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.