Disney bets the House of Mouse on streaming

The Mandalorian will be a Star Wars series exclusive to Disney+ Image copyright Disney
Image caption The Mandalorian will be a Star Wars series exclusive to Disney+

There’s no question Disney produces incredible entertainment. The firm has had us laughing, crying and falling in love with its characters for almost 100 years.

But the launch of its eagerly-anticipated streaming service Disney+ - which goes live in the US, Canada and the Netherlands on Tuesday - will mean the legendary House of Mouse will need to be able to compete not just on programming, but technology too.

"We're making a huge statement about the future of media and entertainment and our continued ability to thrive in this new era,” chief executive Bob Iger said on a call with his shareholders last week.

They’d just been informed of a 66% drop in profits, and a 50% rise in costs, mostly attributed to the move to streaming. Creating the Disney+ platform has been, and will continue to be, a hugely costly exercise - with no guarantee the rewards will ever materialise.

On the tech side, in 2017 the firm spent $1.58bn (£1.22bn) - in addition to $1bn it had already invested - to gain control of BamTech, a Manhattan-based streaming media specialist that previously helped US broadcaster HBO set up its streaming services.

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Fitbit shares halted on Google takeover report

Woman running while wearing a Fitbit device Image copyright Fitbit
Image caption Fitbit trails Huawei, Apple and Xiaomi in global wearable sales

Shares in fitness device maker Fitbit were suspended on Monday after a report said Google had bid to buy the firm.

Reuters reported that the companies were in negotiations but no deal had been agreed.

Read full article Fitbit shares halted on Google takeover report

Facebook's partners yet to commit money to Libra

Mark Zuckerberg will appear before the House Financial Services committee on Wednesday
Image caption Mark Zuckerberg will appear before the House Financial Services committee on Wednesday

None of the 20 firms partnering with Facebook on its Libra cryptocurrency project have yet committed to financially backing the effort, the BBC understands.

Facebook said in June the founding partners would be expected to each inject $10m, but so far no agreement has been made, and the fee was not discussed at the Libra Association’s first general assembly last week, according to several sources.

Read full article Facebook's partners yet to commit money to Libra

Netflix feels the pressure as competitors circle

Stranger Things publicity photo Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Big hits like Stranger Things have not driven subscriber growth in Netflix's home country

As the famed and admired early-mover in the high-quality streaming industry, Netflix has built a formidable business worth in the region of $125bn. In the past three months, it added 6.7 million new subscribers, bringing its total userbase to 153 million worldwide.

But the next three months will prove to be its most challenging yet. Soon, Netflix will be competing with Disney+, HBO Max and Apple TV+ - all companies with enormous brand recognition and a strong desire to take their own slice of streaming’s riches.

Read full article Netflix feels the pressure as competitors circle

Robot hand solves Rubik’s cube, but not the grand challenge

The robot hand took, on average, around four minutes to solve the Rubik's cube Image copyright OpenAI
Image caption The robot hand took, on average, around four minutes to solve the Rubik's cube

A remarkable robot, capable of solving a Rubik’s cube single-handedly, has demonstrated just how far robotics has advanced - but at the same time, experts say, how far we still have to go.

OpenAI’s system used a computer simulation to teach the robot hand to solve the cube, running through routines that would take a single human some 10,000 years to complete.

Read full article Robot hand solves Rubik’s cube, but not the grand challenge

Facebook puts on brave face with Libra

Libra logo Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Libra Association said it was on track to launch in 2020

After five major payments providers pulled out last week, Facebook’s Libra currency project looked to be on the rocks.

But the remaining members have insisted it’s full steam ahead.

Read full article Facebook puts on brave face with Libra

Twitter 'inadvertently' used email addresses for ads

Twitter has said it could not say how many users had been affected Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Twitter has said it could not say how many users had been affected

Twitter has apologised for "unintentionally" using email addresses and phone numbers, provided by users for account security, to enable targeted advertising.

The company said third-party marketers may have been able to reach specific users on Twitter based on contact details, even if the user had not wished the information be used this way.

Read full article Twitter 'inadvertently' used email addresses for ads

Blocking research with China would 'hurt', Microsoft boss says

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Media captionWATCH: Satya Nadella on Microsoft's work in China

Microsoft does more research and development in China than it does anywhere else outside the United States. But, as US-China relations continue to sour on issues of trade and cyber-security, the decades-long ties Microsoft has in China are coming under close scrutiny.

In an interview with BBC News, Microsoft's chief executive Satya Nadella has said that despite national security concerns, backing out of China would “hurt more” than it solved.

Read full article Blocking research with China would 'hurt', Microsoft boss says

Microsoft bets on foldable, though not bendable, devices

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Media captionWATCH: Hands-on with Microsoft's new foldable devices

Microsoft has unveiled two folding devices, with dual touch screens, which it says will create a new category in mobile computing.

But, unlike attempts from its rivals, the firm has not adopted a bendable screen - nor has it decided to include a high-end camera system on the products.

Read full article Microsoft bets on foldable, though not bendable, devices

Heads up - why tech is in a race for your face

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Media captionWATCH: Hands on with Amazon's Alexa-integrated glasses

If there’s one thing technology companies learned during the smartphone boom, it’s that getting people locked in early is the difference between success and failure.

Customers are simply unwilling, at least in any significant number, to leave whatever ecosystem they’ve invested in - whether it’s Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android.

Read full article Heads up - why tech is in a race for your face