HTC Unveils Its First 5G-Ready Smart Device in Barcelona

At this week’s MWC Barcelona (formerly Mobile World Congress), HTC is showcasing its new 5G Hub — a smart device with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor that acts as a smart display, Android entertainment device and 5G hotspot for up to 20 users. It connects to 5G networks and enables low-latency gaming, 4K video streaming, and more. Pricing has yet to be revealed, but the company says it will be available Q2 2019. Currently compatible with the Sprint network, the device will likely run on other networks in the future. Continue reading HTC Unveils Its First 5G-Ready Smart Device in Barcelona

Apple, Goldman Sachs Issue Credit Card Linked to iPhones

In the next few weeks, Apple and Goldman Sachs Group will issue a joint credit card for testing to employees, for a launch later in 2019. The card will offer consumers features on Apple’s Wallet app that will allow them to track their balances and rewards as well as set spending goals, said sources. With the card, Apple makes a major move into iPhone users’ finances. For Goldman Sachs, the card is part of a strategy to appeal to ordinary consumers. Neither company, however, has much experience in this arena. Continue reading Apple, Goldman Sachs Issue Credit Card Linked to iPhones

Odeon Cinema and Telia Test 5G-Connected Movie Theater

Odeon Cinema Center in Oslo and Norwegian mobile firm Telia teamed to operate the first 5G-connected movie theater, presenting films streamed over the next-gen network. The plan was announced in December, with the introduction of a 5G “test network.” The two companies are still in test mode with the launch of the 5G-enabled Odeon, to demonstrate how 5G will replace 4G and at least some wired broadband services. The Odeon is in fact using 5G to transfer the films to its own server, and said the system “works excellently.” Continue reading Odeon Cinema and Telia Test 5G-Connected Movie Theater

Advertisers to Spend More on Digital Than Traditional Media

New estimates from eMarketer indicate that advertisers in the U.S. will spend more on digital advertising through the likes of Facebook and Google in 2019 than traditional media such as television, radio and newspapers. Advertisers are expected to spend in excess of $129 billion on digital advertising this year as compared to the more than $109 billion they will spend on traditional advertising. The shift would mark the first time in history that digital advertising would comprise more than half of the U.S. ad market. Continue reading Advertisers to Spend More on Digital Than Traditional Media

GAO Report Suggests GDPR-Like Internet Data Privacy Law

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an auditing agency, issued an independent report that encouraged Congress to develop an Internet data privacy legislation similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The House Energy and Commerce Committee requested this GAO report two years ago; a February 26 hearing will discuss the report’s findings and the possibility of drafting such legislation. Prospects for such a law now is weaker due to partisan divides over federal regulation. Continue reading GAO Report Suggests GDPR-Like Internet Data Privacy Law

ETC@USC Publishes Coverage and Analysis of CES 2019

The Entertainment Technology Center’s team of journalists and analysts reported live from CES 2019 in Las Vegas last month. Our extensive post show analysis — which includes video reports, keynote and panel overviews, and coverage of trends regarding products and services that will impact media & entertainment — is now available online. This year’s report examines key areas such as 5G technology, emergence of the Data Age, introduction of commercial quantum computing, advances in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, AR/VR, smart homes, digital assistants, robotics, and an array of CE products and services related to these growing sectors. Continue reading ETC@USC Publishes Coverage and Analysis of CES 2019

Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

The number of Snapchat app users will remain the same this quarter, news that was a relief to investors and helped propel Snap shares up 22 percent, to $8.62 in after hours trading. Since it went public in March 2017, Snapchat has competed with Facebook’s Instagram, which adopted many Snapchat features. Snap also redesigned the app, to the dismay of some advertisers and users. In Q4, Snap, with 186 million daily active users, was on a par with the previous quarter, although down one million from the same period a year ago. Continue reading Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

Super Bowl Expands to More Apps, Sets Streaming Records

While Super Bowl LIII between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams experienced a drop in television viewership (Nielsen indicates the game generated an average audience of 98.2 million viewers), CBS revealed that streaming the event reached new popularity this year. According to the network, the Super Bowl was viewed by 100.7 million viewers across all platforms, including digital and streaming. CBS notes that the game was streamed on 7.5 million unique devices, marking a 20 percent jump over the previous year and a new streaming record for the Super Bowl. It was available across an array of online and mobile properties. Continue reading Super Bowl Expands to More Apps, Sets Streaming Records

Twitter Releases Daily Active Users Total For the First Time

Twitter shared details regarding its total number of daily users for the first time, and it turns out the platform has more than 60 million fewer daily users than Snapchat, and significantly less users than Facebook’s messaging service WhatsApp. However, since Twitter currently has 126 million daily active users (DAU), that means about 39 percent of its monthly active users (MAU) are now using the app on a daily basis, which should prove to be an important metric to investors as it shows that Twitter is in fact growing. Continue reading Twitter Releases Daily Active Users Total For the First Time

Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Alphabet’s revenue is booming, but its costs are also increasing, the result of its efforts to diversify beyond online advertising. Thus, although Internet search showed very strong returns, Alphabet shares fell in after-hours trading due to its shrinking margins and slower revenue growth. In addition to its Google search engine, Alphabet comprises YouTube and Waymo self-driving car divisions. The parent company’s increased spending on those two divisions in Q4 pushed margins down to 21 percent from 24 percent a year earlier. Continue reading Alphabet Revenue Robust, But Costs of Diversification Grow

Spotify Commits to Podcast Network With Major Acquisitions

Streaming music giant Spotify has signaled its commitment to building a leading podcast network with strategic acquisitions of podcast publishing platform Anchor and podcast content creator Gimlet Media. The purchases are part of the company’s plan to produce more original programming, grow Spotify’s audience, and eventually become the top global audio platform. Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek predicts that expanding podcast offerings will lead to a future in which non-music audio content will represent 20 percent of listening via Spotify. Continue reading Spotify Commits to Podcast Network With Major Acquisitions

Facebook Solicited Teens to Download Its Surveillance Tool

An investigation reveals that Facebook has been secretly paying users ages 13 to 35 since 2016 to install an iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app that gives the company access to all of their smartphone and Internet activity. The Research app is similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and may also be a violation of Apple policy. Legislators on both sides of the aisle were infuriated at the news, decrying the surveillance technology. Facebook’s earlier Onavo app was also criticized as spyware.

Continue reading Facebook Solicited Teens to Download Its Surveillance Tool

Snapchat Considers Shift in Its Model With Permanent Snaps

Snap Inc. is reportedly mulling the introduction of longer lasting or permanent content to its popular Snapchat app, which has found a significant audience with a model based on disappearing photos and videos. Changing its most iconic feature would mark a major departure for Snap, but could lead to a much needed revenue source for the company if it doesn’t alienate its current users. Snapchat, which launched in 2011, is particularly popular with teens and millennials. Snap is also said to be considering an option that would allow for identifying users who create public posts. Continue reading Snapchat Considers Shift in Its Model With Permanent Snaps

Apple Continues Push into Services With Subscription Plans

Apple is reportedly planning a new subscription service that would serve like a Netflix for games, according to people familiar with the initiative. The company began private meetings with game developers during the second half of last year. Insiders suggest Apple has also discussed potential publishing partnerships that could provide the tech giant with control over distribution, marketing and other areas. Plans are believed to be in the early stages and details, including cost of a possible subscription service, are not yet available. Meanwhile, Apple has also been working on subscription video and magazine services. Continue reading Apple Continues Push into Services With Subscription Plans

Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to integrate the company’s Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp messaging apps. According to those familiar with the plan, the three services will continue operating as standalone apps, but their tech infrastructure will be stitched together. For the first time, the messaging networks’ 2.6 billion global users will be able to communicate across platforms. The initiative is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2020. It will require teams to significantly reconfigure functionality of all three services and will include new end-to-end encryption. Continue reading Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

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