Valve Sued by Indie Game Developer Over Steam Store Rules

Independent developer Wolfire Games, a digital storefront for bundled games, has filed a lawsuit against Valve, claiming that the 30 percent commission it charges in its Steam Store is monopolistic and anticompetitive. According to Wolfire, Valve controls about 75 percent of the entire PC gaming market, earning an estimated $6 billion in annual revenue from its 30 percent commission. The lawsuit follows Epic Games’ suit against Apple, currently in court, and Microsoft’s decision to slash its own commission fee. Continue reading Valve Sued by Indie Game Developer Over Steam Store Rules

Amazon OTT Businesses Reach 120+ Million Monthly Viewers

Amazon’s over-the-top businesses (including IMDb TV, Twitch, live sports and Amazon’s News app among others) have grown to 120+ million monthly viewers. The free, ad-supported IMDb TV, which is getting a mobile app, has seen its viewership rise 138 percent year-over-year, making it a rival to similar ad-supported streamers including Fox’s Tubi, ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV and Roku’s The Roku Channel. Amazon’s exclusive rights to NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” will begin a year earlier than originally planned, with the 2022-2023 season. Continue reading Amazon OTT Businesses Reach 120+ Million Monthly Viewers

Amazon’s Profits, Income, Stock Price Skyrocket During 2020

For Q1 2021, Amazon reported record profits of $26 billion, more than the previous three quarters combined, with net income more than tripling to $8.1 billion and revenue of $108 billion, surpassing FactSet’s analyst predictions. In addition to Amazon’s successful quarter, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft all enjoyed major upticks in profits and revenues, the result of the increased need for their products and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon expects that its Q2 sales will reach between $110 billion and $116 billion. Continue reading Amazon’s Profits, Income, Stock Price Skyrocket During 2020

Google’s Ad Sales Shatter Records as Brands Shift to Digital

The pandemic-driven stay-at-home year supercharged Alphabet’s digital ad sales in Q1 to $55.31 billion, 34 percent up from a year earlier. Advertising sales via signature products such as Search, Google Maps and Gmail rose 30 percent to $31.88 billion as brands transitioned ad spending from print, TV and in-store promotions to Google services. Profit also more than doubled and per-share earnings were higher than expected. YouTube earned $6 billion, a 49 percent increase from last year, and total profit soared 162 percent from the previous year to almost $18 billion. Continue reading Google’s Ad Sales Shatter Records as Brands Shift to Digital

Univision Selects Google for Bundled Cloud Computing Deal

Google has inked an eight-year deal with Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications that could exceed $1 billion. Univision chief executive Wade Davis said Google’s offer of benefits on its YouTube video platform and advertising and search services helped close the deal. Microsoft and Amazon have also bundled products in cloud computing deals and lawmakers have expressed concern over the tactic. Google currently faces antitrust suits filed by the Justice Department and several states. Continue reading Univision Selects Google for Bundled Cloud Computing Deal

Apple vs. Spotify: Battle for Podcasting Dominance Heats Up

The rivalry between Apple and Spotify to dominate the growing podcast market has heated up. Apple launched paid podcast subscriptions and Spotify recently partnered with Facebook to spur discovery. In its latest move, Spotify also launched a podcast subscription model but, unlike Apple, which keeps 30 percent of the fees, Spotify will allow content creators to keep 100 percent. Podcasting, which skyrocketed in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to bring in $1+ billion in advertising revenue this year. Continue reading Apple vs. Spotify: Battle for Podcasting Dominance Heats Up

Streamers Invest in Global Local Productions to Attract Subs

Emulating Netflix’s international strategy, Disney, Amazon and other companies with streaming services are heavily investing in local-language productions globally, to woo international subscribers. Formerly, Hollywood shipped dubbed or subtitled domestic movies and TV shows. These companies are fueling a boom of movie and TV production in Hindi, French, Portuguese, German, Polish and other languages. The Motion Picture Association reported that global subscriptions reached 1.1+ billion last year, rising from 400 million in 2016. Continue reading Streamers Invest in Global Local Productions to Attract Subs

Scams Are a Problem for Apple App Store, Digital Advertising

The Apple App Store is full of scams, according to Kosta Eleftheriou, who has hunted down scam apps for iPhones and iPads that lure consumers into a “free trial” and then charge them insanely high monthly subscription rates without an obvious way to cancel. Eleftheriou, who said these scam apps advertise themselves with thousands of fake 5-star reviews, has come to the conclusion that Apple doesn’t care or is incompetent. Apple isn’t the only target for fraudsters, who have a lucrative business scamming digital advertisers. Continue reading Scams Are a Problem for Apple App Store, Digital Advertising

EU Releases Its Draft Policy to Regulate Artificial Intelligence

The European Union issued a 108-page policy that establishes rules to govern the use of artificial intelligence, setting limits on its use in everything from bank lending and school enrollment to self-driving cars and hiring decisions. Use of artificial intelligence by law enforcement and court systems, considered “high risk” because of the potential to threaten safety and fundamental rights, is also regulated. Live facial recognition in public spaces would be banned except in cases of national security “and other purposes.” Continue reading EU Releases Its Draft Policy to Regulate Artificial Intelligence

Netflix Drops $465 Million to Produce ‘Knives Out’ Franchise

In 2019, director Rian Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) wrote and directed “Knives Out,” which became a surprise hit. Now, Netflix spent about $465 million to buy two sequels. Experts are debating if the streamer overpaid or made a canny move to create a new franchise. Former Lionsgate co-president Erik Feig, who was involved with both the “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” franchises, noted that the sequels could turn into a TV show and, more importantly, establish a long-term relationship with high-profile writer/director Johnson. Continue reading Netflix Drops $465 Million to Produce ‘Knives Out’ Franchise

Amazon Spent Heavily on Video and Music Content Last Year

In 2020 Amazon spent $11 billion on Prime services content, up 41 percent from the $7.8 billion it spent in 2019. The sum includes licensing and production costs and costs related to digital subscriptions and content it sells and rents. The first season of its “Lord of the Rings” TV show reportedly cost $465 million to produce. However, Amazon canceled the “Lord of the Rings” online role-playing game announced in 2019. The huge sums Amazon is putting into content reflects its desire to dominate global digital entertainment. Continue reading Amazon Spent Heavily on Video and Music Content Last Year

Amazon: Jeff Bezos Touts New Vision for Employee Success

In the wake of Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama voting against unionization, company founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos stated that, “it’s clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees — a vision for their success.” Seventy percent of workers at the Alabama warehouse voted against the union. Bezos, who will step down as chief executive — but remain as chair — in Q3 this year, touted the fact that Amazon helped 200+ million Amazon Prime members save $630 each during the year. Continue reading Amazon: Jeff Bezos Touts New Vision for Employee Success

Intel Leads Investment Round in IRIS.TV Video Data Platform

Intel’s investment division Intel Capital led a new $18 million Series B investment round in IRIS.TV, a data technology company that offers an alternative to cookies and third-party identifiers. IRIS.TV, founded in 2013, analyzes the topics of individual videos of any kind or length, providing information for advertisers on contextual relevance rather than the viewer’s personal data. IRIS.TV’s tech works on videos on mobile phones and computers and, notably, for content on streaming television apps. Continue reading Intel Leads Investment Round in IRIS.TV Video Data Platform

Defeated Union Calls Foul on Amazon Win, Continues Efforts

Although workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama voted against unionizing with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), that union’s president Stuart Appelbaum said it planned to challenge the results, accusing Amazon of “illegal and egregious behavior during the campaign.” RWDSU director of communications Chelsea Connor specified that “alleged behavior” included placement of a USPS mailbox on the grounds of the warehouse, which some workers described as intimidating because they believed Amazon was monitoring voters. Continue reading Defeated Union Calls Foul on Amazon Win, Continues Efforts

University of Chicago Debuts First U.S. Quantum Accelerator

The University of Chicago and partners launched the first U.S. program to support quantum-tech startups. University of Chicago physicist and molecular engineer professor David Awschalom, who helped create the Duality accelerator, said, “we are at the birth of a new field of technology … at the point where the transistor is being invented.” Chicago is home to three of the eight federally funded quantum research centers founded in 2020. The University of Toronto has also unveiled a program to support quantum-tech startups. Continue reading University of Chicago Debuts First U.S. Quantum Accelerator

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