FCC Chair Ajit Pai Plans a Public Auction of C-Band Waves

The Federal Communications Commission wants to offer a public auction of C-Band airwaves, taking away control from Intelsat SA and SES SA, which had planned a private auction that could have earned them billions of dollars. FCC chair Ajit Pai said the airwaves would be freed for 5G wireless use and generate revenue for the U.S. government. The plan could be voted on in early 2020. The satellite companies protested, saying they would work to create an alternative plan and calling Pai’s plan “a significant departure.” Continue reading FCC Chair Ajit Pai Plans a Public Auction of C-Band Waves

Google $2.1B Acquisition of Fitbit to Face Antitrust Scrutiny

Google is buying wearable fitness-tracking company Fitbit for $2.1 billion. But the deal already faces antitrust scrutiny as well as concern about the massive amount of personal private health data that Google will gain with the purchase. Google stated — and Fitbit chief executive James Park reiterated — that health data would not be used for Google’s advertising business, but that might not be enough for regulators. The 12-year old Fitbit pioneered wearables before the advent of smartwatches. Continue reading Google $2.1B Acquisition of Fitbit to Face Antitrust Scrutiny

FTC Begins Amazon Probe by Talking to Third-Party Vendors

The Federal Trade Commission has begun its investigation of Amazon by trying to determine if small businesses do in fact have alternative marketplaces. Several attorneys and “at least one economist” have been conducting 90-minute interviews with some of Amazon’s third-party vendors, to see if they do earn revenue from eBay, Walmart or other shopping sites. According to former FTC staffer Michael Kades, the length of the interviews and number of staff dedicated to the task indicates the agency is doing a “serious job.” Continue reading FTC Begins Amazon Probe by Talking to Third-Party Vendors

Facebook Strategizes Ways to Draft Off Instagram’s Growth

Instagram is threatening to overshadow its parent company Facebook. The platform now has 1 billion users, more than Facebook had when it bought Instagram for $715 million, and, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, is worth more than $100 billion. Most critically, Instagram appeals to a younger demographic, which Facebook needs to keep growing. Other Facebook users are also gravitating to Instagram’s more lighthearted photo and video app, in the wake of Facebook’s involvement in privacy and political scandals. Continue reading Facebook Strategizes Ways to Draft Off Instagram’s Growth

Google and Lenovo Intro First Standalone Daydream Headset

Google teamed with Lenovo to launch a new standalone VR headset with specialized cameras that intends to reach beyond gaming. The new Lenovo Mirage Solo, on display at CES this week, features VR180 cameras designed to encourage users to capture 360-degree video. Google hopes this will help ramp up the current lack of VR content. The headset runs Daydream and is designed to interact with Google services such as YouTube and digital maps. The Mirage Solo touts displays that do not blur during user movement, and does not require a PC or smartphone. It is expected to ship by Q2 2018 for less than $400. Continue reading Google and Lenovo Intro First Standalone Daydream Headset

Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

Google will spend $1.1 billion to purchase part of HTC’s smartphone operations. The Internet giant plans to use HTC’s engineering and design teams to help ramp up its nascent hardware efforts to complement its expanding portfolio of software products and grow its revenue beyond Android and search ads. The deal, which is expected to bring about 2,000 HTC employees to Google, also includes a non-exclusive licensing agreement for HTC intellectual property. While HTC has shown growth potential in VR with its Vive headset, its mobile business has been struggling. Continue reading Google to Acquire Part of HTC Mobile Division for $1.1 Billion

Mall Owners Reinvent Their Properties in Online Shopping Era

As a number of retailers go bankrupt due to the consumer migration to online shopping, mall owners are adjusting strategies to make their real estate and facilities more appealing. These changes have included turning malls into destinations, with everything from rock-climbing gyms and mini-golf courses to restaurants and bars. The major remodels will mean higher rents for new tenants but, even so, say the experts, it’s uncertain that the mall owners are taking into account the increased expenses of running large customized spaces. Continue reading Mall Owners Reinvent Their Properties in Online Shopping Era

E-Commerce: Walmart Reports Major Growth in Online Sales

Walmart gained momentum in its fight against Amazon, with its online sales growing at its fastest clip in at least five years. Walmart reported a 69 percent increase in its e-commerce business in the first quarter of 2017. The growth seems to reflect concerted investment in online expertise and acquisitions. “All of a sudden, Walmart is the primary competitor to Amazon, as opposed to a fragmented cluster of people,” said Greg Portell, a partner at consulting firm A.T. Kearney. Continue reading E-Commerce: Walmart Reports Major Growth in Online Sales

Microsoft Releases its Server Design Early to Jumpstart Cloud

Microsoft is submitting designs for its new server, Project Olympus, to the open source Open Compute Project eight months before it will be completed, in an effort to influence the data center market. By offering open source designs, the company pressures hardware manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard to lower pricing of its own cloud infrastructure products. Among the new server’s key strengths are that it can use different international power standards without a need to tweak the hardware and can run a variety of applications. Continue reading Microsoft Releases its Server Design Early to Jumpstart Cloud

Rovi Agrees to Acquire DVR Pioneer TiVo in $1.1 Billion Deal

Rovi Corporation has agreed to purchase TiVo Inc. for $1.1 billion, in a deal that merges two TV tech patent holders as companies including Apple, Comcast and Google are looking to control the set-top box. The FCC is proposing to allow customers who rent STBs from cable companies to “buy their own boxes or alternatives, which would open up what is now a largely closed market,” reports Bloomberg. “This deal was driven by an increasingly competitive set-top box market,” said analyst Paul Sweeney of Bloomberg Intelligence. “Cable operators such as Comcast are investing serious capital to develop next-generation boxes that are threatening the TiVo and Rovi platforms.” Continue reading Rovi Agrees to Acquire DVR Pioneer TiVo in $1.1 Billion Deal

Media Companies Turn to A La Carte Sales in Foreign Markets

Viacom, 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company are among the numerous entertainment companies offering their content a la carte — in Europe, Latin America and Asia. In the U.S., these networks are still parts of more expensive bundles proffered by Comcast, DirecTV and other pay TV services. That reflects a much lower penetration of homes outside the U.S. that have a cable or satellite subscription, which makes it possible for media companies to make a la carte offers without running afoul of pay TV providers. Continue reading Media Companies Turn to A La Carte Sales in Foreign Markets

Apple, Google, Samsung Battle to Dominate Mobile Payments

Apple, Google and Samsung are all vying to dominate the nascent mobile payments market sector. Samsung, a newcomer to the competition, has already signed up five million U.S. users, who have racked up $500 million in transactions since launching in September. Apple Pay is estimated to have 12 million monthly users and Android Pay has five million. Still, adoption of mobile payments hasn’t caught fire yet. Not all retailers accept mobile payments, which also require later-generation phones. Continue reading Apple, Google, Samsung Battle to Dominate Mobile Payments

Time is Up for Yahoo’s Turnaround, Sale Now On the Table

Since the 2012 hiring of former Google executive Marissa Mayer to improve Yahoo’s fortunes, the company has failed to turn around and is now facing difficult choices. Among many plans devised, the latest occurred last month when executives favored spinning off the company’s main Internet business. That strategy may be abandoned as Yahoo considers a sale of its business, while an activist — and anonymous — investor mounts a proxy fight. Employee morale is said to be low in light of 1,100 layoffs since August 2014. Continue reading Time is Up for Yahoo’s Turnaround, Sale Now On the Table