Shortage of Integrated Circuits Will Drive Up Cost of Displays

Sales of televisions, laptops, tablets and other electronic devices have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people switched to working and learning online. It also sparked a shortage of semiconductors that is now predicted to last until 2023. NPD reported that, also as a result of the shortage, prices of larger TV sets have skyrocketed about 30 percent year-over-year from last summer, and some manufacturers of tablets and other devices relying on chips are warning about imminent price increases due to shortages. Continue reading Shortage of Integrated Circuits Will Drive Up Cost of Displays

More Brands Consider TV/Film Sponsorship in COVID-19 Era

One lesser-known story of COVID-19’s impact on the entertainment industry is how brands have turned to filmmaking. “The Day Sports Stood Still,” a documentary about the NBA shutdown, started as an idea that NBA player Chris Paul brought to producer Brian Grazer and his Imagine Entertainment. The documentary, which debuted on HBO and HBO Max, also drew in Nike’s production entity Waffle Iron Entertainment. “The best partnership you can have is a marriage where the themes between the company and the story are aligned,” said Grazer. Continue reading More Brands Consider TV/Film Sponsorship in COVID-19 Era

All-Virtual CES 2021 Focuses on Innovation Despite Pandemic

The sprawl of CES, typically measured in millions of square feet of exhibit space, multiple venues, and hundreds of thousands of attendees, now spans the globe as the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) sets “the global stage for innovation” in an all-digital format when it opens its four-day run on January 11. However dispersed, CES Week will still be the focal point for the consumer technology sector and trends will emerge, even if news and product announcements will originate from both CES events and individual company presentations. Continue reading All-Virtual CES 2021 Focuses on Innovation Despite Pandemic

Amazon Sidewalk Rolls Out with Echo, Ring Software Updates

Amazon is slowly rolling out Amazon Sidewalk, first revealed in 2019 as an effort to create smart neighborhoods via wireless Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and 900MHz radio signals that can expand the connectivity reach to up to half a mile. Using a small amount of the home’s Wi-Fi bandwidth, Amazon Sidewalk can connect the user with any compatible device, such as garage door openers or outdoor lights, without any additional hardware. Amazon has unveiled it first as a free software update to Echo speakers and Ring cameras. Continue reading Amazon Sidewalk Rolls Out with Echo, Ring Software Updates

Amazon Builds Mammoth Facility in India, Plans U.S. Growth

Amazon built its largest office building in the world in Hyderabad, a city of 10 million in southern India also known as Asia’s Silicon Valley. Amazon spokesperson Minari Shah said, “Hyderabad is a known software tech talent center, and the government has been an enabler for us to have a campus this size.” Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft also have bases in that city. In the United States, Amazon said it will hire 3,500 white-collar employees, including 2,000 in New York, continuing with plans it made prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Continue reading Amazon Builds Mammoth Facility in India, Plans U.S. Growth

Netflix Still Avoids Ads, But Heats Up Its Brand Partnerships

Netflix, which makes almost $16 billion in annual revenue from its 158 million global subscribers, prides itself on being free of advertising. But the company also is $12 billion in debt and facing increasing competition in the streaming video sector from rivals including Apple and The Walt Disney Company. According to eMarketer, Netflix’s “days at the top may be numbered,” and many experts believe that Netflix will eventually have to turn to advertising. Even without ads, however, Netflix is increasing brand engagement. Continue reading Netflix Still Avoids Ads, But Heats Up Its Brand Partnerships

Apple Sells Products via Amazon, Tightens Resale Market

Amazon Marketplace, a third-party seller network worth about $250 billion, has long been the go-to platform for online entrepreneurs who refurbish and sell old Apple computers. But the Mac resale sector has gone up in smoke since Apple and Amazon struck an agreement to limit sales of Apple products only to “the largest companies” and authorized providers. Amazon Marketplace is “the preeminent place” to sell products, offering logistics and shipping unlike competitors eBay and Walmart, as well as Overstock and Etsy. Continue reading Apple Sells Products via Amazon, Tightens Resale Market

Disney Finalizes Deal with Comcast to Take Control of Hulu

Comcast, which owns roughly one-third of Hulu, has agreed to sell its stake in the streaming video service to Disney. The deal calls for Comcast to sell its interest for Hulu’s fair market value no earlier than 2024. The Hulu joint venture launched nearly 12 years ago with the goal of providing a legal platform for television content that would serve as an alternative to YouTube and pirate sites. The platform has since become a major Netflix competitor. Disney’s share increased with its recent $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox’s movie and TV studios. AT&T, which picked up 9.5 percent of Hulu with its $85 billion deal for Time Warner, recently sold back its share to Hulu for $1.43 billion. Continue reading Disney Finalizes Deal with Comcast to Take Control of Hulu

Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

The number of Snapchat app users will remain the same this quarter, news that was a relief to investors and helped propel Snap shares up 22 percent, to $8.62 in after hours trading. Since it went public in March 2017, Snapchat has competed with Facebook’s Instagram, which adopted many Snapchat features. Snap also redesigned the app, to the dismay of some advertisers and users. In Q4, Snap, with 186 million daily active users, was on a par with the previous quarter, although down one million from the same period a year ago. Continue reading Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

To battle Amazon’s ubiquity and customers’ fickle loyalty, some retailers are testing the new Customer 360 software from Salesforce.com and Freshworks to improve their customer service. The software lets retailers build shopper profiles similar to Facebook to better understand what each customer wants and increase the odds that he or she will become more loyal to the retailer in question. Other strategies retailers are employing are the use of improved chatbots and better customer support training. Continue reading Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

Google to Open Up Its AutoML Vision AI Tool for Public Beta

At its Cloud Next conference, Google revealed that its AutoML Vision, which allows non-experts to train their own self-learning models for image and object recognition, will soon be available in public beta. It also debuted AutoML Natural Language and AutoML Translation. To democratize such techy AI tools, Google relied on a simple graphical interface and such widely adopted interfaces as drag-and-drop. The company is also pitching its cloud services to corporations, having recently nabbed Target as a client. Continue reading Google to Open Up Its AutoML Vision AI Tool for Public Beta

The Wall: Samsung Wows CES Attendees With MicroLED TV

In Las Vegas this week, Samsung is showcasing its first MicroLED consumer television. Dubbed “The Wall,” the 146-inch, bezel-less, 4K TV is modular, offering consumers the ability to customize its size and shape by adding or removing sections without affecting image quality. MicroLED’s self-emitting tech uses millions of micro-sized chips that individually emit light, which eliminates the need for color filters or backlighting. If one day affordable, this tech could replace LED for consumer TVs and lead to wallpaper screens. The Wall by Samsung is expected to be available later this year, although pricing has yet to be announced. Continue reading The Wall: Samsung Wows CES Attendees With MicroLED TV

Google to Take On Tech Giants With Second-Gen Hardware

Google just debuted its second-generation Pixel smartphones and Google Home speaker, among other hardware devices, as it competes with Apple, Samsung and Amazon to break into the top ranks of consumer electronics. The company’s first year in the space was mixed: although the devices got positive reviews, the Pixel smartphone suffered from supply shortages, capturing only a minute market share in the U.S. and elsewhere. Likewise, Google Home only made minor inroads into the arena dominated by Amazon’s Echo. Continue reading Google to Take On Tech Giants With Second-Gen Hardware

CES: Wearables Sporting New Capabilities in Maturing Market

Eighty-four million wearables were sold in 2015, and experts are predicting the market will grow to 245 million by 2019. That means that, once again, CES 2017 will be the venue to check out the latest commercially available products and the newest technologies that will power wearables of the future. MEMS and sensors are key to wearables’ capabilities and, Karen Lightman, executive director of the MEMS Industry Group, says CES 2017 will showcase some “exciting” new wearables features. Continue reading CES: Wearables Sporting New Capabilities in Maturing Market

YouTube Go Maximized for New Users of Brazil, China, India

YouTube has spent more than a year creating YouTube Go, a site that has been customized to accommodate the limitations and needs of millions of new users from Brazil, China, India and Indonesia. These new users, online for the first time, bring different devices, connectivity and ideas about what the Internet is to them. YouTube has sent designers, engineers and researchers to those countries to plan a strategy. The challenges are balanced by the chance to engage more than one billion people of every socioeconomic level. Continue reading YouTube Go Maximized for New Users of Brazil, China, India

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