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Daily Nation : February 28th 2014
12 BE FAMOUS. daily NATION February 28, 2014 what’s up? TECHNO BYTE >> WITH KIUMBUKU MUCHUKU ADIÓS #WHATSAPP HOLA #TELEGRAM? B efore 2009, BlackBerry Messenger ruled the free messaging world on a similarly branded mobile device. There were competitors in the field, but it wasn’t until a war between them and Kik that the industry woke up. But BlackBerry’s accelerated demise also stunted Kik’s growth dramatically. Thus, WhatsApp emerged the winner. US$ 19 Billion later, WhatsApp is now a Facebook company. But it isn’t as straightforward a deal as one might assume. There are realities to be embraced. SMS is certainly getting a run for its money, and WhatsApp is out trying to kill the antiquated service, but even then, it won’t be enough. Due to its simplicity, basic functionality and the fact that it is simply not playing the catch up game, SMS is still the market leader by a wide berth. You get SMS by default on every single mobile device on the planet, and even better, it pays for itself, making it a still viable and profitable platform. Its weaknesses are simple, by design, it cannot carry images, audio or video, and it is still a very expensive option. In Kenya, it costs Sh10 to send a message across the border, on WhatsApp, it is literally the cost of the data which is an incalculable fraction of that cost at best. Telcos are indeed stuck on repeat and have done little to unify the SMS cost among themselves because in their books, someone has to pay for it. So, here we have 2 broken business models, WhatsApp, too cheap and fluid to make a workable revenue model and SMS, too expensive to retain long-term viability. WhatsApp is yet to pay for itself, the revenue model, $1 subscription annually, even doubled for its approximately 500 million users, is nowhere close to covering its costs. That acquisition, and the revenue model doubt did little to impress Wallstreet, which saw Facebook users plunge 3.4% but then struggle to recover. Either way, Facebook’s investors will want justification for a US$ 19 Billion acquisition, so regardless of whatever Facebook or WhatsApp say, they need a working revenue model almost instantly, which leads to the inevitable, the app itself is about to get bulkier, uglier and slower as they welcome advertising. That current romantic ideology posed by both camps is laughable. So, welcome to advertising, a weak but proven model to at least cover the cost of operations. There has to be something underlying that will make WhatsApp a gem and there is. Your data. All those messages you send each other on WhatsApp are stored somewhere for data mining, and will then be used by Facebook to extract trends. Look at it this way, all those messages you send to your family, your friends, your better halves and your secret halves, they exist somewhere, and it is hackable, and is now about to be used to create a trend about you. From the phone you use, to what you drink, to what you buy, to where you shop, to who you are in a relationship with, even down to the preferred form of contraception you use, and this brings something nobody is really discussing, data privacy. Both WhatsApp and Facebook are the ilk of pri- vacy and Kenyans are yet to understand what data privacy really means and the true ramifications of its infringement, or lack thereof. This is the easiest way to explain it. A terrorist joke might make the government give your data a once over, but associating with someone who knows someone who is considered a terror suspect makes you a permanent blip somewhere. More personally, if potential employers and financial institutions use mined data, and they do, to learn more about your profile and what you talk about, then you start seeing the true potential problem. Security wise, privacy wise, this is possibly the worst business deal to happen in modern times. Adiós #WhatsApp After the acquisition, WhatsApp received some post-acquisiton love that managed to bring its services down for four hours. It cost them 500,000 users — a drop in the ocean — but it’s the sentiments that followed that now haunt Facebook. For one, service failure is not an option, and this is one of the last bastions of hope for SMS. Anti-Facebook sentiments are also growing, as the refugees begin looking for more private and secure platforms to use. It might not be enough to slow down WhatsApp, but it is not a non-issue. So, where do refugees go from here? Hola #Telegram Europe is the best testbed for emerging tech- nology. This time however, Europe is supporting a WhatsApp killer, one of their own, fully homegrown and it works faster and better than WhatsApp. The already growing Telegram gained its moment when WhatsApp went down. It is currently considered the best WhatsApp alternative, more secure and robust, does not fiddle with your contacts, has no commercial ambitions, and during the WhatsApp downtime gained 6,000 users a minute for over 4 hours or 1.5 million users, leading in downloads in Netherlands, Germany, and Spain, and again, working off the disadvantage of the market leader. Sound familiar? email@example.com HUAWEI Y300 ANNOUNCED The only standard thing about Firefox OS (FFOS) phones is that they are bland with a boring User Interface (UI), but they are coming, as the “alternative to Android” era arrives. The Y300 will sport 512MB RAM married to a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon 8225 processor. This makes it as impressive as the Nokia X. There is a 1,950 mAH battery which will work well with the WVGA 4-inch touch display, but it is the two cameras that impress most. The phone also carries an impressive array of HTML5 apps and an adaptive search bar which does actually handle well. The device is expected this year, and retail is expected to be around Sh15,000 per device. DUCKDUCKGO IS GROWING The one thing few technologists fear is admitting that Google is indeed an evil empire as the search engine wrangles with security and privacy issues. DuckDuckGo, a search engine that respects end-user privacy is now bringing the search engine fight to Google. Despite being tiny, DuckDuckGo has seen growth of up to 500% with daily search queries increasing from 1 million a year ago to 4 million. Unlike Google which delivers a list of links, DuckDuckGo offers direct answers to people’s queries that are ideally filtered and reorganized to reduce spam. Their ideology is that by searching on a search engine, you are looking for answers instead of the traditional links to click around to find the answer. This one thing is beginning to pay off for them. ANTI-FACEBOOK sentiments are also growing, as the refugees begin looking for more private and secure platforms to use. It might not be enough to slow down WhatsApp, but it is not a non-issue. So, where do refugees go from here? TWO NEW UBUNTU PHONES COMING It seems Ubuntu has finally got two hardware manufacturers to deliver two devices this year: Spain’s bq and China’s Meizu, both low-cost device manufacturers are expected to start delivering two handsets in 2014. Seen as an alternative to both Android and Jolla devices, the Ubuntu phones are looking to own the Linux phone market. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu is looking to build a universal operating system, that will run across different devices and allow users to run the same applications on different devices without needing different builds for the applications. If successful, it means that the power of a mobile device and that of a tablet or laptop could be equated, a challenge that manufactures are yet solve. SONY PLAYSTATION 4 CROSSES 5 MILLION UNITS In what seems to be an already won fight, PS4 now has 5.3 million devices sold worldwide, beating its sales targets by a few weeks and outside of Japan. Currently, there are twice as many PS4s as there are Xbox One devices and the PS4 is currently experiencing a sales bump since it launched in its home country on February 22. Xbox has lost footing in its home turf by twice the expected margin, reinforcing the traditional aspect that the electronic device gaming industry has returned to Asia. However, Xbox is still leading in actual games sales but is largely lagging in every other aspect.
February 27th 2014
March 1st 2014