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Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world. Headlines this week include… Google Play app with 500,000 downloads sent user contacts to Russian server, Apple and Google ‘duopoly’ criticised for ‘vice-like grip’ over mobile devices by competition watchdog, Vodafone auctions the very first SMS as NFT and much more…

Google Play app with 500,000 downloads sent user contacts to Russian server

Ars Technica

An Android app with more than 500,000 downloads from Google Play has been caught hosting malware that surreptitiously sends users’ contacts to an attacker-controlled server and signs up users to pricey subscriptions, a security firm reported.

The app, named Color Message, was still available on Google servers at the time this post was being prepared. Google removed it more than three hours after I asked the company for comment.

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Apple and Google ‘duopoly’ criticised for ‘vice-like grip’ over mobile devices by competition watchdog

Sky News

Apple and Google have been criticised for “exercising a ‘vice-like grip’ over mobile devices” by the UK’s competition watchdog.

More than 99% of all phones sold in the UK run on either iOS, owned by Apple, or Android, owned by Google – meaning these two companies can “tilt the playing field towards their own services”.

An interim report into the companies published by the Competition and Markets Authority on Tuesday said the watchdog was “concerned that this is leading to less competition and meaningful choice for customers”.

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Vodafone auctions the very first SMS as NFT

Business Review

Vodafone is auctioning off the world’s first SMS. It was transmitted through the Vodafone network, 29 years ago, on December 3, 1992 and received by Vodafone employee Richard Jarvis at a Christmas party. It’s 15 letter message: “Merry Christmas”. The SMS is auctioned as a Non-Fungible Token (“NFT”) in a unique sale organized by Aguttes Auction House in France.

The buyer, who will be able to pay with Ether cryptocurrency, gains exclusive ownership of a detailed and unique replica of the original communication protocol that transmitted the world’s first SMS. The online auction will take place on December 21, 2021. Vodafone will be donating the proceeds from the sale to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to support forcibly displaced people.

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Poland goes after Apple privacy policy

Mobile World Live

Poland’s competition watchdog launched an investigation into the latest privacy policy introduced by Apple, seeking to explore whether restrictions in user data tracking by third parties is an attempt by the company to eliminate market rivalry.

In a statement, the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) explained its president Tomasz Chrostny initiated the probe into whether privacy updates in devices running iOS 14.5 and later versions have restricted competition.

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Fintechs and ‘neobanks’ aim to plug continent’s banking gap


Like banks everywhere, those in Africa have had to weather the worst economic crisis in living memory as the Covid pandemic spread globally. The continent, as a whole, has suffered its deepest recession in at least half a century, though the picture varies widely from economy to economy.

In aggregate, GDP in South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco and Kenya — Africa’s four most important banking centres — fell by roughly 6 per cent in 2020, pushing corporate borrowers into distress and forcing banks to ramp up their provisions for bad loans.

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Voodoo bets on play-to-earn crypto mobile games


French startup Voodoo has announced that it plans to make a significant investment in blockchain-powered mobile games. The company estimates that it represents a $200 million investment over the coming years.

2021 has been an important year for crypto gaming, with Axie Infinity popularizing the play-to-earn model. Some companies, such as Mythical Games, raised massive funding rounds and are working on mainstream crypto games.

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5G seen as best, but by no means sole network for IoT


Very low latency, very high transmission capacity, and constancy in communication are advantages of 5G networks, which put the technology ahead in the evolution of connectivity.

This evolution captures telemedicine, connected cars, and more.

Hence, “5G, for reasons of standardization, interconnection and others, should become the infrastructure ‘par excellence’ in IoT,” Raul Colcher, communications engineer and founder of Brazil-based Questera Consulting, told BNamericas.

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Nearly 10 mobile games grossed more than $1 billion in 2021

Dot esports

Mobile gaming is one of, if not the most, profitable areas of the games industry, with many of the top-performing apps bringing in more revenue for developers than most console or PC titles could ever hope to achieve.

In 2021, the mobile market share continued to grow at a record-shattering pace, with eight different titles surpassing more than $1 billion in total player spending between Jan. 1 and Dec. 14, according to data insight platform Sensor Tower. This is up from five games reaching this mark in 2020, with five titles remaining above that $1 billion threshold from last year.

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Mobile shopping to hit 19.8 billion pounds this Christmas

Fashion United

With less than ten days to go to Christmas, shoppers are taking to their mobile devices to make their purchases, with experts projecting 19.8 billion pounds in sales.

In its latest report mCommerce spending figures, which are sales across digital devices, looking specifically at the Christmas period, are forecast to be 6.3bn pounds up from pre-pandemic figures with smartphones and tablets taking 61.3 percent of all online Christmas sales.

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Digital Transformation in Africa Requires Homegrown Solutions

Harvard Business Review

Africa’s digital transformation is underway, and it’s creating opportunities for transformational change across all economic sectors. While sub-Saharan Africa is still behind the rest of the world in terms of internet penetration, the gap is quickly closing: Since the early 2000s, the population of internet users in Africa grown has tenfold, as compared to a threefold increase in the rest of the world, according to the International Monetary Fund. From financial services to power and agriculture, digital technology is being leveraged to deliver greater access and usher in the “future of everything” on the continent.

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