With 450 million monthly users and a million more signing up each day, WhatsApp was just too far ahead in the international mobile messaging race for Facebook to catch up, as you can see in the chart above we made last year. Facebook either had to surrender the linchpin to mobile social networking abroad, or pony up and acquire WhatsApp before it got any bigger. It chose the latter.
Facebook recently said on its earnings call a few weeks ago that its November relaunch of Messenger led to a 70% increase in usage, with many more messages being sent. But much of that was likely in the United States and Canada where the standalone messaging app war is still to be won.
Internationally, Facebook was late to the Messenger party. It didn’t launch until 2011 after Facebook bought Beluga, and at the time it was centered around group messaging where SMS was especially weak.
WhatsApp launched in 2009 with the right focus on a lean, clean, and fast mobile messaging app. And while the international messaging market is incredibly fragmented, it was able to gain a major presence where Messenger didn’t as you can see in this chart above that we made about a year ago.
Unlike PC-based social networking, there is no outstanding market leader in mobile messaging. Still, WhatsApp absolutely dominates in markets outside of the U.S. like Europe and India. It’s also impossible for Facebook to acquire certain other Asian competitors like WeChat, which is the one hope of Chinese mega-giant Tencent to have a global consumer product.
So it’s clear that WhatsApp had strategic interest to Facebook, and we know that the two talked from time to time.
The Hipster app that turns pictures into postcards swipes users’ address books and passwords and sends them to a third-party server that uses the information without consent, a class action claims in Federal Court.
Lead plaintiff Francisco Espitia sued Hipster for privacy invasion, computer crimes and other charges, on behalf of everyone who has downloaded the app since Jan. 1, 2011.
The app allows users to create postcards from photos they take on mobile phones. The postcards are attached to the locations from which they were sent, to make documenting memories easier. Users are given the option to share the postcards with others through their mobile devices.
But when users download it, the app, “without seeking to obtain consent, and without notice to the user, sought out and retrieved the list of personal contacts on the user’s mobile device. This list of personal contacts was copied and surreptitiously uploaded to Hipster’s third-party servers. In addition to the list of personal contacts of the user, other highly sensitive information such as passwords and geo-locations were also obtained by the Hipster App. All of this information was sent unencrypted over publicly accessible data channels,” according to the 67-page complaint.
The class claims that Hipster’s actions “involved the deliberate and intentional circumvention of technical measures within the mobile computing device in order to bypass the technical and code based barriers, including the plaintiffs’ and class members’ privacy settings which were intended to limit access by anyone other than the owner of the device.”
More: Courthouse News Service
The patent application made waves immediately after it was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last August. Amazon filed for it in February 2010 and was granted it today, Engadget notes.
At its core, the patent details a system that uses your gadget’s built-in gyroscope, accelerometers, camera, and other onboard sensors to figure out if the device has gone airborne. If so, a system can keep the device from getting too badly damaged by changing its fall, and even deploying airbags to lessen the damage.
In practice this means a dropped device might even be able to survive a fall completely unscathed, except for people mistaking the entire episode for your extreme flatulence.
“IT TRULY is a new era at Microsoft,” gushed Steve Ballmer, the giant software company’s boss, in a letter to shareholders this month. For once, such grandiloquence seems justified. On October 26th Windows 8, the newest version of Microsoft’s operating system for personal computers, is due to be released. It looks very different from past editions; it is designed for touchscreens on both PCs and tablets; and it can run on processors designed by ARM, a British company whose allies dominate mobile devices, as well as chips made by Intel, Microsoft’s long-term partner. Also on sale will be the Surface, a tablet-cum-PC bearing Microsoft’s own brand. A version of Windows 8 for smartphones is due on October 29th.
Whether the new era will be a successful one is an open question. It got off to a stumbling start when the European Commission warned Microsoft not to repeat the sin of steering users away from rivals to its Explorer browser. (The company insisted all would be well before the launch.)
What is not in doubt is how much is at stake for Microsoft. To see that, look at the chart. In its past financial year its Windows division accounted for about a quarter of its revenue of $73.7 billion; three-quarters of that came from sales of Windows to PC-makers for installation on new desk- and laptops. Windows is the dominant system on such devices, with more than 90% of the market despite the growing popularity of Apple’s Macs. But that market has slowed. In the year to the third quarter, shipments of PCs fell by 8.6%, according to IDC, a research firm. However, the drop largely reflected a clear-out of stocks by PC-sellers before Windows 8’s arrival as well as the ropiness of the world economy.
People are doing more and more computing on the go, using tablets and smartphones. Apple rules the tablet market, although devices powered by Google’s Android operating system have been taking a bigger share. On October 23rd Apple unveiled the fourth incarnation of the iPad as well as a smaller version with a screen less than eight inches (20cm) across; Google and Amazon had already launched much cheaper seven-inch tablets. In smartphones, Android devices account for most of the volume; Apple’s iPhone scoops most of the profit. Windows has a tiny share of smartphones; in tablets it is invisible. If you lump these in with PCs, says Frank Gillett of Forrester, another research company, Microsoft’s share of personal-computing devices drops to only 30%.
Facebook Inc grew mobile advertising revenue several times in the third quarter, a faster-than expected pace that helped reassure investors that the world’s No. 1 social network is beginning to figure out how to earn money off smartphone and tablet users.
The company now gets 14 percent of its advertising revenue from mobile ads, translating into more than $150 million — a surge from an estimated $40 million to $50 million in the second quarter and almost nothing in the first.
Mark Zuckerberg, the 28-year-old chief executive who created Facebook in his Harvard dorm room, said mobile was the “most misunderstood aspect” of the company.
“I want to dispel this myth that Facebook can’t make money on mobile,” he told analysts on a conference call.
Mobile advertising has been among the key investor concerns hanging over Facebook, helping slash more than $40 billion off its market value since its May IPO. As its users increasingly access the social network with their smartphones, Facebook has struggled to transition its business to mobile devices.
“They beat on the top line. They are talking about 60 percent of users on mobile. They are monetizing this OK,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter.
Today We Worry About the Social Effects of the Internet. a Century Ago, It Was the Telephone That Threatened to Reinvent Society
In 2009, the United States crossed a digital Rubicon: For the first time, the amount of data sent with mobile devices exceeded the sum of transmitted voice data. The shift was heralded in tech circles with prophetic fury: “The phone call is dead,” pronounced a blogger at the Web site TechCrunch. Writing in Wired, journalist Clive Thompson observed, “This generation doesn’t make phone calls, because everyone is in constant, lightweight contact in so many other ways: texting, chatting, and social network messaging.” And the online news network True/Slant declared a paradox: “We’re well on our way to becoming an incredibly disconnected connected society.”
Where the world’s wires once hummed with the electrical impulses of people talking, that conversation, in the digital age, has been subsumed by all the other information we are exchanging. “At this point, voice isn’t even a rounding error in network operators’ calculations,” Stephan Beckert, an analyst with TeleGeography, a telecom research company, recently told me. To underscore the point, he sent me a chart showing “switched voice” as a thin wedge, gradually squeezed to a nearly invisible nothing by the oceanic thrust of “Internet” (and a smaller stratolayer of “private networks”). It looks as if the world has gone quiet.
There is one significant caveat here: Placing a voice call, compared to streaming The Hangover 2 on Netflix or uploading a video clip of your friend’s latest freestyle BMX trick to YouTube, consumes virtually no bandwidth.
And so the phone call is hardly dead. While it is true that land lines are in sharp decline in every advanced industrial country—the most recent and, presumably, final time land lines saw an increase in use was, ironically, during the adoption of dial-up Internet in the 1990s—in many of those countries the decline has been more than offset by an increase in minute-per-month levels on mobile phones. Even on Skype, the explosively expanding Internet phone and video chat service, some 85 percent of calls still go to the “PSTN” (the public switched telephone network,composed of the infrastructure for land lines and cell phones).
Intel is expected to share details this week about its effort to work wireless capabilities into chips, which could make mobile devices and PCs smaller, cheaper and more power-efficient.
The company will give more details about a dual-core Atom chip code-named Rosepoint, with integrated Wi-Fi capabilities, at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference being held in San Francisco February 19 through 23.
The chip is still in research, but the integration of a wireless transceiver into the silicon of the Atom CPUs could help keep ultrabooks with Wi-Fi running for days, said Justin Rattner, chief technology officer at Intel. Chips with integrated Wi-Fi may not be available until the middle of this decade, according to Intel.
Intel has said it wants to integrate Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G radios in future Atom chips, which will be used in netbooks, smartphones and tablets. Early last year, the chip maker completed its acquisition of Infineon Technologies’ wireless division for US$1.4 billion, a move that was viewed as Intel’s way to grow in the smartphone and tablet markets.
Intel’s biggest mobile rival is ARM, whose processors are found in most smartphones and tablets. The first Intel Inside smartphones from Motorola and Lenovo are expected later this year, and Intel’s Clover Trail chips will hit Windows 8 tablets later this year.
Chip makers such as Qualcomm are already shipping S4 chips, which are based on the ARM architecture and integrate Wi-Fi and 3G/4G radios, in sample quantities. The S4 chips will be able to run Windows 8 and are targeted at smartphones, tablets and PCs.
The integration of a Wi-Fi transceiver removes an extra communication chip from a device, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research. Integration allows devices to be smaller, and the removal of an extra chip reduces the cost of manufacturing, McCarron said. That leads to lower prices and savings for buyers on smartphones, tablets and even ultrabooks.
And the spy and invasion of privacy saga continues, but this time XDA Recognized Developer TrevE seems to have hit the very core of most of what is happening with devices. You may recall from a few articles back that we started talking about something called CIQ or Carrier iQ. This is, essentially, a piece of software that is embedded into most mobile devices, not just Android but Nokia, Blackberry, and likely many more. According to TrevE, the software is installed as a rootkit software in the RAM of devices where it resides. This software basically is completely hidden from view and in it virtually invisible, and worst of all, rather complicated to kill (some devices more so than others and you will see why in a few minutes). This is given root like rights over the device, which means that it can do everything it pleases and you will have nothing to say about it.
Why do we go into this? Well, a while back I was having some conversations back and forth with TrevE regarding all the HTC’s PoCs that he has been working on, and he started wondering about CIQ, as according to him, was one of the worst things that he had found in HTC’s code. So, he decided to start digging a little into this and found out that there is much more to be said regarding this software than even manufacturers will dare say. It turns out that CIQ is not exactly what many people don’t see (as it is hidden), but it is rather a very useful tool for system and network administrators. The tools is used to provide feedback and relevant data on several metrics that can help one of the aforementioned admins to troubleshoot and improve system and network performance. Point and case, the app seems to run in such a way that it allows the user to provide the input needed via surveys and other things. To put things in a more visual way, this is what CIQ should look like
“We had a huge launch party on campus and I bet that party cost more than the amount of revenues we took in on the product. As an employee, I am embarrassed. As a shareholder, I am pissed. It’s one thing to incubate products and bring them to a proof-of-concept to see what works, but it’s something else to launch. I suspect we launched because we felt like we HAD to so we could save face because we were trying to build buzz, but overall - HUGE fail.”
According to a Daring Fireball source, MS sold a grand total of 503 Kins. Epic FAIL. If true, Microsoft is really struggling in the mobile devices race.