New Facebook feature lets advertisers reach WhatsApp users

Dec 15, 2017 0

San Francisco– If you are an advertiser on Facebook, you now have a bigger audience to cater to as Facebook has launched a click-to-WhatsApp button on its platform that will let advertisers connect with over one billion WhatsApp users.

Facebook that has over two billion users confirmed this to TechCrunch on Friday that it is rolling out the feature gradually, starting with North and South America, Africa, Australia and most of Asia.

“Many people already use WhatsApp to communicate with small businesses. It’s a fast, convenient way to stay in touch,” Pancham Gajjar, Product Marketing Manager, Facebook, was quoted as saying.

“By adding a click-to-WhatsApp button to Facebook ads, businesses can now make it even easier for people to learn about their products, set up an appointment or use their service,” he added.

Facebook said that over a million Pages currently include WhatsApp numbers in their posts.

To make the new feature work, reported Adweek, businesses that have WhatsApp numbers can add ‘send message’ buttons with the WhatsApp logo to their Facebook ads and those ads will only be delivered to users who have WhatsApp installed on their smartphones.

People must add businesses’ WhatsApp numbers to their contacts to initiate conversations.

Once they do it, the messaging app opens with a default message expressing interest, which can be edited by users before being sent.

The feature is similar to the click-to-Messenger button that Facebook introduced in its ads in November last year.

The click-to-Messenger ads debuted on Instagram in May this year.

Facebook said that over a million Facebook pages currently include WhatsApp numbers in their posts.

To make the new feature work, businesses that have WhatsApp numbers can add ‘send message’ buttons with the WhatsApp logo to their Facebook ads and those ads will only be delivered to Facebook users who have WhatsApp installed on their phones. (IANS)

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Amazon launches Alexa skill testing tool for developers

Dec 15, 2017 0

New Delhi– Amazon on Friday launched Alexa Test Simulator (Beta) tool for developers to optimise, test and improve their skills.

The new tool will add more features, including a visual display, new voice input capabilities and the ability to test multi-turn conversation, or conversation with multiple people, the company said in a statement.

Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant developed by Amazon, first used in the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot devices.

The new updates will help developers improve their skills even if they do not have an Alexa device such as Echo, Echo Spot or Echo Dot smart speakers.

The updates follow other features introduced this year that enable developers to build more engaging and high-quality skills.

With the new voice input capability, developers can validate Alexa’s understanding of the spoken word and how it responds.

The new device’s event log shows the directives that are sent to the devices, which allows developers to understand how the skill interacts with the device.

The tool will be available globally and will support English (US), English (UK), English (Indian), English (Canadian), Japanese and German language models.

The company said that the visual display testing capability for Echo Spot smart speaker will be available next year. (IANS)

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Adobe reports record $2 bn revenue in Q4

Dec 15, 2017 0

New Delhi– Riding on the success of its Creative, Document and Experience Cloud portfolios, software giant Adobe on Wednesday said that it has achieved a record $2.01 billion revenue in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017 that ended on December 1.

The company also registered an annual revenue of $7.30 billion — representing a 25 per cent year-over-year growth.

“Adobe delivered a record revenue of $2 billion in Q4. Our strong business momentum is driven by the market-leading solutions we provide to empower people to create and businesses to digitally transform,” Shantanu Narayen, President and CEO of Adobe, said in a statement.

The company said that its ‘Digital Media’ segment revenue was $1.39 billion, with Creative and Document Cloud achieving record quarterly revenue of $1.16 billion and $235 million, respectively.

Digital Media Annualised Recurring Revenue (ARR) grew to $5.23 billion exiting the quarter, a quarter-over-quarter increase of $359 million.

Adobe Experience Cloud achieved a record revenue of $550 million, which represents a 18 per cent year-over-year growth.

“Adobe achieved record annual and quarterly revenue and the leverage in our business model once again drove record profit and earnings,” said Mark Garrett, Executive Vice-President and CFO of Adobe, adding that “We are raising our fiscal 2018 revenue target and remain bullish about delivering strong top line and bottom line growth.”

The software giant’s operating income grew 37 per cent and net income grew 26 per cent year-over-year on a GAAP-basis, operating income grew 37 per cent and net income grew 39 per cent year-over-year on a non-GAAP basis.

“Cash flow from operations was a record $833 million and deferred revenue grew to an all-time high of $2.49 billion. The company repurchased approximately 1.9 million shares during the quarter, returning $297 million of cash to stockholders,” Adobe said.

As far as revenue details of the fiscal year are concerned, Adobe reported $5.01 billion in Digital Media segment revenue, with Creative and Document Cloud achieving a record annual revenue of $4.17 billion and $837 million, respectively.(IANS)

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Nearly 70% Indian firms might deploy AI before 2020: Intel

Dec 14, 2017 0

Bengaluru– As firms’ appetite for the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) grows, a report on Thursday said 68.6 per cent Indian organisations might deploy it before 2020.

The Intel India commissioned report, undertaken by the International Data Corporation (IDC) that surveyed 194 Indian organisations across sectors, said 71 per cent are looking at increased process automation as a key benefit which could drive spike spends on this technology by 2020.

The report also said that nearly 75 per cent of the firms surveyed anticipate benefits in business process efficiency and employee productivity with the use of AI.

While 64 per cent of the respondents believe that this technology can empower them in revenue augmentation through better targeting of offers and improved sales processes, 76 per cent of the companies are or believe that they will face a shortage of skilled personnel to harness the power of AI.

“This research is a small step towards comprehending this knowledge, and enabling companies, such as ours, shape strategy and move ahead in the right direction,” Prakash Mallya, Managing Director, Sales and Marketing Group, Intel India, said in a statement.

Intel currently powers 97 per cent of data centre servers running AI workloads worldwide and has been investing in the development of the ecosystem in India.

“Indian enterprises have been quick to adopt AI in the recent past, with nearly one in five organisations (22.2 per cent) across the four verticals surveyed implementing the technology in some way. This number is anticipated to soar considerably by mid-2019 with nearly seven in 10 firms (68.6 per cent) anticipated to deploy (it),” the company said.

Retail and BFSI organisations are leveraging AI to increase efficiency in their sales and marketing function, which has emerged as the second most popular use case.

Transforming customer experience to improve their loyalty ranks high on the list of benefits for retail and banking organisations with banks leading the innovation journey as far as transformation of customer experience.

Financial services organisations (63.9 per cent) are more focused on improving regulatory compliance and fraud reduction from AI implementation, while retail and automotive organisations are looking at improving consistency in the way decisions are made.

However, concerns around adoption of AI continue with high cost of solutions, acute shortage of skilled professionals, unclear return on investment, and cybersecurity emerging as the key hindrances. Regulatory compliance and lack of quality data are seen as other important challenges.

“As roadblocks in adoption and implementation of AI and fears around AI subside, we can expect a new set of opportunities that India can gain from – ranging from higher business efficiency and revenue augmentation to improved data insights and better customer experiences,” Prakash added.

He said that together these developments will propel evolution of the larger AI ecosystem and its applications in our lives. (IANS)

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Intel launches Pentium Silver, Celeron processors

Dec 12, 2017 0

New Delhi– Global chipmaker Intel on Tuesday launched Pentium Silver and Celeron processors which are based on an architecture codenamed “Gemini Lake” and are engineered for balanced performance and connectivity.

The company is launching “N5000” for mobile and “J5005” for desktop Intel Pentium Silver processors.

Intel Celeron processors include “N4100” and “N4000” for mobile and “J4105” and “J4005” for desktop, the company said in a statement.

Intel claims that Pentium Silver will deliver 58 per cent faster productivity performance compared with a similar four-year-old PC.

For the first time on any PC platform, Intel has offered Gigabit Wi-Fi capability for ultra-fast connectivity with these new processors.

Additionally, systems based on these processors will be able to handle the latest in enhanced media for a great experience streaming content from popular sites like YouTube and Netflix.

Intel is also delivering Local Adaptive Contrast Enhancement (LACE) display technology to help people clearly see the screen outdoors in glare and bright light.

This comes with hardware-enabled security for a faster and safer online experience that people expect from Intel products.

Intel also have Pentium Gold processors which are already in market based on the Kaby Lake architecture and represent the highest-performing Pentium processors available. (IANS)

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Indians consuming maximum video content online: Report

Dec 12, 2017 0

Bengaluru– India consumes the most OTT (Over-the-top) videos, followed by Thailand and Philippines in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, content delivery network services provider Akamai Technologies said on Tuesday.

“In India, viewers watched 12.3 hours of online content in a week, while in Japan, viewers watched the least content online per week at 6.2 hours,” a study by Akamai Technologies, commissioned through research firm Kadence International, said.

Indian (44 per cent) and Thai (45 per cent) audiences showed similar behaviours of watching online content via smartphone, while 50 per cent of Japanese viewers preferred accessing OTT services via non-mobile devices.

The survey brought the importance of superior-quality video to the fore. Seventy per cent of Indian viewers said that the video and audio quality is of utmost importance to them, followed by fast start-up time (56 per cent).

“It is critical for the OTT service providers across the region to understand user preferences as viewers increasingly shift to a culture of consuming content on any device, any time, and anywhere,” Vincent Low, Chief Media Strategist and Head of Media Product Marketing APJ at Akamai Technologies, said in a statement.

“What now becomes the differentiator are those micro-moments when they access their preferred content that could either be instances of delight for the user from good overall quality of experience or frustration, which can potentially lead to churn,” Low added.

The study also found an increased demand for local OTT players across markets (Hotstar in India, Hooq in Indonesia and Niconico in Japan, among others). (IANS)


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Passenger cars sales up 4% in November

Dec 11, 2017 0

New Delhi– Domestic sales of passenger cars rose by 4.49 per cent in November, as compared to the same period in 2016, industry data showed on Monday.

According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), 181,395 units of passenger cars were sold during the month under review, up from 173,607 units in November 2016.

Besides passenger cars sales, the off-take of other sub-segments of passenger vehicle category such as utility vehicles edged higher by 44.65 per cent during the month to 77,824 units while sales of vans rose by 19.34 per cent to 16,189 units.

Consequently, the overall domestic passenger vehicle sales increased by 14.29 per cent in November 2017 to 275,417 units from 240,983 units sold during the corresponding period of 2016.

Similarly, the industry data revealed that sales of overall commercial vehicles zoomed by 50.43 per cent to 68,846 units in November. The segment is a key indicator of economic activity.

Another major segment — three-wheelers — sales accelerated by 78.63 per cent to 60,131 units during the month.

In addition, overall sales of two-wheelers, which include scooters, motorcycles and mopeds climbed up by 23.49 per cent to 1,535,277 units.

The industry data disclosed that the Indian automobile sector reported an increase of 24.05 per cent during November 2017 — with total sales at 1,939,671 units across segments and categories.

Moreover, the overall exports across categories edged higher by 23.25 per cent to 351,847 units which were shipped out during last month.

According to Sridhar V, Partner, Grant Thornton India LLP, the performance of the OEM’s (original equipment manufacturer’s) across categories came on the back of a low base.

“While one can see some ups and downs in the current year the story is that the growth is perceivable and venturing into a stabilising environment amidst the rumble and tumble of various policy measures faced during the year,” Sridhar V said.

“Movement towards mid-size feature filled sedans and premium two wheelers apart from growth in scooter segment is visible and is a reflection of the customer transitioning and contribution from rural growth. Commercial vehicles sales shows a stabilising trend.” (IANS)

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India ranks 109 in mobile internet speed: Ookla

Dec 11, 2017 0

New Delhi– India is ranked 109th in the mobile internet speed and 76th for fixed broadband speed globally, which is a 15 per cent increase, according to data from Ooklas November Speedtest Global Index.

“At the start of 2017, the average mobile download speed in India was 7.65 Mbps. Heading into the end of the year, average mobile download speed is 8.80 Mbps as of November. That’s a 15 per cent increase,” a statement said here on Monday.

“While mobile speeds increased modestly, fixed broadband speeds increased dramatically. Average fixed broadband download speed in January was 12.12 Mbps. As of November, it’s at 18.82 Mbps, a close to 50 per cent jump,” it added.

As of November, Norway ranks first in the world for mobile internet with an average download speed of 62.66 Mbps. Singapore takes the top spot for fixed broadband with a 153.85 Mbps average download.

“Both mobile and fixed broadband internet in India are getting faster, that’s good news for all Indian consumers no matter which operator or plan they use to access the internet. India still has a long way to go to catch up with countries that have top speeds around the world, however, we at Ookla are highly optimistic about the capacity for growth that is available in the Indian market and look forward to watching how the market grows in this coming new year,” said Doug Suttles, Co-Founder and General Manager at Ookla.

Ookla analyses the performance of the internet in every country based on consumer-initiated tests taken by real people using Speedtest.

“Over 17 billion tests have been taken with Speedtest to date. From our observations in these markets, there are a handful of factors that consistently tend to drive advances in internet speeds and performance. These factors also apply to growth in India,” the statement said.

It said the first and foremost factor is sufficient infrastructure. The strength and quality of networks is the baseline foundation required for faster speeds. Another key element in growth is competition. When operators compete to provide the fastest speeds and the best plans for consumers, they incentivise each other to offer progressively better options.

And a third factor in improving speeds is the consideration of new technologies that may boost network performance. (IANS)

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Microsoft unveils ‘Simplygon Cloud’ for 3D Mixed Reality

Dec 8, 2017 0

San Francisco– Microsoft has announced a new platform “Simplygon Cloud” that will support all major 3D Mixed Reality (MR) platforms, including Windows Mixed Reality, iOS and Android.

Microsoft acquired Simplygon, a leader in 3D model optimisation based in southern Sweden, earlier this year.

“As we continue our journey to bring the benefits of MR to everyone, Simplygon is an important accelerant that makes it easier, faster, and cheaper to develop in 3D,” said Lorraine Bardeen, General Manager, Windows Mixed Reality Experiences, in a blog post on Friday.

Simplygon reduces complexity in the creation and extensibility of 3D models through optimisation.

Historically, 3D asset optimisation has taken days or weeks of manual effort and is one of the tasks that artists and developers dislike the most.

“With Simplygon, you can create 3D assets once — at full visual fidelity — and automatically optimise them to render smoothly on any platform — within minutes, saving valuable time and money,” Bardeen added.

“Simplygon Cloud” is now available in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace.(IANS)

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WhatsApp’s standalone Business app set for launch soon

Dec 8, 2017 0

San Francisco– As businesses widely use WhatsApp to communicate with their customers, particularly in Asia, the Facebook-owned service appears all set to launch a brand new app for them.

In a new FAQ published on its site, WhatsApp has revealed more details about the upcoming Business accounts like how to identify verified Business accounts from non-verified ones.

“While chatting with businesses, you can check your contact’s profile to see which type of account they’re using. A verified account has a green checkmark badge in its profile,” WhatsApp wrote in the FAQ.

A Business account with a green checkmark badge in its profile is verified as acean authentic brand” by WhatsApp.

“A business account with a gray question mark badge in its profile means the account is using the WhatsApp Business app but hasn’t been confirmed nor verified by WhatsApp,” the company said.

The much talked-about WhatsApp for business app is currently being tested by a private group of testers and the company will introduce it as ‘WhatsApp Business’ — a standalone app.

Its description available on Play Store read: “As a test partner for ‘WhatsApp Business’, you have early access to a wide range of new features that we’ve built with you in mind. As you experiment with what this new app has to offer, please share your experiences with us so that we can improve the product.”

WhatsApp Business is different from the regular WhatsApp.

The logo of the app has been changed from the calling symbol to “B” inside the green conversation bubble.

However, after downloading, the app looks the same as WhatsApp, barring the title bar that says WhatsApp Business.

The app has interesting features such as auto responses, creating a business profile, chat migration and analytics.

“We also provide you with the tools you need to control your experience with businesses. You can block business accounts and report them as spam at any time, right within the chat,” WhatsApp said in the new FAQ.

Before launching the stand-alone Business app, the new FAQ, first spotted by the fan website WABetaInfo, aims to clear doubts so that no such fake app gets downloaded.

A fake and possibly malicious version of Facebook-owned WhatsApp was found lurking on Google Play Store recently as “Update WhatsApp Messenger” with developer name as WhatsApp Inc, which was downloaded by several people. (IANS)

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