Snap Is Latest Social Company to Plan Original Video Push

To better compete with social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, Snap Inc. is launching a scripted video initiative called Snap Originals. Teaming with media titans such as Viacom and NBCUniversal to produce original content and syndicate existing shows, Snap aims to ramp up its serialized offerings as Instagram readies its IGTV hub for mobile video. Snap has already been experimenting in this space through partnerships with networks including E!, NBC and ESPN to produce content for its Discover section.

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Mobile Video Service ‘Quibi’ Is Scheduled to Launch in 2019

At Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman revealed that the name of their new mobile video startup will be Quibi (short for “quick bites”). The subscription service, originally known as NewTV, is scheduled to launch next year. Producer Jason Blum and filmmakers including Sam Raimi, Guillermo del Toro and Antoine Fuqua are among those slated to create content for the new venture. “These people are so excited about doing something new. They want to be the pioneers. They want to be able to show the path in doing this,” said Katzenberg. “We are going to do be able to do extraordinary storytelling.” Continue reading Mobile Video Service ‘Quibi’ Is Scheduled to Launch in 2019

Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Facebook debuted Portal and Portal Plus, two video-calling devices, which sport a 12-megapixel camera with HD video and AI-empowered software — all in the service of video chatting. The AI is used to allow the camera to follow users. Portal and Portal Plus also include Amazon Alexa to play music or check the weather. Portal, with a 10-inch screen, is priced at $199, and Portal Plus, with a 15-inch screen that can be rotated, goes for $349. The devices will debut during the holiday season on a standalone website. Continue reading Facebook Unveils Video-Calling Devices Portal, Portal Plus

Demise of Google+ Points to Facebook’s Social Dominance

Google is shutting down its Google+ social network in the wake of revelation that a software bug exposed the data of up to 500,000 Google+ users since 2015. The company also debuted tools that give users more control over the data they share with Google-connected apps and services. The demise of Google+ is in stark contrast to its 2011 launch, when it represented an “exclusive club” that required a private invitation to enter. In following years, Google discovered running a social network is trickier than it appears to be. Continue reading Demise of Google+ Points to Facebook’s Social Dominance

Politicians Team With Tech Industry on Internet Bill of Rights

Given compelling issues of privacy breaches and data hacks, Senator Nancy Pelosi became convinced that a set of principles that everyone in the tech industry agreed to would be a good step toward adhering to values. She asked Democratic legislator Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, to create such a list. He consulted with Apple, Facebook, Google, think tank Center for Democracy and Technology and individuals including Nicole Wong and Tim Berners-Lee, and just recently released the resulting Internet “Bill of Rights.” Continue reading Politicians Team With Tech Industry on Internet Bill of Rights

Snap Chief Exec Outlines a New Plan for Profitability, Growth

In a 15-page letter on September 26, Snap chief executive Evan Spiegel told employees his plan to achieve full-year profitability in 2019 and refocus the company around new strategies. He admitted that the company’s redesign created many problems and “lost the core of what made Snapchat the fastest way to communicate.” That widely criticized redesign led to Snapchat’s first-ever decline in daily active users last quarter. Spiegel now wants the company to focus on adults, not teens, and messaging, not stories. Continue reading Snap Chief Exec Outlines a New Plan for Profitability, Growth

ISPs and Cable Groups Sue to Stop California Net Neutrality

Four groups representing Internet providers and cable companies filed a lawsuit to block’s California’s new law to restore net neutrality to the state. The American Cable Association, CTIA – The Wireless Association, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, and USTelecom – The Broadband Association, which together represent AT&T, Verizon Communications, Comcast, Charter Communications and many other such companies, filed their lawsuit after the U.S. Justice Department filed its own. Continue reading ISPs and Cable Groups Sue to Stop California Net Neutrality

ILMxLAB, Oculus to Bring ‘Vader Immortal’ to Oculus Quest

Facebook’s Oculus VR announced that its new Oculus Quest wireless virtual reality headset will debut in spring 2019 with an original Star Wars VR story from Disney’s ILMxLAB. “Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series,” which will have three parts, will be led by executive producer/writer David S. Goyer, who wrote “The Dark Knight” trilogy and “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” Other participants include ILMxLAB director of immersive content Mohen Leo and Oculus head of experiences Colum Slevin. Continue reading ILMxLAB, Oculus to Bring ‘Vader Immortal’ to Oculus Quest

Instagram Announces Adam Mosseri to Serve as New Boss

One week following the sudden departure of Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, it was announced that the new “Head of Instagram” will be Adam Mosseri, the company’s current VP of product — and a former senior exec at Facebook where he was responsible for managing the platform’s News Feed. Systrom and Krieger resigned unexpectedly six years after selling Instagram to Facebook for $1 billion. The co-founders were reportedly frustrated by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s increased control over the popular photo- and video-sharing service. Continue reading Instagram Announces Adam Mosseri to Serve as New Boss

Facebook Reveals Another Attack on its Computer Network

In its third security breach reported since June, Facebook announced on Friday that hackers had leveraged a security vulnerability in order to attack its computer network and access the personal accounts of about 50 million of its social platform users. In the two other breaches, hackers unblocked individuals that had been previously blocked by Facebook users, and users’ share settings were manipulated without permission. As a result of this latest breach, “the attackers could use the account as if they are the account holder,” according to Guy Rosen, VP product management for Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Reveals Another Attack on its Computer Network

Tech Execs Address Concerns About Data Privacy Regulation

In a hearing on Wednesday, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreed on the need for legislating privacy for online users, but not everyone is on the same page as to what such laws should cover. Amazon and Google executives, whose companies depend on user data for revenue, warned that some kinds of regulation could have the unintended consequence of limiting the services they’re able to provide. What has become clearer is that hammering out the details of the legislation could take a long time. Continue reading Tech Execs Address Concerns About Data Privacy Regulation

Quest: Oculus Demonstrates its $399 Standalone VR Headset

Oculus’ prototype wireless VR headset, codenamed Santa Cruz, is now a product. The new Quest headset is slated to debut this coming spring for $399. At its annual developer conference, the Facebook-owned company showed off the Quest headset, which joins the $199 Oculus Go and $400 Oculus Rift (that requires a dedicated PC). The standalone Quest offers 6DOF (six degrees of freedom). In his keynote address at the event, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg reiterated his goal to have one billion people using VR. Continue reading Quest: Oculus Demonstrates its $399 Standalone VR Headset

State Officials Consider a Joint Investigation of Tech Players

In a meeting of nine state officials and representatives of five other states led by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the market dominance and privacy practices of large tech companies were discussed, as well as the possibility of a joint investigation of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and others. Attorney General Doug Peterson (R-Nebraska) said his state is examining just such a multi-state inquiry into antitrust and consumer protection issues. Potential political bias, a previously raised topic, was barely touched. Continue reading State Officials Consider a Joint Investigation of Tech Players

Gen Y and Gen Z Are Increasing Their Time on Social Apps

According to a recent survey by social video marketing agency VidMob, younger Internet users in the U.S. — especially those in the Gen Z demo (ages 16-24) — are spending more time on social apps. The study found that 59 percent of Gen Z turn to YouTube more than they did last year, 56 percent spend more time using Snapchat, and 55 percent have increased their time on Instagram. Meanwhile, millennials are also increasing their time on social apps; about 50 percent use Instagram more, 46 percent have increased YouTube viewing, and 40 percent are on Snapchat more than they were in 2017. Continue reading Gen Y and Gen Z Are Increasing Their Time on Social Apps

Apple’s Hollywood Strategy Focuses on Family-Friendly Fare

Last year Apple set aside $1 billion for Hollywood entertainment. But as the tech company pushes into entertainment, it faces issues related to its brand. Its first scripted drama, “Vital Signs,” a semi-biographical story about Dr. Dre, is a key example. After seeing its guns, cocaine and adult themes, Apple chief executive Tim Cook reportedly told Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine that the content went too far, say sources, and nixed the series. Cook wants entertainment, but not the kind that could tarnish Apple’s brand. Continue reading Apple’s Hollywood Strategy Focuses on Family-Friendly Fare

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