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

Quibi Chief Meg Whitman Talks Mobile Content, 5G, eSports

Founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg and headed by chief executive Meg Whitman, Quibi (“quick bites”) is a subscription service for short mobile videos set to launch in about a year. Quibi will deliver daily news and longer features, with production budgets higher than the typical YouTube video content. The app will also feature a control for adjusting screen brightness; videos are shot and edited for portrait and landscape modes. Every major Hollywood studio has invested in a $1 billion seed funding round. Continue reading Quibi Chief Meg Whitman Talks Mobile Content, 5G, eSports

Facebook Strategizing Cryptocurrency for WhatsApp in India

With an initial focus on the Indian market, Facebook is developing a cryptocurrency aimed for use on its WhatsApp messaging app. More specifically, sources said the company is developing a so-called stablecoin, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar to reduce volatility. The company is, however, still working on its strategy, meaning that debut of the coin is still some time off. In 2014, Facebook hired former PayPal president David Marcus to run Messenger, fueling belief the company was going to engage in financial services. Continue reading Facebook Strategizing Cryptocurrency for WhatsApp in India

Samsung Likely to Enable Third-Party Assistants in 2019 TVs

At CES 2019, when Samsung introduces its latest line-up of TVs, it might also unveil plans to integrate Google Assistant into its 2019 TV sets, according to sources. The company is expected to place a bigger emphasis on audio quality, and might also offer features in its TVs that are similar to Apple’s HomePod, which “tunes” music to its environment. Samsung wouldn’t comment on these plans, but did highlight the 2019 models of its Frame and Serif TVs. In 2018, Samsung added Bixby, its own voice assistant, to that year’s TV lineup. Continue reading Samsung Likely to Enable Third-Party Assistants in 2019 TVs

T-Mobile Delays Debut of its Streaming TV Service Until 2019

T-Mobile US is pushing back the introduction of its video service until 2019, although those plans might also change, said sources. The reason is that the project became more complex than anticipated; chief executive John Legere had said the carrier would create a “disruptive TV service” that would transform the television industry, setting a high bar that was difficult to meet given the time constraint. Sources said the delay is intended to provide the time for T-Mobile to deliver on Legere’s initial promise. Continue reading T-Mobile Delays Debut of its Streaming TV Service Until 2019

Congress Passes Bill Intended to Boost Quantum Computing

Congress passed a bill that aims to speed up the development of quantum computing in the United States. The technology is anticipated to revolutionize cybersecurity among other areas. The House approved the bill in a 348-11 vote. President Trump is expected to sign it into law, since quantum computing has been a priority of his administration. China has been focused on the technology and plans to open a laboratory in 2020. With the new bill, U.S. legislators hope to push efforts to keep up with or surpass rivals. Continue reading Congress Passes Bill Intended to Boost Quantum Computing

Various Groups Complain to FTC About Google’s Apps for Kids

Twenty-two children’s and consumer groups asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s marketing of children’s apps in its Play store. Google has stated that its “Family” section of the Play store is where parents can find age-appropriate apps, but the groups state that some apps may violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prevents children’s apps/sites from collecting phone numbers, locations, photographs, and other data from children under 13 without verifiable parental consent. Continue reading Various Groups Complain to FTC About Google’s Apps for Kids

France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

On January 1, 2019, the French government will begin to tax digital companies including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, even as other members of the European Union have balked at imposing an EU-wide tax. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire declared that, as the other EU countries debate, his country will move forward alone, estimating that the total tax bill will come to 500 million Euros ($568 million), which will help defray 10 billion Euros in emergency spending announced by President Emmanuel Macron. Continue reading France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

Facebook Shared Private Data to Advance Its Own Interests

According to its 2017 internal records, Facebook shared users’ personal data with the world’s biggest tech firms, allowing them to circumvent privacy rules. By doing so, Facebook boosted its advertising revenue, partner companies enhanced their products with more features, and Facebook users were able to connect across websites and devices. For example, Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see names of all its 2.2 billion global users without consent, and let Netflix and Spotify read users’ private messages. Continue reading Facebook Shared Private Data to Advance Its Own Interests

zSpace to Show Windows Laptop for AR/VR Viewing at CES

At CES 2019 next month, Innovation Award honoree zSpace will show a portable Windows PC laptop that is focused on “spatial content,” allowing users to interact with augmented reality and virtual reality content. Based in Sunnyvale, zSpace’s creators claim it is the first portable Windows PC that “breaks the screen barrier” between users and AR/VR, and tout its ability to foster creativity and collaboration in a flexible, immersive environment. It features patented 3D screen technology and lightweight glasses. Continue reading zSpace to Show Windows Laptop for AR/VR Viewing at CES

Senate Releases Reports with Details of Russian Interference

The Senate Intelligence Committee released two reports that reveal how Russia’s Internet Research Agency targeted groups including African-Americans, evangelical Christians and pro-gun activists to confuse voters, create division and support Donald Trump’s run for president. The Russian operation reportedly used every digital platform available, including Facebook, Instagram, Vine, LiveJournal and even “Pokémon Go.” The research also revealed how these same digital platforms delayed reporting the extent and type of interference. Continue reading Senate Releases Reports with Details of Russian Interference

FCC Nixes California Regulators’ Plan to Add Fee to Texting

California telecom regulators wanted to impose a state fee on text-messaging services, but the Federal Communications Commission has squelched that plan by classifying text-messaging as an information service, not a telecommunications service. That’s the same classification the FCC applied to broadband when it repealed net neutrality and dictated that states cannot create their own net neutrality laws. Although California’s legislature is challenging the latter in court, it isn’t challenging the latest FCC ruling. Continue reading FCC Nixes California Regulators’ Plan to Add Fee to Texting

Amazon Seeking Entrepreneurs to Build Delivery Businesses

Although Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos has touted the possibility of drones delivering packages, he’s now talking up human drivers. This summer, he declared that would-be entrepreneurs could earn $300,000 per year by investing as little as $10,000 up front in creating their own delivery businesses. Following in FedEx’s footsteps, Amazon now wants to build a national network of independent delivery people, offering discounts on vans and insurance and an endless supply of packages to deliver. Continue reading Amazon Seeking Entrepreneurs to Build Delivery Businesses

Netflix’s Release Models Are Challenging Hollywood Studios

If director Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” gets Netflix its first Best Picture nomination for the Oscars, much of the credit will go to Scott Stuber, who heads Netflix’s movie business. His mandate is to help Netflix loom as large in movies as it does in television, where it received 112 Emmy nominations this year, the most of any network. Netflix is spending big on its Academy Awards campaign for “Roma,” and studios are worried that Netflix’s move into features might lead viewers to avoid movie theaters altogether. Continue reading Netflix’s Release Models Are Challenging Hollywood Studios

Intelligence Agencies Agree to Rein In Huawei Technologies

In July, said sources, heads of intelligence agencies from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and U.S. met in Canada and agreed that they needed to “contain” China’s telecom manufacturer Huawei Technologies. The advent of 5G mobile networks has heightened the already-existing risk of using Huawei gear. The group discussed Chinese cyberespionage and expanding military, and ways to protect telecom networks. Despite the lack of a consensus, the group did agree that an outright Huawei ban is impractical. Continue reading Intelligence Agencies Agree to Rein In Huawei Technologies

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