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

AWS Intros AI Tool to Add Human Reviewers to ML Workflow

Amazon Web Services unveiled Amazon Augmented Artificial Intelligence (A2I), a fully managed service that makes it easy for developers to build workflows that use human reviewers to validate machine learning predictions. Human reviewers can be added via Mechanical Turk, third-party vendors or the developer’s own employees. The developer can also use Amazon A2I to structure the review process and manage the human reviewers. Users do not need to commit to use Amazon A2I, but instead pay only for each review needed. Continue reading AWS Intros AI Tool to Add Human Reviewers to ML Workflow

Google Unveils Web Vitals, its Metric Tool for Web Developers

Google introduced Web Vitals, an initiative providing performance and user-experience metrics aimed at web developers and website owners. Google has described it as “essential to delivering a great user experience on the web.” Web Vitals is just one of the tools that Google has offered over the years to help developers, advertisers and business owners improve the user experience of their websites. All those tools, however, have become an information overload that confuses its target demographic. Continue reading Google Unveils Web Vitals, its Metric Tool for Web Developers

Amazon Games’ Relentless Studios to Roll Out First AAA Title

Amazon Game Studios will release “Crucible” — its first big budget original game — on May 20. In the free-to-play PC hero-shooter developed by Amazon’s Relentless Studios, the user plays as one of ten hunters, each with his or her own weapons and abilities, all of them battling for Essence, a resource that enhances those abilities. Amazon has game studios in Seattle, San Diego, Orange County (Southern California) and San Francisco, with such home-grown executives as vice president of games Mike Frazzini, who has been with Amazon for 16 years. Continue reading Amazon Games’ Relentless Studios to Roll Out First AAA Title

Cloud Services Experience Record Revenue, Slowing Growth

According to Canalys, by the end of Q1 2020, companies spent a record $31 billion on cloud infrastructure, 34.5 percent growth from $23.1 billion for Q1 2019. Despite increased spending, however, the growth trajectory is slowing: Q1 2019 showed a 39.3 percent year-on-year (YoY) increase and Q4 2019 a 37.2 percent year-on-year increase. Cloud spending therefore grew only 2.6 percent or $800 million quarter-on-quarter by end of March 2020. Canalys attributes growth to the shift to remote working during the pandemic. Continue reading Cloud Services Experience Record Revenue, Slowing Growth

Alphabet and YouTube Ad Revenue Is Impacted by Pandemic

In Q1 2020, YouTube reported $4.04 billion in ad revenue, up 33 percent from 2019. Last year, YouTube earned $15.15 billion in ad revenue, up 36 percent. Its parent company Alphabet — which first broke out numbers for YouTube in Q4 2019 — generated $41.16 billion in revenue, a 13 percent year-over-year growth, with an adjusted net income of $6.84 billion or $9.87 per share. Those figures exceeded analyst expectations for revenue of $40.38 billion, but missed its EPS of $10.33; shares rose 8+ percent in after-hours trading. Continue reading Alphabet and YouTube Ad Revenue Is Impacted by Pandemic

Twitter Sees More Daily Active Users But Advertising Declines

In Q1 2020, Twitter reported 24 percent year-on-year (YoY) increase in daily active users to 166 million, which it said is at least in part to the coronavirus pandemic. Although Q1 earnings beat estimates, the company’s advertising business slowed, which Twitter also attributes to the pandemic. Stock was up 12 percent during premarket trading on news of the report, but then fell 7.8 percent during the earnings call because executives didn’t reassure investors that the advertising slump would recover or stabilize. Continue reading Twitter Sees More Daily Active Users But Advertising Declines

Amazon: Rising Revenue and Technical Operation Challenges

With the coronavirus pandemic spurring online buying, Amazon saw its revenue for the quarter ending March rise 26 percent from a year earlier to $75.5 billion — the highest ever reached for what is ordinarily Amazon’s slowest quarter. According to FactSet, profit fell 29 percent from a year earlier to $2.5 billion, disappointing analysts’ average estimate of $3.26 billion. Amazon hired 175,000 new warehouse and delivery employees, and chief executive Jeff Bezos told investors this is “the hardest time” the company has faced. Continue reading Amazon: Rising Revenue and Technical Operation Challenges

Apple’s Revenue Rises, Buoyed by Services and Accessories

Despite a decline in iPhone sales, Apple’s revenue rose 1 percent in its fiscal Q2 (ending March 28) to $58.3 billion, with profit falling about 3 percent to $11.25 billion or $2.55 a share. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Apple projected more than $63 billion, but the numbers still exceeded analysts’ expectations of almost $55 billion in revenue. Due to an uncertain economy in the wake of the pandemic, Apple would not project Q3 sales, the first time it declined to do so since it began offering such guidance in 2003. Continue reading Apple’s Revenue Rises, Buoyed by Services and Accessories

Some Drive-Ins Experience New Life as Movie Theaters Close

Drive-in theaters have been in decline since the 1970s, with only 300 such theaters still open in the U.S. Now, with movie theaters closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, some of those remaining drive-ins are experiencing a bit of a renaissance. In Virginia, one 54-year old theater is open for business, with at least three of that state’s other drive-ins ready to reopen. According to United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association president John Vincent, about 150 drive-ins will reopen in the next three weeks as the shutdowns are lifted. Continue reading Some Drive-Ins Experience New Life as Movie Theaters Close

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