Improving privacy policies post Spotify debacle, Yahoo woos mobile developers, Android Pay partner confusion, Amazon lays off hardware engineers, Facebook unveils messenger AI, China Mobile growth grinds to halt plus all the week’s global news stories…
Each week the MEF team curates mobile stories from around the world. Essential news you may have missed, the latest market insight & data nuggets, the Global Mobile News Round-up offers an instant international mobile content and commerce snapshot.
Global News Stories
The end of last week saw one of those tech stories that runs the cycle—from Twitter outrage to corporate chagrin—in less than 48 hours. Here’s what happened:
Yahoo pitched mobile developers on new tools at a New York conference on Wednesday, aiming to inspire them to go out and build disruptive apps.
“There hasn’t been a single industry that hasn’t been disrupted by mobile applications, starting with music, gaming, travel, retail, and now media,” said Simon Khalaf, Yahoo senior vice president of publishing products, at the company’s second event this year for mobile app developers.
Android Pay is coming. Well, someday at least. Partners don’t seem to know as much, and are already promoting their acceptance of the new mobile payment scheme. Users don’t have it on their devices yet, and I’m wondering if it’s all funny or sad.
First, let me proclaim that paying with stuff using a phone or smartwatch is amazing. It feels like you’re from the future. I have purchased everything from tee shirts to olive oil with my Apple Watch, and it’s just so damn cool. Android Pay will hopefully bring the same kind of cool, but it’s not out yet. The prevailing wisdom is that it’ll launch with Android Marshmallow, but some retailers are already claiming they accept it.
Amazon has laid off “dozens” of engineers who worked on its failed Fire phone as part of a broader curtailment of its hardware development center, Lab126, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The company is also said to be stopping or slowing projects including a 14-inch tablet codenamed Project Cairo, a projector codenamed Shimmer, and a “smart stylus” named Nitro that converts handwriting into digital shopping lists.
The Silicon Valley-based Lab126 still has several projects in the works, according to theWSJ. A “high-end computer for the kitchen,” codenamed Kabinet, is reportedly designed to act as a home hub and can be controlled with voice commands for a variety of functions, similar to Amazon’s recent Echo speaker.
Ride sharing, both the legal and “illegal” type is growing rapidly around the world, with new Australian entrant RideBoom the latest to take on market leader Uber.
Uber, which began in San Francisco in 2009, now operates in more than 50 countries with 300,000+ driver-partners (as they are known in “uberspeak”) in the US alone. In Australia it’s moving towards 20,000 driver-partners. The difference between Uber and many of its competitors though, is that most of Uber’s direct competitors operate within the legal confines of the countries they’re in. Uber on the other hand, is paying for its drivers to ignore local laws.
It appears that Facebook is getting into the personal assistant space. In a post on the social network, vice president of messaging products David Marcus revealed that the company is testing M, a personal digital assistant inside of Messenger. There’s no specific timetable on when (or even if) the service will be released to the public.
Facebook joins a growing chorus of companies entering the personal assistant space. However, Marcus disputes that what his company is doing will be similar to anyone else: “Unlike other AI-based services in the market,” he wrote, “M can actually complete tasks on your behalf. It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more.”
China’s smartphone growth was already slowing last year as the mature market neared saturation point, but a new forecast says it’s about to grind to a standstill.
IDC today issued new forecasts saying smartphone shipments in China will grow only 1.2 percent in 2015 – way down from 19.7 percent in 2014. The IDC report attributes this dramatic slowdown to China joining North America and Western Europe “in a more mature growth pattern.” Now that nearly every consumer in the country has an Android or iPhone of some variety (okay, and maybe a Windows phone here or there), China has officially hit peak smartphone.
Connected cars are well on the way to becoming ubiquitous, but a great deal of consumers are not bothering to take advantage of the technology, according to a report.
Automotive market research firm JD Power, which in years gone by produced a major annual report on the British car market for the BBC’s Top Gear programme, said that carmakers were wasting millions of dollars on technology that was failing to create value for consumers.
The BBC is exploring whether it could replace its news channel with content streamed to mobile phones if further cuts force its closure.
The BBC is thought to be considering whether to close the channel as it looks for ways to cut costs, and the corporation’s head of news, James Harding, on Wednesday refused to say whether it would still exist in 10 years. However, he told the Guardian Edinburgh international television festival that the corporation had to ensure it could reach people in other ways before making a decision on its future. “Last year, thinking ahead to the BBC’s case for renewal of the BBC’s charter, we stepped back and said we have to think about strategy for news,” he said.
It looks like Angry Birds maker Rovio is having some troubles to pay the bills. The Finnish company is about to cut 260 jobs after reducing its workforce by 110 employees in October 2014. At the end of 2013, the company had 800 employees in total.
This news comes as a surprise as Rovio’s latest game is a big success. Angry Birds 2 has been downloaded nearly 50 million times in just a month, topping the charts…
PayPal Holdings Inc said on Tuesday it would expand its One Touch payments product to 13 new markets in Europe and Australia, bringing a simpler check-out to online shoppers and merchants.
PayPal, which separated from eBay Inc last month, is a formidable player in the fast-growing payments industry, which has attracted new entrants like Apple Inc. The company said “millions” of consumers had already enabled One Touch to make payments on desktops and through mobile apps in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada and that half of the world’s top 100 online retailers were already using the program.
Global News Round-up – These articles are not written by MEF and do not represent any views of individuals, members or the organisation.