Facebook, Twitter, YouTube to remain blocked in PAKISTAN, PTA

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The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said on Saturday that social networking websites Facebook and Twitter and video-sharing sites YouTube and Dailymotion would remain blocked in the country until the law and order situation improved.

However, the telecom watchdog added that there had been no instructions to block cell phone services so far.

Access to these websites was blocked hours after law enforcers launched an operation to break up a protest sit-in in Islamabad, drawing the ire of Pakistani internet users.

Millions of Pakistanis rely on private television channels and social media platforms for updates on the events unfolding in the country following the Islamabad crackdown.

But then the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) ordered private television channels to go off-air, fearing live coverage of the Islamabad operation could trigger protests elsewhere in the country.

After the electronic media blackout, people turned to popular social networking websites for information, but Facebook, Twitter and Youtube were also blocked by the authorities in an effort to stop information from trickling out.

Complaints of inaccessibility started pouring in on Twitter mid-afternoon on Saturday. Some users say the social media ‘blackout’ is restricting people from their right to information.

 

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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?

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.

Apple still rules in Japan as carriers battle to sell iPhones

Tokyo – Apple Inc’s disappointing third quarter was nowhere in evidence in Japan, where sales increased more than 40 percent as the highly anticipated launch of the new iPhone by Japan’s biggest mobile firm boosted sales – at rival carriers.

Japan accounted for nearly 10 percent of Apple’s global revenue in July-September, its gadget-loving consumers enticed by discounts and cash-backs from carriers under threat as industry leader NTT DoCoMo Inc finally began selling the iPhone after years of foot-dragging.

For Apple, that price competition has helped to cement iPhone’s dominance in the market.

“Japan is Apple country,” said Serkan Toto, a Tokyo-based technology consultant. “(It) was positioned as a cool gadget to have, not because of its advanced features – it doesn’t have a lot of things feature phones have, no e-Wallet, no digital TV tuner – it’s a lifestyle product.”

The California-based company is considered well placed to extend its lead in Japan over Samsung Electronics, whose Galaxy smartphones dominate in China and Europe, after DoCoMo’s entry helped boost the iPhone’s share to a record 34 percent in September, according to Counterpoint Technology Marketing Research.

Ironically, DoCoMo was not the main beneficiary – at least not yet – from its leap into the iPhone market.

The carrier’s net subscriptions fell 66,800 in September, its biggest monthly loss ever, while rivals KDDI Corp and SoftBank Corp each had net gains of about a quarter of a million, company data showed. The data also showed DoCoMo lost a net 133,100 of its subscribers to rival carriers, while the other two posted net gains.

4-week wait for gold 5S

While the carriers battle it out for market share, however, Apple is sitting pretty.

“Japan is already one of the best countries for Apple in terms of iPhone market share before NTT DoCoMo started to sell, and its share could reach half of (all) smartphones, if all the major three carriers continue to sell as they have been doing,” said Atsuro Sato, senior research analyst at Gartner, who tied the iPhone’s popularity in part to aggressive pricing campaigns.

But it wasn’t the 5S, which customers still must wait two weeks to buy in Japan – or four weeks for the gold version – that sold best after the launch.

Those long waits spurred many smartphone buyers to opt for the ‘older’ iPhone 5, drawn by the deals and discounts that DoCoMo’s rivals offered to protect their market share. As a new iPhone vendor, DoCoMo has no older iPhones in stock.

SoftBank, for example, is offering 21,000 yen ($210) in cash back for customers buying the iPhone 5.

Analysts not only see potential for Apple to boost its market share, but also for the smartphone market overall to grow faster than in other developed economies. Its smartphone penetration is still relatively low, at 25 percent against 55 percent in the United States, according to One Mobile Research, a project commissioned by Google Inc.

Cutting-edge features such as streamed TV, animated email and electronic payments were available on Japanese mobile phones well before the advent of smartphones.

The crowded ranks of Japan’s smartphone makers have also seen a shakeout in recent months, in part as DoCoMo has focused on a few models for its sales promotions, such as Sony Corp’s Xperia handsets. Sony was the second-biggest smartphone maker in Japan in April-June, according to IDC.

For DoCoMo, while the 5S launch caught it flat-footed when stocks ran low and rivals were able to grab business by offering discounted older models, the embrace of the iPhone is beginning to staunch an exodus of customers to rival carriers.

“The iPhone effect is clearly working,” NTT DoCoMo’s CEO Kaoru Kato said on Friday, when the company announced quarterly earnings. “The number of users who have shifted to other carriers has fallen 30 percent from last year.”

Kato said the iPhone would help the company reach its full-year handset sales target of 24.5 million, making up the shortfall of the first half, when it shifted 10.5 million units.

The Nokia Lumia 1520 and Lumia 1320

Nokia introduces its first ever large screen Lumia smartphones, the Lumia 1520 and Lumia 1320. With a six inch screen and the latest software advancements for Windows Phone, the Lumia 1320 and Lumia 1520 are perfectly suited for entertainment and productivity.

A new third column of tiles on the home screen means people can see and do more on a larger screen. Bringing larger displays to the award-winning Lumia design, the new format is coupled with some of the most advanced camera innovations so people can capture and share the world around them.

The Lumia 1520 offers the latest imaging innovation from Nokia – a 20MP PureView camera with optical image stabilization (OIS) enabling sharp images even in the dark as well as oversampling and zooming technology similar to the Lumia 1020.

In addition to the new Nokia Camera and Nokia Storyteller applications, the Lumia 1520 offers a 6-inch screen and a vivid 1080p full HD display for outstanding outdoor readability. People can bring their videos to life with Nokia Rich Recording, an unparalleled audio capture using four built-in microphones. With Microsoft Office built in, documents can be edited and shared easily for maximum productivity.

The Lumia 1320 features many high-end Lumia innovations on a large 6-inch 720p display and extends the Nokia Camera app to another price range. With a range of imaging apps available, the Lumia 1320 comes with Nokia Music for free streaming of ad-free music and HERE maps and location services, so people can experience the most popular Lumia experiences at a more accessible price.

The Nokia Lumia 1520 will be available in yellow, white, black and glossy red. It is expected to start shipping in Q4 2013, with an estimated price of USD749 before taxes and subsidies in Hong Kong, Singapore, US, China, U.K., France, Germany, Finland and other European markets, with other markets to follow.

The Nokia Lumia 1320 will be available in orange, yellow, white, and black and is expected to start shipping in Q1 2014 with an estimated price of USD339 before taxes and subsidies in China and Vietnam, followed by other Asian markets, India and Europe.

HTC offers larger phone, with fingerprint sensor

New York – At your neighborhood coffee shop, you can order your beverage in small, medium or large. Now, you can do that with phones, too.

HTC Corp. is introducing a larger version of its popular HTC One phone, becoming the latest phone maker to offer its flagship device in three sizes – and, of course, three prices.

The new HTC One Max has one feature unavailable on the smaller models: a fingerprint identification sensor similar to that on Apple’s new iPhone 5S. It’s an optional way to unlock a phone without using a four-digit passcode. Unlike Apple’s version, however, the Max can be programmed to automatically open one of three favorite apps, depending on which finger is used.

HTC spokesman Tom Harlin said the company designed the Max with a fingerprint sensor to make the larger device easier to operate with one hand. Engineers also moved the power button to the side. On smaller models, it’s on top of the phone, when held vertically.

The Max has a screen that measures 5.9 inches diagonally. That compares with the 4.7 inches on the standard version and the 4.3 inches on the HTC One Mini. HTC is designing its software to take advantage of the larger screen. With many Android phones, images and text simply get larger on bigger phones. With the Max, the layout of selected apps is reformatted to fit more content.

The Max also has more battery capacity than the smaller models, but otherwise shares their design and hardware features. Like the other Ones, the Max has a camera that can capture better low-light shots than the typical smartphone camera, but images are of lower resolution, at 4 megapixels. The Max weighs 7.7 ounces, which is more than the 5.9 ounces for Samsung’s 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3.

The price hasn’t been announced, but it likely will be comparable to the $300 for the Note 3 and Motorola’s Droid Maxx. That price typically requires a two-year service agreement and is $100 more than the regular HTC One, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and Motorola’s Droid Ultra when they launched.

Harlin said HTC is offering variety to meet consumers’ differing needs. Some might prefer a small device that is cheap and can fit in the pocket of skinny jeans, while others might want more screen space.

As for the fingerprint sensor, HTC is including similar security safeguards found in the iPhone 5S. A mathematical representation of the fingerprint is stored on the phone in a secured location, inaccessible to other apps or remote servers. However, HTC does plan to eventually offer a way for other apps to use the ID system, without accessing the fingerprint data directly. Apple has no current plans for third-party access.

Despite assurances of security from Apple, a German hacking group claims to have bypassed the system using a household printer and some wood glue to create an artificial copy of a genuine fingerprint. Apple hasn’t commented on that.

HTC said Verizon and Sprint Corp. will sell the HTC One Max in the U.S. in time for the holidays. AT&T Inc. has been offering the Mini since August. All four national carriers, including T-Mobile US Inc., have the standard version.