When it comes to streaming sticks and set-top boxes, it is a close battle between Google and Amazon. Chromecast and Fire TV devices share a large majority of the device market. However, when it comes to televisions themselves, the Fire TV market is incredibly small. It's certainly not because Amazon is uninterested in the market, as they do produce a TV operating system. It's also definitely not because customers don't want Fire TV built into their televisions, or they wouldn't continue buying over the top devices.
So, why is Fire TV almost entirely missing from the smart TV market?
According to industry insiders, the problem lies with Google. Because Fire TV is a branch of Android, it causes problems with Google's licensing contracts. For a manufacturer to be able to include the Google Play services into their devices, they cannot manufacture a product featuring a branched version of Android.
As it turns out, this is not platform-specific. In fact, companies that manufacture Android smartphones cannot use the prime version of Android or the Google Play services, including the app store, if they also manufacture a Fire TV television. So, companies like Samsung, LG, and TCL, all of whom produce Android phones, cannot use Amazon's smart TV platform.
Google has used this tactic as a means to strongarm its hardware partners into not making competing platforms, specifically for smartphones. However, when it comes to Android TV, it has not produced the same result. Samsung has its own platform, LG uses webOS, and TCL uses the Roku TV platform. The restriction has not led to a large number of Android TVs, only a large number of non-Amazon televisions.
Google has been under a lot of fire for its policies that are intended to extend its market lead by exploiting that lead. There is little doubt that this potentially anti-competitive behavior will also come under scrutiny thanks to the revelation of the industry's best-known secret.
As the COVID-19 coronavirus continues its global spread, normal activities are being canceled. Of those activities, work and school are having the single largest impact on people's daily lives. Whether you are working from home or experiencing online education, your internet connection is going to be an important part of your day. Thankfully, as many private companies have done, internet service providers and wireless carriers are making adjustments to their policies to make life easier for their customers.
Over the past few years, we have seen home and business internet service providers have implemented data caps on their services. Many of these providers, including AT&T and Comcast, have temporarily removed these restrictions for their customers. This will allow people who normally do not work from home, and those who are going to be taking classes online, to have a better and more consistent experience. It will also mean that there will be no additional charges for overages.
There are also some additional changes available for some people across the country. For Comcast subscribers who are on the Essentials plan, their speeds will be increased from 15/2Mbps to 25/3Mbps. This change should also make life a little easier. For people in a Spectrum market who are not currently Spectrum subscribers and have a school-aged child who is moving to online education, there is an option to get free service for the next 2 months.
As for wireless carriers, they are also removing data caps from their cellular plans. Some are waiving overage fees, while others are simply removing the caps altogether. Either way, the end result is the same. In addition, Sprint and T-Mobile will be providing 20GB of hotspot data to anyone who is a hotspot subscriber.
On top of all of these changes, many services, including home internet, wireless, and power, are removing late fees for payment and skipping terminations. Some services even have programs to provide free service for those whose lives are being significantly disrupted, such as losing a job, or an industry in significant decline (live event production, for example). Check with your local utilities and services to see exactly what they are offering.
As the COVID-19 coronavirus continues its global spread, the general wisdom is for limited public gatherings. This has come as a particular challenge for games like
Pokemon GO, which are based around the idea of physical interaction. As more people are sequestering themselves at home rather than going out, Niantic has taken steps to temporarily alter the game in order for those who are staying inside to continue to play.
To address the collecting aspect of the game, the company has changed the spawn style. Normally, Pokemon spawn in small numbers and within specific environments. With the most recent update, that changes slightly. They are increasing the spawn rate, as well as increasing the habitats, so you should see a lot more Pokemon spawn in your area.
To enhance this experience, they have also made some changes to incense. First, they have decreased the cost of a 30 pack of incense to only a single coin. Whether you are a normal incense user or not, this is a deal that every player should jump on. The length of incense is also increased from 30 minutes to 60. Both of these changes, combined with the increased habitats, should mean that collecting without moving should be easier than normal.
For those who are willing to venture out, PokeStops have also been given the upgrade treatment. All PokeStops will drop gifts more frequently, making your spins potentially more valuable. However, not all outside events are being encouraged. Niantic has announced that the Abra Community Day has been postponed, though a new date has not been announced.
There is no word on how long these game adjustments will last. This makes sense, as there is no telling how long the recommendation to stay out of public events will last. It is likely that the alterations will last for as long as the event restrictions stay in place.
announcement on Friday, Microsoft revealed one of the biggest changes in the history of the company. Bill Gates, the co-founder of the company, is leaving the board of directors. His place on the board, which he held for exactly 44 years to the day, was his last remaining official position with the company, after having stepped down as CEO in 2000, and chairman of the board in 2014.
This is a monumental day for the company, as it represents the first time that none of the early team members are actively involved. Paul Allen, the other co-founder, who died in 2018, had left the board of directors in 2000.
While he won't be involved in the company on an active basis, He will remain as a Technology Advisor to current CEO Satya Nadella and other executives for the foreseeable future. Nadella said in the statement,
It's been a tremendous honor and privilege to have worked with and learned from Bill over the years. Bill founded our company with a belief in the democratizing force of software and a passion to solve society's most pressing challenges. And Microsoft and the world are better for it. The board has benefited from Bill's leadership and vision.
And Microsoft will continue to benefit from Bill's ongoing technical passion and advice to drive our products and services forward. I am grateful for Bill's friendship and look forward to continuing to work alongside him to realize our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
The transition is in order to help further the mission of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the organization that he created with his wife to work on global issues. Currently, the company is focused on finding ways to help with the treatment and effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus. They have also put resources behind initiatives like malaria prevention, clean water initiatives, and more.
In many markets, there is only a single internet service provider and, even if you have a choice, it's traditionally only a pair. Even then, many people lose options based on where they live. If you're in an apartment or a condo, it's not unusual for the complex to have an exclusivity deal with one service provider. It's also the case with malls, shopping centers, and business parks. One of the big promises of 5G technology has been its speed. A big benefit of the speed is the ability to break up the local monopolies that are the internet service providers.
However, with all new technologies can come hiccups. The first big deployment of 5G as a home internet service is from T-Mobile in a test market of about 50,000 homes. Unfortunately, the service does not support some of the most important internet technologies. In particular, the T-Mobile Home service does not support Hulu + Live TV. This appears to be because of a limitation with Hulu's service. Hulu detects the T-Mobile Home service as a cellular hotspot and disables access to live TV.
This will not be the only time that this problem will be encountered. A variety of services have limitations against hotspots because of licensing deals, overhead, etc. As more home-based 5G services roll out across the country, more customers are going to encounter services that detect the internet service as exactly what it is. And it will be a challenge for the internet service providers to solve, as adding something into the protocol to report as a stationary connection could easily be exploited. Then, with some simple alterations, an Android device could easily be set to report as stationary, as well.
Of course, the reality of a proper 5G-based home internet service is still a way off for most people. The implementation of 5G is slow going, and the number of devices available is still small, and even lower when it comes to home hardware. However, this will be an issue that the internet providers and services will need to solve sooner rather than later.
As the panic over COVID-19, commonly being referred to as the coronavirus, people have been looking for ways to exploit that fear and panic. Fortunately, online platforms of all stripes are actively dealing with the problem. Whether it is online stores, app stores, or even social networks, companies are working to prevent you from getting harmed.
Amazon and eBay
Two of the big online user-driven stores, Amazon and eBay, have put rules into place to prevent coronavirus exploitation. Almost as soon as the panic began, Amazon started closing accounts for sellers with false cures on their platform. Following the cures, the company then began terminating accounts for price gouging. eBay has followed suit, going so far as to completely ban the sale of hand sanitizer and face masks from the site entirely.
Amazon has decided to step up their actions, planning to prosecute the sellers who were actively engaged in price gouging on their platform. The company is already working directly with various state attorneys general to deal with the worst offenders first.
As one would expect, the company's App Store has seen an influx in COVID-19 related apps. The most common type has been trackers, produced and published by various individuals and organizations. These trackers have provided various levels of correct and incorrect information. Because of this, Apple has decided to remove all COVID-tracing apps that do not come from official sources. The intent is to prevent misinformation or politically-motived propaganda.
While the company doesn't directly sell anything themselves, they do provide a lot of advertising for those who do. An
update to the company's advertising policies has temporarily banned the advertising of medical masks. This move is intended to prevent advertisers from adding to the fear-induced purchasing of face masks (which has little to no effect in preventing the spread). It also prevents these companies from directing Facebook users to sites with inflated prices.