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Whats App deal highlights
Sixteen-year-old Owen Fairchild
does not hang out at Facebook as
much as he did when he was just
It is not that he and his friends
are abandoning the social network.
ey are spreading their love to rival networks
like Twitter, Pinterest, Snap Chat, Instagram
and blogging platform Tumblr.
"I ve moved on," the teenager said.
"I go to Tumblr a lot more; there is a lot of
funny stuff. Snap Chat is super-fun because
you can send really unattractive pictures
of yourself and they will delete after a few
Contrary to what grown-ups might think,
teens sometimes prefer to catch up on life
face-to-face in the real world, he added.
"I think Facebook is still very popular
even though some people might be losing
interest," the 11th-grade student at Alameda
Community Learning Centre said, a charter
school in Alameda across the bay from San
" ere is no talk among my friends saying
Facebook is for old people."
Facebook, born on a college campus a decade
ago, has grown to 1.23 billion active users
But as it prepares to celebrate its 10th
anniversary, Facebook is now facing challenges
in keeping its original base of young users as
new social networks vie to be the coolest on
A social networking trend set in motion
by Facebook has been accelerated by soaring
popularity of smartphones that let people share
images, videos, thoughts or observations at any
Hot young services such as Pinterest, Twitter
and Snap Chat have sparked concerns that
Facebook is losing teens and may follow
predecessor My Space into social networking
Facebook s demographics appear to be
shifting as adults, even seniors, use the network
to catch up with long-lost friends and stay
connected to family and colleagues.
Princeton University student Susannah
Sharpless says she and friends have stopped
letting Facebook consume their lives.
"Everyone in my friend group went through
this stage where we hated Facebook and
deleted it," Sharpless said.
"I was one of the first people to get it back.
Slowly, everyone did."
Breaking from Facebook served as a detox
period during which she and friends got a
better handle on what was a daily habit, the
college junior said.
"I realised how to live without the mindless
Facebook stalking that I used to do," Sharpless
"I check my Twitter feed all the time; there
is nothing that I definitely need to know on
She also finds more interesting fare on
Instagram, which Facebook bought about two
years ago in a billion-dollar deal.
"Facebook isn t done," Sharpless said. "I think
it is just changing in the way people use it."
Social media network analytics company
Socialbakers posted findings indicating that
"the sky is not falling" when it comes to
Facebook s appeal to the younger set.
Interactions at Facebook by people ages 13
to 24 grew about 29% last year, according to
"Teens are definitely not leaving en masse
as some reports would have you believe,"
Socialbakers data specialist Ben Harper said in
a blog post.
During an earnings call recently, top
Facebook executives sidestepped a question
about whether the social network was losing
"We are working on great products that all
our users, including teens, will take seriously,"
Facebook chief financial officer David
Forrester Research analyst Nate Elliott
dismissed Facebook gloom-and-doom talk as
He argued that, unlike the defunct My Space,
Facebook innovates relentlessly and copies
winning features from competitors.
For example, Facebook has woven Twitter-
style real-time status updates into the service
and introduced a new mobile app aimed at
becoming a social newspaper of sorts.
Young people might change how they use
Facebook, but they are not leaving, according
to the Forrester analyst.
"It is not a zero-sum game," Elliott said. "You
don t stop using one network because you start
Forrester is preparing to release results of a
youth survey that the analyst said contradict
the "breathless proclamations of doom" about
"When you strip away the hyperbole and just
look at the numbers, Facebook is absolutely
crushing all the other social networks in terms
of young users who go there," Elliott said.
Independent Silicon Valley analyst Rob
Enderle countered that some studies in recent
months indicate young people are departing
Facebook in a shift that should worry the
" e youth is your seed corn to make sure
your ser vice grows; they drive something like
this," Enderle said.
" e trendy kids at school need to be at
Facebook." --- AFP
Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 5
United States technology giant Apple
is suing a Chinese government agency
and a domestic company over patent
rights for its Siri personal assistant, the
official Xinhua news agency says.
Apple launched the case against the
State Intellectual Property Office,
which is in charge of patent rights
protection in China, and Shanghai s
Zhizhen Network Technology, which
developed software similar to Siri, the
Apple declined to comment, saying
it does not comment on any ongoing
e US company previously asked
the State Intellectual Property Office
to declare Zhizhen s voice recognition
patent invalid but the request was
declined, prompting the legal action,
e Beijing No 1 Intermediate
People s Court will hear the case
tomorrow, it added.
Last year, Zhizhen itself accused the
California-based technology giant
of copying its Xiao i Robot software,
which it patented in 2004, to develop
e case was heard by a Shanghai
court in July, State media have reported,
but no ruling has been announced.
Siri, described by Apple as an
"intelligent personal assistant", made
its debut with the release of the iPhone
4S in 2011 and responds to a user s
commands through voice recognition
Zhizhen claims its product works in
a similar way and has wide application
in areas including telecommunications,
finance and e-commerce.
Apple chief executive officer Tim
Cook said in January last year that
he expected China to become his
company s largest market, though he
gave no time frame.
Its revenue in Greater China --- which
includes Hong Kong and Taiwan ---
reached $US5.7 billion ($NZ6.84
billion) for the fiscal quarter ending
in September 2013, up 24% from
the previous quarter, according to the
Nokia has unveiled its first phone to
run on Google s Android operating
system rather than Microsoft s
competing Windows Phone software.
e Nokia X, unveiled on the first
morning of the Mobile World Congress
trade show in Barcelona, is a low-cost
handset targeted at emerging markets.
Nokia will bin many of the Google
services that come with Android and
instead emphasise Microsoft apps
including Bing search, Skype, and
OneDrive file storage.
Because it uses Android, it will be able
to run most Android apps.
However, app developers may have to
tweak some of their software because
the phone does not have key Google
Stephen Elop, executive vice president
of Nokia s Devices and Services, said
the company wanted to "connect the
next billion people".
Once the No 1 maker of mobile
phones, Nokia has been struggling to
keep up with the iPhone and devices
And even as competition intensifies
for high-end smartphones such as the
Xperia Z series, Nokia has been hit
by competition from cheaper mobile
phones made by Chinese and other
e Nokia X will sell for 89 euros
($NZ146.94) immediately in Europe,
Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin
Nokia is understood to be considering
whether to bring the phone to
e company also introduced two
cheaper phones --- the Nokia 220 and
the Asha 230, which will cost 29 euros
and 45 euros respectively.
A newly formed coalition of
United States technology firms and
advocacy groups have called for the
expansion of wifi, saying air waves
are getting congested for a key
pathway to the internet.
e new coalition calling for
expansion of unlicensed, or free
spectrum for wifi includes Google,
Microsoft, Comcast, the Consumer
Electronics Association and other
companies and organisations.
"In the United States, more
internet traffic is carried over wifi
than any other path," the coalition
said in a statement.
"Recent analyses indicate that wifi
in our homes, businesses, schools
and libraries is becoming congested
by a deluge of data from more
devices, applications and services
connecting to the internet without
e coalition said the Federal
should open up more spectrum for
wifi to avoid a crunch that could
slow down or make connections
more difficult in the coming years,
with wifi use growing at 68% a year.
e group released a study that
concludes unlicensed spectrum
generated $US222 billion
($NZ266.9b) in value to the US
economy in 2013 and contributed
$US6.7b to US economic output.
"Consumers deserve access to their
information and entertainment
where and when they want it,"
Julie Kearney of the Consumer
Electronics Association said.
"Unlicensed spectrum not only
underlies the delivery of that data
on demand, but also fuels our
Paul Mitchell, head of technology
police at Microsoft, said wifi
enabled people to connect, learn,
explore, and grow.
"We need to ensure that our access
to spectrum for wifi --- supporting
our growing innovation economy
--- keeps pace with our evolving
Other coalition members include
retailer Best Buy, the American
Library Association and the tech
industry association CompTIA.
Sony has unveiled
its new Xperia Z2
innovations from its
audio and camcorder
businesses to provide
technology and ultra-
e Japanese tech giant
on the first
morning of the
trade show in
works with an
which is sold
separately, while the
camera can capture video
in so-called 4K resolution,
an emerging standard
that offers four times
the sharpness of current
"With Xperia Z2 we
have taken our premium
Z series to the next
level, delivering unique
experiences that only
Sony can offer," John
Mobile managing director
for Oceania said.
Sony did not disclose
how much the phone will
cost in Australia, but said
they should start shipping
around the world from
March. e phone will be
available through Optus,
Telstra, and Vodafone,
and through direct Sony
Sony, once an electronics
powerhouse, has had
difficulty keeping up
with Samsung and other
rivals in various consumer
electronics. Its phones
have struggled to compete
with the likes of Samsung
e Z2 sports the same
20.7 megapixel camera
found in its predecessors,
the Z1 and the Z1s.
Most other smartphone
cameras have 8 to 13
e Z2 is waterproof,
like the Z1 phones, and
its screen is slightly larger,
at 5.2 inches diagonally
instead of 5 inches.
At this week s
Sony also demonstrated
a Smart Band fitness
works with a
Lifelog app on
the phone to
record your day.
You see key
your day progresses on
the timeline, you see
the number of steps
and calories burned to
that point. Sony also
announced a high-end
tablet and a separate,
e tablet is also
called the Xperia Z2
and features a 10.1-inch
screen, larger than most
full-size tablets. It is also
waterproof. e wifi-
only model weights 426
grams, which is lighter
than Apple s lightweight
iPad Air, despite the Z2 s
Sony s Xperia M2,
meanwhile, is meant as
a cheaper alternative to
the Z2. Its camera is
not as powerful, at only
8 megapixels, and the
screen is only 12cm.
Sony is making a
version of the M2 with
two SIM card slots,
something in demand
in emerging markets,
where plans vary so much
that people often have
service with multiple
carriers and use what is
most economical for the
e M2 is slated for
April. --- AAP
Facebook battles to
stay young and cool
Sony unveils new
Apple sues China govt
agency over Siri
Nokia unveils first
Calls for wifi
e astonishingly high price paid for the
messaging service Whats App underscores
how mobile apps are transforming the way
we communicate, shaking up the global
Facebook s deal to pay up to $US19 billion
($NZ22.8 billion) for Whats App comes on
the heels of a $US900 million purchase of
another messaging ser vice, Viber, by Japanese
internet giant Rakuten.
e California-based messaging firm Snap
Chat, known for its disappearing messages,
reportedly turned down a $US3 billion offer
Some analysts expect more deals to
come now that it is clear that messaging is
becoming a killer app that can enable mobile
phone users around the globe to get free
from their local carriers and communicate
Declan Lonergan, analyst at Yankee Group,
said the new focus on messaging "signals the
growing importance of IP communications
in consumers lives."
"Facebook s valuation of Whats App is
shockingly high, but so too is the risk of
being left behind as these apps become
dominant platforms for communications,
media distribution, social engagement and
advertising," Lonergan said in a blog post.
e huge deal for Whats App has shined
a spotlight on BlackBerry, the struggling
smartphone maker which also has a
messaging ser vice with 80 million customers
using Android and Apple devices.
" ere will be more deals," analyst ibaut
De Smedt of the investment bank Bryan,
Garnier and Co said.
De Smedt said he sees more interest in
"startups which have invented a service and
spread it around the world," especially in
places such as Asia.
Some of these services include China-based
We Chat, Japan s Line and Kakao in South
Korea. ese have been mainly domestically
focused but are starting to turn their
attention to the global market.
By using internet or IP communications,
these messaging services can help users
bypass telecom carriers and their fees for
SMS --- a global market worth tens of
billions of dollars, which helps explain the
price for Whats App.
"SMS volumes were higher than social
messaging volumes in 2012, but in 2013,
messaging apps took a big leap forward
and overtook traffic. We can expect strong
growth in traffic to continue in the coming
years," a report from the British consultancy
e research firm Informa said in a recent
report that global annual SMS revenues will
fall by $US23b by 2018 from $US120b in
2013 mainly due to "continuing adoption and
use of over-the-top messaging applications
in both developed and emerging markets."
Analysts at the research firm Trefis said in a
report that "mobile messaging is here to stay,
even though the growth in social networking
industry might slow down" and that Whats
App fills an important gap in Facebook s
Some analysts say text messaging is just one
small part of what could be a much bigger
market for mobile communications, with
voice, images and video, and that services like
Whats App may shake up the market in the
same way You Tube, bought by Google in
2006, shook up on-line video.
Other ser vices can spring from the mobile
apps such as payment services, noted
Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler.
" e strategic rationale is obvious, mobile
messaging apps are in a position to become
demand generation marketplaces as many
have already demonstrated ... controlling
mobile engagement and the purchase
funnel," Sandler said in a research note.
"Facebook continues to demonstrate
savviness beyond its years as it pivots its
business model, footprint and strategy to
mobile." --- AFP
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