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

This week.. Facebook revenue jumps on soaring mobile ad sales, SoftBank picks controlling stake in LINE’s mobile subsidiary in Japan, WhatsApp hits 1.5 billion monthly users, Apple Pulls Telegram Messenger From App Store for ‘Inappropriate Content’ and much more.

Facebook revenue jumps 47 pct on soaring mobile ad sales

Reuters

Facebook Inc reported a 47 percent jump in quarterly revenue on Wednesday, as the social media company’s mobile ad business got a boost from its focus on videos and improved targeting.

Total advertising revenue was $12.78 billion in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with analysts’ estimate of $12.30 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Mobile ad revenue accounted for 89 percent of the total ad sales, up from 84 percent a year earlier.

Facebook said about 2.13 billion people were using its service monthly as of Dec. 31, up 14 percent from a year earlier.

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Nintendo’s Next Big Mobile Game Will Be ‘Mario Kart Tour’

Forbes

Last night was a flurry of Nintendo news announcements, among them a Mario movie with the Despicable Me studio, the launch of Nintendo’s online service (this September) and to paraphrase Miyamoto, the revelation that Nintendo’s is not a “games” company, but instead a “fun” company.

But perhaps the biggest news of all was Nintendo’s announcement of their next big mobile project, which will be Mario Kart Tour.

The famed kart racer will be coming to mobile devices later this (fiscal) year, and while Nintendo isn’t sharing much past a logo, there’s a lot to extract from the reveal.

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WhatsApp hits 1.5 billion monthly users. $19B? Not so bad.

Tech Crunch

Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp sounds smarter and smarter. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on the Q4 2017 earnings call today that WhatsApp now has 1.5 billion users and sees 60 billion messages sent per day. That’s compared to 1.3 billion monthly users and 1 billion daily active users in July.

The massive growth makes Facebook’s choice to pay more than $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp look prescient. At the time in 2014, WhatsApp had just 450 million monthly active users and 315 million daily active users.

In a slight to Snapchat, Zuckerberg also noted that Instagram and WhatsApp are the No. 1 and No. 2 most popular Story-sharing products, referring to those apps’ clones of Snapchat Stories. Each now each has 300 million daily active users, compared to 178 million on Snapchat as a whole.

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China’s eight-year-long smartphone growth comes to an end

BBC

China’s smartphone market has fallen for the first time, with annual shipments down by 4% in 2017, according to data from research firm Canalys.

The decline ends eight years’ growth in the world’s largest mobile phone market.

Smartphone brands Huawei, Oppo and Vivo continue to dominate the Chinese handset market.

Despite the overall slowdown of the market, Huawei saw double-digit growth, the Canalys report said.

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WhatsApp is finally catching up to African entrepreneurs with a standalone business app

Quartz

Over the last two years, WhatsApp, has stood out as one of the fastest growing media platforms in Africa. For many people, WhatsApp is their primary social media platform, not Facebook, which owns the messaging app.

WhatsApp rise has caused tensions with some of the mobile network operators as its success has eaten into the traditional voice and SMS revenue structure since the app enables users to make voice calls and text messaging for relatively low data costs.

But the upside of WhatsApp’s popularity is that it is likely partly responsible for the continued rise in internet use particularly with smartphone take-up. For example in Zimbabwe, one of the few countries to provide data, WhatsApp alone was responsible for nearly half of all internet traffic in the country last year.

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SoftBank picks controlling stake in LINE’s mobile subsidiary in Japan

Japan Times

SoftBank Group Corp. said it has agreed to take a majority stake in Line Corp.’s mobile unit for an undisclosed sum.

The deal, to be finalized around March, will give SoftBank Corp. — the Tokyo-headquartered telecom and technology conglomerate’s mobile phone subsidiary — 51 percent ownership of low-cost carrier Line Mobile Corp. through an issuance of new shares. Line, which operates the messaging application of the same name, will hold the remaining 49 percent.

Competition in the domestic telecoms market has ramped up in recent years with the emergence of virtual network operators which buy capacity from the three major carriers — NTT Docomo Inc., KDDI Corp. and SoftBank — at wholesale prices and sell to users.

The tie-up between SoftBank and Line is part of an industry-wide reshuffle, with e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. acquiring low-cost carrier brand Freetel Co. and announcing in December it intends to become the country’s fourth major carrier.

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Rise in sales of low-cost mobile phones propels Xiaomi to lead the Indian smartphone market

The Drum

Xiaomi was named as the leading smartphone brand with 25% share during Q4 2017, as the demand for low-cost mobile phones rise in India.

According to the Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service’s latest report, the mid end segment (₹10,000-₹15,000 or US$150-$230) was the fastest growing segment (+52%) in CY 2017 with Xiaomi contributing 37% of the shipment.

The report further stated that India’s overall mobile phone shipments grew 37% and smartphone shipments grew 12%, with feature phones growing at 55% during 4Q 2017.

Meanwhile, Samsung, Lenovo and Vivo took the second, third and fourth spot respectively. However, Samsung led the smartphone and feature phone segment on an annual basis.

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Apple Pulls Telegram Messenger From App Store for ‘Inappropriate Content’

Macrumours

Apple has pulled popular encrypted messenger app Telegram from the App Store, following reports of “inappropriate content” hosted on the platform that violated Apple’s developer guidelines for iOS apps.

Users first noted Telegram’s absence late on Wednesday via Reddit, after App Store searches for the app began returning results for Viber, Skype, and Messenger instead. Both the original app and experimental offshoot Telegram X still don’t appear on the App Store at the time of writing.

The exact reason for the apps’ removal isn’t yet clear, but Telegram founder Pavel Durov responded to a tweet on Thursday by explaining that the company was alerted by Apple to “inappropriate content” made available to users of both apps, which led to them being pulled.

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Nearly 20% Of Five- To Six-Year-Olds Own A Mobile Phone

Huffington Post

Nearly a fifth of five- to six-year-olds own their own mobile phone, a new report has found.

This jumps to 41% by the time children are aged seven to eight, and increases to 59% for nine- and 10-year-olds. By age 11, nine in ten have their own phone (91%), with no difference between boys and girls, the Childwise Monitor 2018report found.

“The mobile phone is now the go-to device for children’s media activity, whether it is listening to music, checking social media or catching up on the latest Netflix series in their bedroom,” says Simon Leggett, research director of Childwise.

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