It’s that time again: News You Can Use! Here on the CallRail blog, we like to do periodical roundups of the latest headlines in marketing and technology, and break down what these developments might mean for your company in the short- and long-term with some tech news analysis.

After all, staying on top of the latest news isn’t just good civics — it’s good for business. With that throat-clearing out of the way, let’s get to the news.

1) 5G upgrade cycle continues with $3.5bn T-Mobile-Ericsson deal (Reuters)

We spoke about the coming 5G upgrade cycle in a previous edition of News You Can Use, when T-Mobile and Nokia announced a manufacturing partnership to produce next-generation 5G wireless hardware. T-Mobile is continuing to bet big on 5G, as they’ve just announced a similar partnership with Swedish telecom manufacturer Ericsson.

Like their deal with Nokia, T-Mobile will be serving as the main supply chain for a new class of 5G cellular hardware to be rolled out across the globe. Telecom companies tout that 5G technology will offer greater range, speeds, and ease-of-use over the current 4G standard.

As with the previous announcement, this deal is more great news for business and marketers: Ever-increasing connectivity via always-online smart devices will offer you plenty of ways to make sure you’re always top-of-mind for customers.

2) U.S. DOJ to investigate social media platforms for alleged bias (Washington Post)

The U.S. Department of Justice has warned that social media companies may be “intentionally stifling free speech” and harming competition. The announcement — which did not identify the offending policies or acts of censorship in question — echoes recent complaints made by the U.S. president that social media platforms are biased against certain political views.

The DOJ made its announcement at the conclusion of a fraught Senate hearing, in which Facebook and Twitter executives faced sharp questioning over whether the platforms are purposefully limiting the reach of specific viewpoints.

Legal experts and technology analysts have raised concerns that these mounting allegations of as-yet-unproven bias will have a chilling effect on free speech. “This could be a very serious broadside against the entire Internet industry coordinated by multiple layers of government,” said Eric Goldman, co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University.

Businesses and marketers should keep a close eye on an upcoming meeting of US attorneys general about the issue. Any kind of broad regulatory action taken against platforms like Google, Twitter, or Facebook could have serious repercussions for how the industry operates.

3) EU Parliament greenlights controversial copyright reforms (NBC News)

In a move that critics have decried as a “catastrophe for free speech,” the European Union Parliament has voted to proceed with a controversial set of copyright reforms that may force Google, Facebook, and other platforms to share more revenue with content creators.

Under the EU Parliament’s proposed guidelines, tech platforms would also be fully liable for copyright-infringing material hosted on their platforms. Previously, lawmakers had rejected the hardline proposal when it was brought before the European Parliament in a late-July session.

At issue are two main points of contention: First, companies like Google and Facebook would be forced to pay publishers for displaying news snippets under the proposed regulations. The other issue is mandatory upload filtering, which would require platforms like YouTube, Dropbox, Github, and Instagram to deploy filters to prevent users from uploading copyrighted materials.

The outcome of this process could have wide-ranging implications for Europe and beyond, forcing a fundamental restructuring of these tech platforms in order for them to operate in the EU. In a worst-case scenario, these tech platforms could opt to pull out of the EU entirely (as they’ve threatened before).

4) Wall St. regulators signal launch of wider crackdown on cryptocurrencies (Reuters)

Wall Street watchdogs have announced a series of punitive actions against against companies involved with or trading in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The sudden burst of activity — which includes big regulatory fines for a handful of firms — signals the start of what analysts expect will be a wide-ranging effort to regulate the use of cryptocurrencies.

Securities regulators are taking an increasingly close look the use of cryptocurrencies, arguing that most forms of the virtual payment tokens can be considered financial securities under current U.S. law. If upheld in court, that precedent would make the issuance, sale, or trading of cryptocurrency subject to federal law and regulations.

Cryptocurrency is considered a white-hot (if somewhat unstable) investment asset, due to the near-total absence of oversight surrounding its use. While the dreaded R-word of regulation often sends investors running in the opposite direction, formal regulation of cryptocurrency could end up being a net positive for investors who aren’t algorithm-assisted flash traders, or members of high-end financial firms.

5) U.S. ‘smart speaker’ adoption growing at brisk pace (TechCrunch)

Ownership of ‘smart speaker’ devices — like Amazon Echo or Google Home — is growing at a brisk pace in the U.S. according to new research by Adobe Analytics. The company found that as of August 2018, an estimated 32 percent of consumers now own a smart speaker device. That number represents a sharp jump from the 28 percent of consumers reported in January of this year.

That amounts to a 14 percent increase in a little more than a half-year. Impressively, this growth occurred during months outside of the holiday sales season, the period that has accounted for nearly 80 percent of smart speaker sales. Adobe is also predicting that by the close of the 2018 holiday season, nearly half of all U.S. consumers will own a smart speaker device.

And perhaps most tantalizingly of all, the report revealed that 30 percent of smart speaker owners have used their device for shopping or ordering items. Additionally, 47 percent of respondents said they use their device for product research, 43 percent use them to create shopping lists, and 32 percent use them for price-comparison.

As we’ve noted before on the CallRail blog, the intersection of speech-recognition and mobile technology is a new, exciting, and largely unexplored frontier in marketing and e-commerce. Marketers will soon find ways to leverage this technology and ensure their products are always presented to the right audience at the right time, making the path to purchase simpler than ever.

Do you have thoughts about how these developments could affect your business? Head over to the CallRail Community to connect with other marketing professionals and share your opinion.

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