In U.S. and Europe, Some Oppose the Breakup of Big Tech

Many public figures have called for the breakup of leading technology companies, but the European Commission’s head of competition Margrethe Vestager is not one of them. She stated that breaking up such companies should be a remedy if it’s “the only solution to [their] illegal behavior.” “We don’t have that kind of case now,” she said, although she didn’t exclude a future possibility. In the U.S., conservatives and libertarians, who often oppose antitrust measures, are also pushing back against the move to break up Big Tech. Continue reading In U.S. and Europe, Some Oppose the Breakup of Big Tech

Microsoft Plans to Launch Quantum Computing in the Cloud

Microsoft’s cloud computing platform will soon offer select customers access to quantum computers. More specifically, the three prototype quantum computers are from Honeywell and two startups, IonQ (spun out from the University of Maryland) and QCI (spun out of Yale University). Quantum computing isn’t ready for any real work, but Microsoft, like its rivals IBM and Google, wants to stake out a presence in the nascent field. Microsoft Quantum general manager Krysta Svore noted, “we need a global community.” Continue reading Microsoft Plans to Launch Quantum Computing in the Cloud

Europe Aims for Digital Sovereignty With Gaia-X Cloud Plan

Germany and France plan to launch Gaia-X, a government-backed cloud infrastructure project, with the goal of allowing local providers to compete with dominant U.S. cloud providers. Amazon and Microsoft criticized Gaia-X for limiting data services by national borders. However, French and German companies are wary of dependence on those tech behemoths, which must comply with the U.S. Cloud Act, a 2018 law that requires them to provide personal data to law enforcement, even when the servers are outside of the U.S. Continue reading Europe Aims for Digital Sovereignty With Gaia-X Cloud Plan

Drones in Delivery Tests, U.S. Agency Bars Chinese UAVs

Amazon, Alphabet’s Wing and Uber Technologies are conducting government-approved trials of drones to deliver packages. Wing is in Christiansburg, Virginia and Uber will begin tests in San Diego before the end of 2019. United Parcel Service also gained FAA approval to create a fleet of drones to deliver health supplies and, ultimately, consumer packages. The FAA predicts that drones for commercial purposes will reach 2.7 million by 2020. Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior is grounding more than 800 drones that were manufactured in China, citing national security concerns. Continue reading Drones in Delivery Tests, U.S. Agency Bars Chinese UAVs

Tech Giants Ramp Up Lobbying as Legal Probes Continue

As lawmakers investigate Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google for antitrust violations, these tech giants are boosting their spending on lobbying. Amazon spent $12.4 million, a 16 percent increase. In the first nine months of 2019, Facebook spent $12.3 million, almost 25 percent more than the same period last year. Apple and Microsoft increased their outlay, by 8 percent and 9 percent respectively. Although parent company Alphabet reduced spending on lobbying by 41 percent, Google spent $9.8 million through September 30. Continue reading Tech Giants Ramp Up Lobbying as Legal Probes Continue

Advertisers Turn to Streaming Services For More User Data

As streaming services proliferate, so does the technology that tracks their viewers. AT&T, Roku, and ad giant Publicis, among others, are harvesting viewers’ email addresses and the devices they use to stream content. Privacy advocates are concerned, with Center for Digital Democracy executive director Jeff Chester calling the practice a “digital daisy chain of data-gathering on viewers.” But advertisers find the opportunity to gather the specific data available with streaming services too appealing to pass up. Continue reading Advertisers Turn to Streaming Services For More User Data

Defense Dept. Taps Microsoft For Cloud Computing Project

Microsoft won a $10 billion, 10-year technology contract with the Department of Defense for its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project. Although Amazon was the front-runner, President Trump had upped his criticism of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and stated he might intervene to prevent Bezos’ company from getting the JEDI contract. Google, IBM and Oracle also competed for the contract. A group of Microsoft employees has protested the company’s involvement in the military project. Continue reading Defense Dept. Taps Microsoft For Cloud Computing Project

Major Tech Firms Are Taking Action to Combat Deepfakes

Ahead of next year’s U.S. Presidential election, social platform Twitter is planning to introduce a new policy that intends to help curb manipulated media including altered videos known as “deepfakes.” Twitter plans to create its first ever such policy regarding deepfakes and will seek feedback from the public in doing so. Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services has joined Facebook, Microsoft and others in the Deepfake Detection Challenge (DFDC) and will serve as a tech partner and committee member helping to oversee the challenge. Continue reading Major Tech Firms Are Taking Action to Combat Deepfakes

Nielsen Includes Amazon Prime Video in Its SVOD Ratings

Nielsen began tracking a second subscription streaming service — Amazon Prime Video — in its SVOD Content Ratings, which debuted in October 2017 with Netflix. For both services, Nielsen tracks only connected-TV viewing, excluding desktop and mobile devices, and only measures viewing in the United States. Nielsen released data points for Amazon Prime’s eight-episode “The Boys” produced by Sony Pictures Television, stating it reached nearly eight million viewers in the first 10 days of its premiere. Continue reading Nielsen Includes Amazon Prime Video in Its SVOD Ratings

House Hearings Consider Balance of Competition, Privacy

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings that included testimony about how tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have collected significant quantities of data that give them a dominant market power that endangers consumer privacy. House Republicans, however, noted that strong data protection regulations in Europe, as well as other privacy regulations, could hurt competition among these companies. The hearing is the latest effort in the House’s antitrust investigation into digital giants. Continue reading House Hearings Consider Balance of Competition, Privacy

Amazon Curated Annual Holiday Toy Guide Comes at a Cost

Amazon released its annual Holiday Toy Guide featuring more than 1,700 “curated” items. In order to be considered for a spot in the well-regarded guide, Amazon charges toy companies millions of dollars, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. Amazon sells “Holiday Toy List” sponsorships for up to $2 million, and “the more sponsors pay, the more products they can nominate to be on the list and the more prominently their own products will be featured on the popular website.” Amazon’s summer toy list charged lower rates.

Continue reading Amazon Curated Annual Holiday Toy Guide Comes at a Cost

Facebook Falls, Amazon Rises, and Apple Holds Top Spot

In Interbrand’s latest Best Global Brands report, Facebook fell out of the top ten, dropping to 14th due to an estimated declined value of 12 percent. Amazon moved up to 3rd and The Walt Disney Company moved up to 10th. Apple remains in the top spot, with Google right behind. Previously, Facebook had grown in value each year of its existence up until 2017, when it came in 8th place on the list. But with incidents like the Cambridge Analytica scandal on its heels, the company’s value has dipped. 

Continue reading Facebook Falls, Amazon Rises, and Apple Holds Top Spot

TiVo Introduces Its Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Service 

On Tuesday, TiVo officially entered the streaming content service arena with the release of its ad-supported streaming service, TiVo Plus. The new service appears to be the company’s answer to The Roku Channel. TiVo Plus is available for free but only to those who own TiVo devices, and it’s enabled by a partnership with XUMO, Jukin Media, and other publishers, allowing TiVo to offer a wide range of content. TiVo indicates that, in total, there will be thousands of movies and TV shows available to consumers. 

Continue reading TiVo Introduces Its Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Service 

Sony Readies Launch of Immersive 360 Reality Audio Tech

Sony wants listeners to feel like they’re having a live music experience even when listening to a recording. The company just announced plans to release its immersive listening technology, 360 Reality Audio, this fall. After debuting it at CES in Las Vegas, Sony is ready to move forward with the release, which will include around 1,000 tracks to start. Listeners will be able to access 360 Reality Audio songs through the Android and iOS apps of music streaming services such as Amazon Music HD, Deezer, nugs.net and Tidal

Continue reading Sony Readies Launch of Immersive 360 Reality Audio Tech

Walmart Aims to Take On Amazon by Subsidizing Vendors

It seems as though the holiday online shopping competition is already revving up. Walmart will soon release a new program to compete with the Amazon marketplace, which boasts 40 percent control of the U.S. e-commerce market. On Walmart’s own marketplace site, vendors pay a fee to list goods. Soon, the prices of some of these goods will temporarily lower, but the vendors will still be paid in full with Walmart subsidizing the difference, according to a description of the plan obtained and reported by Bloomberg

Continue reading Walmart Aims to Take On Amazon by Subsidizing Vendors

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