Amazon and Apple Turn Up the Heat in the Audiobook Market

According to the Association of American Publishers, in the first eight months of 2017, based on data from 1,200 publishers, revenue from audiobooks grew 20 percent, compared to print books sales increasing a mere 1.5 percent and e-books losing 5.4 percent. Amazon, which bought Audible in 2008, has been the dominant player, with Audible carving out a unique and profitable portion of the market. But Apple is now attempting to take on its rival with a redesigned iBooks e-book reading application for iPhones and iPads. Continue reading Amazon and Apple Turn Up the Heat in the Audiobook Market

Reviews: Apple HomePod Offers Great Sound But Not Smarts

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker has debuted to mixed reviews. HomePod can stream music directly from Apple Music but no other popular music streaming service such as Spotify or Pandora. It’s equally partisan in that, despite its Bluetooth, users must use Apple’s own AirPlay to stream the music, and Android phones aren’t able to pair with it. The Home app lets users set up and control a variety of HomeKit-compatible smart home devices. The system currently lacks the ability to link HomePods together for a multi-room setup. Continue reading Reviews: Apple HomePod Offers Great Sound But Not Smarts

Intel Reveals First Look at Stylish, Lightweight Smart Glasses

Intel’s Vaunt smart glasses look like ordinary eyeglasses. Unlike past smart glasses, with cameras, LCD screens and other paraphernalia that draw attention, Vaunt is designed to be incognito when the wearer is in public. The “smart” factor means that the user sees a stream of information projected onto her retina. The glasses, which come in several styles, also work with prescriptions. That fulfills the goal of the Intel Vaunt team, which aimed to create a pair of smart glasses comfortable enough to wear all day. Continue reading Intel Reveals First Look at Stylish, Lightweight Smart Glasses

Silicon Valley Takes Closer Look at Downsides of Tech Usage

Silicon Valley tech companies are taking a second, serious look at some of the harm that digital technology can cause. First is the so-called productivity paradox, which reveals that the integrati0n of digital technology in the work place has not resulted in big gains in output per worker, as had been expected. In fact, digital technology can actually be a drag on productivity. The companies are also looking at the harmful impact of digital technology on children, and the potential for addictions. Continue reading Silicon Valley Takes Closer Look at Downsides of Tech Usage

Cryptocurrencies Are Experiencing a Significant Drop in Value

Those who doubted virtual currency have had their worst fears confirmed: cryptocurrency’s value has plummeted 50 percent from its peak in early January, pushing Bitcoin, for example, below $7,000. Among the problems bedeviling virtual currencies are hackers, scams and Ponzi schemes. Now, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission are scheduled to testify to the Senate banking committee about how they have been trying to corral cryptocurrency markets. Continue reading Cryptocurrencies Are Experiencing a Significant Drop in Value

Netflix Debuts ‘Cloverfield Paradox’ as a Super Bowl Surprise

Much to the surprise of viewers watching Super Bowl LII, Netflix debuted a trailer for its much-anticipated sequel to “Cloverfield” and “10 Cloverfield Lane,” titled “The Cloverfield Paradox” — and announced that the movie, produced by J.J. Abrams, would be available to stream as soon as the game ended. During the evening, filmmaker Ava DuVernay tweeted her support for the “woman of color-led, sci-fi thriller released worldwide day + date w/ big Netflix muscle for black director, his super producer + POC cast.” Continue reading Netflix Debuts ‘Cloverfield Paradox’ as a Super Bowl Surprise

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Further Plans to Roll Out 5G Networks

Sprint plans to launch a 5G network by early 2019, joining its competitors in rolling out the new technology and spending $5 billion to $6 billion annually on its network. Verizon and AT&T plan to roll out their 5G networks later this year. Although today’s smartphones can already stream HD video with the current 4G networks, 5G networks will enable other devices and technologies, including autonomous vehicles. Sprint’s parent company, SoftBank Group, also has a significant investment in Uber Technologies. Continue reading AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Further Plans to Roll Out 5G Networks

YouTube Plans to Include Labels for All State-Funded Videos

YouTube, targeting content that promotes conspiracy theories as well as state-sponsored content, says it will begin to label all videos coming from state-funded broadcasters. That may even include the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), but in fact is intended to target such bad actors as RT, the Russian state news organization identified by U.S. intelligence as the Kremlin’s main international propaganda unit. Last year, YouTube reportedly had 5.5 million views across 20 channels of RT content. Continue reading YouTube Plans to Include Labels for All State-Funded Videos

Alphabet, Amazon and Apple Post Record-Breaking Quarters

Alphabet, Amazon and Apple recorded glowing quarterly financial results for Q4 2017, for a combined market value of over $2 trillion. Apple’s revenue rose 13 percent to $88.29 billion, in part due to the iPhone X. Alphabet marked its 32nd consecutive quarter of revenue growth of 20 percent or more, and a 38 percent increase in revenue to $60.5 billion, with $1 billion per quarter profit in cloud computing. Amazon built beyond its core market, with the largest cloud-computing business, a Hollywood studio and the purchase of Whole Foods. Continue reading Alphabet, Amazon and Apple Post Record-Breaking Quarters

Lionsgate, Parques Reunidos Team on Madrid, NYC Ventures

In 2020, residents of Madrid, Spain and tourists to that city will be able to visit the Lionsgate Entertainment City at the Estación de Príncipe Pío to experience the worlds of “The Hunger Games” and the “Divergent” series and dine in a restaurant/lounge redolent of “Mad Men.” This center be the first Lionsgate-branded indoor attraction in Europe, and will follow on the heels of the 2019 launch of its NYC-based Times Square Entertainment City, also in partnership with international entertainment operator Parques Reunidos. Continue reading Lionsgate, Parques Reunidos Team on Madrid, NYC Ventures

Alphabet, Uber and Lyft Take Actions to Promote Smart Cities

In October 2017, Alphabet debuted a partnership with Toronto to further the goals of a smart city. Dubbed Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet plans to observe and measure how people live, to optimize city streets. To that end, Alphabet just launched another venture under the Sidewalk Labs rubric, Coord, intended to utilize the company’s cloud-based platform to streamline transportation networks. Separately, ride-sharing competitors Uber and Lyft, with 13 other companies, signed a shared “mobility pledge” to enable more livable cities. Continue reading Alphabet, Uber and Lyft Take Actions to Promote Smart Cities

End of an Era: Fujifilm to Acquire Photocopying Pioneer Xerox

After 115 years, Xerox has ceased operation as an independent company, agreeing to sell more than 50 percent of its business to Fujifilm Holdings in a $6.1 billion deal that will include restructuring and job cuts. In its heyday, Xerox introduced the first copying machine, and its Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) refined the computer mouse and graphical-user interface and built the Alto, a prototype personal computer that sold 1,000 units. Over the years, Xerox lost its innovation mojo and joined the ranks of Kodak and BlackBerry, two other companies that introduced groundbreaking technologies. Continue reading End of an Era: Fujifilm to Acquire Photocopying Pioneer Xerox

Facebook Profit Jumps, Investors Wary of News Feed Tweaks

Since Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg tweaked the social platform’s algorithm so that people see more content from family and friends than publishers in their News Feed, investors have been concerned that users won’t spend as much time on the platform and discourage marketers from placing ads. Facebook is now making the argument that the changes will actually benefit business, with the time people spend on the platform becoming more valuable. Its case is buttressed by a recent jump in revenue and profits. Continue reading Facebook Profit Jumps, Investors Wary of News Feed Tweaks

Nintendo’s Profits Jump With Strong Sales of Switch Consoles

Nintendo enjoyed a significant jump in profit with strong sales of its Switch console, unveiled on March 3, and affiliated software. The company, based in Kyoto, reports it sold 7.24 million Switch units in Q4 2017, bringing total sales since its debut to 14.86 million. One reason for the leap was that Nintendo ensured that stores had plenty of Switch consoles to sell over the holiday shopping season, following shortages during the summer. But, says the company, demand still outstrips supply. Continue reading Nintendo’s Profits Jump With Strong Sales of Switch Consoles

Google Inks $1.1B Deal with HTC to Design, Produce Hardware

Google is stepping up its competition with Apple in the smartphone market. The company inked a $1.1 billion deal with Taiwan-based HTC, which added more than 2,000 smartphone specialists. Google will now be able to design more of its own hardware and may position itself to manufacture more custom silicon chips. Up until now, Google has focused on software, and purchased hardware from Samsung Electronics and HTC. Newly added HTC staff will help Google control more of the design and production. Continue reading Google Inks $1.1B Deal with HTC to Design, Produce Hardware

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