EU Pushes for U.S. Tech Companies to Invest in Local Content

Against an environment of social anxiety and national pride, Europe has been trying to limit the reach and influence of American tech giants, enacting privacy regulations and launching antitrust investigations. Now, the European Commission is contemplating rules that would require some of these U.S. companies to carry — and even fund — local content in various local markets. That would impact Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO among others, which would be required to allot 20 percent of local content to European-made content. Continue reading EU Pushes for U.S. Tech Companies to Invest in Local Content

European Officials Accuse Google of Breaking Antitrust Rules

European officials have charged Google with violating competition rules by favoring Android over rival mobile software. Europe’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager accused the tech giant of unfairly promoting its own mobile search and Chrome browser with phone makers. “We believe that Google’s behavior denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players,” said Vestager. From Brussels, the European Commission issued a release stating that Google has “abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators.” Continue reading European Officials Accuse Google of Breaking Antitrust Rules

Google Sees Future in Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning

Google just indicated one of its future initiatives when Amit Singhal, who oversees the Google search engine, stepped down, and was replaced by John Giannandrea, who oversees Google’s work in artificial intelligence and, by association, what’s called “deep learning.” Google has already used deep learning to reinvent Search, via RankBrain, a deep learning system to generate responses to search inquiries. As of October of last year, RankBrain has grown to handle a “large fraction” of the queries to the search engine. Continue reading Google Sees Future in Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning

Seattle’s United Vote Greenlights Uber and Lyft Driver Unions

The Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to approve a bill allowing Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize. The city’s mayor, Ed Murray, who supports the workers’ right to organize, won’t sign due to his concerns about the unknown costs of administering the collective bargaining process. Even without his signature, it will become law, the first victory for the App-Based Drivers Association (ABDA) of Seattle, the organization of on-demand contract workers who joined with the local Teamsters union to lobby for the legislation. Continue reading Seattle’s United Vote Greenlights Uber and Lyft Driver Unions

Nokia Initiates Share-Exchange Offer in Alcatel-Lucent Merger

Initiating its planned merger with Alcatel-Lucent, first announced in April, Nokia began its share-exchange offer with that company’s shareholders in Paris and London. Nokia is paying €15.6 billion ($16.6 billion) for Alcatel-Lucent, with the idea that combining the two companies’ expertise in telecom and Internet gear will help it better compete in a global economy. Nokia not only faces competition from new players such as China’s Huawei Technologies but from Ericsson, which just struck an alliance with Cisco. Continue reading Nokia Initiates Share-Exchange Offer in Alcatel-Lucent Merger

New Ericsson, Cisco Alliance to Impact Internet of Things, 5G

Ericsson and Cisco Systems, leaders in mobile and Internet equipment respectively, are forming an alliance to beat back the competition, enjoy synergies in the mobile market and target the growing fields of Internet of Things and 5G. The alliance isn’t a merger, but in many ways acts like one: Ericsson and Cisco plan to integrate their existing equipment, combine some sales and consulting areas and perhaps develop new hardware and services. Competitors include Chinese company Huawei and Nokia, which just bought Alcatel-Lucent. Continue reading New Ericsson, Cisco Alliance to Impact Internet of Things, 5G

Facebook and Yahoo Attempt to Expand Search Capabilities

Facebook and Yahoo just made strategic deals with regard to search. Facebook, which unsuccessfully attempted search with its Graph Search feature in 2013, states it has now indexed more than two trillion posts, promoting it as a way to follow news discussions in real time. Yahoo just inked a non-exclusive deal with Google to provide search results and ads; antitrust regulators struck down a similar deal in 2008. Yahoo renegotiated an exclusive deal with Microsoft’s Bing to make this latest deal. Continue reading Facebook and Yahoo Attempt to Expand Search Capabilities

EU Regulators Gain Regulating Clout With U.S. Tech Companies

Brussels, where the European Union is primarily based, is becoming a mecca for U.S. tech firms to plead their cases. That’s because the EU has taken a hard stance on issues of antitrust and privacy among others, becoming the world’s first regulator to confront Google on antitrust charges… twice. The unintended result is that U.S. tech companies are now hiring full-time lobbyists to protect their interests. And aggrieved U.S. firms go there to lodge complaints that might otherwise have gone to the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading EU Regulators Gain Regulating Clout With U.S. Tech Companies

Google’s Fall From Grace in EU Culminates in Antitrust Suit

Google, which enjoyed enormous popularity and usage numbers in the European Union, now suffers blowback from information revealed in the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Not long ago, free-speech advocates in many countries applauded Google for shutting down its China site rather than face censorship, and Google has also been seen on the right side of history during the Arab Spring and in Syria. But now, the EU is accusing the tech giant of abusing its power — and it is looking for payback via an antitrust suit. Continue reading Google’s Fall From Grace in EU Culminates in Antitrust Suit

FTC Examines Apple’s 30 Percent Charge for Rival Music Apps

Antitrust regulators are reportedly taking a preliminary look at whether Apple’s business model for selling streaming music apps may be illegal under current antitrust law. While the company now has its own music streaming service, Apple also takes a 30 percent cut of in-app purchases through its App Store for competing services such as Jango, Rhapsody and Spotify. According to industry sources, the Federal Trade Commission has not announced a formal investigation, but has started to look into the issue by meeting with concerned parties. Continue reading FTC Examines Apple’s 30 Percent Charge for Rival Music Apps

European Union Expresses Privacy Concerns Regarding Google

The European Parliament recently voted in favor of breaking up Google in European territories. While the nonbinding vote holds no legal power, the decision to vote in favor of such a break-up shows the resistance that Google has encountered from the European Union. The vote comes in the wake of a recent appeal by privacy advocates and the EU to extend the “right to be forgotten” policy for European citizens beyond the European Google search engine. Continue reading European Union Expresses Privacy Concerns Regarding Google

Amazon Loses Senior Editor as Publishing Struggles Continue

Novelist Ed Park, a senior editor at Amazon’s publishing office, has decided to leave the company and move to Penguin Press as an executive editor. The shift highlights Amazon’s battle with its image as competition grows within the publishing ecosystem. Amazon faces obstacles as bookstores refuse to carry books published by Amazon, and authors and agents are therefore disinclined to join. However, Park explained that such conflict was not the main reason for his departure. Continue reading Amazon Loses Senior Editor as Publishing Struggles Continue

Amazon, Hachette Settle Long-Running Dispute Over E-Books

Amazon and Hachette have finally resolved their ongoing public dispute, which began back in January. Hachette will now have the ability to set its own prices for e-books and print books, but will be offered incentives for selling at lower prices. Despite yesterday’s announcement, seen by most as a victory for Hachette (in the short term), Amazon still controls almost half of today’s book trade. In addition, the long-running dispute showed the industry that Amazon is not afraid to use its power to affect sales. Continue reading Amazon, Hachette Settle Long-Running Dispute Over E-Books

Simon & Schuster and Amazon Strike New Deal for E-Books

Publisher Simon & Schuster announced yesterday that it has negotiated a multiyear agreement with Amazon for print and electronic books. According to a letter signed by CEO Carolyn Reidy, the deal “is economically advantageous for both Simon & Schuster and its authors and maintains the author’s share of income generated from e-book sales.” The letter also indicates that the contract gives control of e-book pricing to Simon & Schuster, “with some limited exceptions.” Continue reading Simon & Schuster and Amazon Strike New Deal for E-Books

France’s Iliad Concludes its Ambitious Pursuit of T-Mobile US

French telecommunications company Iliad has ended its pursuit of American wireless provider T-Mobile US. While T-Mobile was in talks about a merger with Sprint to launch a more competitive rival to AT&T and Verizon Wireless, Iliad was ambitiously attempting to buy control of T-Mobile for $15 billion (an offer worth nearly as much as its own market value). Yesterday, Iliad issued a statement that it was ending its efforts, despite having increased the proposed acquisition stake and price. Continue reading France’s Iliad Concludes its Ambitious Pursuit of T-Mobile US