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What Facebook’s WhatsApp acquisition means for mobile users

For a company that promises “No ads. No games. No gimmicks,” what will happen to WhatsApp after Facebook’s acquisition?

facebook whatsapp

The surprising news this week is the biggest tech acquisitions this year — Facebook’s acquisition of mobile messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion. That’s $4 billion in cold cash, $12 billion in shares, plus $3 billion of Facebook preferred stock that will vest to WhatsApp founders and early employees, making them instant billionaires or millionaires.

Facebook says this move is meant to complement Facebook’s existing messaging and communication services. It does have Messenger already, and the social network is about connection and communicating. Even with 450 million users, however, WhatsApp does not show ads. It only earns from a $0.99 annual subscription from iOS and Android users (the first year is free!). Thus, it’s not exactly a revenue-generating machine. What does WhatsApp have to add to the table, then?

Interestingly enough, even Google was in negotiations with WhatsApp, offering $10 billion to acquire the messaging service. Google was even reportedly willing to surpass Facebook’s own acquisition offer.

Growth and advertising

Arguably, it’s the user base and potential growth that make WhatsApp attractive. The messaging platform already has 450 million users globally, giving the messaging network the potential to leverage each one of these users in gaining revenue. A dollar a year for each of these users means $450 million annually. Assuming only 20 to 30 percent pay the premium annual fee, that’s still $90 to $135 million annually for a service that offers no-frills chat.

Mark Zuckerberg says WhatsApp will continue to operate independently, and will even stay in its current Mt. View, California headquarters instead of moving in with Facebook at Menlo Park. Now as to whether WhatsApp will start displaying advertisers, this is not likely. What then, could be WhatsApp’s value-added to Facebook?

Most likely, it’s WhatsApp’s mobile-first approach to messaging and its presence among those 450 million plus users that Facebook finds attractive. While Facebook primarily earns from advertising, its edge is its ability to target these ads toward specific demographics, locations and contexts. And what best way to gather this data than through user information, conversations, context, location and the like.

This means that Facebook is likely to benefit from the user data that WhatsApp can bring to the picture. Even if Facebook were not to display ads for the 450 million plus WhatsApp users, the data from this user set can be valuable enough if it can be used to better target advertisements on Facebook’s own mobile app and website. For all we know, the $19 billion acquisition cost already includes data that WhatsApp may have gathered since its launch in 2009.

Facebook already has access to user data through its own service and mobile app. As of the 4th quarter of 2013, mobile advertising already makes up 52 percent of its revenue — $129 billion in those three months alone. If Facebook can improve its targeting, it can potentially earn more. In fact, the company is already introducing its improved Core Audiences targeting feature, meant to improve the precision of its advertising efforts.

Will I be tracked?

In all likelihood, Facebook will be using WhatsApp to gather data to improve its ad targeting. In fact, it may not only be Facebook that benefits from WhatsApp data. A security researcher has recently disclosed potential flaws in WhatsApp’s encryption, which means messaging traffic is susceptible to being intercepted. WhatsApp is not the only potential target, however, as other messaging services can also pose a threat to privacy and security.

Perhaps it’s a fact that mobile users will need to accept. Any online and mobile service we use has the potential for being used as a tracking tool for our personal data and activities. If you’re the kind who values privacy that much to want out of being tracked, then WhatsApp has started to be an unviable option. Better switch to Telegram, BBM, Silent Circle or other alternatives, that are focused on privacy and encrypted communication.

Google now Recommends Content for you on Mobile Sites via Google +

Google Plus Google is using their Google + product to expand themselves on the mobile front, they are launching a new mobile content recommendation service; this service is tied in with Google +. The content recommendations will appear in you’re mobile browser and they will only appear on sites that Google themselves has partnered up with for this venture which include the likes of Forbes.

The recommendations will appear as a widget, you don’t even have to be logged in to your Google account for them to appear. More sites can join in on the mobile recommendation game by adding a single line of code into their sites.

Google + Integration 

The recommendation section pops up in the bottom section of your screen it looks like a red Google + logo in the corner, the title of the recommendation will pop up and when you click on to that tab it expands so you can sift through the many other recommendation. To view a recommendation properly you just have to click on it in the fully expanded tab.

Google tailors these recommendations for you as long as you have a Google + account because the recommendations are based on social recommendation from your Google + friends. The recommendation tabs will include recommendations from your various circles and articles you might like that come from Google’s partner websites.

Possibly a Full Desktop Version

This is a move to get more people using Google + or to use it more frequently so that the recommendations can get more and more accurate as to what you will like to view. The small pop up doesn’t interrupt your browsing and when you continue to scroll down the page the pop up will go away.

This feature is only available for the mobile versions of what ever sites that you visit on your phone, this could be the start of a new universal Google feature; if it takes off then it won’t be long until recommendation hits the full desktop version of your favourite sites.

Source – TechCrunch 

Facebook Home Losing Popularity Very Quickly

Facebook Home Announcement

Facebook invested a lot of time and effort into their version of a mobile operating system, well a the GUI for your smartphone. The CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook Home is the next version of Facebook, but the figures are in and it hasn’t made a massive impression on the market. The analytics data shows that Facebook Home has been steadily dropping, this comes as a shock since Facebook has an active user base of one billion.

Home Losing the Lime Light 

Home has had one million downloads since it’s release, the numbers of Home users should increase as a direct coincidence of AT&T lowering the price of the HTC First to $0.99 with a two year contract. The low Home figures could be due to the fact that only a limited amount of devices support the software: HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 along with the already mentioned HTC first.

Since the initial rise and then subsequent fall of the app it has not returned to the top 100 downloaded apps in any of the countries it has been released in yet, it seems that the buzz and the shine of the new software has worn off. This data just goes to show that even though we do like Facebook it doesn’t necessarily mean that we want it to be with us every time we unlock our phones.

Facebook has noticed that the software isn’t doing as well as they had hoped it would, when the company was discussing the amount of downloads Home had gotten they forgot to mention that this was not active downloads. Yes they tried to hide the fact that even though people were interested in the service at first their interests have faded and they have since reverted back to the stock software.

Facebook Home Data
Home’s place in the international app charts

Increased Facebook Usage and Home Redesign 

Facebook has been described as the stickiest website on the internet, its a shame that they can’t seem to emulate that with their attempt at mobile software. Facebook may be finding it hard to draw users in but the users that they have attracted do spend more time using Facebook, commenting, liking and use messages and chat more often as a direct link between downloading the software and the increase usage of Facebook. That can only be accounted for because there is no way to escape it once you have the Home software running.

It is time for Facebook to act, and act quickly they must before they see any more market share slip through their fingers. Apparently the next version of Home is expected to have an icon dock to store your most used application and chat will be made more accessible. The goal is to make it easier for new users to pick up and so that veteran users feel at home with Home.

Source – TechCrunch 

Viber Announces Desktop app

Viber on Desktop

The free messaging and VOIP app Viber has announces that as of today all 200 million users of there service will have access to their accounts on their desktop as well as mobile due to their dedicated app. The new desktop app is part of Viber’s 3.0 update to the service which is available on Android, iOS and BlackBerry platforms.

The Desktop app

It is available for Windows as well as Mac, unfortunately not Linux yet but fingers crossed and they will come out with an app and then they will be covering all bases. The desktop app allows you to send and receive messages and calls, but another feature was added just for the desktop version which is video calling; at the moment you can on video call from desktop to desktop.

If you were thinking of just downloading the desktop out you’re out of luck, when you download the app the service will ask you to enter a number that is already associated with the service. If you don’t have a number that links with Viber it will then ask you to download the mobile app and set up an account with the service.

Viber will sync all of your messages across both of your apps on desktop and mobile, but only the device that you are using will notify you of a new message. This is handy especially if you use skype on your desktop and phone and get annoyed by having them both beep when a new message comes in.

The Update

Viber is also launching the 3.0 update to their mobile platforms, Android and iOS will be getting video messages added to them; instead of live calling you leave a video message for them to view and then reply. Also stickers and last online status will be added to these platforms. Of course there are the standard minor fixes to the app in general.

The Android app has gone under the knife and had a facelift to separate it from the iOS app, this is to make the app feel more at home on Android instead of being an iPhone app that was just ported over.

Source – TechCrunch

Facebook Buys Parse To Offer Mobile Development Tools As Its First Paid B2B Service

Facebook acquires Parse

Facebook has just acquired Parse making their debut into a ne business category, which is paid tools and services for developing mobile apps. The company is buying the mobile backend as a service startup in a deal rumoured to be worth $85 million. Neither one of the company’s is commenting on the size of the deal, the only comment Facebook made was that it’s not “material”.

Parse was founded about two years ago by a small group of people consisting of Googlers and Y Combinator who got together to build a useful set of back end tools for mobile developers. The Parse developers originally called the “Heroku” of mobile in a homepage to what was one of YC’s biggest exits to date, the $212 million sale of Heroku to Salesforce.com. The service that help mobile developers store data in the cloud, manage identity log-ins, handling push notification and run custom code in the cloud.

Facebooks winning bid and why it wants Parse

Facebook placed the winning bid for the mobile back end company, apparently there was vicious competition from the other giants from Silicon Valley. The Parse CEO and co-founder Ilya Sukhar said that he chose Facebook over the other companies because Facebook was a better cultural fit.

Facebook is in the process of initiating a big push in becoming more relevant to the mobile developers of the world, Facebook doesn’t have it’s own mobile operating system like Apple or Google; the closest thing they have is the Home overlay for Android. Parse currently has 60,000 apps and roughly the same number of developer, they focused on monetizing the top 10 percent their clientele. Through the deal Facebook will be able to offer back-end services for data storage, notifications and user management.

Facebook’s Director of Product Management Doug Purdy said “This fills out one of the pillars of Facebook platform that we’ve been thinking about for awhile, since 2007, the Facebook platform has been about being an identity mechanism with sharing. But over the course of the last six months, we’ve been thinking about how we can help applications get discovered and how they can be monetized.”

He added later on in the statement “In order to provide the best experience possible, developers also need to build a whole host of infrastructure. Parse is a natural fit. They’ve really just abstracted away a lot of the work necessary to get an app up and running.”

Plans and Existing Customers

Parse has said that existing Parse users won’t be affected with the company being acquired by Facebook and the developers won’t have to integrate Facebook and that existing contracts will be honored. Parse uses the freemium model with a basic free version for up to 1 million requests or pushed per month, the lowest paid version cost $199 a month with 15 million requests a month and 5 million pushes per month. Then the next tier up is the enterprise version where the rates are negotiable.

Source – TechCrunch

LG announces flexiscreen technology coming soon

LG flexible screen

LG has announced that they will release a flexib;e OLED smartphone before 2013 ends. There have been rumours circulating about LG preparing to release its curved OLED televisions later in the year as well as providing flexible screens for other smartphones. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company will actually be producing it’s own flexiphone.

The OLED panel used in the new generation of flexiphones will be LG’s very own design according to LG’s mobile vice president Yoon Bu-hyun, even though the company previously dismissed the idea of using OLED technology in its  phones.

Flexible tech

The release of flexiphones is rumoured to be in the fourth fiscal quarter in 2013, however it’s currently unclear as to what the flexiphone will look like and how it will function realistically so that customers can utilize this technology. There is competition from major rival Samsung to dominate the flexitech market, there have been leaked images of prototypes of Samsung’s flexiphone technology.

Samsung has also given the general public a peak at ‘Youm’ its own vision of a flexible OLED future  at CES this year, so the race is on between LG and Samsung to take the lead in the flexible screen technology market. No details about the device were disclosed, but making a flexible screen and making a flexible smartphone are two entirely different tasks and the outcome will be interesting.

LG’s head of mobile marketing Won Kim said ” Something different and something unique” referring to a device with a flexible screen, the device is penned in for a third fiscal quarter release. We’ve seen the 3D tv trend die down and could flexible screens be a tend that just won’t catch on.

Source – TechRadar

Yahoo restrategizes to focus on mobile

yahoo mobile

Yahoo has announced a change in its business strategy, they are changing it up to try and keep up with the rest of the internet in this the age of mobile. The core products that Yahoo will continue to focus on including mail and weather apps.

The products that are for the chopping block include Upcoming, Deals, SMS alerts, Yahoo Kids and older versions of its email and messenger apps. This renders the Yahoo as a new slimmed down and less cluttered site the new slimmed down Yahoo allows them to make a dozen high quality mobile apps.

Jay Rossiter, executive vice president of platforms at Yahoo said yesterday [19th April] “We realize that change is hard, but by making tough decisions like these we can focus our energy on building beautiful products.”

Earlier this week Yahoo unveiled the new Yahoo mail app optimised for tablets that allows you to manage your inbox by swiping messages into groups set up by the sender, they also unveils an app for checking the weather forecast via Yahoo on your smartphone.

The move to mobile seems like a promising move for Yahoo; the company grew to more than 300 million mobile users by the end of the first fiscal quater of 2013 from 200 million users at the end of 2012. The growth in mobile users came from investment in mobile apps such as Flickr as well as the migration of web users to mobile users.

Yahoo will shutdown the services that are on its hit list on April 30th. Is this the start of a painful death for Yahoo, they’re cutting back on everything that we associate with them like being jack of all trades, having literally every section that you could want from a news/ search/ mail site. The restrategizing could be the assent of Yahoo back into the big leagues to compete in the mobile space.

The bigger apps such as search and maps don’t perform as well as Yahoo’s mobile apps, which is why the move to mobile is logical for them; they are taking talent and man power from the bigger projects that take a lot more people but don’t deliver the users. The staff inside of yahoo are being moved around so they can produce mobile apps with great functionality with impecable quality. Marissa Mayer CEO of Yahoo as soon as she took charge of the company she was not interested in locking horns with Google the search giant and Mayers former employer.

Source – Techcrunch

Facebook hires Apple maps executive to lead mobile devision

Facebook

Facebook has reeled in yet another Apple executive, the executive that they have nabbed worked on Apple maps. The executive in question is Richard Williamson who managed Apples effort to create a maps app to rival Googles own a widespread app. Williamson joined the Facebook team in the past few weeks to manage their ever growing mobile-software groups, Williamson’s notable accolades include working for Apple for just over a decade; during his time at Apple he was one of the engineers that worked on the originals iPhones software.

Later in Williamson’s career he was in charge of leading the change from Google’s mapping service to Apple’s own, Richard Williamson was fired from Apple in November last year as part of a management shake up after Apple’s mapping service received much negative criticism. The criticisms include; misguided directions and inaccurate landmark locations, which if you as me are pretty big flaws in a mapping service.

It is not rare occurrence for Apple executives to transfer over to the social network giant, several members of the iPhone software group; Mark Zuckerberg welcomes these ex-Apple execs with open arms because he is focusing on reaching users through mobile. The mobile push is evident from the multiple Facebook apps on the iPhone and the recently released Facebook home, the list of Apple execs include the following; Scott Goodson, Tim Omernick, Chris Tremblay (All software engineers), Kimon Tsinteris, Mike Matas (Both software designers) and Greg Novick a former iPhone manager.

The timing of Richard Williamson starting work at Facebook is an interesting one, at this current time Apple stock are $400.92 per share which fell 5.94%, where as Facebooks stocks are at $26.50 per share which fell 1.23% today. The computing giant made which hit major success at the release of the iPod and Macintosh’s is facing a tough time on the stock exchange, made even tougher because there old executives have been snapped up by a Facebook looking to expand there mobile devision and apparently money is no option.

Source – Bloomberg 

Opera Passes 300 Million Users, New Mobile Apps Soon

Opera, one of the many browsers out there alongside others such as Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and Chrome, has announced it has passed 300 million users worldwide. This is an interesting turn in the browser wars, Opera is typically thought to be one of the lesser competitors in the war. The news from Opera also comes with information about its rumored switch to WebKit for its rendering engine. The company has confirmed it has been experimenting with the engine in multiple research projects and that they did in fact demo it in the form of the codename ICE last month.

opera-ice-new-webkit-browser-6

There was also news released today about a new update to the Android version of their browser. They announced a big change will be shown off at Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, Spain which starts a little under two weeks from now. As Opera barely cracks into the top free of the Android apps list this new interface being unveiled at MWC might give them some much needed publicity and help to accelerate the browser to be in closer competition with other Android browsers such as Chrome and Firefox.

The more options there are for users the better things are for users. More competition leads to more innovation and a strong desire to make each product stand out from the rest and keeps the market from falling into blandness and a lack of innovation. Opera has always been a sort of low key browser marketed toward lower end phones and has the ability to compress web pages similar to the built in Silk Browser on Amazon Kindle Fire line of devices. The new browser may try to rectify this sort of image and be much more feature filled like its competition has turned into since Operas original mobile release.

Source: Android Central

Google Awarded Patent For Multiple Flashes Surrounding the Camera Sensor

google-patent

Google has some innovative ideas in its mind, many of which we’re still using with Android. Most of its ideas are related to software, which is because the company doesn’t manufacture hardware, not as of now at least. But a new hint emerging from one of the patents filed by Google suggests otherwise. According to this patent filed by the Mountain View company, it has plans for a smartphone with multiple camera flashes surrounding the sensor. These flashes could be aligned in the shape of a circular ring, so as to avoid shadows in low light images. This is a very innovative idea and we’re surprised no one else thought of this idea before. I guess manufacturers are more focused on the camera sensor itself than the flash.

This patent filing also reveals alternative methods for the utilization of the camera flashes. This includes one illustration where the flash is located slightly away from the camera sensor. Another one suggests that the flash could be made to pop out of the unit more like a point and shoot or a DSLR camera. It seems like there are so many ways to play around with the camera flash of a mobile device, and Google is making full use of its potential.

google-patent-2

This revelation also stirs up a nice debate about whether or not Google will bring this new feature to one of its smartphones in the future. Since we all know it doesn’t make its own hardware, we’re bound to believe that this multiple flash concept would see the light of the day on a Motorola made smartphone, since the company is currently owned by Google. Alternatively, this could merely remain a concept and Google probably filed for a patent to keep its intellectual property well protected by the USPTO laws. But while we might not exactly see a phone with this technology immediately, it should and will make its way to smartphones in due time.

We all remember the good old days when smartphones used to come with a Xenon flash instead of the standard LED flash being commonly used today. Despite being better than LED flashes in terms of performance, Xenon flashes are almost extinct today in the mobile world due to technical reasons. But multiple LEDs will certainly bring LED flashes on par with Xenon flashes. One thing is for certain though, with technology like this, mobile photography will get a whole new meaning. Mammoth camera sensors are pretty useless in low light conditions if the camera flash isn’t backing it up, so it makes sense for manufacturers to give this a serious thought. The Motorola X Phone that we’ve heard so much about will most probably not feature this unique arrangement of flashes as the device itself is still believed to be a concept. But we’ll know more as the days progress.

Source: USPTO
Via: Talk Android

How To Get Started Programming Android (Part 1): Introduction

Android apps

So you want to get started programming Android, eh? Welcome to the party then! Android is a great place to start your mobile development carrier simply because of how open the platform is and how easy it is to get started. Before you get started on this journey though, there are a few things you need to know.

Android is based off of Java, so it would be very helpful if you already knew the Java programming language, or at least some of it. If you are proficient in C++, C# or any other programming language, you should have no trouble trying to grasp Android. Now if you’re a young developer that wants to get into developing apps, it is highly recommended that you start learning a different programming language like Java. Sure, there are numerous books out there that will teach Android, but they all request that you know a little Java, proficiency in Java or they don’t say anything and just expect that you know Java (or some other programming language).

In my own experience, learning Java and then jumping into Android was a lot easier than just trying to dive into Android head first. It’s essentially building a foundation for yourself to later build upon that foundation, so to speak.

The other thing you need to know is that books are your friend. Sure, there are a few online resources, but I personally think its best to go out and purchase a book to teach yourself Android. It has all of the information you need right in one place and most of the books contain projects for you to do at the end of each chapter, which, as you know, helps retain a lot of knowledge.

Now, if you’re looking for an easier way to learn Java (so that you can easily learn Android) and have a little bit of money to spend, you might want to consider taking an online Java course with O’Reilly. If you’ve never thought that you couldn’t program before, going through a course with one of their instructors will get you programming in no time. The best part is that you can take the course at your own pace instead of having scheduled lecture times and etc. Another great part about taking Java courses through O’Reilly is that after your courses you can even get a certificate (albeit that does cost extra money)!

Regardless of all of that, you may not want to learn Java and just go head first into the world of Android. That’s fine too, but keep in mind that it’s a difficult road if you don’t have a foundation to build off of.

In the next tutorial, we’ll be listing out a few free resources that you can grab to start your journey programming Android which will also show you how to set up the Android development tools on your computer. Granted, we’ll be teaching you to set up the Android development tools in a later tutorial, but it doesn’t hurt to have a second reference, eh?

Father of SMS Matti Makkonen Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Text Messages

After 20 years since introducing to the world SMS or short message services, Finnish innovator Matti Makkonen remains in his humble self, and apparently, still downplays the title as the father of text messages.

On December 3 1992, Neil Papworth of Sema Group sent the very first SMS message using a personal computer to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone with the use of Orbitel 901 handset. The phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ became even more iconic while Makkonen’s name will be forever linked to the word SMS.

However, during an interview with BBC to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the creation of SMS, Makkonen was once again reluctant in accepting his title as the father of SMS.

“I did not consider sms as personal achievement but as result of joint effort to collect ideas and write the specifications of the services based on them,” the Finnish told the BBC.

Makkonen also revealed that text messaging could have taken place a decade earlier after he introduced such idea at a telecommunication conference in 1984.

Yet, it took 8 more years before engineers started to ‘incorporate’ it on the GSM standard. Sadly, Makkonen never generated a single penny out of his work because he didn’t know then that it could be covered by a patent.

Nevertheless, Makkonen feels some sort of content after seeing his SMS invention becomes an integral part not only of communication but people’s daily living.

Asked if he’s using textspeak, Makkonen said he’s more convenient writing correct language using all 160 characters, though he sees texting as tool for language to develop by using symbols and fewer characters.

Surprisingly, Makkonen admitted that he’s kind of a slow texter despite the fact that he was the one who started it all. “I love touchscreen,” he texted the BBC on Monday. “Slow enough to think and sometimes even edit what I write.”

Google Drive Update Brings More Functionality

The Google Drive app was updated yesterday and brought some major functionality improvements that should impress a lot of extensive Drive users. This latest update brings an improved UI to the app and brings the app to version 1.1.470.11. Other things that have been included in the update are as follows:

  • Edit Google spreadsheets in new native editor
  • Edit contents of tables in Google Docs editor
  • Formatting is maintained when copy/pasting within Google Docs
  • Single tap to enter edit mode in Google Docs editor
  • Add a shortcut to Drive files/folders to your homescreen for quick access
  • Send Link now supports copying link to clipboard

These are no doubt both helpful and much needed improvements, though Talk Android notes that the URLs do not show up as linkable when you type them within the app. They need to be corrected at a desktop or laptop instead. A bit of a pain, but the update has been nice overall. Aside from that, there’s no doubt that Google will have a fix for the linkable URLs shortly. This has definitely been a nice update, and I especially like the native editor!

In other news, Google has also integrated Drive with Gmail, which will allow you to send up to 10GBs in attachments. Yes, you read that right, 10GBs of attachments in your Gmail account. Be sure to grab the update from the Play Store link below. Or, as usual, you can easily update it from the Play Store on your smartphone.

What does everyone think of the new update?

source: Talk Android

 

 

 

Samsung Galaxy Note II: Over 3 Million Units Sold So Far

It isn’t that surprising that the Galaxy Note II has sold extremely well. In just over 30 days of their launch date, Samsung is reporting that the handset has passed up 3 million units sold. It took a few months for the original Galaxy Note to hit 10 million units sold, so the Galaxy Note II is as expected selling at a whole lot faster pace than that. As you can imagine, there is a ton of demand for this massive smartphone, and it has only been released on two of the major four carriers in the United States.

A couple of months ago back in September, JK Shin — the head of Samsung Mobile, said that he was expecting to see the Galaxy Note II reach the 20 million sales mark for the Galaxy Note II. While there was no time table given, the device is already picking up speed. This holiday seasons will obviously be a huge boost in that area especially with Verizon and AT&T launching the device here in the United States soon as well. 20 million actually might not be a over expectation.

Will you be picking up a Galaxy Note II this holiday season? In fact, are you going to pick it up the day it releases on AT&T and Verizon?

source: Android Central