Surging Chip Demand Spurs TSMC Plants in U.S. and Japan

New chip factories are springing up worldwide to meet a historic shortage of semiconductors. The effort to increase output to meet chip demand in everything from computers to cars to smart TVs includes a new $12 billion plant located in Arizona for the world’s largest wholesale chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. TSMC’s Arizona plant is scheduled to begin producing advanced 5nm chips by 2024. And as part of its commitment to spend $100 billion over three years to increase production, TSMC just announced plans to build a new manufacturing facility in Japan. Continue reading Surging Chip Demand Spurs TSMC Plants in U.S. and Japan

European Parliament Recommends Ban of Facial Recognition

The European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution that calls for banning law enforcement’s use of biometric surveillance, including facial recognition. The vote signals what Parliament is willing to adopt as part of the Artificial Intelligence Act being developed by the European Commission. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) advocate for a permanent ban on automated recognition of individuals in public spaces in addition to the use of private facial recognition databases such as those developed by companies including New York-based Clearview AI.  Continue reading European Parliament Recommends Ban of Facial Recognition

Thinking About CES: Increasing Computational Sophistication

The entertainment industry has traditionally piggybacked on primary development in other sectors to fuel our own innovative adoption of practical and compelling technologies. History shows that we consistently benefit from numerous advances across industries for reuse or adaption in our key areas ranging from internal communication all the way to distribution of content. As we start compiling our wish lists for emerging standout technologies to be featured at CES 2022 (returning to Las Vegas January 5-8), we anticipate that an expanded computational sophistication of consumer devices will be in the cards. Continue reading Thinking About CES: Increasing Computational Sophistication

Consumer Privacy Concerns May Affect Future of Digital Ads

Apple and Google are introducing privacy protections to thwart marketers from gaining access to consumer data when displaying ads, a change that is expected to seriously impact the online advertising schema that is the bedrock of ‘free’ apps and websites like Facebook and TikTok. In April, Apple iPhones debuted a pop-up window that asks people for permission to be tracked by apps. Google has outlined plans to disable a tracking capability in its Chrome web browser. And Facebook announced last month that is working on a new type of ad display that will not rely on personal data. Continue reading Consumer Privacy Concerns May Affect Future of Digital Ads

Apple Unveils iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 at Annual Event

In the midst of troubling press attention as the company faces antitrust claims and ongoing criticism of its App Store business model, Apple unveiled its iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 during a streaming event yesterday. Apple CEO Tim Cook appeared live on a virtual set rather than the traditional in-person stage as a precaution during COVID-19. Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro features a new camera system that promises a new cinematic mode, improved low-light capabilities and an updated ultra-wide lens. The Apple Watch 7, touting a revamped look, includes new features such as a larger screen, softer corners, more support for e-bikes and fall detection for cycling. Continue reading Apple Unveils iPhone 13 and Watch Series 7 at Annual Event

Judge Loosens Apple Stranglehold on App Developer Profits

Apple’s notoriously strict terms of doing business in its App Store appear to be loosening. A federal judge has ordered the company to allow developers to offer customers alternative payment methods after ruling that all payments go through Apple violate California’s unfair competition laws. Apple is ordered to within 90 days begin allowing developers to include in their apps payment links to processors other than the App Store. Developers now see a path to avoid handing Apple commissions of up to 30 percent for handling sales through the $100 billion online market.  Continue reading Judge Loosens Apple Stranglehold on App Developer Profits

Tech Firms Raid Security Flaws with ‘Bug Bounty’ Programs

In the security world, “bug bounty” programs are becoming more common, from Facebook to the Department of Defense. Hackers who can reveal the hidden vulnerabilities of a device, system or corporation can reap significant financial rewards. Apple launched its program in 2016 and offers payouts of up to $1 million for the most elusive flaws. The tech giant reportedly spent $3.7 million on such exercises in the 12-month period ending in July 2021, during which time Google shelled out $6.7 million and Microsoft spent $13.6 million. Such programs have become a valuable tool in security maintenance, putting hackers’ inquisitive natures to productive use.  Continue reading Tech Firms Raid Security Flaws with ‘Bug Bounty’ Programs

Facebook and Ray-Ban Team Up on Next-Gen Smart Glasses

Facebook and Luxottica Group’s luxury sunglass manufacturer Ray-Ban unveiled new smart glasses that enable the user to record via cameras hidden in the frame. The Ray-Ban glasses — priced at $299 — are based on the classic Wayfarer model, with the addition of a very small recording light, two 5-megapixel cameras, three microphones and four gigabytes of storage. The glasses, which will come in 20 style combinations and either clear or prescription lenses, are powered by Facebook technology. Both Facebook and Ray-Ban parent Luxottica stated that, “privacy is built into the product.” Continue reading Facebook and Ray-Ban Team Up on Next-Gen Smart Glasses

TSMC to Raise Its Chip Prices as Global Shortage Continues

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) — the world’s largest contract chipmaker — plans to raise prices on its most advanced chips by about 10 percent and less advanced chips by about 20 percent, to take effect late this year or in early 2022. The price hike is taking place during a global shortage of semiconductors that already impacts auto companies including General Motors and Toyota Motor, an array of consumer electronics, and major tech companies such as Apple, which uses TSMC chips in its smartphones. GM closed three North American factories and Toyota will slow production by 40 percent in September. Continue reading TSMC to Raise Its Chip Prices as Global Shortage Continues

Apple Makes Changes for App Developers, News Publishers

Facing increased regulatory scrutiny, Apple announced significant changes to its App Store, enabling developers to inform customers about ways to pay outside the App Store and expanding prices they can offer for subscriptions as well as in-app purchases and paid apps. The company settled a class-action lawsuit with software developers and is expecting a judgment in a suit filed by Epic Games over many of the same issues. Apple’s move is the biggest it’s ever made in response to developers alleging anticompetitive behavior. The company separately announced plans to cut its commission rate for publishers on Apple News. Continue reading Apple Makes Changes for App Developers, News Publishers

Foxconn Has Plans for Expansion, Buys Chipmaker Macronix

Foxconn Technology Group, best known for assembling Apple iPhones, will acquire Taiwan chipmaker Macronix International for approximately $90.8 million (T$2.52 billion) to boost its entry into the electric vehicle (EV) market. Foxconn earlier announced plans to assemble cars for EV startup Fisker and team up with Stellantis, manufacturer of Jeep and Chrysler, to develop in-car software. Macronix’s six-inch wafers are made of silicon carbide, regarded as preferable for tasks such as fast charging. Continue reading Foxconn Has Plans for Expansion, Buys Chipmaker Macronix

Apple Just Earned Its Biggest Profit in the Company’s History

The COVID-19 pandemic has reaped rewards for Big Tech companies that benefitted from the shift to remote working and learning. Apple earned $21.7 billion in profit for the quarter that ended in June, the most successful quarter in the company’s 45-year history, while Alphabet and Microsoft also enjoyed strong quarterly earnings. Apple’s revenue rose 36 percent from the same period a year earlier to $81.4 billion, exceeding Wall Street expectations. Apple is on track to earn $86 billion for the fiscal year, according to FactSet analysts. Continue reading Apple Just Earned Its Biggest Profit in the Company’s History

Pandemic Fosters Wider Adoption of QR Codes and Tracking

During the COVID-19 pandemic, QR codes that allow customers to order and pay for food and drinks caught on in restaurants and appear to be here for good. Retail chains including CVS and Foot Locker have also added them as have marketers. Because QR codes can store digital information and open an app or website that tracks peoples’ personal information, they’re ideal for vendors looking to create their own customer databases. Consumers will soon be served customized offers marketed within QR code payment systems. Continue reading Pandemic Fosters Wider Adoption of QR Codes and Tracking

Media Consortium Reveals Extent of Pegasus Spyware Reach

A consortium of media outlets dubbed the Pegasus Project found that Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group licensed its military-grade spyware Pegasus to governments that used it to hack 37 smartphones of business executives, human rights activists and journalists. Two women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khasghoggi were also reportedly targeted. Amnesty International and journalism non-profit Forbidden Stories shared a list of 50,000 phone numbers that dates to 2016 and included the 37 targets. New evidence also suggests that thousands of iPhones worldwide may have been compromised.  Continue reading Media Consortium Reveals Extent of Pegasus Spyware Reach

Marketers Struggle as Facebook Users Decline to Be Tracked

According to Branch, which analyzes mobile app growth and tracks ad conversions, since Apple’s updated iOS asked users if they wanted to be tracked by apps, only 25 percent have agreed. That response has “been pretty devastating for … the majority of advertisers,” suggests mobile analyst Eric Seufert. Advertisers on social network Facebook have seen a particularly strong impact, according to media buyers who noted that not being able to reliably determine how many sales clients are making means it is challenging to figure out which ads are working. Continue reading Marketers Struggle as Facebook Users Decline to Be Tracked