Global Markets React to UK’s Decision to Exit European Union

British voters cast their ballots yesterday regarding the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum, and surprising to many, the country has opted to exit the European Union. Shortly after the results were announced, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced he would resign his position later this year, while leaders in Northern Ireland and Scotland have indicated they will seek independence referendums in order to reenter the EU. The immediate response has been a dramatic ripple effect in markets worldwide with expectations for future uncertainty and potential crises. The tech industry, which often benefits from the EU’s liberal trade and economic policies, will likely be impacted. Continue reading Global Markets React to UK’s Decision to Exit European Union

With FCC Approval, U.S. Could Be First to Open 5G Networks

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler will distribute a proposal tomorrow to launch 5G wireless proceedings, and if the plan is passed, the FCC will then identify and open up high-band spectrum capable of sending data at ultra high speeds. The FCC is not defining 5G, and a 5G standard has yet to be established. “Wheeler basically wants to leave it up to the market, as the commission did for 4G before it,” The Verge reports. “The commission will open up a bunch of new wireless spectrum — which is what companies like AT&T and Verizon use to beam data from their towers to your cellphones — and then leave phone companies and other competitors to do what they’d like with it.” Continue reading With FCC Approval, U.S. Could Be First to Open 5G Networks

Flix Premiere: New Online Movie Platform Streams Indie Films

Flix Premiere — “the world’s first online Cineplex” featuring international and indie films — has launched in the U.S., two months after its debut in the U.K. Available online and via iOS and Android apps, the streaming service offers exclusive “curated theatrical releases” for $4.99 per title (or five tickets for $19.99). The website describes the service as “the single point of discovery for the 95 percent of films that ‘never’ find their audience.” Flix Premiere plans to introduce 8-9 new films every 10-14 days that will be exclusive to the platform for 12 months. Continue reading Flix Premiere: New Online Movie Platform Streams Indie Films

Streaming-Only Recordings Now Eligible for Grammy Awards

The Recording Academy has announced new amendments to the Grammy Awards process. Among the changes, previously ineligible streaming-only releases will now be considered for recognition. Albums and singles previously had to be available for purchase, but the latest rule changes allow for streaming releases to be nominated. According to the press release, “Works must be released via general distribution, defined as the nationwide release of a recording via brick and mortar, third-party online retailers,and/or applicable digital streaming services.” Continue reading Streaming-Only Recordings Now Eligible for Grammy Awards

Android Users Are Spending Less Time with Social Media Apps

SimilarWeb examined the amount of time Android users in nine countries spent on social apps Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat during the first three months of 2016 and found that there has been a year-over-year decline. Facebook-owned Instagram saw the most significant drop of 23.7 percent (36.2 percent in the U.S.), followed by Twitter and Snapchat. Facebook was down 8 percent overall, 6.7 percent in the U.S. However, Facebook users in the U.S. spend a daily average of more than 45 minutes with the app. “Meanwhile, Facebook’s messaging apps — WhatsApp and Messenger — increased installs, up 15 percent and two percent respectively,” notes CNBC. Continue reading Android Users Are Spending Less Time with Social Media Apps

Instagram to Offer Business Tools Including Profiles, Analytics

Instagram introduced new features yesterday designed to enable business owners to engage with customers via the photo-sharing app as long as their business is linked to an official Facebook Page. The new tools — developed after discussions with hundreds of businesses using the platform — include business profiles, analytics and the ability to launch sponsored posts directly from the Instagram app. According to Instagram, the set of tools “will be rolling out in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand in the coming months, and will be available in all regions globally by the end of the year.” Continue reading Instagram to Offer Business Tools Including Profiles, Analytics

Apple May or May Not Put an End to iTunes Music Downloads

Depending on who you believe, Apple is either ready to “completely terminate” iTunes music downloads in as little as two years — or has no plans at all to shut down this still-valuable source of revenue. Even as streaming gains dominance, music downloading still plays a lucrative role, say some. Sources deep inside Apple revealed discussions about the potential timetable for ending music download offerings, with a possibility of staggered shutdowns beginning in the U.S., U.K. and some European and Asian countries. Continue reading Apple May or May Not Put an End to iTunes Music Downloads

Netflix’s Two-Stream HD Plan Increasing by $2/Month in May

Starting next month, Netflix will increase the price of its two-stream HD service plan by 25 percent for long-term streaming customers. Subscribers previously paying $7.99 monthly will now be charged $9.99 per month for the service’s standard plan. The rate change will be based on subscriber billing periods. Those who signed up at $8.99 per month following the previous increase in May 2014 will experience the jump to $9.99 this October. Netflix members will have the option of continuing at $7.99 for a single stream SD plan or keeping the HD plan at $9.99. Continue reading Netflix’s Two-Stream HD Plan Increasing by $2/Month in May

Europe and U.S. Introduce Updated Data Transfer Agreement

After months of contentious debate, American and European officials have hammered out a new trans-Atlantic data transfer agreement, dubbed the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, a formal version of an agreement made early last month. But, despite the fact that the new agreement holds companies and the U.S. government to stricter rules regarding how they move individuals’ digital data — including social media posts, search queries and e-commerce purchases — from the E.U. to the United States, not everyone is happy with the new pact. Continue reading Europe and U.S. Introduce Updated Data Transfer Agreement

EU and U.S. Agree to Data Privacy Pact, Now Awaits Approval

After three months of often-tense meetings, Europe and the U.S. agreed to a pact to enable digital data to move back and forth across the Atlantic. Negotiating beyond the January 31 deadline, European and U.S. officials hammered out details of the “EU-US Privacy Shield,” which will enable Google, Amazon and thousands of other businesses to continue operations. But the agreement isn’t out of the woods: it still faces official approval by the EU’s 28 member states, and EU privacy advocates have vowed to oppose it. Continue reading EU and U.S. Agree to Data Privacy Pact, Now Awaits Approval

Spotify Introducing Video Content to Music Streaming Service

Spotify will debut video content on its Android app this week, and the iOS app by end of next week, in the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Sweden. Originally, the music streaming service planned to offer video in May, but has focused on testing videos on its apps with less than 10 percent of its users in the four launch markets. The content is mostly comprised of short clips from ESPN, Comedy Central, the BBC, Vice Media and Maker Studios, among others. Some companies, like Tastemade, are creating original, music-themed series. Continue reading Spotify Introducing Video Content to Music Streaming Service

Verizon Plans to Test 5G Network Technology in U.S. in 2016

Verizon is already developing a 5G cellular network, the next generation of wireless technology following 4G LTE. Chief financial officer Fran Shammo says the company plans to launch the first 5G network in the U.S. Verizon hopes to begin trials of the 5G network as early as this year, but the technology probably won’t be widely available until 2020. Verizon says the 5G network is different from the LTE network because 5G is designed to accommodate demands of the Internet of Things. Continue reading Verizon Plans to Test 5G Network Technology in U.S. in 2016

Nielsen Adds Facebook, Instagram to Its Social Media Tracking

In Fall 2013, Nielsen expanded its purview into the social media sphere with its “Twitter TV Ratings.” The company is now adding Facebook and, later, Instagram, to its “Social Content Ratings” that will measure aggregate-level chatter related to TV shows in posts shared with friends, family, followers and the public. The new social media ratings are slated to be available sometime in the first half of 2016, wherever Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are currently available (Australia, Italy, Mexico and the U.S.). Continue reading Nielsen Adds Facebook, Instagram to Its Social Media Tracking

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

PC Sales at Lowest Level Since 2007, Could Rebound in 2016

Recent industry reports suggest that 2015 was a challenging year for PCs. Industry analysis companies Gartner and IDC both issued reports showing a drop in the PC market of 8 and 10.4 percent, respectively. That 2.4 percent difference is based on how the two companies defined PCs. Gartner included detachable devices such as Microsoft’s Surface — which are becoming more popular — in its numbers, but IDC did not, now saying that including hybrid devices would have meant a 7.5 percent decline. Continue reading PC Sales at Lowest Level Since 2007, Could Rebound in 2016

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