Bipartisan Efforts Underway to Regulate Big Tech Companies

Senator Amy Klobuchar, once an avid supporter of Big Tech companies and now Senate antitrust panel leader, is expected to play a role in bipartisan efforts to impose regulations on those companies’ market power and data privacy policies. Facebook and Google face federal and state allegations of anticompetitive behavior and Amazon and Apple are under investigation for antitrust violations. President Biden and others in his administration have vowed to hold Big Tech accountable for users’ speech on their sites. Continue reading Bipartisan Efforts Underway to Regulate Big Tech Companies

Commerce Chief Nominee Scrutinizes China, 5G and Internet

Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo, President Biden’s nominee to head the Commerce Department, described some of her positions during a Senate confirmation hearing. She revealed that she will take a “very aggressive” stance against China’s “unfair” trade practices stressing the need to develop a “whole-of-government response” in concert with U.S. allies. Raimondo also called for a national 5G spectrum policy and stated she will pursue changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Continue reading Commerce Chief Nominee Scrutinizes China, 5G and Internet

Cloud Computing, Gaming and Laptops Drive Microsoft Sales

Microsoft reported its fiscal Q2 net income rose 30+ percent to $15.5 billion, the result of COVID-19-driven remote working, increased video game playing and cloud computing. The company has also seen increased sales of its Surface laptops, which facilitate remote working and learning. Chief executive Satya Nadella has prioritized Microsoft Teams workplace-collaboration software, dubbing this last year as “the dawn of a second wave of digital transformation sweeping every company and every industry.” Continue reading Cloud Computing, Gaming and Laptops Drive Microsoft Sales

Sundance Film Festival Goes Virtual with Its New VR Platform

The Sundance Film Festival, a pioneer in showcasing virtual reality content with its New Frontier exhibition, partnered with Active Theory to build a VR platform that attendees can access with or without a headset. Sundance New Frontier curator Shari Frilot noted that building a virtual solution for New Frontier “solved so many problems we were having and struggling with on the ground.” Anyone will be able to access the platform by logging onto the website via a Sundance festival pass, including the $25 Explorer Pass. Continue reading Sundance Film Festival Goes Virtual with Its New VR Platform

Google Tests New Technology to Replace Third-Party Cookies

Google is replacing third-party cookies on its Chrome web browser with a more privacy-compliant option, creating an uproar among advertisers and others that use them to track consumers’ browsing across websites. Google stated it has had positive test results for its technology that analyzes browsing habits without sending sensitive data to central servers. In Q2 of this year, the company is on track for “open outside testing of ad buys” using the new technology. Google previously said it would phase out cookies in 2022. Continue reading Google Tests New Technology to Replace Third-Party Cookies

Samsung Looking to Launch Chip Manufacturing Plant in U.S.

Samsung Electronics may build an up-to-$17 billion chip manufacturing plant in Arizona, Texas or New York, according to sources, and is reportedly scouting two locations in the Phoenix area, two locations in the Austin vicinity and an industrial campus in New York’s Genesee County. The decision to build in the U.S. hinges on the availability of federal government incentives to balance out cheaper costs and government incentives elsewhere. Samsung’s plant would employ up to 1,900 people and open by October 2022. Continue reading Samsung Looking to Launch Chip Manufacturing Plant in U.S.

Survey Reveals U.S Viewers Adding More Streaming Services

During the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of streaming media services have thrived and, according to a J.D. Power survey, Americans now subscribe, on average, to four streaming services, up from three when the pandemic began. That translates to 24 percent more in subscription fees, for an average consumer outlay of $47 per month in December, up from $38 in April. Netflix and Disney+ have surged, and newcomers HBO Max and Peacock have also done well. Apple wants to boost its Apple TV+ service but may find itself at a disadvantage. Continue reading Survey Reveals U.S Viewers Adding More Streaming Services

AMC Chief Exec Adam Aron Still Optimistic in Perilous Times

When COVID-19 hit last year, AMC Entertainment had just taken on $4.8 billion in debt, a combination of a modernization effort that started in 2012 and acquiring competing movie chains to become the world’s largest movie theater company. Now, almost a year into the pandemic, AMC’s debt has risen to $5.5 billion — not including deferred rental payments. Pre-pandemic, AMC generated $5.5 billion a year in revenue. AMC Entertainment chief executive Adam Aron was the first to ink a deal for a limited exclusivity window. Continue reading AMC Chief Exec Adam Aron Still Optimistic in Perilous Times

CES: Samsung Intros New Version of Digital Cockpit for Cars

At the recent CES 2021, Samsung showcased its Digital Cockpit, a 49-inch QLED screen with a sound system that can be pulled up in front of a car’s windshield to turn the vehicle into an office, gaming room or video recording studio. The concept was first introduced at CES 2018 and has been exhibited in an updated version every year since then. This year’s Digital Cockpit was developed with Harman. Samsung stated that the 2021 Cockpit aims to “focus on simplifying communication and delivering fun on-the-go experiences.” Continue reading CES: Samsung Intros New Version of Digital Cockpit for Cars

Australia Proposes Google, Facebook Pay for News Content

Australia is introducing a law that would make Google, Facebook and possibly other tech companies pay news publishers for their content. In response, Google threatened to remove its search engine from the country, fearing the law would set a dangerous precedent. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said the country’s lawmakers will not respond to threats. News makes up 12.5 percent of Google searches there. In France, meanwhile, Google inked a deal with that country’s media publishers to negotiate individual license agreements. Continue reading Australia Proposes Google, Facebook Pay for News Content

CES: Sony Promotes Glasses-Free 3D Spatial Reality Display

Sony first teased its Spatial Reality Display at last October’s CES Unveiled Conference. Experts have alternately described the experience as taking 3D to the next level, virtual reality without the headset and, simply, mind-blowing. In essence it relies on Sony’s Eye-Sensing Light Field Display (ELFD) technology to create an experience somewhere between virtual reality and next-gen 3D. The Spatial Reality Display was named a CES 2021 Innovation Awards Honoree. A shipping product, the display’s suggested retail price is $4,999.99. Continue reading CES: Sony Promotes Glasses-Free 3D Spatial Reality Display

CES: Sony, TCL Televisions Will Feature Streamer Google TV

During CES 2021, Sony revealed its latest televisions will run Google TV, that company’s newest streaming system. TCL also stated that Google TV would be available in its sets in the U.S. Google TV succeeds Android TV, which can be found on some devices in the U.S., including the Nvidia Shield, TiVo Stream 4K and smart TVs from Sony, Hisense and TCL. Sony added that it had “no concrete plans” to update older Sony TVs running Android TV. TCL said it planned to integrate Google TV in its 8K and MiniLED sets as well as HD and 4K models. Continue reading CES: Sony, TCL Televisions Will Feature Streamer Google TV

Municipalities Want Streaming Services to Pay Franchise Fees

As streaming media services increasingly resemble cable bundles, more towns and counties are looking to regulate them. In Georgia for example, three municipalities filed a federal lawsuit against Netflix, Hulu and other services for as much as 5 percent of their gross revenue in an attempt to treat them as cable services. According to the lawsuit, Netflix earned about $103 million over the recent five years from subscribers in Gwinnett County, Georgia. If treated as a cable provider, that would represent $5.15 million in retroactive fees. Continue reading Municipalities Want Streaming Services to Pay Franchise Fees

CES: Rollable Tech Helps Mobile Devices Change Dimensions

During CES 2021, LG provided a peek into its LG Rollable, the company’s first phone that transforms between smartphone and tablet form factors. One company executive said the LG Rollable — positioned as a strong alternative to existing foldable phones — will debut sometime this year. Meanwhile, TCL is developing a device based on the same approach, but the company reported it is only at the conceptual planning stage. But both LG and TCL did leak some information about the upcoming devices’ specifications. Continue reading CES: Rollable Tech Helps Mobile Devices Change Dimensions

CES: The Frame TV From Samsung Can Rotate Its Orientation

During CES 2021, Samsung showed upgrades to The Frame, a so-called “lifestyle TV lineup” first introduced in 2017. The Frame now offers a thinner frame and can rotate to landscape and portrait orientations. Last year, Samsung showcased The Sero, its first rotating television, that was social-media friendly and doubled as a smart art display. A more elegant and slimmer version, The Frame is a 43-inch, top-of-the-line model. Netgear’s popular Meural Canvas smart art frames also swivel to offer both landscape and portrait views. Continue reading CES: The Frame TV From Samsung Can Rotate Its Orientation

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