Apple shares fall 5% on weak forecast

With Apple pointing the finger at fluctuating currency, poor performance in emerging markets and supply issues, its busiest quarter might not be as busy as investors had hoped.

While CEO Tim Cook has defended the soundness of the supply chain, worries over whether the business can keep up with demand over the final quarter leading into Christmas seem to have spooked investors. Combined with warnings over performance in emerging markets as well as volatile currencies around the world, the team has stated it might miss guidance over the next three months, sending share price down 5% in afterhours trading.

“The emerging markets that we’re seeing pressure in are markets like Turkey, India, Brazil, Russia,” said Cook. “These are markets where currencies have weakened over the recent period. In some cases, that resulted in us raising prices and those markets are not growing the way we would like to see.”

India should be seen as quite a worry for the iChief’s as while the country has been undergoing its own digital revolution over the last 18 months, Apple seem to be missing out on the biggest rewards. With India now being the second-largest smartphone market in the world, but with half the penetration of China, the opportunities are clear. Despite attention from Apple, it’s opening new production facilities and shops across the country, according to data from Canalys it is yet to break into the top-five smartphone brands.

Shipments in India across the most recent quarter dropped by 1%, though Xiaomi grew 31.5% year-on-year to claim the number on spot, at the expense of Samsung, where shipments dropped 1.6%. Vivo, Oppo and Micromax complete the top five, while the ‘others’ saw shipments decrease 34%. The Chinese brands seem to have found the right recipe to appeal to the Indian user, while Apple is still searching for the sweet spot.

“To give you a perspective in of some detail, our business in India in Q4 was flat,” said Cook. “Obviously, we would like to see that be a huge growth. Brazil was down somewhat compared to the previous year. And so I think, or at least the way that I see these, is each one of the emerging markets has a bit of a different story, and I don’t see it as some sort of issue that is common between those for the most part.”

One market where this isn’t the case is China, with the business growing 16% year-on-year. On the money side of things, it certainly is a different story. Total revenues across the business grew to $62 billion, an increase of 20% over the same period in 2017, though guidance is not as positive. Cook expects Apple to pocket between $89 billion and $93 billion over the next three months, though Wall Street has generally been hoping $93 billion would be the bottom end of the guidance.

Looking at the explanation, CFO Luca Maestri has pointed to four areas. Firstly, the team have launched products in reverse order compared to last year. Secondly, with many international currencies depreciating against the US dollar, Maestri anticipates a $2 billion headwind as a result. Thirdly, due to the number of products Apple has pumped into the market, the team is nervous about supply/demand. And finally, at the macroeconomic level in some emerging markets consumer confidence is not as high as it was 12 months ago.

Heading back to the positives, Apple is making more money now than it was a year ago. Despite there being no shipment growth in any of the major product lines (iPhone was flat year-on-year, iPad was down 6% and Mac was down 2%), Apple is still a money making machine. iPhone revenue increased 29% thanks to ridiculously high unit costs, while the services business was up 17%. This is an area which will be of significant interest to investors, as there is only so much Cook and co. can increase the price of iPhones to compensate for flat growth.

As part of the services division, the App Store has been trundling along positively, though with companies like Netflix and Fortnite stating they would be circumnavigating both the App Store and Google Play, all involved will hope this does not encourage others to do the same. Cook pointed out that the largest developer only account for 0.3% of revenues at the App Store, losing one or two won’t matter, but if the trend spreads too far the product might find troubling times ahead.

Overall, Apple is still in an incredibly dominant position, though the inability to capitalise on opportunities in the developing markets should be a slight worry.

Apple Financials

Apple Products

Google attempts damage control on privacy regulations

Google has unveiled its ideas on the regulatory framework of tomorrow in what looks like an attempt to influence legislation and restrict the long-arm of government intervention.

On the whole, the internet players of Silicon Valley have largely been left to do what they want. This is not to say there are no regulations or consumer protections, but the breadth and depth of regulatory red-tape is no-where near the same scale as the telco industry. In airing its ideas on what the regulatory environment of the data economy should look like, Google is seemingly trying to maintain this status quo.

“Today, we’re sharing our view on the requirements, scope, and enforcement expectations that should be reflected in all responsible data protection laws,” said Keith Enright, Chief Privacy Officer at Google. “This framework is based on established privacy frameworks, as well as our experience providing services that rely on personal data and our work to comply with evolving data protection laws around the world.”

The three page document, which you can see here, is largely what you would expect from one of the internet players. Commitments to collect data responsibly, transparency for the user, limitations on collection and usage, offering control to the user, accountability of third-parties and interoperability are all aspects, but this is not what the helpful commentary is about. This is not about protecting the user, it is about Silicon Valley maintaining control of its own destiny.

With the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration evaluating new legislation, the Senate about to start grilling tech executives and the White House preparing meetings with industry, the future is clear. The US Government intends to take a firmer grasp of activities in Silicon Valley, offering a more stringent rulebook and more protections to the consumer. This is not good news for the internet players.

To date, the internet players have made fortunes in the grey areas. There are more freedoms to use personal information and create advertising solutions as these are organizations which have slipped between the regulatory cracks. They have resisted the same rules as telcos, much to the frustration of the traditional communications industry, though this is not necessarily a bad thing. These are different types of businesses, applying the same rules as telcos is the square-peg-round-hole situation. These are businesses which are creating new services and innovating with data in ways some could not imagine, and need the flexibility to do so. That said, they should still be held accountable to regulation.

In releasing its ideas, Google is seemingly practising its own version of damage control. If new rules are on the horizon they’ll need to be influenced. A number of these practises are already in place at Google, meaning the business can continue to generate billions without a huge disruption to operations. That cannot be said its neighbours in Silicon Valley, but this is of little concern to the Do-No-Evilers.

Another interesting aspect to this announcement is perception. The industry has been hit hard by privacy scandals over the last few months, the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica saga is the biggest example, though Google has been collecting location data on users who have opted-out; it is far from innocent. In making these suggestions public, Google is putting a friendly face back onto the brand; its helping with the data privacy issue, not compounding it, will be the PR message here.

While this perception of helpfulness will help with its consumer reputation, it will also aid its grilling from the Senate. Enright is one of several executives who have been summoned to testify in front of several politicians to discuss how social media companies work and data privacy is secured. In demonstrating proactive enthusiasm prior to the grilling it might gain some much needed favour after Google left its chair empty during the Senate Intelligence Committee testimony.

The wild-west internet is slowly being swallowed up by the steady progress of regulation. The rules will never get in front of technological advancements, but to protect its billions, Google and its Silicon Valley neighbours will have to put on big smiles to influence rule makers.

Facebook creative culture questioned as Instagram founders exit

In a move which should have Instagrammers all around the world worried, co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have decided to take their leave from the popular social media platform.

With a short and sweet statement, Systrom has announced he and Krieger would be leaving the company they founded in 2010 to take a break and find themselves. While it might sound like the pair are readying their backpacks for a couple of months sipping beers and relaxing in hammocks, the wording does not suggest the Facebook business is in a particularly healthy state.

“We’re now ready for our next chapter,” wrote Systrom. “We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do.”

This of course might mean nothing in particular, though it does seem to suggest the pair need to move elsewhere to flex their creative muscles. Is Systrom indirectly accusing Facebook and its legions of employees of lacking creativity and the absence of an environment to experiment with new ideas?

Having launched in 2010, the app proved to be an instant hit collecting one million users within the first two months. By the end of the first year, 10 million accounts had been created, a number which increased to over 800 million by the end of 2017. The platform was acquired in by Facebook in April 2012 for $31 billion in cash and stock, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg announcing in the most recent earnings call the one billion user mark had been passed. The last couple of quarters have seen commercial activity on the platform increase notably.

While those who own such platforms are perfectly entitled to monetize their ideas, Instagram has been protected from the over-commercialised approach which has plagued the Facebook platform and destroyed the user experience. A balance has to be struck between advertising and maintaining a platform which entertains and engages users. The Facebook platform risks running the wrong direction.

In retaining the services of the two co-founders, perhaps this was the protection the platform needed from money-hungry Zuckerberg. With these two exiting the business what will become of the Instagram platform?

The Facebook platform has been suffering recently. While it is certainly a money making machine, this drive towards profitability has seemingly impacted user experience and the appeal of the platform. User growth has been slowing, with some questioning whether the glass ceiling is fast approaching, though there does seem to be a lack of creative spark in the platform. New features have been remarkably similar (some might suggest identical) to that of competitors, suggesting there is more of a focus on sweating assets for profitability as opposed to creating a platform which is attractive and engaging for users.

Research also supports the premise competitors are doing better at engaging younger audiences than Facebook. The Pew Research Centre has suggested only 51% of US teens aged 13-17 use Facebook today, with only 10% listing it as their preferred social media platform, compared to Instagram (72% use), Snapchat (69%) and YouTube (85%). In the Center’s 2014-2015 survey of teen social media use, 71% of teens reported being Facebook users, while 52% said they had an Instagram account and 41% for Snapchat.

With Systrom and Krieger leaving the business, citing a search for creativity as the reason, the assumption of a lack of creativity is being reinforced. The big question which remains is what is in store for Instagram?

With one billion accounts, low-advertising penetration in comparison to other platforms and a focus on younger demographics, this would certainly be an attractive proposition for any advertisers. The team has also done a much better job of capitalising on the video trend than parent-company Facebook, offering more opportunity to engage the motion-hungry users.

As co-founders, Systrom and Krieger would have certainly been influential on the development of the platform, though how much of the commercial tides were the pair holding back? Once replacements have been lined-up we’ll have a better idea as to whether this is a transition from Instagram 1.0 to Instagrabcash 2.0. We suspect Zuckerberg and the rest of the Facebook executives will be eyeing up Instagram to bolster year-on-year advertising numbers.

Only time will tell whether Zuckerberg will be able to over-commercialise this platform and destroy customer experience once again, but Systrom’s indirect critique of the environment does not suggest the best of scenarios.

Angry Birds longevity can’t prevent Rovio decline

Consumers might be spending more each year in the app economy, but Rovio’s struggles prove just how difficult it is to be a success in the cut-throat world of mobile gaming.

With the app economy becoming increasingly more mainstream, there are opportunities to make cash, though innovation is key. As consumers are faced with a tsunami of content and apps, cutting through the noise is becoming more difficult. Investing heavily to create a franchise seems to be the winning formula; the quality versus quantity argument. Rovio has one of the digital world’s most well-known titles in Angry Birds, but it seems not even this is enough to take the firm to the next level.

Looking at the numbers could be deemed a slightly depressing read. For the first six months of 2018, revenues were €137.5 million, down 9.9% in comparison to last year, operating profit was €15.2 million, down 21.4%, while the number of employees was also down 12%. Perhaps worrying even further was capital expenditure of €300,000 over the first half, down from €5.8 million across the same period in 2017. With so little being spent, you have to wonder whether there is anything new in the product pipeline.

With the abundance of choice on the app market stores, consumers get easily bored. The Angry Birds franchise has served the team very well over the years, it was initially launched in 2009, and continues to make money. But without new titles to support and eventually succeed the cash-cow, these profits will eventually erode to nothing. Nothing lasts forever, just as Nintendo as Mario finds his place in the memory banks alongside dial-up modems and the floppy disk.

Rovio is doing a remarkable job of sweating the Angry Birds brand, but the pressure is beginning to tell. Having released 17 iterations of the game and four spin-offs, growth is still there, but it’s getting smaller and smaller. Revenues derived from games was €122.1 million, an increase of 3.5% year-on-year, but this is nothing compared to the 56.7% rise in H1 2017 compared to H1 2016. Not many companies will have the pleasure of experiencing such a vast boom in revenues, though it does seem Rovio has not been able to capitalise on this momentum with launches to support the success of Angry Birds.

This is an excellent example of sweating assets, films have been launched and also three seasons of TV content, though this can only go on for so long. Licensing revenues were down significantly, though investors were warned this would be the case. Slow erosion does appear to be the trend of the day here. Share price has not moved notably, though considering it fell off a cliff following a profit warning in February, perhaps investors are expecting little from Rovio aside from dividends. With most internet companies asking investors to forget about today’s financials, instead concentrating on the potential of the business, it is an interesting approach from Rovio.

Angry Birds will continue to make money, but Rovio needs to produce more titles to stimulate growth and the profit column. The risk is just being known as an ‘also ran’ in the digital race, and with so little being allocated to the capital expenditure column, we suspect it will only continue down this route.

Rovio execs seem to be happy with the 15 minutes of fame and have no ambition for anything greater.

Fortnite’s Google Play bypass could be free money for Tencent

Epic Games has taken the somewhat unusual move of distributing the mobile-version of its popular Fortnite title through its own website, potentially saving up to $50 million according to app economy analyst firm State Tower.

Few developers will have the option to bypass the powerful Google Play distribution network, though such is the popularity of Fortnite, Epic Games could make some serious savings by avoiding the platform fees. Fortnite Battle Royale is currently in beta mode on Android, beginning with selected Samsung Galaxy devices, though it has grossed more than $180 million having launched on iOS in March 15. With Android eclipsing the iOS user base by some distance, there is some serious cash to be made.

“We expect that once Fortnite rolls out to the full complement of supported Android devices, its launch revenue on the platform will closely resemble the first several months of App Store player spending,” said Randy Nelson, Head of Mobile Insights at State Tower.

“There is a chance that it will even surpass what we’ve witnessed thus far, based on factors such as the game’s increasing popularity, the growing impact of each new season’s Battle Pass on revenue (these release every 10 weeks), and the potential for players in countries where both Google Play and the iOS version are not available to directly download the APK and spend in the game.”

Such is the influence and power of Google Play, few companies would even consider distributing app’s through their own channel. Due to sheer volume and variety of downloadable games on mobile platforms, cutting through the noise is almost impossible. That said, Fortnite is one of the titles in the small percentage who are broadly memorable and recognisable, alongside the likes of Angry Birds or Pokémon Go. With Google collecting between 15-30% of app and in-app purchase revenues, there is certainly a business case for owning the distribution channels, even if it is risky.

Google and Apple will want to maintain control of this global (aside from China where other app stores rule the roost) duopoly, though if Epic Games could prove there are other options it could effectively be free money for those will a loyal-enough fans, or creative-enough marketers. For Tencent, owner of Epic Games, this will certainly be an interesting exercise.

The online games business unit of Tencent is a minor, but notable one. Mobile gaming was a small percentage of the overall $11.6 billion revenues generated in the first quarter, but global trends indicate there is room for growth. Fortnite is one of the larger titles in Tencent’s broader stable, though Honour of Kings is currently the highest grossing smart phone game in China’s iOS Top Grossing Chart and QQ Speed is another hugely popular game. Should Epic Games be able to prove it can reach customers, and at least maintain revenues/profitability, through its own channels, Tencent could start saving a couple of hundred million a year.

Google will of course do everything in its power to ensure this is an isolated case. The last thing it needs is major titles deserting its app market, though with Fortnite there might be little it can do. Lawyers might be called, strategies might be devised, though we suspect a US company trying to put the legal hammer down on a Chinese company in today’s climate of Trump-inspired tension will be somewhat of a struggle.

Should Epic Games prove there is life without Google, the ripples in the app economy might start turning into waves before; everyone likes saving cash.

Which country will take the leadership position in the 5G world?

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Confusion reigns in China as Facebook is/isn’t granted access

For a brief moment in time, Facebook thought it had access to the fortunes of China. But now execs are heading back to the drawing board as its subsidiary’s registration has been removed.

After a decade of struggling to make any headway, there was a win. A company was registered in the city of Hangzhou according to a government filing, financed with an investment of $30 million and Facebook listed as the only shareholder. Unfortunately for Facebook, this registration was removed late Tuesday night, perhaps indicating the social media giant is back to square one.

The company registration should be viewed as nothing more than a minor win for Facebook. This was not permission for a fully-fledged launch in China, but it was a presence in the country. Facebook has confirmed it planned to create an innovation hub, similar to those which it has created in countries such as Brazil, to tap into the local market. But, it was a foot through the door, if only for the briefest of moments.

This licence would have allowed Facebook to access Chinese developers and consumers, though the launch of an app would have required more negotiations. Should Facebook have wanted to launch its full service, this would have been even more complicated. But this minor win meant CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his cronies were inside the tent, rubbing shoulders with the right people. The removal puts the social media giant back outside, crossing its legs.

Why the registration has been removed is anyone’s guess, but it does show the complications of trying to access one of the world’s most sought after prizes. To do business in China, you do it on its terms with no back chat. This might be a difficult pill to swallow for Silicon Valley companies which are used to calling the shots, but China has shown over the last decade how stubborn and resourceful it can be.

With the world’s largest population, a young and increasingly affluent middle-class and a hunger for the digital world, the Chinese population looks prime for the US giants of the internet economy. But with the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter being banned, the profits have instead gone to domestic brands. China has not bowed to the global infatuation with these companies, instead, used its promising society to fuel the growth of brands such as WeChat, Alibaba and Baidu. The Great Firewall of China has certainly brought riches for those who are lucky enough to be on the right side of it.

Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives have been trying to crack this enigma for years, but it seems they are not willing to accept the required concessions. A social media platform not under the direct influence of the government is not a position China wants to find itself in. It would be potentially empowering and destabilizing, a path the government does not want to walk. Some companies have accepted these conditions, LinkedIn is one example, though the majority have drawn a line in the sand.

It should be noted Facebook does do business in China. It sells advertising to Chinese brands looking to capitalise on the vast reach offered by the platform, but for Facebook to continue the exceptional growth investors have become accustomed to over the years, it needs access to the consumers as well. Expanding the user base is critical for the social media giant, and there have been signs in recent months it might be hitting a glass ceiling.

In the Western markets, some might argue there is limited room for additional users, while younger generations are starting to snub the platform in favour of brands such as SnapChat. The business can grow in some developing markets, though these are not the consumers which are deemed attractive to advertisers. To maintain profitability without the growing user base, Facebook would have to serve more ads to the user. This would be a downward spiral. As mentioned before, China has a growing, young, affluent, digital-savvy middle class. This is an audience advertisers would be interested in engaging.

The subsidiary’s registration was not going to ensure Facebook could launch its services in the country in the short-term, but it was certainly a step in the right direction. Despite the fact it has been seemingly revoked, it is still progress.

Facebook turns to interactive video to re-engage community

This week Telecoms.com has 16 year-old Shannon O’Connor joining the team for work experience, and today she looks at Facebook’s new interactive video features in the quest to be relevant once again. Here are her thoughts.

Facebook recently announced the launch of its new interactive live/on-demand video features in a attempt to engage users and continue increasing annual turnover.

It will allow creators to positively communicate with their viewers through live interaction. Part of the feature will be gamification for Live tool, but in addition there will also be a poll tool for both Live and on demand videos.

In recent weeks Facebook have been facing difficulties; the most notable being the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, with investigations made by the European Parliament back in May 2018. Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg had been roasted by politicians in which he responded with great passion,“I am determined to keep building tools that bring people together in meaningful new ways while we work to address our safety and security challenges as well.”

The new feature is perhaps an attempt made by Facebook to innovate social networking for its users as way of getting back into the ‘good books’ of those affected. Despite the negative responses Facebook have received in recent months by both politicians and users, it must be commended for its success in being able to sustain great annual revenues from advertisers.

Facebook is the largest social media platform in advertising and marketing with 93% of global marketers utilizing the app in efforts to promote their brand. In Q1 2018, Facebook’s advertising revenue amounted to approximately $11.795 billion comparatively to the other fees amounting to $171 million. Net income stood at $4.988 billion. Most notably, mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 91% of advertising revenue.

Facebook annual revenue growth (Statista)

Facebook annual revenue growth (Statista)

As shown above, the platform has continued to grow from strength to strength financially. However, it could be noted that only 51% of US teens aged 13-17 now use Facebook, with only 10% saying it is their preferred social media platform. Coming from a teenager who also engages with social media on a day to day basis, I believe Facebook has become less influential on younger people. By implementing the tool, Facebook is becoming progressively aware of the threatening position it is stationed at. The feature has perhaps been announced in an attempt to plaster up the visible cracks of lost engagement.

Is Facebook too aspirational in their attempts to continue increased revenue? We’ll have to see how the feature impacts these numbers.

Connected car moves into second gear with digital key specifications

The Car Connectivity Consortium has announced the publication of the Digital Key Release 1.0 specification to allow drivers to download digital keys onto their smart devices and use it for any vehicle.

The concept of a smart key for connected vehicles has already started to emerge in the real world, vehicle hire companies like ZipCar are making good use of the technology, though true interoperability is what the Car Connectivity Consortium is aiming to achieve. The early adopters are certainly making progress in this area, though for genuine market penetration, acceptance and normalisation, standardisation is an important process.

“We’re already seeing products in the market that are leveraging Release 1.0, and I believe that the forthcoming Digital Key Release 2.0 will have an even bigger impact on the industry as we meet needs for massive scalability,” said Mahfuzur Rahman, President of the Car Connectivity Consortium. “I’m enjoying this exciting journey with the CCC community as we change the way that drivers access any vehicle, and add further to the key functions that smart devices enable in our lives.”

The Release 1.0 specification provides a generalized deployment method that allows vehicle OEMs to securely transfer a digital key implementation to a smart device, using an existing Trusted Service Manager (TSM) infrastructure. This is of course a good start, but work on the Digital Key Release 2.0 specification has already begun, bringing in member companies including Apple, Audi, BMW, General Motors, LG Electronics, Gemalto, NXP, and Qualcomm.

The 2.0 specification is targeted for release in the first quarter of 2019, with the aim to provide a standardized authentication protocol between the vehicle and smart device. Release 2.0 will hope to deliver a fully scalable solution to reduce development costs for adopters and ensure interoperability between different smart devices and vehicles.

“BMW sees high value in a standardized digital key ecosystem driven by the CCC,” said Alexander Maier of BMW. ”Leveraging all benefits of Release 2.0 will enable a scalable solution, interoperable with all smart devices and vehicles delivering a superior user experience to our customers.”

Instagram unveils new feature, but is it worth your time?

This week Telecoms.com has 16 year-old Shannon O’Connor joining the team for work experience, and today is an assessment of Instagram’s new feature to moderate time spend on the app. Here are her thoughts. 

Earlier this week, Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom has confirmed an all-new ‘time spent’ usage insights tool in a questionable bid to improve users mental wellbeing.

Instagram is yet to comment on the ‘Usage Insights Tool’ so plans have not yet been confirmed for what the new feature will provide for its users. However, it is assumed that users will receive an outlook into the ‘daily tally’ of their minutes spent on the app whilst also receiving an alert to remind them of their daily limit.

So it seems Instagram has taken upon a whole new responsibility as a social networking app to provide services to tackle the amount of time we spend on our phones. Possibly it feels liable to take matters into its own hands when thinking about the negative impacts extended minutes online can have on teenagers and young adults like myself.

But how far will Instagram go in combatting the amount of time young adults spend on the internet?

It has been found in recent studies from the Pew Research Centre that 17% of US teens feel platforms such as Instagram harm relationships resulting in less sincere interactions. Similarly, 15% of those taking part suggested that social media distorts reality (giving many an unrealistic view of other people’s lives). A further 14% believed that teens spend too much time on social media.

This parallels with the increase in mental health problems. In the 21st century more people continue to struggle to moderate usage. In the past 25 years young people in Britain who have dealt or are dealing with anxiety/depression have risen by a climatic 70%.

The Royal Society for Public Health surveyed young people about the effects of social media through the #StautusOfMind campaign. Over 1,400 14-24 year olds were interviewed. The final results shockingly suggested that social media was ‘more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol’.

We sat down with a member of the Informa office, Tom McCormick, to hear his views on the new feature and how he thinks it may impact society among various age groups. We came to the following conclusions:

  • The content users find themselves engaging with could possibly be more damaging to mental health than the amount of time being spent on Instagram
  • If the feature was to be made into an add-on feature it would most likely become redundant as those such as himself would not invest in downloading it
  • From the perspective of a parent, those aged 20 to 40 would find no benefits in controlling the time period in which their child spent engaging on the app
  • ‘Reflective Content Moderation’ could derive better benefits for users in the long term

The alternative ‘Reflective Content Moderation’ tool was something that we believe to be more valuable. In theory, individuals who found themselves pro-actively seeking negative content may find themselves in a much more depressive state than those who found themselves viewing positive images from friends and family. If a parent had control over the content their child was seeing, the benefits that could derive from it could be far more substantial than tracking the amount of minutes spent online.

But this led to me consider if a teen would like their parent’s to accurately track their behaviour or track the amount of time that they spent on the app. Social media sites were designed to be a creative space where individuals could express themselves freely in whatever way they felt was appropriate.

Surely any implications made by the social site would purely be a window dressing; teens will always utilise their social platforms in the way they want to. For some, Instagram has failed to provide a secure and positive environment for teens to express themselves in, possibly being one origin of teen mental illness battles. It continues to give off an impression that it cares about its users; in actuality its investment in this feature is perhaps only a PR stunt to give the impression of responsibility

Furthermore, it could be said that the tool may provide a possible stop to financial development. Instagram has seen a steady increase in numbers since December 2016 when it hit 600 million. With an added 100 million users every four months, the app is now set to hit one billion this month. But now with the added burden of a potential decrease in usage minutes, advertisers could decrease investments in the app.

We will have to see whether Instagram rolls out this new feature in the next coming months or whether it makes changes; surely a track of content would be more useful than time spent on the app.

Uber sets sights on emerging markets

Uber has launched a more data-friendly version of its popular ride-sharing app to target emerging markets, starting in India.

Uber Lite is a reduced version of application, which works on any network and any android device, which is only 5MB the equivalent of three selfies. The core functionality of the app has been retained, though many of the bells and whistles (which we try our best to ignore) have been removed during the efficiency mission.

“We continue to see exponential growth outside of the U.S., and are thinking a lot about building for the next hundreds of millions of riders who we hope will choose Uber to get around,” said Shirish Andhare, ‎Head of Product for Emerging Markets. “That’s why today, we’re introducing Uber Lite: built in India, designed for the world. Uber Lite is a simple version of the rider app that saves space, works on any network, and on any Android phone.”

Part of the challenges with the app will be adapted the service for those in areas with spotty connectivity. One solution is for the app to decide where the driver picks you up, with a number of designated pick up points. Popular destinations are also cached, while the team is also boasting about machine learning capabilities which should personalise the service, both of which could streamline the process of booking a ride but the practicalities remain to be seen. The map function has also been removed, which is an interesting idea.

The pilot will be launched over the next couple of months, with new markets being targeted later in the year.