EU Private Risk Assessment Reveals 5G Security Concerns

According to a privately circulated risk assessment prepared by European governments, the European Union (EU) has identified security threats coming from foreign telecommunications equipment vendors, raising particular concerns about Huawei Technologies Co. A public report was released and warned of hostile states or state-backed companies posing a threat to new 5G networks rolling out across the globe. These promise faster connection speeds and the ability to link many devices (cars, pacemakers, and more) to the Internet. 

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OECD Aims to Regulate Where Online Companies Pay Taxes

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has devised a proposal to prevent digital giants such as Amazon, Apple and Facebook from avoiding paying taxes. The proposal, which would allow countries to tax such big multinational firms even if they did not operate there, would enable new taxes on all kinds of multinational companies — not just tech firms — that operate online. As of now, many of these digital companies avoid heavier taxes by moving profits to countries with low tax rates. Continue reading OECD Aims to Regulate Where Online Companies Pay Taxes

Google Set to Announce 5G Phone Next Week, Say Sources

According to sources, Google may unveil the test version of a 5G smartphone as early as October 15, when it is also expected to also reveal two new 4G Pixel smartphones with OLED screens and possibly a smart watch and notebook. If Google does indeed introduce the 5G phone, it would get a significant jump on Apple, whose plans are to unveil a 5G phone in 2020. Google is making a bigger play in branded hardware to have a greater hold over consumers using its search engine and other software products. Continue reading Google Set to Announce 5G Phone Next Week, Say Sources

Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

Gaming company Activision Blizzard suspended an eSports player who, during a live broadcast, expressed his support for the pro-democracy protest movement in Hong Kong. Professional “Hearthstone” player Chung Ng Wai has been suspended for a year and forced to give up $10,000 in prize money. The move led to a significant backlash from gamers and politicians via social media and online forums. The public relations dilemma is similar to what played out this week following NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s support of free speech, which led to the decision by China’s state-run television not to broadcast two NBA games. Continue reading Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

Tether, Most Widely Used Cryptocurrency, Is Under Scrutiny

Although Bitcoin accounts for 70 percent of all the global digital assets’ market value, Tether is the world’s most widely used cryptocurrency, said CoinMarketCap, which revealed that Tether, despite the fact that it’s market capitalization is 30 times smaller than Bitcoin, has the highest daily and monthly trading volume. Tether surpassed Bitcoin in April and, said CoinMarketCap, has done so consistently since early August, at about $21 billion per day, with monthly trading volume 18 percent higher than Bitcoin’s. Continue reading Tether, Most Widely Used Cryptocurrency, Is Under Scrutiny

Japan’s Virtual YouTube Celebrities Test the Waters in China

Japan’s most popular YouTube star is Kizuna AI, a virtual teenager with thigh-high socks and a pink hair ribbon, brought to life by an off-screen actress. Millions of fans follow Kizuna, the brainchild of Activ8, a Tokyo-based company. According to Activ8 founder Takeshi Osaka, what sets such so-called virtual YouTubers (or VTubers) apart is that “you can believe they actually exist.” To create Kizuna, Activ8 uses motion capture gear to create skits, music videos and game streams for its over four million subscribers. Continue reading Japan’s Virtual YouTube Celebrities Test the Waters in China

Companies Call on U.S. Government to Up Its AI Investment

The U.S. federal government has come up with $973.5 million for multiple agencies that have requested funding for non-defense-related artificial intelligence pursuits. (Spending on AI for national defense is classified.) This is the first time the government has done so, but numerous industry executives are already saying that it’s not enough to “maintain a competitive edge.” The Trump administration stated that the figures they are putting forward are more transparent than those from China, which aims to dominate AI by 2030. Continue reading Companies Call on U.S. Government to Up Its AI Investment

Alibaba Dominates E-Tail in China But Fails to Thrive Abroad

In its last fiscal year, which ended in March, Alibaba Group’s 654 million customers bought $835 billion worth of goods, with revenues of $56.2 billion, cementing the company’s credentials as the world’s largest e-tailer. Put another way, the company handled more business than Amazon and eBay combined. Notably, 66 percent of Alibaba’s revenue — $36.9 billion — came from China. But translating that success to other countries has proven elusive — a mere 5 percent of the company’s revenue came from international locations. Continue reading Alibaba Dominates E-Tail in China But Fails to Thrive Abroad

Apple Brings Back Touch ID, Readies New iPhones Launch

To better compete with the latest flagship Android phones offered by companies such as Samsung, Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, Apple is developing in-screen fingerprint tech for its future iPhones, according to those familiar with the plans. It is unclear whether the tech will be featured in 2020 or 2021 models, but insiders indicate that testing is already underway at Apple and its overseas suppliers. Meanwhile, Apple will announce this year’s new high-end iPhones on September 10, and is reportedly working on its first low-cost iPhone since the company’s 2016 SE model. Continue reading Apple Brings Back Touch ID, Readies New iPhones Launch

Facebook Plans Section in Its Mobile App Called News Tab

Facebook is working on a publishing initiative called News Tab that will deliver news content partly curated by a team of editors to the social platform’s mobile app. The Silicon Valley company, which has primarily relied on algorithms to select news stories, plans to hire a team of experienced journalists to serve as editors and launch a test version of News Tab by the end of this year. “Our goal with the News Tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience for people,” said Campbell Brown, head of global news partnerships at Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Plans Section in Its Mobile App Called News Tab

Huawei Reveals Info on Harmony, Its Alternative to Android

Huawei Technologies released details on HarmonyOS, its new operating system to replace Google’s Android on its smartphones and other devices. The Chinese company created its own OS in anticipation of the U.S. government’s expanded technology blacklist. Huawei consumer device business chief Richard Yu said the company would prefer to run Android but is ready to switch its phones to HarmonyOS “in just one or two days” if necessary. According to Yu, the open-source HarmonyOS will also work on smartwatches and other connected home devices. Continue reading Huawei Reveals Info on Harmony, Its Alternative to Android

Apple Revenue Rises via iPad/Mac Sales, Services Growth

Apple’s revenue rose 1 percent to $53.81 billion despite a 12 percent decline in iPhone sales, for the quarter ending June 29. Profit also slumped for the third straight quarter — 13 percent to $10.04 billion. At the same time, per-share earnings of $2.18 surpassed analyst predictions. Apple was able to achieve positive revenue despite lagging iPhone sales by growth in iPad and Mac sales as well as App Store sales, mobile payments and device insurance, which rose 13 percent to $11.46 billion. Continue reading Apple Revenue Rises via iPad/Mac Sales, Services Growth

Samsung Updates Foldable Phone, Schedules Fall Launch

After postponing the April 26 debut of the Galaxy Fold, Samsung now plans to launch its $1,980 foldable phone in September. The Galaxy Fold’s April debut was canceled because of early reviews that pointed out problems with the foldable screens. Samsung has redesigned the phone with a number of significant updates. The company said it will initially release the phone in select markets, as originally planned. The Galaxy Fold was designed to be the world’s first widely available foldable smartphone, and should beat a number of competing products in development to market. Continue reading Samsung Updates Foldable Phone, Schedules Fall Launch

Amazon Accelerator Program Draws Mixed Vendor Interest

Amazon’s Accelerator program for independent merchants, launched in spring 2018, provides marketing support, product reviews and visibility in exchange for the right to purchase the brand with 60 days notice, for a fixed price, “often $10,000.” It’s part of the tech behemoth’s strategy to build its portfolio of exclusive brands. According to third-party sellers, this is also the first selling program that gives Amazon direct control over independent brands. One source reported that Amazon has not yet purchased any brands. Continue reading Amazon Accelerator Program Draws Mixed Vendor Interest

Report: Mobile Apps and Games Have Impressive Quarter

According to App Annie, consumers downloaded 11.2 billion mobile games for iOS and Android in Q2 2019. Games served as 35 percent of global downloads, but were responsible for almost 75 percent of consumer spending on iOS and Google Play. Overall, mobile apps had a record quarter: 30.3 billion apps were downloaded, while iOS and Google Play saw $22.6 billion in consumer spending. Arcade, action and casual games collectively represented the third-largest category for Google Play Q2 growth year-over-year. Games served as the top contributor to download growth for iOS, led by arcade, action, and puzzle games. Continue reading Report: Mobile Apps and Games Have Impressive Quarter

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