Anusha Rehman misses YouTube hearing again

LAHORE:  Federal minister for Information Technology Anusha Rehman, again failed to appear before the court and submit a written statement on the government’s position and intention with regard to lifting the ban on YouTube.

The court wishes to hear the government’s official stance on YouTube among other internet freedoms in the country before issuing a verdict in the Bytes for all vs. The Federation on Pakistan case that is more commonly referred to as the YouTube case.

The broad natured petition filed by Bytes for All seeks the courts protection on several digital rights to which lifting the ban on YouTube is only one part.

The court has now ordered to meet again on Thursday, 13th March for the 19th hearing

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Facebook & Whatsapp: War is costly, War is profitable.

M/s Koum and Acton scored a coup yesterday when Facebook announced its attention to acquire their instant messaging startup Whatsapp for $19 billion dollars.

Twitter is overflowing with media outlets, venture capitalist’s, silicon valley and the entire business world offering their perspective on this unprecedented landmark deal. There are many reasons to scrutinize every aspect of the deal including how its per user and per employee acquisition cost compares to the likes of Google’s acquisition of Youtube etc, but its also worth reviewing holistically and what this symbolizes for the shifting landscape.

Did Facebook have a choice? I don’t think so. Despite what their quarterly earnings state, Facebook is becoming increasingly less popular in public opinion for a myriad of reasons. Some of these are the advent of new, more interesting apps, the continual privacy problems and the shift in the average age of the ‘monthly active users’. With the billion dollar acquisition of a profitless and indeed revenue-less Instagram, and now the 19 billion dollar acquisition of Whatsapp, which monetizes by charging it’s 450 million users $1 (one US Dollar a year) it’s clear that Facebook isn’t valuing the profitability of it’s takeover targets, rather it’s buying relevance.

It’s an expensive deal – currently about 9% of Facebook’s capitalization – but it feels fairly necessary. Zuckerberg says that Whatsapp, like Instagram, will continue to operate independently; a decision perhaps borne of necessity, not desire. With Instagram ads being introduced recently, the no-ads policy of Whatsapp, and the persistent intrusiveness of Facebook, there seems to be no logical way to amalgamate the product offerings without experiencing attrition in the user base.

Why $19 billion though?

If Whatsapp currently generates $450 million dollars a year, even at their impressive user acquisition rate, it would be many, many years before Facebook sees a return on their investment. Facebook’s $3 billion acquisition offer for Snapchat was publicly refused as was Google’s $4 billion follow up offer for the same company. These offers are more about territory than financial viability and feasibility. What is interesting is that Google offered to pay Whatsapp handsomely, only for the privilege of being informed if and when it entered into acquisition talks with any other company.

Google is paying for information about its competitors. It isn’t revelatory, it isn’t espionage, but its certainly indicative of a fiercer form of competition; one where your own survival is threatened – war.

Using the same analogy, the profiteers in this scenario are the venture capitalists. Sequoia Capital invested $8 million dollars in Whatsapp a few years ago, and it was the only venture firm to back the company. Following the announcement, they stand to make approximately $3.5 billion dollars on their paltry investment. The number of successful exits via mergers and acquisitions has grown consistently and is a trend that is expected to continue in 2014 with North America dominating the field.

In the past couple of months, Google has tried to acquire Snapchat for $4 billion, offloaded Motorola, bought Nest, and expressed interest in laying down Fiber in dozens of cities. Is there a cohesive vision guiding these plans? Maybe.

Facebook also made a failed bid to buy Snapchat for $3 billion, acquired Whatsapp, launched Paper for iOS, begun testing ads with Instagram, and celebrated its 10-year anniversary.

With multiple acquisitions north of 100 million dollars in the past few months, the previously software-only companies are making a habit of encroaching across industries in the war for user dominance. Apple has been stuck in a process of refinement for the past couple of years, Microsoft, under its new leadership, will likely enter a period of consolidation in the interim. Yahoo is continuing to redefine itself slowly.

2014 is already shaping up to be a primer for a volatile 2015, when acquisitions, disruptions and advances in materials will likely culminate in the large companies adding additional dimensions to themselves. By definition, this makes for an unlikely scenario of unifying product offerings and instead, these companies will likely expand as holding companies, at least for the time being.

Whichever way it unfolds, its a phenomenal time to be a consumer since we, the consumers are now contentiously and publicly 

Why Facebook is buying WhatsApp for $19 Billion?

 

WhatsApp Facebook Secure Chat app

Popular Smartphone Messaging app WhatsApp’s $19 billion acquisition by Social Network giantFacebook made Headlines this week.

While Some are applauding the move, and many other users are worried about WhatsApp’s future and their privacy after this acquisition.
Why So Serious?
WhatsApp currently having 450 million active users and processes 50 billion messages a day. Service charges a nominal service fee of $1/year, that means Facebook is buying at $42.22 per user.

$19 Billion / 450 million users  = $42.22 per user

These figures show, obviously future revenue from WhatsApp can’t cover the acquisition cost in the short or mid-term.
You can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication. There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product.” WhatsApp founder said in a blog post.
So, What Facebook is planning for?

Facebook is by far the world’s most popular social network, with over 1.2 billion users worldwide, but all WhatsApp users may not have an account on Facebook. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on his wall, “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected“, that means Facebook could merge WhatsApp data with them, but Mark also said, “WhatsApp will continue to operate independently within Facebook“.

Facebook Mobile Messenger is widely used for chatting with your Facebook friends, and WhatsApp for communicating with all of your contacts and small groups of people. Since WhatsApp and Messenger serve such different and important uses, we will continue investing in both and making them each great products for everyone.” Mark Zuckerberg added.

Mark said,’Making them each great products for everyone’
By design, WhatsApp collects all contact information from phones and uploads that information to the company’s servers. This is hugely valuable data that Facebook has apparently been after from last two years. In simple words, ‘Facebook Just Bought 450 Million Phone Numbers in $19 Billion‘.
WhatsApp claim that users’ messages are never stored on their server after delivery to the recipient. So we are expecting that Facebook could never dig into our private messages history, but that doesn’t mean — it will not store in the future.
Can we trust Facebook and WhatsApp?
Well, 70% users don’t trust Facebook with their personal information, whereas a large percentage of users still trust WhatsApp for sharing personal information.
WhatsApp has many Security issues as well as privacy issues, but that hasn’t scared off its more than 450 million users around the world.
Alternate Secure & Encrypted messaging Smartphone apps? 
If you care about your privacy a lot and don’t want to hand your communication to Facebook, you might want to look into secure messaging solutions, like – Surespot an open-source Android and iOS messaging solution and Threema, end-to-end encrypted app for Android and iOS.
What would be the next in Facebook’s shopping list? A mobile handset company?

Creator says game over for maddening Flappy Bird

HANOI, Vietnam: The young Vietnamese creator of hit mobile game Flappy Bird has removed it from the App Store and Google Play saying it ruined his life.

The game which was uploaded in 2013 but only surged to the top in downloads earlier this year was removed early Monday.

The success of the game that based its appeal on being simple and also maddeningly difficult made its creator Nguyen Ha Dong, 29, a minor celebrity.

The game was downloaded more than 50 million times on App Store alone. In an interview with The Verge website, Dong said Flappy Bird was making $50,000 a day in advertising revenue

But tech blogger Carter Thomas said the sudden popularity of Flappy Bird might have been due to use of fake accounts run by computers to create downloads and reviews.

Thomas said he couldn’t prove his suspicion and that the success of Flappy Bird might also be explained by it being “just a wildly viral game.”

Dong, from Hanoi, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that the Internet sensation caused by the game “ruins my simple life” and he now hated it.

“I will take Flappy Bird down. I cannot take this anymore,” he wrote.

Dong had agreed to talk to The Associated Press about the game in an interview scheduled for Friday, but canceled.

On Twitter he didn’t address the inflated downloads allegation but denied suggestions he was withdrawing the game because it breached another game maker’s copyright.

“It is not anything related to legal issues. I just cannot keep it anymore,” he wrote.

Samsung 5G Test ‘Hundred Times Faster’ Than 4G

Samsung Debuts Its New Flagship Smartphone, The Galaxy S IV

The company says its test on next- generation mobile technology give speeds several hundred times faster than current 4g network.

Samsung has developed 5G mobile technology which could let users download a film to their phone in just one second.

The electronics giant claims it is “several hundred times faster” than current 4G services and will allow users to send massive data “practically without limitation”.

“As a result, subscribers will be able to enjoy a wide range of services such as 3D movies and games, real-time streaming of ultra high-definition (UHD) content, and remote medical services,” the company said on its blog.

Unfortunately for smartphone fans, the technology is still early in its development phase with Samsung saying it is unlikely to appear in a handset before 2020.

Customers using 4G services – currently provided in the UK by EE – get average speeds of between eight and 12 megabits per second (Mbps), with some cities to be boosted to 20Mbps this summer.

Other UK networks are preparing to launch their own 4G services.

However, Samsung’s research puts those speeds in the shade and offers a glimpse of a future where data arrives almost instantly.

Its 5G tests, using “adaptive array transceiver technology”, gave speeds of “up to 1.056 gigabytes (Gbps)” – but only over a distance of two kilometres.

The South Korean firm, the world’s top smartphone maker, hopes its work will prompt other groups to step up their own 5G research.

China set up a government-led 5G research group in 2012, while the European Commission is also lining up millions of euros of funding into the technology.

A Year in Pakistan Search Google’s Top Searches of 2013

KARACHI: Google announced its annual Year End Zeitgeist, a look at 2013 through the collective eyes of the world on the web, offering a unique perspective on the year’s major events and hottest trends based on searches conducted in Pakistan.

This year’s trending searches show growing interest in sports, Bollywood movies, news, elections and Turkish dramas. On the other hand, the top people search indicates that Pakistanis follow a variety of local and international personalities where the top 3 people searched for were Paul Walker, Jiah Khan and Nelson Mandela.

Following sports online remained Pakistan’s top trending search and reflects the love for cricket as well as other sports among Pakistanis. Aashiqui 2, a Bollywood blockbuster earned the second top search spot with the movie’s songs being a massive hit among the Pakistani youth. Chennai Express bagged the third top search position and again reflects the strong inclination towards Bollywood movies in Pakistan. Bigg Boss 7, an Indian reality show hosted by popular Bollywood star Salman Khan, and Dunya News, a local news channel rounded up the top five search trends in Pakistan this year.

In people search, the latest international events and happenings dictated the top searched for people in Pakistan in the year 2013. The untimely death of the young actor of Fast & Furious acclaim, Paul Walker who lost his life in a tragic car accident became the most searched for personality. Followed by Jiah Khan, a Bollywood actress that committed suicide a few months ago and the death of the world renowned humanitarian, Nelson Mandela made him the third most searched for person on Google. Overall, the top 10 people search in Pakistan in 2013 reflects the fan following of both celebrities and politicians in Pakistan.

Trending Searches for 2013

1. PTV Sports Live
2. Aashiqui 2
3. Chennai Express
4. Bigg Boss 7
5. Dunya News
6. Zindagi Gulzar Hai
7. Jang newspaper
8. ECP
9. Krrish 3
10. Mera Sultan

Trending People for 2013

1. Paul Walker
2. Jiah Khan
3. Nelson Mandela
4. Maryam Nawaz
5. Shradda Kapoor
6. Imran Khan
7. Altaf Hussain
8. Alia Bhatt
9. Sara Bharwana
10. Suraj Pancholi

In addition to showcasing what people were curious about in Pakistan, Google also offers insights into which topics captured the world’s attention in 2013 through its Zeitgeist tool. Top search terms from over fifty countries appear on Google Zeitgeist webpage, googlezeitgeist.com — from most-searched travel destinations in Brazil, to trending Australian celebrities, to most-searched Egyptian Olympians, to top tech gadgets in Japan and everything in between.

Top 10 Global Trending Queries for 2013

1. Nelson Mandela
2. Paul Walker
3. iPhone 5s
4. Cory Monteith
5. Harlem Shake
6. Boston Marathon
7. Royal Baby
8. Samsung Galaxy S4
9. PlayStation 4
10. North Korea

Next Android mobile software version dubbed ‘KitKat’

SAN FRANCISCO: Google on Tuesday said the next version of Android will be called “KitKat” in keeping with its penchant for giving tasty names to its software for powering mobile devices.

“Since these devices make our lives so sweet, each Android version is named after a dessert,” the California-based technology titan said in a blog post. “As everyone finds it difficult to stay away from chocolate we decided to name the next version of Android after one of our favorite chocolate treats.”

The list of Android software names over the years includes Cupcake, Donut, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean.

The Android 4.4 KitKat system is expected to launch in October 2013.

In a promotion deal, Google is enticing people with chances to win Android-powered Nexus 7 tablets or credit at its online Play shop by buying KitKat candy bars featuring Android robot icons on wrappers.

Android software powers more than a billion smartphones or tablets worldwide, according to Google.

Smartphones powered by Google’s Android software increased their global market share as iPhones lost ground in the absence of new models being unleashed by Apple, the International Data Corporation reported last month.

Android’s share of the smartphone market grew to 79.3 per cent in the second quarter while that of iPhone slipped to 13.2 per cent from 16.6 per cent in the same three-month period last year, according to IDC figures.

Apple is “well positioned” to recapture market share with the release later this year of a new iPhone and the next-generation iOS mobile operating system, according to IDC mobile phone research team manager Ramon Llamas.

Apple on Tuesday sent out invitations to a September 10 event at its California headquarters where new iPhones models were expected to be unveiled.

KitKat is a chocolate-covered wafer created by British-based Rowntree’s, now produced worldwide by Nestle.