Netflix Has No Plans to Offer Live TV Such as News or Sports

From Netflix’s 280,000-square foot studio in Hollywood, chief executive Reed Hastings revealed that the company has no plans to enter the live TV market in news or sports, as its rivals Hulu and Amazon Video have done. Instead, the company is investing $8 billion in original content this year, part of its larger strategy to fend off competition from these popular services and a growing list of emerging competitors. Hastings also explained that Netflix has no plans to introduce advertising. Continue reading Netflix Has No Plans to Offer Live TV Such as News or Sports

Nearly 20 Percent of Adults Have Access to a Smart Speaker

Nearly one in five U.S. adults — 47.3 million, or 20 percent of the country’s adult population — has access to a smart speaker, according to Voicebot.ai research. In this case, “access to a smart speaker” means having a smart speaker in the home, even if the adult is not the primary user. Unlike smartphones and other personal technologies, not every person in the home is likely to have one. Thus, it’s likely most apt to compare smart speakers to TVs, which took 13 years to reach the 50 million mark versus just two years for smart speakers.

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Amazon Envisions Alexa as a Universal Language Translator

You may soon be able to command “Alexa, Translate” and get sophisticated results. According to sources familiar with the matter, Amazon’s latest aim for Alexa, its popular voice-enabled assistant, is to become a real-time universal language translator. They say the tech giant is “seriously exploring” ways to make Alexa more useful cross-culturally. In order to do so, Amazon must significantly expand Alexa’s current ability to translate basic words and phrases in languages including Spanish, German, French and Italian.

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Google, Government Partner on AI to Analyze Drone Footage

Google and the Department of Defense are exploring the use of artificial intelligence to identify objects in drone footage. The tech giant has been working with the Pentagon’s Project Maven, an initiative focused on big data and machine learning. According to sources, when the pilot project became an object of discussion at Google, some employees were angry that the company was working with the military on surveillance tech for drone operations. Google’s Eric Schmidt admitted that the tech community is concerned that the military-industrial complex will use Google’s research to kill innocent people. Continue reading Google, Government Partner on AI to Analyze Drone Footage

Review Praises Camera Functionality of Samsung Galaxy S9+

With a few weeks to go until the release of Samsung’s latest high-end smartphone, the Galaxy S9+, its camera just earned the top spot on DxOMark (a site that tracks and rates camera sensors, lenses and smartphone cameras). The S9+ received a score of 99 — the highest for any handset to date — with a review indicating the camera has no “obvious weaknesses.” The score is one better than the Pixel 2’s camera and two better than the iPhone X camera. The biggest addition to the S9+ camera is a dual-aperture for low light shots and a zoom lens.

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Facebook, Google Improve Transparency After P&G Cuts Ads

Last year, Procter & Gamble cut its digital advertising by more than $200 million, after its call for transparency wasn’t satisfactorily answered. The company, whose brands include Crest, Pampers and Tide, believed that much of the spending on digital ads was not effective and that it could find more productive means of reaching consumers. The company cut $100 million in last year’s June quarter, for $100 million, with $100 million more from July through December, and included “several big digital players.” Continue reading Facebook, Google Improve Transparency After P&G Cuts Ads

Trump Administration, 35 States Oppose Online Tax Exemption

The Trump administration has joined numerous state officials entreating the Supreme Court to overrule a 1992 case that exempts online sellers from adding taxes to their prices. Arguments on the 1992 case, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, begin next month. South Dakota is leading the group asking the court to overrule the precedent-deciding case; it is joined by 35 states, the District of Columbia, organizations representing retailers, and, now, the Trump administration. Opposing are catalog mailers and online sellers. Continue reading Trump Administration, 35 States Oppose Online Tax Exemption

EU Hearing Explores Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age

The ETC’s Philip Lelyveld was one of five subject matter experts invited to speak before the European Union’s “Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age” hearing at the European Political Strategy Centre in Brussels on February 22, 2018. The EU is working to understand and deal with the problem of ‘fake news’ and Russian interference in democratic processes in Europe. This one-day event is part of an ongoing multi-organization effort within the EU. Lelyveld was invited to present a ‘Hollywood’ perspective. Continue reading EU Hearing Explores Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age

Supreme Court Ruling Could Bring More Power to Tech Giants

Many lawmakers in Washington — from Senators Elizabeth Warren to Ted Cruz — are concerned about the amount of power that big tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google have accrued. Some have even floated the idea of an antitrust law to curb their influence. But the U.S. Supreme Court just heard a case — Ohio v. American Express — that may actually give the technology giants even more power, say the experts. The case looks at how to analyze “harmful conduct” by companies that serve “multiple groups of users.” Continue reading Supreme Court Ruling Could Bring More Power to Tech Giants

Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Although Amazon currently sells a certain number of Google smart home Nest devices, the company has decided to stop doing so, thus ramping up the competition in this space between the two tech behemoths. Nest employees apparently had been expecting the move, which came in a conference call last year when Amazon said it would not list any of the newer Nest products such as the Nest thermostat and Nest Secure home security system. The decision reportedly came directly from Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos. Continue reading Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Google’s Expansion Plans in San Jose Spark Public Debate

Google, the largest property owner in Silicon Valley, is in the midst of acquiring 40 acres of city-owned land in San Jose, California, to build a new campus. The property is near San Jose’s SAP Center indoor arena and Diridon train station, and could bring as many as 20,000 jobs to the city over the next 10 to 12 years. The city residents are torn between those who feel that an influx of Google employees will making already-expensive housing even less affordable and those who point out that Google’s presence will bring growth and jobs. Continue reading Google’s Expansion Plans in San Jose Spark Public Debate

Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Google plans to maintain its current level of spending on the YouTube Red streaming service for the next two years, unlike Amazon and Netflix, both of which continue to up their investments. After switching its video strategy more than once, YouTube is currently approaching entertainment in three ways: its YouTube Red on-demand streaming service, live video service YouTube TV, and a new music streaming product. YouTube Originals are a “driving force” on YouTube Red, says the company’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl. Continue reading Google Plans to Maintain Current Spending on YouTube Red

Google Clips Camera Relies on AI to Capture Familiar Faces

The marriage of cameras and artificial intelligence opens the doors to all kinds of interesting capabilities. For now, however, Google is introducing its Clips wireless smart camera with the pitch that AI will enable it to take better pictures than a dumb camera. While the $249 Clips uses machine learning to automatically capture short clips (motion photos without audio) of people and pets, Apple’s latest iPhone relies on face recognition to unlock, and now startup Lighthouse AI plans to add intelligence to a security camera to analyze the results. Continue reading Google Clips Camera Relies on AI to Capture Familiar Faces

ARCore to Reach 100M Devices, Amazon Rolls Out AR Tool

Just before Mobile World Congress, Google officially introduced its ARCore mobile augmented reality platform. Snapchat and Sony Pictures are among the first to use it; Sony Pictures plans to debut an AR game with a “Ghostbusters” theme that lets users fight and capture ghosts from the movie franchise, comic books and elsewhere. According to Sony Pictures Entertainment executive VP Jamie Stevens, SPE’s partners in the venture are Columbia Pictures subsidiary Ghost Corps and game publisher FourThirtyThree. Meanwhile, Amazon has introduced “AR View” to its Android app for devices that support ARCore. Continue reading ARCore to Reach 100M Devices, Amazon Rolls Out AR Tool

Epix to Offer 4K Support, Explores New Subscription Service

Epix is scheduled to roll out support for 4K Ultra HD video on its apps this year. The cable network is also exploring the creation of a direct-to-consumer subscription service. “Direct-to-consumer is very important,” Epix VP and GM Monty Sahran told Variety. “We will be in that space.” While he didn’t specify a launch date or pricing, he confirmed the network’s plans. “It’s on our roadmap and we are working towards it,” he explained. Epix would join a growing field of such offerings from premium networks; HBO, Showtime and Starz currently offer their own standalone streaming services. Continue reading Epix to Offer 4K Support, Explores New Subscription Service

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