Netflix Still Confident Despite New Rivals and Slowed Growth

In Q2, Netflix added 1.5 million new subscribers, slower growth after a peak at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the company isn’t worried, telling investors that it is “mostly competing with ourselves to improve our service as fast as we can.” “If we do that, we’re confident we can maintain our strong position and continue to grow nicely as we have been for the past two-plus decades,” Netflix said, adding that it doesn’t view any particular assets as “must-have,” and that consolidation isn’t impacting its growth. Meanwhile, the company is facing new competitors in the streaming space. Continue reading Netflix Still Confident Despite New Rivals and Slowed Growth

Google Develops New Security Solutions to Strengthen Cloud

Google is introducing new security solutions for Google Cloud, in addition to expanding availability of its Risk Protection Program. Google Cloud vice president and general manager Sunil Potti explained that the updates are part of a larger vision of “invisible security” within the cloud where silos will “eventually” disappear after all security tech is engineered into it. He added that, “rather than essentially build products that fix problems with other products … you have to hit the reset button and embrace something fundamental.” Continue reading Google Develops New Security Solutions to Strengthen Cloud

Global Smartphone Industry Feeling Impact of Chip Shortage

The smartphone industry is finally feeling the impact of the semiconductor shortage that has bedeviled the auto, PC and home appliance industries. Samsung Electronics, for example, expects a 20 percent drop in shipments from last quarter, due to problems sourcing key parts. Google’s Pixel 5a 5G device will only be available in the U.S. and Japan, even though last year’s models were given a wider release. China’s Xiaomi, which recently surpassed Apple to capture the No. 2 spot in global shipments, has raised the price of its flagship India device, the Redmi Note 10, to $174 from $161.  Continue reading Global Smartphone Industry Feeling Impact of Chip Shortage

California Opts to Build Statewide Middle-Mile Fiber Network

California passed AB126 to build a statewide, open-access fiber network, with a vote of 78-0 in the California Assembly and 39-0 in the Senate. The fiber network will operate as a “middle mile” network carrying data from Internet backbone networks to urban and rural connection points where local ISPs take it the “last mile” to residences. The network will offer “non-discriminatory access to eligible entities on a technology and competitively neutral basis, regardless of whether the entity is privately or publicly owned.” Continue reading California Opts to Build Statewide Middle-Mile Fiber Network

Valve to Launch Steam Deck Handheld Device for PC Games

This December, Washington-based game company Valve will debut its long-anticipated Steam Deck, a handheld device for PC gaming with models priced at $399 with 64GB of eMMC storage, $529 with 256GB of NVMe SSD, and the top-of-the-line $649 version with 512GB of high-speed NVMe SSD storage. Steam Deck is additionally being promoted as a handheld PC, allowing users to install and operate web browsers, other game stores (including Epic Games Store) and other video streaming services. It can also be connected to a keyboard and mouse and offers a cloud saving feature. Continue reading Valve to Launch Steam Deck Handheld Device for PC Games

CNN Plans to Offer Sub-Based Streaming Service Next Year

WarnerMedia’s CNN is slated to launch a new subscription-based streaming service, CNN+, early next year. The service, which will co-exist with CNN’s current TV networks, will feature eight to 12 hours of live programming per day. WarnerMedia News and Sports chair Jeff Zucker, who is also president of CNN Worldwide, noted that, “CNN invented cable news in 1980, defined online news in 1995 and now is taking an important step in expanding what news can be by launching a direct-to-consumer streaming subscription service” in Q1 2022. Continue reading CNN Plans to Offer Sub-Based Streaming Service Next Year

AT&T Debuts 5G Partnerships at WarnerMedia Innovation Lab

Having racked up 250 million 5G customers and removed data caps from its premium unlimited plan, AT&T doubled down on a 5G future with announcements of new partnerships. “We’re at the cusp of a decade of 5G… and we’ve been working up to this point for a long time getting all of the parts in place,” said AT&T vice president and general manager David Christopher. In the process of building out its 5G ecosystem, AT&T now sells mostly 5G-enabled phones, and Christopher said the pace of adoption has quickened. Continue reading AT&T Debuts 5G Partnerships at WarnerMedia Innovation Lab

GAO Reports Spur Bipartisan Support for Laws Regulating AI

Legislators on both sides of the aisle agree that the United States should support development of artificial intelligence, even as they — along with the White House, the Department of Defense and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) — work on bills to regulate it. President Biden’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is focused on limiting discrimination caused by algorithms, and the National Defense Authorization Act mandates that the Pentagon focus on ethics and NIST develop standards. Continue reading GAO Reports Spur Bipartisan Support for Laws Regulating AI

Media Consortium Reveals Extent of Pegasus Spyware Reach

A consortium of media outlets dubbed the Pegasus Project found that Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group licensed its military-grade spyware Pegasus to governments that used it to hack 37 smartphones of business executives, human rights activists and journalists. Two women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khasghoggi were also reportedly targeted. Amnesty International and journalism non-profit Forbidden Stories shared a list of 50,000 phone numbers that dates to 2016 and included the 37 targets. New evidence also suggests that thousands of iPhones worldwide may have been compromised.  Continue reading Media Consortium Reveals Extent of Pegasus Spyware Reach

Senate Judiciary Committee Pursues New Antitrust Legislation

Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working together on antitrust legislation similar to some of the measures the House Judiciary Committee approved last month. Grassley has yet to offer specific details of proposed legislation but Klobuchar, who is chair of the judiciary panel’s antitrust subcommittee, said a focus on tech companies that offer their own version of products sold by rivals dependent on their platforms is “at the heart of two of the House proposals.” Continue reading Senate Judiciary Committee Pursues New Antitrust Legislation

House Calls for Regulating Use of Facial Recognition Software

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security has determined that the use of facial recognition software by law enforcement should be regulated. Subcommittee chair Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and top Republican Andy Biggs (R-Arizona) agreed that there should be “some kind of meaningful regulation and oversight of facial recognition.” Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that federal law enforcement agencies should do more to prevent facial recognition bias and misuse. Continue reading House Calls for Regulating Use of Facial Recognition Software

Big Tech Attempts to Balance Worker Needs Moving Forward

Alphabet conducted internal research that found Google software engineers felt as productive working from home as before the pandemic, although 75 percent of employees said they wanted more “collaboration and social connections” at work. Human resources vice president Brian Welle reported that “most staff also specifically craved physical proximity when working on new projects.” As a result, Alphabet still plans to bring employees back to the office this fall, although some will be able to work full-time from home. Continue reading Big Tech Attempts to Balance Worker Needs Moving Forward

Government Accountability Office Calls for Faster Broadband

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report stating that the FCC’s current broadband minimum benchmark speeds — 25Mbps for downloading and 3Mbps for uploading — are too slow for many small business needs today. This benchmark was implemented in 2015 under FCC chair Tom Wheeler and was not updated by the next chair, Ajit Pai. Wheeler updated it from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream during his four-year term, an increase opposed by Republicans and the broadband industry. Continue reading Government Accountability Office Calls for Faster Broadband

New Netflix Hire Signals the Service’s Push into Video Games

As part of its plan to expand into gaming, video streamer Netflix has hired former Electronic Arts and Facebook executive Mike Verdu as its vice president of game development. At Facebook, Verdu worked with developers to bring virtual reality games and other content to Oculus headsets. At Netflix, Verdu will report to chief operating officer Greg Peters and is mandated with bringing video games to the Netflix platform within the next year. Sources said that Netflix does not plan on charging subscribers extra for gaming content. Continue reading New Netflix Hire Signals the Service’s Push into Video Games

Marketers Struggle as Facebook Users Decline to Be Tracked

According to Branch, which analyzes mobile app growth and tracks ad conversions, since Apple’s updated iOS asked users if they wanted to be tracked by apps, only 25 percent have agreed. That response has “been pretty devastating for … the majority of advertisers,” suggests mobile analyst Eric Seufert. Advertisers on social network Facebook have seen a particularly strong impact, according to media buyers who noted that not being able to reliably determine how many sales clients are making means it is challenging to figure out which ads are working. Continue reading Marketers Struggle as Facebook Users Decline to Be Tracked

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