Netflix Deletes All Customer Reviews Based on Declining Use

After last month’s announcement, Netflix began to remove all customer reviews of TV shows, movies and other programming from its site, saying it was due to “declining use.” Although Netflix did allow customers to post new reviews until July 30, the company said it will have erased more than ten years’ worth of reviews by mid-August. Netflix removed the five-star rating system a year ago. Rival services Amazon, Apple’s iTunes and App Store, Google Play and Rotten Tomatoes still display user reviews and ratings. Continue reading Netflix Deletes All Customer Reviews Based on Declining Use

Amazon Promotes Music Services to Pair With Echo Speakers

Amazon is readying its first national campaign for Amazon Music with a push via television, online video, radio and billboards in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. The campaign for its streaming service will feature songs from Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar and Queen. With the popularity of Echo and Alexa, Amazon is now paying more attention to its music service, which helps differentiate it from rivals, according to Amazon Music vice president Steve Boom. Apple and Google also offer smart speakers and streaming music services. Continue reading Amazon Promotes Music Services to Pair With Echo Speakers

In Taiwan, CE Firms Devise Contingency Plans for Trade War

Taiwan plays an important role in the global technology supply chain, assembling devices from smartphones to computers. Now, as tensions rise between China and the U.S., some of the largest Taiwan-based companies are figuring out ways to avoid the worst depredations of the trade war. Foxconn Technology Group chairman Terry Gou took the first step, by opening a $10 billion display plant in the U.S., and now the chief executives of Pegatron and Inventec are revealing details of their own plans. Continue reading In Taiwan, CE Firms Devise Contingency Plans for Trade War

Microtargeting Is Under the Microscope for Weaponizing Ads

The U.K.’s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising called for a moratorium on political microtargeting, deeming it “weaponized ad technology.” That’s the practice whereby brands and advertisers can select who gets a Facebook ad based on specific data including location, interests and even political opinions. Now, in the U.S. and Europe, advertising executives, researchers and government officials are scrutinizing the practice, saying it can be used to manipulate voters and polarize the electorate. Continue reading Microtargeting Is Under the Microscope for Weaponizing Ads

Tidal Streaming Music Service Accused of Falsifying Streams

Jay-Z’s streaming music service Tidal was accused by Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) of data manipulation, claiming the company faked many millions of streams for Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo” albums. That’s considered fraud since labels and rights holders are paid based on the number of streams. Tidal denies the charges but investigators are reportedly looking into the possibility of a data breach. Continue reading Tidal Streaming Music Service Accused of Falsifying Streams

Amazon’s Twitch Inks Live-Streaming Deals to Rival YouTube

Amazon is boosting content on Twitch by inking exclusive live-streaming deals with media companies and influencers, to better compete with its rival, YouTube. According to sources, Twitch now offers minimum guarantees of up to “a few million dollars a year” plus a piece of future advertising sales and subscription revenue. In return, Amazon demands a minimum number of live-streaming hours per week. Among the deals signed is one with prankster Tanner Braungardt, who has 4 million YouTube subscribers. Continue reading Amazon’s Twitch Inks Live-Streaming Deals to Rival YouTube

Amazon, Microsoft Introduce Integration of Alexa and Cortana

Amazon and Microsoft gave a public demonstration of the integration of Alexa and Cortana into all Echo speakers and to all Windows 10 users. That means that a user can ask Windows 10’s Cortana to open Alexa, and ask Alexa on Echo speakers to open Cortana. This integration is now available to most users but will completely roll out around the country over the next week, said a Microsoft spokesperson. Some features, such as streaming music, audiobooks and news flashes will not be available at launch. Continue reading Amazon, Microsoft Introduce Integration of Alexa and Cortana

Public Radio Distributors to Merge in Push for More Podcasts

PRX and PRI, two of the four U.S. national distributors of programming for public radio stations, are merging to gain more leverage in the podcast/other digital formats marketplace. National Public Radio and American Public Media, the other two distributors, are much larger. PRI (Public Radio International), founded in 1983, produces programs such as “The World” and “The Takeaway” for 700 public radio stations. PRX (Public Radio Exchange) started in audio distribution but now focuses on podcasts. Continue reading Public Radio Distributors to Merge in Push for More Podcasts

Facebook in Pursuit of Interactive Video With Vidspresso Deal

Facebook struck a deal with Utah-based Vidpresso to acquire its technology and absorb its seven-person team, without actually buying the company. Vidpresso’s website says that the new partnership will help put its tools in the hands of creators. Founded in 2012 to “make video more like HTML,” Vidpresso allows publishers to incorporate interactive graphics and superimposed captions to encourage viewers to respond to polls or ask questions. BuzzFeed, Nasdaq, NBC, TED, Turner Sports and Univision are among its customers. Continue reading Facebook in Pursuit of Interactive Video With Vidspresso Deal

President Bans Government Use of Huawei, ZTE Components

As part of the Defense Authorization Act, President Trump banned the use of Huawei and ZTE technology by the U.S. government and its contractors. Many Republicans regard the two Chinese companies as national security threats, which led to the passage of a Senate amendment in June to reinstate a trade ban on ZTE, which would have had the impact of shutting that company down. Trump worked to lift the ZTE ban, and the House did not sign off, setting off questions as to whether the two chambers would find a compromise. Continue reading President Bans Government Use of Huawei, ZTE Components

Tencent Plans to Dominate eSports by Owning the Ecosystem

Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings is focused on eSports, hosting arena competitions that could boost revenue from its games such as “League of Legends,” importing game titles from abroad, and purchasing the services that stream the games. The company, well known for its WeChat messaging app, is already the world’s largest videogame company by revenue. According to analysts, Tencent dominates China’s $38 billion game market, and recorded an estimated $18 billion in global sales in 2017, about half its total revenue. Continue reading Tencent Plans to Dominate eSports by Owning the Ecosystem

Nvidia Quadro RTx Chips Offer AI and Real-Time Ray Tracing

Nvidia unveiled new Turing architecture during a keynote at SIGGRAPH 2018 as well as three new Quadro RTx workstation graphics cards aimed at professionals. Nvidia dubs the Turing architecture as its “greatest leap since the invention of the CUDA GPU in 2006.” The RTx chips are the first to use the company’s ray tracing rendering method, which results in more realistic imagery. Also at SIGGRAPH, Porsche showed off car designs accomplished with Epic Games’ Unreal engine and Nvidia’s RTx chips. Continue reading Nvidia Quadro RTx Chips Offer AI and Real-Time Ray Tracing

India Drafts Regulations to Protect Domestic Tech Companies

Although India is one of the world’s biggest, largely untapped open markets, the government there is attempting to control the influence of such U.S. tech companies as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and others. Mimicking China’s regulations to control and protect its population’s data and domestic startups, Indian lawmakers are proposing regulations that are worrying to U.S. tech behemoths that have been eyeing the country — and creating plans to enter it — as a potential source of billion-dollar profits. Continue reading India Drafts Regulations to Protect Domestic Tech Companies

Consolidation Is Reducing the Number of Indie Ad Tech Firms

As Google and Facebook lock up their dominance over advertising dollars, smaller ad tech companies are withering. In 2015, according to CB Insights, venture capital financing for these smaller companies peaked at $2.92 billion. This year, the total dollars going to these firms is slated to be half of that number. As a result, the number of smaller independent firms is diminishing, plummeting 21 percent since 2013. LUMA Partners reported that, by Q2 2018, there were only 185 such companies left. Continue reading Consolidation Is Reducing the Number of Indie Ad Tech Firms

Sony Mirrorless Camera Lays Down Gauntlet for Canon, Nikon

Sony’s Alpha a7R III camera features a mirrorless design that allows photographers to take beautifully focused images of fast-moving objects. That’s a big contrast from the mirror-and-prism systems that have dominated cameras such as DSLRs (digital single-lens reflex). Mirrorless systems grab light much faster and use software to keep the images in focus. Professional photographers such as Kenneth Jarecke, who shot images during the Gulf War, are quickly becoming early adopters of the new camera. Continue reading Sony Mirrorless Camera Lays Down Gauntlet for Canon, Nikon

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