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Google Maps Rolls Out Location Sharing
Google Maps users will now have the ability to share their location with family and friends. According to a blog post from Daniel Resnick, Google’s engineering manager, the feature will roll out soon worldwide, and will be available on both Android and iPhone iOS, as well as on the mobile web and desktop version of Maps. Apple provides a similar service through Apple Maps, Find My Friends and Messages, but it does not allow for users to track contacts on a map in real time.
Samsung Pay Makes It to India
South Korea-based electronics manufacturer Samsung launched its digital payments service, Samsung Pay, in India this week. Samsung Pay works with both near field communication (NFC) technology found in new payment terminals and with older magnetic stripe reader terminals. India is the 12th market where Samsung Pay is now available.
WeChat Parent Tencent Posts $21.9 Billion in Revenues for 2016
China’s Tencent reported that it had generated RMB151.9 billion ($21.9 billion) in revenues for 2016, an increase of 48% from 2015. The company gets most of its press attention for owning the popular messaging platform WeChat, but its ownership of popular mobile games like Supercell has been a strong driver of revenues. Tencent plans to grow its digital payments service, as well as its advertising business. eMarketer estimates Tencent will account for 12.0% of net digital ad revenue share in China this year, behind Alibaba and Baidu.
Digital Sales of Prescription Drugs Imperiled in Germany
Germany’s Ministry of Health has drafted a bill prohibiting online sales of prescription medicines, according to ECB - Der E-Commerce Blog. The move comes at the behest of brick-and-mortar pharmacies in Germany, which unlike ecommerce sites, must sell prescription drugs at prices fixed by the government. According to EU law, international mail order or ecommerce companies are not required to adhere to German government-mandated prices for drugs.
Baidu’s Chief Scientist Resigns in Blow to AI Efforts
Andrew Ng, chief scientist at China-based search engine Baidu, announced his resignation, effective next month, in a setback to the company’s efforts to expand into artificial intelligence (AI). Baidu’s search engine revenues declined following a 2016 scandal in which a student with cancer died after using an experimental treatment he discovered through a search ad on the company’s service. Since then, Baidu has made investments in sectors like AI as it attempts to diversify.
Free Mobile Subscribers in France Get Unlimited Data
France-based ISP and mobile service provider Free has unveiled an unlimited 4G mobile data plan for customers who also subscribe to its Freebox home internet service, according to LSA. The company is touting the deal, which costs €15.99 ($17.69) a month, as a first for France.
Lazada Singapore Brings Alibaba’s Taobao to the City-State
Lazada Singapore and its parent company Alibaba are pairing up to bring vendors in China from the Taobao Marketplace to consumers in the city-state. As part of the effort, Lazada is launching a new website connecting consumers in Singapore directly to Taobao. Alibaba acquired Lazada in 2016 and has been forging new initiatives with the company designed to expand its presence in markets in Southeast Asia.
But wait, there’s more!
—Cliff Annicelli, Rahul Chadha, Rebecca Chadwick, Rimma Kats
US paid media ad spending will grow steadily in 2017, on the heels of a strong 2016 boosted by the Rio Olympics and the presidential election. A focus on mobile will fuel growth, pushing total media spend to more than $206 billion this year—a moderate increase of 6.1%.
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