WhatsApp introduces private and secure calling from the desktop

WhatsApp introduces private and secure calling from the desktop
WhatsApp introduces private and secure calling from the desktop

KARACHI – WhatsApp has announced that private and secure one-to-one voice and video calls are now available on WhatsApp’s desktop app.

As per a blog on WhatsApp’s official website, they stated “Throughout the last year we’ve seen significant increases in people calling one another on WhatsApp, often for long conversations. Last New Year’s Eve, we broke the record for the most calls ever made in a single day with 1.4 billion voice and video calls. With so many people still apart from their loved ones, and adjusting to new ways of working, we want conversations on WhatsApp to feel as close to in-person as possible, regardless of where you are in the world or the tech you’re using.”

Answering on a bigger screen makes it easier to work with colleagues, see your family more clearly on a bigger canvas, or free up your hands to move around a room while talking. To make desktop calling more useful, it has been made sure it works seamlessly for both portrait and landscape orientation, appears in a resizable standalone window on your computer screen, and is set to be always on top so users never lose video chats in a browser tab or stack of open windows.

Voice and video calls on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted, so WhatsApp can’t hear or see them, whether you call from your phone or your computer. The feature is starting with one-to-one calls on the WhatsApp desktop app to make sure users get a reliable and high-quality experience. The feature will be expanding to include group voice and video calls in the future.

You can read more, including how to download the desktop app on Windows PC and Mac here: https://faq.whatsapp.com/web/voice-and-video-calls/about-desktop-calling

Facebook hosts Discover Ramadan 2021 virtually

Facebook hosts Discover Ramadan 2021 virtually
Facebook hosts Discover Ramadan 2021 virtually

KARACHI – Facebook hosted a virtual event for Pakistani businesses to share insights and key findings regarding Ramadan shopper behavior and trends, as these businesses initiate the planning of their respective campaigns. These insights were shared from a report Facebook commissioned from YouGov, to help advertisers gain a better understanding of their target audience.

The event consisted of four sessions altogether:

Discover Ramadan Marketing Insights: Facebook shared six key insights into Ramadan shopper behavior and trends in Pakistan, as well as tips on how Facebook solutions can help businesses uncover growth during this period. The six key insights shared were

Social conscience drives support for local communities. 68% of survey respondents in Pakistan believe brands should find ways of giving back to consumers and the community (especially during the ongoing crisis), whereas 54% become more interested in a brand or product after learning about their business practices.

Unity through technology; mobile empowers family connection. Among the majority of Ramadan observers/shoppers surveyed in Pakistan, 75% agreed that their mobile phone is an important source of entertainment and reflection during the season, and 72% agreed their mobile helped them get things done during spare moments in Ramadan.

Creators offer a new source of credibility. 86% of survey respondents in Pakistan said they follow public figures on social media, and 58% agreed that they follow public figures on social media as a great way to discover new trends.

Demand for safety drives mobile shopping. 59% of survey respondents in Pakistan said they use mobile for Ramadan/Eid shopping because it’s safer than going to a store, and

81% used mobile to research what to buy.

Continuous shopping results in a surprising second shopping peak.

The weeks leading up to Ramadan are traditionally seen as the main shopping moment, but there’s now a surprising second shopping peak. Most shopping happens at the end of Ramadan. Only 18% of survey respondents in Pakistan said that they have completed shopping by the time Ramadan begins, whereas 31% of shoppers said they do most of their shopping during Ramadan month.

Price sensitivity elevates anticipation for mega sales. Shoppers are increasingly priced sensitive and look to Facebook for deals and inspiration. 61% of survey respondents in Pakistan said it’s more difficult to afford products and 71% said they look out for bargains during Ramadan/Eid, while 56% of people said they use Facebook platforms to shop for themselves or others.

Discover Creative Inspiration 

Dial Zero Creative Shop and L’Oreal shared tips and tricks on how brands can level up their creative game for Ramadan campaigns.

Discover New Demand

ADEX360 shared how they are working with fashion retailers like Limelight to create opportunities for discovery across the consumer journey, from inspiration to purchase.

Discover Branded Content 

Content creators Faiza Saleem and Danish Ali shared insights on creating impactful branded content this Ramadan.

The event concluded with a Q&A between the attendees and speakers. The sessions were led by Ali Khurshid Ahmed (Partner Manager, Facebook), Nazia Siddiqui (Group Product Manager, L’oreal Pakistan), Zain Hameed (CEO, ADEX360), Saher Ahmed Khan (Creative Director, Dial Zero), and content creators and social media influencers Faiza Saleem and Danish Ali.

“2020 was a unique year for the world and changed how we navigate through everything including the month of Ramadan, which holds a lot of significance for Muslims around the world. It is a time when people want to connect more with their loved ones, and also take care of the community around them. The spirit of this month teaches us to be mindful and generous in all aspects of life.

We at Facebook felt it is important to derive learnings from last year, to help our brand partners stay ahead, and embrace the full opportunities of this important season. Furthermore, it is also a great time for brands to strengthen their relationship with their customers by highlighting their core values. We are grateful to all our partners for this session who took the time out to join this conversation, and share insights from their own experiences.” stated Jordi Fornies, Director Emerging Markets APAC, Facebook.

“As Facebook’s Authorized Sales Partner in Pakistan, our goal is to ensure advertisers are provided with the best solutions to reach out to their target audience. With Ramadan coming up, Facebook has shared unique insights about shopper behavior and trends observed last year, so that brands can take these into account when planning their upcoming campaigns. The goal is to not just unlock growth, but also bridge the gap and build a meaningful relationship between brands and their customer base.” shared Zameer Qureshi, CEO, Dial Zero.

Netflix’s big 4Q lifts video service above 200M subscribers

Netflix's big 4Q lifts video service above 200M subscribers
Netflix's big 4Q lifts video service above 200M subscribers

SAN RAMON, Calif — Netflix’s video streaming service has surpassed 200 million subscribers for the first time as its expanding line-up of TV series and movies continues to captivate people stuck at home during the ongoing battle against the pandemic.

The subscriber milestone highlighted Netflix’s fourth-quarter results released Tuesday. The service added another 8.5 million subscribers during the October-December period, capping Netflix’s biggest year since its inception as a DVD-by-mail service in 1997. Netflix ended the year with nearly 204 million worldwide subscribers.

The fourth-quarter gains easily topped the projections of the roughly 6 million additional subscribers projected by Netflix’s own management and Wall Street analysts, even as the company began rolling out price increases of 8% to 13% in the U.S. Netflix’s stock surged by more than 12% extended trading after the latest subscriber numbers came out.

After upending the DVD-rental industry, Netflix introduced the then-revolutionary concept of streaming TV shows and films 14 years ago. At that time, its service had a mere 6 million subscribers.

The streaming service began to grow rapidly seven years ago when Netflix started producing its own shows and accelerated a worldwide expansion that now spans more than 190 countries. Since the February 2013 debut of its first original series, “House of Cards,” Netflix has attracted more than 170 million additional subscribers.

Netflix gained another 37 million subscribers last year, a 22% increase from 2019. Its stock fared even better, rising by 67% last year. The Los Gatos, California, company now boasts a market value of more than $220 billion.

For all its success, Netflix still faces challenges in the coming years from bevvy of deep-pocketed rivals, with perhaps the most formidable posed by a more experienced and even larger entertainment company: Walt Disney Co.

After deciding to stop licensing its library to Netflix, Disney introduced its own video streaming service 14 months ago. The service, Disney Plus, has proved far more popular than anyone imagined, accumulating nearly 90 million subscribers in its first year, emboldening the company’s management to predict that it will boast as many as 260 million subscribers at some point in 2024.

“It is super impressive what Disney has done,” Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings said in Tuesday video discussion with investors. “It gets us fired up about increasing our membership and increasing our content production.”

To retain and attract subscribers, Netflix already had been spending so much money on original programming that the company usually ends up shovelling out more cash than its video services brings in from its subscribers, although it has remained profitable under the accounting standards allowed in the entertainment industry.

The company earned $542.2 million on revenue of $6.64 billion in the fourth quarter, a relatively thin profit margin.

But Netflix finally stopped burning through cash last year, largely because government restrictions imposed during the pandemic curtailed the production of programming. Netflix posted a positive cash flow of $1.9 billion during 2020, the first time that has the company hasn’t had a negative cash flow for an entire year since 2011.

In another breakthrough, Netflix predicted it will no longer need to raise additional cash from lenders to help finance its original-programming budget. The company said it doesn’t expect to experience the same drain on its cash as it has for most of the past decade, even as it ramps up production of its original programming again and gears up to release at least one original film per week on its service throughout this year.

WhatsApp new feature will let you shop directly from chats

WhatsApp new feature will let you shop directly from chats
WhatsApp new feature will let you shop directly from chats

Facebook – the social media company wants more people to shop in WhatsApp. In a future update, the company plans to expand the in-app shopping features in its messaging app to give users more ways to buy products directly from chats.

The statement given by Facebook lacks details; however, a promotional video shows how such a transaction might go down. For instance, a user messages a business company, which can reply with a link to a product catalog. The shopper can then add items to their carts and checkout from the app.

WhatsApp has had a catalog feature in the past, but it was more limited in comparison to what Facebook’s preview is suggesting. The social network has been making changes to expand its shopping features across its apps, which can be seen in a recent launch – Facebook Shops. This allows a business to create this kind of product catalog then work across Facebook and Instagram. So it’s inevitable the company would want to integrate a similar feature in WhatsApp.

It’s safe to assume that these transactions would use Facebook Pay, which the company began testing with WhatsApp in Brazil earlier this year. However, the program was interrupted after the Country’s Central Bank took issue with it. But the company says it has plans to bring payments to all its users in the future.

TikTok and Oracle to become business partners in the US

TikTok and Oracle to become business partners in the US
TikTok and Oracle to become business partners in the US

TikTok – a top-rated video-sharing application has been a victim of numerous plot twists since August. President Donald Trump announced an executive order in August to ban the social media application over privacy concerns and its Chinese ownership unless TikTok was to be selling its US operations to an American company by September 20.

Microsoft was seen amongst the potential bidders for this application owned by Byte Dance. However, it is widely reported that TikTok has chosen Oracle over Microsoft to take over its US operations. The co-founders and CEO of Oracle both happen to be open supporters of Trumps’. But there’s an unexpected development – Oracle has instead offered TikTok to buy their rights to take over their US data operations, which Trump opposed when Microsoft has a similar plan, making the situation complicated.

As of Monday morning, Oracle stated, “Oracle confirms Secretary Mnuchin’s statement that it is part of the proposal submitted by ByteDance to the Treasury Department over the weekend in which Oracle will serve as the trusted technology provider. Oracle has a 40-year record providing secure, highly performant technology situations.”

In light of Oracle’s proposal, many questions are being raised as to why President Trump, in the first place, pressured TikTok to sell its operations in the US. It also raises confusion regarding whether the new proposal will address the security concerns that attracted the legislation to ban the application in the first place and if it will change how TikTok operates.

Former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos posted on Twitter, “A deal where Oracle takes over hosting without source code, and significant operational changes would not address any of the legitimate concerns about TikTok.” According to the Financial Times, crucial details are still being determined, and the President has yet to formally approve and announce the deal.