Facebook's Latest Mobile Strategy: Dumbphones
Today in international tech news: Facebook will reportedly unveil plans to tap into markets relying on antiquated mobile technology. Also: China announces some concrete plans (and punishments) for its real-name registration plans; iTunes users in China are finding downloaded apps that they didn't actually download; and the UK expands its list of blocked file-sharing sites yet again.
In a nod to developing nations like India and Brazil, Facebook will unveil plans for "Facebook for Every Phone," which is designed to make Facebook accessible on technologically humble feature phones.
Facebook, which already boasts more than 1.1 billion users, now wants to target the 100 million people worldwide who access the site on feature phones -- dumbed-down devices that cost as little as US$20. iPhones, they ain't.
Feature phones are popular in India, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico, among others -- countries that are now viewed as the fastest-growing market for the Internet and social networks.
Last year, Facebook made tweaks to cater to iPhone and Android users, improving mobile access and introducing new advertising methods. Alas, iPhone- and Android-using countries already have extremely high Facebook penetration, leaving emerging markets as the new focal point.
Facebook spent an estimated $70 million to acquire Snaptu, an Israel-based company specializing in tailoring apps, including Facebook, for use on even the most basic mobile phones.
[Source: The New York Times]
China Releases Real-Name Registration Regulations
Starting Sept. 1, new fixed-line and mobile users in China will be required to provide real-name identification when signing up for online services, according to regulations announced by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
The regulations will require telecommunications operators to conduct annual reviews of registration data. Should the telecoms not carry out their end, they could face fines ranging from RMB 10,000 to RMB 30,000 (about $1,600 to $4,800) per offense.
China has been kicking around the real-name registration idea for a while, so this rollout comes as no shock.
[Source: Marbridge Consulting]
iTunes Users in China Find Loads of Apps They Didn't Download
Numerous iTunes users in China are reportedly finding apps downloaded to their iTunes accounts that they didn't actually download.
The undownloaded-yet-downloaded apps are primarily domestic mobile games. The phenomenon was first mentioned on a discussion forum called iApps. While the scope of the phenomenon is not clear, Chinese-language outlet Sina Tech says that it's not an isolated incident.
Editors at iApps claim that many of the downloaded items rank highly on Apple's China app chart, which, according to them, suggests that the so-called phantom downloads are the handiwork of an app promotion company that somehow wiggled into users' accounts.
Apple -- which is dealing with a Chinese PR mess that includes accusations of substandard service and, much worse, reports of iPhones electrocuting people -- did not immediately comment on the situation.
[Source: Tech In Asia ]
UK Expands Torrent Embargo
British Internet service providers have been ordered to block popular file-sharing and torrent sites EZTV and YIFY-Torrents.
The Motion Picture Association last month threatened legal action against EZTV unless it ceased operations. When it didn't, the movie industry group took to the courts, prompting a ruling that British ISPs must thwart access to EZTV and its file-sharing brethren YIFY-Torrents.
This decision comes less than a week after the English Premier League successfully blocked domestic access to one of the Web's top soccer streaming sites, FirstRow1.eu. The rapidly swelling list of blocked sites is sure to rile rights groups, who fear that British courts are too quick to heed requests from copyright owners.