Twitch has seen its monthly unique viewership surge more than 100% over the year year — from 45 million to around 100 million — Re/Code reports. And no one’s happier with the numbers than Amazon CEO Jeff Bazos, who decided to buy the videogame streaming site last year for about $1 billion. “Notably, viewership appears to be growing faster than the number of ‘broadcasters’ -- folks pushing out video -- on the site,” Re/Code notes.
Worldwide, smartphone shipments grew 30% over the past year — which translates to about 1.3 billion units — according to new data from Strategy Analytics. “Android accounted for 81% of all smartphones last year and shipped over 1 billion units worldwide for the first time ever,” it reports. “Emerging markets, such as China and Indonesia, drove the industry’s growth last year and they will continue to do so through 2015.”
Upon its launch earlier this week, Snapchat described its new Discover service as a way for media brands to streamline their posts on the platform. Yet, Michael Sippy, former VP of product at Twitter, thinks Discover has big implications for developers. “Discover may look like content distribution, but instead of ‘publisher’ think ‘developer,’ and instead of ‘channel’ think ‘app,’” Sippy suggests in a Medium post. In other words, Sippy is proposing that Snapchat might have just launched an app platform.
Samsung this week reported its fourth straight drop in quarterly earnings, while, profit dropped 27% to $4.9 billion. Still, “The company's fourth-quarter net income beat forecasts, mainly thanks to the solid performance of its component businesses, such as memory chips and display panels,” The Associated Press reports. “The semiconductor division was a key cash cow generating about half of Samsung's quarterly operating income.” Regarding of analyst expectations, Samsung’s weak performance stands in stark contrast to that of rival Apple, which just posted the strongest quarter of any U.S. corporation in history.
Guess iPhones should have gone bigger sooner. After years spent in second place, Apple is now virtually tied with Samsung in terms of global smartphone sales, Re/Code reports. “Samsung’s smartphone sales over the holidays fell somewhere between 71 and 75 million -- putting it roughly on par with Apple, which sold a record 74.5 million iPhones over the same period.” Apple’s recent gains are largely to the success if its latest line of iPhones, which boast bigger screens.
The Snowpocalypse of 2015 might have failed to meet expectations, but it was enough to temporality take down Facebook and Instagram. “All those carefully crafted images of snowscapes will have to stay locked up for a bit, East Coasters, because Facebook and Instagram are down,” GigaOm reported at around 10 p.m., on Monday night. No word on what caused the social blackout, but, for many users, service was restored about an hour later. As a relieved GigaOm wrote: “Our brief Facebook-related national nightmare appears to be over.”
Despite all the early obituaries, Groupon is still kicking. “The company currently has a market cap of $4.9 billion, which is higher than it ever was valued by venture capitalists,” Fortune reports. Sure, that’s less that the $6 billion Google was willing to pay for Groupon in 2010, but, “its revenue and EBITDA have consistently climbed in each year since going public, and there is plenty of cash on hand without a single cent of debt.”
The New York Times takes on mobile supercookies, which, unlike your average data-tracking cookie, can’t be easily erased. The computer codes that Verizon Wireless uses to tag and track the activity of its subscribers are particularly problematic, NYT reports. “The company’s customer codes … have troubled some data security and privacy experts who say Verizon has introduced a persistent, hidden tracking mechanism into apps and browsers that third parties could easily exploit.”
Bill and Melinda Gates are pretty excited about mobile technology and its potential to improve the lives of people in developing countries. In their annual letter, their “big bet” is that “the lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history” — and they’re betting on smartphones to facilitate much of the change. “They point in particular to the spread of mobile banking and education,” GeekWire reports.
The New York Times’ Nick Bilton checks in on the state of in-flight Wi-Fi -- and it’s not good. “I’ve finally found something on commercial flights that’s worse than airplane food: the Wi-Fi,” Bilton writes. “It’s so slow and unreliable that it shouldn’t be allowed to call itself ‘Wi-Fi.’ Renaming it Airplane Dial-Up would be unfair to dial-up.” Adding insult to injury, the prices are insane. Virgin America, for example, charges $34 for a little Wi-Fi, which, as Bilton notes, “is more expensive than an entire month of unlimited data on my cellphone.”