Meta and other tech giants form metaverse standards body, without Apple

Meta and other tech giants form metaverse standards body, without Apple
A logo of Meta Platforms Inc. is seen at its booth in Paris, France June 17, 2022. (Reuters)
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Updated 22 June 2022

Meta and other tech giants form metaverse standards body, without Apple

Meta and other tech giants form metaverse standards body, without Apple
  • Introducing such a device would put Apple in direct competition with Meta, which has staked its future on the growth of the metaverse

Meta, Microsoft and other tech giants racing to build the emerging metaverse concept have formed a group to foster development of industry standards that would make the companies’ nascent digital worlds compatible with each other.
Participants in the Metaverse Standards Forum include many of the biggest companies working in the space, from chip makers to gaming companies, as well as established standards-setting bodies like the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the group said in an statement announcing its creation on Tuesday.
Conspicuously missing from the member list for now however is Apple, which analysts expect to become a dominant player in the metaverse race once it introduces a mixed reality headset this year or next.
Gaming companies Roblox and Niantic also were not included among the forum’s participants, nor were emerging crypto-based metaverse platforms like The Sandbox or Decentraland.
Apple has not yet publicly acknowledged plans for a headset, although it has reportedly given its board a sneak peek of the product, according to Bloomberg. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the new metaverse forum.
Introducing such a device would put Apple in direct competition with Meta, which has staked its future on the growth of the metaverse and invested heavily in hardware to make its vision of interconnected virtual worlds a reality.
Meta, known as Facebook until it changed its name as part of its metaverse pivot last year, has disclosed plans for a mixed-reality headset code-named “Cambria” to be released this year.
Apple has been heavily involved in creating web standards such as HTML5 in the past. For three-dimensional content in the metaverse, Apple worked with Pixar on the “USDZ” file format and with Adobe to ensure it supported the format.
Neil Trevett, an executive at chip maker Nvidia who is chairing the Metaverse Standards Forum, said in a statement to Reuters that any company is welcome to join the group, including participants from the crypto world.
The forum aims to facilitate communication between a variety of standards organizations and companies to bring about “real-world interoperability” in the metaverse, he said, without addressing how Apple’s absence would affect that goal.


Google hit with antitrust complaint by Danish job search rival

Google hit with antitrust complaint by Danish job search rival
Updated 27 June 2022

Google hit with antitrust complaint by Danish job search rival

Google hit with antitrust complaint by Danish job search rival
  • The complaint could accelerate EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s scrutiny of Google for Jobs

BRUSSELS: Google was hit with an antitrust complaint on Monday after a Danish online job-search rival took its grievance to EU regulators, alleging the Alphabet unit had unfairly favored its own job search service.
The complaint could accelerate EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s scrutiny of the service, Google for Jobs, three years after it first came under her microscope. Since then the EU has taken no specific action relating to the online job-search sector.
The European Commission and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent out of office hours.
Google, which has been fined more than $8.4 billion (€8 billion) by Vestager in recent years for various anti-competitive practices, has previously said it made changes in Europe after complaints from online job-search rivals.
Launched in Europe in 2018, Google for Jobs triggered criticism from 23 online job-search websites in 2019. They said they had lost market share after the online search giant had allegedly used its market power to push its new service.
Google’s service links to postings aggregated from many employers, allowing candidates to filter, save and get alerts about openings, though they must go elsewhere to apply. Google places a large widget for the tool at the top of results for ordinary web searches.
Jobindex, one of the 23 critics three years ago, said Google had skewed what had been a highly competitive Danish market toward itself via anticompetitive means.
Jobindex founder and CEO Kaare Danielsen said his company had built up the largest jobs database in Denmark by the time Google for Jobs had entered the local market last year.
“Nevertheless, in the short time following the introduction of Google for Jobs in Denmark, Jobindex lost 20 percent of search traffic to Google’s inferior service,” Danielsen told Reuters.
“By putting its own inferior service at the top of results pages, Google in effect hides some of the most relevant job offerings from job seekers. Recruiters in turn may no longer reach all job seekers, unless they use Google’s job service,” he said.
“This does not just stifle competition among recruitment services but directly impairs labor markets, which are central to any economy,” Danielsen said, urging the Commission to order Google to stop the alleged anti-competitive practices, fine the company and impose periodic payments to ensure compliance.
Jobindex said it had seen examples of free-riding, with some of its own job ads copied without its permission and marketed through Google for Jobs on behalf of Jobindex’s business partners. It also cited privacy risks to job applicants and its clients.


REVIEW: Kwai app

Photo/Supplied
Photo/Supplied
Updated 27 June 2022

REVIEW: Kwai app

Photo/Supplied
  • The app has a live feature that allows users to engage with and converse with their followers, compete against other users and earn money

Kwai is a new social media platform that allows users to share and edit short videos ranging from 15 seconds to five minutes in length.

Find funny short videos, add recordings and videos of your daily life, take part in daily challenges, or look for the best memes and videos.

The app will make it easier for users to raise their profile and appear on trending pages.

Kwai recently signed a deal with many Arab influencers to enhance engagement in the Middle East.

Use the app’s video editor to create your own masterpieces by utilizing your device’s camera, adding music or filters and instantly uploading your video.

The app has a live feature that allows users to engage with and converse with their followers, compete against other users and earn money.

Rules for posting videos help to protect younger viewers, while Kwai concentrates on Arab culture, creating hashtags and challenges suitable for the Arabic audience.

The app, developed by Chinese company Beijing Kuaishou Technology, has been downloaded by 300 million users worldwide.


Cannes Lions 2022: SRMG CEO discusses future of media on Bloomberg expert panel

Cannes Lions 2022: SRMG CEO discusses future of media on Bloomberg expert panel
Updated 26 June 2022

Cannes Lions 2022: SRMG CEO discusses future of media on Bloomberg expert panel

Cannes Lions 2022: SRMG CEO discusses future of media on Bloomberg expert panel
  • The panel explored trends impacting the media ecosystem and audiences around the world, including the metaverse, news gathering and information, data analytics, and technological innovation, among others

CANNES: SRMG CEO Jomana Al-Rashid joined a Bloomberg-hosted expert panel at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last week to discuss the future of the media.

“We are actively working to anticipate and shape the future of media through more investment in talent, technology, data and analytics, regional and global partnerships, research and studies, mega events and conferences ... and perhaps most importantly, exclusive premium content delivered across all screens, multi-platforms and touchpoints ... all this with the objective to stay relevant and engage audiences in five continents,” Al-Rashid told the panel.

She was joined by Ebony and Jet CEO Michele Ghee, MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan, Bloomberg Media Global Chief Marketing Officer Anne Kawalerski and MNTN President & CEO Mark Douglas.

The panel explored trends impacting the media ecosystem and audiences around the world, including the metaverse, news gathering and information, data analytics, and technological innovation, among others.

“We at SRMG strive to stay ahead of the curve in an ever-evolving media sector, seize business opportunities, face potential challenges and exceed expectations, while continuing to offer added value to shareholders and business partners,” Al-Rashid added.

SRMG, one of the largest media and publishing groups in the Middle East, owns more than 30 major media outlets in the region, including Arab News, Asharq Al-Awsat, Asharq News and Sayidaty.


Impact BBDO and Havas Middle East win big at Cannes Lions 2022

Impact BBDO and Havas Middle East win big at Cannes Lions 2022
Updated 24 June 2022

Impact BBDO and Havas Middle East win big at Cannes Lions 2022

Impact BBDO and Havas Middle East win big at Cannes Lions 2022
  • Leading awards program announces this year’s winners

CANNES: The award winners for this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity have been announced.

This year saw 25,464 entries from 87 countries competing to become the global benchmark for excellence in creativity and effectiveness.

“This is always such a pivotal moment for us because the work entered provides a compelling insight into the global creative marketing landscape,” said Simon Cook, the festival’s CEO.

The Middle East region bagged more than 20 awards, including two Grands Prix for the UAE. “The Election Edition,” a campaign by Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar and Dubai-based marketing communications group Impact BBDO, won the highest number of trophies in the region.

The campaign, which won eight awards, including a Grand Prix in the print and publishing category, had “the kind of genius simplicity that we often see in Grand Prix-winning work,” said jury president Natalie Lam, who is Publicis Groupe’s chief creative officer for Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

“The irony is that it’s a Grand Prix in print and publishing when there was no printing at all — something that shows that the power of an idea can transcend design,” said Dina Richa, the CEO of Impact BBDO.

Havas Middle East Dubai followed closely with seven trophy wins, all for Adidas. The campaign “Liquid Billboard” won a Grand Prix, one gold, two silver and one bronze in the outdoor category as well as a silver trophy in the media category.

The agency also won a silver trophy in the Entertainment Lion for Sports category for Adidas.’ “I’m Possible Billboards” campaign.

Horizon FCB Dubai’s innovative use of a new technology resulted in the campaign “Breakchains with Blockchain” for the Children of Female Prisoners Association, which won three silver trophies in the digital craft, media and creative commerce categories.

In Egypt, thousands of women are sent to prison every year for being unable to repay loans often worth only a few hundred dollars.

Working with global artists, the agency and the association created non-fungible tokens, each designed to tell the story of why a woman was sentenced to prison and priced at the amount it would cost to free them.

Other winners from the region include TBWA\RAAD Dubai for its “Chickenstock” campaign for KFC, which won a silver trophy, the UAE Government Media Office for “The Warm Winter Livestream” campaign, which won a bronze trophy, and VMLY&R Commerce MENA Dubai’s “Twitter Feminine Arabic” campaign for Twitter, which won a silver trophy.

Carla El-Maalouli, head of marketing for Twitter in the MENA region, said the company was honored to be recognized at the festival for a campaign “that captures our ethos of inclusivity.”

“As a company, Twitter is continuously exploring new ideas and projects to ensure the platform is representative of the diverse voices that shape the conversation and the Arabic Feminine language setting is a continuation of our work around inclusive language,” she added.

The special awards of the night included:

Creative Company of the Year (previously Holding Company of the Year): WPP

Network of the Year: Ogilvy

Independent Network of the Year: Serviceplan Group

Agency of the Year: Dentsu Creative, Bengaluru

Independent Agency of the Year: We Believers, Brooklyn, USA

Creative Brand of the Year: Burger King

The Regional Network of the Year for Europe, Middle East and Africa was awarded to Publicis Worldwide.


Netflix lays off 300 employees in cost-cutting drive

Netflix lays off 300 employees in cost-cutting drive
Updated 24 June 2022

Netflix lays off 300 employees in cost-cutting drive

Netflix lays off 300 employees in cost-cutting drive
  • After the subscriber drop in the first quarter, Netflix has forecast even deeper losses for the current period.

LONDON: Netflix Inc. said it laid off 300 employees, or about 4 percent of its workforce, in the second round of job cuts aimed at lowering costs after the streaming giant lost subscribers for the first time in more than a decade.
The move mostly affected its US workforce and came after the company cut 150 jobs last month.
“While we continue to invest significantly in the business, we made these adjustments so that our costs are growing in line with our slower revenue growth,” Netflix said in a statement on Thursday.
The world’s dominant streaming service has come under pressure in recent months as inflation, the war in Ukraine and fierce competition weigh on subscriber growth. After the subscriber drop in the first quarter, Netflix has forecast even deeper losses for the current period.
To arrest that downtrend, the company plans to introduce a cheaper, ad-supported subscription tier for which it is in talks with several companies.