Global Smartphone Sales Slow, India and China Still Promising

Research firm Gartner states that global smartphone sales will dip into single digits following a continued slowdown. The company expects sales to grow 7 percent this year, reaching 1.5 billion units, down from 14.4 percent growth in 2015. In the mature markets of North America, Western Europe, Japan and parts of Asia/Pacific, smartphone penetration is now at 90 percent. That, along with consumers in these regions not replacing or upgrading phones as quickly as before, are the root causes of the slowdown. Continue reading Global Smartphone Sales Slow, India and China Still Promising

Latest T-Mobile Promotion Offers Stock Shares to Customers

T-Mobile chief executive John Legere says he will give away a share in the company to every account holder with a voice plan, a deal that’s also good for new customers. Those who have been T-Mobile customers for at least five years will also get two shares for every new customer they refer. T-Mobile says it has more than 30 million postpaid phone customers. The stock is currently trading at $43.07 per share, which would value the promotion at $1.3 billion if every customer takes Legere up on his offer. Continue reading Latest T-Mobile Promotion Offers Stock Shares to Customers

Sprint and Mobilitie Plan to Install Low-Power Cellular Antennas

Sprint is working with Mobilitie, a Newport Beach, California-based company, to install low-power cellular antennas on existing poles in public rights of way (where utility poles, street lamps and fire hydrants are installed) and build new poles where none are available. Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son created this strategy to improve services and keep costs down. Sprint aims to install 70,000 antennas in the public right-of-ways in the coming years. It currently has 40,000 traditional antenna sites, but there are obstacles. Continue reading Sprint and Mobilitie Plan to Install Low-Power Cellular Antennas

AT&T, Otter Media to Unveil Anime-Focused Sub Video Bundle

AT&T and the Chernin Group’s Otter Media joint venture will soon introduce a video subscription bundle for fans of anime, video games, niche action sports and other less traditional content. San Francisco-based Ellation, which owns anime video subscription service Crunchyroll with its 800,00+ paying subscribers, is developing the Otter Media platform. The plan, say sources familiar with the plans, is to combine Crunchyroll with other channels, and sell it as a bundle or a la carte, similar to Amazon’s recent efforts. Continue reading AT&T, Otter Media to Unveil Anime-Focused Sub Video Bundle

Slack Strives to Be Artificial Intelligence-Powered Office Portal

Slack has plans to evolve its workplace app to become the center of the office’s digital environment, connecting a wide variety of third-party business apps, with the ultimate goal of becoming the artificial intelligence-powered portal to the entire workplace. Head of search, learning and intelligence Noah Weiss described those plans for Slack, currently used by three million people every day in the work environment, and added that the company is also evolving its voice capabilities to become more sophisticated. Continue reading Slack Strives to Be Artificial Intelligence-Powered Office Portal

National Science Foundation Funds Stampede Supercomputer

The National Science Foundation just announced grants to build the $30 million Stampede 2 supercomputer which, outfitted with 18 petaflops, will offer twice the power of the Stampede, which debuted in March 2013. Its processing capacity puts it on a par with Cray’s Titan and IBM’s Sequoia (though not as powerful as China’s Tianhe-2). The supercomputer will be available to any researcher with a need for immense processing power, for such applications as atomic and atmospheric simulations. Continue reading National Science Foundation Funds Stampede Supercomputer

Delays in International DVD Releases Lead to Increased Piracy

Carnegie Mellon University’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics released a report that establishes a link between delays in international DVD releases and piracy. Delays hurt aftermarket sales, which often account for the lion’s share of a movie’s revenue, mainly because it opens the door for piracy. Although artificial delays may help movie theaters maximize their revenues, minimizing or eliminating “unneeded delays” is an important consideration, says the report. Continue reading Delays in International DVD Releases Lead to Increased Piracy

Amazon Alexa Skills Grow Ten-Fold via Third Party Developers

Amazon’s Echo, Dot and Tap smart speakers have started to attract the attention of developers interested in adding so-called skills to Alexa, the speakers’ voice-computing platform. Amazon reports that Alexa now has 1,000 skills, an explosion since Alexa’s skills numbered 130 apps in January. Echo debuted last June, when Amazon offered it by invite; now Amazon has brought Alexa to its Fire TV platform and third party hardware manufacturers have also brought Alexa to other connected devices. Continue reading Amazon Alexa Skills Grow Ten-Fold via Third Party Developers

American Airlines Switching to Satellite-Based Wi-Fi via ViaSat

One hundred new American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX planes, slated for delivery in September 2017, will be outfitted with ViaSat’s satellite-powered Wi-Fi, marking the first time that this Carlsbad, California-based company has cracked the market dominated by the Chicago-based Gogo. American Airlines, the world’s largest carrier, is converting much of its fleet from Gogo’s ground-based Wi-Fi to faster satellite-based technology, but will also use Gogo’s new 2Ku satellite service on 134 Airbus Group aircraft. Continue reading American Airlines Switching to Satellite-Based Wi-Fi via ViaSat

Mary Meeker Trends Report Predicts Slow Growth for Internet

The 2016 Internet Trends report, presented by Mary Meeker, general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, states that growth of Internet users worldwide is flat and smartphone growth is slowing. At Recode’s media and tech Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Meeker revealed that the global number of Internet users is about 3 billion, 42 percent of the world’s population. The slowdown, she says is part of a global gross domestic product growth below the 20-year average in six of the last eight years. Continue reading Mary Meeker Trends Report Predicts Slow Growth for Internet

Warner Bros. Digital Networks is the Studio’s Latest OTT Effort

Warner Bros. just opened a new unit, Warner Bros. Digital Networks, to create content for online video entertainment and the cord-cutters who watch it. The studio is the largest U.S. producer and distributor of TV shows, and parent company Time Warner has been making efforts to appeal to consumers who choose not to subscribe to cable services. According to the studio’s statement, the new unit will create new online video channels, expand its current online services, seek strategic alliances and work with Turner and HBO. Continue reading Warner Bros. Digital Networks is the Studio’s Latest OTT Effort

Walmart Evolving its Supply Chain with Uber, Lyft and Drones

Later this month in Denver and Phoenix, Walmart will launch a pilot project, in partnership with Uber and Lyft, to deliver groceries to homes. Other companies that have competed in this area include Instacart, DoorDash, the U.S. Postal Service, Uber and Amazon, all of which vie to establish accounts with retailers and restaurants. Walmart is also testing a delivery service with its warehouse company Sam’s Club in Miami, using startup Deliv, which also handles same-day deliveries for Kohl’s, Macy’s and others. Continue reading Walmart Evolving its Supply Chain with Uber, Lyft and Drones

EU Pushes for U.S. Tech Companies to Invest in Local Content

Against an environment of social anxiety and national pride, Europe has been trying to limit the reach and influence of American tech giants, enacting privacy regulations and launching antitrust investigations. Now, the European Commission is contemplating rules that would require some of these U.S. companies to carry — and even fund — local content in various local markets. That would impact Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO among others, which would be required to allot 20 percent of local content to European-made content. Continue reading EU Pushes for U.S. Tech Companies to Invest in Local Content

Microsoft Pushes Windows 10 as Only ‘Mixed Reality’ Platform

Microsoft is positioning itself as providing, with Windows 10, the only platform for “mixed reality,” which the company describes as “providing devices with the ability to perceive the world, breaking down the barriers between virtual and physical reality.” In a three-minute video, Microsoft shows how it believes various types of augmented reality will be able to interact, using HoloLens headsets, VR helmets and other devices. Microsoft invites its partners to build on the Windows Holographic platform. Continue reading Microsoft Pushes Windows 10 as Only ‘Mixed Reality’ Platform

Google, Facebook Develop Chatbots via Deep Neural Networks

Microsoft, Google and Facebook are all pursuing chatbots, which will function as virtual assistants, answering questions, responding to requests, and anticipating needs. But building functioning chatbots, which are based on artificial intelligence, is harder than it sounds. To further progress, Google open-sourced one of its natural language tools. Although Facebook hasn’t yet open-sourced it, the company introduced DeepText, a natural language engine that it is just beginning to use with its own services. Continue reading Google, Facebook Develop Chatbots via Deep Neural Networks