Facebook Blocks Millions of Photos From Instagram-Like App
Today in international tech news: A French developer, whose photo-sharing app is eerily similar to Instagram, thinks Facebook is unfairly excluding it; European telecommunications giants try to break up the Apple/Google smartphone stranglehold; and Huawei pulls even with longtime telecom equipment leader Ericsson.
Step aside, Google: Now it's Facebook's turn to take flak from France.
A few months back, France demanded that Google pay for displaying links to French media's news articles. Next, a French Internet service provider demanded that Google pay extra for bandwidth consumed by YouTube.
Now, in the most recent criticism of a U.S. Internet company, a French studio called Presslite claims that Facebook has unjustly banned members from using its Vintage Camera app.
The app, which has 8 million users worldwide and which provides effects to make pictures look older, has been blocked for what Facebook claims is "strong negative feedback," according to the BBC. Facebook also told Presslite that its app would not be restored on the social network.
Presslite, however, is convinced the move is bogus. Co-founder Antoine Morcos said that upon inspecting data provided from Facebook, he found there was only one negative comment for every 1,000 images shared.
The subplot to all this is Facebook's US$1 billion purchase of Instagram last May. Instagram is, like Vintage Camera, a photo-sharing app, and it also has a feature that makes photos look aged.
For what it's worth, Vintage Camera has a four-star average rating at the Apple Store, the BBC reported. However, some people have complained the app is too similar to Instagram.
Europe Targets Google/Apple Smartphone Stranglehold
European mobile companies have urged regulators to allow rival companies to consolidate in an attempt to break the smartphone monopolies held by Google and Apple, according to the Guardian.
At the Mobile World Congress on Monday in Barcelona, the UK's Vodafone, Spain's Telefonica and Italy's Telecom urged Europe to pass measures -- including lower taxes and granting spectrum licenses -- that would enable them to compete with Google and Apple. The European companies also reportedly want to "redraw the network map" and consolidate down to a few providers per country.
In what is described as "a belligerent call to arms," the CEO of Telefonica said that European telecommunications companies are investing too much in handsets and not enough in developing networks, the Guardian reported. Telefonica is backing a mobile operating system design by browser giant Mozilla.
Huawei Pulls Even With Ericsson
China's Huawei is challenging Ericsson's dominion over the global market for wireless network equipment, according to the New York Times.
Huawei has "pulled even" with Stockholm-based Ericsson, the Times reported.
It's true that each company is different; nearly half of Ericsson's sales come from managing wireless networks, while a big part of Huawei's business stems from smartphones and corporate communications grids.
Huawei's sales, however, have matched Ericsson's. While Ericsson had the first-mover advantage, Huawei's profits nonetheless spiked 33 percent last year. Ericsson's profits dropped more than 50 percent.
Huawei is not yet a player in the U.S., where last year a House Intelligence Committee alleged Huawei and fellow Chinese telecom ZTE were security threats. Those concerns resurfaced recently with the publication of a Mandiant report asserting that the Chinese military has long been hacking the U.S.; Huawei's founder is an ex-military officer.