LINE’s New Clova Wave Smart Speaker Is Available in Japan

LINE, known for its popular WhatsApp-style mobile messaging platform, has released a $125 smart speaker in Japan named Clova Wave, beating Amazon and Google to market. LINE has more than 220 million messaging users in the region. The company first announced the speaker device at a conference in June, after unveiling its new digital assistant, Clova. LINE also earlier announced a smart speaker called Champ, based on the LINE Friends characters, but no release date was revealed. LINE is a subsidiary of Naver Corp., South Korea’s largest web operator and search portal. Continue reading LINE’s New Clova Wave Smart Speaker Is Available in Japan

Amazon Taking More Delivery In-House, Rivaling UPS, FedEx

Amazon is getting ready to rollout Seller Flex, a new delivery service it has been testing in India for the last two years. With the service, more products will be eligible for free two-day shipping. Sources say this will not only ease overcrowding in the company’s warehouses but also shift more of the delivery functions away from its long-time partners United Parcel Service and FedEx. The confidential U.S. pilot project is taking place in West Coast states, with a wider rollout planned for 2018.
Continue reading Amazon Taking More Delivery In-House, Rivaling UPS, FedEx

Steemit: Social Media Platform Pays Contributors for Content

Users of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter enjoy moments of entertainment in exchange for giving up personal data to social media platforms that monetize the information. Steemit, a social news and networking site on top of a blockchain database, has a plan to change that paradigm, paying users in cryptocurrency for every post. The virtual currency, dubbed Steem, can be cashed out into hard currency — or amassed for those who believe in Steemit’s future. The new company started as a 44-page white paper released in March 2016, arguing that content creators should be paid. Continue reading Steemit: Social Media Platform Pays Contributors for Content

Amazon Acquires 3D Body-Scanning Tech Startup Body Labs

Amazon has acquired 3D body-model startup Body Labs for a reported $50-$70 million, although some sources say the figure could exceed $100 million. New York-based Body Labs specializes in true-to-life 3D models that are ideal for B2B software applications, including the creation of photorealistic avatars for gaming and virtual approaches for consumers to try on clothing. The latter should be of particular interest to e-commerce giant Amazon. The online retailer could use the scanning and modeling tech to help shoppers select fashion purchases ideal for their body types. Continue reading Amazon Acquires 3D Body-Scanning Tech Startup Body Labs

Google Will Let Publishers Decide the Number of Free Clicks

Google is developing new tools for publishers and will end the “first click free” policy to help them boost subscriptions. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Financial Times keep their online articles behind a paywall, but savvy readers get around that by googling a headline or search terms, and then clicking for free access. Google’s new program, “flexible sampling,” allows publishers to determine how many free clicks they want to provide. The “first click free” policy required them to provide three free articles per day. Continue reading Google Will Let Publishers Decide the Number of Free Clicks

Netflix Makes Major Commitment to Canada With New Studio

Netflix is planning to invest a minimum of 500 million Canadian dollars ($400.8 million U.S.) over the next five years to build a studio in Canada, revealed Canada’s Heritage Minister, Melanie Joly. The studio will create original Canadian productions, some of which will be French-language, in recognition of Canada’s status as a bilingual country. Canada, which was the first foreign country where Netflix launched, is also home to the third most global subscribers. The Canadian studio will be Netflix’s first global content outpost. Continue reading Netflix Makes Major Commitment to Canada With New Studio

Comcast Rolls Out ‘Skinny Bundle’ for Its Internet Customers

Comcast is introducing an $18-per-month “skinny bundle,” a new service the pay-TV provider has been testing and is now ready to roll out across different regions over the next few weeks. Xfinity Instant TV, which is available for Comcast’s 25.3 million broadband customers, is designed for cord cutters (and cord nevers), and will compete with OTT services such as Hulu Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV. Comcast’s service can be streamed at home or anywhere with a broadband connection. The company is specifically marketing to its customers that pay for Internet but not TV, hoping they will one day switch to a larger bundle. Continue reading Comcast Rolls Out ‘Skinny Bundle’ for Its Internet Customers

Service Providers Ask Supreme Court to Review Net Neutrality

AT&T, trade group USTelecom and broadband service provider CenturyLink filed separate appeals yesterday requesting that the FCC’s net neutrality rule barring ISPs from slowing or blocking content be overturned. The rule, supported by tech companies such as Google and Facebook, was enacted during the Obama era when the FCC was under Democratic control. “Now under Republican leadership, the FCC is already considering a plan to replace and weaken the rules,” reports Bloomberg. “FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to remove strong legal authority that critics say over-regulates telephone and cable providers and that defenders say is needed to enforce fair treatment of web traffic.” Continue reading Service Providers Ask Supreme Court to Review Net Neutrality

Vimeo to Acquire Livestream Platform and Launch Vimeo Live

IAC-owned Vimeo is purchasing the Livestream platform and rolling out its own live-streaming service called Vimeo Live. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Earlier this year, Vimeo abandoned its plans to release a SVOD business. Rather than compete in the SVOD space with Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, “Vimeo’s core business is focused around selling tools and services to professional and semi-professional video creators,” reports TechCrunch. Integrating Livestream tech into Vimeo Live “will allow video creators to capture, edit, stream and archive their live events … in addition to hosting, distributing, and generating revenue from their videos.”  Continue reading Vimeo to Acquire Livestream Platform and Launch Vimeo Live

Facebook, Microsoft, Telxius Transatlantic Cable Is Complete

The new underwater cable between North America and Europe, built through a partnership between Facebook, Microsoft and Telxius (a subsidiary of Telefónica), is now complete. Dubbed Marea (Spanish for “tide”), the new 4,000-mile subsea cable runs at a depth of 17,000 feet under the Atlantic from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Bilbao, Spain and has been under construction since August 2016. Marea will offer a capacity of 160 terabits per second, and will help meet the demand for high-speed Internet and cloud services. Continue reading Facebook, Microsoft, Telxius Transatlantic Cable Is Complete

Netflix Aims to Bring More In-Flight Entertainment to Travelers

Netflix plans to extend bandwidth-efficient, mobile tech to airlines in an effort to offer passengers low-cost or free Wi-Fi entertainment. The company claims the mobile-encoding tech would allow travelers to “watch Netflix in high quality while airline carriers save up to 75 percent in bandwidth costs,” reports Variety. Netflix already has various deals involving in-flight Wi-Fi with Virgin America, Aeromexico, Qantas and Virgin Australia. On select flights with next-gen Wi-Fi, “such as those equipped with Ka-band and Gogo’s 2Ku Internet access, passengers are able to access Netflix from their carry-on devices and watch the streaming service at no extra charge.” Continue reading Netflix Aims to Bring More In-Flight Entertainment to Travelers

Fox Revamps its TV Everywhere Offerings With Updated Site

In the wake of its newly redesigned Fox Now app, Fox has updated its Fox.com website to include content from networks such as Fox, FX and National Geographic. “The new website and app include live streaming, giving viewers the option to dive right into watching the live show or start from the beginning,” explains The Hollywood Reporter. “There is also a library of 500 hours’ worth of programming, including new and returning shows that will be available online as soon as they begin airing on television.” The Fox Now app is available for Android, Apple TV, iOS, Roku and others. Continue reading Fox Revamps its TV Everywhere Offerings With Updated Site

Pay TV Losses Could Jump to 5 Million Households per Year

We’ve seen a wide range of recent forecasts regarding cord cutting and the impact on traditional pay TV. According to a new survey from RBC Capital Markets, only 55 percent of respondents said they would continue their pay-TV subscriptions. While 2016 saw a loss of 2 million subscribers, a future increase exceeding 5 million per year “does not seem impossible,” wrote RBC analyst Steven Cahall. “The RBC survey found that 21 percent of current cable, satellite or telco TV customers were considering switching to a lower-cost virtual pay-TV service,” reports Variety, “like Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV or DirecTV Now.” Continue reading Pay TV Losses Could Jump to 5 Million Households per Year

Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

Google will spend $1.1 billion to purchase part of HTC’s smartphone operations. The Internet giant plans to use HTC’s engineering and design teams to help ramp up its nascent hardware efforts to complement its expanding portfolio of software products and grow its revenue beyond Android and search ads. The deal, which is expected to bring about 2,000 HTC employees to Google, also includes a non-exclusive licensing agreement for HTC intellectual property. While HTC has shown growth potential in VR with its Vive headset, its mobile business has been struggling. Continue reading Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

W3C Officially Recommends EME Spec for DRM Protection

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) specification as a recommendation, although W3C members only voted 58.4 percent to approve, with 30.8 percent opposing and 10.8 percent abstaining. EME is a standard interface for digital rights management (DRM) protection of content delivered through the browser, defining how Internet content works with third-party Content Decryption Modules (CDMs) that provide proprietary decryption and rights management. In response to the EME recommendation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has resigned from the W3C. Continue reading W3C Officially Recommends EME Spec for DRM Protection

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