New Era Begins for Twitter as Elon Musk Acquires Company

Elon Musk took control of Twitter on Thursday, completing the historic $44 billion acquisition of the social micro-blogging platform. After some housekeeping — including carrying a sink into the company’s San Francisco headquarters for a cheeky video-op (“let that sink in!”) and firing top executives including CEO Parag Agrawal — the recalcitrant tech magnate began settling into his new role. Updating his bio to reflect his chosen title of “Chief Twit,” he tweeted off a letter assuring advertisers that Twitter will not “become a free-for-all hellscape” with no content moderation. Continue reading New Era Begins for Twitter as Elon Musk Acquires Company

Apple Has Record Quarter but Slowed Growth Worries Some

Bolstered by iPhone 14 sales, Apple reported fiscal Q4 revenue up just over 8 percent, to $90.1 billion, with a 7.8 percent increase to $394 billion for the 12-month sales session that ended September 24. “We set an all-time revenue record for Mac and September quarter records for iPhone and wearables, home, and accessories,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told analysts, noting “services notched a September quarter record as well, with revenue of $19.2 billion and more than 900 million paid subscriptions.” Even so, the company’s earnings produced a Rashomon effect as peak performance triggered pique among some. Continue reading Apple Has Record Quarter but Slowed Growth Worries Some

With Revenue Down 20 Percent, Intel Plans to Reduce Costs

A sharp decline in demand for PCs is prompting Intel to reevaluate its expenditures, with reduced factory hours and staff reductions among the options under consideration. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger also says the company is considering divestitures as it seeks to cope with a 20 percent drop in Q3 revenue, to $15.3 billion, and full-year outlook downsized by $1 billion. Intel has been undergoing a reinvention of sorts as it steps into the role of foundry. Increased capex for new plant construction means surgical precision is needed to achieve a goal of $3 billion in 2023 cost cuts. Continue reading With Revenue Down 20 Percent, Intel Plans to Reduce Costs

CTA: Streaming Services Will Be Focus for Holiday Shoppers

Tech items are making the list this holiday season, with the Consumer Technology Association’s annual shoppers survey forecasting a record-breaking 78 percent of U.S. adults — nearly 199 million people — will purchase devices and related services this season. Streaming services, headphones and earbuds, mobile cases, smartphones and game consoles top the trade organization’s survey, the 2022 Hot Tech Holiday Preview. The seasonal projection marks a 4 percent increase over last year. The 78 percent of American shoppers who intend to purchase tech gifts in the coming months will spend an estimated $145 billion. Continue reading CTA: Streaming Services Will Be Focus for Holiday Shoppers

Meta, Spotify Blast Apple Over App Store Fee Enforcements

Apple announced various App Store developer updates last week, and one change getting lots of attention is that which specifies “sales of ‘boosts’ for posts in a social media app must use in-app purchase.” That means Apple will be taking its customary 30 percent fee for paid boosts on iOS devices, a move that will primarily affect Meta Platforms’ Facebook and Instagram, since they hadn’t previously been processing such transactions through Apple’s in-app purchase system, like Twitter and Tiktok have. Apple says its “guidelines have been clear” that in-app sales are required to use its In-App Purchase. Continue reading Meta, Spotify Blast Apple Over App Store Fee Enforcements

Meta Revenue Falls Despite Facebook Attracting More Users

After seeing its stock plunge more than 60 percent this year, Meta Platforms posted another decline, with Q3 revenue falling 4 percent, to $27.7 billion, from $29 billion for the same period last year. CEO Mark Zuckerberg told analysts that on a constant currency basis “total revenue grew slightly this quarter,” adding that “we’re still behind where I think we should be, but we believe that we will return to healthier revenue growth trends next year,” though just in case “we’re planning our budget somewhat more conservatively.” Meanwhile, Facebook’s number of daily active users hit 1.98 billion, a 3 percent gain year-over-year. Continue reading Meta Revenue Falls Despite Facebook Attracting More Users

Number of Pay-TV Package Subscribers Drops to 66 Percent

The number of households in the U.S. that are subscribing to some sort of multichannel pay-TV package has declined to 66 percent in 2022, from 88 percent in 2012, according to a new study from the Leichtman Research Group. The study defines pay TV as multichannel service delivered via cable, satellite, telco TV or ISP. “Two-thirds of U.S. TV households now get a live pay-TV service, a significant decrease from 79 percent five years ago,” LRG president and principal analyst Bruce Leichtman said, calling the decline “not solely a function of those disconnecting services, but is also related to a slowdown in those entering or reentering the category.” Continue reading Number of Pay-TV Package Subscribers Drops to 66 Percent

Deepfakes Used for Entertainment, Advertising Draw Concern

Celebrity deepfakes springing up on the web, and even in advertising, are raising concerns. The technology is advancing in sophistication and commercial interest. Apple was just granted rights by the U.S. Patent Office to “face image generation with pose and expression control” from reference images. This month, video of President Biden was manipulated into a performance of the viral children’s tune “Baby Shark,” while a digital doppelganger for Elon Musk hawked investment opportunities for real estate startup reAlpha Tech. Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Bruce Willis are also among those artificially misappropriated for promotional use without permission. Continue reading Deepfakes Used for Entertainment, Advertising Draw Concern

Big Tech Ramps Up Digital Security with Passkey Deployment

Now that Apple, Google and Microsoft have updated their operating systems to support the open standard passkey protocol stewarded by the FIDO Alliance, consumers will soon be liberated from the tyranny of passwords and their attendant security threats. PayPal has become the latest to embrace the passkey approach, announcing U.S. users will soon be able to log in using FIDO-compliant passkeys. It joins Best Buy, CardPointers, eBay, Kayak and WordPress among those with digital portals offering a passkey option. Passkeys will permit consumers to login seamlessly across devices, making online purchases easier and eliminating friction from app access. Continue reading Big Tech Ramps Up Digital Security with Passkey Deployment

Apple Increases Prices of Its Streaming Services for First Time

For the first time, Apple is raising U.S. prices for Apple Music and Apple TV+ subscription services. Starting this week, both new and existing customers will pay rates starting at $6.99 per month for Apple TV+ and $10.99 per month for Apple Music, a 40 percent and 10 percent increase, respectively. The family music plan, for up to six accounts, increases to $16.99 per month (from $14.99). Cost of the Apple One bundle — which includes TV, Music, Apple Arcade and iCloud+ storage — also rises as competing streamers raise prices while vying more aggressively for market share. Continue reading Apple Increases Prices of Its Streaming Services for First Time

YouTube Updates Its User Interface with New Look, Features

YouTube is getting a user interface update that includes a darker night mode and, for mobile users, a pinch-to-zoom feature similar to that used for photos on Android and iOS devices. Additionally, a new frame-by-frame search lets users find an exact moment within a video using thumbnails. YouTube’s watch page also gets a refresh, with links in the video descriptions restyled as buttons, while common actions (“like,” “share,” “download”) have been formatted for a cleaner look. On watch and channel pages, the subscribe button has been redesigned to stand out more, which should help creators. Continue reading YouTube Updates Its User Interface with New Look, Features

WBD Teams with Samsung TV on FAST MotorTrend Channel

The MotorTrend Group, a division of Warner Bros. Discovery, has joined forces with Samsung TV Plus to launch the MotorTrend FAST TV channel in the U.S. and Canada. The free ad-supported MotorTrend VOD offering marks WBD’s move into the entertainment FAST lane. The service will feature automotive and lifestyle content from a library curated since 2002, when Discovery began acquiring related programming, eventually launching the Velocity cable channel in 2011, rebranded as MotorTrend in 2018. MotorTrend’s David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan — authorities on novelty cars — are expected to be the mainstay of the new service’s weekend programming. Continue reading WBD Teams with Samsung TV on FAST MotorTrend Channel

YouTube Tops Nielsen Gauge for First Time, Pluto Breaks Out

Streaming broke another all-time record in September, claiming 36.9 percent of total television usage. YouTube captured an 8 percent streaming share, enough to make it the No. 1 most-watched service, a first for the Google-owned platform, according to Nielsen’s monthly media snapshot “The Gauge.” Broadcast’s share also grew in September, climbing to 24.2 percent, while cable dropped to 33.8 percent. Total television usage increased 2.4 percent over August, with Nielsen citing the return of football as the rising tide that lifted all boats in in September, “as it provided new content across broadcast, cable and streaming.” Meanwhile, Pluto TV made a splash entering the rankings for the first time. Continue reading YouTube Tops Nielsen Gauge for First Time, Pluto Breaks Out

Microsoft’s New Gaming Strategy Includes Xbox Mobile Store

Microsoft is reportedly building an Xbox mobile store, challenging Apple and Google. The Redmond company’s pending Activision Blizzard deal is key to successful implementation of its mobile gaming strategy, which was previously hinted at and now comes to light in a filing with the UK Competition and Markets Authority, which requested additional information from Microsoft as part of its analysis of the $68.7 billion deal. In its filings, Microsoft says a “next generation” game store that “operates across a range of devices, including mobile” is significant impetus for the acquisition. Continue reading Microsoft’s New Gaming Strategy Includes Xbox Mobile Store

Online Safety Act Paused as Ofcom Reports on Net Neutrality

UK watchdog Ofcom has proposed a loosening of the nation’s net neutrality rules so as to not unduly restrict innovation and development. While it is up to government and Parliament to change the law, recommendations from Ofcom — which was created to monitor compliance with net neutrality laws — are influential. “Since the current rules were put in place in 2016, there have been significant developments in the online world, including a surge in demand for capacity,” as well as the rollout of 5G, and the emergence of large players like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Continue reading Online Safety Act Paused as Ofcom Reports on Net Neutrality