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

Netflix’s New Flixtape Site Lets Users Create, Share ‘Mixtapes’

Netflix has debuted Flixtape, a standalone website that allows users to make playlists of their favorite movies and TV shows. The lists can be created on the basis of genre (comedy, drama, documentary) or any kind of theme. According to Netflix, these lists can either be shared, via text message, email or social networks including Facebook and Twitter, with family and friends, or simply created for the user’s own reference. The list, however, is limited to a total of six titles. Continue reading Netflix’s New Flixtape Site Lets Users Create, Share ‘Mixtapes’

Zendesk Customer Service Product Built on Machine Learning

Zendesk is introducing Automatic Answers, a service that answers a business’s emails from customers, without human intervention. But it’s far more sophisticated than today’s well-known auto-responders, having been built on a machine-learning platform that in-house data scientists and engineers have been developing for some time. The platform is also used for another Zendesk service, Satisfaction Prediction, which helps determine the customer experience. Automatic Answers will be rolled out later in the year. Continue reading Zendesk Customer Service Product Built on Machine Learning

Facebook Messenger Will Soon Enable ‘Secret Conversations’

Facebook Messenger currently has more than 900 million regular monthly users, more than quadruple the 200 million it touted in early 2014. To grow in international markets, Facebook is testing a new feature inside Messenger that will encrypt some messages, creating “secret conversations” between the users of the two mobile devices. Users must opt-in to a secret conversation. Although this isn’t the full encryption found in WhatsApp, the new feature offers more security than before, which Facebook hopes will appeal to global users. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Will Soon Enable ‘Secret Conversations’

Apple Releases Public Beta Version of its Feature-Rich iOS 10

Apple released an early public beta version of its next mobile operating system yesterday for iPhone and iPad users interested in testing the new updates. Some industry analysts have described iOS 10 as the most extensive update in years, citing features such as improved photo software, a new messaging app, and a more convenient way to take devices out of sleep mode. Beta testers can also check out redesigned apps for music, maps and news. “If more early testers report bugs and give other feedback to Apple, it is less likely that major problems will remain on release” this fall, reports The New York Times, noting that Microsoft was largely successful with its similar testing process for Windows 10. Continue reading Apple Releases Public Beta Version of its Feature-Rich iOS 10

New Snapchat Ads API Helps Brands Lower Advertising Costs

Sources indicate that Snapchat will cut its advertising prices for brands, due in large part to its new ad platform that enables more options and experimentation. With the new API launched earlier this month, Snapchat can deliver ads through third party companies. Snapchat is dropping the cost of its ads API from a minimum of $500,000 when the platform first opened to ads, to a minimum of $100,000, say insiders. Advertisers have expressed concern regarding the high cost of working with Snapchat — and interactive ads in general — both of which are now coming down. Continue reading New Snapchat Ads API Helps Brands Lower Advertising Costs

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