Netflix Push For Global Expansion Pays Off in Subscriptions

On the heels of its aggressive Q4 move into international regions, Netflix saw an uptick in subscribers totaling 5.12 million abroad and 1.93 million domestically. The numbers beat Wall Street’s expectations and account for Netflix’s biggest quarterly subscription growth in its history. The company is now operating in almost every country and every territory globally. To pump up content, in the coming year, Netflix plans to invest $6 billion in original programming, up from $5 billion last year. Continue reading Netflix Push For Global Expansion Pays Off in Subscriptions

Anime Strike: Amazon’s First Branded Subscription Channel

Amazon is launching Anime Strike, its first on-demand subscription service for Amazon Channels, available in the U.S. to Prime members for $4.99/month. The channel will offer more than 1,000 ad-free series episodes and movies, including same-day-broadcasts from Japanese series including “Scum’s Wish” (“Kuzu no Honkai”) and “Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga” (“Ao No Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen”). Also featured will be older anime titles including “Paprika,” “Tokyo Godfathers” and “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS.” Continue reading Anime Strike: Amazon’s First Branded Subscription Channel

FCC TV Airwaves Auction Reaps Disappointing $18.2 Billion

The Federal Communications Commission’s auction of TV airwaves, nearing its end, has brought in about $18.2 billion in bids. That figure is far less than the last sale of government licenses, due, say analysts, to a lack of interest in low-frequency television airwaves. The spectrum auction enabled TV stations to sell their airwaves, which would be repurposed for use by the mobile industry. But potential buyers are apparently more interested in airwaves that “can carry more data over short distances.” Continue reading FCC TV Airwaves Auction Reaps Disappointing $18.2 Billion

Mossberg Questions the Direction of Streaming TV Services

Streaming TV is now mainstream, with even cable and satellite subscribers paying for services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Television networks also make their fare available for streaming via apps or smart TVs. But the typical streaming service model — whereby the subscriber doesn’t pay for a fat bundle of disparate channels and a DVR — is changing. Dish Network’s Sling TV and AT&T’s DirecTV Now, nominally streaming services, offer bundles of TV networks delivered in a linear fashion, just like cable or satellite. Journalist/author Walt Mossberg is concerned by the change.  Continue reading Mossberg Questions the Direction of Streaming TV Services

IBM, Microsoft Execs Promote the Ethical Development of AI

Many in the artificial intelligence community have called for ethical guidelines for the burgeoning field, and IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty is the latest to add her voice, which she did at the World Economic Forum in Davos. MIT, Harvard and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman have established a $27 million fund to analyze the impact and implications of AI; the IEEE has proposed ethical guidelines; the Obama administration issued a report on AI’s impact on jobs; and Carnegie Mellon studies the future of AI. Continue reading IBM, Microsoft Execs Promote the Ethical Development of AI

Wall Street Adopts Blockchain Technology to Record Trades

The Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC), the “back end” for much of Wall Street trading, is replacing a central database with Bitcoin-inspired software. The New York-based DTCC records and reports almost every stock, bond and valuable derivative trade in the U.S. IBM, already experienced in blockchain technology, is leading the DTCC software transition, which is slated to be functioning by early 2018. The shift marks Wall Street’s most serious effort thus far to adopt Bitcoin’s underlying technology. Continue reading Wall Street Adopts Blockchain Technology to Record Trades

Newly Published Google Overview Spells Out Security Details

In a recently published Infrastructure Security Design Overview, Google explains its six layers of security for the cloud it uses for its own operations and its public cloud services. The company also revealed that it designs custom chips, “including a hardware security chip that is currently being deployed on both servers and peripherals,” that allow it to “securely identify and authenticate legitimate Google devices at the hardware level.” The chip works with cryptographic signatures validated during each boot or update. Continue reading Newly Published Google Overview Spells Out Security Details

Android Creator Andy Rubin to Launch Smartphone This Year

Since leaving Google two years ago, Android operating system creator Andy Rubin has integrated his expertise in software with artificial intelligence to create consumer-facing Essential. The company, which was first registered in California in November 2015, has 40 employees, many from Apple and Google. Essential is first building an upscale smartphone whose large screen has no surrounding bezel. “Tablets, accessories and computer operating software for mobile phones” are also potential future products. Continue reading Android Creator Andy Rubin to Launch Smartphone This Year

Nintendo’s Switch Console to Offer Mobile, TV-Connected Play

Nintendo’s Switch, a $300 tablet with wireless controllers, debuts on March 3, for on-the-go gameplay or connecting to a TV. The platform offers a seamless transition between mobile and docked operation, well-designed hardware, a sleek, refined look, with sensor-packed Joy-Con motion controllers that offer vibration feedback and work as game controllers and Wiimote-like wands. But the platform needs a compelling game to “make us fall in love with flailing our arms around at parties again,” and Super Mario Odyssey might fit the bill. Continue reading Nintendo’s Switch Console to Offer Mobile, TV-Connected Play

Apple Makes an Original Content Play to Beef Up Apple Music

Apple plans to focus on a new business in original TV shows and movies, say sources. The content would be available to subscribers of Apple Music, the company’s $10/month streaming music service, which continues to be an underdog to Spotify. In the wake of slowing iPhone and iPad sales, Apple has been casting about for a new source of revenue; recently, it has been in discussions with Hollywood producers to buy the rights to scripted TV programs and is trying to hire studio/network marketers to promote the content. Continue reading Apple Makes an Original Content Play to Beef Up Apple Music

Eonite Perception Debuts VR Headset with Inside-Out Tracking

Palo Alto-based startup Eonite Perception has developed its Vantage Head Tracker, next-generation VR headset software that uses “inside-out-tracking” technology to track the user’s position and movements without external sensors or cameras. Founded in 2015 by Youssri Helmy, currently the company’s chief executive, and Stanford University computer vision experts Anna Petrovskaya and Peter Varvak, Eonite’s technology is quite different from current VR headsets. Helmy notes that the startup’s tech mimics how human perception works. Continue reading Eonite Perception Debuts VR Headset with Inside-Out Tracking

Google Key Transparency Project to Boost Messaging Security

To improve encryption, Google has launched an open source project, Key Transparency, a follow-up to its Certificate Transparency, both of which focus on the need to verify the authenticity of the person or server the user believes he is connecting to. Keybase, a collection of verified users and their “cryptographic credentials” is one solution, but Google now wants to ascertain that the contacts are verified systematically and are privacy-protected, by having the address “double-check” itself. Continue reading Google Key Transparency Project to Boost Messaging Security

Corporations Are Adopting AI, Startup Debuts AI-Based Video

As artificial intelligence and machine learning become less expensive, their role is taking off in corporate America, and will soon extend from routine tasks to more complex, sophisticated decision-making. The neural network, for example, mimics the operations of the human brain, enabling AI to learn without extensive human intervention. Companies that are moving towards AI include AIG, which has shifted funds that would have gone to outsourced projects to AI, and aims to hire more programmers with AI skills. Continue reading Corporations Are Adopting AI, Startup Debuts AI-Based Video

Facebook Journalism Project Aims to Improve Ties with Media

Facebook’s Journalism Project is creating stronger connections to media companies, the result of the company’s unwelcomed limelight regarding fake news, and founder Mark Zuckerberg’s reluctant admission that the company is, at least in part, a media company. Facebook is also reaching out to support local news and making more efforts to educate users about hoaxes. Facebook plans to offer training for journalists and keep media updated on its efforts. This is the latest chapter in a historically complicated relationship. Continue reading Facebook Journalism Project Aims to Improve Ties with Media

Fiat Chrysler/Waymo Self-Driving Vehicle a Collaborative First

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Google unveiled a self-driving minivan built by Fiat Chrysler and featuring sensors and vision systems from Waymo, the company that spun off from Google parent Alphabet. The van is the first major collaboration between a Detroit car manufacturer and a Silicon Valley behemoth, and is an example of Waymo’s strategy of partnering with automakers that may not want to fully shoulder the financial burden of building a self-driving car from scratch. General Motors and Ford Motor are building their own autonomous cars. Continue reading Fiat Chrysler/Waymo Self-Driving Vehicle a Collaborative First

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