Tech / Telecom news — 5 Apr 2017

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

The “explosion” of unlimited mobile data in the US is forcing Sprint to eliminate an offer to double the monthly data allowance from competitors’ plans, at the same price. With unlimited offers, Sprint’s “discounts” no longer make sense. Some analysts view also a refocus of Sprint, now looking to improve profitability (Story)

Video

Amazon wants to differentiate its streaming video service by including live sports (which Netflix and Hulu are not doing). They’ll pay the NFL $50m this season to live stream 10 games (on Thursdays) in exclusive for Amazon Prime members. This is a 5x increase vs. what Twitter payed last year (for the same games) (Story)

Music

Spotify has reached a new deal with Universal Music, according to which new album releases won’t be initially accessible from free, ad-supported accounts, and will remain exclusive to paying users for 2 weeks. For music content producers this could be the beginning of the end of unlimited free music, but let’s see (Story)

Financial Services

After banknote demonetisation, mobile payments are hot in India, and Facebook’s WhatsApp is reacting to that by preparing to enter the business, in a collision course with Alibaba’s PayTM. This is Facebook’s first attempt to offer payments within WhatsApp, a common trend in Chinese messaging apps (like WeChat) (Story)

Enterprise Equipment

Storage solutions aimed at companies in need to store internal data (potentially exploitable through AI algorithms to extract insights) are in high demand, and Cohesity, a somewhat obscure startup building “hyperconverged” boxes (combining storage with computing and networking) for this, has just been valued at $500m (Story)

BRANDS

Verizon is launching a new corporate brand, Oath, that will serve as an “umbrella” for the company’s digital / media brands, including AOL and the recently acquired Yahoo, that will be maintained. They say to have chosen the name looking to communicate values, but Twitter users have reacted with jokes and criticism (Story)

NETWORK TECHNOLOGY

Huawei will join Nokia in building the network for the Altan consortium in Mexico, a neutral 4G wholesale provider. Huawei will be responsible for building in Southern and Central Mexico. Initial Altan commitments are to reach 30% pop coverage by 1Q18, and 92% by 2023, with a total investment around $7bn in 9 years (Story)

BIG DATA & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

A startup called RightHand Robotics is testing a “robot arm” capable to pick different, previously unfamiliar objects from a conveyor belt, an easy task for humans, but a non trivial one for robots. The technology uses machine learning in the cloud and would be able to substitute human labor in warehouse fulfilment tasks (Story)

US millennials seem to accept that carriers could sell their private information to third parties, as long as they would get a valuable AI-enabled service, like better content recommendations, or customised mobile offers, in return. They also seem interested in using smartphones as (virtual) personal assistants (Story)

Security

Samsung’s proprietary OS, Tizen, inside most (approx. 30m units) of the company’s connected TVs, has been revealed to have up to 40 previously unknown security vulnerabilities that would turn these TVs into feasible targets for hackers. Researchers think the flaws were caused by undetected Samsung coding errors (Story)