Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.
This week… Facebook expands its “Free Basics” program in Africa, Internet users in India are soon to exceed the US, Myanmar is ready to support 4G networks, plus much more.
In an announcement on Facebook today, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the company will bring ‘Free Basics’ Internet services through Internet.org to 17 African countries. The move is in partnership with telco Airtel Africa.
The countries that will get Free Basics are Burkina Faso,Chad, Gabon, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and Uganda. Currently, Internet.org already serves the African nations of Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and South Africa.
Mobile applications brought the power of the Internet into smartphones, turning them into gateways for services and information. Now, as apps become more central to people’s digital lives, Google is looking to bring some of that technology back to the Web.
Google will start including data from popular apps into browser-based search results, helping users find information even if they haven’t downloaded the software onto their devices, the Web company said on Wednesday. And Google is taking the idea one step further, by letting people run apps right inside their Internet browsers.
Square, the small-business payments and services company run by Jack Dorsey, set an IPO price of $9 a share this evening, falling below the initial price range it set of $11 to $13 a share. The price also marks a 42 percent discount from the $15.46 a share investors paid in Square’s last round of private financing in 2014.
The $9 a share tells us that demand among investors was lower than Square and its bankers anticipated. In other words, Wall Street and Silicon Valley have very different ideas of its future value. It also means, simply put, that Square is worth much less than it was last year on the private markets. In addition, big institutional investors likely asked for a discount in the offering, given all the open questions about startup financing in general and Square’s business in particular.
The Asia-Pacific region has half of the world’s mobile gamers, and generates a little over half of mobile game revenue, a study has found.
Video game research firm Eedar said there are about 1.5 billion people playing games on their mobile devices — both smartphones and tablets — and will have paid $25 billion by the end of this year, either through buying games or via in-game purchases for credits and power-ups.
This $25 billion accounts for 30% of the larger video game market, and mobile games continue to contribute a larger proportion of the pie, up from 15% in 2011.
Approximately 70 percent of consumers across all generations (85 percent of millennials) believe that banks current with the latest technology are more trustworthy than banks that lag, according to a new report from U.S. Bank.
But the report also revealed that nearly 4 out of 5 Americans say when it matters most, they value people more.
The findings come from The Balancing Act: U.S. Bank 2015 Outlook on People and Technology, which the bank said uncovered some surprising facts about how consumers expect to use financial services in the future.
As soon as operators are ready to launch a fourth-generation network in Myanmar, the communication ministry will release the necessary spectrum, said the deputy minister.
“If operators want to launch a 4G network for their subscribers, we are ready to support the spectrum.”
The 4G LTE, networks are faster than their third-generation, or 3G, counterparts. They also require more expensive handsets and use up more data, requiring users to add credit to their phones more often. To date, 4G networks are not available in Myanmar.
South Korea, India, and Indonesia are the three countries in Asia that have the team at Google most excited in terms of mobile. Why? There’s a very clear-cut answer, based on numbers from a survey that Google conducted with TNS in June.
“Korea emerges as the smartphone paradise,” Google’s senior research manager for Asia-Pacific, Masao Kakihara, wrote in an official blog posting Monday. “They have the second-highest smartphone penetration in Asia, the third-highest proportion of people who consider the smartphone their main device, and they install the most apps on their phone.”
They have no bank account, no credit score, no financial identity. So a quarter of humanity hasn’t been able to borrow money. Until now.
Several dozen startups say they have developed ways to bring those 2 billion people into the international financial system, monitoring cell phone use and other personal habits to predict creditworthiness. For example, people who don’t let their phone batteries run low tend to do the same for their debt balance. Borrowers who get more calls than they make are better risks, and applicants who state their loan purpose in a few words are better borrowers than those who end up writing an essay.
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.
Fast-changing viewing habits spell big shifts for marketers
Chances are the next video you watch will be on your mobile phone or tablet. Record numbers of viewers are turning to these devices every day to watch a funny clip shared by a friend or even tune in for a live NFL game.
Mobile video viewing has seen double-digit growth this year, up 55 percent on smartphones and 48 percent on tablets. Even with some sticking points including smaller screen sizes, limited battery life, and the cost of data, millennials are once again leading the pack when it comes to mobile video.