Facebook Leads Creation of Tech Industry Advocacy Group

Facebook is a founding member of American Edge, an emerging political advocacy group. Because it is registered as a non-profit, American Edge can raise money and publish ads without disclosing its donors. “We’re working with a diverse group of stakeholders to help build support for our industry, and while we’re leading an effort to start this coalition, it’s one of many we are contributing to and supporting,” said spokesperson Andy Stone. The group, however, has not yet officially launched. Continue reading Facebook Leads Creation of Tech Industry Advocacy Group

Huawei Phone Sales Slump Without Google Apps, Software

Banned from buying U.S. technology, Huawei Technologies is still struggling to replace Google apps, which it utilized for ten years. Although all demand for smartphones is down during the coronavirus pandemic, Huawei’s phones are seeing a 35 percent slowdown of shipments outside of China. According to Canalys, that’s more than double the drop faced by its rival Samsung Electronics and four times that of Apple. The slide threatens to topple Huawei from its No. 2 position in global cell phone brands. Continue reading Huawei Phone Sales Slump Without Google Apps, Software

Amazon Shipping Recovers, States Question Worker Health

According to Amazon, the crush in deliveries sparked by the coronavirus pandemic is slowing down and it is again allowing suppliers to send an unlimited amount of inventory to its warehouses. Consumers can once again expect to see Amazon’s typical one- and two-day deliveries return in the next few weeks. Once it fell behind, Amazon had to hire 175,000 people to meet demand. As to the number of its own workers struck down by COVID-19, Amazon declines to reveal figures, saying they are “no worse” than the rest of the country. Continue reading Amazon Shipping Recovers, States Question Worker Health

Pandemic Disrupts Traditional TV Upfronts and Ad Spending

Spring is when the television industry holds glitzy upfronts to showcase their fall TV lineup to advertisers in impressive locations like Carnegie Hall and the Beacon Theatre. NBCUniversal, for example, typically holds its upfront at Radio City Music Hall. This year, however, the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the traditional approach to upfronts. NBCUniversal chair of advertising & partnerships Linda Yaccarino held court over a livestreamed presentation from her home, joined by two celebrities making remote appearances. Advertisers accessed the upfront by clicking on a private link. Continue reading Pandemic Disrupts Traditional TV Upfronts and Ad Spending

Australia and France Seek Changes to Big Tech News Model

Last summer, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission put together a 623-page report that pointed to Facebook and Google as the reason for the precipitous decline in local news and public policy reporting. Commission chair Rod Sims, who wrote the report, stated that, “global tech companies are not beyond national laws, especially when there is so much at stake.” He and French regulator Isabelle de Silva are challenging those two tech behemoths for carrying news organizations’ content without paying them. Continue reading Australia and France Seek Changes to Big Tech News Model

Spotify Rolls Out Premium Feature for Party Mode Streaming

Spotify just debuted Group Sessions, a feature in beta testing for exclusive use of Premium subscribers. Group Sessions acts as a kind of “party mode” to allow two or more users in the same space to share control of the music being played in real time as well as contribute to a collaborative playlist for the group. The company points out that it is ideal for those quarantining together during the COVID-19 pandemic. Spotify anticipates the feature will now encourage more free users to convert to subscribers. Continue reading Spotify Rolls Out Premium Feature for Party Mode Streaming

HPA Forms Task Force to Guide Return of Film & TV Industry

COVID-19 stopped film and television production in its tracks. Now, the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) formed an HPA Industry Recovery Task Force to examine how to move forward with new content creation and sustainably restart the production and post-production industries as the world wrestles the pandemic. HPA president Seth Hallen announced that the task force’s “focus is to understand how to get our industry back to work.” The Hollywood film and TV industry directly employs about 927,000 people across the country. Continue reading HPA Forms Task Force to Guide Return of Film & TV Industry

Pay-TV Providers Feel the Impact of Increase in Cord-Cutting

The COVID-19 pandemic is speeding up the ongoing trend of cord-cutting, according to industry experts. The major reason that consumers still hold on to pay-TV subscriptions is to watch live sports. Now, with all professional and college sports events on hold, that reason has disappeared. Additional reasons to cut the cord are high unemployment and an increasing number of free streaming options for entertainment. Cable, virtual cable and satellite TV companies have posted significant losses at the end of the last quarter. Continue reading Pay-TV Providers Feel the Impact of Increase in Cord-Cutting

Mobile, PC and Console Gaming Skyrocket During Pandemic

According to Newzoo, in 2020 the globe’s 2.7 billion gamers will spend $159.3 billion on mobile, PC and console games, representing 9.3 percent growth from 2019. The game market is on track to exceed $200.8 billion in revenue by 2023, with growth of 8.3 percent per year. The COVID-19 shutdown and the release of new consoles by the end of the year are the biggest contributing factors to growth. Some game developers also note that, during the pandemic, older players of casual games are reactivating accounts. Continue reading Mobile, PC and Console Gaming Skyrocket During Pandemic

Roku Users and Streaming Hours Skyrocket During Pandemic

Roku benefited from the rise in streaming due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding 2.9 million accounts in Q1 2020, up 37 percent year over year. The company now has 39.8 million active accounts, with 13.2 billion streaming hours in the quarter, representing a 37 percent year-over-year increase. This, however, was a smaller increase than its 68 percent jump in Q4 2019 and a decline from 16.3 billion hours in the same quarter. Roku also warned that advertising revenue will also likely drop in 2020. Continue reading Roku Users and Streaming Hours Skyrocket During Pandemic

USC Games Expo Goes Online, Plans to Feature 50+ Games

With the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Southern California Games Expo had to quickly shift from a 2,000-peron physical event for students and faculty to an entirely online event. For almost a decade, according to Princeton Review, USC Games has been North America’s No. 1 ranked game design program. USC Games director Danny Bilson said that, with additional financial support from sponsor Jam City, the group scrambled to create an online-only expo to feature 50+ student game demos. Continue reading USC Games Expo Goes Online, Plans to Feature 50+ Games

Home Robot ‘Moxie’ Teaches Kindness and More to Children

Although most home robots have failed, iRobot’s Roomba, the autonomous vacuum cleaner, became the most successful one thus far. People began to relate to the device like it was a person, even giving it names. Former iRobot chief technology officer Paolo Pirjanian explains, “there’s something innate in our mind that triggers when we see something move on its own.” He is now founder/chief executive of Embodied, which is in beta with Moxie, a robot designed to help children improve basic social and cognitive skills. Continue reading Home Robot ‘Moxie’ Teaches Kindness and More to Children

U.S. Drafting Rule to Allow Firms to Work on 5G With Huawei

According to sources, the U.S. Department of Commerce — which blacklisted China’s Huawei Technologies last year — is in the process of inking a new deal that will allow U.S. companies to work with it to set 5G standards. With last year’s blacklist, companies were at a loss to know what information and technology their employees could share with Huawei, and U.S. engineers stayed mum in international 5G standards-setting meetings. The result was that Huawei gained the upper hand in the discussions. Continue reading U.S. Drafting Rule to Allow Firms to Work on 5G With Huawei

Facebook Oversight Board Announces New Member Names

Facebook released the names of the members of its new Oversight Board, which has the power to overrule company chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. Law professor Kate Klonick dubs it a “historic moment,” and “the first time a private transnational company had voluntarily assigned a part of its policies to an external body like this.” Facebook’s four co-chairs spent much of 2020 choosing the other 16 members. They and Facebook will choose another 20, but from then on, the members will be selected without Facebook input. Continue reading Facebook Oversight Board Announces New Member Names

TiVo Stream 4K Offers Cord-Cutters Live TV, Streaming Apps

TiVo launched Stream 4K, its first device that focuses on streaming video. The Stream 4K dongle, which plugs into HDMI and hangs from the bank of the TV set, was announced at CES 2020 and is shipping today for $50. It uses Google’s Android TV system to access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and other familiar apps and provides 4K resolution, Dolby Atmos sound and Dolby Vision HDR if available from the app. Stream 4K will compete with Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and Roku Streaming Stick+. Continue reading TiVo Stream 4K Offers Cord-Cutters Live TV, Streaming Apps

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