for sensitive browsing is incredibly useful. You can perform searches that you want to keep from affecting your recommendations or appearing in your search history—which applies as much to tax information and medical questions as anything more scintillating.
And now on all phones and tablets, you can protect your incognito tabs from prying eyes by locking them down. A quick tweak to Chrome settings on iOS and Android makes biometric or PIN authentication required to view your private tabs whenever you leave the app and then return. It’s an extra layer of protection for when you forget to close a tab when you’re done—easy to do if you’re constantly hopping between apps. No need to worry about banking info sitting unguarded, for example.
Trying to feature out for yourself is easy. If it’s rolled out to your Android device (or if you’re only now trying it on your iPhone or iPad), just tap on the three dot menu in Chrome, then Privacy and Security. Toggle on Lock Incognito Tabs When You Close Chrome. Now when you switch away from Chrome and then come back, you’ll have to pass an authentication check before you can see and interact with those private tabs again.
For folks who use incognito tabs more on mobile than dedicated apps, this feature is a very welcome addition—and one I hope to see come to desktop computers next. I leave my incognito windows open on PC for long stretches way more often than on a phone or tablet. I haven’t yet met a browser window stuffed with tabs that I didn’t like to keep around. And sometimes I’m reading up on something I don’t want roommates to know about; other times, I have private correspondence I’m working on that I really don’t want to be seen.
I can always lock my PC, but I occasionally forget to slam my fingers on Win + L before dashing off to deal with an overflowing pot or vomiting cat. The best alternative is setting up Dynamic Lock in Windows, but that only works if you move far enough away from your computer to trigger the auto-lock. It unfortunately doesn’t prevent someone also in your kitchen from wandering by your screen and teasing you about your recent discovery of r/illegallysmolcats. Ask me how I know.
Alaina Yee is PCWorld’s resident bargain hunter—when she’s not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she’s scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.