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Facebook launches TikTok-like product inside Instagram

Similar to TikTok, Reels users can record short mobile-friendly vertical videos, then add special effects and soundtracks pulled from a music library.

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The product immediately got uptake with several celebrities, following a push by Facebook to attract creative talent before launch: actress Jessica Alba posted a video with her family promoting her Honest Company’s masks, while comedian Mindy Kaling showed off an intentionally underwhelming quarantine “workout” routine.

Reels’ debut comes days after Microsoft said it was in talks to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations from China’s ByteDance. ByteDance has agreed to divest parts of TikTok, sources have said, under pressure from the White House, which has threatened to ban it and other Chinese-owned apps over data security concerns.

The launch escalates a bruising fight between Facebook and TikTok, with each casting the other as a threat. Both have been eager to attract American teenagers, many of whom have flocked to TikTok in the last two years.

Reels was first tested in Brazil in 2018 and then later in France, Germany and India, which was TikTok’s biggest market until the Indian government banned it last month following a border clash with China. Facebook also tried out a standalone app called Lasso which did not gain much traction.

Similar to TikTok, Reels users can record short mobile-friendly vertical videos, then add special effects and soundtracks pulled from a music library.

Those similarities led TikTok Chief Executive Kevin Mayer to call Reels a “copycat product” that could coast on Instagram’s enormous existing user base after “their other copycat Lasso failed quickly.”

Facebook faced similar charges at a congressional hearing on U.S. tech companies’ alleged abuse of market power last week, with lawmakers suggesting the company has copied rivals like Snapchat for anti-competitive reasons.

Vishal Shah, Instagram’s vice president of product, acknowledged the similarities in a Tuesday video conference call with reporters and said that “inspiration for products comes from everywhere,” including Facebook’s teams and “the ecosystem more broadly.”

Instagram is not yet planning to offer advertising or other ways for users to make money through Reels, although it did recruit young online stars like dancer Merrick Hanna and musician Tiagz – who was recently signed by Sony/ATV after rising to fame via TikTok memes – to test the product ahead of launch.

The company paid the creators for production costs, Shah said.

Joe Gagliese, chief executive of influencer marketing agency Viral Nation, said Reels was poised to mimic Instagram’s success with Stories, a product modeled on Snapchat’s core offering.

“They’re a huge monstrous threat (to TikTok),” he said. “The current turmoil couldn’t be playing more into (Instagram’s) court to launch this thing.”

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Vodafone Wins Arbitration Against India In Rs 20K Cr Retrospective Tax Dispute Case

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New Delhi: Vodafone has won the case against India over a retrospective tax demand of more than Rs 20,000 crore.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague has ruled that the conduct of India’s tax department is in breach of “fair and equitable” treatment.

Voafone had moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2016 due to a lack of consensus between the parties’ arbitrators in finalising a judge for the tax dispute.

Following this, a tribunal was constituted in June 2016 after Vodafone challenged India’s use of a 2012 legislation that gave it powers to retrospectively tax deals like Vodafone’s $11 billion acquisition of a 67 per cent stake in Hutchison Whampoa in 2007. The retrospective tax law had been enacted after the Supreme Court judgement went in Vodafone’s favour.

Vodafone had challenged the tax department’s demand of Rs 7,990 crore as capital gains taxes (Rs 22,100 crore after including interest and penalty) under the Netherlands-India Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).

Buoyed by the arbitration award, Vodafone Idea stock closed 12 per cent higher at Rs 10.20.

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GST E-Invoicing Mandatory From October

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New Delhi: No further relaxation is likely in terms of e-invoicing as the Centre is set to go ahead with the decision to make GST e-invoicing mandatory for companies with annual turnover of over Rs 500 crore for their business-to-business transactions starting October 1.

Industry representatives, however, have urged the government to not make it mandatory and rather allow voluntary compliance.

The relief, however, would be there for relatively smaller businesses, as the threshold for mandatory e-invoicing, a step to improve tax compliance, was earlier planned to be kept at Rs 100 crore, is set to be raised to Rs 500 crore on the recommendations of an empowered panel of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council.

The initial date for its roll out was April 1, 2020, but the Centre notified October 1, 2020, as revised date for implementation of e-invoicing.

As per the website of the Good and Service Network ‘e-invoicing’ has many advantages for businesses such as standardisation, interoperability, auto-population of invoice details into GST return and other forms (like e-way bill), reduction in processing costs, reduction in disputes, improvement in payment cycles and thereby improving overall business efficiency.

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Online grocery to become $18bn industry in India by 2024: Report

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As companies from Reliance to Amazon put their top dollar in serving daily grocery at your doorstep, a new report said on Friday that online grocery is going to be the next battleground for growth, expanding to over $18 billion by 2024.

According to a joint report by a joint initiative by Bengaluru-based market consulting firm RedSeer and Bigbasket (Brand Intelligence), driven by the significant rise in organic adoption during Covid-19, eGrocery has been on a surge with clocking 1.7 times in gross merchandise value (GMV) in June this year as compared to January.

Online grocery will remain steady for the rest of the year to reach more than $3 billion, the report mentioned.

“The industry has seen more than 70 per cent ARR (annual recurring revenue) jumps in the last quarter across categories. This brings the opportunity to serve a larger set of customers, and some challenges with it,” said Hari Menon, co-founder and CEO of BigBasket.

The report found that demand for comfort foods like noodles and cookies, immunity boosters like lemon and hygiene products like sanitizers picked up after the pandemic while essentials remained strong.

Snacks and branded foods grew by 5 per cent quarterly pre-Covid, however growth jumped to 75 per cent in the June quarter.

Within snacks and branded foods, biscuits and cookies was the largest sub-category and grew the most in Q2.

Beverages grew by 2 per cent quarterly pre-Covid, however growth jumped to 50 per cent in Q2.

“Personal Care grew by 5 per cert quarterly pre-Covid but jumped to 24 per cent in Q2 due to Covid.

“We have observed that traditional brands which pivoted quickly to be digitally ready brands have seen 2x+ jump in sales compared to offline brands. We are excited to have this opportunity to serve the ecosystem,” said Anil Kumar, founder and CEO of consulting firm RedSeer.

Home utilities grew by 6 per cent quarterly pre-Covid but jumped to 11 per cent in Q2.

Within home utilities, detergents and dishwash were the largest sub-category but grew the least in the last quarter.

According to the report, home utilities were not severely affected by the pandemic.

-IANS

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