Google Fined $5 Billion by European Union in Antitrust Case

Google has been fined a record $5.06 billion by the European Union for antitrust violations. The tech giant is accused of abusing the market dominance of its Internet search services and Android mobile operating system. The record fine underlines how European regulators are pushing for more control in today’s digital economy. Google has 90 days to comply and pay the EU fine, or face penalties of up to 5 percent of parent company Alphabet’s daily worldwide revenues (Alphabet earned more than $9 billion in profit for Q1; Google’s net profit for 2017 was $12.62 billion). Google already announced it plans to appeal the ruling; the case could potentially last years. Continue reading Google Fined $5 Billion by European Union in Antitrust Case

Netflix ‘Smart Downloads’ Tool Makes Mobile Viewing Easier

Netflix’s new “Smart Downloads” tool helps mobile viewers manage their content storage by automatically deleting TV show episodes after they have been viewed and then replacing them with upcoming episodes in the queue. The company introduced offline viewing of certain movies and TV shows in 2016 based on subscriber demand. Now, Netflix estimates that about 60 percent of its global users access the streaming service on their mobile devices at least once a month. With the new feature, mobile users can minimize the amount of manual TV show downloads necessary for offline viewing. Continue reading Netflix ‘Smart Downloads’ Tool Makes Mobile Viewing Easier

Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

Senators Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) have written a letter to Federal Trade Commission chair Joseph Simons requesting that his agency investigate the business practices of smart TV manufacturers. The two senators are concerned about “consumer privacy issues raised by the proliferation of smart TV technology,” since some companies are able to identify what people are watching and use that data to feed ads to other device’s in the consumer’s home. Continue reading Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

U.S. Commerce Department Lifts Trade Ban on China’s ZTE

Following a deal made by President Trump, the U.S. Commerce Department has given the go-ahead to Chinese telecom company ZTE to resume its commercial relations with U.S. suppliers. ZTE was told the ban would be lifted once the company placed $400 million into an escrow account and paid a $1 billion fine, part of the penalty the Department had imposed on ZTE for breaking an earlier agreement to not sell to Iran and North Korea. ZTE’s failure to make good on this agreement led the Commerce Department to ban U.S. companies from selling to the Chinese company. Continue reading U.S. Commerce Department Lifts Trade Ban on China’s ZTE

Google Expected to Be Issued Major Antitrust Fine in Europe

The European Commission, executive arm of the European Union, is expected to issue a multibillion-euro antitrust fine against Google, according to insiders. Google will likely be charged with forcing the company’s search and Web browsing tools on manufacturers of Android-equipped mobile devices, which affects Google’s ecosystem and its successful advertising business. In addition to a hefty fine, Google will likely be ordered to make adjustments to its business practices in Europe related to Android, the most widely-deployed mobile operating system in the world. Continue reading Google Expected to Be Issued Major Antitrust Fine in Europe

Wi-Fi Will Require Enhancements to Keep Up With 5G Tech

High-bandwidth 5G technology will make our mobile phones, tablets and computers much faster, with even the earliest 5G devices capable of 1 to 5 gigabit per second speeds — 10 to 100 times faster than today’s home broadband networks. We’ll still need the modem or Wi-Fi network for data service, and cable companies plan to upgrade their home services to be able to offer 5G. But Wi-Fi is another story: current routers don’t have enough bandwidth for the high-resolution content that 5G can offer, making its future uncertain. Continue reading Wi-Fi Will Require Enhancements to Keep Up With 5G Tech

Samsung’s Next Frame TV Improves Smart Controls, HDR

Samsung announced that its next-gen Frame TV — which doubles as a rotating art display — features an updated artwork UI, expanded art library and additional customization features. The 4K UHD screen has been upgraded from HDR Pro to HDR10+ — and now comes with Bixby so that users can control the TV and compatible home devices by voice. The unit also touts new smart capabilities that make it easier to transfer Wi-Fi and Samsung account info from smartphones to the TV set via Bluetooth Low Energy. The new 55-inch Frame TV is available for $1,999, while the 65-inch version runs for $2,799. Continue reading Samsung’s Next Frame TV Improves Smart Controls, HDR

Netflix Now Tops Broadcast, Cable, YouTube for TV Viewing

According to a new Cowen & Co. survey of U.S. consumers, subscription-video service Netflix is now the top choice for watching entertainment content on TV. In response to the question, “Which platforms do you use most often to view video content on TV?” — 27 percent of the 2,500 respondents said they prefer Netflix, while 20 percent opt for basic cable, 18 percent for broadcast television, and 11 percent for YouTube. Meanwhile, Netflix is reportedly testing a new Ultra tier that would allow simultaneous streaming of Ultra HD video and audio across four devices. Continue reading Netflix Now Tops Broadcast, Cable, YouTube for TV Viewing

Facebook Notifying Over 800,000 Users About Blocking Bug

Facebook announced yesterday that it was notifying more than 800,000 users about a bug in Facebook and Messenger that unblocked some of the people that those users had previously blocked. The bug was active between May 29th and June 5th. “It did not reinstate any friend connections that had been severed,” according to Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan. “83 percent of people affected by the bug had only one person they had blocked temporarily unblocked, and someone who was unblocked might have been able to contact people on Messenger who had blocked them.” Continue reading Facebook Notifying Over 800,000 Users About Blocking Bug

Apple and Samsung Settle Legal Battle Over Phone Patents

Apple and Samsung have settled their long-running patent dispute over allegations that Samsung had violated design and utility patents by copying various iPhone features. The seven-year battle began in 2011, initially resulting in a $1 billion ruling in favor of Apple. However, a number of appeals and countersuits sent the case to the Supreme Court and back, until yesterday when the two companies informed Judge Lucy Koh in a court filing that they had finally reached a settlement. Terms of the new agreement were not disclosed, but Samsung previously paid Apple $399 million for patent infringement. Continue reading Apple and Samsung Settle Legal Battle Over Phone Patents

Facebook’s Instagram Launches IGTV for Hour-Long Videos

Instagram is launching IGTV, a standalone app that allows users to post vertically shot videos up to an hour long. The move puts the Facebook-owned platform in direct competition with Google-owned YouTube and its own parent company. Instagram has allowed one-minute videos to be posted since 2012, when Facebook acquired it for $1 billion. Instagram also aped Snapshot with disappearing posts dubbed Stories. The company says it now has one billion monthly users, compared to YouTube’s 1.9 billion and Facebook’s 2.2 billion. Continue reading Facebook’s Instagram Launches IGTV for Hour-Long Videos

Social Media Continues Growth Across Developing Markets

A new report from the Pew Research Center notes that social media growth has stalled across developed markets but continues to expand in the developing world — good news for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his plan to bring Internet access to emerging markets. Internet use and smartphone ownership has also plateaued in developed markets over 2015-2017, while expanding in emerging economies. Pew Research polled more than 40,000 citizens of 39 countries during February to May in 2017 to create its report. Continue reading Social Media Continues Growth Across Developing Markets

Brand Strategy for Mobile Apps Is Crucial, Tricky to Manage

Brands need an app strategy, say the experts. Shoppers, especially millennials, are increasingly purchasing goods through their smartphones. Forrester Analytics reports that smartphone purchases in 2018 will reach $118 billion, up from $13.4 billion in 2013. But to be successful with an app, the brand needs to ensure that its performance is superior, as users will quickly rid themselves of apps that are slow, push too many notifications, do not offer exclusive sales or promotions or have a confusing layout. Continue reading Brand Strategy for Mobile Apps Is Crucial, Tricky to Manage

Research Reveals Fewer People Rely on Facebook for News

Research by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism reveals that younger people have changed their social media habits on consuming news. For Reuters, YouGov surveyed 74,000 people in 37 markets about their social media habits, and found that, among younger people, use of Facebook for news is down 9 percent from last year. Instead, this group is more likely to use Facebook’s WhatsApp to discuss current events in a more private forum. The survey took place before Facebook changed its News Feed filters in January. Continue reading Research Reveals Fewer People Rely on Facebook for News

Samsung Could Launch Foldable Galaxy X Phone Next Year

After working on foldable displays for years, multiple reports suggest that Samsung may be ready to introduce its first flexible smartphone in 2019 (possibly in time for Mobile World Congress in February). Dubbed the Galaxy X, the phone could cost as much as $1,850, according to Kim Jang-yeol of Golden Bridge Investment. Components needed to produce the new phones have reportedly already been ordered by the South Korean company, and in its end-of-2017 financial report Samsung addressed plans to “differentiate its smartphones by adopting cutting edge technologies, such as foldable OLED displays.” Continue reading Samsung Could Launch Foldable Galaxy X Phone Next Year

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