Google Plans Undersea Cables to Ramp Up its Cloud Business

Google has revealed plans to build three underwater fiber-optic cables for ocean areas from the Pacific to the North Sea, in order to speed the transfer of data and catch up with Amazon and Microsoft. The new undersea cables are slated for completion by 2019 and will also allow Google to reroute data to servers around the globe to avoid an overloaded or failed region. Although the cables will cost a significant amount — “hundreds of millions of dollars” — Google believes the move is its only option to compete in cloud computing. Continue reading Google Plans Undersea Cables to Ramp Up its Cloud Business

YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV Experience Early Subscriber Growth

Hulu with Live TV has reached about 450,000 paid subscribers, while YouTube TV now has more than 300,000, according to sources familiar with the private figures. Neither service has reached the success of leading live-streaming services such as Dish’s Sling TV (more than 2 million subscribers) and AT&T’s DirecTV Now (1 million subscribers), but Hulu and YouTube only launched their offerings last year. Sling TV is the oldest, having launched in 2015, and DirecTV Now experienced recent growth after promotional deals offered free HBO and the option to add the service to mobile plans for $10 a month. Continue reading YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV Experience Early Subscriber Growth

Advertisers Strategize Response to Facebook’s Watch Platform

Facebook launched its Watch video platform in the U.S. this summer, to increase viewership of videos on its site, and as a destination for longer-form video that stands apart from Facebook’s News Feed. In the few months it’s been live, Facebook Watch already includes hundreds of shows, including content funded by Facebook such as reality series, docu-series, a dating show and live-streaming weekly Major League Baseball games and NCAA college basketball. Now, Morgan Stanley reports on just how well Watch is performing. Continue reading Advertisers Strategize Response to Facebook’s Watch Platform

Big Tech Firms Batten Down the Hatches for Midterm Elections

As the midterm elections approach, some tech companies are making changes to minimize harm and build credibility. Facebook plans to let users rank news sources they see as most trustworthy, as a means of prioritizing high-quality news. Twitter, which is still cleaning house from the presidential election, reports it has discovered 1,062 more accounts linked to an official Russian propaganda unit. Google and YouTube chief executives have promised to examine videos and other content more closely to ferret out misleading news. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Batten Down the Hatches for Midterm Elections

Amazon Plans to Compete in Advertising, Narrows HQ2 Sites

For the last five years, Amazon’s average profit margins remained at 1 percent, and founder Jeff Bezos counseled patience. Amazon Web Services, its profitable cloud services business, drove shares up to $1,300, and now BMO Capital Markets raised its Amazon price target to $1,600 per share. That’s because Bezos’ end game is becoming clearer: a marketing platform that takes advantage of Amazon’s immense audience. Some analysts believe its shares could reach $2,000, making it the first company with a $1 trillion market value. Meanwhile, Amazon continues plans for its second headquarters. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Compete in Advertising, Narrows HQ2 Sites

Kodak Shows 360-Degree Cam, VR Cameras in Development

At CES 2018, Kodak showed its new Kodak Pixpro Orbit360 4K camera, debuted in August. Kodak is positioning the camera as a next-generation 360-degree camera for video and still photography that features built-in processing. The camera has two hemispherical lenses, one on either side of its rectangular body. One lens is 155 degrees and the other is 235 degrees; the two lenses work together to create the 360-degree, 4K image that can be live-streamed or uploaded via Wi-Fi to Facebook, YouTube and other platforms. Continue reading Kodak Shows 360-Degree Cam, VR Cameras in Development

At CES 2018, Hulu Touts Its Content and Subscription Growth

At CES 2018, Hulu made a splash promoting its growing subscriber base and productions. The company also made a point of saying that Netflix’s plan to spend $8 billion on content this year, a number much mentioned at CES, is no great shakes. That’s because Hulu, which is owned by Comcast NBCUniversal, Disney/ABC, 21st Century Fox and minority investor Time Warner, which owns HBO and CNN, has access to $20 billion to $30 billion worth of content. The company recently won an Emmy for “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Continue reading At CES 2018, Hulu Touts Its Content and Subscription Growth

Amazon Joins Major Tech Companies Working on AR Solution

Virtual reality made a strong showing at CES 2018 in Las Vegas last week. Among those highlighting products were Facebook, which promoted new features in its $200 upcoming Oculus Go, a Google/Lenovo designed headset that will sell for half the price of an iPhone, and HTC, which will debut a new-gen Vive headset with more robust graphics. All of this, however, is a prelude to what many companies are planning: an entrance into augmented reality. One of those companies is Amazon, which sources say is exploring AR headset technologies. Continue reading Amazon Joins Major Tech Companies Working on AR Solution

Facebook News Feed Algorithm Tweak Favors Family, Friends

Facebook has again tweaked its News Feed, this time in a major way. The social media giant will now prioritize what a member’s friends and family share and comment on, rather than content from publishers and brands. The change, meant to maximize what chief executive Mark Zuckerberg calls “meaningful interaction,” will take place over the next few weeks. Likewise, Facebook wants to diminish “passive content,” which is defined as that which requires nothing of the viewer than to sit back and watch or read. Continue reading Facebook News Feed Algorithm Tweak Favors Family, Friends

Netflix Takes #1 Ranking for Top Non-Game App By Revenue

Sensor Tower lists Netflix as the top-earning app for 2017 (not counting mobile games). According to TechCrunch: “The service saw gross subscriber revenue of approximately $510 million — a 138 percent increase over last year. That’s about 2.4 times the $215 million users spent in the Netflix app in 2016.” In previous years, the #1 ranking was earned by Spotify and LINE. The annual report ranks apps and publishers available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Top earners on Google Play included Tinder, Google Drive, LINE, Pandora, and HBO Now. Continue reading Netflix Takes #1 Ranking for Top Non-Game App By Revenue

How Social, Mobile Are Transforming Entertainment Marketing

“The perfect companion for mobile is social,” said Facebook head of industry, entertainment division Gwen Throckmorton during a CES 2018 panel. “Match that with entertainment, and the combination yields a variety of opportunities. What we see is that, through stories, people are looking to find meaning, connect and share.” A group of marketers, moderated by Deloitte Consulting managing director Rob Aitken, examined the parameters of social as a factor in marketing, and one panelist stressed it begins with mobile. Continue reading How Social, Mobile Are Transforming Entertainment Marketing

Google and Lenovo Intro First Standalone Daydream Headset

Google teamed with Lenovo to launch a new standalone VR headset with specialized cameras that intends to reach beyond gaming. The new Lenovo Mirage Solo, on display at CES this week, features VR180 cameras designed to encourage users to capture 360-degree video. Google hopes this will help ramp up the current lack of VR content. The headset runs Daydream and is designed to interact with Google services such as YouTube and digital maps. The Mirage Solo touts displays that do not blur during user movement, and does not require a PC or smartphone. It is expected to ship by Q2 2018 for less than $400. Continue reading Google and Lenovo Intro First Standalone Daydream Headset

Top Platforms, Enabling Technologies Expected to Impact CES

Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google may not all have a big booth with their name on it at this year’s CES, but be sure that their presence will still be felt. For example, we expect dozens of new devices that are “Alexa-enabled” to appear on the show floor. Ever since Amazon Web Services opened up Alexa to the developer community in 2015, voice-enabled devices have really taken off and Alexa has been endowed with hundreds of new “skills.” At CES, we expect to see a wide range of voice-enabled smart speakers and IoT devices, “Made for HomeKit” sensors and devices, more private and hybrid cloud products, and a continued push into VR, AI and live streaming. Continue reading Top Platforms, Enabling Technologies Expected to Impact CES

Facebook, Universal Music Ink Licensing Deal for User Videos

Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record company, has licensed its music catalog to Facebook. The deal, which focuses on the music in user-generated videos, covers songs that will be used in the background on videos and so-called social experiences on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Oculus. For Facebook, the deal is aimed at encouraging users to post more videos, key to the company’s current video-centric strategy. A day before this deal was struck, Universal also reached an agreement with YouTube. Continue reading Facebook, Universal Music Ink Licensing Deal for User Videos

Facebook’s Facial Recognition Features Spur Privacy Debate

Facebook is debuting facial recognition that will automatically notify users when their photo is posted; the feature is part of the social media company’s answer to criticisms from European regulators, the U.S. and elsewhere that it is disseminating fake news and hate speech, as well as not respecting privacy rights. The feature is based on technology already in use to suggest tags for people in posted photos. Although the company hopes it could help combat some abuses, it may raise more privacy issues. Continue reading Facebook’s Facial Recognition Features Spur Privacy Debate

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