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WhatsApp Scraps Fee Model
January 18, 2016
WhatsApp on Monday announced that it would drop the annual subscription fee and allow people to use the service for free. Company founder Jan Koum announced the move at the DLD Conference in Munich. While more than 900 million people worldwide use WhatsApp to stay in touch with family and friends, the $1-a-year subscription fee could be a barrier to further growth, he said.
Pokken Tournament to Kick Off in March
January 18, 2016
Nintendo last week announced that "Pokkén Tournament" will be available worldwide for Wii U on March 18. The Pokémon-themed fighting game, developed by Bandai Namco and published by Nintendo, will retail for $60. For the first production run, Nintendo is tossing in a Shadow Mewtwo amiibo card. When used with a Wii U gamepad, the amiibo card will unlock Shadow Mewtwo as a playable character.
Foursquare Shifts Gears
January 16, 2016
Foursquare cofounder Dennis Crowley has assumed a new executive role, and the company has raised $45 million in a new round of funding led by Union Square Ventures. Crowley has moved from his perch as CEO into the newly created position of executive chairman, which will let him focus on developing new products. Jeff Glueck, who served as COO for the past year, has taken the CEO helm.
Sony Builds Smart Home Hub Into Ceiling Light
January 15, 2016
Sony this week announced its Multifunctional Light, a ceiling lamp that's kitted out with sensors to talk to smart things. It includes sensors for motion, illumination, temperature and humidity. There's also WiFi radio, a memory card slot, a condenser microphone, and an infrared controller for air conditioners. The lamp form factor offers convenient placement, said a Sony Electronics spokesperson.
The Top 20 CRM Blogs of 2015: Part 1
January 15, 2016
What makes a great CRM blog? Generally, the same things that make a great CRM implementation: good planning, thoughtful responses to a changing market, consistent posting (the "adoption" part of blogging), the right technology, and people with the right personality. It's the classic "people, processes and technology" trilogy, really. The blogs that made our annual list of the best blogs and bloggers are one in a million.
Time Warner Possibilities Put Glint in Apple's Eye
January 14, 2016
Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes this week hinted at a meeting with investors that he might consider a sale of the company, according to a news report. Apple, which reportedly is interested in purchasing Time Warner or its media assets, is keeping a close eye on the discussions. Buying Time Warner's assets would give the flailing Apple TV streaming service much-needed programming.
Periscope's Live Streams Now Pop Up in Tweets
January 13, 2016
Periscope on Tuesday announced integration with Twitter, allowing users to view its live-stream broadcasts directly in the Twitter iOS app. Previously, Periscope broadcasters could share only links to their videocasts in tweets. Now they can embed video directly into tweets, and the content can be set to autoplay. Periscope has more than 20 million user accounts, according to CEO Kayvon Beykpour.
Vendor of the Future
January 13, 2016
I spent part of last week listening to presentations about the customer of the future, and of course it made me think. As usual, I didn't think in a straight line. As you've heard from me before, customers are still the human beings that walked out of the ice age 10,000 years ago or even the Cro-Magnons of 35,000 years ago. It takes geologic time to observe changes in a species.
EFF Urges Revival of Human Rights Case Against Cisco
January 13, 2016
The Electronic Frontier Foundation on Monday pressed to revive a lawsuit against Cisco Systems for violating human rights in China, in a brief filed with a U.S. Court of Appeals. Members of Falun Gong, a religious group persecuted in China, originally filed the lawsuit in 2011, but a federal district court in California dismissed it in 2014. The federal appeals court now is considering a challenge to that dismissal.
Administration, Silicon Valley Bigs Meet to Strategize on ISIS
January 13, 2016
Obama administration officials last week met with senior executives from several leading Silicon Valley firms in a summit on how to combat the proliferation of terrorist communications on social media networks. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security, represented the DoJ.
FordPass Aims to Engage Customers on Their Terms
January 12, 2016
Ford on Monday announced FordPass, a platform focusing on enhancing the customer experience. FordPass includes a Marketplace offering mobility services; 24x7 access to FordGuides, which are personal assistants to help customers with mobility challenges; membership loyalty rewards; and FordHubs -- select stores that let customers experience Ford's latest innovations.
Microsoft Puts Legacy IE Browsers Out to Pasture
January 12, 2016
Microsoft has ended technical support for the older versions of its legacy Internet Explorer browser, placing at risk millions of users who -- despite extensive warnings -- have not upgraded to the latest version of Internet Explorer or the free install of Windows 10. The support expiration means that customers using IE 8, 9 and 10 no longer will receive technical support and security updates.
ProPublica Launches News Site on Dark Web
January 12, 2016
ProPublica last week reportedly launched what's believed to be the first major news site on the dark Web. The site's purpose reportedly is to maximize the privacy of readers. The Tor hidden service goes beyond SSL in that visits to sites are hidden from eavesdroppers and ISPs. Anyone monitoring Tor nodes can track visitors who use a Tor browser to view ProPublica's regular site.
Legere Steps Back After Hurling F-Word at EFF
January 12, 2016
John Legere, T-Mobile's loquacious CEO, has apologized to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for what he described as a "color commentary" that drew sharp criticism. "I am a vocal, animated and sometimes foul mouthed CEO," Legere wrote in a blog post. "I don't filter myself and you know that no one at T-Mobile filters me either." Legere offered a mea culpa for "offending EFF and its supporters."
Facebook Messenger Dashes Past 800 Million User Mark
January 11, 2016
Facebook last week announced that its Messenger app had reached the 800 million monthly user milestone. Messenger lets users send text messages, stickers, photos, videos, voice clips, GIFs, their location and money. It's a standalone app, so one doesn't have to be a Facebook member to use it, and it's cross-platform, running on smartphones, tablets and desktops.
YouTube Reveals 4K HDR and 360-Degree Video Support at CES
January 9, 2016
YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl on Thursday laid out the direction the service plans to take this year, including new partnerships with GoPro to support 360-degree video content and support for 4K HDR, or high dynamic range, video. So-called cord cutters are having an impact on streaming video services, including those of competitors such as Amazon and YouTube, he said at CES 2016.
The World According to Intel
January 8, 2016
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich earlier this week demonstrated a wide variety of new technologies and laid out the company's vision for where the industry is headed. There is a rapidly growing role for technology that is at once transformative, unprecedented and accessible," he told a CES audience. The 90-minute address offered a compelling look into Intel's view of the tech industry's future.
Samsung Places Fridge at Center of Smart Home
January 8, 2016
Samsung on Wednesday unveiled the Family Hub Refrigerator at CES, ongoing in Las Vegas through Saturday. The new refrigerator sports a 21.5-inch full HD LCD screen on the upper right outside door, which doubles as a communications center. The screen lets users post, share and update calendars, as well as pin digital photos, share images and leave notes.
New Smart Cam Can Distinguish Between Cats, Cat Burglars and Cars
January 6, 2016
Netatmo on Monday announced a smart security camera and floodlight combo at CES 2016. The Presence camera is designed for outdoor use and can identify objects such as people, animals and vehicles. The camera, which connects to a rectangular floodlight, can be customized to send alerts to a smartphone app or desktop browser based on what it sees and where it sees it.
Yahoo Rolls Up Screen
January 6, 2016
Yahoo has shut down its Yahoo Screen on-demand streaming video hub, according to news reports. The hub's offerings included a National Football League game played in London, licensed clips of shows such as "Saturday Night Live," and a number of original series. The company had to write off $42 million in losses stemming from running original series, Yahoo's third-quarter report states.
HTC Shows Off Vive Pre's Room-Sensing Camera
January 6, 2016
A room-sensing camera planted on the front of the Vive Pre was the reason the release of Valve and HTC's virtual reality headset was delayed, the companies revealed Tuesday at CES 2016. The Vive VR headset was supposed to beat Oculus VR and Sony to the punch, coming out in the last quarter of last year. A last-minute "breakthrough" required more work on the Vive headset, HTC CEO Cher Wang said last month.
The EPA, Social Media and Politics
January 6, 2016
Before the Internet, messages were spread by television and newspaper ads and highway billboards. Today that is done through social media. Virtually everyone knows about it, and many people use it. Does it make any sense that a U.S. government agency could violate any laws for using social media to carry out its mission? That doesn't make sense to me.
PCs May Not Be Ready for VR's Breakout Year
January 5, 2016
Will 2016 be a breakaway year for virtual reality technology? Exhibitors at CES 2016 this week seem to think so. More than three dozen of them will be flogging their VR wares at the show, more than double the number from last year. "2016 will be the year of VR," said Brian Blau, a research director at Gartner. "That's pretty clear with all the hardware that's going to be coming on the market."
Gadget Ogling: A Smart Home Hub, a Tiny Drone, and a Whispering Camera
January 4, 2016
LG's SmartThinq Hub seeks to bring together all of your connected appliances and smart sensors under one roof. As extras, it sprinkles on top music streaming, through radio stations or whatever you happen to play on your smartphone -- and reminders, through its 3.5-inch display. The hub can monitor and control robot vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, ovens and air conditioners, among other things.
Home Broadband Use Falls as Consumers Go Mobile
January 4, 2016
A recent Pew Research Center study found that adoption of traditional high-speed Internet in the U.S. has fallen to 67 percent, the lowest level since 2012. More consumers were using mobile phones, the study found. Thirteen percent of respondents said they were smartphone-only customers, compared with 8 percent in 2013. Fifteen percent said they have cut the cord on cable and satellite TV.
CES Insanity in 2016: The Cannabis Defense
January 4, 2016
CES is probably the best example that folks who work around tech are just a tad insane. While no big product has yet emerged, there will be a ton of crazy stuff to see. Yes, there will be robots, smartwatches, tablets, PCs, smart appliances, exoskeletons, body monitors, head thumpers, drones, self-driving cars, augmented reality, virtual reality, holographics, 3D printers, and a ton of junk.
Facebook Takes On Yelp, Angie's List
January 2, 2016
Facebook recently launched a service for members that provides recommendations and ratings on shops and service providers, a move that puts it in direct competition with Yelp. The tool provides star ratings on local service providers, including doctors, veterinarians and event planners. Users can leave references that detail their experiences with merchants or service providers.
Security Execs Sweat Insider Threats
December 31, 2015
Insider threats are becoming increasingly worrisome to corporate security executives. That is one of the findings in a survey of C-level businesspeople Nuix released last week. "The insider threat seems to be a bigger concern this year than it was in previous years," said Nuix's Keith Lowry. "People are recognizing that it is a significant weakness that has yet to be fully addressed."
China's Internet Tightrope Walk
December 30, 2015
Chinese President Xi Jinping recently told an international delegation of cybersecurity and technology experts that governments must be allowed to exercise sovereign rights and decision making over Internet use within their own countries. Speaking at the second annual World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, the president effectively called for a revised order in Internet governance.
Zuckerberg Defends Downsized Internet for Developing World
December 29, 2015
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday defended his company's downsized version of the Internet, called "Free Basics," which is offered in developing nations around the world. "In every society, there are certain basic services that are so important for people's wellbeing that we expect everyone to be able to access them freely," he said, citing public libraries, hospitals and schools as examples.
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