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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
Sony is shutting down Playstation Vue — its digital live-television service — next January, the company said in a blog post. It's the first digital live TV package to shutter after a slew of such services launched over the past five years, Axios' Sara Fischer and I report.
Why it matters: Media companies and distribution networks are all trying to find new ways to package up content for streaming, but none of them has a magic formula. Increasingly, their over-the-top services resemble the cable bundles they sought to overtake.
Driving the news: Many companies have been struggling to grow live streaming TV services that were originally pitched as a cheap alternative to cable.
What's next: Most companies are now focusing on on-demand streaming, now that it's been made clear that the economics behind live TV streaming aren't very lucrative. A slew of such streaming services will launch in the next few months.
Be smart: NBCUniversal's "Peacock" service is set to launch alongside these major streaming players, but unlike its competitors, Peacock will be offered at a lower price and will be ad-supported.
The big picture: Netflix used to own the on-demand streaming market. But increased competition has put lots of pressure on the company, and its investors have taken notice.
The bottom line: The streaming wars were supposed to be a boon to consumer choice, but already the streaming landscape has gotten confusing and expensive enough to discourage the average consumer from building loyal relationships with many services. For some of these consumers, the outdated cable system might still prove a simpler and more attractive alternative.
Photo: Carsten Rehder/Picture Alliance via Getty Images
Facebook filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against a controversial Israeli private surveillance contractor NSO Group for allegedly providing the tools that governments used to try to hack 1,400 mobile devices via WhatsApp, Axios' Joe Uchill reports.
The big picture: Intelligence groups and law enforcement agencies contract NSO to provide spyware that governments can use to surveil the cellphones of perceived threats. While the spyware is intended to track terrorists and criminals, in practice authoritarian regimes often use it to target activists, dissidents, journalists and opposition political figures.
Why it matters: NSO recently announced new processes to investigate human rights abuses, but critics believe misuse of the surveillance tool — as well as competitors' products in the space — will be difficult to curtail.
Facebook alleges that phishing messages harboring NSO's Pegasus surveillance tools were sent over WhatsApp 1,400 times. That, said Facebook, would be a violation of state and federal civil statutes, not to mention WhatsApp's terms of service.
WhatsApp released a blog post explaining the reason for the lawsuit on Tuesday afternoon.
According to John Scott-Railton, senior researcher at Citizen Lab, victims included (among others):
The other side: "In the strongest possible terms, we dispute today's allegations and will vigorously fight them," NSO said.
Samsung's first foldable-screen smartphone may be something of a novelty, but the company demonstrated Tuesday that it plans to keep going until such devices are mainstream.
Why it matters: There's a lot of interest in foldable devices from hardware makers eager to shake up a sluggish smartphone market, but the early products have been pricey and delicate.
Among the concepts Samsung showed at its annual developer conference was a model that folds into a square, per CNET.
Yes, but: Samsung isn't alone in pursuing an open-and-shut approach to phones. Motorola has sent out invitations for an event next month where it is expected to offer a modern take on the RAZR flip phone, while Microsoft has previewed a mobile Android device coming next year that features a mini-laptop design with two screens.
Nintendo took its time getting into mobile games, but it seems to know how to what it takes to make a hit. Its latest smartphone game, Mario Kart Tour, was downloaded more than 123 million times in its first month, per Sensor Tower.
Why it matters: That makes it the second most popular game after one month, trailing only Pokémon Go.
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