* Judge Gonzalo Curiel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ruled that Qualcomm Inc. must pay about $1 billion in patent royalty rebate payments to Apple Inc., Reuters reports. According to a preliminary ruling, the payments were part of a business cooperation agreement between the two companies.
* Bringing more artificial intelligence to Apple's devices and souped-up operating systems will be at the center of the company's upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, which will be held in San Jose, Calif., from June 3-7. The conference is Apple's annual event for developers who write applications for the company's iPhone, Mac, iPad and Watch devices. It usually serves as a launching pad for new software like iOS for mobile devices and MacOS for personal computers.
* There is a growing bipartisan sentiment that big tech companies have too much power, but antitrust experts say ambitious proposals to crack down on their market power, such as a recent one from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., face long odds. The senator, who is running in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, recently unveiled a proposal outlining her vision for antitrust enforcement against big tech.
* Apple issued a statement in response to Spotify Technology SA's anti-competition complaint against the tech giant with the European Commission. Apple accused Spotify of running a "misleading rhetoric" about the iPhone maker and how it supports independent developers, musicians, songwriters and creators. While addressing the company's claims, Apple said Spotify is seeking the benefits of a free app without being one.
* A Sony Corp. representative dismissed speculation that the company was interested in acquiring Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., VentureBeat.com reports. Rumors surfaced that Sony was in advanced "board level" talks to buy Take-Two for $130 a share, or a total of $13.7 billion.
* Microsoft Corp. unveiled Game Stack, a group of game-development platforms, tools, and services such as Azure, PlayFab, DirectX, Visual Studio, Xbox Live, App Center, and Havok for developers. Game Stack will allow game creators to develop and operate a game, using cloud-native services from machine learning and artificial intelligence, to push notifications and mixed reality spatial anchors, according to an official blog post.
* In the global race to deploy next-generation 5G wireless networks, some industry analysts have already declared China the winner, though experts are divided over the potential financial and political implications. A new report from Fitch Solutions, a unit of the financial information services firm Fitch Group Inc. finds Chinese companies are "firmly in the lead" on 5G compared to the U.S. and other international markets.
Internet & OTT
* Facebook Inc. is losing two top executives days after CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined plans for Facebook to become a more "privacy-focused" platform. Chief Product Officer Chris Cox and WhatsApp Inc. Vice President Chris Daniels are leaving the company, Zuckerberg said in a memo to employees. Cox joined Facebook in 2005 as a software engineer, while Daniels joined Facebook as director of business development in 2011.
* Apple has placed an order for Korean drama series, "Pachinko," Broadcasting & Cable reports. The series follows four generations of a Korean immigrant family whose story will be told in three languages, Korean, Japanese and English.
* Netflix Inc. has picked up global rights to Mandarin title"Green Door." Adapted from Taiwanese author Joseph Chen's novel of the same title, "Green Door" the story of a troubled psychologist who returns from the U.S. to set up his own practice in Taiwan, where mysterious patients and uncanny events shed light on his murky past. The company will start streaming "Green Door" on March 16 globally, according to a news release.
* In more Netflix news, "The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann" is now available for streaming on Netflix. The eight-part series explores the disappearance of a three-year-old girl who vanished from the seaside resort of Praia da Luz in Portugal, while on holiday with her family, the company said.
* Netflix has pulled the plug on the "One Day at a Time" series after three seasons. Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, thanked everyone involved in creating the series, while noting that canceling the series was a difficult decision.
* At SXSW, Nielsen Holdings PLC executive Kelly Abcarian outlined the difficulties of navigating the evolving TV measurement landscape. The company is focused on relationship management as it explains its total audience ratings to network partners, she said.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.56% to 29,012.26, and the Nikkei 225 increased 0.77% to 21,450.85. In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.56% to 7,225.49, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.90% to 1,046.14.
On the macro front
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey, the industrial production report, the consumer sentiment report, the JOLTS report, the Treasury international capital report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count report are due out today.
Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.
The Daily Dose Europe: Apple may face EU probe; RTL rejects ProSiebenSat.1, Discovery OTT venture: The European Commission is considering probing Apple over antitrust claims in relation to its mobile App Store, while RTL Group has rejected ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE's invitation to co-invest in the latter's streaming venture with Discovery Inc.
China's YY buys Singapore's BIGO; TikTok fined for collecting children's data: China's YY Inc. acquired the remaining stake it does not own in Singapore's BIGO Technology Pte. Ltd., while video-sharing app TikTok was fined by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for collecting data on children.
The Daily Dose Asia-Pacific: Huawei confirms it has a backup OS; SoftBank may invest US$1B in Uber unit: Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. confirmed it has a backup operating system, while a SoftBank Group Corp.-led investor group is in advanced talks to invest "US$1 billion or more" in Uber Technologies Inc.'s autonomous car unit.
Hires and Fires: Charter tech chief to leave; Netflix loses marketing chief: Jay Rolls will step down as senior vice president and chief technology officer of Charter Communications Inc., while Kelly Bennett is stepping down as chief marketing officer of Netflix.
Economics of Networks: DIRECTV NOW retools channel lineups; big losers AMC, Discovery, Viacom: DIRECTV NOW cuts a slew of networks from its virtual multichannel product.
Economics of Networks: CBS buys out Lionsgate's 50% interest in POP, home of 'Schitt's Creek': CBS Corp. will likely use retrans leverage to boost carriage at the unprofitable POP (US) network.
Wireless Investor: Japan bans equipment installment plans, preluding a potential price war: As Japanese carriers are expected to ramp up 5G spending, the market is facing revenue pressure following recent regulations.
Multichannel Trends: A look at AT&T's DIRECTV NOW remix: The redesign attempts to separate DIRECTV NOW from the virtual multichannel pack by baking in HBO (US) while pushing the package price point closer to traditional multichannel.
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