Western regulators may be treading lightly with their antitrust probes to prop up the search giant as a stalwart in the global fight over Internet freedoms.
That's because the allegations of Google's antitrust violations were serious.
First, its use of patents obtained when it acquired Motorola Mobility was abusive. The Motorola patents dealt with essential mobile-phone functions, licensed under terms of of the Fair, Reasonable and Non Discriminatory (FRAND) standards.
Hollywood's own online video service has been no match for its rivals. Now its owners are under pressure to pony up more money to expand the service.
As Amazon.com (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) battle it out for dominance in online video, owners of the much smaller Hulu, Hollywood's own online video service, are under pressure to decide which direction to go.
Jason Kilar, the chief executive of Hulu, has asked the site's owners -- Walt Disney (DIS), Comcast (CMCSA) and News Corp. (NWSA) -- for about $200 million to fund more program purchases and an overseas expansion, according to people familiar with the situation. That is roughly twice the amount they contributed this year, one person said.
The request to sink more money into the unprofitable, 5-year-old venture has put the spotlight on differences between Disney and News Corp. -- the two voting partners -- over Hulu's business model, which involves both a free service and a fledgling subscription offering. (For regulatory reasons, Comcast, the majority owner of NBCUniversal, can't vote its stake.)
For now, these machines are helping workers, not competing with them. But that could change as faster processors and improved sensors enhance robots' capabilities.
The robots are coming. Resistance is futile. From car factories to microprocessor plants to fulfillment warehouses, a single robot can now handle tasks that once took hundreds of man-hours to complete. This relentless march of automation is causing economic upheaval. As time goes on, companies will become more productive and more efficient, but the amount of human labor required will decrease, as will paychecks. The sentient worker will be reduced to a relic of a simpler age.
This is what we've been told, anyway.
To some economists, stubbornly high unemployment rates in the United States and Europe are at least partly attributable to the rise of machines.
The photo-sharing site, which hoped to make money from pictures that users post, has dropped a plan to sell those images to advertisers.
Facebook (FB), known for upsetting users with constant changes to its policies, has another headache to deal with.
Instagram, the photo-sharing site Facebook acquired earlier this year, planned to change its terms of service as of Jan. 16 to allow photos to be used in advertisements on Instagram and, potentially, on Facebook. Under the change, the photographer wouldn't receive compensation, while Instagram and Facebook would.
Instagram users were justifiably outraged, and some deleted their accounts. The backlash forced Instagram to beat a hasty retreat; it decided not to grant itself permission for royalty-free use of its users' images in advertisements.
Having cut the cord 12 months ago, a long-time subscriber answers the question: Is it possible to survive on Netflix and Hulu alone?
How are you? Can you believe it's been a year since we last saw each other? I remember handing the cable guy my set-top box like it was yesterday.
So much has happened since then. The last of the remaining cool characters on "Boardwalk Empire" got offed. Zombies have officially overtaken vampires as the monster du jour thanks to "The Walking Dead." And Carrie on "Homeland" has consumed about 10 gallons of Pinot Grigio.
You see, Cable, breaking up with you didn't mean the end of my entertainment universe. I wanted to let you know that I'm happy. Me and Internet TV? We're getting along great. I spent 36 hours with her last weekend watching three seasons of "Damages," and she didn't mind that I never changed out of my sweatpants.
When I pressed "Off" on that 64-button remote of yours for the last time, I was relieved. No more $175 monthly bills! No more Honey Boo Boo! No more Guy Fieri!
But I was scared, too. Would I be OK with most of the American public watching "Bob's Burgers" a day before I could see it on Hulu? Would paying $35 for a season of "Mad Men" in HD sting as much as a cable bill? Would I be too ashamed to ask my parents for access to their HBO Go account?
I survived. But I'd be lying if I said I don't think about you every once in a while.
Don't misunderstand me. I'm glad we went our separate ways. You still act like such a jerk. When are you going to learn that it's wrong to force people to buy hundreds of channels they don't watch when they really only want a dozen or so? I know, I know -- that's just how the business works; it's how you've made money for decades. But have you ever thought about how that makes the people you're supposed to care about, i.e., your subscribers, feel?
Sometimes I think you're missing a sensitivity chip. You should watch more Oprah and fewer house-flipping programs.
Internet TV? It respects me. It's progressive. It lets me choose what I want to watch, when I want to watch, whether a show I buy through my Apple TV or some foreign movie I stream on Hulu Plus that makes me feel like an artsy college student again.
I can even watch live sports on Aereo. It'll never force me to subscribe to a channel with a show about pawnshop owners making customized bikes for ghost-hunting housewives.
No one's perfect, though. The "New Releases" section of Netflix (NFLX) seems to have the same selections week after week. The latest season of "The Walking Dead" in HD costs $43 on iTunes -- add subscriptions to a few more shows and I might as well be paying for cable. And whenever I'm interrupted halfway through a show by a buffering circle, I think about how quick and reliable you were.
That's the thing, Cable: You were boring to a fault, but you worked the way you were supposed to most of the time. At one point, you were a necessity, like water and electricity. But these days, I see you as a luxury product.
You do what you do exceedingly well -- but you charge way too much for the privilege.
I've seen you grow over the past year: Letting folks watch on their iPads. Giving access to primo content from HBO and ESPN on pretty much everything -- tablets, smartphones, laptops, an Xbox 360. This "TV everywhere" approach is a step in the right direction. It almost makes up for the fact that you're so expensive. Almost.
So where does that leave us? I've thought about you a lot. You don't make it easy to let go. Every few weeks I get something in the mail from you -- Triple Play! Double Play! It's sweet, but I find it hard to forget how awful you could be -- jacking up your rates out of the blue, charging me a monthly fee for a DVR that only worked half of the time.
When I quit you last year, I told you, "It's not you. It's me." Well, I lied. It was mostly you.
I'm learning to forgive you. But you have to change. It's easy, really: Let me pay for just the channels I want -- say, $100 a month for my choice of 20 instead of $175 for hundreds. If you do that, you can move your set-top box back to where my Apple TV now sits.
Do I miss you? Sometimes. Will we ever be together again? Perhaps. But not today. And not tomorrow. For now, let's just be friends. I'll still see you at my parents' place over the holidays, OK?
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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages finished the session on a lower note as the S&P 500 lost 0.4% while the Nasdaq shed 0.1%. The Russell 2000, which paced the retreat on Tuesday and Wednesday, added 0.2%, trimming its December loss to 3.5%.
After spending the first half of the session in a steady retreat, the S&P 500 found technical support in the 1772 area. Upon reaching that level, the index reversed sharply, and marched back to its flat line. There was no particular catalyst ... More
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