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

YouTube Promises Human Vetting of Google Preferred Videos

After YouTube star Logan Paul posted a video of a dead body hanging in a Japanese forest, YouTube again promised to scrutinize its top videos more closely, and also change the threshold for which videos can accept ads. Last year, marketers discovered their ads were being shown next to extremist videos. In response, YouTube developed new policies to give advertisers more control over the placement of their content and said it would better police videos. But the Logan Paul video shows just how challenging that can be. Continue reading YouTube Promises Human Vetting of Google Preferred Videos

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

Report: About 16 Percent of Americans Own Smart Speakers

NPR and Edison Research released a report this week indicating that about one in six Americans (39 million people) now own a smart speaker, up 128 percent from last January. “Amazon’s Echo speakers are still in the lead, the report says, as 11 percent now own an Amazon Alexa device compared with 4 percent who own a Google Home product,” reports TechCrunch. Amazon and Google promoted their devices heavily and cut prices during the holiday shopping season. “The Echo Dot became a top seller across its site and by manufacturers through the Black Friday weekend.” Continue reading Report: About 16 Percent of Americans Own Smart Speakers

CES: Examining the Results of the Radical Disruption of News

“The Future of News” panel at CES 2018 drew together pundits across the political spectrum to puzzle out the difference between news and opinion, what exactly fake news is, and how to pop the partisan bubbles. A conversation led by United Talent Agency head of digital media Brent Weinstein started his challenge to define the line between news and opinion — if consumers even care. The Daily Wire editor-in-chief and conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro said that the news media should not portray itself as objective. Continue reading CES: Examining the Results of the Radical Disruption of News

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

Brands Face the Challenges, Promises of AR/VR Experiences

Industry execs gathered for a CES panel to discuss the challenges brands are now facing with AR and VR. According to NorthSouth Studios chief executive Bill Newell, the most impactful events for AR in 2017 were Apple and Google’s introduction of AR development kits. But he acknowledged that convincing big brands to consider AR or VR projects is still a major challenge for the creators of those experiences. At the agency Firstborn, senior vice president business planning Gabe Garner says his company is always honest about the return on investment, which won’t match up with traditional media. Continue reading Brands Face the Challenges, Promises of AR/VR Experiences

Top Tech Companies Bullish On a Wireless Future for AR/VR

A Digital Hollywood panel at CES 2018 comprised of top AR/VR executives from Google, Unity Technologies, THX, HP and MPC considered the pace of the technologies’ adoption and predicted the progress we’ll see in 2018. Moderator Steve Masur, a senior partner at MG+ tech law firm, noted that many are disappointed with the pace of AR/VR adoption — but he is not one of them. “I think the industry is just fine,” he said. “A few years ago we thought we’d gain mass consumer adoption, but we have to go through revolutions of adoption.” Continue reading Top Tech Companies Bullish On a Wireless Future for AR/VR

Gaming is Killer VR/AR App According to Industry Developers

Although AR/VR experts in another CES panel said that enterprise will be the driver for this nascent field, a group of game designers and producers beg to differ. Gaming is the killer AR/VR app, they believe, with examples and enthusiasm to back up their claim. S&P Global Market Intelligence analyst Greg Potter reports that snap-in headsets (such as Gear VR) are currently leading the pack, due to commodity-like pricing. This platform will increase in 2018 and peak in 2019, as more people look for a better experience. Continue reading Gaming is Killer VR/AR App According to Industry Developers

China Sets Sights on Dominating Global AI Processor Market

China, the world’s largest market for silicon chips, has tried for years to challenge the dominance of Intel and Qualcomm in producing CPUs (central processing units). Some companies there are now seizing an opportunity to become No. 1 in the production of processors specifically aimed at artificial intelligence applications, from cars and smartphones to home appliances. Although Chinese companies jumped into AI from the beginning, they still face significant competition from Apple, Google, Intel and Qualcomm among others. Continue reading China Sets Sights on Dominating Global AI Processor Market

Flaws in Intel Chips Could Present Security Risk for Computers

Intel confirmed a report indicating that its microprocessor chips contain two major security flaws, which makes the vast majority of world computers vulnerable to hacking. Intel is working with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), ARM Holdings and other chipmakers and operating system providers to develop a comprehensive, industry-wide approach to combating the potential problems. The two major security flaws, dubbed Meltdown and Spectre, could let hackers access the entire memory contents of computers. Continue reading Flaws in Intel Chips Could Present Security Risk for Computers

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

Forecast: Smart Speakers Will Outsell Wearables This Season

Strategy Analytics predicts the smart speaker market will nearly quadruple in unit volume this year, bringing the total to 24 million. According to eMarketer, smart speakers will likely outsell wearables in the U.S. this holiday season. “We expect smart speakers to be the gift of choice for many tech enthusiasts, because of their lower price points,” said eMarketer analyst Cindy Liu. The research firm anticipates continued growth for devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers in the U.S., but slowed growth in terms of usage. Continue reading Forecast: Smart Speakers Will Outsell Wearables This Season

Apple to Merge Software Development for iOS & macOS Apps

Although apps have been a huge success on Apple’s iPhone and iPad, the same cannot be said for its laptop and desktop computers. Apple hopes to change that by creating apps that work equally well across all its devices, including Macs. Beginning as early as 2018, software developers will have the capability to design a single application that will work with a touchscreen, mouse or trackpad, across the iPhone/iPad operating system or Mac hardware, say sources. Currently, they must design two apps, one for iOS and another for macOS. Continue reading Apple to Merge Software Development for iOS & macOS Apps

YouTube Signs Agreement With Universal, Sony Music Labels

After two years of negotiations, YouTube is finally inking a long-term pact with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, the top two music labels. The new agreement, say the labels, establishes royalty rates for rights holders of professional music videos and user-loaded clips, offers stronger policing of uploads of copyrighted songs, and gives artists more money and flexibility. The deal is also a precursor to YouTube launching a paid music service early in 2018. Continue reading YouTube Signs Agreement With Universal, Sony Music Labels

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