Despite Obstacles, Google May Make its Way Back to China

Getting back into China after an eight year absence isn’t going to be easy for Google, even though the company developed a mobile search app capable of employing censorship. President Trump is threatening to dramatically expand existing tariffs against China, which could retaliate by blocking the operation of U.S. businesses there. Recently, Qualcomm ended its attempt to buy NXP Semiconductors after China withheld approval; China also sidelined Facebook’s plan to build an innovation hub there. Continue reading Despite Obstacles, Google May Make its Way Back to China

China’s Tencent Invests in Feature Films, U.S. Tech Startups

Tencent, parent company of China’s biggest social network WeChat and, by revenue, the biggest global online game business, is also an entertainment titan, with China’s biggest online businesses in music, literature, comics and animation. Tencent Pictures, which invested in last weekend’s smash hit “Wonder Woman,” and “Kong: Skull Island,” is key to Tencent’s effort to become a global player in feature filmmaking. The company is also investing heavily in Silicon Valley projects so as not to miss out on the next big thing. Continue reading China’s Tencent Invests in Feature Films, U.S. Tech Startups

Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual Internet trends report at last week’s Code Conference in California. This year’s presentation featured 355 slides and a new section on healthcare. Among the key takeaways: global Internet users reached 3.4 billion in 2016 (46 percent of the world’s population, more than double the number from 2009); digital advertising jumped 22 percent to $73 billion; worldwide smartphone growth is slowing; China is the new leading market for interactive gaming; Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook are collectively worth $2.4 trillion, while seven of the next 16 top tech firms are Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Tencent. Continue reading Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

Foreign Firms Concerned by China’s New Cybersecurity Law

On June 1, China will begin to implement its new Cybersecurity Law, and foreign companies are worried. China already restricts technology, and the new law will boost tighter control over data and enforce a broader definition of the services and products impacted. Firms are particularly concerned about one regulation that would require them to store information on mainland China, forcing them to rely on cloud providers such as Alibaba and Tencent, which have more local services, as opposed to offerings from Amazon or Microsoft. Continue reading Foreign Firms Concerned by China’s New Cybersecurity Law

Facebook Rolls Out Instant Games in News Feed, Messenger

In its newest effort to keep users on its site and amp up gaming, Facebook introduced Instant Games, which allows users to play 17 different titles in its News Feed and messaging app Messenger. Currently, 15 percent of the time people spend on Facebook is for gaming. The game titles, which will be available on iOS and Android devices and the Web for free, include Bandai Namco Entertainment’s “Pac-Man” and Activision Blizzard’s new “Shuffle Cats Mini.” Instant Games will debut initially in 30 countries. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Instant Games in News Feed, Messenger

Uber Inks Deal with Chinese Rival Didi, Focuses on Mapping

After two years of spending big to succeed in China, Uber has thrown in the towel and made a deal with rival Didi Chuxing. As a result, for a 20 percent stake, Uber China will become part of the larger Chinese company, which is valued at $35 billion. Prior to the deal, Didi was valued at $28 billion. Uber purportedly spent more than $2 billion in China. Meanwhile, Uber is using some of the $13.5 billion raised recently from investors to double-down on its global mapping project, with a $500 million investment. Continue reading Uber Inks Deal with Chinese Rival Didi, Focuses on Mapping

SoftBank to Purchase UK-Based Chip Designer ARM Holdings

Japan’s SoftBank Group has agreed to acquire United Kingdom’s ARM Holdings for more than $32 billion in an all-cash deal, which insiders suggest marks a major move by the Japanese telecom toward the mobile Internet. As a top designer of chips for companies such as Apple and Samsung, ARM dominates the smartphone market and is a leader in the mobile revolution. Its designs appear in a range of devices, including Internet of Things sensors. The number of chips featuring ARM processors reached 14.8 billion in 2015, up from 6.1 billion five years earlier. Continue reading SoftBank to Purchase UK-Based Chip Designer ARM Holdings

Facebook Messenger Will Soon Enable ‘Secret Conversations’

Facebook Messenger currently has more than 900 million regular monthly users, more than quadruple the 200 million it touted in early 2014. To grow in international markets, Facebook is testing a new feature inside Messenger that will encrypt some messages, creating “secret conversations” between the users of the two mobile devices. Users must opt-in to a secret conversation. Although this isn’t the full encryption found in WhatsApp, the new feature offers more security than before, which Facebook hopes will appeal to global users. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Will Soon Enable ‘Secret Conversations’

Google, Facebook Develop Chatbots via Deep Neural Networks

Microsoft, Google and Facebook are all pursuing chatbots, which will function as virtual assistants, answering questions, responding to requests, and anticipating needs. But building functioning chatbots, which are based on artificial intelligence, is harder than it sounds. To further progress, Google open-sourced one of its natural language tools. Although Facebook hasn’t yet open-sourced it, the company introduced DeepText, a natural language engine that it is just beginning to use with its own services. Continue reading Google, Facebook Develop Chatbots via Deep Neural Networks

WhatsApp Nears One Billion Users, Explores New Applications

Now reaching nearly one billion users, WhatsApp, the mobile messaging startup Facebook purchased for about $19 billion in February 2014, is looking at ways to make money. Until now, it’s been free for a year, and $1 per year thereafter, making it very popular for users outside the United States. In the process it’s become a social network and a way for businesses to communicate with the world. Now, chief executive Jan Koum dropped that $1 fee and has begun to experiment with how to create revenue. Continue reading WhatsApp Nears One Billion Users, Explores New Applications

China Ratchets Up Internet Control with On-Site Cyber Police

The Chinese government stated it will place cybersecurity police units at the country’s major Internet companies and websites, to prevent fraud, other illegal activities and the amorphously phrased “spreading of rumors,” reports the state-owned Xinhua News Agency. The Internet in China is monopolized by three major companies: e-commerce site Alibaba, Tencent for gaming and messaging, and search engine Baidu. Neither Facebook nor Google operate in China; LinkedIn, which has agreed to China’s cybersecurity measures, does. Continue reading China Ratchets Up Internet Control with On-Site Cyber Police

Virtual Reality Startups Define Diverse Facets of New Medium

The tech world is awash in virtual reality startups, each of them focusing on developing different aspects of the new medium. Oculus VR, which was purchased by Facebook last year for $2 billion, has made great strides in several areas, including its virtual reality head-mounted display Oculus Rift, but is also working on Oculus Cinema, a consumer-facing movie-watching app. Other companies are creating avatars, virtual worlds and virtual games, and a camera that allows viewers to go on tours of homes for sale and hotel rooms. Continue reading Virtual Reality Startups Define Diverse Facets of New Medium

With New Funding, AltspaceVR Plans More Virtual Gatherings

AltspaceVR, a virtual reality chat room and communication platform, just raised $10.3 million, which it will use to work towards a business plan that could include paid virtual gatherings with celebrities. Founded in 2013, Altspace launched its VR chat room in June. Its global user base spends time on the site chatting, browsing, playing games or watching videos; the software runs on Oculus, Mac and PC desktops and 3D TVs. Users can add a Leap Motion or Kinect motion sensor to add gestures to their robot avatars. Continue reading With New Funding, AltspaceVR Plans More Virtual Gatherings

Venture-Backed AltspaceVR Creates Virtual Reality Chat Room

AltspaceVR, a virtual reality communications platform backed by Google Ventures, enables multiple users from anywhere in the world to gather and share a virtual space. Unlike the text-based chat rooms of the 1990s, AltspaceVR uses computer cameras and Leap Motion trackers to translate users’ movements, mannerisms and gestures into the virtual world. It has been described as “Second Life for the first person.” AltspaceVR, now open to the public, was founded in 2013 and is led by Eric Romo, a former SpaceX propulsion lead analyst. Continue reading Venture-Backed AltspaceVR Creates Virtual Reality Chat Room

Internet Trends Report: Overall Growth Slows, Mobile on Rise

It’s that time of year again. Mary Meeker, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, presented her annual report on Internet trends at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California on Wednesday. Meeker noted that growth in Internet usage was slowing, but overall mobile data consumption (pushed by video) is up 81 percent, due to the growing popularity of tablets and smartphones. While mobile accounted for 14 percent of Web usage last year, it is up to 25 percent today. Continue reading Internet Trends Report: Overall Growth Slows, Mobile on Rise

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