Facebook Live Partners with Broadcast, Aims to Share Profits

Since Facebook rolled out Live to everyone in December, it’s quickly built momentum, distinguishing itself from YouTube and other video platforms, and building a massive audience. Although Facebook had to overcome a range of technical challenges to enable hundreds of thousands of phones to stream at the same time, it used its expertise and engineering capacity to do so. Now, Facebook is encouraging celebrities and broadcasters to create Live content, and is also working on a business model to share eventual revenues. Continue reading Facebook Live Partners with Broadcast, Aims to Share Profits

Verizon Invests in AwesomenessTV to Grow its Mobile Video

Verizon Communications announced yesterday that it has purchased a minority stake in AwesomenessTV, the digital entertainment network geared toward teens and young adults. Verizon is buying 24.5 percent of the video company, now valued at $650 million. DreamWorks Animation owns 51 percent of the unit (it acquired Awesomeness in 2013), and Hearst owns another 24.5 percent. According to the telco, plans include creating a “a first-of-its-kind premium short-form mobile video service featuring leading talent in front of and behind the camera.” Continue reading Verizon Invests in AwesomenessTV to Grow its Mobile Video

Microsoft Pushes Windows 10, Promotes Bots to Replace Apps

Microsoft is on track to reach the goal it set when it first introduced Windows 10 last July: to reach one billion devices within two or three years. Less than a year later, Windows 10, the latest version of its operating system, is running on 270 million active devices, adopted faster than even Windows 7, its previous high point. Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella is pinning future hopes on artificial intelligence and “bots” to create new ways to interact with computers, and replace apps as the dominant paradigm. Continue reading Microsoft Pushes Windows 10, Promotes Bots to Replace Apps

After Months of Setbacks, Foxconn Strikes Deal to Buy Sharp

Foxconn, the Taiwan-based factory operator best known for assembling Apple’s iPhones, is acquiring two-thirds of Japanese electronics manufacturer Sharp, which supplies phone screens to Apple. The $3.5 billion deal, which follows a slew of public negotiations, rumors and setbacks, could provide Foxconn with leverage to make it a more attractive Apple partner. However, some analysts suggest that the acquisition will hand Foxconn an ailing and costly business. Foxconn is facing rising labor costs in China and a global slowdown in smartphones, while Apple diversifies its supply chain. Continue reading After Months of Setbacks, Foxconn Strikes Deal to Buy Sharp

FBI Tests Method to Unlock iPhone, Cancels Today’s Hearing

The FBI asked to postpone a hearing scheduled for today regarding the Apple encryption case. The Justice Department may no longer need the tech company’s help in opening an iPhone used by gunman Syed Rizwan Farook in the San Bernardino shootings. A third party has reportedly come forward with a technique to help unlock the phone, which is currently being tested. Judge Sheri Pym of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted the Justice Department’s motion to postpone. The government is required to provide an update to the court by April 5. Continue reading FBI Tests Method to Unlock iPhone, Cancels Today’s Hearing

FTC Goes After Paid Endorsements Presented as Commentary

As smartphone users turn increasingly to ad blockers, marketers are getting their messages out by paying Internet influencers under the table to promote their products as personal reviews and commentary. For some time, the practice was beyond the reach of the Federal Trade Commission, which made sure paid endorsements were advertised as such in television, newspapers and magazines. With new guideline changes initiated in 2015, however, the FTC is now going after violators, just reaching a settlement with video network Machinima. Continue reading FTC Goes After Paid Endorsements Presented as Commentary

Media Companies Turn to A La Carte Sales in Foreign Markets

Viacom, 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company are among the numerous entertainment companies offering their content a la carte — in Europe, Latin America and Asia. In the U.S., these networks are still parts of more expensive bundles proffered by Comcast, DirecTV and other pay TV services. That reflects a much lower penetration of homes outside the U.S. that have a cable or satellite subscription, which makes it possible for media companies to make a la carte offers without running afoul of pay TV providers. Continue reading Media Companies Turn to A La Carte Sales in Foreign Markets

Users Seek New Storage and Cloud Solutions as Data Explodes

IBM estimates that smartphones and devices related to the Internet of Things will generate 44 zettabytes (exabytes to the thousandths) by 2020. To handle all that information, IBM is looking at storage solutions that combine machine learning and artificial intelligence, both of which excel at finding patterns. Other companies are looking for solutions, including Pure, which is combining flash storage and engineering to create a storage unit that currently holds 16 petabytes, or five times most storage devices. Continue reading Users Seek New Storage and Cloud Solutions as Data Explodes

Advertisers Seek New Ways to Combat Growth of Ad Blocking

For advertisers, ad blocking is a problem that’s quickly getting bigger, as more consumers download ad-blocking apps and browsers. Mobile marketing company Tune just released a new report that predicts that ad blocking could comprise 80 percent of smartphone owners by Q3 2017. In response, advertisers are exploring ways to block the ad blockers. Digital advertising trade group Interactive Advertising Bureau has written a primer on how to block the blockers, and even The New York Times is testing ways around them. Continue reading Advertisers Seek New Ways to Combat Growth of Ad Blocking

Verizon-Hearst Venture Creates Mobile Content for Millennials

Verizon Communications and Hearst have formed Verizon Hearst Media Partners, a 50-50 joint venture to create content for millennials to watch on mobile devices. Two channels are coming soon: RatedRed.com, for “millennials from the heartland,” featuring programs on music, food, outdoors, politics, military and faith, and Seriously.TV, a comedic take on current events. The channels will also be available on Verizon’s go90 streaming service, launched in the fall, as well as computers and TV. Other channels are in the works. Continue reading Verizon-Hearst Venture Creates Mobile Content for Millennials

Google Launches Pilot Program for Hands-Free Mobile Wallet

Google launched a pilot for Hands Free, a mobile wallet application that allows a buyer to use her phone for purchases without taking it out of her purse. The pilot, conducted in the southern San Francisco Bay area, is available in a few stores and designated McDonald’s and Papa John’s locations. The cashier’s system can detect the user’s phone; to close the transaction, the user asks to pay with Google and gives her initials to the cashier. The cashier can also detect if the user is the same person in the Google profile. Continue reading Google Launches Pilot Program for Hands-Free Mobile Wallet

Amazon Announces Alexa Voice-Controlled Household Devices

Internet retailer Amazon introduced two new Echo-related products yesterday: the $130 Amazon Tap — a smaller, portable version of the Echo; and the $90 Echo Dot — a hockey puck-size version of Echo, minus the powerful speaker. As is the case with the newly popular Echo, users interact with both devices via the Alexa voice service. Amazon Tap features a rechargeable battery and uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to connect with mobile devices and the Internet. The Dot, which connects via wire or Bluetooth, is designed to provide Alexa for existing speaker systems. Continue reading Amazon Announces Alexa Voice-Controlled Household Devices

Apple, Google, Samsung Battle to Dominate Mobile Payments

Apple, Google and Samsung are all vying to dominate the nascent mobile payments market sector. Samsung, a newcomer to the competition, has already signed up five million U.S. users, who have racked up $500 million in transactions since launching in September. Apple Pay is estimated to have 12 million monthly users and Android Pay has five million. Still, adoption of mobile payments hasn’t caught fire yet. Not all retailers accept mobile payments, which also require later-generation phones. Continue reading Apple, Google, Samsung Battle to Dominate Mobile Payments

At Mobile World Congress, Seven Trends Point to the Future

At Mobile World Congress, phone manufacturers introduced new hardware and software. Rivals Samsung and LG competed with new screens, cameras, and payment technologies. From the perspective of advertisers, however, other mobile capabilities are emerging that are likely to have significant impact on how brands and consumers interact. Among those developments, messaging evolves into a dominant platform, artificial intelligence becomes “our best friend,” and ad blocking forces mobile content behind a pay wall. Continue reading At Mobile World Congress, Seven Trends Point to the Future

New Voice-Powered App Takes On Leading Digital Assistants

Santa Clara-based startup SoundHound has developed a voice-powered digital assistant that could take on early players in the field, including Siri, Google Now and Cortana. Like the others, the Hound app (for iOS and Android) allows users to interact via voice so that it can perform requested tasks. However, Hound claims to be faster and smarter than its competitors. The app has been in beta with 150,000 testers since last summer, and is now publicly available along with new Yelp and Uber partnerships for restaurant info and ride hailing from within the app. Continue reading New Voice-Powered App Takes On Leading Digital Assistants

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