Tech / Telecom news — 11 Apr 2017

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Video

A new comScore report shows more than 50% US households (49m) using at least one streaming video app, with Netflix leading (75% of these homes vs. YouTube at 53%, Amazon 33%). Also, the 25% not using Netflix seem to use “pure” internet alternatives, like YouTube, instead of direct Netflix competitors (like Amazon) (Story)

Comcast, or its NBCU content production branch, plans to launch a streaming app aiming to directly compete vs Netflix, using content from their broadcast network NBC and their cable channels. Clearly a sign of what content owners need to do to remain competitive, even if they also own a conventional PayTV distribution arm (Story)

In its new app YouTube TV, Google will inhibit ad-skipping for recorded shows if there are also on-demand versions available. This could be due to contracts with content providers, which typically eliminate ad-skipping for on-demand shows, but could also help Google better monetise the service (with more expensive ads) (Story)

Enterprise

Cloud providers need to simplify adoption, to expand addressable market and capture share in the process. So Microsoft is acquiring an open-source (!) startup, Deis, with a product that makes it easier to design and operate apps in the cloud, using Kubernetes, a technology to parcel workloads across several machines (Story)

Devices

Chinese Apple-wannabe LeEco, a consumer electronics startup wanting to expand out of China, won’t finally acquire the Chinese TV vendor Vizio, currently second in the US TV market, after having said they were prepared to pay $2bn. They claim regulation is a key impediment, but lack of cash could also be important (Story)

CHANNELS

Amazon already gets 34% of US online sales, and Needham (a bank) expects them to reach 50% by 2021, driven by Amazon Prime, and even if total e-commerce market continues to grow. There are now approx. 65m Prime members (+40% yoy), and 80% of them shop at least once a month (and spend 2x vs. non-members) (Story)

BIG DATA & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

AI Ethics

The fact that no one really understands how deep learning algorithms work is starting to be a key problem, making it very difficult to address ethical or security issues linked to AI, because app behaviour becomes unpredictable. This is getting increasingly relevant, as AI starts to penetrate all kinds of human decision making (Story)

CAPITAL ALLOCATION

AT&T has acquired Straight Path, a small telecom firm with only 7 employees, for $1.25bn. And the reason is that they are one of the biggest owners of mm wave spectrum, of the kind that many expect will be key for 5G deployments. In particular, AT&T will now have access to large slots in the 39GHz and 28GHz bands (Story)

A new chapter is opening in the rather complex story of Vivendi’s relationship with Telecom Italia. Vivendi (which owns 24% of TI) wants its CEO (Puyfontaine) to be Chairman, and is putting him first in its list of 10 candidates for the board. They also seem to want the current CEO to leave (against his own opinion) (Story)

Tencent, eBay and Microsoft (very active in M&A lately) are investing $1.4bn in leading Indian e-commerce platform Flipkart, the main Amazon competitor in the market, at a valuation of $11.6bn. Meanwhile, SoftBank is trying to merge its own (declining) subsidiary, Snapdeal, with Flipkart, to create a strong Amazon rival (Story)