Walmart Expands Offerings in Growing Rivalry With Amazon

To better compete with Amazon, Walmart is reinventing itself from a big box retailer into a tech powerhouse, starting with the 2016 purchase of Jet.com. Other recent deals in this vein include a partnership with Alphabet’s Waymo to provide rides to and from its stores; Uber, Lyft and Postmates deals for grocery delivery; and another with Japan’s Rakuten for Kobo e-readers. Last month, Walmart switched its cloud operations to Microsoft Azure and Office 365 and inked a five-year deal to work with Microsoft on AI projects. Continue reading Walmart Expands Offerings in Growing Rivalry With Amazon

Tech Firms Working With Feds to Create Privacy Legislation

After years of fending off federal attempts to regulate handling of private data, some tech companies are now working with policy makers to create federal privacy laws. The Information Technology Industry Council, which represents Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and Salesforce, hopes that federal legislation would preempt state regulations, such as the strict online privacy laws recently adopted by California, and create a single regulation rather than a confusing array of multiple state laws. Continue reading Tech Firms Working With Feds to Create Privacy Legislation

Apple Is First U.S. Firm to Surpass $1 Trillion in Market Value

Although Q3 is typically Apple’s weakest quarter, the company revealed stellar revenue, proof of its success in finding ways to grow in a diminished global smartphone market. Chief executive Tim Cook said the company is reaching into emerging markets and expanding its services business, to achieve “strong double-digit growth in revenue.” According to Apple finance chief Luca Maestri, demand for the iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus have been steady. On Tuesday, Apple’s market value hit $950 billion. By Thursday, Apple had become the first U.S. company to exceed $1 trillion in market value. Continue reading Apple Is First U.S. Firm to Surpass $1 Trillion in Market Value

Facebook Stock Plunge Proves Tech Firms Aren’t Bulletproof

The myth that the stock of the tech behemoths will only increase in value was shattered this last week when Facebook’s shares tumbled 19 percent, erasing about $120 billion in shareholder wealth. That loss represents among the largest one-day dip in market value that any company has suffered. Facebook’s loss began when it released disappointing Q2 earnings and warned investors of a “sharp slowdown in sales growth” in the next quarters as well as more spending for security and privacy. Continue reading Facebook Stock Plunge Proves Tech Firms Aren’t Bulletproof

Cloud Services and Advertising Push Amazon to Major Profits

Amazon posted $2.53 billion in profit for the first time, with the highest profit margin ever, the result of the company’s more recent service businesses, including cloud computing, advertising and other services for sellers. The Q2 profit compares to $197 million a year earlier, and represents three straight quarters of profits over $1 billion, forever changing Amazon’s former profile as a company that posts either red ink or bare bones income. Alphabet and Microsoft, however, still deliver much bigger profits. Continue reading Cloud Services and Advertising Push Amazon to Major Profits

Google Absorbs EU Fine, Alphabet’s Other Bets Burn Money

Despite the impact of new European regulations, Google just reported sales and profit that exceeded analysts’ expectations. The Silicon Valley company’s shares hit an all-time high, rising 3.9 percent to $1,267 in after-hours trading. The result is proof that advertisers aren’t put off by European regulations or allegations that Google abuses its dominant position in the marketplace. Its parent company Alphabet, however, continues to see losses in its “Other Bets” category, which includes Waymo autonomous vehicles. Continue reading Google Absorbs EU Fine, Alphabet’s Other Bets Burn Money

At G20 Meeting, Europeans Push Enactment of a Digital Tax

At a meeting in Argentina of G20 finance ministers and central bankers, the Europeans pushed to advance global rules to tax the digital economy, contrary to the point of view of the U.S. delegation. The group’s final communiqué reiterated the body’s commitment to “address the impacts of the shift to a digital economy on the international tax system by 2020,” but gave no further details. Earlier this year, the European Commission proposed rules to make digital companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google pay more taxes. Continue reading At G20 Meeting, Europeans Push Enactment of a Digital Tax

Google Quietly Working on Fuchsia as Successor to Android

Google engineers are working on Fuchsia, a project to create software that would replace Android. The new software is designed from the ground up to offer improved voice interactions, frequent security updates and “look the same” across multiple devices from laptops to IoT sensors. The move is in line with chief executive Sundar Pichai’s stated goal of integrating artificial intelligence with consumer products. Google first started posting Fuchsia code in 2016, and allowed some app developers to try out open source code. Continue reading Google Quietly Working on Fuchsia as Successor to Android

Google Fined $5 Billion by European Union in Antitrust Case

Google has been fined a record $5.06 billion by the European Union for antitrust violations. The tech giant is accused of abusing the market dominance of its Internet search services and Android mobile operating system. The record fine underlines how European regulators are pushing for more control in today’s digital economy. Google has 90 days to comply and pay the EU fine, or face penalties of up to 5 percent of parent company Alphabet’s daily worldwide revenues (Alphabet earned more than $9 billion in profit for Q1; Google’s net profit for 2017 was $12.62 billion). Google already announced it plans to appeal the ruling; the case could potentially last years. Continue reading Google Fined $5 Billion by European Union in Antitrust Case

Tech Giants Face More Questions Regarding Privacy Issues

Six years after Facebook deactivated facial recognition from its platform in Europe in response to regulators’ concerns about its consent system, the social media company has again introduced such tools in the European Union, as part of an update of its user permission process. Privacy groups and consumer organizations, along with a few officials, have responded, saying it violates people’s privacy. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the House Energy and Commerce Committee has asked Amazon and Apple to provide information on how they handle personal data. Continue reading Tech Giants Face More Questions Regarding Privacy Issues

Drake’s Album Sets Records, Apple Music Surpasses Spotify

Drake’s new album “Scorpion” has set multiple Apple Music records; it quickly became the fastest-growing album in the service’s history, topping Apple Music charts in 92 different countries. Meanwhile, according to “confidential details” shared with Digital Music News by a “U.S.-based, major distributor,” Apple Music now has more paid subscribers in the U.S. than Spotify. The report notes that Apple Music and Spotify both have more than 20 million U.S. subscribers. However, Apple’s stronger rate of growth suggests it is on a trajectory to increase its lead in America. Continue reading Drake’s Album Sets Records, Apple Music Surpasses Spotify

AI Software Identifies Violations of EU Privacy Regulations

European Union Institute researchers, working with the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), created AI-enabled software to scrutinize the privacy policies of 14 major technology companies for violations of the new GDPR. They found that one-third of the clauses were “potentially problematic” or contained “insufficient information,” with 11 percent of the policies’ sentences using “unclear language.” Among the companies examined were Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook. The researchers did not reveal which companies were in violation. Continue reading AI Software Identifies Violations of EU Privacy Regulations

OpenAI Beats Human-Player Team at Complex Video Game

OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research group backed by Elon Musk, stated that its software can beat “teams of five skilled human players” in Valve’s video game “Dota 2.” If verified, the achievement would be a milestone in computer science and a leap beyond other AI researchers working on mastering complex games. IBM’s software mastered chess in the late 1990s, and Alphabet’s DeepMind created software that dominated “Go” in 2016. “Dota 2” is a multiplayer sci-fi fantasy game where teams advance through exploration. Continue reading OpenAI Beats Human-Player Team at Complex Video Game

Facebook Pulls the Plug on its Aquila Solar-Powered Aircraft

Facebook announced that it is grounding a solar-powered aircraft project it originally hoped would have used laser technology to help provide Internet access for underserved communities. In an effort to connect the nearly 4 billion people around the world who still do not have Internet access, the company has been working for several years from Bridgwater, UK on a high altitude platform station (HAPS) system called Aquila. Rather than continue to develop its own aircraft, however, Facebook has opted to partner with companies such as Airbus and close its facility in Bridgwater. Continue reading Facebook Pulls the Plug on its Aquila Solar-Powered Aircraft

Google Aims to Promote Diverse Voices With Podcasts App

Google hasn’t had its own podcast app since it discontinued Google Listen in 2012. Now, it is unveiling Google Podcasts, an Android app that includes a “For You” section that keeps track of podcasts the user is subscribed to, and includes recommendations of top and trending podcasts and categories such as comedy, society & culture, news & politics, sports, religion & spirituality and the arts. Clicking on any podcast, the app will recommend related podcasts. It also offers an option to add the podcast to the user’s home screen. Continue reading Google Aims to Promote Diverse Voices With Podcasts App

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