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Decoded: How the same joke or video floods your WhatsApp account 

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New Delhi, Dec 27:  If you are baffled at the speed at which jokes, videos and GIFs reach your WhatsApp account from groups or friends almost at the same time, remember that such posts are being planned and executed by teams sitting in some corner of the country to bombard the maximum number accounts at one go.

With 160 million users in India, the Facebook-owned mobile messaging app has become a top choice among marketers, social influencers and certain groups to reach them via jokes, videos and GIFs whenever there is a breaking news, a major announcement, a tongue-in-cheek celebrity statement or even a festival, say experts.
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“WhatsApp is emerging as a highly susceptible channel for propaganda, misinformation, fake news as well as highly influenceable from the targeted marketing message or advertisement perspective, i.e., digital word-of-mouth,” Neil Shah, Research Director (Devices & Ecosystems) at the market research firm Counterpoint Research, told IANS.

In India, WhatsApp has the highest penetration among any “social-centric” web/app platform available on the nearly 260 million active smartphone users.

“Several marketers are leveraging an infantry of smart or influential folks to develop and spread targeted and viral-natured content. I believe the viral messages developed and spread are not by a single source but many individuals and firms working on this behind the scenes,” Shah added.
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There are ways to populate the sharing of such viral content but it can be defined in two parts — content and objective.

“While objectives and the purposes could be anything, one can easily relate these with driving mass awareness, creating social buzz, dragging public attention on political or public issues or making fun among friends or sharing memes or news,” Anoop Mishra, one of the nation’s leading social media experts, told IANS.

Social media or digital marketing agencies work behind the content marketing strategies to make stories viral and shareable on WhatsApp.

“Several FMCG companies, major political parties and politicians have their in-house sponsored team of social media warriors to generate and share such content or hashtags on various social media platforms,” Mishra noted.

According to Shah, among several social media platforms, WhatsApp has a clear edge because of its user-friendly approach which has put the platform in a strong (as well as vulnerable position) for flow of both good and bad news or information or any content across the platform.

“Since the degree of separation among different WhatsApp users is theoretically lower, there is a high chance for any information to go viral faster than any other social media platform or even word-of-mouth,” said Shah.

With some 150 million active users in India, Facebook is the second-most used social media platform and can also act as a catalyst for proliferation of viral content due to a broader sharing and a greater engagement with the content.

“However, Facebook is quite curated and controlled via an algorithm according to a person’s social graph and Facebook’s advertising engine and, hence, potentially less viral than Whatsapp,” Shah pointed out.

Facebook’s third property, Instagram, is also quickly rising to become a popular platform from the perspective of social media influencers to drive rich content for marketers and mainly target millennials.

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Is there a revenue model in there for those making posts viral? “Absolutely, wherever there is a greater reach and high engagement for any platform, a potential revenue model certainly exists,” Shah stated.

Owing to its “no ads” DNA, WhatsApp has so far been resistant to a direct engagement-driven revenue model. However, with Facebook connecting WhatsApp to its social graph, it unlocks potential for Facebook to work with marketers who, in turn, work with influencers to build a robust value chain.

“Right now with WhatsApp its much more unorganised and influencers are earning directly from the marketers without any Facebook or Whatsapp intervention, unlike the Facebook or Instagram platforms,” Shah told IANS.

According to Mishra, the content is being prepared by digital marketing agencies with some earning prospects.

“But the reality is that more than 80 per cent of the images or videos shared among the WhatsApp groups are downloaded from websites without any personal revenue benefits excepts some blogging sites which are paying their members for posts, comments, likes or to share contentson linked social profiles,” Mishra told IANS.

On August 25, WhatsApp made extensive changes to its privacy policy, announcing it would and could share users’ personal information, including their phone numbers, with its parent company Facebook — a move that drew sharp criticism from privacy activists and the Delhi High Court in India.

The move was touted as the first step towards monetising WhatsApp since Facebook acquired it for $19 billion in 2014.

“Right now, WhatsApp is quite fragmented and unorganised compared to Facebook. We believe this will change fast as Facebook tries to indirectly monetise the power of WhatsApp as a ‘content sharing and targeting’ platform,” Shah added

By Nishant Arora

IANS

#WhatsApp  #Features  #WhatsAppFeatures #Facebook  #Instagram

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Apple loses $60bn over reports of weak smartphone demand in 2018

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Apple

Taipei, April 21: Apple lost over $60 billion in market cap in two days after Taiwan Semiconductor, Apple’s biggest supplier, said in an earnings update that second-quarter revenues would be hit by “weak demand from the mobile sector”.

Apple shares fell nearly seven per cent on Thursday and Friday over reports of a sharper slowdown in smartphone sales this year, Financial Times reported late on Friday.

Not just Apple, the news led to several global chipmakers losing market valus, including Analogue Devices, Dialog Semiconductor, Qualcomm and Qorvo.

For the first time since 2009, smartphone sales in China fell last year while global sales fell in the fourth quarter of 2017 for the first time since 2004.

In another setback for the iPhone maker, its efforts to get LG Display’s OLED screens for future iPhone production line “have hit manufacturing issues”, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Apple is reportedly divided on whether LG will be able to succeed as Samsung’s replacement for OLED displays.

The Cupertino-based company currently uses Samsung’s OLED displays for iPhone X.

The LCD panels which are currently being used in the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are supplied by LG. Apple Watch screen is made by LG Display.

There are reports that Apple is designing and producing its own device screens, secretly at a facility near its headquarters in California.

It is believed that Apple will switch to OLED displays for all of its iPhone releasing in 2019.

IANS

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Canon infusing AI into cameras for Indian millennials

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New Delhi: Kazutada Kobayashi during an interview with IANS

New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) As the millennials in India constantly strive to click that “wow” moment and instantly share it with friends on social media, Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled cameras with “minds of their own” are the future that will create perfect shots for them, a top Canon executive has emphasised.

Cameras have become intelligent in the past few years with integrated capabilities like smarter chips, Wi-Fi support, smart functions, better speed and enhanced performance.

“We are on the right path when it comes to infusing AI into cameras. The experience of the last 80 years has helped us catch new trends early — be it in chips, designs, smart functions or controls. Software development is the key to stay ahead,” Kazutada Kobayashi, President and CEO, Canon India, told IANS.

Sensing the future of AI-enabled cameras, Google has launched “Clips” — a camera that uses AI to figure out when it should take a picture or video.

The clip-on camera automatically adjusts its resolution according to the situation and has a 130-degree lens to fit more of the scene in the frame. When it senses something memorable around, it clicks a 15-second-burst photograph.

Canon India has also launched “EOS M50” — a new mirrorless camera for the youth that houses the “DIGIC 8” image processor to ensure better picture quality and comes with 4K movie shooting capability.

According to Kobayashi, camera-centric smartphones are giving the company a renewed push to come up with “serious” cameras as India is an evolving market and so are the demands and expectations of the customers.

“The relationship between a smartphone camera and a real camera is interesting. With smartphones, more and more people are now clicking pictures which have given us a thrust as people are now keen to have better image quality with AI embedded into it. This is a good takeaway from the smartphone market to build Next-Gen cameras,” Kobayashi added.

Canon is bullish on the imaging technology being a carrier for the Internet of Things (IoT) industry that is growing exponentially in India.

“IoT is the future of the connected devices and systems around us. Canon has capabilities like the entry of optical information via camera lens or data analytics via microprocessors. Camera is a very strong entry point to gather information, process and digitise it, and get the desired output. Camera will provide an edge for all IoT devices in the future,” the Canon executive noted.

On a question whether Canon will also begin manufacturing in India, Kobayashi said: “India has a high potential for manufacturing. We have made visits to prospective venues and done feasibility assessments. We don’t have concrete plans as of now to share on bringing a certain product range for manufacturing into the country but yes, we are certainly looking into this”.

The Indian camera market is growing in both the B2B and B2C segments for Canon.

“The impact of demonetisation and GST are now settled and people are ready to spend more money on cameras. I keep my fingers crossed for the second half of this year when the festive season begins. In the B2B segment, we achieved double-digit growth last year and expect to repeat the performance this year too,” Kobayashi added.

IANS

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Google’s ‘Chat’ service a precious gift to cybercriminals: Amnesty

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amnesty international

San Francisco, April 21: Google’s decision to launch a new messaging service called “Chat” without end-to-end encryption shows utter contempt for the privacy of Android users and has handed a precious gift to cybercriminals and government spies alike, Amnesty International has said.

Communications on the new “Chat” service will not be sent over the Internet but through mobile phone carriers, like SMS text messages, according to reports.

In a statement to The Verge this week, a Google spokesperson confirmed that the new service will not use end-to-end encryption and that Google is “pausing investment” in its existing mobile messaging app “Allo” which has an option for end-to-end encryption.

“Not only does this shockingly retrograde step leave Google lagging behind its closest competitors — Apple’s iMessage and Facebook’s WhatsApp both have end-to-end encryption in place by default — it is also a step backwards from the company’s previous attempts at online messaging,” Joe Westby, a technology and human rights researcher at Amnesty International, said on Friday.

Amnesty International considers end-to-end encryption a minimum requirement for technology companies to ensure that private information in messaging apps stays private.

End-to-end encryption is a way of scrambling digital data so that only the sender and recipient can see it.

When it is in place, even the company providing the service is unable to access the content of communications.

“Following the revelations by CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden, end-to-end encryption has become recognised as an essential safeguard for protecting people’s privacy when using messaging apps. With this new Chat service, Google shows a staggering failure to respect the human rights of its customers,” Westby said in a statement.

In the wake of the recent Facebook data scandal, Westby said that Google’s decision is not only dangerous but also out of step with current attitudes to data privacy.

“Google should immediately scrap it in its current form and instead give its customers a product that protects their privacy,” Westby suggested.

Google is going all in on building the Rich Communication Services (RCS).

RCS is a communication protocol between mobile-telephone carriers and between phone and carrier, aiming at replacing SMS messages with a text-message system that is more rich, provide phonebook polling and transmit in-call multimedia.

IANS

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