Amazon Will Raise the Price of Prime Membership Next Month

Amazon announced that it plans to raise the price of its annual Prime membership from $99 to $119 in the U.S. The move marks the first increase since 2014 when the shipping and entertainment membership program cost $79 per year. New subscribers will pay $119 a year starting May 11, while the new fee will apply to current members beginning with renewals on June 16. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently revealed that Prime has more than 100 million global members. The company surprised investors this week with news that it had more than doubled its quarterly profits to $1.6 billion. Continue reading Amazon Will Raise the Price of Prime Membership Next Month

YouTube Launches Parental Control Features for Kids Service

Since YouTube debuted YouTube Kids three years ago, parents have complained about their ability to control the content. Now, the company is adding three features to respond to those concerns. A white-list feature parents requested allows them to handpick the content for their children. The company also introduced pre-screened content with partners, including, initially, Sesame Workshop and PBS Kids. Third is an option to set search settings to only permit channels “verified by the YouTube Kids team.” Continue reading YouTube Launches Parental Control Features for Kids Service

YouTube, Facebook Use AI Tools to Curb Unwanted Content

Google reports that AI-powered machines, not humans, detected about 80 percent of the 8.28 million videos taken off of YouTube in Q4 2017. This revelation underscores the importance of AI-enabled computers in removing unwanted content — and just how aggressively YouTube is pursuing their removal. At Stanford University’s Global Digital Policy Incubator, executive director Eileen Donahoe noted that balancing free speech with the removal of undesirable videos will be YouTube’s major challenge going forward. Continue reading YouTube, Facebook Use AI Tools to Curb Unwanted Content

Airbus, SoftBank and Bill Gates Invest in EarthNow Satellites

The EarthNow project, which plans to launch 500 small satellites to provide video coverage of the world, now has three notable investors: Airbus, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and SoftBank Group chief executive Masayoshi Son. Satellite entrepreneur Greg Wyler, who has also partnered with Airbus and SoftBank on OneWeb, another satellite Internet project, is a fourth investor. Project chief executive Russell Hannigan says EarthNow will cost more than $1 billion, but didn’t reveal tech details or a launch date. Continue reading Airbus, SoftBank and Bill Gates Invest in EarthNow Satellites

Consumers Are Using Phones to Control Smart Home Devices

Smartphones could be on their way toward becoming the new remote, as a recent GfK survey of 1,000 Internet users 18 and older found that 89 percent use their phones to control connected home products and services (an increase of 19 percent since 2015). The same respondents indicated that they are now using their phones more than other devices in the home: 83 percent use their smartphones at home, 75 percent use their laptops, 54 percent use PCs, and 34 percent use game consoles. The figures represent increases across all categories when compared to 2015. Continue reading Consumers Are Using Phones to Control Smart Home Devices

Tech Firms Sign a Cybersecurity Pledge to Protect Customers

Led by tech titans Facebook and Microsoft, more than 30 tech companies have signed a Cybersecurity Tech Accord as part of their efforts to protect customers from cyberattacks and “the misuse of their technology.” According to the agreement, tech companies pledge not to assist governments that initiate attacks against “innocent civilians and enterprises.” Among the signatories are companies that power Internet technology and information infrastructure, including Cisco, Cloudflare, Dell, HP, LinkedIn, Nielsen, Nokia, Oracle, Symantec and VMware. Continue reading Tech Firms Sign a Cybersecurity Pledge to Protect Customers

Unregulated IoT Devices Now Entry Point for Elaborate Hacks

The Internet of Things is more vulnerable than previously proven. Up until now the most common attack via IoT device has been to enlist thousands of them into botnets. Another method of attack is to find entry via a weak IoT device to conduct a ransomware attack. Now, IoT security firm Senrio has demonstrated that attackers can jump from one IoT device to another, without moving through PCs and servers, making their path even harder to discover. In other words, one vulnerable IoT device can create network disruption. Continue reading Unregulated IoT Devices Now Entry Point for Elaborate Hacks

Silicon Valley Pioneers Question Today’s Dysfunctional Internet

Testifying before Congress, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg listed all the ways his company has erred, from fake news to hate speech and data privacy — and then apologized for not taking “a broad enough view of our responsibility.” He isn’t the only Silicon Valley leader to take stock of the state of the Internet and worry about its future. Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, has warned about what social media is “doing to our children’s brains,” calling it a “dangerous form of psychological manipulation.” Continue reading Silicon Valley Pioneers Question Today’s Dysfunctional Internet

Adobe Experience Cloud Collects Data for Digital Ad Analysis

Adobe recently released its “2018 State of Digital Advertising” report, which indicates that 74 percent of marketers believe they are now serving consumers relevant ads. However, only 8 percent of today’s consumers agree that digital ads delivered to them are “always relevant,” and 27 percent find the online ads “often relevant.” Meanwhile, the report also suggests that new customers are three times as likely as existing customers to be driven by social media to visit a retailer. Adobe found that connected TV sites, on-demand streaming, and mobile retail are areas experiencing significant growth. Continue reading Adobe Experience Cloud Collects Data for Digital Ad Analysis

Netflix Is Not Planning to Compete at Cannes Fest Next Month

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos says the streaming giant will not be heading to the Cannes Film Festival in May. This is in response to the festival banning films from playing in competition if they have not had theatrical distribution in France. “Netflix could screen some of its upcoming movies out of competition,” reports Variety, “but Sarandos says that doesn’t make sense for the streaming service.” “We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker,” he noted. “There’s a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival.” Continue reading Netflix Is Not Planning to Compete at Cannes Fest Next Month

NAB 2018: Distinct Traits of Gen Z, The YouTube Generation

Call them Gen Z, or Plurals or Centennials. But whatever you do, don’t call these 14- to 19-year-olds millennials. During one of NAB’s Future of Cinema sessions, ETC Immersive Media Initiative lead Phil Lelyveld described Gen Z and what makes them distinct from the much more familiar millennials. For starters, he said, they spend only 13.2 hours a week watching TV, the lowest number of any preceding generation. Lelyveld also noted that the exact definition, by age, of Gen Z is undetermined, but behaviors are clear. Continue reading NAB 2018: Distinct Traits of Gen Z, The YouTube Generation

NAB 2018: Pew Examines Gap Between TV and Online News

At NAB in Las Vegas, Pew Research Center research associate Mike Barthel looked at “tradition in transition,” or how television news is faring in an increasingly online digital environment. He pointed to a 2012 Pew Research article that predicted that, “in a changing news landscape, even television is vulnerable.” Yet, surprisingly, six years later, more people still get their news from local TV rather than the web. The gap continues to close, however, from 19 points in 2016 to a mere seven-point gap in 2017. Continue reading NAB 2018: Pew Examines Gap Between TV and Online News

Changes to Facebook News Feed Plan to Curb Misinformation

Under pressure from lawmakers, regulators, and some of its two billion monthly active users to fight misinformation, Facebook is tweaking how information is presented on its News Feed. Users in the U.S. will now be able to easily see a news publisher’s Wikipedia page along with a given story and can see how frequently it’s been shared on the social network. Facebook is under renewed criticism following reports that Cambridge Analytica “improperly accessed data on millions of Facebook users,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

Continue reading Changes to Facebook News Feed Plan to Curb Misinformation

Microsoft Shifting Its Focus From Windows to Cloud Computing

Microsoft is reportedly downgrading the scope of its Windows franchise to “reorganize its business around its growing Azure cloud-computing operations and its stalwart Office productivity business,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The move is designed to focus Microsoft on its biggest areas of growth. In its latest quarter Azure revenue jumped 98 percent while Office 365 grew 41 percent … In the same period, the More Personal Computing unit, which includes Windows, gained 2 percent to $12.17 billion.” Continue reading Microsoft Shifting Its Focus From Windows to Cloud Computing

Number of OTT-Only Households in the U.S. Continues to Rise

According to a new report from the Video Advertising Bureau, the number of households in the United States that are now using only OTT streaming services to watch movies and TV shows has reached 14.1 million, a figure that has almost tripled over five years. However, that number makes up just 11 percent of all U.S. TV households. The report also found that over-the-top services are often used in tandem with pay TV subscriptions; 70 percent of those with OTT services also pay for cable, satellite or telcos.

Continue reading Number of OTT-Only Households in the U.S. Continues to Rise

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