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Washington paves the way for a river lawsuit against Google



Posted on Oct 20, 2020 at 5:51 p.m.Updated Oct 20, 2020 6:40 PM

The Justice Department took its time, but it did initiate proceedings against Google. After a year of investigation, the experts have made their conclusions: the giant is well accused of having abused its position in the market for research and online advertising to the detriment of competition and consumers. It is thus the biggest business which opens in the technological sector for twenty years. In 1998, the US government attacked Microsoft.

The complaint, the text of which was released in a federal court in Washington on Tuesday, paves the way for a trial that could last several years. Investigators have shown that Google has “Illegally maintained monopolies on the research market, online advertising” and spent billions of dollars to maintain its position with phone makers or browsers. It thus ensures that it is the default search engine for these services. These practices make it impossible, according to the complaint, for the emergence of viable competitors in the market.

90% of the market

Another complaint: Google’s applications, in particular that of its search engine, are installed by default and are impossible to remove on Android phones, also developed by Google. Investigators have shown that the giant pays manufacturers so that they integrate these applications in their terminals.

Google has always defended itself against such accusations. According to the California-based company, its services help many businesses, they are offered free of charge – which contrasts with antitrust precedents – and stiff competition exists in the markets in which it operates.

Google controls 90% of the search market in the United States, a key sector for its activities. Sponsored links still represent a large majority of its turnover, despite growing diversification. They make it possible to finance all its other activities, in mobile, video, mapping, autonomous cars, the cloud …

A decisive presidential election?

The procedure could lead to the dismantling of the giant, or in any case greatly modify its practices. Twenty years ago, Microsoft had thus had to stop systematically promoting its tools and offering competitors to Internet Explorer in its operating system. This had notably paved the way for browsers like Firefox or… Chrome, developed by Google.

Eleven states, all Republicans, including Texas, joined the Justice Department’s complaint. Others might choose to join as a second step, or else initiate their own procedures. The complaint reflects the Trump administration’s offensive against US tech companies. Facebook and Amazon are also under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.

The regulation of these platforms has been one of the priorities of Donald Trump, who had instructed his Secretary of Justice, William Barr, to accelerate on these files. A victory for Joe Biden in the presidential election and Democratic control of Congress could be a game-changer, however.

The announcement of this complaint had no real effect on Alphabet’s share price. The parent company of Google opened slightly down, before recovering and gaining more than 1.3% in the morning on Wall Street.

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“Peter Pan”, “The Aristocats”, “Dumbo” .. Disney points out the racist clichés in some of its classics



Posted on Oct 20, 2020 at 11:02 AMUpdated Oct 20, 2020 5:35 PM

“Peter Pan”, “The Aristocats” or even “Dumbo”… These great Disney classics are now preceded by a warning to warn viewers against racist clichés present in certain scenes.

Subscribers to the video-on-demand platform Disney + were already aware of “old-fashioned cultural descriptions” such as those of the Redskins in “Peter Pan” (1953) or the Siamese cat with slanted eyes of the “Aristocats” (1970) . The new warning which will now precede the works concerned will insist on the fact that these stereotypes “were wrong at the time and are wrong today”.

Racist caricatures

“This program includes negative descriptions and / or mistreatment of certain peoples or cultures,” warns the message, which the user must view. “Rather than removing this content, we want to recognize its harmful impact, learn from it and spark dialogue to jointly create a more inclusive future”, continues the warning, written in consultation with several organizations, including the Critics’ Association of African-American films.

“The Robinsons of the South Seas” or “Dumbo”, whose crows have been criticized in the past as a racist caricature of black Americans, are among the films which will be preceded by such a warning. This announcement is part of a context of awareness and at a time when the demonstrations of recent months in favor of the “Black Lives Matter” movement have prompted many companies to take action against racism. In June, HBO had withdrawn from its platform the film “Gone with the Wind”, the time to add a contextualization to place the work in its time.

The first black princess in the spotlight

In June, Disney also made a commitment and decided to modify “Splash Mountain” attractions in its American parks, which evoke the racist past of the United States. The current theme for “Splash Mountain” is taken from a highly controversial Disney film, “Melody of the South”. As soon as it was released in 1946, it had also aroused many criticisms which accused it of disseminating racist clichés and of painting in an idyllic light the slave plantations of the old South of the United States.

For these reasons, the film has not been shown in theaters since the 1980s and has never been released on DVD. “Southern Melody” was also deliberately kept out of the Disney + catalog. The two “Splash Mountain” of Disneyland (California) and Disney World (Florida) will in the future stage the story of “The Princess and the Frog”, whose heroine Tiana is Disney’s first black princess.

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Netflix’s growth slows after lockdown records



Posted on Oct 21, 2020 at 6:10 amUpdated Oct 21, 2020 9:33 AM

The containment boom is over for Netflix. After adding 15 million new subscribers in the first quarter then 10 million in the second, the leader in video streaming unveiled a much smaller figure for the third: 2.2 million.

This number, which brings the total to 195 million subscribers, is slightly lower than his forecast (2.5 million) and represents the lowest volume for the months of July to September in four years. The company’s revenue growth is also slowing. It stood at $ 6.4 billion in the third quarter, up 22% year-on-year, up from 31% in the same period last year. The company’s price fell 5% in trading after the stock market closed on Tuesday.

Full during the first semester

The Californian company recalled that this slowdown was announced in July and that the total of new subscribers over the first nine months of the year was higher than the whole of the year.

2019. “ As expected, growth slowed […]. We believe this is mainly related to our record results in the first half Netflix said in its letter to shareholders. The company refueled much faster at the start of the year than usual thanks to containment.

But the company is suffering from a gradual return to normalcy, with the reopening of restaurants and some of the cinemas, as well as the resumption of other television programs. “ We are back in a world with sport on and off Said Reed Hastings, the company’s co-CEO, who also recognized that the environment was very competitive. “ NOTWe compete with TikTok, YouTube, HBO, and Fortnite.

Competition

Netflix also mentioned the many new services launched recently, including Disney +, which has gained 60 million subscribers in ten months. But the company is already reacting by strengthening itself in animation: Ted Sarandos, its other co-CEO, announced in the magazine “Variety” last week, a goal of six original cartoons per year on the platform.

Despite the Covid-19, the company says it plans a total of 150 original content filmed by the end of the year and to hold its 2021 program announced before the pandemic, with only a delay towards the second half of the year . “ We are confident that we will have an exciting range of programs for our members, especially compared to other services. », Writes the company.

Lack of flagship series

To garner subscribers in the fourth quarter, it relies on season 4 of “The Crown”, one of its original flagship series, and season 2 of “The Witcher”. Between July and September, the few new popular series could also have played a role in the lower number of subscriptions: the biggest hits were the films “The Old Guard” (with Charlize Theron), watched by 78 million people. viewers a month after its release, and “Enola Holmes,” which was slated to hit theaters but eventually sold to Netflix.

The company is also developing more and more content for Asia and is strengthening its efforts in India. It gained just 177,000 new viewers in North America in three months, compared to a million in Asia. “ There is a saturation of Netflix in the United States. With the growth in the number of subscriptions slowing in the domestic market, the increase in revenues will likely come from the increase in price. Says Ross Benes, analyst at eMarketer. The company has just increased its rates in Canada and is preparing to do so next year in the United States, analysts said.

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Mediapro: a conciliation to get Téléfoot out of the deadlock



Posted on Oct 21, 2020 at 5:56 p.m.Updated Oct 21, 2020 6:21 PM

Mediapro, the Spanish company founded by Jaume Roures behind the Téléfoot channel which broadcasts most of football in France, sought Wednesday, during a press conference, to reassure clubs and fans that it was “Well there” for the next four years, as planned. His refusal to pay the October deadline of this season, in the amount of 172 million euros, had the effect of a bomb as his business model was already raising doubts and the deadline approaching of December.

“We have all the assets to find a solution and quickly meet our deadlines”, said Jaume Roures, stressing that he had “Not overpaid” its rights for 85% of matches in Ligue 1, acquired for 780 million euros per season in 2018. However, many unknowns remain after the announcement that same day by Mediapro of a conciliation procedure under the umbrella of the commercial court to find a solution to its financial difficulties.

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StopCovid becomes TousAntiCovid



Posted on Oct 22, 2020 at 1:05 p.m.Updated Oct 22, 2020, 1:23 PM

You liked StopCovid, you will love TousAntiCovid. The government is relaunching this Thursday its digital contact case tracking application through their smartphones. After the very slow start of the first version, the Ministry of Health and the Secretary of State for Digital Affairs hope this time to make it a truly useful tool in the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic.

Anonymity, volunteering … The general principles of the application co-developed by French public and private actors have not changed. By using the blutooth technology of smartphones owned by 75% of the French population, TousAntiCovid allows users who discover themselves to be contagious to invite people they have passed without knowing their identity to be tested, for example in transport. in common. Provided they have also installed the application.

A shortcut to the map of screening locations

With just 2.6 million downloads and probably far fewer actual activations of the app, StopCovid has so far only alerted 800 people. For the first users of StopCovid, an update of the application will be offered to them to switch to TousAntiCovid.

To encourage downloading, the government is betting that an application that is regularly enriched with information will be more attractive. Viewed more often, it should be activated more frequently.

Thus, TousAntiCovid also presents itself as an information center on the epidemic, for example listing the measures put in place by national and local authorities and grouping together on the same screen shortcuts to the map of screening locations, a generator of derogatory travel certificates for areas subject to curfews and the MesConseilsCovid service.

European incompatibility

Technically, on the other hand, the French government continues to bet on a centralized architecture, that is to say that anonymized data goes back to a state server, while most other European countries have favored a decentralized approach by having use of technologies from Google and Apple. Like StopCovid, TousAntiCovid will therefore not be compatible with similar applications in neighboring European countries.

While several studies estimated that such applications are only useful when more than 60% of a population activate them, the Ministry of Health argues on the contrary that ” the application is useful from the first downloads “. In any event, TousAntiCovid will also provide regular information on application usage figures.

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Technology

Blackpills wakes up app with distribution deals



Posted on Oct 22, 2020 at 6:56 p.m.Updated Oct 22, 2020, 9:11 PM

Many thought she had disappeared since the spring of 2019. But Blackpills, the French short content platform funded by Xavier Niel, has quietly survived while Studio +, Vivendi’s similar project, has definitely thrown in the towel. The platform even resumes the offensive – the day the American Quibi throws in the towel – by announcing that it has signed many distribution agreements in recent weeks with telecom operators or cable operators.

“We now have agreements with 25 operators in 20 countries, or an eligible audience of 300 million customers”, specifies Patrick Holzman (ex-Allociné), founder of the company with Daniel Marhely (ex-Deezer). These distributors integrate it into additional service packages. Blackpills claims a modest income – 6.5 million euros for 2020 – compared to what Jeff Katzenberg was aiming for, but in addition to having the merit of still existing, the platform says it has the ability to generate profits and self-finance.

A few weeks without application

Blackpills, launched in 2017, reached 4 million users in eighteen months worldwide, but must “Choose your battles”, as Patrick Holzman puts it: the company quickly stopped selling itself as an app as such. She has largely survived thanks to her studio, created in March 2019 and also producing for third parties: “Bonding”, whose season 2 will arrive on Netflix, and “Resist”, for YouTube, for example. “For a few weeks at most, maybe”, explains Patrick Holzman, the app has no longer been distributed by third parties in bouquets. But this activity has resumed and is accelerating.

All the French “telcos” distribute it, as well as Molotov. In the United States, it has agreements with Cablevision and Optimum. If his studio income – Blackpills has participated in the production of a hundred series, more or less short, and films – and that related to the app are roughly equivalent, the latter is more profitable.

Targeting

Blackpills – 15 employees, a capital split equally between the two founders, majority, and Xavier Niel, who has just under 50% – is also available as a stand-alone application in Belgium, Spain and Latin America. Billed 2.99 euros, it does not yet wish to communicate its number of subscribers directly or via distributors.

The app mainly offers series of short 5-10 minute episodes, like Quibi. But the difference, according to Patrick Holzman, is that Blackpills is aimed at a very specific niche audience, that of young people, with content – whose heroes are often female – that suit them. Quibi, with its large budget, also targeted families. In addition, Blackpills does not “Don’t lock yourself up” in a single format: it extends its productions and is not intended only for those who want to view them on their smartphone, explains Patrick Holzman.

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Huawei launches its alternative to Google Maps



Posted on Oct 22, 2020 at 6:11 PMUpdated Oct 22, 2020 6:25 PM

Huawei is not losing the north. Both figuratively and literally. After developing its own mobile operating system to dispense with Android and its in-house app store to compensate for the loss of the Google Play Store, the Chinese group launched its own smartphone navigation service on Thursday, available in 79 languages.

The new baby from the world’s second-largest phone maker is called Petal Maps. No doubt a reference to the lotus flower petals that make up the multinational’s red logo. It must replace Google Maps, which Huawei can no longer embark on all its new phones since the first US sanctions in May 2019.

The announcement was made by Richard Yu, the big boss of Huawei smartphones, on the occasion of the presentation of the new Mate 40, the latest addition to the group. For the moment, Petal Maps is admittedly only available in beta. Which means that developers will still work on it to enrich it.

The application is however pre-installed on all Mate 40s. Owners of older Huawei smartphones will be able to use it after a simple update. If the mayonnaise takes, Petal Maps could well eventually become an alternative to the three major existing services on the planet: Google Maps and Apple Maps for the “Western” world and Baidu Maps in China.

The best “map-makers” in the world

Concretely, Petal Maps offers 2D and 3D navigation as well as “step by step” navigation, with voice assistance. Another feature is the ability to zoom in and out with a simple wave of the hand. Users can also save their favorite restaurants in Petal Maps. For indications concerning public transport, Huawei will still have to work with transport networks, country by country, such as RATP in Paris.

We have worked with the best map-makers in the world, recalls Alex Huang, director of the consumer branch of Huawei France, without however giving names. Many features are still in development. We need users to indicate their geographic locations. This is exactly what happened when Google Maps started. “On this point, Huawei ensures that Petal Maps complies with the European GDPR. All location data is end-to-end encrypted, meaning it cannot be accessed by a third party.

It remains to be seen how Huawei will monetize this new service. Google Maps, for example, sells personalized and geolocated advertisements, paid highlights in response lists and earns a percentage on certain outside services. Other potential projects for Huawei: 360-degree views like on Google Street View and mapping of interiors, like airports …

Anyway, the launch of Petal Maps gives an additional argument to those who believe that the US sanctions are paradoxically a boon for Huawei and more generally for Chinese technological independence, a top priority for Chinese President Xi Jinping. The launch of such a service is however far from being a smooth river: riddled with errors, the first version of Maps in 2012 had forced Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, to apologize to users.

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Iliad sells part of its mobile towers in Poland



Posted on Oct 23, 2020 at 12:09 PMUpdated Oct 23, 2020, 12:15 PM

Things didn’t take long. A month after launching its friendly takeover bid for 2.2 billion euros on Polish mobile operator Play, Iliad, the parent company of Free, is already selling part of its new network in the country. Xavier Niel’s group will create a “tower company” bringing together the 7,000 mobile branches of Play and sell 60% of this company to the Spanish Cellnex for 800 million euros.

Free exports a model he knows well to Poland. In May 2019, Free had already sold part of its mobile towers in France to Cellnex for 1.4 billion euros. As in Poland, the operator then kept a minority stake (30%) in the company. Also with Cellnex, a similar operation in Italy, where Iliad launched in 2018, brought 600 million euros into the coffers.

More generally, this model is spreading in Europe. Faced with heavy investments in 5G or fiber, more and more operators are selling part of their mobile or fixed networks to specialized companies, in order to generate cash or get out of debt.

Stay number 1 and finance 5G

This time, the operation allows Iliad to reduce the buyout of Play by 800 million. This takeover bid, which must be completed at the end of November, is crucial for Iliad: by winning over the 15 million customers of Play, the leading mobile operator in Poland, Xavier Niel’s group becomes the 6th mobile operator in Europe, with 41 million euros. ‘subscribers. But it is far from being financially neutral, since it is also increasing its level of debt, with a debt / Ebitda ratio dropping from 2.2 to 3.2.

With this booty, Iliad will be able to densify its mobile network to remain the local number 1. The operation could also help the group to finance the deinstallation of the Huawei antennas used by Play, if ever Poland decides to ban the Chinese group from the 5G market. Finally, as in Italy, Free intends to arrive in Poland on the fixed market by bringing its Freeboxes. This too will require investment.

Poland, Cellnex’s third market

With this agreement, Cellnex meanwhile arrives in Poland, which becomes its 9th country. Over the course of the acquisitions, the Spanish became the first European “tower co”, with 61,000 pylons spread across Europe against only 7,000 in 2014. But it was not yet present in Eastern Europe.

In addition to the purchase of the 7,000 existing pylons, Cellnex has undertaken to build 5,000 new sites over ten years for 1.3 billion euros. Poland will then become its third market behind Italy and France, but ahead of Spain.

Poland is one of the largest economies in Eastern Europe, with almost 40 million inhabitants and a GDP which, in relative terms, is doing better than that of the European Union as a whole Explains Tobias Martinez, CEO of Cellnex. The Barcelona group does not intend to stop there: this summer, Cellnex carried out a capital increase of 4 billion euros to be able to finance future acquisitions in Europe, the amount of which could reach … 11 billion euros.

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Salto is expected to launch on October 20



Posted on Oct 12, 2020 at 1:50 p.m.Updated Oct 12, 2020, 2:18 PM

According to our information, Salto, the SVOD platform of France Télévisions, TF1, M6 should be launched on Tuesday, October 20. The date is still being kept secret, as is the press conference, which is due to take place this weekend.

The platform, the first major French offensive against Netflix, has been expected for several months. It had to postpone its commercial launch to the fall, instead of back to school, because of the health crisis. She had started her first tests in June, with a limited audience.

Salto, which is entering the very competitive SVOD (video on demand subscription) market, will offer both a catch-up offer for television programs and a few new ones.

If it does not have the means of American giants, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Disney +, it intends to distinguish itself by focusing on “made in France”. In September, within the framework of the Festival of fiction, Thomas Crosson, director of content, had indicated that he wanted to position himself as “the largest platform for French fiction”. However, Salto will not have an original creation at first.

Decrease in the number of daily users

The whole question is whether Salto will manage to find a place for itself against Netflix and others already well established. And this all the more so as according to the last “barometer of the effects of the crisis on the audiovisual sector” of the Superior council of audio-visual, the number of followers of the video on demand slowed down in September.

The number of daily users has fallen to less than 5 million (4.5 million), from over 5 million in the last months and even to over 6.6 million in the first half of April, under the combined effect of confinement, the launch of Disney + and season 4 of “Casa del Papel” on Netflix.

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In UK, TalkTalk discusses buyout by second shareholder



Posted on Oct 12, 2020 at 1:31 p.m.Updated Oct 12, 2020 1:40 PM

The fourth British operator in the fixed line, TalkTalk, was nevertheless considered as one of the centerpieces of a possible consolidation between players in the sector, across the Channel. It could finally be added, in the coming weeks, to the already long list of players in the sector who have chosen to withdraw from the rating… and temporarily from the game of consolidation between rivals.

After the recent announcement of the exit of the French company Altice Europe from the Stock Exchange and its takeover by Patrick Drahi; that of Spanish MasMovil by the KKR and Cinven funds; and now the views of the EQT fund on the Dutch KPN; the British operator created by billionaire Charles Dunstone said last week that it was in discussions for a takeover by its second shareholder, the hedge fund Toscafund, which already holds nearly 30%.

The fund, which has until November 5 to make a formal offer, proposes to take it back for 1.1 billion pounds (97 pence per share), or 2 billion including debt.

Declining valuation

TalkTalk, which generates 1.6 billion pounds in revenue across the Channel for 4.2 million customers, has not yet accepted the transaction. Charles Dunstone, who also owns nearly 30% and is its executive chairman, must first give the green light. But it could be tempted, insofar as the operator has been on sale for several years without ever having found a suitable buyer. And the counter-offers from its competitors do not seem to be jostling for the moment.

Its valuation has, however, as in the whole sector, fallen considerably. Toscafund made a first rejected attempt last year, going up to 135 pence. And although its new offer offers a premium of 26% over the average share price over the last three months, it remains below the 115 pence on the basis of which TalkTalk was split from Carphone Warehouse in 2010. And it does not represent more than a quarter of the peak recorded by the share price in 2015, despite operational performance which has since improved.

Vodafone and Three on other fronts

The merger of Virgin Media and O2 announced this year, which creates a second heavyweight across the Channel next to BT and its mobile EE activity (respectively 30% and 50% of sector revenues, according to Barclays) should also force the most small to react, first and foremost Vodafone (10% of revenues), or the subsidiary of Hutchison Three (6%).

But Vodafone is busy reducing its debt and acquiring broadband network infrastructure, where TalkTalk has already sold its own in fiber and above all has to offer a good customer base in broadband Internet and television. paying. As for Three and Hutchison, they have not shown interest in broadband acquisitions so far.