Amazon Fire TV Widens Its Lead at 34 Million Active Users

Back in January, Amazon announced that its Fire TV streaming platform had more than 30 million users. Today, Fire TV has grown to more than 34 million active users, according to an announcement made by Amazon this week during a panel titled ‘The Battle for Your Living Room: Sticks, Boxes, and Smart TV Platforms’ at The Pay TV Show in Denver. This indicates that Amazon’s lead over rival streaming platform Roku is widening. Roku grew to 29.1 million active users per its latest earnings report from this month.

Continue reading Amazon Fire TV Widens Its Lead at 34 Million Active Users

Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

According to a new report from research firm IDC, consumer interest has waned recently for smartphone-dependent VR devices, while tethered and standalone models are growing more popular. IDC surveyed 1,643 VR users across France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and learned that the number of “high-performance” VR headsets increased 60 percent from 2017 to 3.9 million devices in 2018. The study identified different categories of users, based on their amount of time spent with VR devices, including a “hardcore” group (12 percent) that spent 16 or more hours monthly with VR. Continue reading Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

Sinemia Movie Subscription Service Calls It Quits in the U.S.

Sinemia, billed as a competitor to MoviePass with its multi-tiered subscription-based movie ticket offering that started in Europe, announced it will shutter its U.S. operations. Like MoviePass, Sinemia has faced challenges sustaining its subscription model and working out monetization, especially while contending with similar services from theater chains such as AMC with its Stubs A-List offering. In addition, Sinemia has been dealing with a patent lawsuit from MoviePass and a class-action suit from subscribers frustrated by account policies, hidden fees and app problems. Continue reading Sinemia Movie Subscription Service Calls It Quits in the U.S.

EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

In a vote of 348 to 274, nineteen out of the European Union’s 28 member countries voted in favor of reformed laws to protect content creators. Critics of the reform — including large tech companies — argue that the rules will reduce free speech online, with Articles 11 and 13 of particular concern. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker declared that the new copyright rules are “fit for the digital age.” In the lead-up to the vote, nativist groups in many countries worked to defeat the new rules. Continue reading EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

U.S. Tries Softer Tack to Limit Huawei at Prague 5G Confab

According to sources, on May 2-3 when officials from 30+ countries meet in Prague to discuss security principles for 5G networks, the U.S. will propose measures to prevent China’s Huawei from gaining dominance. The U.S. has long believed that the Chinese government can use Huawei’s gear to spy via Internet-connected products from AR to self-driving cars. Huawei has denied the accusations. The U.S. strategy at the upcoming meeting, said a U.S. official, is “softer” than its previous efforts to limit Huawei’s influence. Continue reading U.S. Tries Softer Tack to Limit Huawei at Prague 5G Confab

U.S. Improves Lead in 5G Race, Lags in Mid-Band Allocation

According to the wireless industry association CTIA, the global 5G race has shifted from a year ago when China and South Korea were the leaders. Thanks to the actions of U.S. carriers and government officials, U.S. has passed South Korea and tied with China as one of the top countries excelling in categories from readiness to actual deployments and spectrum allocation. CTIA stressed, however, that two obstacles remain unresolved: mid-band spectrum and a national strategy for transitioning to the next-gen mobile standard. Continue reading U.S. Improves Lead in 5G Race, Lags in Mid-Band Allocation

U.K. Considers Big Tech Regulation in Preparation for Brexit

The U.K. government released a 150-page report stressing that the country needs to update its antitrust policies to deal with big technology companies. The report, which was ordered by the U.K.’s top treasury official, Exchequer chancellor Philip Hammond, states that the U.K. should implement tighter rules on acquisition in the tech sector to make it easier for new competitors to arise. The European Union and U.S. presidential hopefuls Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar have expressed similar points of view. Continue reading U.K. Considers Big Tech Regulation in Preparation for Brexit

France Slated to Impose Tax on Digital Companies’ Revenue

The French government introduced a three percent tax on the revenue of technology companies such as Google and Amazon that offer e-commerce or targeted advertising in France. Experts estimate that the tax could reap “billions of dollars” from Silicon Valley companies. The tax is also likely to come up as a topic of conversation in U.S. and European talks, convened by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), about corporate taxes in the digital age. Europe is pushing to tax Silicon Valley companies on profits made there. Continue reading France Slated to Impose Tax on Digital Companies’ Revenue

Facebook Pushed for Global Support Against Privacy Laws

Leaked internal Facebook documents reportedly suggest that the company initiated secretive worldwide lobbying efforts to gain influence from hundreds of regulators and legislators across nations including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Malaysia, all 28 member states of the European Union, the United States and United Kingdom. Reports indicate the social giant promised investments and incentives to politicians in hopes of getting their support for Facebook’s opposition to data privacy legislation. Continue reading Facebook Pushed for Global Support Against Privacy Laws

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

HPA Tech Retreat: Advance of Digital Out-of-Home Screens

During this week’s HPA Tech Retreat, BBC production standard lead Andy Quested reported on Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) screens, which are enjoying a robust 10 percent year-on-year growth. In 2018, these screens were estimated to have a 40 percent reach in the U.S., with an 11 to 18 percent reach worldwide. These advertising billboards play digital video, often mixed with artificial intelligence, interactivity and other new technology tricks, and are now responsible for a 50 percent share of the U.K.’s out-of-home ad dollars. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Advance of Digital Out-of-Home Screens

German Antitrust Ruling Restrains Facebook Data Collection

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the country’s competition authority, issued an antitrust argument to restrict Facebook’s data collection. Stating that Facebook currently provides users with a stark choice between allowing the company to collect unlimited data or not using the site, the Federal Cartel Office stated that Facebook must allow users to refuse the company’s bid to collect their data and automatically merge it with data from Instagram, WhatsApp and non-Facebook sites. The decision impacts 32 million German users. Continue reading German Antitrust Ruling Restrains Facebook Data Collection

New Australian Legislation Challenges Unbreakable Encryption

Australia passed a law that challenges the right of tech companies to sell devices with unbreakable encryption. The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018, which took effect last month, covers all devices sold in Australia. But if Apple, for example, creates a back door for its iPhones sold there, authorities in other countries previously stymied by Apple’s tough encryption could demand the same access. Australia’s law said it can’t ask a company to build universal decryption. Continue reading New Australian Legislation Challenges Unbreakable Encryption

IBM Rolls Out Its First Commercial Quantum Computer at CES

During CES last week, IBM announced the IBM Q System One, the company’s first foray into commercial quantum computing outside of the lab. The 20-qubit IBM Q system combines quantum and classical computing intended for a range of business and research applications. According to IBM, these new systems are “designed to one day tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical systems to handle.” The systems are also said to be upgradeable and easy to maintain. Continue reading IBM Rolls Out Its First Commercial Quantum Computer at CES

Amazon and Alexa Devices Have a Lucrative Holiday Season

This holiday season has shown that U.S. consumer confidence is high despite the volatile stock market. Amazon reported record-breaking revenue and noted that “tens of millions of people worldwide” registered for the company’s Prime service, many enticed by free two-day shipping. During the holiday, Amazon stated, more than one billion items were shipped via Prime. According to Amazon, year over year, that included millions more Alexa-enabled devices like the Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick 4K, and Alexa Voice Remote. Continue reading Amazon and Alexa Devices Have a Lucrative Holiday Season

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