Архив рубрики: COVID-19

Auto Added by WPeMatico

Newzoo forecasts 2020 global games industry will reach $159 billion

Games and esports analytics firm Newzoo released its highly cited annual report on the size and state of the video gaming industry yesterday. The firm is predicting 2020 global game industry revenue from consumers of $159.3 billion, a 9.3% increase year-over-year. Newzoo predicts the market will surpass $200 billion by the end of 2023.
Importantly, the data excludes in-game advertising revenue (which surged +59% during COVID-19 lockdowns, according to Unity) and the market of gaming digital assets traded between consumers. Advertising within games is a meaningful source of revenue for many mobile gaming companies. In-game ads in just the U.S. drove roughly $3 billion in industry revenue last year, according to eMarketer.
To compare with gaming, the global markets for other media and entertainment formats are:
Pay TV: $226 billion in 2019 (excludes streaming services)
Publishing: $261 billion in 2017, of which books accounted for $121 billion
Film: $101 billion in 2019 ($42.5 billion from box office)
Music: $62 billion in 2017 ($30 billion recorded music, $6 billion music publishing, $26 billion live music)
Board games and playing cards: $12 billion in 2018
Podcasting: $863 million 2020 advertising revenue (there is no good data on subscription and live events revenue in podcasting, but it is fair to estimate it at a fraction of the total ad revenue figure)
Counting gamers
Of 7.8 billion people on the planet, 4.2 billion (53.6%) of whom have internet connectivity, 2.69 billion will play video games this year, and Newzoo predicts that number to reach three billion in 2023. It broke down the current geographic distribution of gamers as:
1,447 million (54%) in Asia-Pacific
386 million (14%) in Europe
377 million (14%) in Middle East & Africa
266 million (10%) in Latin America
210 million (8%) in North America

Newzoo forecasts 2020 global games industry will reach $159 billion

UK gives up on centralized coronavirus contacts-tracing app — will ‘likely’ switch to model backed by Apple and Google

The UK has given up building a centralized coronavirus contacts-tracing app and will instead switch to a decentralized app architecture, the BBC has reported. This suggests its any future app will be capable of plugging into the joint ‘exposure notification’ API which has been developed in recent weeks by Apple and Google.
The UK’s decision to abandon a bespoke app architecture comes more than a month after ministers had been reported to be eyeing such a switch. They went on to award a contract to an IT supplier to develop a decentralized tracing app in parallel as a backup — while continuing to test the centralized app, which is called NHS COVID-19.
At the same time, a number of European countries have now successfully launched contracts-tracing apps with a decentralized app architecture that’s able to plug into the ‘Gapple’ API — including Denmark, Germany, Italy, Latvia and Switzerland. Several more such apps remain in testing. While EU Member States just agreed on a technical framework to enable cross-border interoperability of apps based on the same architecture.
Germany — which launched the decentralized ‘Corona Warning App’ this week — announced its software had been downloaded 6.5M times in the first 24 hours. The country had initially appeared to favor a centralized approach but switched to a decentralized model back in April in the face of pushback from privacy and security experts.
The UK’s NHS COVID-19 app, meanwhile, has not progressed past field tests, after facing a plethora of technical barriers and privacy challenges — as a direct consequence of the government’s decision to opt for a proprietary system which uploads proximity data to a central server, rather than processing exposure notifications locally on device.
Apple and Google’s API, which is being used by all Europe’s decentralized apps, does not support centralized app architectures — meaning the UK app faced technical hurdles related to accessing Bluetooth in the background. The centralized choice also raised big questions around cross-border interoperability, as we’ve explained before. Questions had also been raised over the risk of mission creep and a lack of transparency and legal certainty over what would be done with people’s data.
So the UK’s move to abandon the approach and adopt a decentralized model is hardly surprising — although the time it’s taken the government to arrive at the obvious conclusion does raise some major questions over its competence at handling technology projects.
Michael Veale, a lecturer in digital rights and regulation at UCL — who has been involved in the development of the DP3T decentralized contacts-tracing standard, which influenced Apple and Google’s choice of API — welcomed the UK’s decision to ditch a centralized app architecture but questioned why the government has wasted so much time.
“This is a welcome, if a heavily and unnecessarily delayed, move by NHSX,” Veale told TechCrunch. “The Google -Apple system in a way is home-grown: Originating with research at a large consortium of universities led by Switzerland and including UCL in the UK. NHSX has no end of options and no reasonable excuse to not get the app out quickly now. Germany and Switzerland both have high quality open source code that can be easily adapted. The NHS England app will now be compatible with Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and also the many destinations for holidaymakers in and out of the UK.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, UK ministers are now heavily de-emphasizing the importance of having an app in the fight against the coronavirus at all.
The Department for Health and Social Care’s, Lord Bethell, told the Science and Technology Committee yesterday the app will not now be ready until the winter. “We’re seeking to get something going for the winter, but it isn’t a priority for us,” he said.
Yet the centralized version of the NHS COVID-19 app has been in testing in a limited geographical pilot on the Isle of Wight since early May — and up until the middle of last month health minister, Matt Hancock, had said it would be rolled out nationally in mid May.
Of course that timeframe came and went without launch. And now the prospect of the UK having an app at all is being booted right into the back end of the year.
Compare and contrast that with government messaging at its daily coronavirus briefings back in May — when Hancock made “download the app” one of the key slogans — and the word ‘omnishambles‘ springs to mind…
NHSX relayed our request for comment on the switch to a decentralized system and the new timeframe for an app launch to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) — but the department had not responded to us at the time of publication.
Earlier this week the BBC reported that a former Apple executive, Simon Thompson, was taking charge of the delayed app project — while the two lead managers, the NHSX’s Matthew Gould and Geraint Lewis — were reported to be stepping back.
Back in April, Gould told the Science and Technology Committee the app would “technically” be ready to launch in 2-3 weeks’ time, though he also said any national launch would depend on the preparedness of a wider government program of coronavirus testing and manual contacts tracing. He also emphasized the need for a major PR campaign to educate the public on downloading and using the app.
Government briefings to the press today have included suggestions that app testers on the Isle of Wight told it they were not comfortable receiving COVID-19 notifications via text message — and that the human touch of a phone call is preferred.
However none of the European countries that have already deployed contacts-tracing apps has promoted the software as a one-stop panacea for tackling COVID-19. Rather tracing apps are intended to supplement manual contacts-tracing methods — the latter involving the use of trained humans making phone calls to people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to ask who they might have been in contact with over the infectious period.
Even with major resource put into manual contacts-tracing, apps — which use Bluetooth signals to estimate proximity between smartphone users in order to calculate virus expose risk — could still play an important role by, for example, being able to trace strangers who are sat near an infected person on public transport.
Update: The DHSC has now issued a statement addressing reports of the switch of app architecture for the NHS COVID-19 app — in which it confirms, in between reams of blame-shifting spin, that it’s testing a new app that is able to plug into the Apple and Google API — and which it says it may go on to launch nationally, but without providing any time frame.
It also claims it’s working with Apple and Google to try to enhance how their technology estimates the distance between smartphone users.
“Through the systematic testing, a number of technical challenges were identified — including the reliability of detecting contacts on specific operating systems — which cannot be resolved in isolation with the app in its current form,” DHSC writes of the centralized NHS COVID-19 app.
“While it does not yet present a viable solution, at this stage an app based on the Google / Apple API appears most likely to address some of the specific limitations identified through our field testing.  However, there is still more work to do on the Google / Apple solution which does not currently estimate distance in the way required.”
“Based on this, the focus of work will shift from the current app design and to work instead with Google and Apple to understand how using their solution can meet the specific needs of the public,” it adds. 
We reached out to Apple and Google for comment. Apple declined to comment.
According to one source, the UK has been pressing for the tech giants’ API to include device model and RSSI info alongside the ephemeral IDs which devices that come into proximity exchange with each other — presumably to try to improve distance calculations via a better understanding of the specific hardware involved.
However introducing additional, fixed pieces of device-linked data would have the effect of undermining the privacy protections baked into the decentralized system — which uses ephemeral, rotating IDs in order to prevent third party tracking of app users. Any fixed data-points being exchanged would risk unpicking the whole anti-tracking approach.
Norway, another European country which opted for a centralized approach for coronavirus contacts tracing — but got an app launched in mid April — made the decision to suspend its operation this week, after an intervention by the national privacy watchdog. In that case the app was collecting both GPS and Bluetooth —  posing a massive privacy risk. The watchdog warned the public health agency the tool was no longer a proportionate intervention — owing to what are now low levels of coronavirus risk in the country.

UK gives up on centralized coronavirus contacts-tracing app — will ‘likely’ switch to model backed by Apple and Google

This Week in Apps: Houseparty battles Messenger, Telegram drops crypto plans, Instagram Lite is gone

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that recaps the latest OS news, the applications they support and the money that flows through it all.
The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People are now spending 3 hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.
In this Extra Crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps, delivered on a weekly basis.
This week we’re continuing to look at how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting the world of mobile applications, including the latest news about COVID-19 apps, Facebook and Houseparty’s battle to dominate the online hangout, the game that everyone’s playing during quarantine, and more. We also look at the new allegations against TikTok, the demise of a popular “Lite” app, new apps offering parental controls, Telegram killing its crypto plans and many other stories, including a hefty load of funding and M&A.
Headlines
Contact tracing and COVID-19 apps in the news 
Global: WHO readies its coronavirus app for symptom-checking and possibly contact tracing. A WHO official told Reuters on Friday the new app will ask people about their symptoms and offer guidance on whether they may have COVID-19. Information on testing will be personalized to the user’s country. The organization is considering adding a Bluetooth-based, contact-tracing feature, too. A version of the app will launch globally, but individual countries will be able to use the underlying technology and add features to release their own versions. Engineers from Google and Microsoft have volunteered their time over the past few weeks to develop the app, which is available open-source on GitHub.
U.S.: Apple’s COVID-19 app, developed in partnership with the CDC, FEMA and the White House, received its first major update since its March debut. The new version includes recommendations for healthcare workers to align with CDC guidelines, best practices for quarantining if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and new information for pregnancy and newborns.
India: New Delhi’s contact-tracing app, Aarogya Setu, has reached 100 million users out of India’s total 450 million smartphone owners in 41 days after its release, despite privacy concerns. The app helps users self-assess if they caught COVID-19 by answering a series of questions and will alert them if they came into contact with someone who’s infected. The app has come under fire for how it stores user location data and logs the details for those reporting symptoms. The app is required to use Indian railways, which has boosted adoption.
Iceland: Iceland has one of the most-downloaded contact-tracing apps, with 38% of its population using it. But despite this, the country said it has not been a “game-changer” in terms of tracking the virus and only worked well when coupled with manual contact tracing — meaning phone calls that asked who someone had been in contact with. In addition, the low download rate indicates it may be difficult to get people to use these apps when they launch in larger markets.
Consumer advocacy groups say TikTok is still violating COPPA

This Week in Apps: Houseparty battles Messenger, Telegram drops crypto plans, Instagram Lite is gone

Daily Crunch: Uber will require masks for drivers and passengers

Uber announces some COVID-19 related changes, Google’s Chrome browser is giving users a way to organize their tabs and the Senate rejects an amendment that would have raised the bar for law enforcement access to browsing data.
Here’s your Daily Crunch for May 14, 2020.
1. Here’s how your Uber ride will change, starting May 18
The changes — which include an online checklist for all rides, limits on the number of passengers in vehicles and a face mask verification feature for drivers — are designed to stop the spread of COVID-19, the company said Wednesday.
Riders and drivers, as well as delivery workers and even restaurants that use Uber Eats, will have the power to report unsafe COVID-19 behavior and give low ratings. For instance, a delivery worker can give feedback that a restaurant doesn’t have proper protocols in place, such as social distancing.
2. Google Chrome will finally help you organize your tabs
Google announced the launch of “tab groups” for the beta version of its web browser, which will allow you to organize, label and even color-code your tabs for easy access. The feature will make its way to the stable release of Chrome starting next week.
3. Senate narrowly rejects plan to require a warrant for Americans’ browsing data
Senators have narrowly rejected a bipartisan amendment that would have required the government first obtain a warrant before accessing Americans’ web browsing data. The amendment brought by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) would have forced the government to first establish probable cause (or reasonable suspicion of a crime) to obtain the warrant.
4. Kustomer acquires Reply.ai to enhance chatbots on its CRM platform
Reply.ai is a startup originally founded in Madrid that has built a code-free platform for companies to create customized chatbots to handle customer service inquiries. Its customers include Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Samsung.
5. Why we’re doubling down on cloud investments right now
Three investors at Bessemer Venture Partners argue that COVID-19 is a turning point for the cloud and cloud company founders, and that the cloud model offers businesses a promising future in the age of social distancing and beyond. (Extra Crunch membership required.)
6. Facebook, telcos to build huge subsea cable for Africa and Middle East
The project, called 2Africa, will see the companies lay cables that will stretch to 37,000km (22,990 miles) and interconnect Europe (eastward via Egypt), the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia) and 21 landings in 16 countries in Africa.
7. 7 top mobility VCs discuss COVID-19 strategies and trends
TechCrunch spoke to seven venture capitalists about how COVID-19 affected their portfolio and investment strategy, their current advice for startup founders and where they think the next hot opportunity will be. (Extra Crunch membership required.)
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Daily Crunch: Uber will require masks for drivers and passengers

An already struggling smartphone market takes a big hit from COVID-19

Quarter after quarter, familiar stories have appeared. The smartphone market, once seemingly bulletproof, has suffered. The list of factors is long, and I’ve written about them ad nauseam here, but the CliffsNotes version is: costs are too high, innovation is too incremental and most people already own a device that will be plenty good for the next few years.
But 2020 was going to be different. Smartphone makers were set to finally give consumers a reason to upgrade in the form of 5G. The first handsets appeared in earnest last year, but between a much wider carrier roll out, lower-cost 5G radios from Qualcomm and the arrival of a 5G iPhone, this was going to be the year the next-gen wireless technology helped reverse the smartphone slide.
And then COVID-19 disrupted everything. For many of us, life is on hold — and will likely continue to be for months. I’m writing this from my home in Queens, N.Y., the hardest-hit county in the hardest-hit country in the world. It still feels strange to type that, even though it’s been a reality for a month and half now.
Purchasing a smartphone is most likely the last thing on anyone’s mind during what is shaping up to be the worst global pandemic since the 1918 flu pandemic. With a number of key manufacturers reporting quarterly earnings this week, the numbers are starting to bear out this disconnect. Earlier this week, both Samsung and LG reported weak mobile numbers. Yesterday, Apple reported revenue of $28.96 billion, down from $31.1 billion the same time last year.
More troubling, all three companies appeared to be united in suggesting that the worst might be yet to come. Samsung suggested that both mobile and TV demand would “decline significantly” in the following quarter. LG used virtually the same exact wording, stating that, “market demand is expected to decline significantly YoY due to COVID-19 pandemic.” For its part, Apple simply didn’t issue guidance for the next quarter, a surefire indication of uncertainty in these uncertain times — to borrow a phrase from every commercial airing currently.

An already struggling smartphone market takes a big hit from COVID-19