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Hulu hires Google marketing veteran Kelly Campbell as CMO

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YouTube expands crackdown on Ad-blocking Mobile Apps

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Following its crackdown on ad-blocking browser extensions, YouTube has extended its enforcement efforts to third-party adblocking applications. In a recent blog post update, the Google-owned video streaming platform announced, “We are enhancing our enforcement measures against third-party apps that contravene YouTube’s Terms of Service, particularly ad-blocking apps.”

YouTube cautioned that individuals utilizing third party apps to block ads in the free tier might encounter buffering problems during video playback or encounter an error message stating, “The following content is not available on this app.” The video streaming platform said that its terms do not allow third-party apps to turn off ads as it prevents creators on its platform from being rewarded for viewership.

YouTube has already started blocking YouTube videos from various third-party mobile apps such as AdGuard. YouTube said that it will only allow third-party apps to use its API when they follow its API’s “Terms of Services”. It added, if an app is found violating its terms, YouTube will take appropriate action to protect the “platform, creators and viewers”.

For watching videos without ads, YouTube suggests subscribing to YouTube Premium, which offers adfree streaming along with additional content. YouTube initially started the crackdown on ad-blockers in June, last year, as an experiment. It later started restricting content for viewers who were using an adblocking browser extension on the web version of the platform.

The streaming platform started displaying a warning message that “adblockers violate YouTube’s terms of service”. YouTube mandated users to disable the ad-blocker to continue watching videos on the platform.

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Elon Musk: New X users may face annual posting fee

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Elon Musk revealed that new users could face fees for posting content on the social platform X (previously known as Twitter). In response to a user inquiry on the platform, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX clarified that introducing “a modest fee for new user write access” is essential in addressing the ongoing challenge posed by bots. Regrettably, instituting a nominal fee for new user write access is the sole method to deter the continual barrage of bots. Current AI (and troll farms) can pass “are you a bot” with ease.

Musk was responding to a tweet made by the X Daily News which had posted a notice by the platform stating that new accounts are required to pay a “small annual fee” before being able to “post, like, bookmark, and reply”. The notice added that this was to “reduce spam” and “create a better experience for everyone.” Users can, however, continue to follow accounts for free. “The onslaught of fake accounts also uses up the available namespace, so many good handles are taken as a result,” Musk explained in his response.

Musk also highlighted that current AI can easily bypass traditional bot detection measures. “Current AI (and troll farms) can pass ‘are you a bot’ with ease,” he said. Emphasizing that this measure targets new users exclusively, Musk clarified that after a probationary period of three months, users would regain free write access. This announcement follows the platform’s decision last October to charge new unverified users in New Zealand and the Philippines a fee of $1 per year. Recently, X initiated a massive purge of spam accounts, resulting in some users losing followers. The platform has been grappling with an influx of spam and porn bots in recent months, prompting Musk to initiate the purge.

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Google plans second-Gen foldable device in Pixel 9 series

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As per Report Google is gearing up to introduce its next-generation foldable smartphone within the Pixel 9 series. According to Android Authority, a prominent consumer technology news platform, Google is anticipated to modify its naming convention to encompass both foldable and non-foldable devices within the 2024 Pixel lineup.
As outlined in the report, the forthcoming Pixel Fold, previously expected to be labeled as “Pixel Fold 2,” is likely to debut as the “Pixel 9 Pro Fold.” This adjustment in naming strategy is poised to have broader implications beyond mere rebranding. The inaugural Pixel Fold was unveiled at the 2023 Google I/O Developers Conference, internally referred to as a “Mid-Year” release rather than a flagship device. Nevertheless, should Google integrate the Fold series into its mainstream Pixel range, there is speculation that the company may treat the device akin to its other flagship smartphones.
It is also likely that the company would make the “Pixel 9 Pro Fold” available in more markets, including India. The “Pro” suffix also suggests that the next-generation Pixel Fold would carry some of the hardware and features from the Pixel 9 Pro smartphone. The upcoming Pixel Fold smartphone would likely be powered by the upcoming Tensor G4 chipset, which is expected to power the entire Pixel 9 series. For reference, the first-generation Pixel Fold was powered by the Tensor G2 chip.
Apart from the next-generation foldable, Google is reportedly planning to launch a new smaller sized “Pro” model in the Pixel 9 series. According to news reports, the smaller Pixel 9 Pro would boast a display of the size of the vanilla Pixel 9 model. It would be joined by a “Pro XL” model, which would have a bigger display. If true, the Pixel 9 series would encompass four models – the Pixel 9, Pixel 9 Pro, Pixel 9 Pro XL, and Pixel 9 Pro Fold. The Pixel 9a may join the series on later dates, but there is no confirmation or news on its existence as yet.

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Microsoft invests $1.5 bn in UAE’s G42 AI firm, secures minority stake

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Announced yesterday (15 April), the deal will give Microsoft a minority stake in the company that is currently the leading AI firm in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

According to a statement released on Tuesday, Microsoft is set to invest $1.5 billion in G42, an artificial intelligence company based in the United Arab Emirates. This investment will provide the US tech giant with a minority stake in G42 and a position on its board of directors. Under the partnership, G42 will run its AI applications and services on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure to deliver advanced AI solutions to global public sector clients and large enterprises. Microsoft President Brad Smith, who will take a seat on G42’s board, said “We will combine world-class technology with world leading standards for safe, trusted, and responsible AI, in close coordination with the governments of both the UAE and the United States.”

The firms will work together to bring advanced AI and digital infrastructure to countries in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. The partnership comes amid Washington’s efforts to hobble Beijing’s technological advances, with the US adding four Chinese companies to an export blacklist for seeking to acquire AI chips for China’s military. G42 had divested its investments in China and began the lengthy task of pulling out Chinese hardware amid US concerns over its relationship with Chinese businesses. Microsoft and G42 will support the establishment of a $1 billion fund for developers to boost AI skills in the UAE and broader region. The partnership stipulates several safeguards for the AI technologies shared with G42.

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Samsung reclaims smartphone crown as Apple shipments slide

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According to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC), smartphone shipments worldwide experienced a decline of 7.8% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2024 (1Q24), amounting to 289.4 million units. This downturn led to a reshuffling of the market, with Samsung surpassing Apple to become the leading smartphone provider once again. Apple’s smartphone shipments fell by approximately 10% in the first quarter, attributed to heightened competition from Android smartphone manufacturers vying for dominance.

Despite Apple’s strong performance in the preceding quarter, where it briefly claimed the top spot, it slid back to second place with a market share of 17.3%. On the other hand, Samsung saw a marginal decrease of 0.7% in shipments, retaining its position as the leading smartphone seller globally with a market share of 20.8%. The resurgence of Chinese brands like Xiaomi and Transsion contributed to the competitive landscape, with Xiaomi experiencing a remarkable increase in sales of nearly 34% year-over-year.

Xiaomi, ranked third in terms of smartphone shipments during the quarter, reported robust growth, shipping 40.8 million units. Similarly, Transsion witnessed a substantial surge in shipments, marking an 85% increase compared to the previous year. The overall growth in smartphone shipments signifies a recovery in the market, despite prevailing macroeconomic challenges. Higher average selling prices indicate consumer preference for premium devices, reflecting a trend of holding onto smartphones for longer durations.

Apple’s slip in rankings underscores the dynamic nature of the smartphone market, where shifts in consumer preferences and competitive pressures influence market dynamics. As smartphone manufacturers navigate evolving trends and market conditions, the competition intensifies, driving innovation and strategic manoeuvres to secure market share. The rise of Chinese smartphone manufacturers, including Xiaomi and Transsion, has contributed significantly to the competitive landscape, challenging established players like Apple and Samsung.

Xiaomi’s aggressive expansion strategies and focus on offering feature-rich devices at competitive prices have resonated with consumers globally, driving its impressive sales growth. Transsion’s success can be attributed to its strong presence in emerging markets, particularly in Africa, where it has gained considerable market share by catering to the diverse needs of consumers with affordable yet reliable smartphone options. The evolving dynamics of the smartphone market underscore the importance of adaptability and innovation for manufacturers seeking to maintain their competitiveness.

As consumer preferences continue to shift and new technologies emerge, companies must anticipate and respond to these changes effectively to stay ahead of the curve. While Samsung reclaimed its position as the leading smartphone provider, the intensifying competition highlights the need for continued investment in research and development, marketing, and customer engagement to sustain growth and market relevance. Overall, the smartphone market remains dynamic and fiercely competitive, offering both challenges and opportunities for manufacturers. Success in this space hinges on a combination of factors, including product innovation, strategic partnerships, and agility in responding to market trends and consumer demands.

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US govt agrees to provide USD 6.4B to Samsung for making computer chips

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The Biden administration has solidified a groundbreaking agreement, earmarking up to $6.4 billion in direct funding to catalyze Samsung Electronics’ establishment of a cutting-edge computer chip manufacturing and research hub in Texas. This financial injection, revealed by the Commerce Department on Monday, forms a pivotal component of an overarching investment in the cluster, projected to soar beyond $40 billion when supplemented by private capital.

This government backing emanates from the CHIPS and Science Act, a legislative cornerstone inked by President Joe Biden in 2022, aimed at reinvigorating the domestic production of sophisticated computer chips. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo hailed the proposed endeavor as a catalyst poised to elevate Texas into a preeminent semiconductor ecosystem. Speaking during a briefing with journalists, Raimondo underscored its pivotal role in aligning with the administration’s ambitious objective of domestically manufacturing 20% of the world’s foremost chips by the decade’s end. Anticipated job creation also looms large, with Raimondo forecasting a surge of at least 17,000 construction positions and over 4,500 manufacturing roles in the wake of the project’s realization.

Samsung’s envisaged cluster, nestled in Taylor, Texas, comprises two pivotal factories slated to churn out four- and two-nanometer chips, alongside a dedicated research and development facility and a component packaging plant. According to government timelines, the inaugural factory is slated to commence operations in 2026, with its successor following suit in 2027. The funding package also encompasses an expansion initiative targeting an extant Samsung establishment in Austin, Texas.

Lael Brainard, helming the White House National Economic Council, underscored a crucial strategic dividend stemming from Samsung’s foray into Austin: the ability to directly furnish chips to the Defense Department. In an era marked by escalating geopolitical tensions and a burgeoning rivalry between the United States and China, securing access to advanced chip technology assumes paramount significance, attested by Brainard.

In tandem with the $6.4 billion allocation, Samsung is poised to leverage an investment tax credit from the U.S. Treasury Department, further cementing the partnership’s financial underpinnings. Notably, this collaboration represents a broader trend, with the government previously delineating terms to buttress other chip behemoths such as Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. across multifarious projects dispersed across the nation.

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