Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.
This week.. ‘China’s greatest angel investor’ has made his first Southeast Asian investment, Imagination Technologies opens formal dispute with Apple,
Mobile drives Facebook’s Wall Street-beating Q1 results and much more.
Silot, an ambitious fintech startup, has just launched in Southeast Asia and bagged a US$800,000 seed round from China’s ZhenFund to get started. It’s the sole investor in this round, and it’s ZhenFund’s first bet in Southeast Asia.
So what got ZhenFund founder and star investor Xu Xiaoping, who The Information calls “China’s greatest angel investor,” interested?
It’s complicated – but roughly, Silot can be imagined as a software that connects offline merchants with apps and consumers.
Merchants plug into Silot’s platform through a point-of-sales device and use it to process different types of payments, including through digital wallets. But it’s more than a payments solution. Apps, let’s say, a food discovery app, can also link up with Silot to send targeted offers to specific user groups.
Imagination Technologies has placed its patents row with Apple on a formal footing, confirming to the City that it has opened a dispute resolution process because—it says—attempts to settle a licence and royalty deal with the iPhone maker remain at a standstill.
In April, the British chip design company hinted that a IP row was brewing by claiming that Apple’s own chip designs might breach Imagination Technologies’ patents.
The company, which derives roughly half of its revenues from a licensing deal from Apple, learned last month that the Tim Cook-run multinational planned to ditch the UK-based semiconductor supplier by 2019.
Facebook reported solid results for Q1 2017, with revenues exceeding Wall Street estimates. Total revenue grew 49 per cent to $8.03bn (£6.23bn), compared to $5.38bn for Q1 2016, while the general consensus on the Street was that revenues would fall closer to $7.8bn.
Advertising revenue accounted for $7.86bn of total revenues, up 51 per cent year-on-year (YoY) from $5.2bn. However, it was mobile ad revenue that was the driving force. Mobile grew by 58 per cent to $6.7bn, accounting for approximately 85 per cent of total ad revenue.
“We’re off to a strong start in 2017,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, in an earnings call. “We’re helping marketers leverage the power of mobile, developing innovative ad products, and delivering proven and measurable results. We’re excited about the growing adoption of our platforms, and we’re going to continue to invest in helping businesses and people connect.”
It’s estimated that mobile wallet usage around the world will increase by more than a third by 2021.
Encouragingly, last year also saw an increase in mobile wallet use. But adoption is still slow – you only need to Google the recent consumer studies by PYMNTS and InfoScout on mobile wallet adoption to see the data.
Why? Well, one of the main reasons is that people are still happy with the way they’ve been paying for the past few decades, using cards and cash. It was also reported by Business Insider Intelligence’s ‘Payments Briefing’ that reasons for not using mobile payments include security concerns, the lack of benefits, trust and difficulty.
The rise in mobile advertising spend is contributing to falling ad viewability levels, according to the latest quarterly benchmark report from ad verification company Meetrics.
In the first quarter of 2017, the proportion of banner ads served that met minimum viewability guidelines dropped from 49% to 47% in the UK – the lowest level for nine months. Based on the recent IAB and PwC figures, the company consequently believes around £750m per year is wasted on non-viewable ads.
Ads are deemed viewable if they meet the IAB and Media Ratings Council’s recommendation that 50% of the ad is in view for at least one second.
Facebook is sidestepping the app stores by now allowing everyone to play no-download HTML5 “Instant Games” inside of Facebook Messenger. Launched in the U.S. in November, Instant Games are now globally available with 50 titles to play, from Pac-Man to 8 Ball Pool.
Plus, Facebook is rolling out two new features it announced at its F8 conference earlier this month. Developers can make game bots that communicate with players about new levels or rewards, like the game EverWing now does.
And fulfilling its most frequent feature request, Instant Games now support turn-by-turn games instead of just single-player games with score leaderboards. One of the first new turn-by-turn titles is Zynga’s Words With Friends, which allows simultaneous chat, and is well-suited for the back-and-forth nature of a messaging app. The dedicated Games tab in Messenger with a curated selection of top games is still in testing.
Yet even as the format grows, are advertisers cottoning-on and grabbing the opportunity to reach APAC by the horns?
Nicole Liebmann, head of mobile, APAC & South Africa, Exponential, thinks it has adapted and changed to better take advantage of this growth.
“Advertisers are tapping into that [mobile] offering, as a result we are seeing a lot of advertisers taking risks in the market when it comes to mobile, as well as a lot more vendors being introduced to the market as well,” said Liebmann.
WhatsApp users around the world were unable to use the messaging service for several hours on Wednesday.
Reports that there were problems with the app, which has more than 1.2 billion users globally, first began to appear at about 20:00 GMT.
WhatsApp said in a brief statement that it was “aware of the issue and working to fix it as soon as possible”.
By about 22:30 GMT, most users were reporting that they were able to send and receive messages again.
Following the widespread phishing scam that affected Google Docs and Gmail users this week, Google says it’s now rolling out a new security feature in its Gmail application on Android that will help warn users about suspicious links. This feature may not have prevented this week’s attack, however, as that attack involved a malicious and fake “Google Docs” app that was hosted on Google’s own domain.
However, the additional security protection is a step in the right direction, given how many users access Gmail on mobile, and the increasing sophistication of these phishing attacks that can even fool fairly tech-savvy individuals.
It is the absolute blight of the modern theatre: the flashing lights and relentless ringing of a mobile phone piercing the stalls.
But critics should not be too hasty to blame the younger generation, one actor has warned, as he claims the culprits are in fact the middle-aged. Andrew Scott, star of BBC Sherlock and Hamlet at the Almeida Theatre, has said young fans are unfairly blamed for disrupting the theatre, being written off as “savages” without evidence.
In fact, he argued, ringing mobile telephones invariable belong to their technophobic elders, who ignore them or struggle to switch them off as actors watch on helplessly from the stage.