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

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 May Expand Media Efforts With Landmark Purchase

Amazon is reportedly among those vying to acquire Landmark Theatres, the country’s largest chain focused on indie and foreign movies. Landmark is part of the Wagner/Cuban entertainment holdings, backed by film producer Todd Wagner and billionaire investor Mark Cuban. According to insiders, Landmark’s owners have been working with financial services firm Stephens Inc. on a possible sale. The move would introduce Amazon to the brick-and-mortar cinema industry, while complementing the e-commerce giant’s media expansion of interests such as Prime Video, Prime Music and Amazon Studios. Continue reading Amazon May Expand Media Efforts With Landmark Purchase

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

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

Retailers Use Apps, Social Media to Reach Children, Preteens

Children and preteens are shopping online, and retailers are advertising directly to them. Retailers are leveraging Snapchat, YouTube Kids and other mobile apps to target children and preteens more likely to be on their smartphones, tablets or laptops than watching television. Nine-year-old Isabella Colello described how she shops online and puts items in her cart, which her father can browse through and purchase — or not. “It’s so much better than going to the mall because there aren’t that many places to shop anymore,” she said. Continue reading Retailers Use Apps, Social Media to Reach Children, Preteens

Amazon Makes the Case That Rekognition Is a Force for Good

In June, in a letter to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, almost 19 groups of Amazon shareholders expressed concern about the company’s cloud-based facial recognition system Rekognition being provided to law enforcement in Orlando, Florida and the Washington County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office. They joined forces with Amazon employees, the ACLU, academics and more than 70 other groups to protest the decision. After the ACLU showed how Rekognition can err in IDing people, three Democratic lawmakers joined the chorus. Continue reading Amazon Makes the Case That Rekognition Is a Force for Good

AT&T Buys Chernin Group’s Controlling Stake in Otter Media

In 2013, Chernin Group chair/chief executive Peter Chernin and company president Jesse Jacobs, believing streaming media was the future, bought Crunchyroll, which specialized in anime, for $75 million. They then added other new media startups including Fullscreen, an ad agency for YouTube stars, Rooster Teeth, a video producer aimed at gamers and VRV’s 11 niche channels, creating Otter Media. On Tuesday, in a move that was long expected by analysts, the Chernin Group sold controlling interest in Otter Media to joint-venture partner AT&T in a deal valued at more than $1 billion. Continue reading AT&T Buys Chernin Group’s Controlling Stake in Otter Media

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

Walmart and Discovery Are Considering New Video Services

Walmart is in the early stages of considering the launch of a subscription video-streaming service that would compete with Amazon, Hulu, HBO and Netflix. Sources said that the retail behemoth hasn’t yet greenlit the ambitious project, which may include a lower-price monthly subscription fee, but that decision could come as early as later this summer or early fall. Discovery is also contemplating the launch of a direct-to-consumer service, priced at $5 to $8 monthly, that would include all the company’s networks. Continue reading Walmart and Discovery Are Considering New Video Services

Lenovo Debuts the First Smart Display With Google Assistant

Lenovo has begun shipping smart displays integrated with Google Assistant that will allow users to visually interact with the voice assistant. The device was first shown at CES 2018, where it was demonstrated instantly displaying maps and sending them to the user’s phone. Assistant can also show step-by-step visuals of a recipe, present a visual weather summary, manage to-do lists — all capabilities similar to those of Echo Show. A three-month YouTube Premium subscription comes free with the purchase. Continue reading Lenovo Debuts the First Smart Display With Google Assistant

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