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

This week..  Facebook’s data-sharing deals exposed, mobile-first indexing now used for over half of web pages, H&M Home launches voice-enabled shopping, Vodafone, Huawei, Telefónica + others launch industry blockchain group and much more.

Facebook’s data-sharing deals exposed


Facebook has been caught on the back foot again over its data privacy practices, following an investigation by the New York Times.

The newspaper has disclosed fresh details about ways the social network shared access to users’ data with other tech firms, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Spotify and Yandex.

In some cases, the other companies have said they were not even aware they had special access.

Facebook has defended its behaviour.

It said it never gave others access to personal data without people’s permission and had seen no evidence that the data had been misused.

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Google says mobile-first indexing is now used for over half the web pages in its search results

Tech Crunch

Google announced today it’s now using mobile-first indexing for over half the web pages shown in its search results globally – a significant milestone in Google’s move to favor mobile sites over desktop sites in its search results.

The plans for the project have been in the works for years.

The company had first detailed its efforts around mobile-first indexing back in 2016, where it explained the impacts to how its search index operates. It said it would shift over to using the mobile version of a website’s content to index its pages, as well as to understand its structured data and show snippets from the site in Google’s search results.

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H&M Home launches catalog featuring voice-enabled shopping on Google Assistant

Mobile Payments Today

H&M Home has launched a holiday gift guide partnership with Google that uses Google Assistant voice technology to allow ordering on mobile phones and Google Home smart devices, according to a news release.

H&M customers can order from the catalogue and make payment using voice controls built into the Google Assistant technology. Customers need an Android device with Google Assistant and a credit card linked to a Google account in order to make purchases, H&M Spokesman Patrick Shaner told Mobile Payments Today via email.

The voice shopping capabilities expands an existing relationship between H&M and Google after the companies released the H&M HOME Stylist earlier this year, which was one of the first voice applications to be unveiled in the home segment. The companies worked with Stripe to expand the relationship to allow for voice-controlled purchases.

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Vodafone, Huawei, Telefónica, And Others Launch Industry Blockchain Group

Mobile Marketing Magazine

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has setup an industry group aimed at looking at the possibility of deploying private blockchains across various industries and governmental institutions.

The ‘Permissioned Distributed Ledgers’ group boasts founding members including Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Telefónica, and Vodafone. These companies will work with the ETSI group to look at the challenges of using permissioned distributed ledgers, the business use cases, and the functional architecture and solutions for the operation of permissioned distributed ledgers – including interfaces, APIs, protocols, and information and data models.

The group’s first meeting will take place on 24 January 2019 at Telefónica, Madrid. Here, the project will be discussed, and officials will be elected from each of the member companies.

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Almost All Of Facebook’s 139 Million Users In Africa Are On Mobile


Facebook has 139 million users a month in Africa in 2018, 98% of whom connected via mobile.

The figures released by the world’s largest social media network confirm trends that Africa is a mobile-only continent. Facebook hasn’t released figures for a number of years, and hasn’t broken down these figures by country nor any other demographic.

Africa has a population of 1.1 billion but it is expected to rise to 4 billion by the end of this century. “Four in 10 of the world’s people will be African by the end of this century,” according to Unicef’s Generation 2030/Africa Report.

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Telcos seek alternative approaches to enter the saturated mobile financial services sector in Europe, says GlobalData

Telemedia Online

Mobile Financial Services (MFS) in Europe have grown rapidly over the last five years, due to the proliferation of mobile applications and relatively high smartphone penetration, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

European banks, retail firms, and technology companies have dominated MFS growth in Europe; however, telcos are slowly entering the market.

According to GlobalData’s latest report: ‘Mobile Financial Services Market Opportunities for Telcos in Europe’, telcos may find it challenging to enter the European market, particularly in high-income countries, due to a higher preference for traditional cash and card payment facilities. Telecom operators also face intense competition in the market with tech companies (Google Pay) and mobile device manufacturers (Samsung Pay and Apple Pay) offering their own MFS solutions.

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U.S. Lags Behind in Mobile Internet Speed


The results are in, the country with the fastest mobile internet speed as of November 2018 is (drum roll please) Norway, with an average download speed of 67.17 Mbps. The data was surveyed by Speedtestduring Q3 and Q4 2018 to a worldwide pool of 124 countries.

Iceland gave Norway a run for its money with 67.05 Mbps. Singapore, Canada, and Australia rounded out the top five with 57.28 Mbps, 56.37 Mbps, and 55.31 Mbps, respectively.

Where did the U.S. stack up? With an average download speed of 30.49 Mbps, the U.S. ranked 43. However, with the transition to 5G, download speeds are expected to experience a major change, according to Ookla.

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Over 300 million million mobile phones to be sold in India in 2019: Study 

Gadgets Now

Backed by robust growth in smartphone as well as smart-feature phone categories, an estimated 302 million mobile handsets will be sold in India in 2019, the highest ever in a year, says a report on Tuesday.

Xiamoi is expected to continue the lead in 2019 in the overall smartphone market, according to the research from technology research consulting firm techARC.

Of the 302 million mobile handsets, 149 million (49.3 per cent) will be smartphones, 55 million (18.2 per cent) will be smart-feature phones and the remaining 98 million (32.5 per cent) will be the feature phones, the results showed.

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Brazilian mobile users hit with banking malware


More than 2,000 mobile banking users in Brazil have unknowingly downloaded an Android-based malware that controlled devices and stole their confidential data.

According to virus specialists Doctor Web, cybercriminals were distributing the Android.BankBot.495.origin trojan on Google Play under the guise of applications that supposedly allowed WhatsApp monitoring of Android-based devices.

When launched, the malware would attempt to gain access to Android accessibility features, which would in turn allow continue operating in the background, tap buttons and steal contents of active application windows.

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