Facebook said Wednesday that its stand-alone messaging app WhatsApp has reached the milestone of 2 billion global users.
Facebook renewed its commitment to securing the instant messaging service with end-to-end encryption, to protect its users in their private online communication.
"Strong encryption acts like an unbreakable digital lock that keeps the information you send over WhatsApp secure, helping protect you from hackers and criminals," Facebook said.
WhatsApp is the second social media platform in the world to cross the 2-billion threshold, after its parent company Facebook, which had 2.5 billion active users every month by the end of 2019.
Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 for 19 billion U.S. dollars, with the messaging app amassing 1 billion users in 2016, before the figure climbed to 1.5 billion two years later.
Organizers of the world's biggest mobile technology fair are pulling the plug over worries about the viral outbreak from China.
The annual Mobile World Congress will no longer be held as planned in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 24-27.
"Global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event," John Hoffman, head of the GSMA organizing body, said in a statement Wednesday.
The decision comes after dozens of tech companies and wireless carriers dropped out, with the latest cancelations by Nokia, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Britain's BT on Wednesday. Other companies that dropped out earlier include Ericsson, Nokia, Sony, Amazon, Intel and LG. The companies cited concerns for the safety of staff and visitors.
Organizers and government officials had sought to hold out against growing pressure to cancel the annual tech extravaganza, which had been expected to draw more than 100,000 visitors from about 200 countries, including 5,000 to 6,000 from China. The show normally represents a huge source of revenue for hotels, restaurants and taxi companies. Authorities have estimated the show was to generate 473 million euros ($516 million) and more than 14,000 part-time jobs for the local economy.
Spain's vice president, Carmen Calvo, said there was "no public health reason" to call off the show. She said Spain had a good health response system and was following all of the recommendations from the World Health Organization.
Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO's emergencies chief, said before the cancellation that the show could have gone on.
He said that while no mass gathering is ever risk-free, with the potential for food poisoning, injuries or building collapse, most events "can continue if the proper measures can be applied."
Spanish labor unions said that the show was called off due to the panic of the major technological companies. The CCOO union's regional leader, Javier Pacheco, denounced "the alarmist attitude of the technological companies that from their position of global supremacy don't care about the local impact."
But Tim Bajarin, president of consultancy Creative Strategies, said cancellation was prudent with all the unknowns surrounding how the new virus is spread and the fact that many companies had already pulled out.
These days, most big companies hold their own product launch events anyway, as Samsung did Tuesday in San Francisco. But Bajarin said Mobile World Congress was still an opportunity for many people in the mobile industry to meet in one place.
"It allowed for a lot of networking and business dealings, so in that context, it was a significant loss," he said.
The GSMA, the wireless trade body that organizes the fair, had said it was meeting regularly with global and Spanish health experts and its partners to ensure the well-being of attendees. It had already urged participants to avoid handshakes and planned to step up cleaning and disinfecting and make sure speakers don't use the same microphone.
Earlier Wednesday, Nokia said it had decided to withdraw "after a full assessment of the risks related to a fast-moving situation." The company said "the health and well-being of employees was a primary focus" and that canceling its involvement was a "prudent decision."
The departures of Nokia and Ericsson had left China's Huawei, a major sponsor of the fair, as the only remaining major network gear maker still planning to attend. But even Huawei was scaling back by assigning European staff to the show instead. Its chairman had planned to hold a media briefing by video because he wouldn't get to Spain with enough time to undergo a two-week self-quarantine period.
Organizers were caught between risking potential backlash over public health concerns if they went ahead or facing big financial losses if they canceled, said Stephen Mears, a research analyst at Futuresource Consulting.
Even before the cancellation, Mears said his five-person team was considering dropping out or shortening the trip as many participants they wanted to meet wouldn't be there, including those from China, which accounts for an increasing share of the global smartphone and mobile network industry.
"It's becoming less and less valuable for people like us to attend if we're not able to get meetings with the high-level executives," he said.
Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, said companies now have to figure out "the best way to salvage something from this difficult situation."
Randy Nelson, head of insights at mobile data firm Sensor Tower, said his company had planned on having a booth at Mobile World Congress. He said his firm expected to recoup the exhibiting fees since it hadn't pulled out, but had not heard from organizers yet.
While the cancellation was a disappointment, Nelson said, the work that went into planning for the show can still be useful for future events, including the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in March.
Chinese multinational company Vivo, has recently launched a campaign “Vivo Bhalobashay Falgun” on the Valentine’s day (February 14) along with ‘Pohela Falgun’ for its Bangladeshi Customers.
The offer is dedicated to the young generation who love to celebrate the special days with their loved ones.
This special offer campaign, will begin on February 13 and end on February 15 where the lucky winners will get couple dinner offer.
In order to avail the offer, customers’ need to come Vivo’s 4 Brand shop in Dhaka (Jamauna future Park, Banasree, Eastern Plaza and Tokyo square) and click couple photos on their Valentines booth. After that, customers will have to post it on campaign event’s facebook page from their own profile with required hastag #VivoBhalobashayFAlgun.
Selected 4 couple photos will be posted via a poll from the official Facebook page of Vivo and on the basis of highest votes two lucky winners will be declared on February 22 and they will have their winning dinner on the next day.
Detail information about the campaign will be available on the Vivo Bangladesh Facebook page.
The Gala Night of the third edition of Banglalink IT Incubator, an early-stage startup incubation programme launched by Banglalink in association with Bangladesh Hi-tech Park Authority (BHTPA) to facilitate digital entrepreneurship, was held in the capital on Tuesday.
The top seven participating digital startups selected for the 3rd Cohort of the program were announced at the grand ceremony. Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister, ICT division was present at the event as Chief Guest, said a press release.
N M Zeaul Alam, Senior Secretary, ICT DIvision, Erik Aas, Chief Executive Officer, Banglalink, Taimur Rahman, Chief Corporate & Regulatory Affairs Officer, Banglalink, Hosne Ara Begum, Managing Director, Bangladesh Hi-tech Park Authority and other high officials of the organizations were also present on the occasion.
Following a call for application in November 2019, promising digital startups applied for the programme through online submissions. The top seven startups - Save Up IT Ltd., Karukotha Software, Ghautaan, ANTT Robotics, Messbook, Off-shore and Booktionary.com - were selected based on the uniqueness, scalability, and effectiveness of their digital ideas.
They will be provided with infrastructural, logistic and mentoring support at IT Incubator located in Janata Tower, Kawran Bazar. Their initiatives are based on a digital directory of discount offers, e-commerce for craft artists, event-related skill sharing, STEM education promotion, residence management for students/bachelors, e-commerce connecting travelers with buyers and digital book exchange, respectively.
Banglalink also announced the names of the two startups - Teach It and EasySense – from the second batch, who got the opportunity to participate in the upcoming 4YFN (4 years from now) event at Mobile World Congress, where they will showcase their startups and pitch their ideas in front of international investors.
IT Incubator is a part of ‘Make Your Mark’, the flagship Corporate Responsibility program of Banglalink’s parent company VEON. The renowned global telecom operator is committed to facilitating the development of the IT sectors of all the societies around the world it operates in.
Speaking on the occasion, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister, ICT division said, “I feel really delighted to be with the talented young entrepreneurs, who made their way to this stage through their commitment, hard work and innovation. If we succeed to find out and empower such promising entrepreneurs, they will feel more encouraged to embark on new digital initiatives. Banglalink and my fellow colleagues from Bangladesh Hi-tech Park Authority truly deserve our appreciation for standing by the entrepreneurs and showing them the right direction.”
Erik Aas, Chief Executive Officer, Banglalink said, “We firmly believe that when such promising young entrepreneurs are provided with necessary guidance and assistance, they can contribute to building a prosperous Digital Bangladesh. Banglalink IT Incubator has turned out to be an exemplary digital platform helping many passionate entrepreneurs carry their initiatives forward. Banglalink will continue to support them as part of its pledge to play a leading role in expediting the development of the IT sector.”
Launched in July 2016, Banglalink IT Incubator was inaugurated by Sajeeb Wazed Joy, ICT Advisor to Prime Minister and Houlin Zhao, Secretary General, International Telecommunications Union. Banglalink IT Incubator has so far incubated 16 startups from its first two editions.
Samsung on Tuesday unveiled a new foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Flip, its second attempt to sell consumers on phones with bendable screens and clamshell designs.
The company announced the phone at the start of a product event in San Francisco. The new phone can unfold from a small square upward into a traditional smartphone form, and will go on sale Feb. 14 starting at $1,380.
Samsung's first foldable phone, the Galaxy Fold, finally went on sale last September after delays and reports of screens breaking. The Fold, which carries a price tag of nearly $2,000, folds at a vertical crease rather than horizontally as a flip-phone design would. Motorola has also taken the flip-phone approach with its new $1,500 Razr phone.
The foldable phones represent manufacturers' attempt to energize a market where sales have slowed. Many consumers are holding onto old phones longer, in part because new phone features offer increasingly marginal benefits. But these foldable models come with higher price tags and are likely to appeal for now mostly to tech enthusiasts and others at the forefront of technology.
For everyone else, Samsung offers its S series. As the 2020s kick off, the South Korean company showed off the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ultra at an event in San Francisco, skipping directly to the 20s from its S10 series.
The S20 phones are designed to take high-quality pictures in dark settings, Samsung product manager Mark Holloway said. The phones can take both video and photos at the same time, using artificial intelligence to zero in on the best moments to capture the still images.
Samsung's renewed focus on the camera follows Apple, whose iPhone 11 phones last fall offered an additional lens for wider-angle shots and combined multiple shots with software to improve low-light images. Google's Pixel phones also offer a similar low-light feature.
Samsung's S phones already offer the wider angle and some features for low-lighting — but Samsung says the new phones will focus on high-resolution photos and the ability to zoom in 30 to 100 times, depending on the model.
The S20 phones are expected to come out in March. Samsung didn't immediately announce prices. Last year's main S10 model went for $900 in the U.S. at launch. For all models, Samsung plans to make versions compatible with next-generation cellular networks, known as 5G, though it's still an early technology that consumers typically won't need yet.
As people packed into San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts for Samsung's launch event, they passed a team taking remote temperatures in the security line, likely a precaution to check for the coronavirus. Samsung also offered hand sanitizer stations and face masks inside the event lobby.