Today in Tech News Digest, Facebook splashes the cash buying WhatsApp, the FCC responds to the loss of ‘net neutrality’, SkyDrive becomes OneDrive, Yahoo wants its own Siri, Apple is interested in Tesla, and Samsung mocks Apple in its latest set of television commercials.
Facebook Buys WhatsApp For $19 Billion
Facebook has acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion; $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in Facebook shares, and $3 billion in restricted stock. This deal makes the acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion look piffling in comparison.
Facebook has promised not to destroy what has made WhatsApp so popular, so its “brand will be maintained” and its “core messaging product” will continue to operate as a standalone application alongside Facebook’s own offering. WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum will also join Facebook’s board of directors.
WhatsApp has more than 450 million active users, and is growing at a rate of 1 million new users every day. Those users are also highly engaged, with 72 percent of them using WhatsApp on a daily basis. Even so, $16 billion is a huge amount of money, representing 10 percent of Facebook’s total market cap of $170 billion at the time of writing.
So, it’s a risky purchase, but one which Mark Zuckerberg and co. clearly think is worth it. Users shouldn’t notice any change in service or a sudden influx of advertising. We hope. And if this turns out not to be the case then Facebook will have some nasty hate mail to deal with.
FCC Not Appealing Over Net Neutrality
Cue The Hyperbole And Hysteria: FCC Outlines Timid, Murky Plan To (Maybe) Defend Net… http://t.co/toKhereCXG
— techdirt (@techdirt) February 19, 2014
Proponents of net neutrality suffered a loss in January when the core tenets of the FCC’s Open Internet Order were rejected by an appeals court in Washington. And it looks as though it’s going to be a hard slog getting the concept of net neutrality accepted as law.
Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has issued a statement outlining his position on the ruling. The FCC will not appeal the court decision, but will instead focus on “proposing rules that will meet the court’s test for preventing improper blocking of and discrimination among Internet traffic,” and “identifying key behaviors by broadband providers … on a case-by-case basis.”
These are just meaningless words at the moment, when many are arguing that what’s really needed is serious action. What’s clear is that while net neutrality isn’t dead, it’s certainly been badly wounded.
SkyDrive Becomes OneDrive
SkyDrive has now become OneDrive, with Microsoft completing the change announced at the end of January. The change of name, from a boring one to an even more boring one, happened as a result of a legal challenge by BSkyB. Those following a special link from our original news story can try to get 20GB of storage space free for one year.
Yahoo Developing “Smarter Siri”
Siri, can you make the pain go away?
— Diane in 7A (@Diane_7A) February 19, 2014
Yahoo wants to build its own version of Siri, and it has given Carnegie Mellon University $10 million to make it happen. The five-year-project titled InMind will see researchers developing new applications for Yahoo’s existing services, with “rudimentary conversation” being the main focus of the research.
Ron Brachman, head of Yahoo Labs, told MIT Technology Review that “although Apple’s personal assistant is impressive, it doesn’t attempt to understand the context in which it is being asked a question: it doesn’t understand what the user is doing or might need at the moment.”
In other, completely unrelated news, have you seen Her by Spike Jonze yet? We suspect someone at Yahoo has seen it. And it has given them big ideas.
Tesla & Apple Had “Conversations”
There was recently a ton of speculation about some kind of deal between Apple and Tesla being in the works. But it seemed to be pure conjecture. Thankfully, Tesla CEO Elon Musk isn’t one to shirk away from the public eye, and revealed the truth in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
As reported by MacRumors, Musk stated, “If one or more companies had approached us last year about such things there’s no way we could really comment on that. We had conversations with Apple, I can’t comment on whether those revolved around any kind of acquisition.” Not that this will kill the rumors of an impending acquisition; see tweet above.
Samsung Mocks Apple In New Ads
And finally, Samsung has once more resorted to its favorite form of advertising, which is to mock Apple in order to sell its own products. The ad above mocks Apple’s own commercial for the iPad Air, while the one below condemns the iPhone 5s because of its screen size and lack of HD display.
These commercials are comical but not particularly clever. And they demonstrate just how similar Samsung’s phones and tablets look to Apple’s own phones and tablets. Which surely isn’t a strong selling point.
Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks.
Image Credit: Jan Persiel