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04.18.16 | 12:57 pm

Google’s Android faces new anti-trust scrutiny in Europe

The European Union's anti-trust chief, Margarethe Vestager, says she and her team are "looking closely at Google's contracts with phone makers and operators which use the Android operating system," a sign that Google may soon face formal anti-trust charges. 

The European Commission has already filed anti-trust charges related to Google's dominance of web search.

Google could be fined more than $7 billion if it is found guilty of anti-competitive activities. 

04.27.17 | 6:11 pm

With India’s success, Amazon has more plans for international domination

Amazon's most recent earnings report was a blockbuster. The company saw revenue increasing 23% to $35.7 billion. Of the company's net sales this quarter, 32% was from its international businesses. At the earnings call CFO Brian Olsavsky said the company sees huge potential with these markets. India, specifically, is one area Amazon is investing heavily in. The company launched Amazon Prime, original Indian programming for the country, as well as devices tailored specifically for India customers. Olsavsky described international markets as "important investment areas."

While he wouldn't go into more details, the CFO said the company is going to continue investing heavily in these non-U.S. markets. This includes expanding global Prime benefits, launching new internationally targeted devices, as well as investing in more warehouses. Needless to say: Expect to see more announcements and investments in this vein. 

04.27.17 | 5:52 pm

Anthony Levandowski will no longer oversee self-driving tech at Uber

Anthony Levandowski, the man over whom Google and Uber are squabbling, is stepping aside from his role as head of the company's Advanced Technologies Group. Eric Meyhofer will now lead those efforts, according to an email obtained by both Business Insider and Bloomberg. The reason? Waymo's lawsuit accusing Levandowski, a former employee, of stealing intellectual property and infringing on its lidar-related patents. The email goes on to distance Levandowski from the company's lidar technology, a refrain we've been hearing for a while from Uber: 

As you know, I currently don't provide input on detailed LiDAR design choices. But making this organizational change means I will have absolutely no oversight over or input into our LiDAR work. Going forward, please make sure not to include me in meetings or email threads related to LiDAR, or ask me for advice on the topic. 

04.27.17 | 5:31 pm

Google is getting ready to put its voice assistant everywhere

While Amazon is already getting its Alexa voice assistant into all kinds of products, Google is now in hot pursuit. The search giant has just released a software development kit for the Google Assistant, allowing anyone to create their own voice-controlled hardware prototypes. Google says it will open the SDK to commercial device makers "across a wide range of hardware" later this year, but for now the kit is mainly for hobbyists who want to tinker. If you've been pining for a Google version of the Alexa Big Mouth Bass, now's your chance.

[Photo: Google]

04.27.17 | 5:05 pm

Jeff Bezos just made $2.7B in one hour

Amazon's quarterly earnings numbers were just reported, and the company beat analyst expectations. The stock is now seeing a huge surge in after-hours trading. It's been hovering close to a 4% increase for quite a while now. 

Doing quick back-of-napkin arithmetic, I looked at how much Jeff Bezos's 80.9 million Amazon shares were worth when markets closed ($918.38/share) compared to what the price is now at 5 p.m. ET ($952/share). In these 60 minutes alone the Amazon founder made a jaw-dropping $2.7 billion. 

04.27.17 | 4:29 pm

Amazon handily beat expectations in Q1 earnings 

Amazon is having a pretty good year so far. The company just released Q1 2017 earnings, and it beat analyst expectations on nearly every count. Revenue went up 23% to $35.7 billion, compared to $29.1 billion the same period last year. Earnings-per-share hit $1.48, exceeding analyst expectations of $1.13. Retail subscriptions saw a huge boost, too, so we can expect to hear great things about Prime. Unsurprisingly, the stock is seeing a surge—it's currently up about 4% up in after-hours trading. Here's a quick rundown of the stats:

We'll be listening to the earnings presentation later this afternoon, so stay tuned!

04.27.17 | 4:18 pm

What YouTube boycott? Alphabet shrugs off Google ad exodus with higher-than-expected revenue in Q1

Last month, it looked like YouTube had a real problem on its hands, what with numerous big-name marketers pulling out due to concerns that their ads were appearing alongside extremist videos. Companies like PepsiCo, Walmart, Starbucks, GM, and Dish Network all pulled out. But it doesn't appear that the advertiser exodus hurt YouTube parent company Alphabet's bottom line.

Today, Alphabet released its first-quarter earnings report, just beating analysts' expectations. For the quarter, the company brought in revenues of $24.75 billion, while analysts had predicted $24.19 billion, and earnings per share of $7.73, higher than predictions of $7.40. And Google's ad revenues came in at $21.41 billion, up 18.8% year-over-year

04.27.17 | 3:39 pm

DJI makes it harder for ISIS to use its drones as weapons in Syria

It's one thing to fight against well-armed troops or military aircraft. It's another thing altogether to have to worry about consumer drones coming out of nowhere bearing grenades or other explosives. And that's something military authorities have been increasingly concerned about tackling as they take on ISIS

But now, according to The Register, drone giant DJI has attempted to help with this problem by updating geofencing software on its drones to make much of Syria a no-fly zone. This is not a fail-safe system, and there are other drone companies. But DJI is far and away the world's largest, so this step could go a long way to keeping drones out of the fight, at least in Syria.

04.27.17 | 12:16 pm

This video game lets you clean virtual plastic from the ocean

Millions of tons of plastic waste enter the oceans every year, causing increasing environmental and economic damage. A new video game wants to help clean up some of that garbage, at first virtually and then hopefully in real life. 

The nonprofit group We Are The Oceans (not to be confused with the U.K. band We Are The Ocean) has created a strangely difficult video game where players are challenged to clean a million pounds of plastic out of the ocean in the hopes of saving the endangered Vaquita porpoise and other creatures. Think of it as an underwater Flappy Bird, dodging floating straws and other obstacles in the ocean. It's a fun game with a serious message, as plastics pose a dire threat to the oceans' health. By 2050, there could be more plastic in the water than fish, according to one estimate. To thwart that, play the game and take We Are The Oceans' pledge to curb plastic use.

04.27.17 | 11:38 am

E-books are no longer flying off the e-shelves

Turns out that just because you can read the great works of literature (and all the great business books you can stomach) on an e-reader, doesn't mean everyone wants to.

The Guardian reports that e-book sales in the U.K. have dropped by 17%. They placed the blame on so-called screen fatigue. Basically, people are so tired of staring into screens all day for work, and all night for entertainment, and at all other times in between to check on their Tinder—er, LinkedIn—profiles, that when it comes to reading a book, readers are yearning for good old-fashioned paper. Perhaps Amazon and other e-book distributors should start sending book-scented candles out with each purchase.

"I wouldn't say that the e-book dream is over but people are clearly making decisions on when they want to spend time with their screens," Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association, told The Guardian. Don't hold a wake for your Kindle quite yet, though. While the market is slumping, it still raked in £204m ($263 million) from people who don't want anyone on the subway to know what book they're reading.

[Photo: Unsplash user @jamestarbotton]

04.27.17 | 10:55 am

Report: Apple may be developing a Venmo competitor

Apple has big ambitions when it comes to mobile wallets, but the Cupertino, California, company has been off to a slow start. Two and a half years since the launch of Apple Pay in the U.S., for example, less than 1 in 10 iPhone users have tried the service. 

Now Apple is looking for another way in. According to Recode, the company is in talks with payments industry partners to develop a cash-transfer service similar to Venmo. Apple has also considered developing a pre-paid debit card in partnership with Visa, Recode said. Both offerings, in theory, would support broader Apple Pay adoption by giving users more reasons to transact within the Apple ecosystem. 

Peer-to-peer payments has become an increasingly crowded space. Zelle, a P2P network backed by big banks, processed $55 billion in transactions last year, while Venmo processed $17.6 billion. Earlier this month Facebook debuted group payments in Messenger. 

04.27.17 | 10:48 am

In the era of #FakeNews, the U.S. has dropped in press freedom ranking

The United States has fallen in the ranking of press freedom around the world, according to the latest survey released by Reporters Without Borders. The U.S. dropped two spots to number 43 in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index. The drop comes in the wake of the election of Donald Trump, who frequently tweets that the New York Times and Washington Post are reporting "fake news," which RSF considers to be an attack on the First Amendment

US press freedom, enshrined in the First Amendment to the 1787 constitution, has encountered several major obstacles over the past few years, most recently with the election of President Donald Trump. He has declared the press an "enemy of the American people" in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists, while attempting to block White House access to multiple media outlets in retaliation for critical reporting.

Perhaps making America great again should start with getting this number up. Read the full report here.

04.27.17 | 10:45 am

Can hacking clouds save the Great Barrier Reef?

By most accounts, the Great Barrier Reef is dying. Warming oceans have bleached over two-thirds of the natural wonder and scientist fear it has reached a critical tipping point from which it cannot come back.  

In a last-ditch effort to save the largest reef in the world, scientists have come up with a plan that involves cloud hacking. This isn't the cloud hacking that resulted in the theft of private photos of Jennifer Lawrence, but hacking actual clouds. Scientists hope that if they can make the clouds over the reef brighter and more reflective, it will allow the water surrounding the reef to cool, reviving the delicate coral community. 

A team of Australian researchers at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science is working on the seemingly farfetched plan and so far believe it just might be possible. The concept, according to The Times, is to spray tiny salt particles, harvested from sea water, at low-lying clouds causing them to increase their density, reflecting the sun's heat back into space. It's a wild idea, but scientists are willing to try it, if it might cool the water temperature even a little. "We wouldn't want to have to do these geo-engineering ideas and deliberately make clouds over the reef if we didn't have to," researcher Daniel Harrison told Australian news outlet ABC. It's a desperate move, but these are desperate times for the warming planet.