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Amazon, Apple and Google unite to form smart home partnership – Metro.co.uk

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Tech’s biggest names have joined together for a new partnership (Google)

Technology giants Amazon, Apple and Google have put aside their rivalries to form a partnership over the ‘smart home’ revolution.

The idea is to improve compatibility between devices like thermostats, speakers and security cameras.

The firms, along with the Zigbee Alliance, have created Project Connected Home over IP, which they say will help make smart home products more compatible with a wider range of operating systems and speakers – making them easier for consumers to set-up and use.

The Zigbee Alliance includes firms such as Ikea and Samsung SmartThings, which also manufacturer smart home devices.

Amazon and Google, through their respective voice assistants Alexa and the Google Assistant and the smart speakers in which they are housed, hold the majority of market share in smart home products.

However, not all smart home devices – which can include connected lightbulbs, entertainment systems and kitchen appliances – are compatible with every virtual assistant or platform.

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Announcing the partnership via its new website, the companies said the aim is to ‘simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers’.

The group said it wants to develop a connectivity standard – with security a fundamental feature – which all their respective smart home products would use.

It said it hopes a shared approach will resolve current issues around compatibility in the market.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by REX (9466757a) MODEL RELEASED Woman using tablet with smart home control functions at home VARIOUS

Current smart home setups can be conflicting and confusing (Rex Features)

The group said: ‘The project aims to improve the consumer experience of trying to use smart home products that aren’t compatible with each other.

‘We believe that the protocol has the potential to be widely adopted across home systems and assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and others.

‘If the working group succeeds with this goal, customers can be confident that their device of choice will work in their home and that they will be able to set up and control it with their preferred system.’

The group said it hopes to publish its first draft specifications on the issue by the end of next year.

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Britain in talks with 6 firms about building gigafactories for EV batteries

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Britain is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV), the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.

Car makers Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, conglomerates LG Corp and Samsung, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report added .

 

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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EBay to sell South Korean unit for about $3.6 billion to Shinsegae, Naver

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EBay will sell its South Korean business to retailer Shinsegae Group and e-commerce firm Naver for about 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion), local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

EBay Korea is the country’s third-largest e-commerce firm with market share of about 12.8% in 2020, according to Euromonitor. It operates the platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9.

Shinsegae, Naver and eBay Korea declined to comment.

Lotte Shopping had also been in the running, the Korea Economic Daily and other newspapers said, citing unnamed investment banking sources.

South Korea represents the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market. Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce has soared to account for 35.8% of the retail market in 2020 compared with 28.6% in 2019, according to Euromonitor data.

Shinsegae and Naver formed a retail and e-commerce partnership in March by taking stakes worth 250 billion won in each other’s affiliates.

($1 = 1,117.7000 won)

 

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum

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Canada is set to begin a hotly anticipated auction of the mobile telecommunications bandwidth necessary for 5G rollout, one that was delayed more than a year by the pandemic.

The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.

Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.

Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.

The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.

The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.

Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.

In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.

Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.

Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.

In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.

Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.

The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.

($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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