What’s new in tech
YouTube collecting kids’ data?
More than 20 consumer advocacy groups have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission “claiming that YouTube has been violating a children’s privacy law,” said Sapna Maheshwari in The New York Times. The complaint argues that YouTube “has been collecting and profiting from the personal information of young children on its main site,” in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires companies to get parents’ consent before collecting data on children under the age of 13. YouTube’s terms of service say the site is not meant for anyone under 13, and the platform directs younger viewers to YouTube Kids, which contains filtered videos. But the groups contend that YouTube still “collects data on children under 13 through its main site, where cartoons, nursery-rhyme videos, and those ever popular toy-unboxing clips garner millions of views.”
Apple’s HomePod miss
Apple’s HomePod appears to be a flop with consumers, said Mark Gurman in Bloomberg.com. The long-delayed smart speaker joined a crowded field when it arrived in stores in January. With the market “pioneered and dominated” by Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo devices, the HomePod, which at $349 is priced higher than competing gadgets, has stumbled, forcing Apple to lower sales forecasts and cut orders with parts manufacturers. Though the HomePod initially captured 10 percent of the smart-speaker market, compared with Amazon’s 73 percent, weekly sales have since slipped to 0.4 percent of the category. Apple’s speaker has won praise for its audio quality, but consumers have reportedly been turned off by the fact that “it’s heavily dependent on the iPhone and is limited as a digital assistant.”
Zillow plans to flip homes
“Zillow is getting into the business of buying and flipping homes,” said Laura Kusisto and Rolfe Winkler in The Wall Street Journal. The “risky and untested” move by the online real estate–listings company could threaten the livelihood of realtors. Zillow plans to purchase between 300 to 1,000 properties in the Las Vegas and Phoenix areas this year, spending between $75 million and $250 million to renovate them and attempt to flip them within 90 days. The company “is following other competitors” into the sales business. Opendoor now has an in-house brokerage team, and Redfin has been “experimenting” with buying homes for the past year.