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Recommended Reading: March 6, 2017

eMarketer’s scan of the key developments of the day, plus data to make sense of it all

March 6, 2017

Facebook’s Video Programming Plans

Facebook is beginning to solicit pitches for TV-like programming, The Wall Street Journal reports. The social media giant is looking at a variety of genres, including sports, science and pop culture. Facebook is “mainly interested in weekly series, with episodes lasting up to 30 minutes.”

Alibaba Invests $177 Million in India’s Paytm Ecommerce Effort

The South China Morning Post reported that it had confirmed a $177 million investment by China-based ecommerce firm Alibaba in India’s Paytm E-Commerce. According to reports from news media in India, Alibaba and affiliate Ant Financial will control a more than 60% stake in Paytm E-Commerce under the investment. Alibaba’s holding in Paytm’s ecommerce operations is seen as a way for the company to enter India’s competitive ecommerce sector. In 2016, Paytm’s parent company, One97 Communications, separated Paytm’s digital payment services business and its ecommerce business into two separate entities.

Amazon Plans to Release New Alexa Devices

Amazon is looking to release one or more new Alexa-powered devices this year. Sources told Recode that the new devices will let users “initiate phone calls by voice,” as well as “talk with others on the opposite end of another Alexa device through a feature that could serve as an intercom system.” Spins Off its Finance Arm, Alibaba’s largest rival in China’s ecommerce sector, announced a plan to spin off its finance arm, JD Finance, to an undisclosed buyer. Under the plan, JD will sell its 68.6% stake in JD Finance for RMB14.3 billion ($2.15 billion), but it will get 40% of the new entity’s pretax profits in return. The move positions JD Finance against Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, the parent company of payments service Alipay, which is also moving into a host of other digital financial services.

India’s Google Play Shifts 15% Tax to Developers

According to a report in tech website MediaNama, India’s Google Play plans to shift the burden of paying a new 15% federal tax on digital goods and services to developers publishing apps on its platform. The government in India announced plans to institute the new tax in November 2016, with video streaming service Netflix among the first companies to comply with it.

WeChat’s Miniapps Are a Flop So Far

Tech in Asia, citing iiMedia Research data, reported that WeChat users have been largely disappointed with the messaging platform’s new miniprograms, or miniapps, as they are often called. The miniprograms, which were launched in January 2017, were intended to allow users to access many of the functions of mobile native apps without having to leave the confines of WeChat’s walled garden. However, iiMedia Research found that most users do not see them as useful.

UK's Channel 4 Invests in VR Startup

UK TV network Channel 4 this week took a minority stake in a new UK-based virtual reality (VR) business, Parable Ventures, that's focused on content creation. Launched this month, Parable will create VR and 360-degree entertainment, brand marketing and training content. The investment was made via Channel's 4's Indie Growth Fund, a £20 million ($27 million) fund established in 2014 to help support UK-based creative companies.

—Cliff Annicelli, Rahul Chadha, Rimma Kats

New in eMarketer PRO This Week

Report: Where US Gen X Stands: A Hard-Luck Cohort that Is Too Important to Neglect

Forget the notion that Gen X is a small market: It isn't. The real problem for marketers is that Xers—though now earning and spending more per household than other generations—are financially stressed. The good news? Their digital usage, along with their TV viewing, makes them eminently reachable.

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