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

Cynora’s New OLED Tech Garners Samsung, LG Investment

Samsung Ventures, the South Korean company’s investment unit, and LG’s Display division has invested €25 million ($30 million) in Bruchsal, Germany-based OLED display firm Cynora, founded in 2008. Cynora calls itself a leader in TADF (thermally activated delayed fluorescence) technology and is also developing a new type of organic high-efficiency blue OLED emitting material. With the rising popularity of OLED displays, several companies are working on new OLED emitter materials that will last longer and not use heavy metals. Continue reading Cynora’s New OLED Tech Garners Samsung, LG Investment

VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

Over the weekend, the Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF) released its draft VR and 360 video production and distribution guidelines at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam. The draft document begins with an intro section suggesting best practices for VR/360 production, including experiences with three degrees of freedom (3DOF). It then makes specific recommendations for the technical aspects of visual and audio VR/360 content production, media and presentation profiles, and content security. VRIF aims to release the full guidelines, with an emphasis on an open ecosystem, at CES 2018 in January. Continue reading VR Industry Forum Draft Guidelines Push for Open Ecosystem

YouTube Video Is Increasingly Popular as Viewers Go Mobile

Video consumption is continuing its transition from the living room to mobile devices. Android users in the U.S. watched nearly 1 billion hours worth of YouTube video content in July — the most time ever spent over a month in a single streaming video app. According to App Annie, the Android version of YouTube’s app accounted for about 80 percent of the 12 billion hours Americans spent between July 2016 and July 2017 using the top 10 Android apps for streaming video. Total time spent by consumers using video streaming apps jumped 45 percent from the previous year. Following YouTube is Netflix, Twitch, Hulu and Amazon Video. Continue reading YouTube Video Is Increasingly Popular as Viewers Go Mobile

Facebook’s New Instant Videos Feature Encourages Viewing

Facebook is experimenting with Instant Videos, a new feature that downloads videos while the user is connected to Wi-Fi. Instant Videos then allows the user to watch these pre-loaded videos as soon she’s in the app, without wasting time or data downloading them. That furthers Facebook’s mandate to become a “video-first” platform, and saves the viewer the cost of using data, potentially encouraging more viewing. Users who don’t have much storage on their phones, however, may not want the extra videos taking up more space. Continue reading Facebook’s New Instant Videos Feature Encourages Viewing

Google Ending ‘First Click Free’ Policy to Appease Publishers

For years, Google has encouraged publishers to partake in its “first click free” policy, which allows its search engine users to circumvent news website paywalls for a limited amount of content. Publishers have complained that the policy hurts subscription growth, but that if they don’t participate, Google will list their sites further down in search rankings. Now, in response to long-standing publisher opposition, Google is ending that policy, letting publishers determine how users access their sites from search results. Continue reading Google Ending ‘First Click Free’ Policy to Appease Publishers

Toshiba Is Accepting Bids for its Profitable Memory-Chip Unit

Toshiba announced that it is selling its memory-chip business, a major supplier to some of the world’s top CE manufacturers, and expects to reach an agreement by the end of the month. Leading the race is a group including private-equity firm Bain Capital and tech companies such as Apple, Dell, Seagate, SK Hynix and Innovation Network Corp. of Japan. Insiders indicate the bid values Toshiba’s chip business at $19 billion. Apple and Dell aim to keep the Toshiba unit as a viable supplier, while hoping it remains competitive with flash memory-chip leader Samsung. Continue reading Toshiba Is Accepting Bids for its Profitable Memory-Chip Unit

Growth of Smart Devices Requires a Next-Gen Wi-Fi Solution

As smart devices in the home multiply, so does the need for Wi-Fi. Cisco reports that, through 2021, data routed via Wi-Fi to mobile devices will grow 48 percent a year. Several ideas to meet the demand have been proposed. Some have suggested putting a router in every room or floor of the house; most routers already connect to the cloud to optimize the network. Another idea is for the user to rent Wi-Fi through his or her cable company. Yet another is WiGig, whereby smart devices themselves would provide bandwidth. Continue reading Growth of Smart Devices Requires a Next-Gen Wi-Fi Solution

Atlassian’s Stride Software Is Designed for Corporate Teams

Australia-based Atlassian, which offers enterprise software, has introduced a new program called Stride that combines chat, conference calls and project tracking. Similar to the company’s HipChat messaging service and Jira project management, Stride is available for desktop computers and mobile phones, and works with competing software. Stride faces a competitive landscape, including Slack Technologies, Dropbox and Microsoft. Atlassian doesn’t use salespeople but rather gets small teams to use its software, and then expands on that foundation. Continue reading Atlassian’s Stride Software Is Designed for Corporate Teams

OTOY Uses Blockchain Tech for Distributed Cloud Rendering

The technology underlying Bitcoin is now under development to render 3D visual effects. Los Angeles-based OTOY, which provides a GPU-based software system to create a cloud-based pipeline for 3D content, is hoping to raise as much as $134 million to develop Rndr, distributed cloud rendering for VR and other content, via blockchain technology. HBO and Discovery have invested in OTOY, which has also partnered with Facebook and Mattel. Relying on cloud-based GPUs for rendering is a much less expensive solution than supercomputers. Continue reading OTOY Uses Blockchain Tech for Distributed Cloud Rendering

Pew: 67 Percent of Americans Turn to Social Media for News

According to new data from Pew Research Center, 67 percent of American adults “get at least some of their news on social media,” up from 62 percent in 2016. Facebook is most popular for news, followed by YouTube and Twitter. While percentages did not significantly change year-over-year for platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Tumblr, an increasing number of adults are turning to Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat. Interestingly, millennials do not represent all new social media news consumers. The research found that 55 percent of today’s Americans age 50 or older say they get news on social media sites, a 10 percent increase over last year. Continue reading Pew: 67 Percent of Americans Turn to Social Media for News

Apple, Now a Content Creator, Speaks Up for Net Neutrality

After remaining quiet on the topic over the past months, Apple has finally made its position clear on net neutrality, urging the current administration to preserve it and prevent service providers from interfering or slowing Internet traffic. In its comments to the Federal Communications Commission, Apple also asked chair Ajit Pai not to end the ban against “fast lanes” that allow broadband providers to charge for delivery of specific content, something that could impact consumers of Apple’s fare. Continue reading Apple, Now a Content Creator, Speaks Up for Net Neutrality

Western Digital Acquires Upthere to Expand Cloud Services

Western Digital announced its acquisition of cloud services startup Upthere, which offers storage solutions for photos, videos, documents and music. “The Upthere app is platform agnostic and available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, as well as macOS and Windows PCs,” notes the press release. “The addition of Upthere’s technology and team to Western Digital’s Client Solutions business unit will enhance the company’s consumer products portfolio with new cloud-based offerings.” Upthere CEO Chris Bourdon and his team will continue under Western Digital. Barbara Nelson, formerly of cloud security business IronKey, will lead Western Digital’s Cloud Services business. Continue reading Western Digital Acquires Upthere to Expand Cloud Services

Amazon, Microsoft Partner to Connect Their Voice Assistants

In a competitive landscape, Amazon and Microsoft are forming a rare partnership to enable communication between their respective voice assistants, Alexa and Cortana. This will allow users to summon Cortana using Alexa and vice versa, by the end of 2017. Chief executives Jeff Bezos and Satya Nadella made the move because of their concern that keeping digital assistants in a walled garden could hold back their progress, and that, by facilitating communication between them, end users could enjoy each one’s unique strengths. Continue reading Amazon, Microsoft Partner to Connect Their Voice Assistants

Instagram Looks to Expand its Global Audience With Stories

As part of its larger strategy to attract international users who may face inconsistent or costly mobile Internet service, Facebook-owned Instagram has been ramping up the web version of its photo- and video-sharing application. The latest upgrade brings Stories, “one of Instagram’s most popular features, copied from Snapchat, which lets people post videos and photos that disappear after 24 hours,” reports Bloomberg. “The number of people accessing Instagram through the web, instead of an app, is growing, the company said. More than 80 percent of its users are outside the U.S.” Continue reading Instagram Looks to Expand its Global Audience With Stories

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