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Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.

This week..  WhatsApp tops a billion monthly users, Microsoft buys Swiftkey for $250m, Google blocks the ad blockers and much more.

WhatsApp reaches a billion monthly users


Mobile messaging service WhatsApp is now used by a billion people every month, Facebook has reported.

The Facebook-owned app now outperforms the social network’s own Messenger mobile app, which has 800 million monthly users.

The company said 42 billion messages and 250 million videos were sent over WhatsApp daily.

But one analyst said WhatsApp still trailed behind local competition in some key markets.

“There are big markets where WhatsApp isn’t the dominant player,” said Jack Kent, mobile analyst at IHS.

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Microsoft Buys Keyboard App SwiftKey for $250m

Mobile Marketing Magazine

Microsoft has acquired SwiftKey, the UK company behind the successful mobile keyboard, for a reported $250m (£173m).

SwiftKey’s app first launched on Android in 2010 – and the same year won the Most Effective Mobile App category in the first ever Effective Mobile Marketing Awards. It subsequently came to iOS in 2014, after Apple opened its doors to third-party keyboards with iOS 8, but never made the move to Windows Phone.

Following the acquisition, SwiftKey will continue working on its Android and iOS apps will continue, and Microsoft will also integrate its technology into integration with Windows Phone’s own typing software, Word Flow, and “across the breadth of our product and services portfolio”, according to Microsoft EVP Harry Shum.

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Visa launches cross-marketing network for coupon-free digital rewards

NFC World

US merchants can now send targeted offers and rewards to their customers that can be redeemed at other merchants’ locations via Visa Commerce Network, a new service launched by Visa that eliminates the need for coupons at the point of sale.

Customers activate the offer sent to them by a merchant signed up to the platform either online or through a mobile app. They can then redeem the offer automatically by using Visa to make a payment at another participating merchant.

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Google Boots Ad Blockers From Google Play

Tech Crunch

Earlier this week, Samsung rolled out support for ad blocking in the new version of its web browser for mobile devices, the Samsung Internet Browser.

Third-party developers quickly responded by launching ad-blocking mobile apps that work with the browser. Now those developers are finding their apps are being pulled from the Google Play, and their updates are being declined.

The reason? It seems Google doesn’t want ad blockers to be distributed as standalone applications on its Google Play store.

In case you missed it: a few days ago, Samsung introduced ad blocking within its mobile web browser…

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Chinese mobile game revenues could double to $11.1B by 2019

Venture Beat

China’s stock market has had a bad year, but the country’s game industry remains strong and on track to grow dramatically over time. That’s the underlying belief behind Chinese game market analyst firm Niko Partners’ annual predictions for the digital games industry in China for 2016.

Lisa Cosmas Hanson, founder of Niko Partners, passed along the company’s 14 top predictions for the year. It expects overall revenues for the entire Chinese game market — PC online, mobile, and console games — to be $26 billion.

Niko also predicts that mobile games will rise from $5.5 billion domestically (excluding export revenue of $1.3 billion) in 2015 to $11.1 billion in 2019.

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IDC: Tablet Shipments Decline For Fifth Straight Quarter

Android Headlines

While the smartphone market may be slowing down, it is still registering growth, unlike the tablet market, which seems to be in a perpetual decline without any signs of revival any time soon. According to the latest data from market research and analysis company, International Data Corporation (IDC), the tablet market shrunk by over thirteen percent in the year-ending quarter compared to the same period in 2014, thereby capping an entire year of decline in the tablet market for the very first time since the category went mainstream earlier this millennium.

Back in late October, IDC had reported about tablet shipments declining for the fourth straight quarter, so this marks the fifth quarter in a row that the market has seen a downturn. Amidst all this gloom and doom, the one silver lining, however, comes from the growing market for ‘detachables’, 8.1 million units of which, were reportedly shipped last year.

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Mobile payment market to hit $620 billion this year

Mobile Money Revolution

Almost 40 per cent of consumers were using ad blocking tools on their primary computer in Q4 2015, up 10 per cent from the amount using them in Q3, a gigantic bump which was primarily driven by the introduction of ad blocking availability on iOS’ Safari mobile browser.

Between Q3 2014 and Q3 2015, ad blocker use remained fairly consistent, hovering around the 27 per cent mark, according to data from GlobalWebIndex. However, Q4 saw a dramatic increase on this figure, up to 38 per cent.

Focusing just on mobile users, 36 per cent of consumers had used ad blocking tools on their smartphone within the previous month, with 41 per cent saying they had not done this, but were interested in doing so in the future.

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Singapore, South Korea are global leaders in 4G speeds and coverage

Tech In Asia

Faster 4G mobile internet is quickly replacing 3G. Most countries have adopted the new LTE technology and updated their networks.

When it comes to breadth of coverage and speed, Singapore and South Korea are leaving the of the rest of the world in the dust.

A report from OpenSignal published today shows that Singapore’s 4G speeds of up to 40 Mbps (by carrier Singtel) are unrivaled in the world. Singaporeans can take a moment to congratulate themselves.

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Europe proposes shifting TV frequencies to make way for 5G mobile services by 2020


The European Commission has outlined a proposal that suggest changing the frequency in which television is broadcast across European countries to provide additional bandwidth for users’ insatiable appetite for data.

Currently, the 700MHZ UHF band is used primarily for TV broadcasting, but would be re-allocated for high-speed mobile services and supporting the Internet of Things (IoT).

Ultimately, it’ll be needed to provide capacity for a 5G rollout too, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Günther H. Oettinger said:

“We cannot have high quality mobile internet for everything and for everyone everywhere unless we have modern infrastructure and modern rules…

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European business people take most risks with mobile security

SC Magazine UK

European business people are more prone to malware attacks through their smartphones than children and millennials.

The Allot MobileTrends Report from Allot and Kaspersky analysed mobile data records from a sample of 500,000 European smartphone users during a week’s time to find out which end users pose greater threats to mobile network security.

The study included Android, iOS and Windows Phone operating systems. A risk score was assigned to the most popular 500 URLs and 500 apps, categorising each as either safe or risky.

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