California Data Privacy Measure Is Likely to Impact the Nation

It’s not just Europe that’s battening down the privacy hatches with the recently activated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). California voters in November will likely be able to weigh in on the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, an initiative that would provide the state one of the broadest online privacy laws in the country. One of this initiative’s most significant backers is San Francisco real estate mogul Alastair Mactaggart, who put more than $2 million of his own money into getting it on the ballot. Continue reading California Data Privacy Measure Is Likely to Impact the Nation

Smart Speakers Could Become Centers of Retail Ecosystems

Consumers buying smart home and other Internet of Things devices don’t often understand the wider implications of their purchases. The tech companies building these devices are creating ecosystems that could, among other things, determine the future of retail. For example, buying a smart speaker to play music will likely become the consumer’s “access point” for a range of services, including shopping options. Consumers opting into one company’s products may be unknowingly opting out of other companies’ offerings. Continue reading Smart Speakers Could Become Centers of Retail Ecosystems

Hulu Draws 800,000+ Subscribers to its New Live TV Service

In an interview with CNBC, Hulu CEO Randy Freer revealed that his company’s $40 per month Internet streaming service, Hulu with Live TV, which launched a little more than one year ago, has surpassed 800,000 subscribers. Dish Network’s Sling TV reached 2.3 million customers at the end of Q1, and AT&T’s DirecTV Now has about 1.46 million subscribers. Other competitors in this space include Google’s YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue from Sony, and the sports-focused fuboTV. In total, Hulu has more than 20 million paying customers (half subscribe to the ad-free $11.99 monthly package). Continue reading Hulu Draws 800,000+ Subscribers to its New Live TV Service

Manufacturers Show Higher-Res VR Headset Display Panels

During Display Week in Los Angeles, several VR headset displays were showcased by companies including Google, LG, Japan Display and Samsung. Google and LG developed a display panel with 18.1 megapixels of detail per eye, which was similar to those from Japan Display and Samsung. The Google/LG panel, at 18.1 megapixels, goes up against Oculus Rift’s 1.3 megapixel per eye and HTC Vive Pro’s 2.2 megapixel per eye. Facebook was also at Display Week, but wasn’t quite ready to show off its Half Dome varifocal prototype. Continue reading Manufacturers Show Higher-Res VR Headset Display Panels

Facebook to Develop Live Video Filtering Chips for Faster AI

Facebook has used Intel CPUs for many of its artificial intelligence services, but the company is changing course to adapt to the pressing need to better filter live video content. At the Viva Technology industry conference in Paris, Facebook chief AI scientist Yann LeCun stated that the company plans to make its own chips for filtering video content, because more conventional methods suck up too much energy and compute power. Last month, Bloomberg reported that the company is building its own semiconductors. Continue reading Facebook to Develop Live Video Filtering Chips for Faster AI

Essential Kills Next Smarthone and Is Reportedly Up for Sale

Android creator Andy Rubin’s startup, Essential Products, born out of his incubator Playground Global, may be on the sales block. The startup, which raised about $300 million from Amazon, Tencent Holdings, Redpoint Ventures and Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn), ceased development of a new smartphone, say sources, and hired Credit Suisse Group to advise on its sale. Reportedly, Essence has already piqued the interest of one potential buyer. The original Essential smartphone, manufactured by Foxconn, debuted last August. Continue reading Essential Kills Next Smarthone and Is Reportedly Up for Sale

Aftermath of EU’s Data Privacy Law is Far-Reaching, Profound

With the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation going into effect, technology companies are flooding email inboxes with updates to privacy policies. Though GDPR currently touts the strictest privacy regulations, Brazil, Japan and South Korea plan to enact their own strict laws. The EU is encouraging such regulations by tying them to some trade deals and promoting a global approach. The EU and its 28 member countries are also planning to enact stricter enforcement of antitrust laws and tougher tax policies for giant tech companies. Continue reading Aftermath of EU’s Data Privacy Law is Far-Reaching, Profound

Samsung Zeroes In on AI to Meet 2020 Goal for Smart Devices

Samsung has committed to integrating artificial intelligence and Internet connectivity into all its products by 2020, even as Google and Amazon beat the South Korean company to market with their AI-powered smart speakers. Samsung’s goal is to have every device from televisions to refrigerators synch with each other and drive demand for its smartphones. Samsung eventually plans to centralize these devices with its SmartThings app, acquired in 2014. It also will include its own virtual assistant Bixby, which debuted last year on its flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone. Continue reading Samsung Zeroes In on AI to Meet 2020 Goal for Smart Devices

Google and Amazon Remain Leaders in Smart Speaker Market

Smart speakers continue their popularity, with nine million units shipped in Q1 2018, representing a 210 percent jump over Q1 2017, according to Canalys. In a first, global shipments of Google Home speakers surpassed those of Amazon’s popular Echo speakers. “Google shipped 3.2 million Home and Home Mini devices, versus 2.5 million Echo devices shipped by Amazon,” reports VentureBeat. “Google held an estimated 36.2 percent share for the quarter over Amazon’s 27.7 percent — a profound reversal from a year earlier, when Amazon had 79.6 percent of shipments to Google’s 19.3 percent.” Continue reading Google and Amazon Remain Leaders in Smart Speaker Market

U.S. Newspapers Block Online Access for European Audience

Rather than comply with the European Union’s new data privacy rules, some American news outlets have opted to block access to their online content in Europe. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) limits what info can be collected about users. This impacts companies that provide free content but share user data in order to sell targeted ads. Newspapers that have opted for a blackout or restricted access include the Arizona Daily StarNew York Daily News, St. Louis Post Dispatch, and Tronc-owned Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles TimesOrlando Sentinel and The Baltimore Sun. Continue reading U.S. Newspapers Block Online Access for European Audience

Facebook Portrays Its Many Platforms as Safe for Consumers

When the European Parliament grilled Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg about his company’s many missteps, one of their concerns was that it has become a monopoly. The reference was to Facebook owning the world’s two largest chat applications, Messenger and WhatsApp, and their suggestion was that Facebook spin off those and the photo app Instagram. Facebook has countered with the argument that, by controlling so much of the world’s communications, it helps keep consumers safe across all these services. Continue reading Facebook Portrays Its Many Platforms as Safe for Consumers

Viewers Not Warming to Recommendations by Video Services

According to research from UserTesting, the personalized viewing recommendations offered by video streaming services are failing to gain traction with most consumers. While results varied across services, only 29 percent of participants indicated that they watch content recommended to them. In addition to relevant recommendations, the study rated services based on metrics such as speed, availability of content, episode scanning, and overall ease-of-use. With a total score of 89.5, Netflix led the field, followed by Hulu (86.8), Amazon Prime (85) and YouTube TV (80.7). Continue reading Viewers Not Warming to Recommendations by Video Services

Google, Publishers to Meet as Europe’s Data Law Takes Effect

Sources say that Google has agreed to discuss the concerns of publishers at four of its global offices on the eve of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) going into effect May 25. Google has told publishers using its advertising tools that they will be responsible for obtaining user consent to gather personal information from European users. Google has not adopted an industry-wide framework that many publishers plan to use to gain user permission on behalf of their advertising technology partners. Continue reading Google, Publishers to Meet as Europe’s Data Law Takes Effect

Amazon Channels Making a Splash in Subscription Video Sales

According to The Diffusion Group (TDG), Amazon is now responsible for 55 percent of a la carte direct-to-consumer video subs. Amazon Channels is “the company’s platform for reselling subscription services like HBO and Showtime,” explains Variety. TDG’s new research indicates that “53 percent of all consumers who don’t get HBO through their pay TV provider are purchasing it via Amazon Channels,” notes the article, adding that “72 percent of Showtime subscribers get the network’s direct-to-consumer offering via Amazon Channels, and 70 percent of Starz a la carte subscribers receive it from Amazon.” Continue reading Amazon Channels Making a Splash in Subscription Video Sales

YouTube Splits Red into YouTube Music and YouTube Premium

Changes are afoot at YouTube. The company plans to debut a new version of its music service and charge more to view original shows. YouTube Red, an on-demand subscription service that offered music and original programming without ads debuted two years ago for $10 per month. Next week, the company will launch YouTube Music, which adds personalized playlists based on YouTube history and will eventually replace Google Play Music. YouTube Music will cost $10 per month after a trial period. Continue reading YouTube Splits Red into YouTube Music and YouTube Premium

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