Rather than forging a unified front, Facebook appears to taking a divide-and-conquer approach to mobile. “Through a talk with Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and its Messenger team in November, a strategy to make the social network feel lean across devices came into focus,” TechCrunch reports. To date, “Facebook has struggled to adapt its busy web site to the small screen.” Now, however, “Facebook plans to conquer mobile one app at a time.”
Riding the failure of Mahalo (because of investor money left over from that venture), Jason Calacanis is preparing to launch his next project: Inside, a mobile-first service that will summarize news stories in 300 characters or less. “Calacanis is positioning [Inside] as novel,” ReCode writes. “But it has lots of competition, since news summaries and aggregation are a well-established business on the Web -- and indeed, are a very old idea in mass media, period.”
At Apple’s expense, Android’s share of smartphone sales rose in every major market during the fourth quarter of 2013, according to new data from Kantar Worldpanel. Google’s mobile operating system now accounts for 69.5% of all worldwide sales across 12 key markets, compared to Apple’s 23.7% share, WPP’s research arm reports. “In the U.S., Apple lost nearly 6% of sales compared to a year ago,” TechCrunch notes.
Google is calling bull on reports that it charges manufacturers a per-device fee to have access to Google Mobile Services. “The earlier report from The Guardian claimed that sources said Google was charging around 75 cents per device or $75k per 100,000 units for a GMS license,” 9To5Google reports. Yet, “Google told us that it does not charge licensing fees for Google Mobile Services.”
IPhone users love their data. Indeed, consistent with previous findings, a new report from JDSU shows that mobile subscribers using Apple’s flagship smartphone gobbled up a ton of data, in 2013. “And they’re getting hungrier still,” TechCrunch reports. “Users of the new iPhone 5s are even more data-hungry than previous top-of-the-line iPhone owners -- with the study describing them as the most voracious smartphone users it’s yet seen, with ‘unprecedented increases in uplink and downlink data demands.’”
Trove -- an iOS app that delivers personalized news to readers based on hand-picked content from human curators (the thought!) -- is expected to launch on Wednesday. The man behind Trove is Vijay Ravindran -- Chief Digital Officer of Graham Holdings and former head of the Washington Post’s WaPo Labs team. “We want people who share your interests to be picking the best news for you, rather than getting it from some faceless algorithm,” Ravindran tells Recode.
Accelerating its digital video strategy, Verizon is buying Intel’s Web TV business, the carrier revealed in its just-released fourth quarter earnings report. And, GigaOm thinks it knows why. “Verizon’s purchase of the Intel Media assets is a fascinating story of a company that was ready to give up on TV -- until it abruptly changed course to turn on one of its former partners [Comcast] and take on one of the biggest players in the industry [again, Comcast].”
When Apple reports earnings a week from Monday, the smart money expects the company to report unit sales of 55.3 million iPhones -- up 16% year-over-year. That’s the average estimate from 44 individuals analysts surveyed by Fortune. “The gap between the highest individual estimate and lowest is 9.7 million,” it reports. “A year ago, the gap between high and low was almost 20 million.”
Facebook is reportedly ready to unveil its mobile-first news reading service. Named, “Paper,” the product “is similar to Flipboard, a buzzy mobile-focused news reading app,” Re/Code reports, citing sources. “The product is part of a multi-year effort from the team behind the News Feed … The entire project is known as Project Reader, according to five sources familiar with the matter, spearheaded by Chris Cox, Facebook’s vice president of product.”
First Opinion, maker of an app that lets users text directly with doctors and other healthcare professions, just raised $1.2 million led by Greylock, Yuri Milner and Felicis Ventures. “After the first chat, the user will hit a paywall, where they’ll be asked to pay First Opinion’s subscription fee of $9/month,” TechCrunch reports. “By paying the subscription fee, they’ll be able to have unlimited access to their First Opinion doc.”