Posts Tagged ‘Skype’

Move aside Facebook and Skype. Asian social networks, already hugely popular on their continent, have set their sights on Europe where they could prove stiff competition for their US rivals.

China’s WeChat and Japan’s Line, which let users make free calls, send instant messages and post funny short videos and photos, take attributes from Facebook, Skype and messenging application WhatsApp and roll them all together.

This week, Line executives travelled to France and Italy for a public relations offensive aimed at raising awareness of the mobile app, which already counts some 230 million users around the world including 47 million in Japan alone.

The social network has already taken root in other parts of Europe. In Spain, for instance, Line has forged heavyweight partnerships with football clubs FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, brands such as Coca-Cola or tennis star Rafael Nadal.

FC Barcelona, for instance, has a home page on the app where it posts photos that has already drawn more than 8.2 million friends.

Line even has a permanent office in Spain, where it counts some 15 million users already.

A French version of the mobile app, meanwhile, is to be launched before the end of the year.

One of the main selling points for Line, which was launched at the beginning of 2011, is its “stickers” — funny, cartoon-like figures that express emotions in a way deemed far more original and fun than traditional emoticons.

On WeChat, users can post figures that move about dancing, blowing kisses or punching the air. Both social networks also supply a selection of “stickers” that users have to pay for.

“We’re betting a lot on this new form of communication with stickers,” Sunny Kim, assistant director general of Line Europe and America, told AFP on a trip to Paris.

This part of the business represents 30 percent of Line’s overall turnover and in July alone, users bought eight million euros ($10.8 million) worth of stickers.

The company makes the rest of its money on the sale of games integrated in the mobile app (50 percent) and from partnerships and products on the side.

Line’s logo is green with a conversation bubble inside, and looks remarkably similar to the icon of WeChat, which began in January 2011.

Already translated into 19 languages, the social network has 500 million users, including 100 million outside of China, and plans to launch in France towards the end of the year.

While Line has Real Madrid, WeChat has enrolled the help of Argentinian football star Lionel Messi, who has become ambassador of the brand and has filmed a commercial for the social network.

But WeChat — which belongs to China’s web giant Tencent — is also banking on the huge Chinese diaspora to expand.

“The French of Chinese origin or the Canadians of Chinese origin, for instance, are the bridge between China and the rest of the world,” said Renaud Edouard-Baraud, who heads up an Asia consulting branch of the BNP-Paribas bank and advises WeChat.

Many brands keen to tap into the giant China market also have a presence on WeChat.Companies can for instance use geolocalisation to pinpoint the exact location of Chinese users when they are visiting Europe, and send them promotional offers to lure them into their shops.

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The Philips 9000 Series is Philips’ first foray into Ultra High Definition television, unveiled at technology show IFA 2013 in Berlin.

There are two UHD TVs in the 9000 range: a 65-inch model and 84-inch model, both displaying 3,840 x 2,160 pixels of eye-popping detail.

Both TVs are LED-backlit and have three-sided Ambilight, which projects light from three sides of the TV to complement the colours on the screen. The 65-inch model boasts a 15W speaker and two 6W speakers, while the 84-inch version pumps out sound from two 25W speakers and two 20W speakers.

4K is still very much in its infancy, so there’s very little actual 4K stuff to watch in eye-frazzling detail. So the 9000 TVs attempt to improve on the detail of high definition films and TV by upscaling Blu-ray, DVD or HD TV channels.

One way you can see the eye-popping detail of which the TV is capable is with photographs. Photographs taken by even today’s average compact cameras and camera phones pack in way more detail than HD video, so you can view photos of 8-megapixels or more in stunningly crisp detail.

Which means you’ve just paid five grand for a photo frame.

You can also connect to the Web and access apps and online services such as Netflix, YouTube and Skype alongside Philips’ usual smart TV features, as well as Miracast and SimplyShare to connect to your phone and tablet.

And the 4K TVs also do 3D, because nobody demanded it. Like most high-end TVs today, the Philips 4K models can convert regular two-dimensional films and TV to 3D.And the price? The new Philips models are more expensive than Sony and Samsung models already on the market: the 65-inch 65PFL9708 costs 4,999 euros, and the 84-inch 84PFL9708 will set you back 14,999 euros.