Amazon Fire TV Widens Its Lead at 34 Million Active Users

Back in January, Amazon announced that its Fire TV streaming platform had more than 30 million users. Today, Fire TV has grown to more than 34 million active users, according to an announcement made by Amazon this week during a panel titled ‘The Battle for Your Living Room: Sticks, Boxes, and Smart TV Platforms’ at The Pay TV Show in Denver. This indicates that Amazon’s lead over rival streaming platform Roku is widening. Roku grew to 29.1 million active users per its latest earnings report from this month.

Continue reading Amazon Fire TV Widens Its Lead at 34 Million Active Users

Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

According to a new report from research firm IDC, consumer interest has waned recently for smartphone-dependent VR devices, while tethered and standalone models are growing more popular. IDC surveyed 1,643 VR users across France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and learned that the number of “high-performance” VR headsets increased 60 percent from 2017 to 3.9 million devices in 2018. The study identified different categories of users, based on their amount of time spent with VR devices, including a “hardcore” group (12 percent) that spent 16 or more hours monthly with VR. Continue reading Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

Microsoft’s Fiscal Q3 Boosted by Growth in Cloud Computing

Microsoft enjoyed a strong fiscal Q3, ending March 31, with revenue rising 14 percent from a year earlier to $30.57 billion, due largely to a 41 percent growth in cloud computing (now almost one-third of its sales) and a 9 percent uptick in sales of its Windows operating system to PC makers. A 5 percent decline of Windows sales in the previous quarter was due to a dearth of Intel computer chips, depressing PC sales. Chief financial officer Amy Hood said Microsoft also saw “unexpected good performance” in Japan. Continue reading Microsoft’s Fiscal Q3 Boosted by Growth in Cloud Computing

Cryptocurrencies to Launch Soon From Messaging Services

Facebook, Telegram and Signal plan to utilize their messaging services as platforms to launch new cryptocurrencies over the next year. Their virtual currencies will allow users to send money to contacts around the world via the messaging services. According to inside sources, Facebook has been secretly working on a coin for WhatsApp that users could “instantly” send to friends or family. Facebook’s WhatsApp project is developed to the point that the company is already in discussions with cryptocurrency exchanges. Continue reading Cryptocurrencies to Launch Soon From Messaging Services

Japan’s Recruit Aims to Compete With Top Global Websites

In Japan, Recruit Holdings, the center of a corporate scandal that ended with the ousting of the prime minister, is being put back together by a group of employees. Whereas the former Recruit was a magazine publisher and job-placement firm, the new version is an Internet behemoth that combines the capabilities of LinkedIn, Zillow, Yelp, eHarmony, Booking.com, Square and many other apps. Recruit chief executive Masumi Minegishi is betting the company has the experience and resources to dominate consumer spending by 2030. Continue reading Japan’s Recruit Aims to Compete With Top Global Websites

At Davos, a Call for Worldwide Oversight of Tech, Including AI

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, several countries’ leaders called for a global regulation of technology. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country is chair of the Group of 20 nations (G20) this year, said he would push for an international system to oversee use of data when the group meets for its annual June summit in Osaka. Abe he would like the Osaka G20 to be “the summit that started worldwide data governance,” with a focus on expanding World Trade Organization rules to include data. Continue reading At Davos, a Call for Worldwide Oversight of Tech, Including AI

DeepMind’s Learning Algorithm Could Prove a Game-Changer

DeepMind recently released the full evaluation of AlphaZero, a single system capable of playing “Go,” chess, and shogi (Japanese chess). This new project builds on AlphaGo, a program that beat one of the best players in the world at the board game “Go” in 2016, and AlphaGo Zero, software capable of mastering the game from first principles. AlphaZero represents a dramatic step forward in AI research as it is one of the first intelligent systems capable of generalizing solutions to new problems with little to no human input. Continue reading DeepMind’s Learning Algorithm Could Prove a Game-Changer

Ericsson Forecast: 5G Rollout Will Set New Record for Speed

According to an Ericsson Mobility report, 5G will have the fastest rollout in mobile history, achieving mass market status in 2020 and available in 40 percent of the world by 2024. As a provider of 5G infrastructure hardware, Ericsson is well positioned to make this prediction, although it tempered its own enthusiasm by warning that, “many challenges lie ahead.” Ericsson based its forecast on the fact that manufacturers are building 5G chips and devices and consumer anticipation for 5G is higher than previous generations. Continue reading Ericsson Forecast: 5G Rollout Will Set New Record for Speed

Microsoft Chatbot Xiaoice Excels at AI-to-Human Engagement

Unlike Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s own Cortana, the latter’s social chatbot Xiaoice (pronounced “Shao-ice”) isn’t constructed simply to answer questions or resolve problems but can also tell jokes, write poetry, and exhibit “empathic computing” abilities. In China, Xiaoice resided on Huawei smartphones and was a weather reader on Dragon TV, a Shanghai TV station. Debuted in China in May 2014, Xiaoice has had more than 30 billion mainly text conversations with 660 million people around the world. Continue reading Microsoft Chatbot Xiaoice Excels at AI-to-Human Engagement

Federal Government Takes Additional Steps to Block Huawei

The U.S. government is reportedly pushing for foreign allies to stop using hardware from China-based Huawei Technologies Co. According to people familiar with the initiative, the government is aiming to convince wireless and Internet service providers to avoid telecom equipment that comes from Huawei in an effort to increase security. Washington officials are particularly concerned about countries that host military bases. The U.S. and Australia already have bans in place to curb the risk of cyberattacks. Huawei is the world’s largest telecommunications provider. Continue reading Federal Government Takes Additional Steps to Block Huawei

Netflix Plans to Experiment With Lower Price in Asian Markets

Netflix revealed its plan to test a lower-priced tier of its subscription streaming service in certain areas as part of a strategy to boost sales, especially in emerging markets such as Asia. While the company has not committed to specific regions or a time frame, CEO Reed Hastings explained that Netflix is looking to experiment. The move would represent a shift for the company, which has consistently maintained or raised its prices while spending more on new content and local productions to attract new customers. Netflix is not expected to reduce the cost of its lowest tier, but rather introduce an alternate fourth tier with different features. Continue reading Netflix Plans to Experiment With Lower Price in Asian Markets

Apple Streaming TV Service to Launch Worldwide Next Year

Apple is reportedly planning to introduce its subscription streaming television service in more than 100 countries during the first half of next year. Such a global launch could help make Apple a serious competitor with established services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that already have an international presence. The service is expected to offer original programming free to iOS device owners while allowing users to sign up for third party services and TV network subscriptions. It will launch in the U.S. a few months prior to the global rollout. Continue reading Apple Streaming TV Service to Launch Worldwide Next Year

ARM and Intel Team on Common Standards for IoT Devices

Semiconductor manufacturer ARM, a division of Japan’s SoftBank, and Silicon Valley tech giant Intel have put aside a longstanding rivalry in order to forge a strategic partnership that will adopt common standards developed by Intel for the Internet of Things. The lack of such standards to manage the security of IoT devices, networks and data has been a stumbling block to the growth of the sector. Gartner analyst Bill Ray explains that NXP Semiconductors, Renesas Electronics and Microchip Technology’s Atmel rely on ARM designs, while Intel’s processors dominate today’s cloud data center market. Continue reading ARM and Intel Team on Common Standards for IoT Devices

Walmart Expands Offerings in Growing Rivalry With Amazon

To better compete with Amazon, Walmart is reinventing itself from a big box retailer into a tech powerhouse, starting with the 2016 purchase of Jet.com. Other recent deals in this vein include a partnership with Alphabet’s Waymo to provide rides to and from its stores; Uber, Lyft and Postmates deals for grocery delivery; and another with Japan’s Rakuten for Kobo e-readers. Last month, Walmart switched its cloud operations to Microsoft Azure and Office 365 and inked a five-year deal to work with Microsoft on AI projects. Continue reading Walmart Expands Offerings in Growing Rivalry With Amazon

App Annie Shares Trends of the App Store’s First 10 Years

Apple’s App Store turns 10 on Tuesday, and to commemorate the milestone App Annie has compiled some interesting statistics. For example, consumers have spent $130 billion on iOS apps and have downloaded 170 billion of them. The average iPhone owner has installed more than 100 apps, yet opens less than 40 of them monthly. According to App Annie, social media giant Facebook is the most downloaded app in the history of the App Store, followed by Facebook Messenger, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, Google Maps, Snapchat and Skype. Continue reading App Annie Shares Trends of the App Store’s First 10 Years

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