CES: Expectations for the Immersive Experience Landscape

When CES 2020 opens on January 7th in Las Vegas, I expect experiences — of which ‘entertainment’ is one option — will be center stage. We will be watching for repositioning of products and services as experiences, as well as for new ideas for experiences themselves. To state the obvious, for mixed reality and immersive experiences to work well, the user experience (UX) should be intuitive and match user expectations. Companies are working to achieve this by dealing in their own individual ways with the convergence of multisensory, multiplatform, immersive media technology and language (VR, AR, MR, XR); AI; 5G; IoT; robotics and autonomous things; and blockchain. Gartner describes this as a shift from technology-literate people to people-literate technology. Continue reading CES: Expectations for the Immersive Experience Landscape

Qualcomm Introduces Snapdragon Chipsets for 5G Devices

Qualcomm debuted two chipsets for smartphones: the flagship Snapdragon 865 with an add-on X55 5G modem, aimed at high-end smartphones, and the mid-tier Snapdragon 765 or 765G, with integrated 5G capabilities. The Snapdragon 865 is the obvious successor to last year’s 855, which was integrated into 2019 devices including the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Samsung Galaxy S10 phones and the Google Pixel 4 handset. The Snapdragon 865 offers an updated AI engine that the company says is twice as powerful as the 855’s engine. Continue reading Qualcomm Introduces Snapdragon Chipsets for 5G Devices

Facebook Takes Additional Steps to Address Data Concerns

Facebook vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg warned antitrust regulators that data is not a simple resource that can be easily monopolized but a more complicated commodity that can be shared and kept simultaneously. He urged officials to “relinquish” the idea that data is a finite resource that can be used in finite ways. Facebook and Google are facing scrutiny by the U.S. Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission and European Commission. Meanwhile, Facebook is also testing a data portability tool. Continue reading Facebook Takes Additional Steps to Address Data Concerns

Black Friday Experiences New E-Commerce Sales Records

Online sales boomed this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, with record-breaking $4.2 billion in purchases on Turkey Day, followed by $7.4 billion spent on Black Friday. Although this was a new high — up $1.2 billion from last year’s Black Friday — it didn’t meet Adobe Analytics’ prediction of $7.5 billion. Salesforce reported $7.2 billion in sales, even lower than Adobe’s numbers. Of those numbers, $2.9 billion in sales were conducted on smartphones that day. Top-selling electronics included Apple laptops, AirPods and Samsung TVs. Continue reading Black Friday Experiences New E-Commerce Sales Records

Amazon Is Developing Faster Arm-Based Data Center Chip

Amazon debuted a second-generation processor chip for its Web Services data center that relies on technology from Arm Holdings, owned by SoftBank Group, according to sources. The new chip is expected to be 20 percent faster than the first generation Arm-based chip, dubbed Graviton, which was released in 2018 as a less expensive option for lighter computing jobs. If this second-gen chip proves as powerful as sources claim, AWS could rely less on Intel and Advanced Micro Devices for their server chips. Continue reading Amazon Is Developing Faster Arm-Based Data Center Chip

Apple Chief Tim Cook Calls For National Data Regulations

Apple chief executive Tim Cook stated that, because tech companies haven’t self-policed their use of data, “it’s time to have rigorous regulation.” Although he also warned that regulators are too focused on breaking up the Big Tech companies, he admitted that “if one of the companies is found to be a monopoly, and regulators can prove they’ve abused that monopoly power, a breakup might be necessary.” Pew Research reported that about 60 percent of Americans believe their data is being collected on a daily basis. Continue reading Apple Chief Tim Cook Calls For National Data Regulations

Europe’s Antitrust Chief Aims to Keep Pressure on Big Tech

In her five-year tenure, European Commission head of the antitrust division Margrethe Vestager fined Google more than $9 billion and required Apple to pay $14.5 billion in back taxes. But she still has a dark view of the landscape, saying that, “in the last five years, some of the darker sides of digital technologies have become visible.” She has been appointed to an unprecedented second term and has been given expanded power regarding EU digital policy, and has already revealed an agenda that includes making sure that major technology companies pay more taxes in Europe. Continue reading Europe’s Antitrust Chief Aims to Keep Pressure on Big Tech

Google Stadia, Microsoft xCloud Advance Game Streaming

Gaming is available across multiple devices (such as consoles, phones, tablets, PCs) and numerous services, including Google Stadia and Microsoft Project xCloud, and subscription mobile gaming from Apple and Google. Most of the latest offerings have involved software and services, with new hardware releases expected for next year. For the holidays, a Microsoft Xbox One or Sony PlayStation 4 are good choices; the latest models, with better graphics and more storage than the 2013 versions, will go as low as $150 and $200, respectively, on Black Friday. Meanwhile, streaming services are improving and may replace the need for consoles among some gamers. Continue reading Google Stadia, Microsoft xCloud Advance Game Streaming

Big Tech Firms Pursue Financial Services Despite Setbacks

When Walmart started a bank in the early 2000s, states passed laws to ban branches and Congress drafted a law to ban retailers from opening banks. Almost ten years later, Walmart threw in the towel, with its president for financial services Jane Thompson vowing the company would never try it again. That hasn’t stopped Google from announcing it will begin to offer checking accounts next year. Uber wants to open Uber Money, a bank for its drivers (and perhaps riders) and Facebook debuted Facebook Pay. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Pursue Financial Services Despite Setbacks

Apple to Bundle News+, TV+, Music as Early as Next Year

According to sources, Apple, in a bid to gain more subscribers, plans to bundle its paid Internet services, including Apple News+, Apple TV+ and Apple Music, as early as 2020. Apple included a proviso in its recently inked media deals that allows it to bundle the News+ service with other paid digital content. Debuted in March, Apple News+ is a $10 per month subscription service that provides access to many publications, splitting the revenue in half with the newspaper and magazine publishers. The Apple TV+ streaming video service launched earlier this month. Continue reading Apple to Bundle News+, TV+, Music as Early as Next Year

Microsoft to Debut xCloud Game Streaming Service in 2020

According to Microsoft head of gaming Phil Spencer, the company will introduce its xCloud game streaming service, integrated with Xbox Game Pass, in 2020, with price and launch date to be determined. Microsoft will also bring xCloud to Windows 10 PCs, making it likely that PC games will be streamed there in the future. Microsoft head of cloud gaming Kareem Choudhry noted the lack of mouse and keyboard support for Xbox games streamed via xCloud to a PC, but said there will “be more types of content” in the future. Continue reading Microsoft to Debut xCloud Game Streaming Service in 2020

Big Tech Companies Make Progress on AR Smart Glasses

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Magic Leap, Microsoft and Snap are among the Big Tech companies working on creating smart glasses that we can wear everywhere — and that may even replace our smartphones. Currently, glasses are too big (and expensive), but in time are expected to achieve a sleeker form factor and come down in price. Smart glasses promise to dramatically shift how we engage with the world, and some advocates believe we will eventually be able to replace every screen we use with a single pair of glasses. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Make Progress on AR Smart Glasses

Apple Is Developing AR/VR Headset, Glasses, 3D Sensors

As reported in The Information, Apple is planning to launch a hybrid augmented reality/virtual reality headset in 2022 and a pair of AR glasses the following year. This recently released report stated that Apple chief executive Tim Cook spoke about the AR project in a 1,000-employee meeting, an unusually large gathering for the company. The report contained detailed information about Apple’s ideas about wearable AR devices. Apple has also developed a new 3D sensor system that will be integrated with the AR and VR devices. Continue reading Apple Is Developing AR/VR Headset, Glasses, 3D Sensors

Google Culls Patient Data to Build Healthcare Search Tools

Google and Ascension, the second-largest health system in the U.S., have been collecting the personal health data of tens of millions of people in 21 states. Project Nightingale, the tech giant’s effort to enter healthcare, has culled lab results, diagnoses and hospitalization records, which include patient names and dates of birth. No doctor or patient has been notified, which has sparked a federal inquiry, but some experts say the initiative is permissible since Google is developing software to improve the healthcare system. Google explained that its partnership with Ascension is not a secret and was first announced in July during a Q2 earnings call. Continue reading Google Culls Patient Data to Build Healthcare Search Tools

JPMorgan Intros E-Wallet for Gig Economy, Online Markets

JPMorgan Chase has developed an e-wallet for Airbnb, Amazon, Lyft and the like, to allow them to offer customers virtual bank accounts, car loans and home rental discounts. In doing so, these online marketplaces and gig economy companies will end up spending less on payment processing fees to third parties — including JPMorgan. That might sound counterintuitive, but the catch is that the companies can only avail themselves of the offerings if they let JPMorgan handle all the payment processing and cash exchanges. Continue reading JPMorgan Intros E-Wallet for Gig Economy, Online Markets

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