Microsoft Commercial Cloud Business Drives Record Sales

Microsoft’s gross margins for its commercial cloud business (including Azure and Office 365) grew to 67 percent, driving the company’s robust fiscal Q2 earnings on record sales. Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella revealed that revenue from this sector grew 39 percent to $12.5 billion. Company executives told analysts that the gross margins percentage will increase this year while margins rose for the fourth consecutive quarter, noting that this reflects the “huge opportunity” selling cloud products and infrastructure. Continue reading Microsoft Commercial Cloud Business Drives Record Sales

Facebook Revenue Strong, Despite Facial Recognition Suit

Facebook’s revenue rose 25 percent to $2.11 billion for the quarter, beating analysts’ expectations of $20.9 billion. Its 2019 revenue rose almost 27 percent, with Q4 profits a 7 percent lift to $7.35 billion. The company reported that, even as expenses grew, its user base grew 9 percent from a year earlier to 1.66 billion, topping FactSet’s prediction of almost 1.65 billion. Not all is rosy, however: Facebook agreed to pay $550 million to settle an Illinois class-action lawsuit over use of its facial recognition technology. Continue reading Facebook Revenue Strong, Despite Facial Recognition Suit

Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

In Snapchat’s animated series Bitmoji TV, which launches February 1, the user’s avatar stars — and the last person he Snapchatted co-stars — in various TV scenarios, including sitcoms, soap operas and reality competitions. This first season will debut 10 three-to-four-minute episodes, unveiled on Saturday mornings. As Bitmoji founder/chief executive Ba Blackstock puts it, “we’re bringing back Saturday morning cartoons.” The series takes off from Bitmoji Stories, which stars the user’s avatar in funny situations. Continue reading Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

Apple Revenue Rises But China’s Virus Poses Uncertainties

With its latest iPhone, AirPods wireless earbuds and apps, Apple’s revenue rose 9 percent in the December quarter, to $91.82 billion. In response, the company’s shares rose 1.5 percent in after-hours trading. Apple’s flagship smartphone, which accounts for more than half of its revenue, rose 8 percent to $55.96 billion. China’s coronavirus outbreak poses uncertainty, since most of the tech giant’s products are manufactured there. Chief executive Tim Cook said Apple is limiting travel to China and reducing store operating hours in the country. Continue reading Apple Revenue Rises But China’s Virus Poses Uncertainties

Facebook Reveals More Details About Its Oversight Board

Facebook’s Oversight Board, comprised of people from outside the company, will determine if specific user posts violate its rules. But the company just divulged that it expects the board to “come to a case decision, and for Facebook to have acted on that decision, in approximately 90 days,” a lengthy period of time that makes it unlikely the board will be able to block misinformation from spreading virally. The board may play a role, however, in changing the company’s policy on paid political ads. Continue reading Facebook Reveals More Details About Its Oversight Board

Pokémon Go Battle League: Niantic Ramps Up Global Play

Niantic, developer of “Pokémon Go,” is capping a profitable 2019 for the augmented reality game by improving its competitive battle system. The first step is the introduction of Pokémon Go Battle League, which adds a new structure to the Trainer Battle System enabling players to compete against one another from around the globe. Pokémon Go Battle League is slowly debuting around the world. In additional gaming news, Sensor Tower notes that Nintendo’s mobile games have earned $1 billion in revenue, starting with “Super Mario Run” in 2016. Continue reading Pokémon Go Battle League: Niantic Ramps Up Global Play

Big Tech Firms Call For Regulation, Lobby Specific Policies

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, major tech players such as Alphabet, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft asked lawmakers for regulations they once fought. Facing antitrust probes and pushback on AI, privacy and encryption among other issues, these companies believe laws are inevitable and want to have a role in creating them. They also fear a patchwork quilt of global laws. Most recently, the Justice Department sparred with Apple over its request for help to unlock the iPhones of the Saudi Arabian naval trainee who killed three people in Florida. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Call For Regulation, Lobby Specific Policies

Free Video-Sharing App Byte Aims to Compete with TikTok

Byte, a video-sharing app created by Dom Hofmann, debuted Friday and hit No. 1 for free iOS apps in Apple’s U.S. App Store. Byte, which targets rival ByteDance’s TikTok, is a reboot of the former Vine video-sharing service Hofmann co-founded in 2012 and sold to Twitter that year. Twitter couldn’t find a way to make Vine profitable and shuttered it in 2016. In its short life, Vine became a “cultural touchpoint” as users took on the creative challenge of the six-second format. Byte is also the top free iOS app in Canada. Continue reading Free Video-Sharing App Byte Aims to Compete with TikTok

Samsung Reveals More Details About Concept Robot Ballie

At its CES 2020 keynote address, Samsung introduced Ballie, an autonomous small sphere with built-in camera, microphone and speaker that moves by rolling. Samsung Think Tank Team co-founder/head Sajid Sadi, who is also Samsung vice president of research, described the Team’s vision for Ballie. Sadi noted that the first two issues regarding Ballie were “mobility and personality.” The small robot needed to be able to travel over many different floor types and couldn’t intimidate children or pets. Continue reading Samsung Reveals More Details About Concept Robot Ballie

Pentagon Nixes Commerce Dept. Efforts to Rein in Huawei

The Pentagon has overruled the U.S. Commerce Department’s efforts to make it more difficult for U.S. companies to sell to Huawei Technologies from their overseas facilities. According to sources, the Defense Department and the U.S. Treasury Department also objected to the Commerce Department’s move. The Pentagon’s main concern is that if U.S. companies lose a significant source of revenue, they will be unable to fund research and development sufficiently enough to “maintain a technological edge.” Continue reading Pentagon Nixes Commerce Dept. Efforts to Rein in Huawei

YouTube Signs Activision Blizzard’s Major eSports Leagues

Google’s YouTube will exclusively stream Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty League, Overwatch League, and Hearthstone Esports, which had previously been on the Twitch streaming platform. The news came just before the Call of Duty League’s inaugural match. In 2018, Twitch inked exclusive Overwatch League streaming rights for a reported $90 million. Additionally, Google Cloud will host Activision Blizzard’s library of games. YouTube Gaming head Ryan Wyatt reported that talks over the rights had been ongoing since last year. Continue reading YouTube Signs Activision Blizzard’s Major eSports Leagues

AI-Powered App Enables Improved Virtual Apparel Try-Ons

Researchers from Adobe, the Indian Institute of Technology and Stanford University teamed up to create SieveNet, an AI-powered technology that allows a user to virtually try on clothing. The “image-based virtual try-on” maps the item to the virtual body, retaining its characteristics without creating blurry or bleeding textures. According to banking company Klarna, 29 percent of shoppers want to virtually try on apparel, accessories and cosmetics and 49 percent would like solutions that take their measurements into account. Continue reading AI-Powered App Enables Improved Virtual Apparel Try-Ons

Intel Earnings Rise with Increased Data Center, PC Demand

Starting in Q4 2019, chipmakers — including Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing — began enjoying an upswing in demand that led to better sales and earnings. Data centers and personal computers appear to be fueling the increased demand. Intel, for example, reported that “adjusted earnings per share in [that] quarter rose to $1.52 from $1.28 in the year-prior period.” FactSet analysts predicted only $1.25 per share on an adjusted basis and $19.23 billion in sales. In fact, sales rose 8 percent to $20.21 billion. Continue reading Intel Earnings Rise with Increased Data Center, PC Demand

Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

In March, Japanese wireless company NTT Docomo will debut an 8K VR streaming service that relies on next generation 5G technology for its bandwidth and low latency capabilities. The 8KVR Live service will become part of Docomo’s Shinkansen Live Connect; the name refers to the country’s bullet trains. The new service will enable pay-per-view access to live venues such as concerts. Users with VR headsets and 5G smartphones will be able to watch the live event from a viewing angle of their choosing. Continue reading Docomo to Unveil 8K VR Live for Concerts, Events in March

White House Cracks Down on Counterfeit Goods Sold Online

The Trump administration is cracking down on counterfeit products sold over the Internet, warning warehouse operators and e-commerce platforms such as Amazon that they will pay fines if they don’t help identify such products. The Department of Homeland Security released a report on the problem, and the White House in concert with U.S. Customs and Border Protection is leading the initiative. The recent trade agreement with China requires that country to curb counterfeiters or risk potential new tariffs. Continue reading White House Cracks Down on Counterfeit Goods Sold Online

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