Samsung, Apple, Facebook and Google are leading global information technology (IT) players competing fiercely in the smartphone and Internet markets. But the artificial intelligence (AI) era is changing the way they move. This is none other than the news business. This is because even though AI technology is important, in the end, the name of the game is a big data battle so news contents holds the key to understanding consumers' interests and preferences. As consumers are also able to access information through a wider variety of devices including home appliances such as TVs beyond PCs and smartphones, a sea change is expected in the news contents market.
According to the IT industry on February 21, in the IT manufacturing industry, Samsung Electronics and Apple competing to be the king of the global smartphone world are becoming active about the news business. The two companies are stepping up efforts to secure contents supply power as one of their strategies for strengthening their control of the AI market. This is because they aim to extend functions that stayed as simple command execution to meaningful information provision by adding contents power to their voice recognition AI engines, Bixby and Siri.
To this end, Apple introduced a live news service to iOS and tvOS, its new smart device and TV operating systems, to enable users to watch live news earlier this month. The live news service is a form extended from sports event broadcast service that kicked off in November of last year and offers live broadcasts of TV news of CNN, Fox News, CNBC, Bloomberg among others. It is also convenient to use the service as users are able to start the service by using Siri. If a user simply says, "Siri, turn on CNN", the iPhone will show CNN’s real-time news videos. Foreign media outlets such as 9to5Mac said, "It is very convenient to use the service as users can watch news of various media with simple voice commands."
Samsung Electronics, in cooperation with Cyworld, began to prepare the expansion and reorganization of Bixby's domestic news services in earnest. Cyworld will transfer news contents from approximately 40 media outlets to Bixby. Meanwhile, although Bixby provided news in a flip-board format that allows users to scroll through a variety of news items like the Facebook timeline, many experts said that Bixby lacks news stories and its news screen layout was not nice.
Behind such efforts of IT manufacturers are the accumulation of data on individual users' interests and behavioral patterns as well as AI market preemption effects. This is because news stories suit grasping consumers’ interests or preferences as they include events that occur daily in a variety of areas such as politics, economy, society, culture and sports compared to other contents.
"Although technology is important in the AI era, eventually, competition among companies will become a fight via big contents and big data," said an official of the IT manufacturing industry. “News contents will provide optimized added value to consumers as they can analyze not only consumers’ preferences and interests but their behavior patterns."
Facebook and Google chose “local” as the theme of their news distribution policies. Facebook has decided to deliver subscriber-friendly local news first, instead of fake news, and Google is experimenting with a service that allows citizens to directly report their local news.
Local news that Facebook means is to show contents produced by local media instead of major media outlets. For example, Facebook users who access Facebook from Texas, the US will have access to more frequent local news such as news from the Dallas Morning News instead of the New York Times and CNN. This policy will be implemented first in the United States and gradually expand to other countries.
Google allows users to report news on their own. Google’s Bulletin launched on January 26 allows users to post articles, tags, photos and videos through its apps. The company is planning to pilot the service in Nashville and Oakland and will gradually expand it.
There is growing concern that Facebook’s and Google's attempts will produce huge negative side effects. The fact that citizens are involved in news production can lead to conflicts with local media, controversy over the quality of news and the spread of fake news. "IT companies are more interested in taking distribution initiatives such as generating traffic or linking with other contents than news itself," said Kim Sung-chul, a professor of media studies at Korea University. “It is necessary to properly build and expand information ecosystems via amicable relationships with news providers in the future."