SoftBank Signals Major Ambitions with $100 Billion Tech Fund

Japan’s SoftBank Group, led by chief exec Masayoshi Son, is partnering with a Saudi sovereign-wealth fund to establish a multibillion-dollar tech investment fund. SoftBank is an ambitious tech investor, as evidenced by its recent deals with China’s Alibaba Group, mobile carrier Sprint and chip designer ARM Holdings. Today, the company “plans to invest at least $25 billion over the next five years through a fund dubbed the SoftBank Vision Fund,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund may contribute an additional $45 billion over the next five years as the fund’s lead partner.” SoftBank is in talks with additional global investors, who could “push the new fund up to $100 billion to become the world’s ‘biggest investor’ in technology over the next decade.” Continue reading SoftBank Signals Major Ambitions with $100 Billion Tech Fund

Facebook Allows You to Watch News Feed Videos on Your TV

Facebook has launched a new iOS feature (coming soon to Android) that enables users to cast News Feed videos to TV sets for stream through AirPlay devices, Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast and Google Cast devices. “The move could help Facebook generate more video ad revenue, and increase usage time by giving people the richest possible viewing experience while at home,” suggests TechCrunch. Users can continue to scroll through the Facebook feed as the video streams, allowing the social platform to serve as both first and second screen. Periscope is taking a different tack to do the same “by allowing professional content broadcasts to be piped into Periscope and Twitter via its new Producer feature.” Continue reading Facebook Allows You to Watch News Feed Videos on Your TV

Game Engines Are Now Entrée to Better Titles, Faster Delivery

With its game engine, Electronic Arts can apply code created for one game to another new game. EA has evolved its engine, now integrating the features of a dozen into a single game engine, dubbed Frostbite, which was used most recently to create the title “FIFA 17.” Now, Facebook, Amazon and other tech companies are also interested in game engines, which can handle graphics and physics as well as save time and money on R&D, and open doors to development in new media markets such as virtual reality. Continue reading Game Engines Are Now Entrée to Better Titles, Faster Delivery

Amblin and Alibaba Ink Mutually Beneficial Moviemaking Deal

Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment just inked a deal with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group to produce, finance and distribute movies. The relationship gives Alibaba an entrée into the Hollywood moviemaking industry, and Amblin a pipeline to distribution in China. Although the financial details of the deal were not disclosed, Alibaba will now have a minority equity stake in Amblin and a seat on its board, and Amblin will have access to the Chinese company’s massive database on consumers there. Continue reading Amblin and Alibaba Ink Mutually Beneficial Moviemaking Deal

In a Big Win for Apple, Appeals Court Reinstates Jury Verdict

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC reinstated the $119.6 million that a San Jose, California jury awarded Apple against Samsung. The recent ruling was 8-3, representing a full slate of judges, unlike the previous three-judge panel that, this last February, overturned the original verdict. The judges in the latest ruling stated that that panel examined evidence outside the record of the case, contrary to U.S. Supreme Court limits on the scope of review. Continue reading In a Big Win for Apple, Appeals Court Reinstates Jury Verdict

Samsung Pulls the Plug on its Troubled Galaxy Note 7 Phone

In the latest update to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 saga, the company announced it would permanently discontinue production and sales of the smartphone, “pulling the plug on a premium product whose botched recall has brought headaches to consumers and inflicted damage on the Samsung brand,” reports The Wall Street Journal. In the wake of overheating problems and reported fires, the company explained to South Korean regulators that it would cease making the device. Analysts including Sanford C. Bernstein’s Mark Newman suggest Samsung should drop the Galaxy Note series altogether, while Macquarie analyst Daniel Kim estimates losses could reach $2.8 billion for the last three months of 2016, explains WSJ, “enough to wipe out the entire mobile division’s operating profits for the fourth quarter.” Continue reading Samsung Pulls the Plug on its Troubled Galaxy Note 7 Phone

Samsung Temporarily Halts Production of its Troubled Note 7

Samsung has reportedly stopped production of its Galaxy Note 7 as the company struggles with the smartphone’s recall and additional reports about battery problems, overheating and fires regarding replacement devices (including one incident prior to takeoff of a Southwest Airlines flight). “Samsung understands the concern our carriers and consumers must be feeling after recent reports have raised questions about our newly released replacement Note 7 devices,” the company said, noting that an investigation is underway. According to The Wall Street Journal, AT&T and T-Mobile “said that they would stop issuing new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to replace the ones turned in by U.S. customers.” Continue reading Samsung Temporarily Halts Production of its Troubled Note 7

Samsung’s Viv Digital Assistant to Bring AI to Phones, Beyond

Samsung just acquired Viv, an AI-powered digital assistant created by the founders of Siri. Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham created Siri and sold it to Apple in 2010, leaving shortly thereafter to found Viv in 2012. Viv will operate as an independent company, but provide services to Samsung, which ships 500 million devices annually. Viv’s highlights are that it allows interconnectedness of information across apps and services, and its AI can write its own code to accomplish new tasks. Continue reading Samsung’s Viv Digital Assistant to Bring AI to Phones, Beyond

Snapchat Parent Preparing IPO, Valuation Could Exceed $25B

Snap Inc., the newly named parent company of messaging service Snapchat, is readying an initial public offering that could value the company at more than $25 billion. Snap is reportedly prepping “for an IPO with a view toward selling the shares as early as late March,” explains The Wall Street Journal. “There is no guarantee the four-year-old Venice, California, company will proceed with a share sale in that time frame, and there is no guarantee it will achieve a valuation of $25 billion or more.” However, if the company does reach that value, “it would be the biggest company to go public on a U.S. exchange since 2014″ when China’s Alibaba Group Holding made its debut. Continue reading Snapchat Parent Preparing IPO, Valuation Could Exceed $25B

YouTube Go Maximized for New Users of Brazil, China, India

YouTube has spent more than a year creating YouTube Go, a site that has been customized to accommodate the limitations and needs of millions of new users from Brazil, China, India and Indonesia. These new users, online for the first time, bring different devices, connectivity and ideas about what the Internet is to them. YouTube has sent designers, engineers and researchers to those countries to plan a strategy. The challenges are balanced by the chance to engage more than one billion people of every socioeconomic level. Continue reading YouTube Go Maximized for New Users of Brazil, China, India

Facebook Launches Marketplace, Battles Sale of Illegal Items

This last Monday, Facebook began gradually introducing a new feature, Marketplace, which, similar to Craigslist, lets users buy and sell items. The app will be first introduced to users in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom, and will also be available on the desktop in the next few months. Because most Facebook users access the site via mobile phones, Marketplace will provide better location data for matching buyers and sellers than Craigslist. Since the launch, however, Facebook has been dealing with illegal items for sale. Continue reading Facebook Launches Marketplace, Battles Sale of Illegal Items

Google Aims to Deploy Both Wireless and Fiber with Webpass

Google Fiber, an Alphabet company, just asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to expand its current service using the 70/80 Ghz band to connect apartments to high-speed Internet. The technology, which Google Fiber acquired by purchasing San Francisco broadband company Webpass, beams Internet signals to the roofs of apartment buildings, from there connecting individual apartments via cable. Now, Google Fiber wants to roll out this service on a much larger scale. Continue reading Google Aims to Deploy Both Wireless and Fiber with Webpass

StubHub Rolls Out First Ticketing App Available for Apple TV

StubHub has become the first ticketing service to be made available on Apple TV. Users of the fourth-gen connected-TV device can now browse, check seating options, and buy tickets to concerts and sporting events through their televisions (although, to make a purchase, explains TechCrunch, “the Apple TV app will redirect users back to your mobile phone to complete the process”). StubHub, which was acquired by eBay in 2007, currently sells tickets via mobile apps for iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch and Android devices. According to Variety, “the company has partnerships with more than 60 teams in the MLB, NBA, NHL, Major League Soccer and NCAA, as well as AEG, AXS and Spectra.” Continue reading StubHub Rolls Out First Ticketing App Available for Apple TV

One Million Friends Video-Chatting with New Houseparty App

Life on Air, whose Meerkat debuted at South by Southwest last year and put live streaming on the map, introduced Houseparty, an iOS and Android app for video chatting with friends. Dubbed a “synchronous social network” by the company, the app has operated under the radar for 10 months and now boasts nearly one million users. The question now is if the company can maintain the momentum or whether it will suffer a repeat of its experience in introducing a new sensation — and then losing ground to more sophisticated competitors. Continue reading One Million Friends Video-Chatting with New Houseparty App

Amazon’s New Fire TV Stick Includes Alexa Digital Assistant

Amazon’s newly debuted $40 Fire TV Stick is the cheapest way to access Alexa, the company’s digital assistant which enables users to find TV programs, purchase products on Amazon’s online store, hear news updates, play a song on Spotify or check the weather. According to Amazon, Alexa is currently capable of understanding 3,000 different commands and can also offer shows from 90 apps and channels. Fire TV Stick’s more than 4,000 apps include Netflix, Hulu, HBO, ESPN and Major League Baseball. Continue reading Amazon’s New Fire TV Stick Includes Alexa Digital Assistant

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