What’s Wrong with this Picture?

There seems to be a huge discrepancy between what the law [seems to] say and what auto makers are introducing…

A short while ago, I wrote a huge article that outlined my vision for iOS in the Car. There had been much speculation that the effort had stalled or had died at Apple, as there had been no real news, development or even concept art that had been introduced or released since Apple originally announced the effort. So, I stepped up and offered up what I thought, at a bare minimum, should be covered in the technology.

I saw an article on Apple Insider early on Monday morning (2014-03-03) where Apple had not only announced what iOS in the Car – now called CarPlay – will do, but which manufacturing partners will introduce the first versions of it. There are even some photos. Whether they are concept or production photos remains to be seen. I just hope that Apple sells the infotainment system so that aftermarket installers can retrofit vehicles with it. It looks like a great setup.

Volvo-Apple-Carplay

However, I have heard of some developments here in the States that gave me what I like to call a V-8 (smack myself in the forehead due to previously missing the point) moment. There seems to be a huge discrepancy between the law and what automakers and technology companies are providing. That’s something that needs to clear up ASAP.

You may be familiar with the Cecelia Abadie case in California involving Abadie’s use of Google Glass while driving. There’s a California law that states that drivers can’t have any kind of video screen playing in front of them while they drive. This is the law that the citing officer used when issuing the ticket Ms. Abadie received. Interestingly enough, another California court also indicated that using a navigation app on a smartphone or other device in a vehicle doesn’t violate that same law.

There’s a discrepancy here that needs to be resolved.

The problem is that distracted driving was already against the law well BEFORE smartphones were invented and became popular. So from a legal perspective, the EXTRA legislation is redundant, and somewhat contradictory. The other problems evolve around the mixed message from the legislature, and the car manufacturers.

Some pretty high end car manufacturers – Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo to start – will join Ford, GM, Honda, Jaguar, Kia, Nissan and Toyota, among others, and will provide CarPlay infotainment systems from Apple in coming model years. Formerly called iOS in the Car, the system sounds a little like what I speced. The system’s main interface is Siri and is accessed from a hardware button mounted on the steering wheel. Vehicles that come with a touch screen will also allow drivers to operate the system via touch. Manufacturers are left to their own devices for creating designs for consoles equipped with CarPlay systems.

The issues here are many :

→ Current legislation prevents users from using video screens in vehicles, yet many popular and high end models, Tesla’s Model S for example, which includes a portrait mounted 17″ screen mounted in the center console, as well as any CarPlay enabled vehicle, include video screens that the driver can not only see, but interact with.

→ Current legislation doesn’t seem to include navigation apps, contradicting laws currently on the books, or at the very least, making the application of those laws more confusing (at least in California, where the above ruling has jurisdiction).

→ According to the current press on CarPlay that I have seen, playing video while the vehicle is moving, on these screens is not prevented. At least, I couldn’t find any information indicating that it was…

→ The car manufacturers I’ve noted, as well as others interested in providing the systems, all do so, apparently inviting users to violate distracted driving laws.

The system will allow drivers to place and receive phone calls, listen to voice mail messages, access contacts and have text messages read to them by Siri. Navigation is an inherent part of the system and includes turn-by-turn directions, likely provided by Apple Maps, and will display on the video screen that is part of the system (and not on your docked iPhone). Video is displayed on CarPlay systems via an adaptation of AirPlay technology. Drivers will also be able to access all iPod content as well as streaming services like Spotify, iTunes Radio and Beats Music, among others. The system will appear in 2014 model year vehicles from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo and will come to all current iOS iPhones running iOS 7. It will work with Lightning-enabled iPhones, including the iPhone 5s/5c/5.

The issue here is the contradiction between (most of) the distracted driving laws that specifically deal with smartphone use while users operate a motor vehicle and what will be provided by manufacturers supplying CarPlay compatible vehicles. The equipped car by its very nature, violates the law. Its enticing the driver to drive distracted because many smartphone-specific distracted driving laws prevent users from making calls without hands free equipment, but prevent them from using video screens in the car unless that video screen is displaying a navigation app. Unfortunately, the display changes when calls come in to display caller ID information. Notification bars appear on the top of the screen when email, text messages and other events occur. The very nature of the systems functionality seems to violate the law as it attempts to alert the driver to the incoming events, taking their attention away from the screen.

Again, the problem is the SPECIFIC legislation regarding smartphone use in the vehicle. Obviously the solution would be to let the PREVIOUS legislation that prohibited distracted driving take precedence and to remove the contradicting, smartphone specific legislation from the books. However, I don’t think this is going to happen. It’s too logical and straight forward for our legislators to adopt.

Don’t get me wrong. I really like what Apple is going to do with CarPlay. The next big vehicle I buy is going to have the system built in. If I can purchase CarPlay as an aftermarket add-in for my 2003 Toyota Camry, I will; but likely AFTER it won’t send me to traffic court…or jail.

What do you think? There are going to be a great many articles about what CarPlay is and what it can do in your vehicle. I’ll probably write a few more as additional details come out about the system in the coming days and weeks. However, I wanted to post this question to everyone first.

You can see a full demo of Volvo’s implementation below.

Is CarPlay a good idea? Will it cause a legal quandary? Will distracted driving laws get clarified or will they become a bigger mess due to the Abadie case and the ruling by a CA judge that navigation apps don’t violate the distracted driving laws? Can users of these systems successfully challenge smartphone-centric distracted driving laws and have them struck down? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please join me in the discussion below and let me know what you think.

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Mt. Gox is Mt. Gone

The Bitcoin exchange has filed for bankruptcy protection.

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You can’t say no one didn’t see this coming. It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when. Mt. Gox has filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan after losing what has been validated at 750K customer owned Bitcoins and 100K Bitcoins of its own. The losses represent approximately $474M based on a Bitcoin price of $558.

Mt. Gox has ¥6.5 billion in outstanding debt. Approximately ¥2.8 billion in cash cannot be accounted for.

“I am deeply sorry,” Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles told reporters in Japanese, offering a ritual bow of apology. “There were weaknesses in the system.” The website, mtgox.com remains off line.

While Gox is apologetic, other investors are seeking justice. One investor, declining to be recognized, said, “This is not just a civil matter. They knew they had lost these coins and continued to operate the exchange and accept deposits. You can’t sell something you don’t have and not be committing fraud.” Other investors are alleging that the bug that was exploited to misappropriate all the funds was something that had been well known in the Bitcoin community for years.

However, the issue appears more clouded and much more complicated than a mere hack. Kenji Saito, an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Media and Governance at Japan’s Keio University indicated that, “the [bug] is too small [of an exploit] to shut down one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges in the world. Rather, it must be that Mt. Gox has [been defrauding] its customers, [well in advance of the] February 2014 [announcement].”

Japanese authorities are conducting an investigation of Mt. Gox, following is closure.

In the US, Gox was subpoenaed by Federal prosecutors in New York. According to an unidentified source for the Wall Street Journal, Gox has been asked to preserve specific documentation. The US Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York declined commenting, citing the ongoing investigation.

Now… I’ve heard a lot of speculation from a number of people here at the office saying that crypto-currencies are all going to die and this is the end of Bitcoin, Dogecoin, etc. While I’m certain that would make many international governments very happy (Bitcoin is a universal currency, and largely unregulated), I am not entirely certain that it’s going to kill the commodity. However, it certainly hasn’t done Bitcoin any favors; and its likely made its universal acceptance that much more difficult as well as pushed that possibility further out into the future.

What do you think? Did Mt. Gox defraud its investors and customers? Were they aware of the vulnerability in their systems and ignored it; or were they caught off guard? What about the ¥2.8 billion in missing cash? What’s going to happen to crypto and other digital currencies? Please tell me what you think in the discussion area, below. I’d love to hear your opinions on the matter.

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BB10 Gives Enterprise Customers a Sour Taste in their Mouths

BB CEO, John Chen admits that BB10 and the Blackberry Z10 left enterprise customers feeling confused

Having a mobile OS that’s intuitive is key to keeping your users engaged. Its key to attracting more users. In short, its key to continued success, in what has become the hottest computing market this side of anywhere in the known universe. Mobile computing… it’s what buys dinner.

Unfortunately, for RIM/Blackberry, despite their best efforts over the past six years or so, their distraction with the consumer market, BYOD and CoIT has damaged them in the eyes of their enterprise customers. According to Chen, previous BB CEO Thorsten Heins’ focus on the consumer market damaged the organization’s reputation.

BB10

“It is not about us leaving the enterprise customers before my time, but I think it is about us spreading ourselves a little too thin,” he said. “We spread ourselves too thin and we were so preoccupied with launching that phone [the Z10] in that market, that we have done some damage, in my mind, to our enterprise focus. That is not going to be any more. That has been done.”

Chen also called BB10, “very good, but too complex for the user.”

I’m not too certain how to take that. I mean, I agree; but how do you recover from that? What do you do? In Blackberry’s case, they are going to focus on their strengths – the enterprise. BES 12 was announced at Mobile World Congress this past week, and should be released before the end of calendar 2014. BES 12 will support all popular mobile OS – iOS, Android, and now, Windows Phone, besides its own OS. Users of rival mobile enterprise servers will be able to trade in their licenses and get the remaining time on that license on BES 12 for a free. Current users can upgrade to BES 12 for free, too. An enterprise version of BBM, Blackberry’s messaging platform, will also be available, “before the summer.”

From a device perspective, Blackberry is staying in the hardware business. Its latest handset, the QWERTY enabled Q20, is said to contain the best classic features most loved by its veteran users. It’s also due for release before the end of calendar 2014.

I’ve been a Blackberry watcher for quite some time, as RIM was THE name in mobile enterprise messaging for a long time before smartphones really became smartphones, leaving the PDA days behind them. They were rugged, high quality devices that allowed mobile employees and busy executives to stay in touch with the office and their teams while traveling or away from their desks. Their Push notification system became the defacto standard that everyone wanted and need to copy in order to be competitive not only in the enterprise space, but in the consumer space as well. The notifications you get on your smartphone of choice today can be traced in some way back to Blackberry’s push notification system.

For me, they are the company you love to hate. I never liked their devices. They were always a bit too rugged, clunky, and just plain ugly for me. Early versions of the device OS was too text-based for me when consumer-based devices like the Treo or any Windows Mobile device had a bright, colorful and inviting GUI. Described to me as an olive-drab army Jeep that just got the job done, Blackberries were the device that nearly every Exchange admin loved to work with; and I just couldn’t stand.

Looking at the information here, I can see a structured, concentrated effort to turn the company back down the road of core competency. This is an excellent strategy; but I’m a bit skeptical. I am wondering after so long, if Chen can turn Blackberry around and get it to be [somewhat] the enterprise darling it was back in the day.

The road back will be long and very tough, in my opinion. I do not see Blackberry making any money with native hardware. I think that ship has long sailed, and think that the Q20 and other devices will be nothing more than a money losing distraction. I think Blackberry would be much better off just concentrating on its enterprise software products. If it must be involved in the hardware business, it could partner with HTC or other hardware vendor and have them foot the bill for making and marketing the hardware. Blackberry has had such a hard time with the Storm, Storm 2, and its more recent Z10 and Q10 devices that it must just be a better idea to leave hardware to a trusted partner that has better experience with it.

My biggest concern with this particular tactic is obviously… partial failure. BES has always been a huge money maker for Blackberry and I think they should be fine there. The added support in their MDM for Windows Phone is going to make that offering much more attractive – BES will then support all the major mobile device operating systems and should offer support to everyone. That should bring a lot of comfort to current enterprise customers and may actually attract new ones.

However, I see Blackberry’s continued dalliance with handsets as a huge risk. Since 2007 – and the introduction of the iPhone – they have not been able to get it right. Their Storm and Storm 2 devices were abysmal, and BB10 was too confusing in an iPhone like body (with no physical keyboard) to attract and retain any customers. While they’re going to give it another go with the Q20, unless the world has some unforeseen epiphany when the device is released, BYOD and CoIT based enterprises aren’t going to bother much with it. I don’t see the Q20 making any kind of impact on the Blackberry world at all. I see it being yet ANOTHER money losing disappointment for an organization that is desperately trying to maintain its relevance in a world that left it behind long ago.

What do you think? Am I totally off my nut, or does this story have legs? Will BES 12 attract new customers? Will its free upgrade cost to existing enterprise users make them want to extend their service contracts? Will the Q20 be a money maker or a money loser? I’d love to have your thoughts in the discussion area below. Please give me your ideas and thoughts and lets hash it out a bit more…

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Someone Glammed my Bitcoin Wallet

Mt. Gox gets fleeced and closes its door due to a $350M 5-finger discount…

BitcoinVirtual currencies are very fragile.  Well, I shouldn’t say fragile. I should really say, volatile.  The currency fluctuates so violently its hard to determine what its value will be from one day to the next.  The one thing that’s brought the fledgling currency the most stability has been the largest bitcoin exchange in the world – Mt. Gox.  Unfortunately, Mt. Gox is no more.

Bitcoin’s run may be at an end.

Mt. Gox, apparently now insolvent, lost 744,408 bitcoins worth about $350M at the time of the initial report, which was Monday 2014-02-24.  Mt. Gox, like any other commodity exchange, can go belly-up at any moment. Its simply the nature of commodity trading. Markets can tip bearish or bullish on a whim, and its not easy to figure out which way the wind is blowing. However, this wasn’t the result of a glut in trading or from any other trading action. Mt. Gox was hacked, plain and simple.

Described as the worst run business in history, Gox initially got itself in trouble with US authorities I 2013. They seized $5M in US-based assets as a result of Gox’s failure to obtain the necessary money transferring permits. Since then, the news has been rife with reports of customers waiting months and months to withdrawal bitcoins as US dollars.  Early in February 2014. Mt. Gox suspended all withdrawals, indicating a bitcoin wallet bug as the culprit.

Instead, it appears that the exchange has been the victim of a two year long hack where both its hot (online) and cold (off line) wallets have been emptied.  How does an organization that deals in money transfers and in the trading of any kind of commodity NOT know if its having its coffers fleeced?!

What’s worse is that Charlie Shrem, the CEO of U.S. bitcoin exchange Bitinstant, was arrested on money laundering charges. Both Shrem and Gox CEO Mark Karpeles sat on the board of the Bitcoin Foundation, a lobbying agency and software development organization for bitcoin.  Both men have stepped down from their seats. Unfortunately, with Gox’s closure and the scandal at Bitinstant, its unclear if this digital commodity will be able to recover.

According to the Mt. Gox website, the organization states that Karpeles is still in Japan and is working hard to resolve the issue.  They ask that no one asks the Mt. Gox staff any questions, as they aren’t authorized to speak for the organization.  You can also read the original message which explains that the organization has shuttered its doors. The site instructs users and those interested to check back periodically to insure that they have the latest information, which will be posted on that page.

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Tesla Would have made a Cool iCar

Though it’s not going to happen, here’s why I think a Tesla-Apple marriage would have been cool.

The first thing I thought when I saw this story was… iCar.  This is the place where you go when you want to take your iPhone and dock it with your car, and have your car turn into a wheeled version of your iDevice.  This, I thought, would be the one place that my vision for iOS in the Car would find expression.  This could put Tesla on the map!

Then, I woke up.

iCar3

Yes, Apple has a boat load of cash.  Yes, it would be really cool if they could do something cool like, acquire an electric car company where they could integrate all or most of their iVision and bring back the “one more thing” and a little 21st century “ohh” and “ahh” to both the technology and auto industries.  Besides, it would be totally cool to plug your iPhone into the car and have it ask, where you want to go, and then automatically navigate you there.  Along the way, it could (and should) point out necessary charging station layovers, and build charging time into the destination’s ETA.  Ooh-hoo-hooooooo!  It gives me shivers just thinking about the pairing!

See, something like that is where Apple and Tesla are [mostly] DNA compatible. Tesla’s product(s) are gusty, cutting edge and cool. Having Apple branding in a vehicle like that is certain to be a success, and if there is truly an opportunity for some sort of partnership between the two organizations, this is definitely it.  If you can’t showcase what iOS in the Car really should be in a Tesla, then I’m not certain where it can find the expression of its ideal vision.

Elon Musk, is like, the Steve Jobs of automobiles. I mean, by all accounts, anyone who can dream up a mode of transportation that can take you from New York to LA via magnetic vacuum tube has got one HELL of an imagination. This is the kind of product-centric CEO that Apple needs. They need someone with a vision on the future. Someone who can look at the technology of the day, figure out what you can do, and then create a vision of where you should go based on how far the current technology can be stretched before it breaks.

This is the kind of guy that Apple needs, and it may be one of the reasons why Apple and Tesla recently spoke. While neither Apple nor Tesla will comment any further than to say, “yeah… we talked. What of it..??”; the world is excited and intrigued by the possibility that Elon Musk and his vision may meet Apple’s cash and technology and design machines and create something truly magical. This is what made Apple special. This is what Steve Jobs did, and did very well.

Tim Cook is a great guy, but he’s really just a logistics guy. He can figure out how to make the supply chain work. He can figure out how to insure that the current products in production get built, and get built on time; but he’s not the kinda guy to move the company forward…as much as it pains me to say that. He just isn’t…

Since Time took over, that’s all Apple has really been able to do. They’ve kept the supply lines to the current components flowing and have been getting buy with minimal visionary input. Tim is a business guy. He’s not a product visionary like Jobs was and like Musk IS. Again, as much as it really kills me to say it, I don’t know if or how Tim can keep Apple on the ragged, hairy bleeding edge of greatness without a serious infusion of vision. Wall Street is only going to put up with incremental improvements on current designs and product groups for so long before it declares the magic that was Jobs’ Apple gone.

On the flip side of this whole deal is how Apple and Tesla are not compatible.  First, Elon Musk wants to be in charge. Period. I don’t know if Time would give up the big chair without some serious prodding.

And as much as Apple and Tesla may be good for each other, they could also turn out to be a huge train wreck.  Apple has high end products that provide a solution for 90% of the market they cater to and accomplish 90% of what that demographic wants to accomplish.  They’re elegant, well-built products that hold their value and provide life to a number of other industries including accessory companies and a huge resale movement that is pushing older Apple devices, in good shape, to emerging markets.

Unfortunately, you can’t say the same thing about Tesla, well… not completely.  Tesla DOES have high quality products, but they speak to a much smaller market.  Tesla’s products are really what the top 10% (or less) of the market can afford to do, 10% of the time. While on the surface, they do seem like they would fit together very well, you aren’t going to get a lot of market intersection between Tesla customers and Apple customers.  For example, short of hitting a huge Powerball jackpot, most of the people that have iPads or iPhones aren’t also going to be able to afford a Tesla vehicle.

So, kids… you need to give me your thoughts on this. What do you think? Would Tesla and Apple make a good marriage? Does Elon Musk have what it takes to make a good exec or CEO at Apple?  Can the two exist together or am I full of hot air and hype? Why not give me your thoughts in the discussion area below and tell me what you think?

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Windows 8.1 Update 1 Coming Sometime this Spring

Well, I’m glad we got THAT cleared up

One of the greatest conferences in the computing world is MWC or Mobile World Congress. It’s held in Barcelona, Spain every year. It’s the kind of conference that makes you want to get your passport updated and ready to be stamped. I’ve never been able to go, and at this rate, it’s doubtful that I will; but if you’re into mobile computing like I am, then it’s something that you pay a lot of attention to if you’re unable to attend. Some really great innovations and products get announced at MWC.

This year, Microsoft is there, and they’re announcing details around the next version of Windows 8.1.  Joe Belfiore, head of phones, tablets and PC’s at the Redmond software giant is there and has currently revealed that the update is coming, “this Spring.”

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Wow.  Thanks, a lot there, Joe.  Way to be specific.

All kidding aside, the release, currently internally called, “Update 1,” as no real release name has been set EITHER (so, this could be called Update 1, Windows 8.2, or something totally different…), is focusing its updates on making the desktop experience more palatable to mouse and keyboard users. Users should see things like MetroApps with title bars, an easier way to launch and switch to running apps via the Taskbar as well as a new context menu UI.

The biggest improvement, however, is going to be totally behind the scenes. The OS will run on lower-speced machines.  PC makers will be able to put the latest version of Windows 8.x on machines with just 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage space.  This is going to allow OEM’s to offer tablets and other computing devices running the OS that retail somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 or lower. This is going to go a long way to helping Microsoft compete with lower priced Android tablets that are easy to find in the sub $250 range.  This is an area where Google and its Android operating system have enjoyed a complete monopoly. No OEM has been able to create a tablet with an OS other than Android at that price point or lower.  Unfortunately for Microsoft, that fact has been providing a great deal of heartburn.

If Microsoft can make the newest version of Windows 8.x run on lower speced devices, then it’s very possible that devices like the Dell Latitude 10 ST tablet that I reviewed last year might be able to run with better performance and provide a better overall experience. That would go a long way to making it easier to take to school, to work, or anywhere for that matter.  Windows tablets need a better overall experience.  Even native tablets like Surface Pro/2 Pro will benefit from an OS that runs better on less powerful components. You should expect to see quite the performance boost on existing devices, I would think.

Now, getting back to the “available Spring 2014″ thing… Microsoft Build is set to be held in April of this year. Its “largely expected” that Microsoft will announce and release the latest version of Windows 8.x to the world at that time.  My guess is that it should be available right after the opening keynote concludes.

What do you think? Do you think that Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be something that’s worthwhile, or is Microsoft bring all of this to the party a year or more too late? I’m still not totally sold on anything related to Windows 8.x’s MetroUI. The “whole” Windows experience needs to be totally revamped.  However, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Why don’t you tell me what you think in the comments section below?

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Metabook

Write the great American novel with this cool Windows application.

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Every writer, EVER, has the same dream – to write the book that will make him a bazillionaire. The book goes viral. It gets turned into a series. Movies are made from them; and their name becomes a household word. They are remembered all the time, everyday, out loud by everyone and anyone because they’ve all read the books. The key to getting started, is getting organized. That’s why I really like Metabook. It’s a Windows tool to help you create organization around your great American novel.

One of the hardest things to do when writing short stories and novels is organizing your thoughts and ideas. Yes, you have this totally awesome idea in your head and its beating down the walls trying to get out. What you really need to do is to organize the information so that you don’t lose any of it. This is where Metabook comes in. With it, you can create a structure that will help you organize information and metadata around people, places, items, actions and activities. It’s the easiest way to get your idea(s) out of your head and actually on paper where they can make sense and won’t conflict.

The best thing about Metabook is that its totally free form. You can create unlimited structure notes, but are limited to three layers. If you need to go deeper than that, you can start an individual node and drill three levels on it. If you need go deeper than that, then you can again, start an additional node, or you may want or need to rethink how you’re organizing your thoughts. The idea here is to get them down on paper and get them organized.

You can also use your document editor of choice. Metabook will allow you to hook into Word, WordPad, or any other tool you’ve got so you can write. Again, the idea is to organize and help the words come out, not to limit you to a specific tool. If needed, you can also pull in attachments – notes or other files, say…pictures and graphics or Visio files and other Office-centric data – into the tool so you can access them later. You can also create a separate project file for each book or document you wish to organize. Again, the idea is to keep it all separate so you can keep it all organized.

Metabook is a great application. If you’re trying to get organized around any kind of writing project, this is a great way to start. The app is light and easy on resources. Its easy to use. Its affordable; and it provides the basics around getting the whole party started – getting your thoughts out of your head and in some kind of organized form so you can begin writing.

The biggest issue with the app is that if you’ve never used it or anything else from this author, its not very easy to figure out how to get started. Once the app starts, you need to right click on the left pane window in order to bring up a context menu to create your first node. If you didn’t know to try that, and I didn’t, you wouldn’t be able to get very far with the app. There’s no File—New command, or any other visual clue to get you going; and that’s probably the biggest hole in this app.

Download Metabook

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Facebook to Acquire WhatsApp

This has to be about users and not technology, resources or anything else…

I saw this the other day and it really made my jaw drop. I wasn’t surprised that Facebook made the acquisition. I was surprised at how much Facebook paid for the organization. The total deal is worth $19B – $4B in cash, $12B in stock and $3B in restricted stock for the founders and other employees.  The restricted shares vest over period of four or so years.  The deal also provides WhatsApp founder Jan Koum with a seat on Facebook’s Board of Directors.

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WhatsApp is an instant messaging app that sends messages over a data connection as opposed to GSM or CDMA.  Because the app sends text messages as data over your smartphone’s data connection, they don’t count against your text messaging limit.  The app claims to have over 450M active users, and is signing up users at the rate of one million a month.  That’s a lot of users…

WhatsApp is similar to Apple’s iMessages platform which sends text messages via an iPhone’s data connection and not a cellular connection to avoid being double charged for the message.

Google also made an offer of $10B for the company, but was ultimately turned down.  Google wanted to make certain that it didn’t get surprised with the WhatsApp deal as it did with Instagram when Facebook snatched it out from under them in 2012.  They were so determined to insure that this didn’t happen that they were willing to pay millions for to WhatsApp in what’s being called a “right of notice” offer. I can’t find out if that agreement was actually consummated or not.  However, Google wanted the right to be notified if another company entered into acquisition talks with WhatsApp; and again, they were willing to pay millions for that. In this case, it likely would have been a waste of money for Google.  Facebook’s offer was nearly double what Google had proposed.

From what I’ve been able to see so far, Facebook plans to leave WhatsApp alone. They did the same thing with Instagram when they acquired them in 2012. They purchased the asset, with the intent of doing – something – with it later.  What that is, and how Facebook might actually make money from or with that asset has yet to be determined.

When I heard about this, I thought, “well, WhatsApp is going to be the new Facebook Messenger,”  but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Facebook Messenger, Facebook’s own text messaging app, isn’t going anywhere.  Some analysts think the acquisition supports Facebook’s strategy to be dominant in the mobile world.  They want to be a go-to company for mobile apps and messaging, especially in emerging markets.  Some analysts thing this is a survival tactic.  WhatsApp is strong in Europe and South America, where it enjoys approximately 80% market penetration in countries like Brazil, Germany, Portugal and Spain.  It is, in fact, the largest mobile messaging service in India, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa, according to Engadget.

What do you think? Is this a good buy for Facebook?  Will WhatsApp really continue to function independently as Instagram does, or will Facebook actively try to do something with the app sooner rather than later?  I’d really like to hear what everyone else thinks.  Why don’t you give me your thoughts on the matter in the discussion area, below?

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