Facebook’s Dominance In Messaging Has Crushed LINE’s Valuation

In the a great deal-hyped marketplace for messaging merchandise like WhatsApp and facebook Messenger, startups and analysts frequently look to Asia as the example to comply with for building large software program structures to host hundreds of million of users.

Cony the bunny, one of LINE's sticker characters, on display at its flagship store in Seoul, South Korea. Despite their popularity in some parts of Asia the characters are virtually unknown in the West and other countries, as LINE has struggled to pick up users outside of its strongholds of Japan, Taiwan and Thailand. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

but even a successful app like LINE, which boasts a rich set of services like on-call for meals transport or taxis, has struggled to compete towards fb in sincerely getting extra humans to apply its app inside the last few years.

LINE, one of the world’s largest messaging offerings, is planning an IPO in July in which it’s expected to elevate $2-three billion at a $5 billion valuation, consistent with a document in the Wall street magazine citing humans familiar with the problem.

That’s 1/2 of what it became worth two years ago, while LINE first submitted an utility to waft on the Tokyo inventory trade at a valuation of $10 billion, an imparting which LINE later postponed because it desired to “building up the commercial enterprise.”

Why the large drop? LINE has been including a bunch of new and thrilling features, to make it appearance extra just like the Swiss military Knife of offerings that WeChat has pioneered and which facebook Messenger is trying to emulate. however it has struggled to grow its consumer base. LINE delivered simply thirteen million customers during the last yr, consistent with the magazine.

examine that to fb Messenger, which added an extremely good 300 million new customers among March 2015 and April 2016, according to Statista.

LINE is a high example of ways lots traders care about massive consumer numbers to help them wager at the destiny boom, even extra than they do about sales. LINE’s quarterly revenues, as an instance, have more than doubled to 30 billion yen ($247 million) among the primary region of 2014 inside the closing quarter of 2015, yet its valuation seems to have halved because of that stagnant consumer increase.

The app basically dominates in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand however has didn’t topple WhatsApp or Messenger in different countries. in part that is due to the fact there are plenty of popular messaging offerings in Asia all competing for people’s attention: together with China’s WeChat or South Korea’s KakaoTalk, there’s BBM, Hike in India and Zalo in Vietnam, says Jason Mander, senior analyst at market research firm GlobalWebIndex.

but LINE’s largest problem is facebook. some ninety one% of humans aged among sixteen and 24 who are online have an account on fb, facebook Messenger, Instagram or WhatsApp, and in a few emerging markets it’s near the a hundred% mark.

“With the majority firmly inner this atmosphere, the probability of them the use of WhatsApp or facebook Messenger in particular is actually going to be very sturdy,” says Mander. “LINE doesn’t have a comparable battery of offerings which it may rely on.”

In other words, whilst LINE has the taxis and the meals delivery, the video games, stickers and cell bills, it simply doesn’t have enough users to address the effective community effect that propelled fb Messenger and WhatsApp to tons bigger person numbers.

“We realize that ‘lots of my buddies the usage of them’ is a primary motivation for the usage of social networks and apps,” says Mander. “without this crucial mass, not sufficient people are enticing within the first location and, consequently, not enough are attractive with the best variety of features which they may then preserve coming again to.”

MEA Launches Facebook App to Integrate Its Social Media Handles

MEA Launches Facebook App to Integrate Its Social Media Handles
  • The app will help people connect with Indian missions abroad and the Ministry of External Affairs
  • Currently over 165 Indian missions and posts are on Twitter and 172 on Facebook
  • Facebook has made the app for free

Expanding its digital presence, the External Affairs Ministry today launched an app, bringing websites and various social media handles of over 170 Indian missions on a common platform to further its public outreach.

The app, developed in cooperation with social media giant Facebook, will help people connect with Indian missions abroad and the Ministry of External Affairs through a range of social media platforms without having to access individual websites.

“The app is a one stop shop to find social media handles twitter, YouTube and websites of all Indian missions abroad,” said External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

Speaking on the occasion, Ankhi Das, Public Policy Director of Facebook for India and South and Central Asia, said no “terrorist contents” are allowed by Facebook as it does not allow valourisation of terror.

mea_facebook_app.jpgComplimenting the External Affairs Ministry for its social media outreach, she said Facebook has made the app for free. Currently over 165 Indian missions and posts are on Twitter and 172 on Facebook, while 124 have their websites and many of them their YouTube channels.

Instead of searching for websites, Facebook pages and twitter handle of individual missions, people through the app can just tap on the map of the country and immediately all social media platforms of the mission will get flashed on screen.

Swarup said the the app, hosted on Facebook pages of MEA and Indian Diplomacy, will help people in distress to contact the missions without any hassles. “I think it is also in sync with the activism that our Foreign Minister herself has shown on Twitter where every night she reaches out to people who send out their messages (for help),” said Swarup.

The MEA uses Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Gplus, Soundcloud, Flickr to reach out to people as part of its social media engagement. Das said the launch of the app is an example of “consumerisation of foreign policy”, putting power in people’s hand.

Talking about power of Facebook, she said 100 million hours of video gets posted to it every day, while the number of average posts is a staggering 2.3 trillion. She said Facebook has over 155 million users in India.

FreedomPop Unveils Unlimited Free WhatsApp Access in Over 30 Countries

FreedomPop Unveils Unlimited Free WhatsApp Access in Over 30 Countries
  • Free WhatsApp access in Germany, UK, France, Portugal, and Italy
  • It also gives 100 voice minutes, 500 SMS, and 200MB of additional data
  • FreedomPop managed to raise $50 million in funding in Jaunary

Facebook-owned WhatsApp could be said to have almost completely replaced traditional voice and text messaging, being the most popular instant messaging service worldwide. In an attempt to woo the large WhatsApp user base, US-based mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) FreedomPop has launched a new offer that gives free access to WhatsApp in over 30 countries, including the US. This offer is applicable even when the user is on roaming, allowing them to use WhatsApp abroad for free.

This offer is a new strategy to get more people to sign up to its service in the US. “There really is no reason anyone should have to pay for voice and text in today’s environment. Over-the-top communication services like WhatsApp have eliminated the need for traditional voice and text services that carriers still force US users to pay hundreds of dollars a year for. The zero-rated model is gaining traction in more developing countries, and FreedomPop is leading the way here in the US,” Chris Chen, FreedomPop’s SVP of product explained to VentureBeat.

Some of the countries included in FreedomPop plan are Germany, UK, France, Portugal, and Italy. Apart from free WhatsApp access, the offer also includes 100 voice minutes, 500 SMS, and 200MB of additional data.

FreedomPop was launched in 2012 in Los Angeles, and started off with giving free limited talk time and mobile data. Last year in September FreedomPop went international with its launch in UK. It then managed to raise $50 million in funding this January, and later even launched its services in Spain four months later.

Last year, an Italian firm called WhatSim had introduced a similar offer in its country. It was offering a WhatsApp-only SIM card that came with a plan to let you use the popular messaging app for free while travelling across 150 countries. Even in Germany, telecom operator E-Plus was selling prepaid SIMs that offered unlimited WhatsApp usage.

Facebook Live Video Now Available to All Users in India

Facebook Live Video Now Available to All Users in India: How to Get Started
  • Facebook Live Video is now available in India
  • Available on both iOS and Android
  • It was earlier available to registered pages and users in other regions

Facebook seems to have flipped the Live Video switch for all its individual users in India, with the option now available to users on the iOS and Android apps. The Live Video feature was earlier available to all Facebook pages, individual users in other countries like US, as well as select users in India.

Android users will see the option very prominently when the open the app, right below the status box, next to thePhoto and Check In options. iOS users will need to tap on the What’s on your mind box and then look for the Live Video option towards the bottom of the screen on the resulting screen.

Live Video lets users broadcast a live video feed to other users on Facebook. Facebook has been pushing Live Video in a big way, and flipping the switch in India means your News Feed is likely to be full of inane live videos over the next few days, so you may want to stay away from the Facebook app as everyone does “testing live video” posts.

Facebook now lets users post live videos of up to four hours in duration, up from the two hour limit that was in place until recently. Users now also have the option to hide comments while broadcasting, and the ability to broadcast in full screen on both iOS (portrait and landscape modes) and Android (portrait mode only).

In June, Facebook announced that users can go live from the face-swapping MSQRD app and utilise different Snapchat-like masks and filters while the video is being broadcast.

Unicode to Release 16 New Professional Gendered Emojis in November

Unicode to Release 16 New Professional Gendered Emojis in November
  • The draft is prepared based on Apple and Google’s suggestions
  • Emoji 4.0 update to be reviewed till October 24
  • The update will be released in November

Unicode has decided to release a new Emoji 4.0 update. It has unveiled a draft that consists of 16 new emojis based on different professions representing both genders. These emojis have been proposed by Apple and Google, and include professions from a judge to an astronaut. The draft will be reviewed till October 24, and the Emoji 4.0 update will be released sometime in November.

As mentioned, Unicode made this decision after Apple and Google’s suggestions and the proposed draft includes 16 new emojis (32 in total when including the male and female versions). The new emojis represent different professions like a health worker, judge, pilot, farmer, cook, student, singer, artist, teacher, factory worker, technologist, office worker, mechanic, scientist, astronaut, and firefighter.

Apple proposed five professional emojis like firefighter, artist, pilot, astronaut, and judge. Google had also proposed other professional emojis back in May. New gendered emojis of previously existing ones were also unveiled, including information desk man, guardswoman, female runner, female police officer, and men with bunny ears. Emojipedia notes these have already made their way to the iOS 10 beta despite still being in a draft stage.

The new update also has the Rainbow flag, and the United Nations flag. Unicode is also considering the promotion of three characters into proper emojis. These include the female sign, male sign, and the Staff of Aesculapius.

Unicode notes that two character emojis need to have a similar skin tone as they are built on a single code. For this purpose, ten new emojis are being considered for skin tone modification. These include women with bunny ears, man and woman holding hands, two women holding hands, two men holding hands, wrestlers, snowboarder, golfer, sleeping accommodation, man in business suit levitating, and family emoji.

With iOS 10, Apple is releasing as many as 100 new emojis. The new redesigned Apple emojis include more representation of professional women, and even a water gun.

Facebook, Google, Twitter Deliberately Fail to Tackle Terrorism

Facebook, Google, Twitter Deliberately Fail to Tackle Terrorism: British Panel

In the first-ever widespread criticism of US technology giants and social media platforms, the British Home Affairs select committee has slammed the internet behemoths of becoming a “recruiting platform for terrorism” and “passing the buck”.

Led by Keith Vaz, the British parliament’s longest-serving Indian-origin MP, the panel rapped Facebook, Twitter,Google and YouTube, saying the companies were deliberately failing to stop terrorists from using their platforms to promote their sinister agenda, The Telegraph reported on Thursday.

“Huge corporations like Google, Facebook and Twitter, with their billion-dollar incomes, are consciously failing to tackle this threat and passing the buck by hiding behind their supranational legal status, despite knowing that their sites are being used by the instigators of terror,” Vaz was quoted as saying.

According to the committee report, “It is alarming that these companies have teams of only a few hundred employees to monitor networks of billions of accounts and that Twitter does not even proactively report extremist content to law enforcement agencies”.

They specifically mentioned the case of hate preacher Anjem Choudary, stressing that Twitter and Youtube refused to remove his posts praising violent extremism despite repeated requests by the police.

Choudary, 49, was convicted of terror offences last week and faces up to 10 years in prison. He was set to be questioned by French and Belgian security services over his links to Islamic State (IS)-affiliated terrorists.

The British panel also warned that social media platforms are becoming the “vehicle of choice” for spreading terrorist propaganda.

“If they continue to fail to tackle this issue and allow their platforms to become the ‘Wild West’ of the internet, then it will erode their reputation as responsible operators,” the report added.

Reacting to the report, Simon Milner, director of policy at Facebook UK, was quoted as saying: aceTerrorists and the support of terrorist activity are not allowed on Facebook and we deal swiftly and robustly with reports of terrorism-related content.”

Last week, the micro-blogging website Twitter had announced it had suspended an additional 235,000 accounts for violating its policies related to promotion of terrorism in the last six months.

Twitter had announced the blocking of more than 125,000 accounts earlier this year which were primarily related to the IS terror group.

“This brings our overall number of suspensions to 360,000 since the middle of 2015. As noted by numerous third parties, our efforts continue to drive meaningful results, including a significant shift in this type of activity off of Twitter,” the company had said in a blog post.

Facebook Messenger Testing ‘Add Contact’, Lets You Message Non-Friends More Easily

Facebook Messenger Testing 'Add Contact', Lets You Message Non-Friends More Easily
  • This feature allows users to chat without being friends on Facebook
  • The feature is currently in test mode
  • There is no clarity on when this feature will go live for all users

Adding to the already long list of tests that Facebook is conducting, the latest is being tested on the Messenger app. It is testing a new ‘Add Contact’ request feature that allows users to chat with a contact on Messenger by merely adding that contact to the smartphone. This means that users will be able to chat with their contacts through Messenger without being friends on Facebook.

This feature was confirmed to BuzzFeed News to be in testing by Facebook, and is being tested on a select group of people before the social giant rolls thinks to roll it out commercially. Once you add a contact, you can then text that person on Messenger. The app will prompt you to add the contact to your friends list, but you can choose not to.

The social giant already used to allow users to talk to people on Messenger who aren’t friends on Facebook, via message requests. Users will receive a notification or message request when a non-friend messages, and users can choose to either accept or block future messages after reading the request.

The Add Contact feature however could greatly simplify the process. There are several people in your Contact list that you haven’t added on Facebook. This feature enables users to chat on Messenger without the hassle of finding the user’s profile, sending a friend request, waiting for it to be accepted, and then begin the conversation on Messenger. It also allows you to add users yourself, without using the clunky message request format. Add Contact looks to eliminate all of that.

A few days ago, Facebook introduced new bots that can directly send you advertisements and subscription messages. It also introduced a new feature called Secret Conversations earlier this month that provided users complete encryption to selected conversations, and keep them on a single device only. Users also had the option to set a timer, after which the messages disappear.

Facebook Testing Videos That Auto-Play With Sound on Your News Feed

Facebook Testing Videos That Auto-Play With Sound on Your News Feed
  • Facebook first introduced auto-play in 2013
  • At that time, auto-play began with no sound from video
  • However, Facebook is now testing auto-play with video on select users

If auto-play videos (without sound) on Facebook wasn’t enough of an annoyance on our minds and a cause of data usage, Facebook is now testing auto-play videos with sound. This means that the feature is rolled out to users, videos will automatically start playing with sound as you casually scroll through your News Feed.

When Facebook first introduced auto-play sometime in 2013, videos started playing in the background when you scrolled over them. However, audio only began when you tapped on the video manually. Now, Facebook is testing auto-play with sound on select News Feeds in Australia.

“We’re running a small test in News Feed where people can choose whether they want to watch videos with sound on from the start. For people in this test who do not want sound to play, they can switch it off in Settings or directly on the video itself. This is one of several tests we’re running as we work to improve the video experience for people on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable Australia.

Auto-play is great if you watch a lot of videos and have a fast Internet connection with a generous data cap. However, many people are likely to find auto-playing videos annoying, and it can waste data. Auto-play with sound will cause even more discomfort to many users, especially in public places, as their smartphones would just start to emit sounds without warning. If you want to disable auto-play on Facebook follow the steps here, or watch the video below:

Facebook has been pushing video enormously in the recent past, from bringing in 360 degree support to videos, to introducing Facebook Live for users worldwide. The social giant has been trying hard to get brands, celebrities and users to upload videos on Facebook directly, instead of YouTube.

The tech giant has also been launching new improvements to Facebook Live, the recent one being theability to broadcast with another person sitting in a separate region simultaneously. This feature has been rolled out on to iOS users in select regions, with a verified account, and a Facebook Mentions app.