Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.
This week.. Mobile phone tracking data ‘could replace census questions’ in the UK, how retail has the edge on mobile payments, Uber and rival apps join forces in Brazil to stem tide of regulation, Tencent could play a role redesigning Snapchat following $2B investment and much more.
Thousands of people have had their movements tracked by the Office for National Statistics to see if they can find out where they live and work.
The ONS is trying to build up a picture of people’s daily commute – something it normally asks about in the census.
Mobile phones create a record of every location visited by the user if the phone is switched on.
Statisticians believe the data, which is anonymised, could one day replace census questions in England and Wales.
But it admitted it would need to carry out “extensive evaluation” of “privacy impacts” if it went down that route.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A lumbering, old-school consumer company tries to adapt to the digital age, but ultimately gets outsmarted by a Silicon Valley swashbuckler, either in the form of a wunderkind startup or a giant such as Amazon.com Inc.
It’s a story that has played out again and again in recent years. But there’s at least one ongoing battle that doesn’t quite seem to fit the pattern: the race to win at mobile payments.
Bloomberg News reported this week that Walmart Pay, the payments app from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., is on track to have more active users in the U.S. than Apple Pay by the end of 2018. Starbucks Corp. has had well-documented success getting people to pay for lattes and cappuccinos this way. In the latest quarter, for example, mobile order and pay accounted for 10 percent of transactions at its U.S. company-operated stores.
Uber Technologies Inc has formed an unprecedented alliance in Brazil with other ride-hailing services, including its main local rival 99, to win public support to block regulation threatening the way they do business in a booming market.
Despite dominating the sector in Brazil, Uber has joined forces with three smaller apps for a public campaign that helped convince senators last week to scrap parts of a bill that would have effectively turned the companies into regular taxi services.
With Uber facing a possible ban in London and several U.S. federal investigations, the company’s new Chief Executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, needed a win in Brazil. The South American country is its second-largest market after the United States and Sao Paulo, Brazil’s economic capital, has more Uber rides than New York.
A DECADE after mobile phones began to spread in Africa, they have become commonplace even in the continent’s poorest countries. In 2016 two-fifths of people in sub-Saharan Africa had mobile phones. Their rapid spread has beaten all sorts of odds. In most African countries, less than half the population has access to electricity. In a third of those countries, less than a quarter does. Yet in much of the continent people with mobile phones outnumber those with electricity, never mind that many have to walk for miles to get a signal or recharge their phones’ batteries.
Mobile phones have transformed the lives of hundreds of millions for whom they were the first, and often the only, way to connect with the outside world. They have made it possible for poor countries to leapfrog much more than landline telephony.
Tencent, the Chinese internet giant valued at $470 billion, may have a hand in rebooting the Snapchat app to make it more competitive with Instagram and Facebook.
Off the back of some very poor financials announced this week, parent company Snap said it is retooling the messaging app “to make it easier to use.”
Now Tencent, which upped its stake in Snap with the purchase of 12 percent of the company — forking out around $2 billion in the process — may be on hand to help. It said is positioned to enable Snap to dig into its experience of growing WeChat, China’s dominant messaging app which boasts 800 million monthly users worldwide, and potentially tap into other business lines, including its games business which includes Clash Of Clans maker Supercell.
“The investment enables Tencent to explore cooperation opportunities with the company on mobile games publishing and newsfeed as well as to share its financial returns from the growth of its businesses and monetization in the future,” a Tencent spokesperson told Reuters in a statement.
If you consider the amount of laptops, tablets & smartphones in any given company it makes sense to imagine the huge volumes of mobile data contained therein. There is an enormous amount of business and operational data available to IT, including information on device and network performance, connectivity, security concerns — all of which can be gleaned and used for better productivity. This literal treasure trove of data when used intelligently, allows businesses to make smarter decisions and ensures the best end user satisfaction.
The rate of technology adoption by field service workers continues to accelerate and with it mobile data consumption. Between 2015 and 2021, mobile data usage is expected to grow nearly 9 times globally. Enterprises of all sizes are seeing the benefit that having a mobile workforce can deliver. The success of any mobile deployment, however, hinges on its reliability.
As saturation nears, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Idea, Reliance Jio snap up rivals. In a land of 1.3 billion people, India’s mobile phone subscriptions are closing in on 1.2 billion. With growth slowing, and carriers weakened by constant price cuts, the industry is undergoing a major realignment. The players are set to consolidate into three major forces.
Bharti Airtel, which holds the top share in terms of wireless subscriber numbers, will lead one of the forces, having decided to acquire the consumer mobile businesses of the country’s biggest conglomerate, the Tata group.
The second force will be the combination of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, respectively the second- and third-ranked players, which have already begun the process of merging their operations.
Our first ever test of camera companion apps from major manufacturers, including Canon, Nikon and Sony, has found that eight of the sixteen Android and iOS apps we tested share personal information without your knowledge or permission. One app in particular for the China-made Yi Mirrorless camera, which is only available online in the UK, sends a considerable amount of unauthorised personal data back to the company, including your network name and password.
Both the Android and iOS versions of the apps for Olympus and Sony cameras share your location, as does the Android version of the Fujifilm app and the iOS version of the Nikon one. While none of these represent any major privacy or security issues, this level of tracking is unnecessary and invasive.
Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima has said that the company is still interested in launching its mobile games in China but would need a partner to do so.
In a Q&A session following the company’s latest financials, Kimishima stated that “Nintendo cannot expand its business in China alone, and an important issue is whether we can proceed with a partner entity in China to bring our IP to consumers in China.”
“We can see the possibility for such a partner relationship arising in future,” he added, noting that “our understanding is that there are many consumers awaiting Nintendo’s games there.”
Kimishima also gave a similar answer when asked about why Nintendo isn’t currently selling its Switch console in China. He noted that there are a number of Chinese developers working on Switch titles, and that the company will continue to consider the region in future.
Healthcare information and advertising company Outcome Health is having a rough time of it as of late. The Chicago-based startup has seen a number of major advertisers pull tens of millions of dollars from its service, amid accusations that it misled clients about the performance of ads. On top of that, it’s being sued by its investors.
Outcome Health, which launched in 2006, delivers pharmaceutical ads to patients on screens in placed in doctors’ offices. The screens show educational programming, free to doctors, but Outcome makes money off the ads.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Bristol-Myers Squibb – one of Outcome’s largest customers – has opted not to renew its ad agreement for 2018, losing Outcome what is believed to be in the region of $20m. Several other agencies have also decided that, until verification of accurate data is provided, they will no longer pay for ads with the company.