Ford, VW Collaborate on Autonomous and Electric Vehicles

Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG are extending their seven-month-old alliance to include collaborating on self-driving and electric car technology. In a joint statement today, the companies announced that Volkswagen would invest $2.6 billion in Ford’s autonomous-vehicle partner Argo AI by providing $1 billion in funding and contributing its Audi $1.6 billion Autonomous Intelligent Driving unit, based in Munich. In 2017, Ford invested $1 billion in Pittsburgh-based autonomous vehicle startup Argo. Once the Ford-VW deal is finalized, Argo’s value is expected to reach $7 billion. Continue reading Ford, VW Collaborate on Autonomous and Electric Vehicles

IBM to Take on Competitors With Its Hybrid Cloud Strategy

IBM has a new strategy to compete with Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Alibaba in cloud computing: it spent $34 billion to acquire Red Hat, which specializes in open source software tools to write cloud computing applications. Red Hat already has partnerships with all the major cloud providers. IBM, a latecomer to this highly competitive sector, is presenting itself as a neutral party to those concerned about becoming too dependent on a single player. For this reason, Germany also has plans to build its own cloud infrastructure. Continue reading IBM to Take on Competitors With Its Hybrid Cloud Strategy

Spotify Expands Ad Options by Targeting Podcast Listeners

Spotify, which now has 123 million worldwide users of its ad-supported audio service, is expanding its podcast business by offering advertisers the ability to target consumers based on the types of podcast programs they are streaming. Brands across 10 global markets (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom and United States) will have the option of targeting Spotify Free users based on podcast categories such as “Business & Technology,” “Comedy” and “Lifestyle & Health.” 3M and Samsung have been testing the new ad-targeting tool. Continue reading Spotify Expands Ad Options by Targeting Podcast Listeners

Amazon Fire TV Widens Its Lead at 34 Million Active Users

Back in January, Amazon announced that its Fire TV streaming platform had more than 30 million users. Today, Fire TV has grown to more than 34 million active users, according to an announcement made by Amazon this week during a panel titled ‘The Battle for Your Living Room: Sticks, Boxes, and Smart TV Platforms’ at The Pay TV Show in Denver. This indicates that Amazon’s lead over rival streaming platform Roku is widening. Roku grew to 29.1 million active users per its latest earnings report from this month.

Continue reading Amazon Fire TV Widens Its Lead at 34 Million Active Users

Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

According to a new report from research firm IDC, consumer interest has waned recently for smartphone-dependent VR devices, while tethered and standalone models are growing more popular. IDC surveyed 1,643 VR users across France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and learned that the number of “high-performance” VR headsets increased 60 percent from 2017 to 3.9 million devices in 2018. The study identified different categories of users, based on their amount of time spent with VR devices, including a “hardcore” group (12 percent) that spent 16 or more hours monthly with VR. Continue reading Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

Fraunhofer Compression Tech Used to Stream VR Over 5G

German research organization Fraunhofer, known for its extensive work in applied sciences, including its contributions to compression tech used for today’s MP3 audio and MP4 video, is now working on 5G virtual reality streaming software. Last year, Fraunhofer revealed its high-speed VR microdisplay hardware. It is now demonstrating new video compression software based on the MPEG-OMAF standard, which allows for streaming of 360-degree video over 5G networks. The goal is to minimize the problems related to resolution, compression artifacts and latency commonly experienced when streaming VR content over 4G and Wi-Fi networks. Continue reading Fraunhofer Compression Tech Used to Stream VR Over 5G

EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

In a vote of 348 to 274, nineteen out of the European Union’s 28 member countries voted in favor of reformed laws to protect content creators. Critics of the reform — including large tech companies — argue that the rules will reduce free speech online, with Articles 11 and 13 of particular concern. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker declared that the new copyright rules are “fit for the digital age.” In the lead-up to the vote, nativist groups in many countries worked to defeat the new rules. Continue reading EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

U.S. Tries Softer Tack to Limit Huawei at Prague 5G Confab

According to sources, on May 2-3 when officials from 30+ countries meet in Prague to discuss security principles for 5G networks, the U.S. will propose measures to prevent China’s Huawei from gaining dominance. The U.S. has long believed that the Chinese government can use Huawei’s gear to spy via Internet-connected products from AR to self-driving cars. Huawei has denied the accusations. The U.S. strategy at the upcoming meeting, said a U.S. official, is “softer” than its previous efforts to limit Huawei’s influence. Continue reading U.S. Tries Softer Tack to Limit Huawei at Prague 5G Confab

German Price-Comparison Service Files Suit Against Google

Price-comparison service Idealo sued Google in a Berlin court, claiming that the tech behemoth has made it harder for users to find Idealo on the search engine since it began promoting its own price-comparison product Google Shopping. Ideola’s suit also names Google Ireland, Alphabet’s European body, and seeks €500 million in damages. The suit is based on the European Union’s two-year old ruling that fined Google €2.42 billion ($2.72 billion) for favoring its own offerings over those of competitors. Continue reading German Price-Comparison Service Files Suit Against Google

U.S. Improves Lead in 5G Race, Lags in Mid-Band Allocation

According to the wireless industry association CTIA, the global 5G race has shifted from a year ago when China and South Korea were the leaders. Thanks to the actions of U.S. carriers and government officials, U.S. has passed South Korea and tied with China as one of the top countries excelling in categories from readiness to actual deployments and spectrum allocation. CTIA stressed, however, that two obstacles remain unresolved: mid-band spectrum and a national strategy for transitioning to the next-gen mobile standard. Continue reading U.S. Improves Lead in 5G Race, Lags in Mid-Band Allocation

Jury Finds Apple Owes Qualcomm $31.6M in Patent Dispute

According to a federal jury in a U.S. District Court San Diego, Apple infringed on three Qualcomm patents and owes the chipmaker about $31.6 million. Qualcomm filed the lawsuit in 2018, claiming that Apple violated patents related to graphics processing and improving the battery life of mobile devices. During the eight-day trial, Qualcomm asked for unpaid patent royalties involving the iPhones that infringed on its patents. The decision marks the latest in an ongoing legal battle and series of lawsuits between the two tech companies. Next month, the companies will head to court over antitrust claims by Apple. Continue reading Jury Finds Apple Owes Qualcomm $31.6M in Patent Dispute

France Slated to Impose Tax on Digital Companies’ Revenue

The French government introduced a three percent tax on the revenue of technology companies such as Google and Amazon that offer e-commerce or targeted advertising in France. Experts estimate that the tax could reap “billions of dollars” from Silicon Valley companies. The tax is also likely to come up as a topic of conversation in U.S. and European talks, convened by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), about corporate taxes in the digital age. Europe is pushing to tax Silicon Valley companies on profits made there. Continue reading France Slated to Impose Tax on Digital Companies’ Revenue

German Antitrust Ruling Restrains Facebook Data Collection

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the country’s competition authority, issued an antitrust argument to restrict Facebook’s data collection. Stating that Facebook currently provides users with a stark choice between allowing the company to collect unlimited data or not using the site, the Federal Cartel Office stated that Facebook must allow users to refuse the company’s bid to collect their data and automatically merge it with data from Instagram, WhatsApp and non-Facebook sites. The decision impacts 32 million German users. Continue reading German Antitrust Ruling Restrains Facebook Data Collection

German Court Rules That Amazon Dash Button Violates Law

A regional court in Munich recently ruled that Amazon’s click-to-purchase Dash buttons for Prime members violate German consumer protection legislation. Based on the contention that the thumb-sized, adhesive Dash buttons do not always provide the latest pricing information, the court ordered Amazon to halt taking purchase orders through the Wi-Fi-connected devices. The decision follows a case brought against Amazon by a German consumer protection watchdog group that says it took action after fielding complaints by consumers. Germany is Amazon’s second largest market. Continue reading German Court Rules That Amazon Dash Button Violates Law

France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

On January 1, 2019, the French government will begin to tax digital companies including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, even as other members of the European Union have balked at imposing an EU-wide tax. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire declared that, as the other EU countries debate, his country will move forward alone, estimating that the total tax bill will come to 500 million Euros ($568 million), which will help defray 10 billion Euros in emergency spending announced by President Emmanuel Macron. Continue reading France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

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