Internet

The BBC thinks its iPlayer service is “the best online television service in the world” – a platform so good that it’s the envy of Silicon Valley. So will Apple and Google be impressed by the platform’s latest redesign, unveiled in London on Tuesday?

This is a crucial time for the iPlayer: it will soon become the only home of BBC Three, the off-beat channel which is being taken off air to save costs. Tony Hall, the BBC’s director-general, wants the platform to be the “front door” to all the broadcaster’s content.

So what’s on offer in the new version? Read more

Almost five years after launching, crowd-funding platform Kickstarter has received pledges worth $1bn. Half of the money has apparently been in the past twelve months (see chart below).

If Kickstarter were a venture fund, it would be a fairly significant player. So how exactly has humanity been enriched, for its money? Read more

News that Sina has hired Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse to help spin off its Twitter-like Weibo service means it is the latest communications tool – after the acquisitions of chat apps WhatsApp and Viber – that investors will be asked put a value on.

Details about the potential New York IPO remain scant, other than that it could value Weibo at more than $5bn. The FT’s Lex has posed some probing questions about the floatation (i.e. Why?) but here are a few more. Read more

Is $19bn a lot of money? It certainly sounds like it – that’s what Facebook thought WhatsApp was worth when it scooped up the messaging app on Wednesday.

The fate of social networks depends on being able to turn huge pools of users into a source of cash. So one way to assess whether Mark Zuckerberg got value for money is to look at how much he paid per WhatsApp user compared with the price of each person in other networks: Read more

Sirgoo Lee, chief executive of the South Korean mobile messaging company Kakao, chuckles when asked about Facebook’s acquisition of rival WhatsApp for $19bn. “All I can say is that’s a lot of money,” he says.

While it has a strong presence in India and Hong Kong, WhatsApp is a marginal player in many parts of Asia writes Simon Mundy. Kakao, Japan-based LINE and China-headquartered WeChat dominate mobile messaging in their respective home territories, and are fighting for control of the market in southeast Asia. The Japanese internet company Rakuten, meanwhile, last month spent $900m on Viber, an Israeli company that provides similar free calling and messaging services. Read more

Payments start-up Stripe is betting that retailers will leap at the chance to sell to an international audience, if only a company like Stripe were there to make it easier.

The company, run by Irish brothers John and Patrick Collison, is launching a feature allowing sellers who use its platform to price their goods in more than 130 currencies. Stripe takes a fee for the conversion, but handles the paperwork and bank transfers that can make cross-currency a hassle. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Expectations were running high ahead of Twitter’s maiden earnings as a public company – its stock had risen by almost 50 per cent since November’s IPO.
But investors got the jitters when they saw slowing growth in user numbers and engagement rates in the fourth quarter of 2013, feeding their fears that Twitter might be a niche product which the mass market will never understand. Dick Costolo, chief executive, stressed this was a problem they had always known about and had a plan to fix. Nonetheless, shareholders were not comforted, sending Twitter shares down almost 18 per cent in after-hours trading.
In this liveblog, Hannah Kuchler and Tim Bradshaw covered reaction and live commentary from the conference call.  

A British tech entrepreneur has had his vision backed by a further $20.7m of US money, writes Andrew Bounds. Dan Wagner’s Powa group is developing a “revolutionary” ecommerce system that will allow customers to buy and order a product by photographing it with a smartphone.

PowaTag has attracted $96.5m in total, mainly from Boston-based fund Wellington Management, for around a quarter of the business. Read more

Richard Waters

Like any widely hyped online phenomenon, Moocs – massive open online courses – are facing a reality-test.

Hardly anyone who starts one of the online courses actually finishes it. But even if the formula is being rethought, the potential impact on education hasn’t diminished. Read more

Are we seeing the emergence of a grand alliance between Google and Samsung for Android mobile devices, similar to the Microsoft-Intel alliance for Windows personal computers? It looks like that from events this week:

 Read more