Google mobile messaging app in the pipeline
After losing WhatsApp to Facebook in a multibillion-dollar acquisition bid, Google is now in the process of creating its very own mobile messaging application.
Taking on the likes of WhatsApp, Kik, Line and WeChat, the app will have an initial focus on emerging markets such as India, where WhatsApp boasts a 65 million strong user base.
Unlike the majority of Google products, the new app will not require a Google login to use.
With stiff competition in the messaging space, Google’s current ‘Hangouts’ platform hasn’t seen a great deal of uptake amongst mobile users. By developing a feature led standalone app, Google is hopeful of a stronger market appeal.
According to reports the cross-platform app will be free to use (WhatsApp charges a modest annual fee) and may be localised to include multi-language support.
In related news, Yahoo has confirmed its purchase of start-up app MessageMe, tagged as a potential competitor to WhatsApp. It appears however that Yahoo will be shutting down the service and instead shifting its focus towards mobile communications products for Yahoo. With Yahoo reportedly in talks to invest millions of dollars in popular mobile messaging app SnapChat, competition in the messaging space is set to heat up even further in 2015.
Google positive over brand advertising tools
Google is remaining positive over attempts to draw brand advertisers, despite the slow growth of brand ads on its video platform YouTube.
Even with surging traffic numbers, FT.com reports that YouTube has failed to live up to the high expectations of Wall Street when it comes to display and video ads. However in a recent statement, Google has claimed that new tools for measuring the effectiveness of ad campaigns will be a “game-changer” for the industry and will deliver significant brand advertisers to digital.
Brand advertising is designed to raise awareness and change attitudes towards brands, rather than make direct sales. At present, many marketers believe that TV is a far more successful channel for brand campaigns than online. Tackling this perception head-on, Google has developed a range of measurement tools to prove to advertisers that digital platforms are the next big thing when it comes to brand advertising. Time will tell whether Google will be successful in its bid to coax more brands towards digital over the next year and beyond.
UK parody laws set to benefit YouTubers
A change to UK legislation came into effect last week that allows for the parody of copyright protected video, film and TV, without fear of reprisal.
Until now, YouTube users who created such videos risked legal penalties for violating copyright and could be made to remove their work if the owner of the source material objected to its use.
The new rules (an amendment to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988) give a greater degree of protection to “parody, caricature or pastiche” and their UK creators. However, the parodies in question must not compete with or damage the original work. For example, copyright holders can still file a claim against the use of the source material if it contains a dangerous or discriminatory message.
The change brings UK copyright standards in line with the rest of EU law.
Facebook announces strict research guidelines
In the wake of public anger over secret experiments by psychologists on its members, Facebook has set up a formal review process for pre-approving any future research.
With the Facebook emotions study (which looked at whether emotional manipulation in the News Feed could make people sad) turning into a PR disaster, the new policies include guidelines on what’s deemed unacceptable when it comes to research and employee training.
Facebook to launch friend-to-friend payments
In other Facebook news, rumours are rife that the social media giant is set to introduce a friend-to-friend payment system in Messenger.
With recently leaked screenshots fuelling speculation that mobile payments are pending, Facebook’s recent appointment of ex-PayPal president David Marcus as the head of its Messenger app appears to have been a strategic move.
It is as yet unclear whether Facebook intends to charge for the service. Facebook has so far declined to comment on the rumours.
WhatsApp deal sanctioned by European regulators
Facebook has finally received approval in Europe to acquire messaging app WhatsApp. In February this year Facebook announced that it was purchasing WhatsApp for $19 billion. However, the acquisition was thrown into question last month when European Union antitrust officials undertook an “unusual” level of interest in the deal, leading to speculation that the merger could be vulnerable.
The takeover has now secured European approval, with little concern that the move would hamper competition in this dynamic and growing market”.