Social

There is something peculiarly impressive about the video below of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, talking in Mandarin to students at Tsinghua University in Beijing. If nothing else, it shows a dedication to the country’s customs that very few foreign business leaders can match.

Mr Zuckerberg clearly has business motives for making the effort, in addition to his personal connections – Priscilla Chan, his wife, comes from a Chinese family and her mother speaks mostly Mandarin. Facebook is blocked in mainland China, along with other US internet companies, and wants restrictions to be loosened. 

Russian internet group Mail.ru has paid $1.47bn to acquire the 48 per cent of social media website VKontakte that it does not already own, ending a battle for ownership of Russia’s equivalent to Facebook. 

Buried under the avalanche of Apple announcements this week was the one that got the mobile operators pretty excited: an innovation that lets people use a WiFi connection rather than mobile signal to make calls.

On the face of it – like much of Apple’s news – it seems an old idea, with various services already on offer that allow people to make calls using WiFi. Three, the smallest UK mobile group, launched a service called InTouch this summer, while Telefonica’s O2 has offered TuGo for some time.

But, again like many of the advances unveiled this week, it is just being done better by the Cupertino-based technology group. 

Tim Bradshaw

Two experiments by Snapchat this week point the way towards the photo-sharing app’s first sources of income, almost nine months after it turned down Facebook’s $3bn acquisition offer

Robert Cookson

Facebook has created a new “missed call” product for advertisers in India, marking the first time that the social network has designed a special ad format for a single country.

When a mobile phone user clicks on one of the ads, it calls the advertiser and immediately hangs up. The advertiser returns the call with pre-recorded entertainment content and a marketing message – enabling the consumer to avoid paying data charges.

Facebook’s creation of a special ad product in India, where the company has more than 100m users, is part of a broader push to develop customised solutions across emerging markets

goog3

Smart watches, TVs and cars featured prominently on Wednesday as Google laid out its plans for pushing its Android smartphone software into new fields. At its annual I/O developer event in San Francisco, “wearables” had pride of place, with news that the first smartwatches based on Android Wear are now on sale – before Apple unveils its much-anticipated iWatch. With Android TV and Android Auto, on the other hand, Google was playing catch up with Apple. The event pointed to how the battle for the next big tech markets beyond the smartphone will be fought. Richard Waters and Tim Bradshaw were at the Moscone Center for this round. 

Tim Bradshaw

One of the dominant mantras in technology design these days is simplicity. From Apple’s Sir Jonathan Ive and his minimalist overhaul of iOS to the unbundling of Facebook’s “big blue app” into its smaller, faster components, smartphones are sweeping software to be ever simpler and sleeker.

For many people, most technology is still too complicated but those apps that do simplify tend to succeed. WhatsApp Messenger offers little more than basic text messaging, with none of the stickers or gimmicks of rival chat apps, and has amassed 500m users. Snapchat took out text altogether to allow people to communicate with just a photograph and three taps of the screen. 

Sarah Mishkin

with Nicole Bullock

China’s premier job-hunting site got an impressive raise in its first day as a public company in the US, as its stock closed up 8.5 per cent on their debut day of trading.

Zhaopin, whose name means “recruit,” is a LinkedIn-like site for professional networking and job seeking. Its shares closed at $14.65. It had priced its offering of 5.6m American depositary shares at $13.50 each – the middle of an indicated range of $12.50 to $14.50. That means it raised a total of about $76m, excluding an over allotment option. 

Tim Bradshaw

Snapchat’s best feature is not disappearing messages: it’s simplicity. Sending a picture message to a friend takes just five taps of a smartphone screen, including one to open the app. This immediacy is a big part of what makes the pictures feel more personal and fun than more traditional messaging apps.

Now, in the biggest changes the young start-up has yet made to its app, Snapchat is adding text messaging and video chat to the ephemeral photos that made it famous.