Tech / Telecom news — 14 Jul 2017

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Connectivity

Verizon and AT&T using convergent offers in the US market, to anticipate cable companies’ (with Sprint) entrance in the space, as expected for the coming months. Verizon is extending its Fios+Wireless bundle to customers not buying unlimited plans, while AT&T is offering a $10/month discounts for convergent bundles (Story)

Video

AT&T keeps adding features to its streaming TV app DirecTV Now, which now incorporates functionalities previously thought to be reserved to “legacy” PayTV services, like cloud DVR, TV pausing and parental controls. User profiles, a “download and go” service, and 4K support will have to wait until 2018 (Story)

Artificial Reality

Facebook is developing a fully autonomous, wireless Virtual Reality headset, not requiring a wireline connection to a PC, an usability issue limiting VR adoption. The new device would also be cheaper vs. current Oculus Rift (price is another limitation) and target a “sweet” spot between the Rift and the Samsung Gear VR (Story)

Applications

Content emerges as a key feature to differentiate social networks: Snapchat just announced a year-long deal with Formula One to allow users to send pictures and videos of the events to “Our Story”, a curated part of Snapchat available globally. Meanwhile, Formula One looks to increase reach and “bring new fans to the sport” (Story)

Enterprise / Cloud

Box is copying Slack’s successful approach and exposing APIs for developers to build enterprise-oriented applications using Box capabilities. A new program, called “Box Elements”, will include controls to select files stored in the company’s cloud, navigate its folders, or upload files to Box, from within external apps (Story)

SOFTWARE ENABLERS

Artificial Intelligence

A VC expert just published a (rather sentimental) post on the future of AI, and he’s quite optimistic on what he sees as rather remote “existential risks”, or “general AI”. He views impact on jobs as a more realistic concern, but he thinks this could be solved by a coexistence in which humans would focus on the “emotional” tasks (Story)

Related to this conflict between AI and jobs, Google has launched a research initiative called “PAIR” (“People + AI Research”), to develop tools to facilitate collaboration of humans and machine-learning systems, and to help people’s understand how AI works. This is similar to what Microsoft also announced this week (Story)

Blockchain

Blockchain-based “Initial Coin Offerings” (ICOs) are becoming a key application of cryptocurrency technologies, and have already surpassed traditional early-stage venture funding, according to industry experts, with more than $560m investments having been done with the instrument in June 2017 alone (Story)

HARDWARE ENABLERS

Network technology

T-Mobile US is approaching IoT networking in a quite opposite way to Verizon and AT&T’s, using cheaper NB-IoT, like European & Asian operators, instead of LTE-M, which offers better performance by using LTE. T-Mobile just finished a nationwide NB-IoT trial and expects to offer commercial services this year (Story)

VENTURE CAPITAL / IPOs

Roku, the streaming video device leader, and the only one that has revealed to be capable to compete with Apple’s / Amazon’s specific boxes, is preparing its IPO for this year, seeking a valuation of approx. $1bn, even if the cases of Snap (now below initial price) and Blue Apron indicate that it’s better to be cautious with that (Story)

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