23 December, 2015

Indian Government set to clean up digital network with botnet cleaning centre

Dirty streets aren't the only thing the Narendra Modi government hopes to clean up. After 'Swachh Bharat' campaign, the Indian government plans to ensure the cleanliness in the online world too, with a 'Digital Swachhata Kendra' or cyber hygiene centre, for analysis of malware and botnets that affect networks and systems.

"The pilot project is going on, and subject to approvals from the (IT) minister, we want to call it the Digital Swachhata Kendra," a senior official of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) told ET. The malware analysis and botnet cleaning centre was announced earlier this year, with an outlay of Rs 100 crore, and is being implemented by CERT-In as part of Digital India.

CERT-In, the nodal agency responsible for dealing with cyber incidents, is working with anti-virus vendors to develop effective solutions to deal with cyber-attacks.

"We have the largest number of botnets in the world. And then you have malware creeping into all sorts of networks and systems. These systems, when they get infected with the malware, do not let the networks and systems function the way they were programmed to," said the official.

India was the most targeted nation for malware that steals data, according to a Trend Micro report that came out earlier this year. CERT-In is working in partnership with security software vendors to set up the centre, which will have a mechanism to analyse the behaviour of a malware and to fig-ure out if it is new or a masked or modified version of an already known malicious software.

"If it is a unique malware, we have development arrangements with the anti-virus vendors who will develop the antidote for that malware. That antidote may be available on our website for free download," said the official.
RS Sharma, ex-secretary of the Department of Electronics and IT, had announced plans for the centre in May this year, and had said that the facility would "automatically detect botnets."

21 December, 2015

The 147-year-old Tata is once again India’s most valued brand

The Tata group, India’s salt-to-steel conglomerate, is once again the country’s most valued brand. A new ranking by Interbrand, a global brand consultancy, has valued the Tata brand at Rs66,940 crore ($10 billion).

The value has inched higher by 12% since last year when it was valued at Rs59,840 crore. The Tata brand topped Interbrand’s ranking in 2014 as well. Reliance Industries, owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, and Airtel, the telecom services brand, are at the second and third spots, respectively.

Here are the top 10 brands with their brand value:

While most of the companies in the top 10 ranking are private companies, only two public sector firms made it to the list. The Life Insurance Corporation of India, the country’s state-owned insurer ranks fourth, followed by India’s largest lender, the State Bank of India.
Software and Starbucks

To calculate the brand value, Interbrand analysed each brand on three parameters—financial profit, role of the brand in consumers’ purchasing decision and overall brand strength.

“The big contributor to the growth in Tata’s brand value has been Tata Consultancy Services (TCS),” Ashish Mishra, managing director of Interbrand India, told the Business Standard newspaper. TCS, the group’s software services company, is India’s biggest IT firm.

The $108 billion Tata group was founded by Jamsetji Tata in 1868 as a trading company. Today, it has over 100 operating companies in more than 150 countries. The group has acquired some huge international assets, including the purchase of European steelmaker Corus in 2006, and Jaguar Land Rover from the Ford Motor Company in 2008. Tata has also brought popular cafe chain Starbucks to India and launched the country’s cheapest car, the Nano

27 November, 2015

Google asked to remove 1500 "Pirate Links" per minute

Google is facing a never-ending flood of takedown requests from copyright holders, breaking record after record. The company currently processes a record breaking 1,500 links to "pirate" pages from its search results every minute, which is a 100% increase compared to last year.

In recent years copyright holders have flooded Google with DMCA takedown notices, asking the company to delete links to pirated content.

The number of requests issued has increased dramatically. In 2011, the search engine received only a few hundred takedown notices per day, but in the same period it now processes more than two million “pirate” links.This translates to 1,500 links per minute, or 25 per second, and is double the amount being handled last year around the same time. The graph below illustrates the continuing increase.

Over the past month Google received takedown notices from 5,609 different copyright holders targeting 65 million links, together spanning 68,484 different domain names.
Most of the reported URLs indeed point to pirated content and the associated links are often swiftly removed from Google’s search results. However, with the massive volume of reports coming in, mistakes and duplicate requests are also common.

The availability of pirated content in search results is a hot button issue for copyright holders, who believe that Google sometimes steers legitimate customers to unauthorized sites.
Google addressed this issue last year by implementing a significant change to its search algorithm, which downranks sites that receive many copyright infringement notices.

These efforts helped to make most large torrent sites less visible, but recent research shows that many streaming sites are still among the top results.According to industry groups such as the MPAA and RIAA, Google should take a more aggressive approach and blacklist the worst offenders entirely. However, Google believes that this type of site-wide censorship goes too far.

For now, the dispute between both camps remains unresolved, which means that the takedown surge and purge is likely to continue.

26 November, 2015

Google now handles 2 million takedown requests over pirated content daily

Google’s transparency report shows that the search giant currently processes more than two million requests to remove links to pirated content from its search results each day.

TorrentFreak notes that the company received a whopping 65 million takedown notices from 5,609 different copyright holders in the past month alone. That brings the count to 1,500 requests a minute, or double the number recorded last year.

Among the organizations with the highest number of requests are multimedia copyright protection firm Degban, the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

While a large percentage of the requests indeed point to pirated content, many of them are either duplicates or incorrectly linked. Some of them also point to copyright holders’ own systems.

Google has previously been asked by copyright holders’ associations like the MPAA and RIAA to crack down harder on illegally distributed content; the company responded by adjusting its search algorithms to lower PageRank scores for sites that hosted such material. For now, the takedown request system seems to be the only way for publishers to keep pirated content in check.

23 November, 2015

Alibaba goes beyond ecommerce to powerful data sets

Since the huge IPO of Alibaba and their amassing of an enormous expansion war chest, the intensity of the conversation around ecommerce has only intensified, and analysts provided greater granularity of insights into the category. Not many platforms are profitable, and the need to continually invest in technology in this emergent phase is self evident.
Having taken almost two decades to reach US$1 trillion in sales, educated predictions are that it will double again in two years, hitting US$2 trillion in 2015. Exponential growth like this is very exciting. But what does a China dominated category growth mean for everyone else? Is ecommerce just a launching pad for Alibaba’s final goal?
Shopping in China is an acceptable pastime in itself; 78 per cent of Chinese believe that if you can shop, you are successful in life (McCann Truth about Shopping 2014). With only an emerging “offline” commerce sector, consumers in China have moved online to find the choice of products they yearn for, eagerly building their profiles.
In the US, by contrast, the study revealed ecommerce is merely making shopping more convenient, with a by-gone age of leisurely in-store retail experiences fondly remembered. No such cultural folklore exists in China, the younger and inevitably time-starved e-customers cannot refer to their older generations for a shopping education. Curiosity thus drives engagement and participation helps to define them. So it is clear we have very different customer psychologies in our ecommerce titan’s home-markets.
Alibaba is not only growing organically on its primary platforms. Alibaba has been acquiring companies on quite an incredible scale. Many of these companies, such as taxi hailing apps and an app analytics company, may not seem central to Alibaba in western eyes. But it is clear that Jack Ma’s team wants to have a keen understanding of their customers’ purchase habits across multiple touchpoints. The Chinese consumer’s expectation now is that shopping enjoyment should be seamlessly synced with the invisible conveniences technology provides – online reservation, delivery, and recorded personal information.
Worries about the data that online stores hold in markets outside of China would suggest that this kind of integrated platform creation could raise privacy concerns. The Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten, however, appears to be following a similar strategy to Alibaba in building a platform that can connect, entertain and provide retail opportunities. Chat app giant LINE is building entertainment as well as O2O commerce into its communication platform.
The mobile payment war is now officially engaged in by Apple, and will create another area for newly found cross category competitors to face off in the search for customers. In this area, Alibaba challenges traditional banks and payment facilitators, like MasterCard and Visa, eBay’s Paypal, and some Telecom companies, with Alipay. The battleground here isn’t just in internet services. It is in offline retail as well, where knowledge of the customer can deliver amazing competitive advantage.
The Truth about Shopping study told us that the majority of shoppers are happy for stores to use their data if they get value in return. While accepting technology driven shopping, it does worry western shoppers that they will miss out on discovering unexpected delights. They want the human, personal touch amidst a wave of algorithm-based personalisation.
By acquiring the massive data treasure trove that is the Youku platform, they have now got a significant data set on Chinese consumers across digital entertainment, online shopping, transportation and payment outgoings. Such a primary dataset on so large a group of people, across such a significant part of their lives has never been in existence before.
Alibaba has also reportedly invested over US$1 billion dollars in artificial intelligence and cloud computing company Aliyun. So they have the smarts and the data sets to build some astonishingly predictive algorithms.
As Alibaba’s platform of services expands globally it will continue to build a quality data set around communities, their lifestyles and shopping habits. Therefore, I strongly suggest that we think of Alibaba as a data company and not an ecommerce provider.
So, is Google really Alibaba’s target and real competition?

Twitter Count is Gone! What next?

If you haven’t heard it yet, as of 20th November 2015, Twitter has deprecated the Twitter Count API.

What that really means is, you will no long be able to see the number of shares a particular URL gets as the Twitter Count API cannot be called.
Needless to say, the online marketing world is aghast at this decision and are raising questions if Twitter really knows what they are doing?
Twitter Count was an important metric. Many of us have been leveraging it as a social proof, telling the world how popular our page has been. And all that is going to change now.
Most of us are trying to find a reason why Twitter decided to deprecate Twitter Count and how it affects us.

Why Twitter Count is deprecated?
At a time, when most of the social media platforms are keen to show case some kind of social proof in order to tell the world that their platform has the best reach, why would Twitter Count be deprecated?

While Twitter has given the official reason as this

But most of us do not believe it and we think that there are 2 primary reasons -

1) Counts of competitor platforms are higher  — Twitter has been competing with Facebook for a while now and somewhere we see that count and engagement was getting higher on Facebook. Also, sharing on Pinterest was also picking up. Maybe, Twitter didn’t want us to see that the shares on Twitter is going down compared to other platforms. Maybe, just maybe!
2) Pay for it!  — Most of us think this to be primary reason. We know Twitter is struggling to generate revenues and given the popularity of Twitter Count, they want to tap it and create a new revenue stream. Not a bad idea, but while other platforms are still providing it for free, will the early move help?

Potential Impact of Twitter Count Deprecation
I believe the impact is at multiple levels. It could impact a blogger, an agency, a reader and a tool developer in multiple ways.
As a Blogger  — Most of the blogs or even a normal HTML page has a share button these days with a count displayed on it. The count serves as a social proof to tell the readers that the particular page is popular with the readers. The inability to show that kind of a proof could impact the way popularity of the page is gauged leading to less people sharing it. Ah! Too bad!
As an Agency  — Digital Marketing agencies across the world thrive on numbers. Twitter Count gave them the ability to tell their clients that their money is being well spent and they could show some quick RoI. Now, they will have to find some other vanity metric to be able to showcase RoI.
As A Reader  — We did rely on number of shares to know how popular the article/page has been. Many of us shared further based on shares we see on the page. So, absence of Twitter count could impact resharing on Twitter
As a Tool Developer  — And I believe, this could be the widely affected community. Social platforms are popular because of the many tools that leverage its various APIs. Many tools leveraged the Twitter Count API and loss of connectivity could hamper the adoption of their tools.

22 November, 2015

Startup valuations tumble, wiping $1b off average value of mobile internet unicorns

The current bubble debate has polar opposites with Bill Gurley saying we’re in the middle of a tech bubble, and Marc Andreessen saying there’s no such thing. Tech adviser Digi-Capital’s new Mobile Internet Report Q3 2015 shows that the mobile market sided with Bill in the last quarter.
Mobile internet stocks were down 15.7 percent in the 12 months to Q3, and the average valuation dropped in Q3 from US$9 billion to US$8 billion for the 105 mobile internet unicorns.
(Note: The analysis covers mobile internet companies only, excluding mobile device, infrastructure and large but minority mobile businesses.)
Digi-Capital’s index of 96 mobile internet public stocks fell 15.7 percent in the 12 months to Q3 2015. Looking within the 17 mobile stock market sectors that Digi-Capital covers, the best performers were food and drink, wearables and navigation, all up over 20 percent in the 12 months to Q3. Enterprise/B2B and mobile tech were up less than 5 percent.
The remaining 12 sectors (music, games, messaging, social, lifestyle, entertainment, business, travel/transport, app store/distribution, m-commerce, advertising/marketing and utilities) were down by as much as 40 percent for the last 12 months.
While the 105 mobile internet unicorns’ total enterprise value was broadly flat in Q3 (or down US$52 billion if Alibaba is included), they are still worth US$839 billion. Huge value has been created in a relatively short period, considering that the iPhone only launched in 2007. The mobile internet unicorns’ value is highly concentrated within their 21 sectors. 7 sectors (social, mCommerce, transport, finance, messaging, games, food & drink) made up 90 percent of the total enterprise value in Q3.
The remaining 14 sectors (utilities, music, lifestyle, wearables, travel, entertainment, tech, enterprise/B2B, app store/distribution, medical, advertising/marketing, navigation, photo & video, productivity) account for only 10 percent.
There are 15 countries represented in the mobile internet unicorns list, but America and China drove over 85 percent of their value. North America’s 41 mobile internet unicorns are worth more than half the value. China’s 39 companies came second with one third of the wealth. Europe (Sweden, UK, Germany, Finland, Denmark, France) created 5 percent of mobile internet unicorn gold, with India, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Singapore and Malaysia collectively worth the remaining 9 percent.
The negative results from Q3 don’t mean that Bill Gurley has won the argument yet, or that it’s all downhill from here. With mobile internet revenue forecast to grow to US$850 billion by 2018, there is huge real world value being delivered every day. The question of how this translates to valuations remains to be seen, so Marc shouldn’t give up on the fight just yet.
You can find out about who won and who lost (and by how much) in Digi-Capital’s Mobile Internet Report Q3 2015.

20 November, 2015

15 top-funded ecommerce startups in India this year – with a few surprises (INFOGRAPHIC)

Ecommerce accounted for nearly half of the US$6.4 billion of funding in Indian startups in the first three quarters of 2015. It continues last year’s trend when India had its first billion dollar funding round in Flipkart, followed by nearly two-thirds of a billion dollars invested in Snapdeal.
After Japan’s SoftBank came in with bagfuls of cash for Snapdeal last year, it was Alibaba’s turn to make its move in early 2015, and what a surprise it was. The horse it backed in India’s ecommerce race is none other than the nimble Paytm. Later in the year, it also betted on Snapdeal for a two-pronged proxy war against its global rival Amazon on Indian turf.
Now let’s take a closer look at the 15 top ecommerce players in India, ranked by the funding they received this year, according to data from venture capital analytics firm Tracxn.

18 November, 2015

India to overtake US next month with 402 million internet users

The number of internet users in India will reach 402 million next month, nearly 50 percent more than what it was last year, according to a study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International.

With the latest surge, India will overtake the US to have the second-largest internet user base in the world, next only to China. This will be music to the ears of mobile and internet-based businesses targeting the fast-growing digital market in India.

It took a decade for India to move from 10 million internet users to 100 million, but only four years to quadruple that figure. The primary driver of this takeoff is the boom in affordable smartphones over the past couple of years. But two-thirds of India’s population remain outside the internet, and broadband availability is poor. Most people still access the internet on outdated 2G networks. So there’s a lot more scope for improvement in India’s digital infrastructure.
The number of internet users in India will reach 402 million next month, nearly 50 percent more than what it was last year.

06 November, 2015

Google reportedly wants to design its own Android chips

Google is reportedly taking a page out of Apple's playbook and expressing interest in co-developing Android chips based on its own designs.

Similar to how the iPhone carries a Ax chip designed by Apple but manufactured by companies like Samsung, Google wants to bring its own expertise and consistency to the Android ecosystem. To do that, it would need to convince a company like Qualcomm, which produces some of the top Android smartphone chips today using its own technology, to sacrifice some of its competitive edge. Google did not respond to a request for comment.

The discussions around Google-designed chips, which The Information say occurred this fall, originated around the company's desire to build an "enterprise connectivity device" — possibly the Pixel C laptop-tablet hybrid unveiled in September — that would rely wholly on in-house technology. Soon, Google was discussing the possibility of designing its own smartphone chips as well, the report states. One benefit of Google's strategy would be the ability to bake in cutting edge features into future versions of Android, like support for augmented and virtual reality, that would require more closely integrated software and hardware.

However, finding a chip co-developer may prove difficult. Though Google may find a willing partner from the pool of low-cost Android manufacturers, that partner may not be able to produce the highest-quality chips capable of powering high-end smartphones. The high-end market, which Apple dominates, is where Android fragmentation may be costing Google precious sales. One possibility, if chip makers don't agree to use Google designs, is requiring manufacturers of Google's Nexus line use only its own designs — all the way from the chip to the body of the device.

22 October, 2015

China accounts for 30% of all Uber rides, close to surpassing US

Uber CEO and founder Travis Kalanick said today that China now accounts for 30 percent of all Uber rides around the world – a close second behind the US market.

Kalanick was being interviewed onstage at WSJD Live in California. After explaining that Uber was too young as a company to consider prepping an IPO, the conversation turned towards China

After reaffirming last month’s statement about the Chinese city of Chengdu being Uber’s biggest global city in terms of the number of rides, he said that Uber is investing a billion bucks each year into its Chinese business. Uber earlier this month ploughed US$1 billion into a China subsidiary based in Shanghai, ostensibly so that it’s eligible for upcoming regulations that will make private car-hailing legal in the country.

Kalanick also got in a dig at Didi Kuaidi and its recent investment in US-based Lyft.

21 October, 2015

Yahoo Will Now Be Paid For Search Results By Google

Yahoo has reached a deal with Google to provide search ads for its search results.
While the deal -- which is set to expire October 2018 -- started at the first of this month, it wasn't brought to light until Yahoo's quarterly earnings results,

The deal is still subject to regulatory review.

Last April, Yahoo and Microsoft renewed a search alliance that would help Yahoo renew its own search technology. While negotiating that deal, however, former Google search exec Marissa Mayer had reportedly been trying to wiggle out of the agreement in order to reassert Yahoo's search business. Now, it appears as if Ms. Mayer has found an exit that should increase Yahoo's revenue while opening more doors for advertisers.

The new deal will have Google pay Yahoo a percentage of the gross revenues displayed on Yahoo properties or affiliate sites. The percentage, which was not disclosed, will vary depending on whether the ads are displayed on U.S. desktop sites, tablet or mobile phone versions or Yahoo's affiliate sites.
Yahoo's renegotiated deal with Microsoft Bing was nonexclusive, meaning Yahoo could reach out to
the likes of Facebook or Google to also source its results within its search pages. For now, Google will provide Yahoo with search advertisements through Google's AdSense for search service, web search service and image search services.

Since AOL replaced Google with Bing for search, they have to find alternatives and it happened to be Yahoo

Apple Music Has 6.5 Million Paying Subscribers

Apple’s new streaming music service has 6.5 million paying subscribers, suggesting that about 60 percent of those who sampled it stayed on, according to figures cited on Monday by Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive.

Mr. Cook said in an interview at WSJDLive, a technology conference presented by The Wall Street Journal in Laguna Beach, Calif., that the service, Apple Music, had a total of 15 million users, 6.5 million of whom pay. Apple Music, a competitor to Spotify, was introduced at the end of June and offered customers three months of music free; those who continue after their trial periods end pay $10 a month for individual accounts or $15 a month for family plans.

In August, Apple said 11 million people had tried the service, and trial periods began to expire at the end of September. Since then, the music industry has been eagerly awaiting Apple’s subscriber numbers, while the company’s executives have made various public statements that they were aware of early problems with the service — like jumbled playlists — and were working to resolve them.

Spotify last revealed its user numbers in June, when it said it had 20 million paying users around the world and 55 million who use its advertising-supported free version.

Now that's some number, it is interesting to notice that customers are willing to pay for music even when services such as YouTube are available to leverage such service , the only reason I see for this to be a success is the experience they provide to the users for which they already well know

17 October, 2015

Facebook's real-time news app is reportedly called Notify

Facebook is preparing to take over another responsibility for online media: notifications. It's well known the company has been working on a real-time news app, and it's now close to launching the software with the name Notify, according to a report today by The Awl. The app appears to let users subscribe to certain news organizations, dubbed "stations," and receive notifications when those outlet's websites push out new stories. The initiative would build on Facebook's ever-growing presence as a platform for various aspects of the online news business, like its Instant Articles format for repackaging webpages as clean and fast-loading subsets of the Facebook app itself.

Hardly any media companies have maintained a well-built smartphone app that a majority of its readers actually use, at least in anywhere near the capacity of Facebook's. That gives Facebook an opportunity to add news alerts to the myriad other reasons it pings us every day. And even if a news app's readership is high, those readers are more likely to have Facebook's notifications turned on instead of the one of many websites they read. So even The New York Times and BuzzFeed, with their strong app presences, may come to rely on Facebook's Notify to direct the firehose of social media users in the right direction

Notify would also come as a challenge to Twitter, which just last week launched a new feature geared toward mobile users called Moments. The standalone tab, sitting next to notifications and messages, lets Twitter curate tweets into sections like news and sports. But Twitter, with a handful of launch partners, is also letting media companies create their own "moments," and the company expects news organizations and other third parties will ultimately create a bulk of the content.

So think of Facebook’s Notify as a way to drive users away from competing apps with similar features, like Twitter with Moments and Snapchat’s Discover, and toward one of its own products. 

16 October, 2015

A Facebook glitch is showing some users exactly how many people have looked at their posts

If you've ever wondered how many people actually see your Facebook posts, a new bug found in the social network might answer that question.Some users have reported seeing view counters next to their Facebook posts, as multiple reports have indicated.

A few Facebook users have tweeted screenshots that show a new metric displayed alongside a Facebook post that reveals how many people have seen that post.

This counter is displayed in the same spot where you would normally see how many people liked or commented on your Facebook post.

Here's what it looks like:

It's similar to a feature called "reach" that Facebook offers for brand pages, but no such functionality has ever existed for individual users. Both Mashable and The Verge are reporting that this only affects the company's mobile website, so if you typically use Facebook on your desktop or through its mobile app you likely won't be impacted by the bug. These view counters typically only appear under links that are shared or posted rather than photos, according to The Verge.

Users began noticing the view counter on Wednesday, and Facebook has been working to address the accidental feature. 

10 October, 2015

Facebook finally launches Messenger on the Apple Watch

After teasing it at the Apple Watch event in September, Facebook has finally delivered the watch version of its Messenger app.

The social network quietly rolled out the Apple Watch app in an update to the Messenger app . The update also adds support for iOS 9 features, including universal search and multitasking for iPads.

The watch version of the messaging app supports watchOS2, the latest version of Apple's software for the Apple Watch. It actually manages to squeeze in quite a bit of Messenger's functionality into it.

You can't type out full responses to messages but you can choose from a list of canned answers, send your location, "like," post stickers or record a voice message with the watch's built-in microphone. On the receiving side, you can also check out photos, videos and voice messages.

Though the app supports Facebook's stickers, animated stickers and animated GIFs will only appear as static images on the watch app.

While not technically Facebook's first watch app — that distinction belongs to Instagram — Messenger will be a welcome addition for many users. Apple teased what appeared to be a watch version of the main Facebook app back in March, but such an app has yet to appear.

For Android users, Messenger is also compatible with Android Wear. The Android Wear app, which rolled out earlier this year, also allows you to record and send voice messages and send "likes" from your wrist.

09 October, 2015

The Facebook 'dislike button' is here - and it's actually emoji reactions

Facebook's 'Like' button was introduced back in 2009 and changed the way we interacted with other people on the social network - and it's about to change again.

A new report suggests Facebook is preparing to introduce emotions to the platform, which will allow you to react with icons for laughter, anger, shock, love and more

If it's deemed successful then Facebook is sure to roll the feature out to the rest of the world. A 'Dislike' button has been rumoured for quite some time and the idea had a new lease of life after being dragged up again in recent weeks.

People have been asking for the feature as a way to give a suitable reaction to bad news when it's put on Facebook. If successful, we can see the social network bringing more emotions as time goes on - but hopefully not too many.

Because let's be honest: the 'like' button is a pretty lazy way of acknowledging someone's post. With an endless selection of one-click responses, what reason will we have to write actual comments anymore?

07 October, 2015

The iPhone 6S arrives in 40 new countries this week in fastest rollout ever

Besides launching SIM-free variants of the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6S Plus in the U.S., Apple also announced it will be launching the new phones in 40 new countries this week.

Most new markets will be getting the new iPhones Friday, Oct. 9. Here's the list, coming from an Apple spokesperson: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan.

Furthermore, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates will be getting the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6S plus on Saturday, Oct. 10.

Finally, the new iPhones will also be available in 24 additional countries and territories beginning Oct. 16 including India, Malaysia and Turkey. All in all, Apple should be selling the iPhone 6S in over 130 countries by the end of the year.

By count, this is the fastest international rollout of the iPhone ever. The iPhone 6S will be available in 76 markets three weeks after it was released on Sept. 25. It took well over a month for the iPhone 6 to reach that many markets

24 September, 2015

Google is going to announce some new Android products on September 29

Google sent out invitations to the press on Friday night for a September 29 event. The company will likely introduce new Android smartphones and an updated version of the Chromecast.

The invitation has a clever play on words: "Join us for some tasty new treats and much s'more" - a reference to Android M "Marshmallow," the newest version.

Google's new gadgets have leaked several times in recent weeks. First, we'll get two new Android phones, one made by LG and another made by Huawei. The Android new blog Droid life reported this week that the LG model will be called the Nexus 5X. The Huawei model will be called the Nexus 6P.

Google is also expected to announce an updated version of the Chromecast, the device that plugs directly into your TV and lets you stream content from services like Netflix. 9to5Google was the first to report that a new Chromecast is coming.

22 September, 2015

There's a global alliance forming to stop Uber's world domination

Earlier this week, Didi Kuaidi - Uber's biggest competitor in China - and Lyft, Uber's biggest US rival, announced the two companies were teaming up to take on Uber.

The strategic partnership will let the companies share technology, product development, and local resources, and when US users of Lyft go to China (or when Didi users come visit the US), they'll be able to pay in their native currency on each app.

At a press conference earlier this week, Lyft founder and president John Zimmer called the partnership "the first step toward global coverage." It's no secret that this partnership is intended to let the companies overtake Uber.

Taking on Uber
Uber has been heralded as a ride-hailing giant; as of June, the company operated in 311 cities in 58 countries globally. And Uber has been investing heavily in China.

Uber's China branch recently closed a $1.2 billion round of funding. Uber is aggressively expanding its Chinese footprint, with plans to operate in 100 more cities in the country in the next year. And Uber's top three most popular cities - Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Chengdu - are all in China.

Uber's service is taking off in China much faster than it did in the US; nine months after launching in Chengdu, Uber had 479 times the trips it had in New York after the same amount of time.

Up until this partnership was announced, Lyft did not seem a formidable enemy to Uber. Lyft operates domestically and, although it is valued at an impressive $2 billion, that still pales in comparison to Uber's aggressive, international expansion and eye-popping $51 billion valuation.

But now that Lyft has teamed up with Didi, the two companies seem better suited to take on Uber. Didi recently closed a $3 billion round of venture capital funding, and it's valued at $15 billion, so it's well-equipped financially - in total, Didi Kuaidi has amassed a $4 billion war chest of venture capital funding.

Didi Kuaidi was created in February when competing apps Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache merged to cut the costs of competing with each other - and more importantly, with Uber. Didi's finances have also come into question. The company is losing buckets of money, according to leaked financial documents surfaced by the Financial Times.

Forming a global alliance
In addition to just the US and China, the Lyft-Didi partnership could signal an aggressive plan for taking on ride-hailing at a global scale. If you're bullish on Uber and don't believe in a ride-hailing market big enough for two players, that plan may sound crazy.

But Lyft and Didi's approach has something Uber's doesn't. US-based Lyft can now reach Chinese customers through an app native to their own country. Some of Uber's backlash in Asia stems from the fact that Uber is not a service native to Asia, and has subsequently struggled with adapting its service to suit laws in these countries.

In fact, South Korea has vowed to shut down Uber's operations in the country. As TechCrunch notes, "Korean law doesn't allow technology companies to store payment data as part of their purchase workflow, but instead requires consumers to retype their information with every purchase, ostensibly for security reasons."

But this global alliance against Uber could extend beyond just the US and China, ostensibly giving Uber a run for its money.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Lyft and Didi are in talks to expand their alliance with other Asian ride-hailing companies: India's Ola and Singapore's GrabTaxi.

Ths isn't entirely unexpected. Earlier this year, BuzzFeed News reported that Softbank Capital, which has funded on-demand ride-hailing startups GrabTaxi and Ola, was behind a global alliance to take on Uber. Executives at both GrabTaxi and Ola, which are Asia-based companies that use taxis instead of private drivers, told BuzzFeed News they were working on "forming a global alliance of regional players."

Didi Kuaidi invested $100 million in Lyft months prior to the two companies' partnership. Didi Kuaidi has also invested in GrabTaxi. So it's easy to see how the partnership could extend to Singapore - where GrabTaxi is based - and to Ola, which is Uber's main Indian rival.

So besides the US and China, an expanded partnership would let Lyft, Didi, and its potential new partners - GrabTaxi and Ola -operate in India, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines. This would provide a distinct advantage to Lyft/Didi/Ola/GrabTaxi over Uber as GrabTaxi already operates in regional cities that Uber doesn't, like Thailand's Chiang Rai and Malaysia's Kuching.

At the press conference earlier this week, Zimmer declined to comment on adding more companies to its partnership. "We'll announce different parts of our global strategy down the road," he said.

21 September, 2015

Apple's iOS App Store just suffered its first major attack

Apple Inc said that it is cleaning up its iOS App Store to remove malicious iPhone and iPad programs identified in the first large-scale attack on the popular mobile software outlet.

The company disclosed the effort after several cyber security firms reported finding a malicious program dubbed XcodeGhost that was embedded in hundreds of legitimate apps.

It is the first reported case of large numbers of malicious software programs making their way past Apple's stringent app review process. Prior to this attack, a total of just five malicious apps had ever been found in the App Store, according to cyber security firm Palo Alto Networks Inc

The hackers embedded the malicious code in these apps by convincing developers of legitimate software to use a tainted, counterfeit version of Apple's software for creating iOS and Mac apps, which is known as Xcode, Apple said.

"We’ve removed the apps from the App Store that we know have been created with this counterfeit software," Apple spokeswoman Christine Monaghan said in an email. "We are working with the developers to make sure they’re using the proper version of Xcode to rebuild their apps."

She did not say what steps iPhone and iPad users could take to determine whether their devices were infected.

Researchers said infected apps included Tencent Holdings Ltd’s <0700 .hk=""> popular mobile chat app WeChat, car-hailing app Didi Kuaidi and a music app from Internet portal NetEase Inc.

The tainted version of Xcode was downloaded from a server in China that developers may have used because it allowed for faster downloads than using Apple's U.S. servers, Olson said.

Chinese security firm Qihoo360 Technology Co said on its blog that it had uncovered 344 apps tainted with XcodeGhost.

Apple declined to say how many apps it had uncovered.

20 September, 2015

Apple CEO Tim Cook says we may finally be able to delete those permanent apps Apple puts on your iPhone

If you're an iPhone owner, you've probably noticed that there are some apps you cannot remove from the phone.

These are apps made by Apple, and some of them frankly aren't that useful - the Tips app, for instance, isn't useful if you already know how to use your iPhone. The stocks app won't matter to you unless you follow the stock market.

Cook says Apple is looking into ways to make it possible to delete these apps, but it's a complicated issue. Here's what he told BuzzFeed News' John Paczkowski:

This is a more complex issue than it first appears...There are some apps that are linked to something else on the iPhone. If they were to be removed they might cause issues elsewhere on the phone. There are other apps that aren't like that. So over time, I think with the ones that aren't like that, we'll figure out a way [for you to remove them]. ... It's not that we want to suck up your real estate, we're not motivated to do that. We want you to be happy. So I recognize that some people want to do this, and it's something we're looking at.

With iOS 9, Apple's upcoming software update for iPhones and iPads, the company is adding a few more apps that won't be erasable. New apps for Find My Friends and Find My iPhone are coming in iOS 9.

17 September, 2015

New lawsuit claims Twitter is 'eavesdropping' on users' direct messages

Twitter was hit with a proposed class action lawsuit on Monday that claims its automatic link-shortening in direct messages amounts to wiretapping.

"Twitter surreptitiously eavesdrops on its users' private Direct Message communications," the complaint reads. "As soon as a user sends a Direct Message, Twitter intercepts, reads, and, at times, even alters the message."

The complaint was brought in federal court in San Francisco from Wilford Rane, as The Hollywood Reporter uncovered.

The suit alleges that Twitter's algorithms modify links sent through its direct message service. The suit uses a New York Times article as an example, which had its link modified to ""http:/t.co/CL2SKBxr1s" - though it still showed "www.nytimes.com" to the user. This, the suit argues, is deceptive.

The lawsuit claims that, by using this link-shortening mechanism, Twitter passes data to its analytics servers before sending users to the linked site. This allegedly allows them to benefit from higher advertising rates, according to the suit.

Bear in mind that this is merely a proposed class action, and has not been approved by a judge. The claimed damages run up to $100 per day for each user of two classes: those who received direct messages and those who sent them.

A similar class action against Google, which alleged that the company was combing through Gmail accounts for advertising purposes, was derailed when a judge ruled that the users were too dissimilar to make up a class.

Facebook was also smacked with a similar suit last year, which alleged it used data from private messages to target ads.

Read the full complaint here.

16 September, 2015

Apple's secret car project is rumoured to be having a 'big impact' on the production of Tesla vehicles

Tesla employees have been jumping ship to Apple to work on the company's ultra-secret car project, codenamed "Project Titan." This has had a "big impact" on the development of new Tesla vehicles, Apple Insider reports.

Apple Insider's source claims that Apple has as many as 1,000 employees working on Project Titan, with "many" of those having joined the company from Tesla. According to LinkedIn, however, just 80 Apple employees list Tesla as a former employer, and not all of these employees are engineers.

t's not clear whether delays to the production of the Model X have stemmed from the apparent exodus of Tesla employees, since the Model S Sedan also suffered significant setbacks even though production started long before "Project Titan" appears to have begun. There are also rumours of delays to the production of Tesla's Model 3, which is scheduled for delivery in late 2017.

Musk told Bloomberg in February that Apple had been trying "very hard to recruit from Tesla." Apple apparently offered 60% salary bumps and $250,000 signing bonuses. "But so far they've actually recruited very few people," Musk added at the time.

Around the same time, Business Insider received an unsolicited email from an employee at Apple about "vehicle development" at the company.

This person said Tesla employees were "jumping ship" to work at Apple.

"Apple's latest project is too exciting to pass up," the person said. "I think it will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money."

Many of those hired before February - about 50 according to LinkedIn - turned out to be engineers who had interned at Tesla.

Meanwhile, AppleInsider's source "would not rule out" the possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla. Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster previously expressed that this would be a smart move for Apple in the long-term. However, there's no indication that Musk wants to sell the company.

This hiring spree goes both ways. Tesla has hired about 150 people from Apple so far, according to Bloomberg.

24 August, 2015

Is #government use of #SocialMedia maturing?

Check this link for complete information and the approach taken in arriving at this list.

22 August, 2015

After Years Of Restraint, Facebook Tries Allowing GIFs In Ads And Page Posts

Facebook refused to fill its site with flashy animated banner ads for a decade. Zuckerberg thought these interrupted the user experience, and could stunt growth. But after reaching near ubiquity and acclimating users to video ads, today the company tells me it’s relaxing its standards and starting to allow businesses to post GIFs as ads and Page posts.

Wendy’s and Coca-Cola’s Brazilian brand Kuat are the first businesses with the ability to share them. Wendy’s ad shows a salad being constructed, while Kuat’s is basically the rainbow-shooting poptart meme Nyan Cat with a brand name slapped on.

GIFs can’t go in the tiny sidebar ads Facebook is phasing out, only “Boosted” Page posts, which make up most of the ads you see in your feed.

The social network started supporting GIFs in user posts starting in May, but hadn’t allowed businesses to try the hip graphic interchange format all the kids are Tumbling over.

Facebook tells me “GIFs can be a fun and compelling way to communicate, so we’ve started testing GIF support in posts and boosted posts for a small percentage of Facebook Pages. We will evaluate whether it drives a great experience for people before rolling it out to more Pages.”

So basically, if users hate them and they don’t perform well, Facebook will scrap them. But if the eyegrabbing ads and Page posts drive business without annoying the hell out of people, all companies might soon get the option to animate your News Feed.

If Facebook’s smart, it will take a very aggressive approach to how the News Feed treats these posts in order to preserve the user experience. If they receive even a little negative feedback for being spam or being hidden, they should get banished from the feed.

GIFs are the visual equivalent of shouting. You have to really care about the message or you’d prefer they just shut up.

21 August, 2015

Samsung Is Really Really Really Keen To Convert iPhone Owners To Its Smartphones

Got an iPhone? Got a dollar? That’s all you need if you want to take one of Samsung’s newest smartphones for a thirty day, “no obligation” spin. (That’s assuming that you live in the U.S.)

The Korean phone maker, which continues to see its growth slip as Android smartphones themselves suffer a global decline, is pinpointing customers of arch rival Apple with this very specific offer, as CNET first spotted. The trial even includes a free data plan, to get the most from a Galaxy device, which is not restricted to any single operator.

While Apple continues to go from strength to strength — its Q3 2015 net profit rose nearly 40 percent year-on-year to reach $10.7 billion — Samsung’s vital financial stats keep moving in the wrong direction. Samsung Mobile’s operating profit sunk 37.6 percent year-over-year to 2.76 trillion won, while its operating profit margin in the last quarter was 10.6 percent, a significant decrease from 15.5 percent in Q2 2014.

Samsung last week unveiled the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+, its latest competitors to take on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+, but already critics are unsure whether the devices, and their lofty pricepoints, can put a dent in Apple’s brand and its flagship device, which have helped the U.S. firm gain marketshare in pretty much all major global markets. And, with the next iterations of the iPhone set to launch next month, the competitor is only set to get tougher.

30 July, 2015

Facebook now lets you restrict who views videos by age and gender

As Facebook takes aim at YouTube with a growing video platform, the social network is giving advertisers and publishers more say in who sees their videos.

The company said  that video creators will now be able to restrict their audience by age and gender, in addition to the location and language options it already offered.

It's also rolling out a new "secret" mode, which makes videos playable only to those with a direct link, much like YouTube's "unlisted" function. Video publishers can now opt to turn off third-party embedding, or house videos only under a "videos" tab separate from the News Feed.

The company's video business has exploded in the past year, quadrupling its traffic. In total, Facebook videos accrue more than 4 billion views a day — though it's important to note that Facebook counts one view if you watch three seconds of a video, which is a much more lenient standard than YouTube's roughly 30 seconds.

Facebook is trying to squeeze more money out of those videos by launching new types of ads. It also wants to give advertisers targeting options that other video platforms can't offer.

Earlier this month, Facebook began testing commercial break-like ads that appear between a series of videos watched consecutively. The company is banking on users watching a string of videos in one sitting, which seems to suggest that Facebook is looking to cordon off a fully-fledged video platform rather than only letting videos float freely through user News Feeds.

The new video features seem to further this mission by creating an optional wall to separate videos from the rest of Facebook, and a labelling mechanism to group videos into categories like "entertainment" and "news."

The ability to home in on an audience is another key tenet. The masses of personal data Facebook has on its 1.44 billion users give it a leg up over the Google-owned video giant when it comes to targeting ads.

29 July, 2015

New York is now the world’s number 2 startup ecosystem

Startup data benchmarking company Compass has released its second Startup Ecosystem Report. In the three years since the previous report, New York City has overtaken Tel Aviv in the rankings to become the second most significant startup ecosystem in the world, behind (of course) Silicon Valley.

Austin, Bangalore, Singapore, and Chicago all saw gains in the new ranking table, while Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney, Tel Aviv and Seattle fell. Santiago, Melbourne and Waterloo, meanwhile, dropped out of the top 20 completely.

While the pride of more than a few local ecosystem cheerleaders in cities around the world may be hurt by seeing their city drop, the data collection this time around is much more comprehensive than 2012’s report, meaning the findings aren’t directly comparable but should be paid attention to.

Compass worked with Deloitte, Crunchbase, Orb Intelligence, Global Entrepreneurship Week, Dealroom, and 60 local partners to perform research that included conducted 200 interviews with entrepreneurs and local experts from 25 countries and data from 11,000 surveys completed by startups, investors and other stakeholders in the last five months. The work had support from Ron Berman at Wharton Business School, Dr. Thomas Funke from the German Federal Ministry for Economics and startup theorist Steve Blank.

Ecosystems were ranked by performance, funding, talent, market reach, and ‘startup experience’ (which Compass describes as “first-party survey data that is linked to success of startups, such as having veteran startup mentors or founders with previous startup experience “).
Interconnected ecosystems

The report finds that ecosystems are more interconnected than you may assume. International second offices are on the rise, and on average, 29 percent of employees across the top 20 ecosystems are foreign. Meanwhile, 37 percent of all funding rounds in the top 20 ecosystems have at least one investor from another ecosystem and 27 percent of funding rounds involve at least one foreign investor.
Gender imbalance

It’s no secret that startups founders are predominantly male, and this report finds that across the top 20 ecosystems, only 18 percent of founders are female. Chicago comes out on top in the progressiveness stakes here, with women making up 30 percent of founders.

There’s a lot more to get your teeth into in the full report, and it’s worth a read if you want to understand what the top performing ecosystems are doing right.

You can download the complete report here - Compass Startup Ecosystem Report 2015

28 July, 2015

Google bids adieu to Google+

The American search engine is finally bidding good bye to Google Plus. Yes, you read it right.

Google has spent the last several months chopping up Google Plus's most useful pieces and making them separate services as it moves away from making Google Plus the central hub for all Google-related activity.

On Monday, the company announced its most drastic step for breaking up Google Plus.

Google has announced more sweeping changes for Google Plus over the next few months as it re-structures network into two distinctly separate products – streams and photos.

Previously, many tasks within Google products (such as, say, commenting on a YouTube video) required a Google Plus profile, but that won't be the case moving forward.

"People have told us that accessing all of their Google stuff with one account makes life a whole lot easier," Google's Vice-President of photos and sharing, Bradley Horowitz, wrote in a company blog.

Google now says that in the coming months, you'll only need to create a Google account to do things such as creating a YouTube channel, communicating with contacts and other key functionalities.

Google also announced it's adding a new feature to the social network called Google Plus Collections, which lets users share and read posts sorted by existing topics like sneakers, gluten-free recipes and Ireland or all-new user-generated topics.

Meanwhile, the social network's location sharing ability will be moved over to Hangouts and other unspecified apps, "where it really belongs."

"We think changes like these will lead to a more focused, more useful, more engaging Google Plus," Horowitz wrote.

The changes also mark a symbolic end of Google Plus as a social network meant to rival Facebook.

Forcing Google users to sign up for a Google Plus account in order to the use some of the company's other products and services was a clear bid to generate interest in its social network, but it backfired with many users.

Google Plus claimed 300 million monthly active users in late 2013, although Stone Temple Consulting, a third-party digital marketing agency, pegged that figure at a far lower 111 million this past April.

"For our part, the biggest issue with Google's social network is that it just wasn't social enough - the layout of the site wasn't as inviting or friendly as Facebook's traditional layout has been and we still haven't seen any indication that Google really gets how the social web works," Google explained on its official blog.

23 July, 2015

Soon you'll be able to buy products directly from Google Search results

Soon you'll be able to buy products directly from Google Search results

Google wants to make it much easier to shop from your phone. In the next few weeks, the company is rolling out a new feature that lets you make purchases directly through Google Search results.

When an advertisement for a product appears in search results, you'll be able to click on that product and select the checkout option if you want to buy it. Here's what it will look like:
The company is also going to deep link apps from shopping ads. This means that if you have the eBay app installed on your phone, you'll be directed to the eBay app if a product from eBay appears in your search results.

Another way the company is making it easier to shop online is by rolling out a new feature called conversational voice search. This means you can ask Google Now a shopping-related query in natural language, and it will pull up an answer. For example, you can ask for the resolution of a specific camera model, and Google will pull it up.

Google is also adding a few new cards to Google Now that make it easier to shop. A new product reviews card will show you reviews for a certain product when you ask. A new price drop card will show you when a particular item is on sale, too.

21 July, 2015

Facebook will soon add a 'buy' button so you can shop from Facebook

Facebook is rolling out a new way to sell things.It's letting certain stores sell their products directly through the social network via a "buy" button on their Pages, BuzzFeed's Alex Katrowitz reports.

Although Facebook's just testing its so-called "shop section," the move makes sense, given its recent introduction of peer-to-peer payments capabilities, new ways to let stores communicate with people via messages, and its increasing dedication to keeping people within the Facebook ecosystem as much as possible.

This isn't the first time Facebook has taken a stab at ecommerce. Back in 2011, Facebook allowed a bunch of different brands like Gamestop, Gap, JC Penney, and Nordstrom to open stores on the site.
They all closed within a year.

At the time, several merchants said that they decided to close their shops because consumers preferred shopping on their regular sites, so there wasn't a big enough return on investment.
Of course, ecommerce has swelled hugely since then and its become much more normalized for people to buy things on their phones. Google, Pinterest, and Twitter now all have their own buy buttons too.

It would be interesting to see if FB takes a cut from the same sales done on their platform, which would imply a new stream of revenue.

20 July, 2015

Facebook acquires Pebbles Interfaces to help track your hands in virtual reality

Facebook has acquired Pebbles Interfaces, an Israel-based startup that specializes in gesture control, in an effort to expand its virtual reality platform.
Pebbles Interfaces has been researching computer vision and depth-sensing technology for the last five years, and will be joining the Oculus virtual reality team in a $60 million deal, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion last year, a technology company which created the highly anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
Pebbles' gesture-control technology can detect the hands and skin of a user who is wearing a virtual reality headset like the Rift, according to the WSJ, enabling its users to see their hands and arms in VR using light sensoring technology. The technology can also recognize and track a user's clothing, items in one's hand, and scars while using a virtual reality headset in the VR display - a feature that competing companies have yet to develop. 
"Through micro-optics and computer vision, we hope to improve the information that can be extracted from optical sensors, which will help take virtual reality to the next level," Nadav Grossinger, CTO of Pebbles Interfaces, wrote on the Oculus blog

Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer previously said, "everyone is going to have to be a little patient" with Facebook and its futuristic VR platform roll-out. Even though the public market is currently awaiting the consumer release of the Oculus Rift, scheduled to launch in Q1 2016, Facebook is already preparing for the second and third generation versions of the headset. 

18 July, 2015

Apple's biggest rival in China says it plans to start selling phones in the US

Xiaomi, the startup that makes wildly popular Android phones in China, has plans to start selling its devices in the US, company vice president Hugo Barra told.

But it won't happen anytime soon. Barra said it would take at least a year for the company to build out the necessary distribution and customer support to start selling phones in the US.
Xiaomi is Apple's biggest rival in China. It sells phones with specs that are just as good as high-end iPhones or Samsung Galaxy phones but that typically cost half as much.

Apple and Xiaomi consistently sell more phones in China than any other manufacturer, with Apple on top in recent quarters since the launch of the iPhone 6.

The company is often criticized for borrowing heavily from Apple's designs. The critics say Xiaomi gets away with copying Apple because China has looser restrictions on patents. But if Xiaomi does come to the US, it risks lawsuits, as in the high-profile Apple-versus-Samsung case from a few years ago.

Barra told Chang that Xiaomi was building up the protections it needed to battle any such lawsuits.
Xiaomi phones are pretty good too, and if they do come to the US, they'll give you a premium experience at a fraction of the cost of the iPhone.

Xiaomi would most likely be a bigger threat to companies like Samsung, however, because Xiaomi phones also use Android. Samsung has seen smartphone sales rapidly decline over the past two years, mostly because people are buying cheaper premium phones such as those made by Xiaomi. IPhone sales continue to grow despite the phone's higher price.

In the meantime, Xiaomi will continue to focus on selling its phones in emerging markets where most people don't already have smartphones.

China is still the company's biggest market, and the company has recently made a big push in India.

17 July, 2015

Amazon Prime Day sales beat Black Friday

Amazon's 24-hour summer sale for Prime members, called Prime Day, appears to have been a major success for the online retailer. Product orders exceeded that of last year's Black Friday sale which was open to all Amazon customers (not just Prime members), reports the company. But the purpose of Prime Day wasn't so much about generating a large influx of revenue in the short term as it was about generating awareness about its members-only shopping program Prime. Shoppers were able to participate in Prime Day without a subscription by signing up for a free trial, which allowed them to experience all of the shipping perks and discounts that members experience on a daily basis.

In fact, Amazon likely lost money on Prime Day because of the steep discounts, but that risk could pay off in the long run by converting more shoppers to Prime memberships. Members of Prime who spend more money on Amazon on average than non-Prime members, according to a report from Millward Brown.

Prime members spend about $1,500 with Amazon each year, while non-Prime members spend about $625 with the retailer annually.Prime members are also much less likely to shop at other retail websites in a single shopping session than non-members.

Would be interesting to see the number if Alibaba in China or Flipkart in India does such campaign

08 July, 2015

Google Maps iOS update now lets you share locations on Facebook and Messenger

Owners of iOS devices, rejoice: Sharing pins with your friends will now get a little easier. An update from Google Maps now allows you to share your location to more apps, including Facebook and its spun-off communications app Messenger.

The new feature, part of Google Maps version 4.8.0, will now make it much easier to send a pin to someone who is on their desktop computer, or who is just too lazy to switch between apps (we all know that person). Users can also broadcast their location to their friends, or target it to a specific group. It does not allow you to post pins directly in events, though, so you’ll still have to play the text game if your party has to switch locations.

The app update also includes improved transit directions, offering more route choices and real-time arrival information in certain areas to help commuters get to where they need to be on time. There is also a new image gallery for places — tap on a photo to get a grid view of all of the images helpful Googlers have posted to Maps.

Whether or not sharing your pins is a thing that you like to do, it’s cool to see how much Google is thinking about deep-linking within the iPhone. You now have another reason to never switch back to Apple Maps again. And this is a class case of usability versus scalability when it comes to Google, they want people to use it rather than have it, hence this move doesn't surprise me, interesting to know how FB agreed for this when they have a check in feature

02 July, 2015

Wireless charging will soon be as powerful as plugging in

Wireless charging is handy, but slow. To help change that fact, the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) has announced the latest Qi specifications, allowing wireless charging pads to deliver more power to your handset.

The WPC wants your wireless charge to be just as fast as a wired quick-charge, much like the technology Qualcomm pioneered.

In the announcement, WPC says “several manufacturers already offer wired fast charging for their devices, providing as much as 60 percent charge in as little as 30 minutes. The latest Qi specification empowers them to extend this speed to wireless charging as well.”

This new standard also gives approval for new test procedures and tools to verify fast wireless charging, and verifies the specification is backwards compatible to existing chargers.

01 July, 2015

Facebook changed its logo yesterday, did you notice?

Facebook quietly changed its logo yesterday for the first time since 2005 and you probably didn’t even notice.The update is only a refresh of the company’s wordmark, which is the text-only version of its logo used for identifying its brand.

Josh Higgins, Facebook’s Creative Director told Brand New that the company “set out to modernize the logo to make it feel more friendly and approachable” and settled on an update instead of a full redesign.

Facebook asked Eric Olson, the designer of Klavika, the font used for the original wordmark, to design a new typeface.

Ben Barry, a former designer at Facebook, had also proposed tweaks to the Facebook wordmark in 2012 which were approved by the company but never implemented.

The actual Facebook ‘F’ logo isn’t being changed. You’ll only notice the difference where the full name is used.

Personally , I think the old one was much better kerned that the latest variation where the "face" section seems tighter than the "book" section.

27 June, 2015

The Big Data Analytics Landscape 2015: The Analytical Maturity Model

Data analytics moves from hindsight (what happened?) to insight (why did it happen?) to foresight (what will happen and what should I do?). Depending on where you fall in this continuum, you need to pick the right combination of technology to support your current abilities and give you room to grow without falling behind.

Fortunately you can demystify your organization's place along this scale. Use this benchmark to grade your organization by the leadership, data strategy and technology currently in play.

The role of IT as simply storing data in a secure, stable fashion has expanded dramatically. Now, data is recognized as a highly valuable resource that must be supported by the right ecosystem of technologies.

To get the most out of your data – and to support your future analytical development – it is critical to identify your organization's analytical maturity level and select the appropriate supporting technology tools.

25 June, 2015

The Landscape of BigData - Infographic

24 June, 2015

MIT's 50 Smartest Companies list 2015

In his introduction to MIT Technology Review’s 50 Smartest Companies list for 2014, Brian Bergstein paraphrased Justice Stewart Potter’s 1964 threshold test for obscenity: “I know it when I
see it.”

“It might sound difficult to define what makes a smart company,”Bergstein wrote, “but you know one when you see it.”

Using that definition, Apple and Facebook didn’t make the cut. “Reputation doesn’t matter,” to MIT’s editors. “We’re highlighting where important innovations are happening right now.”

So what companies did look “smart” to the smartypants on the Charles?

  • IBM (whose reputation dates back to 1880): “Its Watson system could deliver more answers from big data.”
  • Walmart (a Web shopping laggard): “1 billion Walmart.com page views in first five days of holiday season.”
  • Samsung (which lost its lead in smartphones in 2014): “Maximizing the advantages of its vertical integration as it extends its lead in the smartphone market.”

23 June, 2015

Verizon now officially owns AOL

It’s official: Verizon completed its acquisition of AOL Tuesday in a deal that raises yet-unanswered questions about the future of one of the country’s earliest Internet brands and of online media in general.

The $4.4 billion deal, which the companies announced in May, gives Verizon access to AOL’s digital ad technology as well as content brands like The Huffington Post as well as technology blogs Engadget and TechCrunch.

The merger sparked rumors about the future of the AOL-owned Huffington Post and whether the site’s founder, Arianna Huffington, had a place at Verizon. Huffington quelled the doubters last week when she signed a contract to remain president and editor-in-chief of the site for four more years. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, also shows no signs of an exit — he will continue to run AOL from within the Verizon chain of command.

Speculation that Verizon might try to sell off the Huffington Post also appears to be unfounded for now.

18 June, 2015

Twitter is diving deeper into machine learning with the acquisition of Whetlab.

The social network confirmed the news in a one sentence Tweet on Wednesday.
Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Whetlab was developed by researchers at Harvard, Toronto, and Sherbrooke universities looking for better solutions for making intelligent predictions.

Run by a five-person team, Whetlab focused on hyperparameter optimization, which the startup explained to mean offering better performance (i.e. suggestions and answers) than human experts could provide in less time and just a few lines of code.

However, beyond the umbrella term of machine learning, it is not exactly known how (or if all) the Whetlab team members will be incorporated into Twitter.

"Over the past year, we have created a technology to make machine learning better and faster for companies, automatically," the Whetlab team wrote on its website on Wednesday. "Twitter is the platform for open communication on the internet and we believe that Whetlab's technology can have a great impact by accelerating Twitter's internal machine learning efforts."
The public-facing Whetlab service will be shutting down on July 15. Existing users have up until that date to download data from previous experiments before it all disappears.

Furthermore, the startup has disabled new signups for its closed beta version -- even for applications already assigned a code.

Yo is attempting to make a comeback with photo messaging in Yo 2.0

Yo, the simple app that rocketed to the top of the App Store charts in June 2014, is attempting to make a comeback with the launch of Yo 2.0. The concept behind Yo is simple: You send the word "Yo" to people. It was that bare-bones simplicity that made it a hit.
Now, Yo is hoping to recapture some of the magic that made it popular with the launch of Yo 2.0. The app is adding an interface for Yo'ing someone your location, Yo'ing them a photo, or just sending the word "Yo."
Yo 2.0. - Yo Photos lets users send simple photos to each other. There are no filters, text comments, or options to retake the shot - it's a simple approach that plays off Yo's bare bones messaging functionality.
Another new feature in Yo 2.0 is the launch of Yo Groups: group chats for Yo. Now Yo users can Yo all their friends with a Yo sent to multiple people.
Yo is hoping the new update will see it return to the top of the App Store charts. The app went viral in June 2014 as technology journalists mocked how simple it was. But users enjoyed the app, and it became the fourth most-popular free app in the US.
A gang of hackers figured out how to gain access to the mobile phone numbers of Yo users. But instead of causing havoc, the hackers texted Arbel and explained the security flaw. Yo later went on to work with the hackers to fix security issues in the app.