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

FCC’s O’Rielly Asks Amazon, eBay to Remove ‘Rogue’ STBs

FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly is urging Amazon and eBay to pull listings from their sites for “rogue” set-top boxes that enable consumers to watch pirated TV shows. On Friday, the commissioner sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and eBay CEO Devin Wenig noting that the STBs in question often falsely feature the FCC logo, and are responsible for encouraging “intellectual property theft and consumer fraud.” O’Rielly recognized that the companies have been working to address the problem, but wrote “despite your good work in this area, devices continue to make it to consumers through your websites.” Continue reading FCC’s O’Rielly Asks Amazon, eBay to Remove ‘Rogue’ STBs

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

FBI Requests That We Reboot All Routers to Disrupt Malware

According to Cisco’s threat intelligence division Talos, an estimated 500,000 routers in 54 countries have been infected by malware that the FBI and cybersecurity experts refer to as VPNFilter. The Justice Department has warned that routers are already under control of the Sofacy Group, which is reportedly directed by Russia’s military intelligence agency. Devices from Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear, QNAP and TP-Link are believed to be among the affected equipment. The FBI has requested that owners of home and office routers turn them off and turn them back on. Rebooting the routers will disrupt the malware if present. Users are also encouraged to upgrade firmware, disable remote-management settings, and select a new password. Continue reading FBI Requests That We Reboot All Routers to Disrupt Malware

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

Cisco Warns of Huge Hacked Network Primed for Cyberattacks

Cisco Systems and U.S. and Ukrainian authorities have warned that a network of half a million routers and storage devices has been hacked and is capable of a massive cyberattack. Security researchers said that the attack could take place during soccer’s UEFA Champions League’s final match on Saturday in Kiev. The devices, in 54 countries, are infected with VPNFilter malware that can shut them down, said Cisco security researcher Craig Williams. The U.S. government is working to reclaim control of the infected servers. Continue reading Cisco Warns of Huge Hacked Network Primed for Cyberattacks

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

Media Outlets See Advertising Boon in Legal Sports Gambling

The Supreme Court’s ruling now permits states to make their own decisions about legal gambling on sporting events. For media and advertising companies, the ruling could also be a boon to their bottom line. With gambling, viewers will want to follow live sports in greater detail, and expanded sports coverage means more advertising dollars. In anticipation of such legalized gambling, media executives are mulling over ideas for programming on their digital platforms that include more stats and betting options. Continue reading Media Outlets See Advertising Boon in Legal Sports Gambling

PayPal to Acquire European Payments Startup iZettle for $2.2B

PayPal plans to make the largest purchase in its history: $2.2 billion for Stockholm-based financial tech startup iZettle. The purchase puts PayPal in thousands of brick-and-mortar retail shops around the world, and sharpens its rivalry with Square, which focuses on small businesses with physical locations. Dubbed the “Square of Europe,” iZettle produces technology and devices that allow almost half a million businesses in a dozen European countries, Brazil and Mexico to accept credit cards. Continue reading PayPal to Acquire European Payments Startup iZettle for $2.2B

Amazon to Tutor Chinese Firms on How to Sell to U.S., Europe

Amazon is scheduled to hold an event in Hangzhou, the city where its rival Alibaba has its headquarters, to get 400 Chinese manufacturers up to speed on buying trends among American and European consumers and be ready for the 2018 holiday season. The event, dubbed “Coming Together for U” and sponsored by Amazon Global Selling, is evidence of Amazon’s effort to dominate e-commerce globally. The company would earn revenue from helping Chinese manufacturers source goods from factories and ship them quickly to other countries. Continue reading Amazon to Tutor Chinese Firms on How to Sell to U.S., Europe

Senate Votes to Block the Repeal of FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

The Senate voted 52-47 yesterday to block the Trump administration’s repeal of net neutrality rules. Three Republicans and all members of the Democratic caucus voted in favor of the resolution; however, a tougher battle is expected in the House, where Republicans have a 236-193 majority. The effort to repeal Obama-era rules last year was led by FCC chair Ajit Pai. The net neutrality rules are designed to guarantee unobstructed access to the Internet by preventing broadband providers from blocking access or throttling speeds based on fees. Opponents claim the rules stifle competition and innovation.  Continue reading Senate Votes to Block the Repeal of FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

Amazon Plans to Beta Test New Display Ad Re-Targeting Tool

Amazon has introduced a new display ad offering that lets retailers in its marketplace follow shoppers as they browse the Internet and attempt to lure them back to buy on Amazon. The tool gives sellers broader reach by letting them bid on ads that will appear on other websites and apps, although Amazon doesn’t specify where. But sellers only pay Amazon when potential customers click on the ads. According to sources, the company is currently inviting a handful of merchants to test the new digital ads later this month. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Beta Test New Display Ad Re-Targeting Tool

EU Data Law Soon Goes into Effect, May Spark Privacy Debate

On May 25, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect. Although the law bans companies from forcing its users to give up personal data as a condition of service, it allows for exceptions, such as when the information is necessary to fulfill a contract. Those exceptions are the new battlefield over privacy issues, including what “freely given” consent means. At the crux is “behavioral advertising,” worth billions of dollars annually, that targets users based on their Internet activity. Continue reading EU Data Law Soon Goes into Effect, May Spark Privacy Debate

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