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Technicolor Heritage Brightens Second-Screen App

There are a lot of tech companies flooding the second screen marketplace, but Burbank startup Magic Ruby thinks the industry has room to grow. The year-old firm was spun off from a division of Technicolor Inc., the industry giant that first brought color to movies. But while the company is in the media industry, Chief Executive Thomas Engdahl sees it as more of a technical venture than an entertainment one. “There are a lot of second-screen companies out there, making the entertainment apps and doing that creative development,” said Engdahl. “Our goal is to not be a second-screen company. What we see as important is bringing e-commerce to the table.” Second-screen applications for smartphone and tablet applications are designed to support primary content on another medium – typically a television set – and have been an increasing focus of television production companies. They might include additional content about a show or its characters, as well as related advertising. Firms such as New York City’s GetGlue, the Yahoo Inc.-owned Palo Alto company IntoNow and TVPlus have a jump start on the industry, which began gathering buzz as early as 2010. But Engdahl said Magic Ruby’s back-end system is different because it focuses primarily on e-commerce and advertising. This includes creating and managing inventory and sales of merchandise affiliated with a show, as well as the ability to host sites. “I would prefer to be the back-end,” he said. “We’d like to be the GoDaddy of second screen.” Take, for example, the “Sons of Anarchy” app, which was one of the first built by the company, and a showcase for its platform. The app sold a variety of themed merchandise. “We had a great experience with them,” Engdahl said. “It was funny, after it started airing, I saw a girl in the supermarket wearing a ‘Sons of Anarchy’ hoodie. I went over and talked to her and she got it through us.” Now, the company is gearing up for a broader launch of its product, and scored a big client to coincide with the marketing campaign. DirectTV Holdings LLC chose Magic Ruby for the second-screen application of its first foray into original programming, the drama “Rogue” that premiered in April. “With that one, they didn’t even have an e-commerce play,” said Engdahl. “So, we went to out and brought it to them.” The cost of Magic Ruby’s services varies anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000, depending on the hosting services and front-end specialization requested, Engdahl said. The firm also takes a cut of the advertising and product sales revenue. Engdahl declined release revenue so far, but noted that with upcoming projects – including a contract to create the second screen for The Hub network’s upcoming version of the popular British children’s show “Wizards vs. Aliens” – the company is doing well. “We’re just really excited to have our infrastructure in place and really get out there. We’re looking at expanding to sports, children’s shows, a lot of places,” he said. Photo Enlargement Glendale software firm Nero Inc. has expanded into the social media photo-sharing business with the launch of its new NeroKwik Tapestries. Designed to work with SugarSync, the photo sharing service akin to Instagram that it rolled out last year, the new app pulls photos from multiple social media accounts, including Facebook and Google Plus. The site also upgrades the photos’ size and prominence based on friend reactions. “It’s hard to find and share photos in the moment when they’re spread across many different mobile devices and online services,” Martin Stein, chief product officer for Nero, said in a statement. “NeroKwik solves this growing problem of photo fragmentation. It brings together all your photos in a consistent, visually appealing interface that makes it easy to see and share the ones that matter the most to you.” There are a wide variety of apps on the market for managing multiple social media accounts, such as Vancouver company HootSuite Media Inc.’s eponymous app, but Tapestries focuses solely on photo aggregation. Nero also launched an upgrade to SugarSync in April, its pay-for-use app that Tapestries is based on. The apps are available for iPhone and Android platforms. Smart House AT&T Inc. has turned a Valley home into a showcase for its new Digital Life service. The West Hills house can now be run almost entirely remotely, using a smartphone, tablet or computer – down to adjusting the air conditioning before heading home. Set up as a demo for the service, the house is part of the Dallas company’s rollout into 15 initial markets, including Los Angeles and Riverside. Using the system, customers can combine features such as motion sensors and 24-hour security monitoring into packages that include the ability to remotely turn on and off appliances. The service starts at $29.99 a month, plus one-time equipment fees, for home monitoring and sensors. Package add-ons include door management to remotely lock or unlock doors, and energy access, which controls appliances. Staff reporter Kelly Goff can be reached at (818) 316-3135 or kgoff@sfvbj.com.

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