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

Discord Stands Out Among Chat Apps for Lack of Advertising

Facebook, Twitter and Snap have built successful online hangouts and monetized them via targeted ads. Discord, a chat app that got its start in 2015 as a way for videogamers to talk, however, doesn’t carry ads but has tripled its revenue by selling subscription access to exclusive content. Discord co-founder and chief executive Jason Citron said the company avoided advertising because it would be “too intrusive” and consumers don’t like it. He also stressed that people use Discord to hold real-time conversations, which has numerous personal and business applications. Continue reading Discord Stands Out Among Chat Apps for Lack of Advertising

Amazon Unveils Devices for Gaming, Autos and Smart Home

Amazon announced new smart home devices during its fall hardware event last week, including an expanded Fire Stick collection, redesigned Echo speaker lineup, and Ring in-home drone. Amazon is also launching its Luna cloud gaming service, and introducing Car Cam and Car Alarm to Ring’s lineup. Alexa’s capabilities have expanded, from being able to read books to children to a new security feature, Guard Plus, that can detect sounds around a user’s house and trigger dog-barking to scare off intruders. In times of COVID-19, said Amazon head of devices and services Dave Limp, “our homes have become our offices, our classrooms, movie theaters and more.” Continue reading Amazon Unveils Devices for Gaming, Autos and Smart Home

Companies Examine Feasibility of Working-from-Home Model

More people are working from home now and some of them may not return to offices once the coronavirus pandemic eases its grip. Twitter, for example, said most of its employees could work from home indefinitely. OpenText Corporation in Canada announced plans to close more than half of its 120 global offices, and New York media company Skift will vacate its Manhattan headquarters when its lease expires in June. Big Tech companies, however, have invested significantly in their spaces and their switch to remote working is uncertain. Continue reading Companies Examine Feasibility of Working-from-Home Model

Amazon Debuts Unit to Sell Its Cashierless Store Technology

On Monday, Amazon will introduce a new business unit, Just Walk Out, to sell the technology that makes its Amazon Go cashierless convenience stores possible, with a website launching on the same day. The company said it already has several signed deals, but would not be more specific. According to Loup Ventures, the market for retail stores without cashiers could grow to $50 billion. As Amazon vice president of physical retail/technology Dilip Kumar put it, “Do customers like standing in lines?” Continue reading Amazon Debuts Unit to Sell Its Cashierless Store Technology

Dominance of Top Big Tech Companies Continues to Grow

The five Big Tech companies — Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft — are all getting richer, with three of them (Amazon, Apple and Microsoft) nearing $1 trillion in stock value. Alphabet’s revenue skyrocketed past $161 billion last year, and Facebook is over halfway to a $1 trillion value. This concentration of wealth and power is making it increasingly difficult for smaller companies to compete — with little to indicate that this state of affairs will change. The result is a market of haves and have-nots. Continue reading Dominance of Top Big Tech Companies Continues to Grow

CES 2020: Smart Devices Enter an Anticipatory Tech World

When your smart home takes stock of who’s there before turning the heat on to their favored temperature, that’s anticipatory technology. CNET editor-at-large Brian Cooley and CBS Interactive Tech Sites senior vice president, content strategy Lindsey Turrentine led a CES discussion on how data including location, human behavior, facial recognition and object recognition can help smart homes and smart devices anticipate human needs. “Some things will get better,” said Cooley. “And others might be unnerving.” Continue reading CES 2020: Smart Devices Enter an Anticipatory Tech World

YouTube Finalizes Plans to End Targeted Ads For Children

YouTube has agreed to stop targeted ads that appear during videos that children are likely to watch, said sources. The Federal Trade Commission, which has been investigating whether YouTube violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), reached an agreement with the company but hasn’t made its terms public yet. It isn’t clear whether YouTube’s move to end targeted ads in children’s videos is in response to the settlement. The move is expected to impact ad sales, and sources said YouTube’s plans could change. Continue reading YouTube Finalizes Plans to End Targeted Ads For Children

Google Assistant Wins Top Spot in Loup Ventures IQ Test

In Loup Ventures’ 2019 Digital Assistant IQ Test, comprised of 800 questions, Google Assistant came in first, understanding 100 percent of the questions and answering 92.9 percent of them accurately. Last year, Google Assistant, also top-ranked, answered 85.5 percent correctly. Apple’s Siri also improved, understanding 99.8 percent of the questions (versus 2018’s 99 percent) and correctly answering 83.1 percent of the time (versus 2018’s 78.5 percent). Amazon’s Alexa came in third. Continue reading Google Assistant Wins Top Spot in Loup Ventures IQ Test

Analyst Predicts Apple’s AR Headset to Launch in Mid-2020

According to a recent note to investors written by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is known for frequently having inside information on Apple’s product plans, Apple could begin mass production of its augmented reality headset by the end of 2019 and unveil it as early as mid-2020 — although he admitted the timeline is optimistic. In May 2018, however, Loup Ventures founder Gene Munster predicted we wouldn’t see the Apple AR headset until late 2021. Kuo stated his belief that Apple’s first AR device will only be a display, with the iPhone performing all the rendering, data connection and GPS. Continue reading Analyst Predicts Apple’s AR Headset to Launch in Mid-2020

Electronic Dance DJ Marshmello Performs ‘Fortnite’ Concert

On February 2, electronic dance producer Marshmello performed a 10-minute concert — as a digital avatar — to gamers playing the popular game “Fortnite.” The runaway success of this unusual mix highlights how games can not only gather millions of players, but also become a stage for a variety of entertainment. Marshmello’s representatives stated that the concert “attracted millions of viewers.” In June, Marshmello participated in an Epic Games’ “Fortnite” tournament, teamed with Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, a celebrity gamer. Continue reading Electronic Dance DJ Marshmello Performs ‘Fortnite’ Concert

Apple Grows Its Services by Partnering with Samsung, Others

Although Apple doesn’t have an official presence at CES, it still made news there, with companies announcing partnerships for iTunes, AirPlay 2 and HomeKit. The Silicon Valley firm is rumored to be rolling out a streaming video service in early 2019, with content from Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, M. Night Shyamalan and Steven Spielberg. At CES 2019, Apple’s integration with third party platforms included TVs from Samsung, LG, Vizio and Sony. The move into content and services comes as Apple contends with lower iPhone sales. Continue reading Apple Grows Its Services by Partnering with Samsung, Others

Amazon Unlocks Revenue Potential for Alexa Skill Developers

According to Amazon, Alexa can perform 50,000+ skills, from turning on lights to playing music. The tech giant is now focused on improving Alexa’s skills to compete with Google for voice assistant dominance. Last month, Amazon empowered Alexa developers, by allowing them to charge users for purchases within skills, with the ultimate goal of making Alexa a more comprehensive, powerful platform. Former Alexa head of product Ahmed Bouzid noted that the path is “exactly what we saw with the App Store for the iPhone.” Continue reading Amazon Unlocks Revenue Potential for Alexa Skill Developers

Apple Plans to Offer Three New iPhones With Bigger Screens

Apple is expected to launch three new mobile phones this fall that will mimic the edge-to-edge screen design of the company’s flagship iPhone X, released last November. According to those familiar with the plans, the new iPhones will vary in price and feature a range of features and sizes, although a wholly new design is not expected until 2019. The largest of the three new devices will reportedly tout a 6.5-inch display, stainless steel edges, and glass back with dual cameras. It will feature an OLED screen and the ability to view apps like Mail and Calendar side-by-side. Continue reading Apple Plans to Offer Three New iPhones With Bigger Screens

Apple Reportedly Prepping a Subscription-Based News Product

According to sources, Apple, which acquired the magazine app Texture, now plans to integrate it into Apple News and launch it as a premium subscription product. Texture let users subscribe to more than 200 magazines for $9.99 per month. Apple cut 20 Texture employees, and brought the rest onto the Apple News team. The premium subscription version of Apple News, which will reportedly debut in the next year, will give publishers a cut of the subscription revenue. Apple did not comment on the story. Continue reading Apple Reportedly Prepping a Subscription-Based News Product

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