Chinese Chat App Exposes Kids to Prostitutes
Today in international tech news: Surveys show that a Chinese messaging app is exposing children to prostitutes. Also: Venezuela asks for Twitter's help in the nation's crusade against black-market dollar exchange; Google China reportedly tried to purchase the "Chinese Yelp" back in 2007; Ericsson strikes a massive deal with China Mobile; Alibaba gives away smartphones to bolster m-commerce; and Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's handset division is OK'd by shareholders.
China's massively popular WeChat messaging app has exposed school students to prostitutes through its "People Nearby" feature, which is sometimes used by prostitutes as a form of, shall we say, mobile advertising.
A survey among students, conducted in a handful of major Chinese cities, found that the kids had indeed come across prostitutes' accounts when firing up the People Nearby function, according to state television channel CCTV.
CCTV journalists said they reported six of the scandalous accounts to Tencent, the maker of WeChat, but that the accounts remained active when the program ran.
[Source: CCTV via Tech In Asia]
Venezuela Asks Twitter to Help Curb Black Market for Dollars
Having already asked Internet service providers to block websites publishing the black market exchange rate for dollars, Venezuela on Tuesday asked Twitter to block accounts that are linked to such websites.
Following the ISP block, some Twitter accounts have been shooting out links to alternative, thus-far-unblocked sites. The nation's telecommunications agency told Twitter that the company was enabling "a situation that is seriously damaging to the Venezuelan economy." Twitter had no immediate comment.
The black market rate for dollars is more than nine times higher than the official rate.
Ericsson Strikes Deal With China Mobile
Sweden-based telecommunications company Ericsson has reportedly inked a deal with China Mobile to deploy LTE TDD, a variant of the LTE standard currently used widely in China, in 15 Chinese provinces.
Ericsson will provide radio access network technology as well as Evolved Packet Core technology. Ericsson will also expand China Mobile's core networks.
The 15 provinces covered in the deal house 63 percent of China's population. China Mobile is the world's largest mobile operator.
[Source: The Register]
'Chinese Yelp' Turned Down Google China
Sometimes called the "Yelp of China," restaurant review platform Dianping reportedly turned down an acquisition offer from Google China in 2007.
The attempted acquisition, apparently announced for the first time at the recent TechCrunch/Technode event in Shanghai, was for less than US$100 million.
Google pulled its search engine from China in 2010. Nowadays, Baidu holds a 60-plus percent share of the search market -- although competitors are lurking.
Alibaba Giving Away Smartphones
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has launched an investment program that includes giving away smartphones.
In an effort to shore up the mobile market, e-tailers are being courted with data analysis tools; guides on how to set up online stores for mobile devices; and, yes, a free smartphone for every subscriber running Alibaba's mobile operating system.
So-called "m-commerce" is booming in China. For example, during the nation's annual online shopping orgy, held on November 11, about 21 percent of transactions were completed on mobile devices; in 2012, that number was just 5 percent.
Nokia Shareholders OK Microsoft Purchase
Nokia shareholders on Tuesday formally (and overwhelmingly) approved the sale of the company's handset business to Microsoft for a cool $7.2 billion.
Microsoft is expected to take control of the Finnish company's cellphone division -- which sold nearly 65 million phones in the third quarter of this year -- in early 2014.
[Source: The New York Times]