Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.
This week.. Google hit with €4.3bn Android fine from EU, WhatsApp limits message forwarding to reduce spam & misinformation, phone data usage growth slows in the US, and much more…
Google has been fined a record €4.34bn ($5bn; £3.9bn) over Android.
The European Commission said the firm had used the mobile operating systemto illegally “cement its dominant position” in search.
The firm’s parent Alphabet has been given 90 days to change its business practices or face further penalties of up to 5% of its average global daily turnover.
It has said it plans to appeal.
However, it could easily afford the fine if required – its cash reserves totalled nearly $103bn at the end of March.
In a bid to cut down on the spread of false information and spam, WhatsApp recently added labels that indicate when a message has been forwarded. Now the company is sharpening that strategy by imposing limits on how many groups a message can be sent on to.
Originally, users could forward messages on to multiple groups, but a new trial will see that forwarding limited to 20 groups worldwide. In India, however, which is WhatsApp’s largest market with 200 million users, the limit will be just five. In addition, a ‘quick forward’ option that allowed users to pass on images and videos to others rapidly is being removed from India.
Mobile data isn’t exactly on the fast road to growth in the US these days.
A Tefficient report published on Tuesday said in 2017 the US had one of the lowest rates of growth in mobile data usage, 11 percent, across the world. Only Greece (8 percent) and Canada (6 percent) had a lower rate of growth. Hong Kong (17 percent) and Latvia (13 percent) rounded out the bottom five.
Tefficient found the US results “surprising,” given the wide availability of unlimited data plans. In Hong Kong, meanwhile, abundant Wi-Fi networks likely offloaded much mobile data traffic, and in Canada there may be a connection between low usage and mobile providers’ high revenue per consumed gigabyte, according to the report.
Fredrik Jungermann, managing director and founder of Tefficient, said in an email that several things could have contributed to the slow growth in the US.
An Arizona security company is working on an interesting approach to mobile authentication, one that leverages the exact angle a user holds the phone as a means of making replay attacks a lot more difficult. Aetna has been testing the method internally (according to the security company’s CEO) and the company — Trusona — has announced about $18 million in funding, from Microsoft Ventures ($10 million) and Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers ($8 million).
The Microsoft Ventures funding is interesting because one of the more popular mobile authentication methods today is Microsoft’s Authenticator app. Is Redmond covering its bases, or does it see the Trusona effort as threatening to displace Authenticator, at least in the enterprise IT world?
Instagram, the Facebook-owned image-sharing app with 1 billion users worldwide, may have as many as 95 million bots posing as real accounts, making the platform the next frontier in the fight against misinformation, fake news and political propaganda, according to The Information. The publication’s estimates are based on a study conducted by researcher Ghost Data.
Ghost Data estimated the percentage of Instagram users that are bot accounts had risen to 9.5% this year from 7.9% in 2015, the last time the firm conducted similar research. That year, Instagram had 300 million users after purging millions of fake accounts in December 2014, per The Wall Street Journal.
New Android smartphones are being sold in developing markets with pre-installed malware, creating an international ad fraud ecosystem and leading to unauthorised charges for owners.
According to Upstream, many inexpensive smartphones are sold with malware which collects the personal information of users, depletes their mobile data allowance and triggers fraudulent subscription charges to their pre-paid credit.
“Our Secure-D platform has uncovered that a number of cheap smartphones for sale in developing markets, such as Brazil, Egypt, Myanmar and South Africa are sold with a digital ad fraud malware pre-installed, before the user has even turned the phone on for the first time,” said Guy Krief, CEO of Upstream. “It communicates with, and sends unauthorised personal user data to a server in Asia, depleting their data allowance and signing them up to premium subscription services without their consent.”
India’s government is holding up Facebook Inc’s plans for a nationwide launch of its WhatsApp payments service over concerns about how users’ data will be stored and other issues, according to people familiar with the matter. The country’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, or MEITY, has asked WhatsApp and its partner banks to supply more details about the payments system, said ministry officials, who asked not to be named because the matter is private. The ministry has also requested that the industry’s payments overseer, the National Payments Corporation of India, confirm that WhatsApp is fully compliant with its requirements, they said.
“We are working closely with the Indian government, NPCI and multiple banks including our payment service providers to expand the feature to more people,” Anne Yeh, a WhatsApp spokeswoman, said in response to emailed questions, declining to elaborate on the timing of a country-wide launch. Dilip Asbe, NPCI’s chief executive officer, declined to comment.
The number of mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will increase by 190 million by 2025.
This is according to the latest GSMA Mobile Economy report officially unveiled at the GSMA Mobile 360 Africa event being held this week in Kigali.
The report says there will be 634 million unique mobile subscribers across the region by 2025, 52% of the population, up from 444 million (44%) at the end of 2017.
Moreover, the contribution of the mobile ecosystem to the region’s GDP is expected to rise to over US$150 billion by 2022, representing about 8% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP.
Could you imagine what it would be like to live without a bank account? In this modern day in age, it’s hard to picture what it would be like to “not” have a bank account. For many, this is actually how they live their day-to-day lives.
Meet the unbanked, a large percentage of the world’s population that lives without a bank account. The unbanked keep their cash at home, pay bills in person, and live life a lot different to most.
Recently, several new trends have emerged specifically in the Blockchain sector. These new trends aim to improve the lives of billions of people worldwide that don’t have access to a personal bank account or financial institution.
While there’s undeniably a huge benefit in leveraging AI to enhance advertising, some smart marketers are looking beyond the obvious ways AI can improve the user experience to focus on the ingenious ways AI can rocket user acquisition.
The application of AI to boost user acquisition (UA) efforts may currently take a back seat to the buzz around all the other ways businesses can introduce AI to personalize brand communications, infuse connected cars or deliver magical customer service through chatbots. But it’s just the calm before the storm. The realization that AI can take on the task of managing UA for top-grossing apps–a mammoth task that has grown in complexity and beyond the ability of marketers to master it–is capturing the interest and investment of mobile app companies, starting with games.