Each week the MEF team curates mobile stories from around the world. Essential news, the latest market insight & data nuggets, the Global News Round-up offers an instant international mobile content and commerce snapshot.
Global News Stories
The pro-privacy Blackphone, a hardened Android smartphone that focuses on making rigorous security features more accessible to a general phone user, has started shipping to its first wave of buyers. Blackphone is a partnership between Spanish mobile maker Geeksphone and security company Silent Circle. The phone, which uses a “security-oriented” Android build called PrivatOS, was unveiled back in January, with pre-orders starting the following month for a planned shipping date of June. It’s now fulfilling those first orders.
Demand for large-screen phones is growing emphatically in the UK, new data shows, with phones bigger than 4.9in accounting for nearly one quarter of shipments in the first quarter of 2014. Tracking company Context, which monitors shipments of phones to retail suppliers, resellers and corporate accounts in the UK, says that there has been a dramatic rise in the number and proportion of smartphones with screens measuring 4.9in or above, compared to the iPhone 4 and 4S, which measure 3.5in, and the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S, which measure 4in. The data confirms a growing consumer interest in larger smartphones, and comes ahead of what is rumoured to be a new, larger iPhone in the autumn.
Mobile betting has scored big during the World Cup, with more and more consumers abandoning desktops and laptops in favour of placing bets on tablets and smartphones. A report by payment management firm Secure Trading during England’s goalless draw with Costa Rica found that among those who had placed an online bet, 70 per cent had done so using a mobile device. “We’ve seen a huge surge in mobile gaming during the World Cup,” said Jens Bader, commercial director at Secure Trading. “Heavy advertising campaigns coupled with the rise of ‘second screening’ has led to a massive boost for operators.
Almost half (45 per cent) of all British adults now have a tablet compared to 32 per cent a year ago, according to research from Kantar Media’s syndicated study, futureProof. More than four out of ten users now live in a home with more than one tablet, the research of over 2,000 participants found, with the device used for watching up on TV programmes or film, YouTube, or gaming.
Even the phone makers and wireless carriers couldn’t have known just how big the smartphone would become. A new study by Bank of America found 47 percent of U.S. mobile phone users wouldn’t want to go a single day without their smartphone. The survey included 1,000 banking customers who use smartphones. Large segments of the respondents said they’d rather go a day without coffee (60 percent) or alcohol (79 percent).
“The money that goes through the MTN eco-system in one month is more than the money that gone through all the commercial banks since inception”, that’s according to Vincent Kiyingi, Head of IT at Pride Microfinance Limited Uganda. The wake of mobile money services took the banking sector completely by surprise starting with Safaricom’s MPesa mobile money transfer service in Kenya. The service, as of Safaricom’s Half Year 2013 -2014 Results, has 18.2-million registered users of which 11.6-million are active users. The network’s strongest weapon is its widely distributed agent network which currently stands at 78 856 MPesa agent outlets countrywide.
The state of California, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Senate are all breathing down the ad industry’s neck about mobile data privacy. Today, its biggest privacy self-regulatory group is responding. The Digital Advertising Alliance will unveil its mobile ad privacy app today at its annual summit in San Francisco, opening it up to evaluation by its ad-network, agency and brand participants. Put simply, the app will let people opt-out from receiving mobile ads targeted based on the apps they interact with.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced today that it’s investigating complaints that T-Mobile billed its customers for millions of dollars in unauthorized third-party subscriptions and premium text-messaging services. The FCC investigation comes on the heels of an announcement from the Federal Trade Commission that the FTC has filed suit against T-Mobile, charging that the carrier “crammed” charges for third-party services into the phone bills of millions of customers.
The growth of wearables continues, with Google Play Store launching a dedicated category for apps that work with wearable technology. The launch comes shortly after the company made the SDK for its Android Wear platform available to developers at the Google I/O conference. A handful of third party apps have already integrated the SDK, including Duolingo, Pinterest and The Guardian, with others including CloudMagic and LevelUp scheduled to appear on the wearables Play Store shortly.
Messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat are huge and getting bigger. They’re adding users incredibly fast, with Facebook-owned WhatsApp recently surpassing half a billion users.
And it’s not as if one mobile messaging platform is cannibalizing the others. In fact, BI Intelligence’s data shows that WeChat, LINE, WhatsApp, and Snapchat are all growing their user numbers in 2014 at a quarterly rate of 15% or higher. But these apps have another big advantage that points to just how important they’re becoming to the mobile ecosystem — they also account for a huge amount of time-spend by users.
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Global News Round-up – These articles are not written by MEF and do not represent any views of individuals, members or the organisation.