Uber, Government Examine the Company’s Asia Operations

Uber Technologies, with its law firm O’Melveny & Myers, is studying its Asia operations as the Justice Department determines whether the company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. According to sources, Uber already notified the department about questionable payments made by its Indonesian staff, and is working with its law firm to interview employees and examine foreign payment records. Potentially problematic activities took place in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea, among other Asian countries. Continue reading Uber, Government Examine the Company’s Asia Operations

Zuckerberg’s $1 Billion Bet on Making Facebook ‘Video-First’

Facebook reportedly will spend up to $1 billion on original content through 2018, an investment aimed to fulfill chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to make the platform “video first.” In doing so, Facebook faces stiff competition from broadcasters such as HBO, Amazon and Netflix, all of which are focused on creating premium video content to capture advertising. Zuckerberg has been opposed to paying for content, but now has said he will do so, although he believes most creators will earn via a revenue-sharing model. Continue reading Zuckerberg’s $1 Billion Bet on Making Facebook ‘Video-First’

Facebook Testing Business Messaging Tools via WhatsApp

Facebook, which bought WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014, is now testing two free business tools on the messaging service. WhatsApp Business lets small businesses answer customer questions and send updates; larger businesses can avail themselves of another free tool that plugs in to the WhatsApp platform. Facebook is also debuting verified profiles for businesses on WhatsApp, to distinguish them from individuals. Businesses in Brazil, Europe, India and Indonesia, including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, are testing the new tools. Continue reading Facebook Testing Business Messaging Tools via WhatsApp

Internet Firms Adjust to the Needs of the Next Wave of Users

The Internet is undergoing an evolution, with an onrush of people forming the ranks of what the tech industry dubs “the next billion” users. These newcomers have a decidedly different profile than those who came before: often barely literate, these people avoid text in favor of voice activation and images as a way to communicate. These first-time Internet users are finally gaining entry with the advent of low-cost smartphones with user-friendly interfaces and inexpensive data. Now, tech companies must adapt. Continue reading Internet Firms Adjust to the Needs of the Next Wave of Users

Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual Internet trends report at last week’s Code Conference in California. This year’s presentation featured 355 slides and a new section on healthcare. Among the key takeaways: global Internet users reached 3.4 billion in 2016 (46 percent of the world’s population, more than double the number from 2009); digital advertising jumped 22 percent to $73 billion; worldwide smartphone growth is slowing; China is the new leading market for interactive gaming; Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook are collectively worth $2.4 trillion, while seven of the next 16 top tech firms are Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Tencent. Continue reading Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

SoftBank, Saudi Arabia Announce World’s Largest Tech Fund

Over the weekend, during President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Japan’s SoftBank Group and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced the launch of a new tech fund that has so far secured $93 billion of capital. The “SoftBank Vision Fund is targeting a total of $100 billion within six months,” reports The Wall Street Journal, and plans to “steer capital to cutting-edge technologies in U.S. startups and other global firms.” SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son already promised to invest $50 billion of the new fund in American startups. Continue reading SoftBank, Saudi Arabia Announce World’s Largest Tech Fund

Major Cyberattack Hits 150 Countries, Could Keep Spreading

A cyberattack impacted computer systems in more than 150 countries over the weekend. The weapon used to initiate the attack is believed to be based on recently published vulnerabilities stolen from the National Security Agency. The attack, one of the largest ever, took over computers, encrypted their files and demanded payment in bitcoin of $300 or more. Among the major institutions and government agencies impacted were FedEx in the U.S., the Russian Interior Ministry and Britain’s National Health Service. The attack also hit smaller venues, such as a car manufacturing factory in Romania owned by Renault. Continue reading Major Cyberattack Hits 150 Countries, Could Keep Spreading

Amazon Cash for Those Without Credit Cards, Bank Accounts

To succeed in countries where large percentages of the population do not have bank accounts, Amazon is launching Amazon Cash, a new service that allows users to add cash to their Amazon accounts without incurring fees. Otherwise, to make cash purchases, such customers would have to buy an Amazon Gift Card or purchase a prepaid card. To access Amazon Cash between $15 and $500, the user requests a barcode, accessed through Amazon’s website mobile app or via text message, which is presented to a participating retailer. Continue reading Amazon Cash for Those Without Credit Cards, Bank Accounts

Amazon Hits Roadblocks in Pursuit of Retail Grocery Business

Amazon’s plan to open Amazon Go, a convenience store without a cashier, has suffered a setback. In beta since December, the first store was scheduled to open to the public by the end of March, but sources reported that there are problems with the technology used to automatically charge customers when they leave the store. Brick-and-mortar stores are key to Amazon’s desire to enter the food sales market in earnest. The company is also exploring the possibility of retail stores to sell furniture, appliances and other items. Continue reading Amazon Hits Roadblocks in Pursuit of Retail Grocery Business

Qualcomm Debuts New Platform for Affordable Feature Phones

Qualcomm is rolling out its 205 Mobile Platform, designed for basic feature phones that will operate on faster 4G networks. Aimed at consumers in markets such as India, Latin America and Southeast Asia who cannot afford higher-end smartphones, the platform includes the Qualcomm 205 SoC in addition to feature phone hardware components and software, and offers longer battery life and faster access to social media and other content. Unlike feature phones for 2G and 3G networks, usually priced between $15 and $50, feature phones with Qualcomm’s new chip will cost about $50. Continue reading Qualcomm Debuts New Platform for Affordable Feature Phones

Oppo Reinvents Zoom Technology for Mobile Phone Cameras

Chinese smartphone maker Oppo has created a new tech called 5X that it claims radically improves zoomed-in photos recorded from smartphone cameras. The dual camera system was inspired by submarine periscopes; it diverts light through a custom prism onto an angled telephoto lens that subsequently provides more light and clarity to objects positioned in the frame from a distance. Zoomed images are also usually more sensitive to camera movement, so Oppo included an optical stabilization system. The company demoed its prototype at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Continue reading Oppo Reinvents Zoom Technology for Mobile Phone Cameras

Netflix Develops AI to Help Optimize Video for Mobile Devices

Netflix needed a way to improve video streaming quality for consumers in emerging economies watching movies and TV shows on the go. The company came up with a new method for video encoding called Dynamic Optimizer that reduces the amount of data in the video file without losing image quality. The Netflix team trained an AI to compress the video specifically based on the complexity of a given scene. The Dynamic Optimizer system expected to roll out in the coming months. Continue reading Netflix Develops AI to Help Optimize Video for Mobile Devices

India Opens its Massive Biometric Database to App Developers

Having created the world’s largest biometric-identity database, India is now opening it up for use by tech firms, healthcare providers and app developers. The country’s government had already culled fingerprints and eye scans, among other digital ID records, of nearly all its 1.2 billion citizens. Now, “India Stack,” a government-backed initiative, plans to standardize the digital exchange of that data. The result will make it easier for citizens to conduct financial transactions, get jobs and verify their identity. Continue reading India Opens its Massive Biometric Database to App Developers

China’s Phone Makers Dominate Fast-Growing Market in India

In the last few months, Chinese smartphone brands have begun to dominate sales in India, the world’s fastest growing phone market. Led by Vivo, Chinese phones represented four of the top five phones there in Q4 2016, according to a report by Counterpoint Research, which noted that the move demoted former top-of-the-list Indian phones Micromax and Intex. Samsung is the smartphone manufacturer with the most to lose. Although its phones are still No. 1 in India, its share of sales nationwide lost 5 percent in the last year, now at 24 percent. Continue reading China’s Phone Makers Dominate Fast-Growing Market in India

AIG Report on Global Data Sharing: Benefits Outweigh Risks

AIG executive vice president/chief executive of commercial Rob Schimek described some of the data contained in the company’s 2017 global survey on data sharing. AIG’s first report, in collaboration with CEA (now CTA), was published in 2015, followed by a 2016 report on case studies of large companies. The 2017 report, says Schimek, which includes a foreword by Mike Abbott of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, looks at data sharing innovation, technology and risk. “We’ve seen the benefits outweigh the costs and risks,” said Schimek. Continue reading AIG Report on Global Data Sharing: Benefits Outweigh Risks

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