Two Industry Trade Groups Issue Proposals for Data Privacy

As Congress considers how to regulate technology companies’ handling of personal data, the Internet Association, whose members include Google and Facebook, and BSA/The Software Alliance, which represents Microsoft and Oracle, issued their own proposals. Among the six principles that the Internet Association endorsed is data portability, which allows consumers to take their personal information from one service to another that provides a similar service. BSA/The Software Alliance issued a 10-point framework. Continue reading Two Industry Trade Groups Issue Proposals for Data Privacy

European Parliament Advances Copyright Bill Despite Critics

The European Parliament adopted a draft copyright bill to require tech platforms to pay more for music and news produced by media companies. If the law passes, EU countries will have two years to comply. Tech companies continue to fight against the bill’s final adoption; EDiMA, a trade group representing Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google among others, stated that the EU “decided to support the filtering of the Internet to the benefit of big businesses in the music and publishing industries despite huge public outcry.” Continue reading European Parliament Advances Copyright Bill Despite Critics

Inside The New Yorker Profile on Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg

The New Yorker posted a profile of Facebook founder/chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on its website, a week ahead of its September 17 print publication. The article, by New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos asks if Facebook will “break democracy.” The profile describes Zuckerberg as someone who makes a distinction between feeling an emotion and acting on it through his business. He also states his opposition to government regulations, stressing that breaking Facebook into smaller companies would be a huge mistake. Continue reading Inside The New Yorker Profile on Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg

Cryptocurrency Industry Sets Up Washington Lobbying Group

Several cryptocurrency companies and their advocates have formed the Blockchain Association, the first-ever Washington, DC-based lobbying group to represent the fledgling industry and its investors and entrepreneurs. Among the companies behind the association are Coinbase, Circle and technology startup Protocol Labs, as well as investors Digital Currency Group and Polychain Capital. Kristin Smith, who lobbied on blockchain for Overstock.com when it began accepting bitcoin in 2014, will lead the group. Continue reading Cryptocurrency Industry Sets Up Washington Lobbying Group

Verizon Plans to Debut 5G Services in Four Cities Next Month

On October 1, Verizon Communications will roll out a 5G package to residential customers in four cities: Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento. Signups for the service begin this week. The new 5G service relies on millimeter waves, higher-frequency spectrum that can carry more data but can’t travel as far or penetrate many hard materials. Verizon’s new chief executive Hans Vestberg pointed to 5G’s network reliability, low latency, energy efficiency, service deployment time and speedier connection to the Internet. Continue reading Verizon Plans to Debut 5G Services in Four Cities Next Month

Facebook Adds 24 Languages to Rosetta Translation Feature

Facebook’s Rosetta is a machine learning system that extracts text in many languages from over one billion images in a real time. Facebook built its own optical character recognition system that can process such huge amount of content, day in and day out. In a recent blog post, Facebook explained how Rosetta works, using a convolutional neural network to recognize and transcribe text, even non-Latin alphabets and non-English words. The system was trained with a mix of human- and machine-annotated public images. Continue reading Facebook Adds 24 Languages to Rosetta Translation Feature

Mattel Launches a New Film Division to Help Revitalize Sales

Toy maker Mattel just opened a new division, Mattel Films, to develop and produce movies based on its brands and headed up by Academy Award-nominated producer Robbie Brenner. Known for her work on “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Mirror Mirror” and “The Fighter,” Brenner will report directly to Mattel chief executive/chair Ynon Kreiz, a media and entertainment veteran, who has worked on children’s content. The new division could help bolster Mattel, which has seen slumping sales since the shuttering of Toys R Us. Continue reading Mattel Launches a New Film Division to Help Revitalize Sales

Facebook Boosts Instant Experience Ads, Updates Ad Metrics

Facebook is rebranded its mobile Canvas ads as full-screen, rich media Instant Experience ads, saying it will offer “new ways for businesses to understand their customer’s progression from seeing an Instant Experience to completing a purchase.” Instant Experience ads come with an Instant Form template making it easy for a visitor engaged with the ad to submit contact information. Other existing templates include Instant Storefront, Instant Lookbook, Instant Customer Acquisition and Instant Storytelling. Continue reading Facebook Boosts Instant Experience Ads, Updates Ad Metrics

Amazon Grows its Ad Business With Sponsored Product Ads

To grow its advertising business, Amazon is now more aggressive with sponsored product ads, first launched in 2012. A product search will first show sponsored ads, taking up the whole screen above the fold (everything seen before the user scrolls) or, in the case of a mobile phone, the entire first screen. Those sponsored ads are followed by an ad for Amazon’s 365 Everyday Value brand, part of its Whole Foods purchase. The user has to scroll down halfway on the next browser page to find organic search results. Continue reading Amazon Grows its Ad Business With Sponsored Product Ads

Cord-Cutters Are Driving Sales of OTA Antennas for Live TV

The Consumer Technology Association released research suggesting that, in 2018, about 8.1 million Americans will buy TV antennas, up from just under 8 million for the past several years. CTA senior vice president of research and standards Brian Markwalter believes that the uptick in sales of home antennas is due to more cable subscribers cutting the cord. CTA research found that 20 percent of consumers say they watch over-the-air (OTA) TV via an antenna; NAB stated that more than 72 percent of Americans rely on an antenna for OTA. Continue reading Cord-Cutters Are Driving Sales of OTA Antennas for Live TV

Facebook Is Developing Multiplayer AR Games for Messenger

Facebook is moving into augmented reality multiplayer games on Messenger, and some journalists have had a chance to visit the company’s Real Time Communication team in Seattle and experience these unreleased AR games firsthand. Messenger already has 1.3 billion monthly active users, making it the second most used messaging service after WhatsApp, with 1.5 billion users. Facebook owns both apps. One AR game, to be released before year’s end, is “Kitten Craze,” which lets up to six Messenger players dodge flying felines. Continue reading Facebook Is Developing Multiplayer AR Games for Messenger

Apple Reportedly Pitching its Texture Service to Newspapers

In March, Apple purchased digital magazine service Texture, described as a Netflix for magazines, which lets subscribers read as many stories as they want from dozens of magazines for $10 per month. Now, according to sources, Apple — led by senior vice president of Internet software and services Eddy Cue — wants to add daily news and is in talks with The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post about adding their stories to the app. The move is part of Apple’s increased interest in content. Continue reading Apple Reportedly Pitching its Texture Service to Newspapers

Apple Could Push Wearables, EU Okays Shazam Acquisition

Apple, which has evolved from a PC company to an iPhone company, is searching for its “next big thing.” One WSJ journalist believes a clue to what it might be came from chief executive Tim Cook’s revelation that the Apple Watch and AirPods generated $10 billion in revenue over the last four quarters. The company’s wearables sales are growing, even as smartphone and PC sales level off, and IDC said Apple is the wearables market leader, with 17 percent of the global market. Meanwhile, the European Union has approved Apple’s purchase of Shazam, which should fortify the company’s music ambitions. Continue reading Apple Could Push Wearables, EU Okays Shazam Acquisition

Spotify Licensing Deals Could Have Impact on Music Industry

Stockholm-based Spotify is making a move that could challenge traditional royalty models and the major record labels that have long led the music industry. Spotify has struck licensing deals directly with a handful of independent artists over the last year, giving the artists a larger monetary cut and ownership of their recordings. The financial details include advance payments of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to sources, considered “modest” in the music industry. Spotify has released few details about the deals. Continue reading Spotify Licensing Deals Could Have Impact on Music Industry

Snap Refocuses With Debut of Stylish Next-Gen Spectacles

Snap has unveiled two new versions of Spectacles 2 — the Veronica (for women) and the Nico (for men) — that incorporate all the features of the company’s second generation Spectacles, but tout a sleeker, more stylish design and cost $200, versus $150 for the previous version. Many of Snapchat’s core demographic has left for Instagram, and critics question why Snap is still making hardware. When Spectacles initially debuted in 2016, Snap created hype by selling them out of pop-up vending machines. A few months later, the company was stuck with $40 million worth of unsold glasses. Continue reading Snap Refocuses With Debut of Stylish Next-Gen Spectacles

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