Instagram Mimics Snapchat and Periscope with New Features

Facebook’s Instagram just debuted two new features for live streaming video and ephemeral messaging, both of which reflect the popularity of such features in Snap’s Snapchat and Twitter’s live-streaming Periscope. By doing so, Instagram has heated up its competition with Snapchat and now competes more directly with Periscope. Instagram, which will roll out the new video features to a small group before a wider launch, also recently introduced Instagram Stories, which apes Snapchat Stories.  Continue reading Instagram Mimics Snapchat and Periscope with New Features

High Profile Snap IPO Could Push Other Startups to Go Public

Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. has confidentially filed for its IPO, according to sources familiar with the matter. The four-year old messaging app could go public as early as March 2017, in what is expected to be one of the highest-profile stock debuts in years, and one that could potentially convince other tech startups to test public markets. The Venice, California-based company is looking to raise as much as $4 billion, with a valuation in the $25 billion range, which could make it the largest U.S.-listed tech offering since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba went public in 2014. Continue reading High Profile Snap IPO Could Push Other Startups to Go Public

Slack Faces Messaging Competition From Microsoft, Facebook

Group messaging is heating up. Startup Slack Technologies, valued at $3.8 billion, got it going and, now, Microsoft, with Teams, and Facebook, with Workplace by Facebook, are moving in on the space. Slack has been expecting this level of competition for some time, and it’s one of the reasons behind the company’s recent partnership with IBM to use Watson artificial intelligence services. All of this makes it clear that tech companies, big and small, see messaging as the next big thing after email. Continue reading Slack Faces Messaging Competition From Microsoft, Facebook

Facebook Takes on Snapchat with New Flash Messaging App

Facebook launched a picture and messaging application that’s nearly identical to Snapchat, something it has already attempted to do twice. Both previous attempts — Poke and then Slingshot — failed. But this new app, Flash, which is about one-third a big as Snapchat’s Android app for Google’s new Pixel phone, is aimed specifically at emerging markets where Wi-Fi and connectivity are both scarce commodities. This move makes it clear that Facebook hopes to dominate in a market that Snapchat has not yet taken over. Continue reading Facebook Takes on Snapchat with New Flash Messaging App

Snapchat Parent Preparing IPO, Valuation Could Exceed $25B

Snap Inc., the newly named parent company of messaging service Snapchat, is readying an initial public offering that could value the company at more than $25 billion. Snap is reportedly prepping “for an IPO with a view toward selling the shares as early as late March,” explains The Wall Street Journal. “There is no guarantee the four-year-old Venice, California, company will proceed with a share sale in that time frame, and there is no guarantee it will achieve a valuation of $25 billion or more.” However, if the company does reach that value, “it would be the biggest company to go public on a U.S. exchange since 2014″ when China’s Alibaba Group Holding made its debut. Continue reading Snapchat Parent Preparing IPO, Valuation Could Exceed $25B

Facing Slow Growth, Twitter Said to Be Considering Takeover

Twitter is reportedly in early discussions with Google, Salesforce.com and others about a possible takeover of the San Francisco-based company. “Twitter is considering divesting itself of … Vine, the mobile six-second video service, and MoPub, a mobile advertising business,” according to The New York Times. Stalled growth has been a challenge for Twitter, which has largely failed to keep up with competitors in recent years. Facebook’s “offerings like Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger continued to outpace Twitter in user growth and profitability, while five-year-old Snapchat has become the newest darling of the social media world.” Continue reading Facing Slow Growth, Twitter Said to Be Considering Takeover

EU to Propose Stricter Regulations Impacting Digital Services

The European Union has unveiled proposed regulations designed to help protect its consumers. The goal is to create a single market out of Europe’s many regions, enabling its 500 million consumers to access the same services. But the EU proposals also create stricter demands for privacy and against copyright infringement, including reforms that would hold streaming services responsible for instituting better anti-piracy methods. From the perspective of Silicon Valley and much of Hollywood, the EU’s efforts are a form of protectionism. Continue reading EU to Propose Stricter Regulations Impacting Digital Services

Facebook Messenger Unveils Native Bot Payments, Webview

Out of Messenger’s one billion users, 300 million people are now using its audio and video calling features every month. This represents tremendous growth from Facebook’s first trials with VoIP audio for Messenger in 2013, and video calling in mid-2015. More recently, Facebook launched Instant Video for live connections in Messenger and group audio calling, with hints on plans to introduce group video calling. The idea is that multimedia options will always be part of the ongoing conversation. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Unveils Native Bot Payments, Webview

WhatsApp Updates Privacy Policy, Shares Data with Facebook

When Facebook bought the popular free messaging service WhatsApp, it promised it wouldn’t change the privacy policies. Now the company has done just that, and organizations including the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Center for Digital Democracy are not happy. Facebook has stated it will now connect users’ phone numbers with Facebook’s systems, offering “better friend suggestions” and more relevant ads. The new approach will help Facebook finally monetize WhatsApp. Continue reading WhatsApp Updates Privacy Policy, Shares Data with Facebook

NBCU Hands Snapchat Account to BuzzFeed and Earns Gold

NBCUniversal handed control of its Snapchat account to BuzzFeed during the Summer Olympics, giving nearly total editorial control of its Discover channel to 12 BuzzFeed video producers on location in Rio. The BuzzFeed team produced up to 20 pieces daily, with a focus on the athletes and local activities. The experiment of distributing content via social platforms and the media/messaging app resulted in a big win for NBCU, generating 2.2 billion views across the pop-up Discover channel and daily Live Stories, for a total of 230 million minutes of consumption. Continue reading NBCU Hands Snapchat Account to BuzzFeed and Earns Gold

With Smart App Genee, Microsoft Aims to Boost Cortana’s AI

Microsoft acquired Genee, a smart scheduling app that can help improve the company’s virtual assistant Cortana. Currently, Cortana can track packages and set reminders based on location among other tasks but, with Genee, it could also automatically set business meetings simply by recognizing key phrases in emails. That’s just one of the many tasks that an AI-enhanced Cortana would be able to do, all based on Genee’s ability to interpret language. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Continue reading With Smart App Genee, Microsoft Aims to Boost Cortana’s AI

Apple Bets on New iPhones to Boost Sales, Holiday Revenues

Apple is readying the debut of its next iPhone, which sources say will feature a dual-camera system (on the larger version), a re-engineered home button that vibrates, and no headphone jack. By featuring a design similar to last year’s 6S and 6S Plus, Apple is breaking its typical two-year redesign cycle. The two phones will reportedly retain the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen sizes. The introduction of new iPhones is likely in response to dwindling sales, the result in part to the two-year gap between new models. Continue reading Apple Bets on New iPhones to Boost Sales, Holiday Revenues

Twitter Struggles with Worst Quarterly Revenue Growth Ever

Twitter announced lackluster Q2 earnings, with $602 million in revenue for a net loss of $107 million. While the company improved over Q2 2015, when it lost $136.6 million, and monthly active users increased from 310 million to 313 million, its numbers fell short of Wall Street expectations and the company’s stock dropped more than 10 percent in after-hours trading. Despite new deals for live-streaming sports in the near future, the platform is not keeping up with the growth of social rivals such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, Snapchat and LinkedIn. Continue reading Twitter Struggles with Worst Quarterly Revenue Growth Ever

Facebook Messenger Passes the One Billion User Milestone

Facebook’s messaging app Messenger just reached a landmark: one billion people use it every month, says the Silicon Valley company. Facebook’s other messaging app — WhatsApp, which it acquired for $19 billion two years ago — is the most used messaging app in the world, passing the one-billion user mark in February, likely growing further since. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg says each messaging app is distinct. The company goal is to make messaging, not apps, its primary computing interface. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Passes the One Billion User Milestone

YouTube Faces Rivals, Diversifies to Capture Niche Audiences

For the first time, Internet video pioneer YouTube has had to take into account that its dominance is being challenged, most notably by Facebook, Snapchat and Amazon. Now, YouTube has more than a billion users, an app audience of 18-to-49-year-olds that dwarfs that of any U.S. cable network, and an average mobile viewing session more than 40 minutes long. To keep ahead of the competition, YouTube has diversified, with apps devoted to specific niche audiences: YouTube Music, YouTube Kids and YouTube Gaming. Continue reading YouTube Faces Rivals, Diversifies to Capture Niche Audiences

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