Facebook to acquire WhatsApp for $16 billion


Facebook has reached a deal to acquire WhatsApp, one of the largest mobile messaging services available, for $16 billion dollars, or roughly $40 per user. So far, WhatsApp did not have any major type of monetization strategy. With Facebook on board, you can expect ads and data mining, though Facebook is stating that they intend to run the company as a separate division, much like they have with Instagram.

So — are you done with WhatsApp, or does the Facebook purchase not bother you?


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Video on Instagram Announced: 15-Second Clips, Fully Filtered and More


Facebook held a press event at 10:00 AM Pacific (1:00 PM Eastern) at its Menlo Park headquarters, where it announced support for video in its popular photo-sharing app Instagram. This move is unsurprising, considering how popular the six-second video sharing app Vine — owned by rival social network Twitter — has become since its debut on iPhone last January.

At the event, Instagram chief executive Kevin Systrom confirmed that up to 15-second-long videos will indeed be coming to the service alongside 13 new filters specifically tailored for videos. The videos, unlike Vine, do not loop and only play once. The video recording method is done clip-by-clip, allowing users to delete certain portions that they wish to re-record.

Moreover, a new feature called Cinema brings video stabilization to Instagram. When you are recording a video that would otherwise be shaky — say you’re running or biking while filming — the app will automatically stabilize the video playback. Instagram claims that it has worked with leading video scientists on this functionality.

Instagram with video is available now for iOS, and is coming very soon for Android.

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Facebook Adding Video to Instagram This Week

Instagram iconFacebook recently announced that it will be holding a press event on Thursday, although few details have leaked about what the social network plans to discuss. Until now.

According to Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch, citing a source familiar with the matter, Facebook will be unveiling video support for Instagram, its popular photo-sharing app, at the June 20th event. Users will then be able to take and share short videos, alongside traditional filtered photos.

The surging popularity of video-sharing app Vine is more than likely the motivating factor behind this move, as Facebook looks to compete with the service owned by social network rival Twitter. Viddy, Cinemagram and Socialcam have also been strong contenders in this space.  (more…)

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The Facebook Phone is Dead

htc-first-slide-01That didn’t last long.

Just five weeks after the HTC First was released, the first handset to feature Facebook Home, the device is reportedly on the chopping block.

BGR, citing a source within AT&T, reports that the carrier will discontinue the so-called “Facebook Phone” as soon as HTC’s contract for reserved display space within its retail stores expires.

AT&T is making this move due to “shockingly bad” sales of the HTC First, which has been far outsold by the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S4. The carrier’s decision to drop the price of the HTC First to 99 cents on a new two-year contract was made to clear as much inventory of the handset as possible.  (more…)

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The Facebook Phone Doesn’t Appear Very Promising

HTC FirstThe so-called “Facebook Phone” that was rumored for several months — if not years — was released a number of weeks ago, yet it appears to be already facing struggles.

Dan Graziano for BGR writes:

AT&T this week slashed the price of the smartphone from $99 to $0.99 with a new two-year agreement and reduced the off-contract price from $450 to $350. Although no sales data has been released, the recent price cut suggests that Facebook may be in the midst of its First big mobile flop.

While a price cut on the HTC First is not necessarily indicative of poor sales, it could very well signal that Facebook is the latest culprit of a mobile space that is dominated by two companies: Apple and Samsung. BlackBerry and Windows Phone could have told you as much.


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Facebook Home Could Launch on iPhone Following Ongoing Talks With Apple

Facebook Home AndroidFacebook is in talks with Apple to launch its new Home software layer for iPhone, a top Facebook executive confirmed to Bloomberg. These discussions have been ongoing and nothing has been finalized yet, according to the report.

“We’ve shown them what we’ve built and we’re just in an ongoing conversation,” said Adam Mosseri, director of product at Facebook, referring to discussions with Apple and Microsoft.

“It may or may not be Home. We could also just bring some of the design values to the iOS app. That might be how it ends up. Or we could build just the lock screen. Maybe then it’s not called Home, it’s called something else.”

Facebook Home debuted earlier this month as a feature for Android-based smartphones, putting Facebook friends and services at the forefront of the mobile experience. The HTC First was the first smartphone to include native Home integration.

UPDATE: A number of sources have since debunked this report, including the highly-connected John Paczkowski of All Things Digital. Yet, the full legitimacy of the report is unknown, considering that it is based off comments from a Facebook executive directly. We’ll update this story when more details are known.

[Bloomberg via MacRumors]

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Facebook Home Met With Mixed Reviews

Facebook Home Android

The embargo surrounding Facebook Home – Facebook’s latest string of applications, available only on Android devices – was lifted yesterday. Facebook Home is far more than a traditional application: it combines a custom lockscreen, launcher, and messaging system in an ecosystem tied extensively to Facebook and its own services.

Facebook Home is ambitious: while companies like Amazon opted to fork Android completely, Facebook has instead decided to build on the available APIs and structures in order to change the experience that the user encounters. Home will be available not just on the HTC First, but also on any and all supported Android devices (a full list of which isn’t available, though expect popular devices like the Samsung Galaxy S III to make the cut). Writing for Engadget, Brad Molen had the following to say about Facebook Home: (more…)

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No, Google Isn’t Purchasing WhatsApp for $1 Billion


While speculation has circulated over the past few days about a potential Google acquisition of WhatsApp for upwards of $1 billion, WhatsApp business development head Neeraj Arora has told AllThingsD that the reports are not true.

Neeraj Arora, WhatsApp’s business development head, told AllThingsDigital today that the company is not holding sales talks with Google.

Earlier this week, a single-source report from Digital Trends said that the company was contemplating a $1 billion sale to the search giant.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard about a potential WhatsApp acquisition before, as Facebook was also said to be planning to purchase the popular app back in December. Obviously, none of these reports have yet to materialize.

WhatsApp is one of the most popular integrated messaging services available, combining text messaging, photo, video, audio and location sharing together into one mobile app. The app is 99 cents for iPhone, while pricing varies for Android.


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Does Facebook Home Change Your Impression of iOS?

Facebook Home Android

Facebook Home is supposed to be the next big exciting thing to hit Android, or so the social network wants you to think. Essentially, it’s a software layer that goes on top of the stock Android experience to highly integrate Facebook services within the platform.

Facebook Home puts your friends, messages, and notifications at the forefront of your smartphone, allowing you ubiquitous access to the social network throughout Android by way of features including Cover Feed, Chat Heads, Messenger and an exclusive App Launcher.  (more…)

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Reminder: Facebook’s Android Event Begins at 1:00 PM Eastern

Facebook New Home on Android

In just a matter of hours from now, at 1:00 PM Eastern, Facebook will commence its “New Home on Android” media event at its corporate headquarters in suburban Menlo Park, California. According to multiple sources, the event will be focused around one of two things: the unveiling of the long-anticipated Facebook Phone in collaboration with Taiwanese handset maker HTC or, more likely, the arrival of an app dubbed as “Facebook Home” that is highly integrated across the Android platform.

While the flagship HTC One smartphone is expected to hit the market later this month, the “HTC First” could be the first — no pun intended — smartphone to showcase this new Facebook-enriched Android experience. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how consumers react to this smartphone, as there has been much debate about the necessity of a Facebook Phone. If the “HTC First” isn’t much more than an iPhone with a Facebook app and native sharing functionality, then it probably won’t sell.

Regardless of its fate, the “HTC First” could be yet another player in the competitive smartphone market. Just four months into the year, we’ve already seen the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, BlackBerry Z10 and perhaps now the HTC First. Just maybe, for the first time in several years, the smartphone market won’t be dominated solely by Apple and Samsung. Competition is good, and we’re seeing a whole lot of it right now. Check back later today for further updates on the Facebook event.

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