Bytes: What’s new in tech
States embrace net neutrality
The net neutrality fight is far from over, said Sean Captain in FastCompany.com. Following last month’s vote by the Federal Communications Commission to abandon net neutrality regulations, several states, including Washington, New York, and California, have begun “crafting their own net neutrality laws.” The laws could forbid internet service providers from “blocking or hindering access to legal online content sources” or from promoting “fast lane” premium broadband deals. The measures join “an expected flood” of lawsuits from consumer and activist groups questioning the validity of the FCC vote. The debate has grown increasingly bellicose, with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai beefing up his personal security in response to death threats and canceling an appearance at a major tech conference.
Amazon to sell ads on Alexa
“Amazon is turning to Alexa and asking it to build a big digital advertising business,” said Lauren Hirsch and Michelle Castillo in CNBC.com. The retail juggernaut is in talks with companies such as Procter & Gamble on promotional opportunities available via its Echo speakers and Alexa, its AI assistant. Early discussions indicate the companies may “pay for a higher placement” in searches, similar to Google’s paid searches. Amazon has done very little advertising on its Echo speakers so far, so “the move could mean big things for consumer companies fretting about their influence on a voice-powered shopping experience.” One option being discussed for Alexa includes “letting companies target users based on past shopping behavior.” For instance, “Alexa may suggest to a shopper who previously bought Clorox’s Pine-Sol to consider buying its disinfecting wipes.”
Nintendo caps blockbuster year
The Nintendo Switch console is “the fastest-selling home video game system in U.S. history,” said David Ewalt in Forbes.com. The Switch, priced at $299 and pitched as a hybrid console that gamers can play with or without a plug-in monitor, has sold nearly 5 million units in 10 months. That surpasses the previous biggest seller, Nintendo’s own Wii, which moved 4 million units in a 10-month period in 2006. The news capped a bumper 2017 for the Japanese video game behemoth. In addition to the Switch, the company also launched two well-received new titles in its blockbuster gaming series Zelda and Super Mario. ■