France Inks Law to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Threatens Probe

France’s Senate has approved taxing Amazon, Google and other large technology companies, despite the threat of a U.S. probe into discrimination. In fact, the vote came hours after U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer said he would investigate the French legislation based on the same law President Trump used in the trade clash with China. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire responded that, “France is a sovereign state. It makes sovereign decisions on tax matters and will continue to make sovereign decisions on tax matters.” Continue reading France Inks Law to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Threatens Probe

AI Development Accelerates, Chips Speed Model Training

At VentureBeat’s Transform 2019 conference in San Francisco, Intel vice president/chief technology officer of AI products Amir Khosrowshahi and IoT general manager Jonathan Ballon discussed the evolution of AI adoption. A Lopez Research survey revealed that 86 percent of companies believe AI will be strategic to their business, but only 36 percent of them report having made “meaningful progress.” Khosrowshahi pointed out that more companies than ever have access to the necessary data, tools and training. Continue reading AI Development Accelerates, Chips Speed Model Training

Social Media Summit Excludes Top Social Media Platforms

President Trump convened a Social Media Summit without Facebook, Twitter, Alphabet or YouTube, which he has accused of stifling conservative voices. Instead, he invited supporters such as former White House advisor Sebastian Gorka, James O’Keefe from Project Veritas, and activist Ali Alexander. Speakers included Trump supporters Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, known as Diamond & Silk, who have a large Facebook following, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri). Continue reading Social Media Summit Excludes Top Social Media Platforms

Tech Expands its NYC Foothold, Investors Build Film Studio

Although Amazon bypassed New York City for its second headquarters four months ago, the Big Apple has attracted numerous other high-tech companies that are renting office space and creating jobs. Google inked a deal to lease 1.3 million square feet in lower Manhattan, with plans to add 7,000 jobs over 10 years. Facebook is also in talks to lease one million square feet of office space on the far West Side. Now, actor Robert De Niro and his son are part of an investment team building a film and TV production studio in Queens. Continue reading Tech Expands its NYC Foothold, Investors Build Film Studio

Firms Pursue Frontline Workers, Walmart Expands VR Use

Microsoft, Google and Salesforce are now targeting the use of their technologies to an estimated two billion workers who don’t sit behind a desk. Microsoft, with its HoloLens, has been the most aggressive in pursuing so-called frontline or firstline workers who do production, sales and service work. Its chief executive Satya Nadella noted the potential growth in this sector. Walmart now uses virtual reality to assess the skills of an employee and determine if she is ready to move up to middle management. Continue reading Firms Pursue Frontline Workers, Walmart Expands VR Use

Nintendo Reveals $199 Switch Lite With Built-In Controllers

Nintendo just unveiled the Switch Lite, designed as a handheld version, priced at $199 and due out September 20. The new unit, which will cost $100 less than the original, won’t be able to connect to the TV and its Joy-Con controllers are built-in. According to Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser, the two systems “complement each other and co-exist in the marketplace.” The new unit is also much lighter and, with built-in controllers, feels more robust. A d-pad replaces the original directional buttons. Continue reading Nintendo Reveals $199 Switch Lite With Built-In Controllers

IBM to Take on Competitors With Its Hybrid Cloud Strategy

IBM has a new strategy to compete with Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Alibaba in cloud computing: it spent $34 billion to acquire Red Hat, which specializes in open source software tools to write cloud computing applications. Red Hat already has partnerships with all the major cloud providers. IBM, a latecomer to this highly competitive sector, is presenting itself as a neutral party to those concerned about becoming too dependent on a single player. For this reason, Germany also has plans to build its own cloud infrastructure. Continue reading IBM to Take on Competitors With Its Hybrid Cloud Strategy

Live-Streamed Music Events Prove Effective For Marketing

Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music are among the music streaming services using live events and concerts to stand out from the crowd. For its Prime Day promotion, for example, Amazon live-streamed a Taylor Swift concert in New York City. Musicians also find these live streaming events as a way for their songs to rise above the millions available on the services. Streaming services are experimenting with different kinds of concerts, including album-listening parties and those based on popular playlists. Continue reading Live-Streamed Music Events Prove Effective For Marketing

Twitter Guidelines Narrow Scope of Dehumanizing Speech

Almost a year ago, two of Twitter’s top executives decided that banning all speech considered “dehumanizing” would be a solution to making its site safer. This week Twitter unveiled its official guidelines of what constitutes dehumanizing speech — and they now solely focus on religious groups, representing a retreat from some of Twitter’s first unofficial rules. The company said the narrowing of its scope is due to unexpected obstacles in defining speech for its 350 million users who speak 43-plus languages. Continue reading Twitter Guidelines Narrow Scope of Dehumanizing Speech

Streaming TV Service Locast Receives a Boost From AT&T

Locast is a streaming service that allows those without a pay-TV subscription to watch sports, news and primetime broadcast programming. Backed by the non-profit Sports Fan Coalition, Locast last week received a $500,000 contribution from AT&T. The service has launched in New York and Los Angeles among other large markets. But Locast has not received TV stations’ consent to carry their feeds, something required by federal copyright law, nor is it paying fees, which comprise a significant portion of broadcasters’ revenue. Continue reading Streaming TV Service Locast Receives a Boost From AT&T

Amazon-Google Truce Offers More Cross-Platform Access

Google and Amazon, which reached a truce in April after months of wrangling, opened the door to multiple cross-platform compatibilities: Amazon Fire TV streaming platforms will now carry Google’s YouTube, YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps — and Google Chromecast platforms and Android TVs will carry Amazon Prime Video. In addition, users will be able to request YouTube content on the Fire TV via the Alexa voice assistant. Not available yet is the ability of Google Assistant to work with Amazon Prime Video on Chromecast. Continue reading Amazon-Google Truce Offers More Cross-Platform Access

Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Up until now, massive conglomerates have dominated robotics, but that’s about to change, as the cost of hardware production plunges (due to globalization) and computing and cloud solutions become cheaper, more powerful and easy to ramp up. That’s given rise to Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions, in which vertical-specific hardware and software are bundled and sold in monthly subscription packages. At the same time, California enacted a new law that would require a bot to reveal its “artificial identity.” Continue reading Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Upcoming Apple TV Plus Will Focus on Quality Not Quantity

Apple senior vice president of Internet software and services Eddy Cue has released some details about the company’s Apple TV Plus service, scheduled to launch in the fall. Positioning itself opposite Netflix’s strategy, cue said that Apple will be “creating the best” rather than “the most” original content. He added that there is “nothing wrong” with Netflix’s model, “but it’s not our model.” Apple is a latecomer to streaming video, although Disney, NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. will also debut platforms in 2019 and 2020. Continue reading Upcoming Apple TV Plus Will Focus on Quality Not Quantity

BBC and ITV Join Forces to Launch Rival to U.S. Streamers

In the U.K., Amazon and Netflix now own about two-thirds of that country’s video streaming market and, for the second time, the BBC and ITV are trying to pool their assets to launch their own streaming platform. Their first effort to do so, in 2007, was squelched by regulators. The new platform, dubbed BritBox (a version of which has been available in North America), is expected to make its U.K. debut later in 2019, with the two broadcasters’ popular shows and new content. But the BBC and ITV are still struggling to resolve issues of budget, audience data sharing and content exclusivity. Continue reading BBC and ITV Join Forces to Launch Rival to U.S. Streamers

G20 Summit: President Trump Partially Lifts Ban on Huawei

At the Group of 20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, President Trump stated that U.S. products can again be sold to Huawei Technologies, allowing the Chinese tech company to buy the U.S. components it needs to stay afloat. Trump added, however, that his move does not lift the ban on goods related to national security. Much of the U.S. concern about Huawei has centered on claims that its products are security risks, and the Commerce Department has been hesitant to remove Huawei from its blacklist. Today, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. will issue licenses for companies wanting to do business with Huawei as long as there is no threat to national security. Continue reading G20 Summit: President Trump Partially Lifts Ban on Huawei

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