Disney+ Subs Skyrocket as Company Focuses on Streaming

Disney’s new streaming service Disney+ now has 86.8 million global subscribers and is growing so fast that the company expects it to triple to 260 million by 2024. The subscription VOD service has already passed Disney’s previous guidance, which stated it hoped to reach between 60 million and 90 million subscribers by that date. Disney has ratcheted up enthusiasm on its investor days, with bullish predictions in large part based on high-profile shows through its Marvel and Lucasfilm franchises as well as Disney Animation and Pixar Animation.  Continue reading Disney+ Subs Skyrocket as Company Focuses on Streaming

Amazon Commits to Train Millions Worldwide in Cloud Skills

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dramatically change the work landscape, Amazon plans to retrain 29 million people globally in cloud-computing skills by 2025. In addition to building on existing programs, Amazon will invest in new ones by teaming with schools, nonprofits and other organizations. Last year, Amazon earmarked $700 million to retrain 100,000 of its own workers. Some of those trained in the new programs may find employment at Amazon or in other companies that use Amazon Web Services. Continue reading Amazon Commits to Train Millions Worldwide in Cloud Skills

Apple Begins Working on Its Own Cellular Modem for Devices

Apple has begun building its own cellular modem for smartphones, to replace those now purchased from Qualcomm, according to Apple senior vice president of hardware technologies Johny Srouji. He added that it is one of the few wireless chips that Apple designs, along with the W-series in the Apple Watch and U1 Ultra Wideband (UWB) chip in the iPhone. In addition to reducing costs, moving the modem in-house could eventually lead to cellular connectivity becoming a standard feature for the iPad, Apple Watch and other devices. Continue reading Apple Begins Working on Its Own Cellular Modem for Devices

FTC and States File Lawsuits That Aim to Break Up Facebook

After an 18+ month investigation, the Federal Trade Commission and regulators from 46 states have officially accused Facebook of anticompetitive behavior by purchasing rivals. The separate lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Facebook currently owns three major messaging apps and the suits call for the company’s purchase of Instagram (for $1 billion in 2012) and WhatsApp (for $19 billion in 2014) to be undone. Since the acquisitions, both messaging apps have exploded in popularity. Continue reading FTC and States File Lawsuits That Aim to Break Up Facebook

Apple and Google to Broaden and Clarify Key Privacy Policies

Google stated that, on January 18, a day before the release of Chrome 88, it will require that every extension publicly display its privacy policies and developers will be limited with what they can do with the collected data. Meanwhile, Apple stated that its mandatory app privacy “nutrition labels” program applies to its own apps as well as those from third-party developers. Apple and Google also banned data broker X-Mode Social from collecting location information from mobile devices using their operating systems. Continue reading Apple and Google to Broaden and Clarify Key Privacy Policies

Twitch Announces New Policies on Harassment, Hate Speech

Amazon-owned Twitch debuted tougher guidelines on sexual harassment and hateful conduct, broadening its definitions of both offenses and separating them into a new category that will be subject to more aggressive action. Under the new rules — its biggest update in almost three years — the live-streaming platform frequented by video-game players will ban unsolicited links to nudity, lewd or repeated comments about anyone’s physical appearance, comments about immigration status and displaying the Confederate flag. Continue reading Twitch Announces New Policies on Harassment, Hate Speech

Nielsen to Introduce New TV Ratings That Include Streaming

Nielsen will debut a new TV ratings system beginning in Q4 of 2022 that will incorporate digital viewing, including streaming TV, into its metrics of current traditional TV audiences. In 2021, it will preview the new data with existing ratings. Nielsen will need the approval of the TV networks and tech companies and hopes to gain ad seller and buyer support by the start of the fall 2024 TV season. Nielsen will also need to integrate its new metrics across platforms and data sources to ensure reliably comparable information. Continue reading Nielsen to Introduce New TV Ratings That Include Streaming

Productions Return Slowly in California But Boom in Canada

California Film Commission executive director Colleen Bell said Hollywood production is slowly but steadily coming back. In March, all projects approved under the California film and TV tax credit program requested force majeure to retain their tax credits, and now 10 of them have resumed production since June 12. Still, the number of on-location film permits in Los Angeles declined 7.6 percent from October to November while production in Vancouver and Toronto are at pre-pandemic levels although movie theaters are shuttered. Continue reading Productions Return Slowly in California But Boom in Canada

Senate Confirms Trump Nominee for FCC Nathan Simington

The Senate confirmed Nathan Simington as a new Republican FCC member in a 49-to-46 vote. The confirmation comes as FCC chair Ajit Pai prepares to exit his post in January. In the run-up to the vote, Simington vowed “regulatory stability” and an openness to reexamining Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. With Simington, the five-member FCC could be deadlocked at the beginning of 2021, with two Democrats and two Republicans, possibly limiting its ability to carry out president-elect Joe Biden’s agenda. Continue reading Senate Confirms Trump Nominee for FCC Nathan Simington

Amazon Unveils Computer Vision Products for Industrial Use

Amazon announced the AWS Panorama Appliance, a plug-in that connects to a network and identifies video streams from cameras in the customers’ industrial facilities. It enables AI services for construction, manufacturing, retail and other industries and is aimed at “industrial companies looking for a more holistic, computer vision-centric analytics solution.” It integrates with AWS IoT services including SiteWise. Also new is the AWS Panorama SDK that allows manufacturers to build new cameras for computer vision at the edge. Continue reading Amazon Unveils Computer Vision Products for Industrial Use

Rural Broadband Networks Get a Lift with $9.2B FCC Infusion

The Federal Communications Commission has allocated $9.2 billion to build rural broadband networks, which FCC chair Ajit Pai hailed as the biggest commitment to bring Internet services to these poorly served areas. The funding is the result of an auction in which companies such as Windstream Holdings, Charter Communications and SpaceX bid against each other to build the fastest broadband networks at the lowest costs. The 180 companies that won have 10 years to build the networks with incentives to finish sooner. Continue reading Rural Broadband Networks Get a Lift with $9.2B FCC Infusion

Indie Musicians Find Success with Digital Platforms and Apps

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed concert venues and halted touring for musicians but now some are achieving success via Spotify, YouTube, TikTok and apps such as DistroKid, SubmitHub and ForTunes.io. Previously, musicians depended on the big music companies — Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group — to promote and market their work. Now, according to distributor AWAL, hundreds of independent musicians are making $100,000+ from streaming, and Jayda G and RAC even got Grammy nominations. Continue reading Indie Musicians Find Success with Digital Platforms and Apps

Survey Suggests Movie Theaters Will Struggle in Near Future

Deloitte Insights’ recent Digital Media Trends survey revealed that 71 percent of consumers are not comfortable about attending a movie in the theater in the next month and just over 50 percent said they wouldn’t go to a theater in the next six months. The survey revealed that a mere 18 percent of U.S. consumers have gone to see a movie in a theater since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Deloitte concluded that, when the pandemic is over, “it is unclear what role movie theaters will play in consumer entertainment.” Continue reading Survey Suggests Movie Theaters Will Struggle in Near Future

Chinese Researchers Create Quantum Computing Benchmark

China’s top quantum research group said its Jiuzhang quantum computer produced results in minutes that would take 2+ billion years by the world’s No. 3 powerful supercomputer. That exceeds Google’s prototype quantum computer which, last year, came up with a result in minutes that it estimated would take a supercomputer 10,000 years. The two quantum computers work differently: China’s University of Science and Technology’s computer manipulates photons, whereas Google’s builds quantum circuits via super-cold superconducting metal. Continue reading Chinese Researchers Create Quantum Computing Benchmark

Amazon Sidewalk Rolls Out with Echo, Ring Software Updates

Amazon is slowly rolling out Amazon Sidewalk, first revealed in 2019 as an effort to create smart neighborhoods via wireless Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and 900MHz radio signals that can expand the connectivity reach to up to half a mile. Using a small amount of the home’s Wi-Fi bandwidth, Amazon Sidewalk can connect the user with any compatible device, such as garage door openers or outdoor lights, without any additional hardware. Amazon has unveiled it first as a free software update to Echo speakers and Ring cameras. Continue reading Amazon Sidewalk Rolls Out with Echo, Ring Software Updates

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