Friday, August 18, 2017

YouTube TV Expansion Reaches 50% of U.S. Household

Google has made an expansion of its YouTube TV, which bills itself as a substitute for cable television, subscription service in 14 new U.S. markets, and is now made available to half of all U.S. households.

The company has also announced another expansion plans to move into 17 additional major markets in the weeks ahead, as it pursues its rapid march towards nationwide coverage.


YouTube TV’s Availability

New markets, where YouTube is now available, include Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, Jacksonville-Brunswick, Fla., Las Vegas, Louisville, Ky., Memphis, Ten., Nashville, Tenn., Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Seattle-Tacoma, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota, and West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, Fla.

YouTube TV’s service costs $35 per month, and includes access to nearly 50 networks, including broadcast networks, cable TV, and in select markets and local sports. Networks like ESPN, AMC, and FX, as well as features like an unlimited cloud-based DVR, and support for up to six accounts per household, each with their own recommendations, and DVR storage space. Three people can stream simultaneously across desktop, tablet, mobile or TV through Chromecast or AirPlay.

On the other hand, unavailable channels include networks from Turner, consisting CNN, TBS, and TNT; Viacom; Discovery Communications; and Scripps Networks Interactive. HBO is also not included in the option.

YouTube TV is also adding two channels to its network lineup, which are E.W. Scripps’ Newsy national network and the Tennis Channel. Customers in Boston will have access to regional sports network NESN, the home of the Red Sox.

YouTube TV is one of many skinny bundles for streaming live TV over the internet, which today includes rivals like Hulu Live TV, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, fuboTV, and AT&T’s DirecTV Now.

YouTube, a California-based video-sharing website, is expanding access to live TV streaming as many younger viewers increasingly stream shows online, and traditional broadcast networks contend to aging demographics among viewers.

Additional markets in the coming weeks include Austin, Birmingham, Cleveland-Akron, Denver, Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, Hartford-New Haven, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Mo., Milwaukee, Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Oklahoma City, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City, San Diego, and St. Louis.

YouTube TV and Sinclair Agreement

YouTube TV’s local coverage expansion was made possible through the latest partnership, which was also announced on Thursday, with the Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group, the America’s largest owner of local broadcast stations.

The agreement says that all of Sinclair’s ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC partners will go live on YouTube TV in nine of the 14 new markets. YouTube TV says that its service now has the most live, local broadcast stations, as compared with other major streaming rivals in the markets where it operates.

Sinclair also owns the Tennis Channel, and its My TV and CW partners will appear on YouTube TV soon, along with Comet TV.

Sinclair has also made agreements with other streaming providers, but not to the same extent as YouTube TV. Fox and CBS partners are now available on PlayStation Vue, and ABC stations are available on DirecTV Now, but no Sinclair stations are available on either Hulu or Sling TV.

Sinclair’s Executive Vice President for distribution and network relations, Barry Faber, said in a statement, “We believe that our viewers want the ability to access content on any screen and having this relationship with YouTube will provide value to not only our viewers, but our advertising relationships as well.” 

“We appreciate that Google, the owner of the YouTube TV, recognized the importance of carrying all of the local broadcast affiliates to their effort to attract subscribers to this new service.”

Conclusion

YouTube TV is different from YouTube, its online partner which offers originally created videos.

Prior to the expansion, the service was available in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Houston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Charlotte and Dallas-Fort Worth.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ericsson to Lay off 25,000 Workers in Response to Cost Cuts

The Sweden-based multinational networking, and telecommunications equipment and services company, Ericsson, may slash around 25,000 jobs outside Sweden as it reported another disappointing quarter last month.
Ericsson carries 40% of the world’s mobile traffic on its networks, and is Sweden’s second largest company by revenue.

In July, the mobile telecom equipment maker said it would increase measures to meet a target of doubling its 2016 underlying operating margin of 6%.  Its new CEO Borje Ekholm announced an annual cost cuts of 10 billion crowns, or $1.2 billion.

The company has said that actions will be taken mainly in service delivery and common costs.

According to a report, there are advanced plans that Ericsson’s operations will be cut by 80-90 percent in some markets, and centralize several markets in Europe. However, the 14,000 employee-strong Swedish workforce is to stay unaffected, at least all R&D engineers.

“Right now, Ericsson is hiring engineers to repair the damage that earlier saving packages caused. It’s crucial that most of all the Swedish R&D departments remain somewhat protected. They are the  ones who will come up with the new solutions that will drive sales in the long term,” according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

According to news released in Sweden, it was not sure whether employees within the company’s media operations, which are focusing for strategic review, will be included in the planned job cuts.

Another source of the matter said that the company have calculated reversely the amount that they need to save, in order to get away from the crisis, while not risking any rights issue. “It will be brutal in some parts of the organization,” the source added.

“Ericsson has not communicated which specific units or countries could be affected. It is too early to talk about specific measures or exclude any country,” Ericsson said in a statement on its website.

Although the telecom company had reported a disappointing quarter, the second quarter losses of 1.17 billion crowns, or $150 million, caught the market by surprise. The market decline from second quarter 2016 profits of 2.2 billion crowns, or $150 million, saw the company’s A-class stock decreased 15% on the same day.

Currently, the company is vying with China’s Huawei and Finland’s Nokia, as well as weak developing markets and falling spending by telecoms operators with demand for next generation 5G technology, which is still years away. It presently employs 109,000 workers across 110 offices around the globe.

In the past one year, Ericsson has cut 7,000 jobs, most of them in North America, according to a leading newspaper in Sweden. The company’s biggest markets are Europe, and Latin America.

Meanwhile, Ericsson has traded 0.07, or 0.14%, to 49.63 SEK. It opened at 49.58 SEK, with a session high of 49.87 SEK, and a session low of 49.43 SEK. Its market capitalization was 171.45 billion, and its dividend yield was 2.02%.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Google to Pay $3B to Remain as Default SE on iOS Devices

The American multinational technology company, Google, is reportedly going to pay nearly $3 billion to Apple Inc. this year to remain as the default search engine on iOS devices, such as iPhones and iPads.
Apple and Google Mutual Benefits

The amount that the search giant has to shell out this year is thrice the price that it’s paying since 2014, according to a U.S-based research firm. This would prove a good profit for Apple’s services business. In fact, Google’s licensing fee will comprise about 5% of Apple’s total operations profit.

It was affirmed by Bernstein analyst, A.M. Sacconaghi Jr., and said, “Court documents indicate that Google paid Apple $1B in 2014, and we estimate that total Google payments to Apple in FY 17 may approach $3B. Given that Google payments are nearly all profit for Apple, Google alone may account for 5% of Apple’s total operating profits this year, and may account for 25% of total company OP growth over the last two years.”

This deal appears to be a huge profitable proposal for Apple. The whole sum of $3 billion directly goes to profits for Apple, with negligible operating costs. It also gives a boost to their increasing service business.

On one hand, this deal is of importance from Google’s viewpoint. Ad revenue is paramount to Google’s financial model and has been for years. The burgeoning importance of the mobile internet has now moved the ad revenue playground from desktop to mobile devices. Maintaining a hold on mobile is crucial, especially in light of ever increasing competition from the likes of Facebook.

Google’s presence on Apple’s platform warrants links to massive and varied user base that contributes greatly to their increasingly mobile first ad revenue model.

On the surface, it makes sense that Google would want to remain their default presence on Apple devices, which are some of the most popular smartphones in the world and account for significant market share.

Apple’s iOS devices contribute about 50% to Google’s mobile search revenue. Thus, both the companies are dependent on each other.

Why Google’s licensing fee has tripled?

The licensing fee is based on a percentage of the revenue that Google creates from Apple users, according to the estimates. Google’s total mobile ad revenues more than tripled from $16 billion in 2014 to $50 billion in 2017. Therefore, it stands to reason that Apple’s share would also triple from $1 billion to $3 billion.

Conclusion

While the said licensing deal is indeed beneficial for Apple and Google, that may change soon, according to estimates. Since the fee is based on a percentage of Google’s net ad revenue from Apple users, it could remain increasing as Google’s revenue share grows. At some point, the search engine company may be unwilling to pay Apple the ever growing and inflated fees.

In such situation, if Google feels confident enough of retaining a majority of their customer base even without in Apple’s platform, they may decide to break off the licensing deal with Apple. This would definitely affect Apple’s service business revenue and dent their profits.

However, such decision could also make an impact to Google. They could lose a huge install base, who may be tapped up by competitors, such as Facebook, Amazon and others.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Facebook Makes its ‘Marketplace’ Widely Available in Europe

The social media giant, Facebook Inc., said that it is expanding its platform called “Marketplace,” that people can use to buy and sell things, and it will be available across European markets.
Launched in the U.S. in October last year, Marketplace has since become one of the biggest rivals to e-commerce sites like Craiglist and eBay, and was introduced in six countries, including Australia, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Chile, and Mexico.

Now, Facebook is rolling out the tab in 17 European countries, namely Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

About Marketplace Platform

Marketplace, which goes alongside Facebook’s mainstay news feed, photo video, messaging, and other services, signifies new competition for community-based e-commerce pioneers, such as Craiglist and eBay’s classified business.

In May, Facebook said that about 18 million items were posted on Marketplace in the U.S. alone and it continues to rise. About 550 million people visit formal “buy-and-sell” Facebook Groups every month, which suggests that the chance for Marketplace is significant.

Marketplace doesn’t charge any fees to buyers or sellers, and wants to make it convenient for users to trade mostly second-hand goods, with the ability to post items for sale through smartphone or computer in less than 15 seconds.

Potential buyers can select a radius for how far they want to travel to gather purchases, but most transactions are local. Marketplace limits search within national boundaries, mainly to prevent language confusion, Deborah Liu said, Vice President of Facebook Marketplace.

Facebook links buyers and sellers through Messenger chat, which also supports payments along with other tools, such as the ability to share one’s location or send a voice or video clip, increasing convenience.

To ensure user safety and avoid the sale of unlawful or unpleasant items, Facebook artificial intelligence tools scan every post that is shared in Marketplace. Facebook has concentrated on refining search and safety, and expanding product categories in the tab since its launch. The most popular items on the tab tend to be household items, clothing, furniture, and children’s products, said Liu. Marketplace recently added standalone categories, such as tickets and jobs, meant to help small businesses find employees.

“We want to make it easier to buy and sell, but we also want to make it community based,” Liu said. “We want to connect people who might otherwise not meet. That’s what we invest a lot in – how do we drive more connections between people.”

Marketplace Financial Impact

Facebook’s Marketplace has yet to build any significant financial impact. The company posted a 45% increase in revenue to $9.3 billion in the past quarter, nearly 98% of which came from advertising on its free services.

Meanwhile, eBay, which operates in more than 30 countries, recorded 171 million users, who completed at least one transaction in the past quarter. On one hand, Craigslist had about 55 million visitors in February and generated more than $690 million in revenue, according to a forecast by a research firm.

Conclusion

“People come to Marketplace to find all sorts of things – it might be tickets or it might be jobs,” said Liu, adding that Facebook plans to continue adding categories and refining product suggestions over time. “There is a lot of activity.”

The inspiration for Marketplace stemmed from a noticeably significant number of people, who naturally using Facebook to buy and sell products in Groups, based on the their geography or interests, said Facebook.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Facebook Stealthily Launches an App in China

One of the world’s most popular social media sites, Facebook Inc, has found a new way to sneak into China, stealthily launching a photo-sharing app called Colorful Balloons in the country’s iOS App Store, but under a new name.
Since 2009, social media giant Facebook and other social networking sites have been banned in China, and the app signifies an attempt of Facebook to enter the market of the world’s most populous country.

About Colorful Balloons

The photo-sharing app was released in China in May, but doesn’t bring the name of Facebook. The social media giant confirmed on Saturday that it launched the app.

It is said to be like of Facebook’s Moments applications in look, function and feel, and lets users share photos with their friends and family. It was released in the country by a company called Youge Internet Technology, which appeared to have no hint that Facebook is affiliated with it. Interestingly, Facebook also forewent all branding in the application, which probably has something to do with the fact that it is blocked in China.

The company has long eyed on China’s 700 million internet. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has made talks with Chinese politicians to make Facebook available in the country, but didn’t succeed. He made it very clear that he would want to see the social networking app Facebook in China.

“We have long said that we are interested in China, and are spending time, understanding, and learning more about the country in different ways,” the company said. “Our focus right now is on helping Chinese businesses and developers expand to new markets outside China by using our ad platform.”

On the other hand, Colorful Balloons will be interfacing with WeChat, which is the most well-known messaging application and social network in China.

“Colorful Balloons can group user’s phone pictures and videos based on time, locations, and characters. It can help you create albums and share them with friends and family,” the Chinese description reads.

The launch of the app comes as China is cracking down on technology that allows web surfers to avoid Beijing’s online censorship.

China’s Strict Online Censorship

China’s ruling Communist Party controls internet traffic across the country’s borders and tries to keep the public from seeing thousands of websites outside China. Chinese authorities have long shunned Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, arguing that foreign social media services operating beyond their control pose a threat to national security.
Last month, Facebook-owned WhatsApp, a messaging platform, has been partially blocked in the country. In addition, apps, including SnapChat, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook-owned Instagram, are also banned.

Some users from the country have depended on Virtual Private Networks, a technology that allows users to route their data overseas, to get around the block, although the government is cracking down on those tools, too.

Because of the strict internet censorship, the blockage of western social media sites helped the popularity of the homegrown messaging app, WeChat, owned by Tencent Holdings, and microblogging service, Weibo.

Conclusion


According to reports, it remained unclear if Facebook has notified China’s internet regulators about the app, or if such notice was even needed. Facebook’s China dream may be unrelated if consumers don’t give much care for it.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Google Cancels Meeting Meant to Discuss Gender Issues

On Thursday, the American technology company specializes in Internet-related services and products, Alphabet Inc.’s Google, canceled an all-hands meeting meant to address the controversy over a memo opposing diversity policies, citing worker safety concerns.
The company meeting was scheduled to deliberate the consequence of Google’s decision on Monday to fire their engineer, James Damore, after he posted a memo on Google’s internal network arguing that the reason of the company’s lack of female engineers was because women were genetically less compatible to software engineering than men.

Google’s internal “Dory” system lets employees ask questions and then vote on the questions posted by other employees, so managers can address the most pressing ones. Wired magazine issued some of the questions word for word online on Thursday. Screenshots of the questions with names had been leaked, although none of those with names had been published as of late Thursday, a Google spokeswoman said.

The company said Damore dishonored its code of conduct and his actions advanced damaging gender stereotypes.

“We’ll find a better way to help our employees  connect and discuss these important issues further,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.
Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, said in an email that several Google employees became fearful for their safety and grew concerned about being outed for speaking up at the town hall.

“Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be outed publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall,” Pichai wrote.

“In recognition of Googler’s concerns, we need to step back and create a better set of conditions for us to have the discussion,” he added. “So in the coming days we will find several forums to gather and engage with Googlers, where people can feel comfortable to speak freely.”

Damore, who condemned in his memo “Google’s left bias” and “ideological echo chamber,” has appeared as a hero to some on the far right, who have attacked what they describe as a politically correct group thinker of Silicon Valley. The engineer has claimed he had right to voice concerns over workplace conditions and filed a labor relations board complaint to the National Labor Relations Board, prior to being fired, that he had been subject to “coercive statements” at Google.

The memo and firing have put Google in the middle of turmoil of political controversy. Some commentators, who represent the far right, have criticized the company’s decision, reproving it of suppressing free speech.

Meanwhile, a graphic consisted of the Twitter profiles of some Google workers who were gay, lesbian or transgender began to disseminate online, assisted by conservative commentators, like the former Breitbart writer, Milo Yiannopoulos. That graphic caused hundreds of negative comments about the people and Google.

Alphabet Inc Class A (NASDAQ:GOOGL) traded 1.75%, or 16.49, to $923.59, by 5:07 AM GMT-4. It opened in $935, with a session high of $936.30, and a session low of $921.78. Its market capitalization was 649.49 billion, and its P/E ratio was 33.44.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Facebook Unveils ‘Watch’ to Compete with YouTube and the Likes

On Wednesday, Facebook, Inc., an American online social media and online social service giant, revealed a new video platform to take on the likes of Google-owned YouTube, and TV Networks, as part of its plan to expand its video offerings.

The new platform is called “Watch”, and it comes in the form of a video tab in Facebook’s mobile, desktop, and TV apps, which surface channels called Shows with a live or recorded episodic content that follows a consistent theme.

Last year, the social media giant launched ‘Video’ tab in the U.S. which offered a predictable place to find videos on Facebook.

What is ‘Watch’?

Facebook users will see a “Watch” tab on their feeds, allowing them to view a range of shows from professional women’s basketball to a safari show, and a parenting program. They will also be able to create “watchlists,” see what friends are watching and communicate with other people interested in the same videos. Moreover, they can follow the videos made by a favorite artist, brand or publisher like those from Tastemade or Major League Baseball.

Facebook Watch looks more like YouTube, and it will be initially available to a limited group in the United States on Facebook’s mobile app, desktop, and television apps, before making available to more people in the U.S. in the coming weeks, the company said.

Facebook also said it was starting by “testing with a limited group of publishers and creators who are making shows”.

Shows in Watch

The contents will be created by “professional creators,” and others by “regular people in our community,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and founder.

The shows available in Watch include “Nas Daily,” “Gabby Bernstein,” and “Kitchen Little”.

Nas Daily creates a daily show where he records videos together with his fans from around the globe.

Gabby Bernstein, a New York Times bestselling author and a motivational speaker, uses a mixture of recorded and live episodes to link with her fans and answer queries in real time.

Tastemade’s Kitchen Little is a comedy show about kids who watch a how-to video of a recipe, then direct chefs on how to do it.

Moreover, Facebook has also signed a deal with Major League Baseball to broadcast one live game every week.

“To help inspire creators, and seed the ecosystem, we’ve also funded some shows that are examples of community-oriented and episodic video series,” Facebook said.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Statement about Watch

“We believe it’s possible to rethink a lot of experiences through the lens of building community – including watching video,” said Mr. Zuckerberg.

“Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive. It can be a chance to share an experience and bring people together who care about the same things.”

“That’s why we’re launching the Watch tab in Facebook – a place where you can discover shows your friends are watching and follow your favorite shows and creators, so you don’t miss any episodes.

He added that, “You’ll be able to chat and connect with people during the episode, and join groups with people who like the same shows afterwards to build community.”

Facebook Stock Performance

By 4:30 AM GMT-4, Facebook, Inc traded 0.03%, or 0.05, to $171.18. It opened at $169.98, with a session high of $171.45, and a session low of $169.56. Its market capitalization was 492.61 billion and its P/E ratio was 37.18.


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