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Facebook account requirement for Oculus Quest 2 prompts antitrust investigation in Germany
by João Carrasqueira
Facebook officially introduced its latest standalone VR headset, the Oculus Quest 2, back in September, and the company surprisingly delivered significant improvements to performance while lowering the price barrier by $100 for the base model. This, however, came with a caveat, since a Facebook account is now required to use the headset, instead of a separate Oculus account.
Now, this decision has prompted the German competition office, Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office), to open an investigation into the link between Facebook's social network and the Oculus platform. The regulator's announcement (via Slashgear) cites concerns with Facebook's abuse of its dominant position as a social network to infiltrate the VR market, which is still in its early stages. While the requirement only applies to new headsets for now, all Oculus devices will require it by January 2023.
This isn't the first investigation launched by the Federal Cartel Office into Facebook, as the regulator has also been digging into the social network's collection and use of data and ordered restrictions on some of these activities. However, Facebook filed an appeal with the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court to prevent the measures from being enacted, with a court hearing currently scheduled for March 26 to make the final decision.
The Facebook account requirement sparked controversy from the start, and even more so after it was revealed that all Oculus purchases would be lost if the linked Facebook account was suspended or deleted by the user. Of course, the investigation has only been announced and there's no telling what the end result will be, but customers who found this to be a problem may be happy to hear an investigation is taking place.
Facebook has no shortage of legal troubles to deal with, as the Federal Trade Commission in the United States recently filed antitrust lawsuits against the company, requesting a sale of its WhatsApp and Instagram divisions. Just like Oculus, these companies were acquired by Facebook in the same timeframe and helped the company maintain a dominant position as a social network. With a Facebook account becoming central to the Oculus experience, the company could be trying to do the same for social VR experiences as the technology becomes more widely adopted.
Vodafone set to offer Nreal Light AR/MR glasses in spring 2021
by Paul Hill
Vodafone has announced that it will be selling Nreal Light glasses to consumers and businesses in the first quarter of 2021. The device is capable of providing augmented (AR) and mixed reality (MR) experiences and operates using Vodafone’s high-speed, ultra-low latency gigabit 5G network. The headset is first expected to launch in Germany and Spain with other Vodafone markets set to follow.
According to Vodafone, Nreal Light glasses are cutting edge, lightweight and comfortable. They include an industry-leading widescreen display that’s equivalent to viewing a portable IMAX screen. Using a wired USB-C connection, Nreal Light users can connect and control their Android devices.
Vodafone has not said how much the Nreal Light will cost but it has described the product as affordable; in other markets, they’re selling for around $499/€405. The device is compatible with most Android applications and can be used to browse the web, shop, watch videos, play games and access social media. The Nreal Light allows you to multitask with three apps at once.
Commenting on the news, Vodafone Group Director Products & Services Phil Patel said:
Vodafone has said that it's also collaborating with Nreal to develop some immersive AR and MR applications for consumers and businesses; they include sports apps that overlay statistics and graphics during live games, advanced multiplayer games that blend live and virtual environments in real-time, navigation and tour guides, fitness coaching, interior design and immersive education.
By Usman Khan Lodhi
Amazon employees in Germany to go on strike again
by Usman Khan Lodhi
Verdi, a Berlin-based trade union, has called on employees at an Amazon warehouse in Germany to go on strike for the second time in a week in an attempt to disrupt the processing of orders during Black Friday, one of the biggest sales events of the year.
Earlier, roughly 500 workers staged a three-day walkout between Thursday and Saturday last week to voice their concerns. The next strike is slated to start on Monday night and last until Tuesday night. Following the U.S., Germany is the second-largest market in the world for Amazon. Verdi has been conducting strikes in the country since 2013 and wants the Seattle firm to recognize collective bargaining regulations that apply to retail workers at other companies.
A spokesperson for Amazon remarked that the firm offered "excellent" wages and benefits coupled with safe working conditions, and its salaries are comparable to its competitors in the region. Amidst the coronavirus, Amazon has seen a surge in sales, as consumers have resorted to shopping online to curb the spread of the virus. Verdi believes that this makes the case for better wages, stating that Amazon needs to do more to protect front-line workers from COVID-19.
On Thanksgiving, Amazon announced that its workers in the U.S. would be entitled to receive holiday bonuses if they work from December 1 to December 31. Employees working full-time will receive a one-time bonus payment of $300, while part-time employees will be given $150.
By Jefferson Mangubat
Amazon opens its first European regional air hub in Germany
by Jefferson Mangubat
Amazon is expanding the regional capacity of its Amazon Air service to Europe. The retail giant has announced the launch of its first European regional hub at the Leipzig/Halle Airport in Schkeuditz, Germany.
The air hub has formally kicked off operations this month, serving customer deliveries with two flights every day. The new facility covers 65,600 square feet and will house two Boeing 737-800 aircraft from GECAS, growing Amazon Air's fleet to more than 70 aircraft. The two new planes will be operated by ASL Airlines and will join Amazon Air's global fleet by the end of 2020.
Amazon says the new hub will provide more than 200 jobs to residents in the Leipzig area. The company already employs more than 1,500 individuals in Leipzig. Dietmar Jüngling, formerly general manager of the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Leipzig, leads the sorting and loading operations at the new facility. Jüngling said:
Amazon notes that the regional hub will also bolster its efforts to continue offering timely delivery services in Europe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The company first unveiled its fleet of Prime Air planes in 2016.
By Jay Bonggolto
Samsung rolls out the Galaxy Tab Active3 Enterprise Edition in Germany for €477
by Jay Bonggolto
Samsung announced today the availability of the Galaxy Tab Active3 Enterprise Edition in Germany. The rugged tablet was originally unveiled late last month for enterprise users.
The Tab Active3 is now available to purchase via Samsung's retail partners and select wireless carriers in Germany. It carries a price tag of €477, available only in black and with support for three generations of Android upgrades.
It sports an 8-inch TFT LCD display with a 1920x1200 resolution. The tablet is powered by an octa-core Exynos 9810 SoC paired with 4GB of RAM and up to 128GB of internal storage that's expandable via a microSD card. At the back of the device, there's a 13MP camera while at the front sits a 5MP selfie camera.
As a rugged device, it is MIL-STD-810H certified, meaning it can endure various challenging environments. It is also IP68-rated for dust and water protection. Samsung also claims the tablet can withstand a drop of up to 1.5 meters courtesy of its shock absorption system coupled with its Protective Cover.
The Tab Active3 packs a 5050mAh removable battery that features a No Battery mode, allowing you to use the tablet without a battery by plugging it in to a power supply. Of course, it supports Samsung DeX for a PC-like experience and Google ARCore for augmented reality services. In addition, it has a quick access button mounted on its side and comes with an IP68-certified S Pen.