Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.
This week… Three O2 deal gets EU block, YouTube gets in to chat, Vodacom shuts down M-Pesa in SA and much more.
The European Commission has blocked Telefonica’s sale of O2 to CK Hutchison, the owner of Three.
The planned deal was worth £10.3bn, and would have left the UK with just three major mobile phone network operators.
But Europe’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said she had strong concerns about the takeover, ruling that it would reduce customer choice and raise prices.
CK Hutchison said it was considering a legal challenge to the decision.
As if Apple wasn’t facing enough headwind this year, now comes word that Android smartphones are making big market share gains around the world.
According to the latest market share numbers for the first quarter of 2016 (from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech) Android grew significantly in the U.S., Europe, and China as Apple’s iOS lost ground.
In the top five European markets (U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and Spain), Android’s market share increased to 75.6 percent, up 7.1 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
Bharti Airtel Africa, a leading telecommunications service provider, has announced that it has partnered with Facebook and to launch Free Basics in Nigeria. In 2015, Facebook promised to bring Free Basics to 17 African countries.
Free Basics is a service that gives users free access to a number of platforms where users can access information about health, education, jobs, communications and local content services at no cost. Facebook estimates that it has, through the project, brought more than 25 million people online.
Despite gripes about the usefulness of Facebook chatbots, “tens of thousands” of developers are building them, Messenger’s head of product Stan Chudnovsky revealed onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt NY. And, 5,000 Shopify merchants are now distributing order confirmations and shipping alerts via Messenger, showing e-commerce companies are eager to reach the app’s nearly one billion users.
These bots are getting pretty chatty. One of the more recent high-profile chatbots introduced on the Messenger platform, Activision’s Call of Duty bot, saw engagement soar to nearly 6 million messaged exchanged between users in its first week of existence.
Federal regulators have begun exploring a question of importance to millions of American consumers: How secure are your smartphones and tablets?
The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission today asked device makers, the creators of mobile operating systems and the major wireless carriers to provide information about how they address vulnerabilities in smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
Johannesburg – Vodafone Group’s South African unit Vodacom Group will stop offering its mobile-banking product M-Pesa in the country as the strength of the banking system means fewer customers are taking up the service than in other sub-Saharan African markets.
“The business sustainability of M-Pesa is predicated on achieving a critical mass of users,” CEO Shameel Joosub said in an e-mailed statement on Monday.
“Based on our revised projections and high levels of financial inclusion in South Africa there is little prospect of the M-Pesa product achieving this in its current format in the mid-term.”
When Barclays confirmed it wasn’t planning to support Google’s Android Pay service when it launches in the UK, it said it would instead focus on the development of its own platform. Turns out that customers won’t have to wait long to see what the bank has planned, after it confirmed today that it will roll out a new version of its banking app with support for “Contactless Mobile” in June.
Like the Barclaycard app, which has NFC payments since January, Contactless Mobile detects whether a customer’s Android phone supports NFC and has eligible Barclays credit or debit cards associated with it. If it does, customers can make payments of up to £30 by tapping their phone against a retailer terminal, without needing to open the app, enter a PIN or verify with a fingerprint.
YouTube is launching a new messenger service for its platform to boost video sharing even more.
The Google-owned video giant confirmed to Mashable that it is releasing “native sharing” to a small percentage of YouTube users beginning Wednesday.
Using YouTube’s mobile app, select users will be able to chat about and share videos in message threads.
The addition positions YouTube to face off against Snapchat and Facebook, both of which have upped their in-app messaging offerings in the last year.
Nearly 100% of internet users in Brazil use WhatsApp, more than any other messaging app or service, according to January 2016 research conducted by Ilumeo and Nova/sb. Nearly nine in 10 of those surveyed also said they use Facebook Messenger.
Half of respondents use Skype; about 30% use Twitter. After that, apps grow more obscure or niche—like Snapchat, which 13% of those surveyed say they used in 2015.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has released its full fiscal year results, revealing a yearly net income of $11.1 billion. Revenue increased by a third to reach $15.7 billion, with mobile sales accounting for $7.8 billion.
Mobile revenue accounted for 63 per cent of the firm’s Chinese commerce retail revenue, an increase of 182 per cent year-on-year. The trading report suggests that the rise in mobile revenue was due to an increase in gross merchandise volume (GMV) generated on mobile devices, and better monetisation of mobile transactions and usage.