WeChat Now Has 697 Million Monthly Active Users, Says Tencent

WeChat Now Has 697 Million Monthly Active Users, Says Tencent

Chinese Internet giant Tencent, operator of the country’s most popular messaging app WeChat, on Thursday reported a 22 percent jump in fourth quarter net profit but fell short of expectations.

The firm is engaged in a three-way fight over mobile payment services in China with domestic rivalAlibaba and US tech behemoth Apple.

Net profit for the fourth quarter reached CNY 7.16 billion (roughly Rs. 7,339 crores), Tencent said in a statement. The market had expected a higher CNY 7.44 billion, according to an average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg News.

Monthly active users for WeChat known as Weixin in Chinese reached 697 million at the end of 2015, up 39 percent year-on-year, the statement said. Tencent also operates an older instant messaging service called QQ.

“Our QQ and Weixin social platforms continued to improve and innovate, reinforcing their positions as China’s most-used mobile applications,” Tencent chairman and chief executive Pony Ma said in the statement.

“We created new social advertising formats and technology to help advertisers reach consumers online,” he said.

Besides advertising, Tencent uses its social media platforms to offer mobile games, digital music, video and other services to users, and the statement said the company was looking to “enrich” its mobile payment services this year.

Tencent is second in China’s mobile and online payments market with a 17 percent share but lags far behind e-commerce giant Alibaba, which commands nearly three-quarters, according to Beijing-based BigData Research.

US technology giant Apple last month launched its mobile payment service Apple Pay in China, in a challenge to the established firms.

Fourth quarter revenue surged 45 percent year-on-year to CNY 30.44 billion, Tencent said.

For all of 2015, revenue rose 30 percent on the year to CNY 102.86 billion, yielding a net profit of 28.81 billion, a 21 percent rise, it said.

Shares of Tencent closed up 0.93 percent in Hong Kong, where it is listed, on Thursday.

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Tags: Apps, Internet, Social, Tencent, WeChat
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Apple News Is Now Open to Publishers of All Sizes

Apple News Is Now Open to Publishers of All Sizes

Apple is getting really serious about the publishing business. The company announced Tuesday that it’s rolling out some big new tools for Apple News that can lure more writers and editors to the service – and improve it for current partners, as well.

The company has previously partnered with more than 100 major publishers and publishing groups (including The Washington Post) to get their articles and other stories served directly to millions of iPhones by way of the News app, which is included on every iPhone. Starting this week, the company will allow small- and medium-sized publishers who also want to reach that audience by signing up with the service.

According to the company, that could be anyone from an individual with a blog to a local newspaper or magazine. Opening up the platform to publishers of all sizes gives Apple far more variety to offer to its readers, who may want to turn to the app to get caught up on the news.

Apple is also going to give all publishers an easier way to see how articles are performing on the service, with a statistics dashboard. Apple said that these tools will include basic information such as how many people are reading and how long, as well as when and how they’re sharing certain pieces. This information was available to Apple News publishers before, the company said, but it will now be much easier to read.

The additions extend Apple’s efforts in publishing, an area it first announced it would enter six months ago, that put it into competition with Facebook, Flipboard and others interested in offering people a centralized way to aggregate articles from different sites. Reactions to the product were mixed. Early reports suggested that some publications didn’t think Apple was offering enough information about how many readers found their way to articles through the app. Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue also confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that an early glitch undercounted how many people used the app.

Apple now estimates that 40 million customers have regularly used Apple News in the six months since its launch, illustrating fairly fast pickup. By comparison, Flipboard, which was founded in 2010, has about 80 million monthly active users.

Still, Apple will continue to try to raise the profile of its news product. In addition to the announcements for publishers, the company said it will also kick off a major advertising campaign for News in print publications, as well as on bus shelters and subway platforms.

© 2016 The Washington Post

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Tags: Apple, Apple News, Apps, Facebook, Flipboard
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HBO Now Streaming Service Nears 1 Million Subscribers: Time Warner

HBO Now Streaming Service Nears 1 Million Subscribers: Time Warner

Time Warner Inc. said its HBO Now streaming service is nearing 1 million subscribers, up from the 800,000 at year end.

Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes announced the new tally Tuesday at a Deutsche Bank investor conference in Palm Beach, Florida. The previous year-end total came in a February 10 conference call.

HBO charges $15 (roughly Rs. 1,000) a month for the online service, part of the company’s effort to counteract so-called cord-cutting and compete with Internet services including Netflix and Hulu. HBO is increasing its original programming by 50 percent to 600 hours annually. Bewkes said Tuesday. The online product isn’t taking viewers from its conventional pay-TV service, which signed up about 2.7 million new domestic subscribers last year, he said.

Bewkes said he didn’t expect the online HBO service to contribute to profit this year. The company is reinvesting in new markets and programming, he said.

“It’s a successful product,” Bewkes said. “We’re going to push on it.”

The surge in spending is part of a broader industry trend in which programmers like New York-based Time Warner, also the owner of Turner Broadcasting and Warner Bros., are having to increase production of original shows to combat viewer losses to Internet services and satisfy existing cable and satellite TV audiences.

Time Warner’s TNT and TBS networks, part of the Turner division, plan to double their production budgets to $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,745 crores), Bewkes said.

As part of the effort to reach new viewers, Time Warner is considering offering other networks online outside the U.S. The HBO streaming service is expanding to Mexico, Brazil, Spain and Argentina this year, Bewkes said.

Time Warner fell 1.2 percent to $68.72 at 12:25pm in New York. The stock had gained 7.6 percent this year as of Monday.

© 2016 Bloomberg L.P.

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Tags: Apps, HBO, HBO Now, Home Entertainment, Hulu, Internet, Netflix, Time Warner Cable
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Android 6.0 Marshmallow Now on 2.3 Percent of Active Devices: Google

Android 6.0 Marshmallow Now on 2.3 Percent of Active Devices: Google

Google’s latest publicly available version of Android mobile and tablet operating system, Android 6.0 Marshmallow, last month finally made it to 1 percent of active devices in five months after its release to Nexus devices. The new Marshmallow version in the company’s updated Google Play distribution data for the seven-day period ending March 7 has now broke past the 2 percent mark.

According to the Android distribution chart, the Android 6.0 Marshmallow is now running on 2.3 percent active Android devices. To compare, this is a 1.1 percent increase from the February figure of 1.2 percent. Back in January and December, the Android Marshmallow figures stood at 0.7 and 0.5 percent respectively.

android_distribution_figures_march_google.jpgSharing the distribution data of different versions of Android, Google reported that Android Lollipop has a total share of around 36.1 percent of active Android devices (with Android 5.0 Lollipop running on 16.9 percent of devices and Android 5.1 Lollipop at 19.2 percent) that check into Google Play. Last month, Android Lollipop had a total share of 34.1 percent of active Android devices.

It’s worth noting that this is the first time that Android Lollipop running devices have gone past Android KitKat-powered devices. The devices running KitKat are going down steadily in charts and the version now powers 34.3 percent devices compared to 35.5 percent last month – a decrease of 1.2 percent.

The latest Android distribution data also shows that Android Jelly Bean has a combined share of 22.3 percent – falling 1.6 percent from February’s 23.9 percent. Android 4.1.x is seen on 8.1 percent devices (down from 8.8 percent), Android 4.2.x on 11 percent (down from 11.7 percent), and Android 4.3 on 3.2 percent devices (down from 3.4 percent).

Android 4.0.x or Ice Cream Sandwich, in Google’s latest numbers, registered a share of 2.3 percent, down 0.2 percent from February. Android Gingerbread (v2.3.3-2.3.7) and Android 2.2 Froyo’s device distribution shares are 2.6 percent (down 0.1 percent) and 0.1 percent (at the same number) respectively in the latest charts.

The OpenGL version distribution across active Android devices, on the other hand, saw OpenGL 2.0 dominating at 51.6 percent (from 53.2 percent last month), and OpenGL version 3.0 steadily rising to 40.7 percent (39.7 percent last month).

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Tags: Android, Android 5.0 Lollipop, Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Android Distribution, Android Distribution Numbers,Android Froyo, Android Gingerbread, Android Jelly Bean, Android Marshmallow, Google, Google Play Store, Mobiles,Tablets
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