Amazon Grows its Ad Business With Sponsored Product Ads

To grow its advertising business, Amazon is now more aggressive with sponsored product ads, first launched in 2012. A product search will first show sponsored ads, taking up the whole screen above the fold (everything seen before the user scrolls) or, in the case of a mobile phone, the entire first screen. Those sponsored ads are followed by an ad for Amazon’s 365 Everyday Value brand, part of its Whole Foods purchase. The user has to scroll down halfway on the next browser page to find organic search results. Continue reading Amazon Grows its Ad Business With Sponsored Product Ads

Apple Working on Portal for Law Enforcement Data Requests

According to a recent letter from Apple general counsel Kate Adams to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Apple has plans to develop an online portal this year that would assist law enforcement in requesting user data in addition to educating police about the type of data that would be available for request. While the iPhone maker has provided user data to law enforcement in the past, including data stored in its iCloud, the company has sparred with law enforcement and government agencies regarding the encryption of its CE devices. Continue reading Apple Working on Portal for Law Enforcement Data Requests

Apple Reportedly Pitching its Texture Service to Newspapers

In March, Apple purchased digital magazine service Texture, described as a Netflix for magazines, which lets subscribers read as many stories as they want from dozens of magazines for $10 per month. Now, according to sources, Apple — led by senior vice president of Internet software and services Eddy Cue — wants to add daily news and is in talks with The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post about adding their stories to the app. The move is part of Apple’s increased interest in content. Continue reading Apple Reportedly Pitching its Texture Service to Newspapers

Instagram Eyes E-Commerce With Standalone Shopping App

Facebook’s photo- and video-sharing service Instagram is reportedly developing a standalone app designed specifically for shopping. The app, possibly to be named IG Shopping, is expected to help users browse products from merchants and businesses and then make purchases directly within the app. The Verge initially broke the news based on information from sources familiar with the matter, but Instagram has yet to confirm the app or a potential launch date. According to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, over 25 million businesses presently have Instagram accounts, 2 million of which are advertisers. Continue reading Instagram Eyes E-Commerce With Standalone Shopping App

EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

The EU’s European Commission announced its plans to make Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services operating within the European Union to dedicate at least 30 percent of their catalogs to content produced locally. A final vote approving the new law, described as “a mere formality” by Roberto Viola of the European Commission, is expected in December. The European Union plans to publish a report that details the percentages of European projects that are tied to multiple streaming platforms. Netflix is reportedly already close to the 30 percent quota. Continue reading EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

Mozilla’s Upgraded Firefox to Block Tracking Codes by Default

Mozilla announced that future versions of its Firefox browser will automatically block tracking codes placed by advertisers, third parties or any other company that is not the website publisher. Also blocked will be trackers that take too long to load. Best of all for users, they will not have to download or install new software or change settings to enjoy this increased privacy. According to Mozilla, the new feature is already being tested and will be included in a Firefox version later in 2018. Continue reading Mozilla’s Upgraded Firefox to Block Tracking Codes by Default

Facebook Remains Popular Among U.S. Groups Except Teens

According to the latest eMarketer projections, the number of Facebook users in the United States will increase by only 0.9 percent this year to a total of 169.5 million. While the platform’s growth has leveled in the U.S., it remains the top social network among millennials, Generation X and baby boomers. However, interest in Facebook among U.S. teens continues to decline. Snapchat surpassed Facebook among teens in 2016 — and eMarketer predicts that Snapchat will attract 1.2 million new users ages 12 to 17 by 2022, while Facebook will lose 2.2 million teens during the same time frame. Continue reading Facebook Remains Popular Among U.S. Groups Except Teens

Sony Adds 200 Local Channels to its PlayStation Vue Service

Sony’s OTT service PlayStation Vue is expanding its lineup by adding 200 local stations across the U.S., including ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates and ESPN College Extra. With the expanded lineup, Playstation Vue now features more than 450 local stations. The service is available via Sony’s game console; across Android, iOS and web platforms; and media players such as Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, Google’s Chromecast and Roku devices. The additions could help the service compete with new players, including Hulu and YouTube TV. Continue reading Sony Adds 200 Local Channels to its PlayStation Vue Service

Google Redesigns its Wear OS, Streamlines the Smart Watch

Google is readying the release of its new, third version of Wear OS, which has been updated to be a speedy, inconspicuous platform rather than “Android on a smart watch.” It doesn’t feature any obvious improvements to battery life, but that’s an overall problem in the industry, not a Google shortcoming. According to Wear OS director of product Dennis Troper, users who are connected all the time will be able to be more present in the real world, similar to the goals of the company’s Digital Wellbeing initiative. Continue reading Google Redesigns its Wear OS, Streamlines the Smart Watch

Newzoo Upbeat on eSports, Predicting Dominance of Gaming

Newzoo predicts that eSports will earn $1.7 billion in revenues by 2021 and every major U.S. media conglomerate will own at least some eSports rights. To buttress the latter prediction, Newzoo notes that Disney, Comcast and AT&T are “already looking into content rights for eSports,” in part, at least, to “entice younger consumers.” The research firm further predicts that eSports content will not only be featured on these media outlets’ linear platforms but also on their nonlinear live-streaming platforms. Continue reading Newzoo Upbeat on eSports, Predicting Dominance of Gaming

Intel Consumer Study on Technology Considers Next 50 Years

Having turned 50 years old this year, Intel released a report on the Next 50, which highlights the thoughts of 1,000 consumers about the future of technology. The report, which was conducted with research firm PSB, revealed that though Americans are enthused about technology’s future potential, 40 percent of them believe it will also introduce as many new problems as solutions. Consumers were most excited about familiar technologies, including smartphones (87 percent), PCs (84 percent) and smart home technology (84 percent). Continue reading Intel Consumer Study on Technology Considers Next 50 Years

Apple Plans to Offer Three New iPhones With Bigger Screens

Apple is expected to launch three new mobile phones this fall that will mimic the edge-to-edge screen design of the company’s flagship iPhone X, released last November. According to those familiar with the plans, the new iPhones will vary in price and feature a range of features and sizes, although a wholly new design is not expected until 2019. The largest of the three new devices will reportedly tout a 6.5-inch display, stainless steel edges, and glass back with dual cameras. It will feature an OLED screen and the ability to view apps like Mail and Calendar side-by-side. Continue reading Apple Plans to Offer Three New iPhones With Bigger Screens

Twitch, Pokémon Company Team Up for Movie/TV Marathons

Twitch and The Pokémon Company International are joining forces to offer “Pokémon: The Series,” featuring 16 movies and 19 television seasons comprised of 932 episodes. Twitch plans to livestream the marathons — the longest program-related viewing event it has ever streamed — in several blocks, beginning August 27 and running into 2019. The two companies first partnered on the “Twitch Plays Pokémon” social experiment in 2014. The marathons will help market the Nintendo “Pokémon” games slated to debut this fall. Continue reading Twitch, Pokémon Company Team Up for Movie/TV Marathons

Sennheiser Records 3D Audio Thriller with New Smart Headset

Today’s personal video viewing elevates the need for immersive sound. Sennheiser has created a plug-and-play solution with its new prosumer-priced 3D AMBEO Smart Headset, which was recently used for “Final Stop” — a Sennheiser-sponsored short video billed as “a 3D audio thriller.” Shot on an iPhone with a professional crew, “Final Stop” leverages horror soundscapes made affordably possible by the Apogee-fueled headset. Sennheiser introduced the device last year under the AMBEO brand as a personal binaural recording headset. Continue reading Sennheiser Records 3D Audio Thriller with New Smart Headset

Some Developers Fed Up With Apple, Google App Store Taxes

Apple and Google are getting pushback from such companies as Netflix, Epic Games and Valve that have complained the tech behemoths collect too high of a tax for residing in their app stores. The number of such complaints has risen significantly, and new ways of reaching users has led some companies to avoid app stores altogether. That, combined with competition from those new sources and regulatory scrutiny threaten what has thus far been a source of billions of dollars in revenue for Apple and Google. Continue reading Some Developers Fed Up With Apple, Google App Store Taxes

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