Facebook-owned WhatsApp boasts of billion users

Facebook-owned WhatsApp boasts of billion users

Facebook-owned smartphone messaging service WhatsApp has hit the billion-user mark, according to the leading social network’s chief and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

“One billion people now use WhatsApp,” Zuckerberg said in a post on his Facebook page.

“There are only a few services that connect more than a billion people.”

Google’s free email service, Gmail, is the latest of the Internet giant’s offerings to crest the billion-user mark, chief Sundar Pichai said Monday during an earnings call.

The ranks of people using WhatsApp have more than doubled since California-based Facebook bought the service for $19 billion in late 2014, according to Zuckerberg.

“That’s nearly one-in-seven people on Earth who use WhatsApp each month to stay in touch with their loved ones, their friends and their family,” the WhatsApp team said in a blog post.

After buying WhatsApp, Facebook made the service completely free. The next step, according to Zuckerberg, is to make it easier to use the service to communicate with businesses.

Weaving WhatsApp into exchanges between businesses and customers has the potential to create revenue opportunity for Facebook.

Recent media reports have indicated that Facebook is working behind the scenes to integrate WhatsApp more snugly into the world’s leading social network by providing the ability to share information between the services.

Via OmniGhana

Alphabet Close to Overtaking Apple as Most Valuable Company

Google (aka Alphabet) Is About to Surpass Apple as the Most Valuable Company In the Galaxy

Alphabet could soon become the most valuable company in the world.

The Google powerhouse traded on Friday morning with an equity value above $500 billion, less than 10 percent shy of Apple’s value. Investors value the search firm’s earnings from rapidly growing digital advertising more than twice as highly as Apple’s in a saturating smartphone market. Wall Street, however, may be overlooking Alphabet’s risks.

Global smartphone sales growth slowed to 10 percent last year, according to the consulting firm IDC. Reports of cutbacks at Apple suppliers suggest tepid demand for its latest phones. Analysts fear that the company may struggle this year to match the 230 million or so iPhones sold in the last fiscal year to September.

An oversupplied market could bring price wars, which could hurt margins — and the iPhone accounts for about 60 percent of Apple’s revenue and a bigger chunk of its profit. As a result, investors expect little growth in the company’s top line this year and are paying only about 10 times estimated 2016 earnings for the stock.

The mobile digital advertising market, meanwhile, should almost triple to nearly $200 billion globally by 2019, consultants at eMarketer reckon. Alphabet’s sales are forecast to grow about 15 percent this year. This wind at Alphabet’s back and the possibility that its self-driving cars, robots or medical endeavors will pay off help explain why it commands a price-to-earnings multiple above 20.

A subpar earnings report from Apple next week, or a strong one from Alphabet the week after, could bring a new name to the top of the world’s most valuable companies list.

Investors are, however, prone to overconfidence in technology trends. Facebook is snagging more and more ad dollars. European antitrust authorities are circling. Moreover, some of Alphabet’s revenue comes courtesy of iPhone users: it cost Google $1 billion in 2014 to keep its search bar on the Apple device, Bloomberg reports based on transcripts of a court case.

Alphabet is far more reliant on Internet advertising than Apple is on the iPhone. Ads bring in about 90 percent of the company’s revenue. Any hint of investor skepticism about that market could keep Apple at the top of the list.

Via New York Times

APPLE DISAPPOINTS WITH FLAT IPHONE SALES

The Apple logo is seen from inside the company’s Boylston Street store in Boston on Sept. 16, 2015. Credit: Blair Hanley FrankApple logo from inside Apple Store in Boston

Sales growth in the last quarter was the slowest in the iPhone’s history

Apple sold roughly as many iPhones during the last quarter of 2015 as it did during the same period in 2014, signaling a possible end to continual gains for the phone and a potential shift in Apple’s business and the smartphone market at large.

That’s according to financial results from the company’s first fiscal quarter, which ended Dec. 26. They showed Apple sold 74.8 million smartphones during the previous quarter, compared to 74.5 million handsets during the same period in 2014. Over the past several years, Apple could be relied upon to post massive iPhone sales that passed the preceding year’s handily. That wasn’t the case this time.

The news was preceded by weeks of dark predictions, with media reports claiming Apple had cut manufacturing orders from the companies that build the iPhone because inventory of the smartphone was backing up in retail channels.

Apple posted record quarterly revenue of $75.9 billion, compared to $74.6 billion in sales during the same period in 2014. Its profit for the quarter was $18.4 billion, up by almost $400 billion year-over-year. The company, like many others in the U.S., blamed a stronger dollar for keeping its revenue roughly flat. In a conference call with financial analysts, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is vulnerable to significant impacts from foreign exchange rates, since two-thirds of its business comes from outside the U.S.

Looking forward, there are more clouds on the horizon. Apple expects its revenue for the current quarter to be between $50 billion and $53 billion, compared with $58 billion in revenue during the same period last year. It’s not clear yet what will drive that decline, but it seems likely that iPhone sales and currency impacts may be at least partly to blame.

Via IT News

YAHOO ADDS GMAIL SUPPORT TO MAIL APP

finger on keyboard with email icons floating out of monitor

Yahoo is looking to pull a whole lot of new users into its new Yahoo Mail app by adding support for Google‘s popular Gmail.

Yahoo, which has been in turmoil lately, launched its Mail app this past October, adding support for email services like Outlook.com, Hotmail and AOL Mail.

What the app didn’t have was support for Gmail.

Yahoo is trying to rectify that omission now.

“All the features you need and love in Yahoo M

“All the features you need and love in Yahoo Mail — powerful search, smart contacts, rich compose features and Yahoo Account Key for password-free sign-in — are now available with Gmail,” wrote Shiv Shankar, Yahoo senior product manager, in a blog post. “You can now search across your entire history of emails, from day one, for all connected mailboxes,” — not just the most recent emails, “which is how it’s done in many apps today.”

Multiple mailbox support for Gmail within Yahoo Mail is available everywhere today in the Yahoo Mail app and on the desktop browser, according to Yahoo. To connect a user’s Gmail account, she simply needs to go into her Account Settings.
Shakar also noted in the post that when someone is using Yahoo Mail and composes an email, she can send it from any account she’s connected to.

Every action, like moving and deleting emails and marking emails as read, is synced across all mailboxes.

Other Yahoo Mail features that can be used across Gmail emails include signing in on the mobile app with a Yahoo Account key, instead of a password; easily adding photos, videos and GIFs to emails and searching all connected mail boxes.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said this is a good move for Yahoo and it’s a good move for Yahoo Mail users, as well.

“Yahoo has been trying to get a bump in the number of users for its mail application,” he told Computerworld. “Adding Gmail will certainly do that as Gmail is one of the most widely used mail platforms by consumers and businesses. The issue is there are other mail platforms that support Gmail, so, in my opinion, this is just table stakes. What moves it beyond others is Yahoo’s ability to search across all of a user’s history of email.

“That’s where it becomes great stuff,” said Kerravala.

Yahoo’s email news comes the same week that the company announced it is spinning off its core Internet business.

The company initially had talked about spinning off its stake in Chinese retail giant Alibaba, but largely because of fears of extensive tax liability, the board instead decided to hold onto Alibaba and spin off nearly everything else.

Maynard Webb, head of Yahoo’s board of directors, said this week that the firm is not actively looking for a buyer for the Internet business but that the firm would consider any serious offer.

Kerravala noted that Yahoo’s mail announcement coming out the same week that the company announced the spinoff just shows that there are still multiple projects in the works.

“Innovation hasn’t stopped just because the Internet business is being broken out,” he added.

This story, “Yahoo adds Gmail support to Mail app” was originally published by Computerworld.

Source: IT News

Amazon Delivery Drone Can Travel 15 Miles

Amazon’s new delivery drone is a cross between a plane and a helicopter, and can avoid obstacles to drop off packages.

Amazon has unveiled a new hybrid delivery drone that can travel up to 15 miles at high speed.

In a new video released by the online retail giant, one of its drones is seen landing on a designated spot in someone’s back garden.

A flap underneath the drone opens up, and a package is deposited on the lawn.

Amazon says the drone can fly around obstacles thanks to built-in safety features – an attempt to appease regulators who are generally resistant to the idea of drone delivery.

 
Read full article @ Sky