Microsoft Experiences Robust Growth With Intelligent Cloud

Much of the focus has been on Amazon, Facebook and Google in recent weeks, obscuring the fact that Microsoft is in fact the largest tech company and the largest publicly traded company, with a market capitalization if $1+ trillion. Its quiet success continued with the company’s latest quarterly report indicating sales grew 12 percent to $33.7 billion. The company also enjoyed $13.2 billion in profits in the same quarter, in part due to $2.6 billion in one-time tax benefits and inked its “largest commercial deal ever” with AT&T. Continue reading Microsoft Experiences Robust Growth With Intelligent Cloud

European Union Hits Qualcomm With Another Antitrust Fine

For the second time in 18 months, the European Union levied a fine on Qualcomm, this time for €242 million ($272 million). European commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager stated that Qualcomm drove a competing supplier of baseband chips out of business, an antitrust violation. The EU started its formal investigation into Qualcomm in 2015, when U.K. chip manufacturer Icera accused it of “predatory pricing” between 2009 and 2011, to drive it out of business. Nvidia subsequently purchased Icera. Continue reading European Union Hits Qualcomm With Another Antitrust Fine

Amazon Accelerator Program Draws Mixed Vendor Interest

Amazon’s Accelerator program for independent merchants, launched in spring 2018, provides marketing support, product reviews and visibility in exchange for the right to purchase the brand with 60 days notice, for a fixed price, “often $10,000.” It’s part of the tech behemoth’s strategy to build its portfolio of exclusive brands. According to third-party sellers, this is also the first selling program that gives Amazon direct control over independent brands. One source reported that Amazon has not yet purchased any brands. Continue reading Amazon Accelerator Program Draws Mixed Vendor Interest

Streaming Video Services Moving Toward Audience Ratings

Netflix rarely releases viewership numbers, arguing that, because it doesn’t court advertisers, it can safely sit on its own data. That mindset is changing, however, as competition heats up in free ad-supported streaming TV services. Tubi and Viacom’s Pluto TV have released viewership numbers — 20 million for the former and 15 million for the latter — but they don’t use independent measurement firms such as Nielsen or Comscore. Advertisers continue to be wary without such third-party verification. Continue reading Streaming Video Services Moving Toward Audience Ratings

The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has just opened an inquiry into whether Amazon unfairly uses data gleaned from third-party sellers. The investigation has no deadline and could go on for years. At issue is whether Amazon has an unfair advantage by selling its own goods on the site, in competition with its third-party sellers. Amazon stated it will “cooperate fully” with the investigation as well as “continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.” Continue reading The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Showcases Brain-Computer Interface

Elon Musk and his startup Neuralink’s scientists showed off a new brain-computer interface they say will advance therapeutic devices treating various neurological conditions with a new level of precision. The technology, in development for two years, will soon be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for testing on human subjects. The company thus far has received $158 million in funding and has about 100 employees. Musk stated that one goal of the announcement is to recruit more talent. Continue reading Elon Musk’s Neuralink Showcases Brain-Computer Interface

Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

Republican and Democratic lawmakers excoriated tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google this week on Capitol Hill. Chief among the critics were Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who oversees the Constitution subcommittee, and Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) who leads an antitrust subcommittee. Although the companies acknowledged the upheaval their technology has created in many industries, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded that, “every time Americans trust you, they seem to get burned.” Continue reading Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

Twitter Releases Web Redesign That Highlights Community

Twitter’s desktop interface hadn’t been tweaked in seven years and its technology was woefully out of date. The company began working on a redesign of the site in 2017 and started beta-testing it in September 2018. After showing it to more users in January, Twitter finally released it widely this week. The new three-column design is faster, but other changes are subtle. According to Twitter senior director of product design Mike Kruzeniski, much of the design changes focus on “simplification.” Continue reading Twitter Releases Web Redesign That Highlights Community

Apple Takes On Original Podcasting to Compete with Rivals

To compete with Spotify and Stitcher, Apple plans to roll out exclusive original podcasts and is already in conversation with media companies to do so, said sources. The company has not yet described its strategy, but did say it will make unprecedented deals to build up its podcast collection. Industry experts reported that, currently, 50 to 70 percent of all podcast listening already takes place from the Apple Podcasts app. Since debuting Apple Podcasts in 2005, however, Apple has made few changes. Continue reading Apple Takes On Original Podcasting to Compete with Rivals

CTA: Tech Sales to Reach New High of $401 Billion in 2019

The Consumer Technology Association forecast that U.S. consumer technology sales will grow 2.2 percent to $401 billion in 2019, due to AI-enabled devices, streaming services, and in-vehicle and other technologies. CTA chief executive Gary Shapiro noted that 5G will provide the faster connectivity that will help boost sales of new technologies, but warned, however, that “unnecessary tariffs — taxes paid by American consumers and businesses — threaten to slow down our nation’s economic momentum.” Continue reading CTA: Tech Sales to Reach New High of $401 Billion in 2019

FCC Proposal Restricts Local Regulation of Cable Networks

FCC chair Ajit Pai has put forth a plan to prevent cities and towns from regulating Internet access via their authority over cable TV networks and limit how much cities can charge cable companies. The cable industry has long lobbied for these changes; Pai’s proposal will come to a vote at the FCC on August 1. Pai’s proposal states that “some states and localities” are collecting fees and imposing requirements not “explicitly allowed” by Title VI, the cable regulation section Congress added to the Cable Act of 1984. Continue reading FCC Proposal Restricts Local Regulation of Cable Networks

Intel Debuts 64-Chip Neuromorphic System for AI Algorithms

Intel, which is in development on its Loihi “neuromorphic” deep-learning chips, just debuted Pohoiki Beach, code name for a new system comprised of 64 Loihi chips and eight million “neurons.” Loihi’s neuromorphism denotes the fact that it is modeled after the human brain, and Pohoiki Beach is capable of running AI algorithms up to 1,000 faster and 10,000 times more efficiently than the typical CPU. Applications could include everything from autonomous vehicles to electronic robot skin and prosthetic limbs. Continue reading Intel Debuts 64-Chip Neuromorphic System for AI Algorithms

Facebook in Global Crosshairs for Privacy, Antitrust Issues

The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook about $5 billion for privacy violations, but the sum is considered a slap on the wrist since it neither hurt the company’s bottom line nor limited its ability to collect data. But, since 2016, 43+ countries have passed or introduced laws regulating social media and the spread of fake news, and U.S., European and Canadian regulators have initiated investigations and proposed regulations that will likely be much more draconian. Congress is considering a federal privacy law. Continue reading Facebook in Global Crosshairs for Privacy, Antitrust Issues

New YouTube Policy Enables Easier Copyright Claim Fixes

YouTube just made it easier for video creators to handle manual claims of copyright infringement. With the updated policy, copyright owners will have to say where in the video their material occurs, making it easier for creators to determine whether the claim is legitimate and then to edit out content if it is. In the past, creators would have to search through their videos to find the offending material, uncertain as to where it was, making it difficult to find and fix or dispute. Continue reading New YouTube Policy Enables Easier Copyright Claim Fixes

Privacy Concerns Grow Over Facial Recognition Data Sets

Social networks, dating services, photo websites and surveillance cameras are just some of the sources of a growing number of databases compiling people’s faces. According to privacy advocates, Microsoft and Stanford University are among the many groups gathering images, with one such repository holding two million images. All these photos will be used to allow neural networks to build pattern recognition, in the quest to create cutting edge facial recognition platforms. Some companies have collected images for 10+ years. Continue reading Privacy Concerns Grow Over Facial Recognition Data Sets

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