Wall Street Journal

EU Begins Questioning Facebook Rivals Over WhatsApp Deal

European Union antitrust officials have started questioning rival firms about Facebook's proposed $19 billion acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp, ahead of a formal review that could be a test case for how to apply EU competition law to the new world of social media.

Officials at the European Commission, the EU's central competition authority, have in recent weeks sent detailed questionnaires to several technology and online-messaging companies, asking about the merger's effect on competition in their markets, according to people familiar with the matter.

The questionnaires also drill down into a relatively new area for merger reviews: how the companies control and use personal data when they offer services, some of the people said.

The commission's questioning of rivals comes before the EU opens a formal merger review that will provide one of the first in-depth looks at the app economy and social media through the lens of competition law, antitrust lawyers and technology executives say.

As Moguls Descend on Sun Valley, Let the Deal-Making Commence

It didn’t take long for the consolidation buzz to begin at the Allen & Co. conference, a get-together of honchos from the media and technology worlds known as a venue for deal-making. Speculation about mergers that could remake the media landscape was already flying at the entrance to the Sun Valley, Idaho resort.

Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav could be smack in the middle of a consolidation wave. He predicted that the two big pending marriages in pay-TV distribution -- AT&T’s proposed purchase of DirecTV and Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable -- would hang over the discussions and might give content owners like Discovery more reason to consider mergers of their own.

“You’ll probably see some more consolidation on the content side in order to balance that scale,” Zaslav said. “There’s a lot of people asking the question, are they big enough?”

The Future of Privacy: Only the Rich Will Have It

[Commentary] One surprise from the widespread use of information technology has been the enormous value created out of just data. Information about what individuals do has created corporations worth billions of dollars.

While storage of vast amounts of data has led to hugely valuable benefits from analysis and correlation, it also has led to a significant erosion, if not almost complete destruction, of any meaningful concept of privacy.

Barring some civilization-threatening disaster, the next 25 years of cyberspace will see a growing gush of data, an increasingly rapid spreading of interconnected devices into every aspect of our lives, in our cars, throughout our homes, and indeed, into our bodies. If, however, the use of robotics and the deterioration of the environment develop as now expected, there could be an increase in societal dislocations and discontent from unemployment and climate-related disasters. That very discontent would increase the desire of government security entities to want more data for more control.

Privacy advocacy groups will probably be overwhelmed by corporate interests, the security industrial complex, and by a public that perceives benefits from the, frequently free, data-yielding devices and applications.

Privacy may then be a commodity that only the wealthy can acquire, but only briefly and in special sanctuaries while taking expensive off-the-grid vacations in locations without surveillance cameras or the tracking devices we call mobile phones.

[Clarke is chairman and chief executive of Good Harbor Security Risk Management, a provider of cybersecurity services and former White House adviser for the past three presidents on matters including cybersecurity and counterterrorism]

VA Shiva Ayyadurai on the Future of Email: It Gets Better

[Commentary] In the good old days, the secretary did all the hard work and the boss did two things: dictating and editing. But email has made secretaries of us all; we spend up to 38% of our day managing email. The future email systems will have integrated artificial intelligence that will know you as well as the secretary of 1978 once did, and you will be able to dictate to it.

It will automatically sort your inbox, file and archive, prioritize, and even come up with reasonable responses, which you simply review, edit and send.

[Ayyadurai, faculty lecturer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology]

Josh Sapan on Why the Future of Television Will Be More Cinematic

[Commentary] TV is increasingly the new cinema, featuring more nuanced and better writing, casting, design and storytelling. It is the technology that emancipated the great work. In the next five or 10 years, great TV will be discovered and appreciated more, good TV will be found to be good, mediocre TV will increasingly drown in the slushy middle, and imitative and bad TV -- as it always has been, but maybe more rapidly -- will be canceled. Overall, TV will be better and smarter.

[Sapan is chief executive officer of AMC Networks]

How TV Networks Will Evolve

[Commentary] Even as on-demand TV viewing grows, there will always be a way to tune into a network or channel. But in 10 or 20 years I'm not convinced that the flow of content when I tune in is going to be the same as your flow.

It could be customized for you, Pandora-style. you'll see interfaces that mix watching shows with chatting with friends and social media. That would provide a clear utility to consumers, integrating all those things into one communications experience.

As for the content, it is easy to imagine that you would see a broader range of more specific channels. Some might have professional content while others could have user-generated content.

[Price is director, Amazon Studios]

Readers Recall Tablet Magazine Ads at Same Rate as Print Ads

A splashy ad in a magazine may catch a reader’s eye as he or she is flipping through the pages, but would that ad grab someone’s attention when it’s displayed on a tablet?

With an ever-growing array of screens and formats to serve ads, it can be a headache for marketers to figure out where ads resonate with consumers and where they don’t.

However, new research suggests that tablet magazine advertising is just as effective as (and can even add impact to) print campaigns. A recent study from GfK MRI Starch Advertising Research found that ads in tablet versions of magazines have the same average level of reader recall as print magazine ads.

The research firm conducted an online survey to analyze reader recall of 28,624 magazine ads in 805 tablet magazine issues published in 2013 and compared that data to consumer print recall data. The online survey asked respondents if they recalled having read a particular ad and if they had interacted with ads that had interactive features.

GfK found that the average level of reader recall for both print and digital ads in 2013 was 52%. The most effective digital magazine ads were recalled by more than 80% of readers, in line with the most effective print ads, GfK said.

GM Pitches Wi-Fi in 2015 Cars

General Motors will soon begin an effort to sell high-speed Internet service to buyers of everything from $17,000 Chevrolet Spark subcompacts to top-of-the-line Cadillacs, a test of how much consumers are willing to pay to be online at the wheel.

The campaign is the first time the nation's largest auto maker has promoted one electronics technology across its Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC brands. The Wi-Fi option would allow 2015 model year vehicles to link up to seven cellphones, laptops and other gadgets to the Internet.

GM is making its 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hot spot option the centerpiece to an effort to challenge rival Ford Motor's Sync, which offers voice-activated calling, music and navigation controls.

The Sync system, however, doesn't offer Wi-Fi. The auto maker won't say how much it is spending on the campaign. Citing the "independence" that the technology provides, GM will use the July 4 holiday to make its pitch via Facebook, movie theaters and the takeover of Gogo in-flight service.

Millennials Spend 14.5 Hours Per Week on Smartphones

Youth-obsessed marketers are anxious to figure out the best way to reach the so-called “Millennial Generation.” A new report validates the popular notion that the smartphone is the best vehicle.

Millennials, people ages 18 to 34, are the most connected generation, according to a new study from Experian Marketing Services. The study, based on a survey of almost 24,000 US adults, found that 77% of adult millennials own a smartphone and the average owner spends 14.5 hours a week using his or her smartphone texting, talking and on social media.

Marketers are already beginning to respond to the shift by increasing their spending on mobile advertising. Research firm eMarketer estimates that advertisers are expected to shell out about $17. 7 billion on mobile ads in the US in 2014; almost double from what they spent the previous year.

Amazon Resisting FTC on Policy Change for In-App Purchases

Amazon.com is bucking a request from the Federal Trade Commission that it tighten its policies for purchases made by children while using mobile applications.

In a letter to the FTC, Amazon said it was prepared to "defend our approach in court," rather than agree to fines and additional record keeping and disclosure requirements over the next 20 years, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

According to the documents, Amazon is facing a potential lawsuit by the FTC, which wants the Seattle retailer to accept terms similar to those that Apple previously agreed to regarding so-called in-app purchases. )

"When customers told us their kids had made purchases they didn't want, we refunded those purchases," said Andrew DeVore, an Amazon associate general counsel. He said Amazon's app store included "prominent notice of in-app purchasing, effective parental controls and real-time notice of every in-app purchase."

The FTC said Amazon would need to make the notices more prominent, require passwords for all in-app purchases and make refunds simpler and easier.