Meta announced today that WhatsApp Business, its small business app, has 200 million monthly active users, up from 50 million in 2020. The “year of efficiency” also brought easier ad creation and a personalized message service for WhatsApp Business users.
Zuckerberg spends billions on a metaverse. The company is increasing WhatsApp revenue to compensate.
Today, WhatsApp Business users can create “click-to-WhatsApp” ads without a Facebook account, according to Meta. Sellers can create, buy, and publish Facebook and Instagram ads from the app, the company said.
Zuckerberg mentioned “click-to-WhatsApp” ads’ 80% year-over-year growth during Meta’s Q3 earnings call last year.
WhatsApp Business is adding another paid feature that lets merchants automate sending personalized messages to customers. WhatsApp said it will test the feature “soon” but didn’t disclose pricing.
The company’s screengrabs show businesses can send different messages to different customer lists. Sellers can send new customers discount codes with purchase buttons.
Meta has increased paid messaging revenue in recent months. WhatsApp changed pricing and messaging categories in February. Utility, authentication (to send one-time passcodes), marketing, and user-initiated service conversations were included.
Last quarter, click-to-message ads generated $10 billion in revenue. “Since then, the number of businesses using our other business messaging service—paid messaging on WhatsApp—has grown by 40% quarter-over-quarter,” Zuckerberg said in the Q1 2023 earnings call.
The company includes WhatsApp revenue in the “other” category. Meta reported that WhatsApp Business had strong messaging revenue in the quarter ending in March, but “a decline in other line items” caused the category to drop 5%.
WhatsApp has also expanded its payment business. Brazil’s users could pay merchants in April. Singapore followed a month later. WhatsApp launched channels this month to broadcast organization-specific conversations. The company also said it was investigating channel payment integration.
Telegram launches a global self-custodial crypto wallet, excluding the US
Telegram, with 800 million monthly users, is launching a self-custodial crypto wallet. The move will solidify its presence in the vibrant crypto community that has grown from its chat platform and may attract more people to crypto.
Telegram and TON Foundation announced TON Space, a self-custodial wallet, on Wednesday at Singapore’s Token2049 crypto conference, which draws over 10,000 attendees.
Telegram has a complicated blockchain relationship. After the SEC sued Telegram over a massive initial coin offering, the chat app abandoned its Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain project in 2020. The Open Network Foundation (TON Foundation), founded by open-source developers and blockchain enthusiasts, supports the development of The Open Network (TON), the blockchain powering a growing number of Telegram applications, including the wallet.
The Open Platform (TOP) and TOP Labs, a venture-building division, created the TON-based wallet.
TON Space will be available to Telegram users worldwide without wallet registration in November. The U.S., which has cracked down on the crypto industry and promoted many crypto apps to geofence users, is currently excluded from the feature.
Google’s massive antitrust trial begins, with bigger implications
The Justice Department’s landmark antitrust case against Google began in court today, setting off a months-long trial that could upend the tech world.
At issue is Google’s search business. The Justice Department claims that Google has violated antitrust laws to maintain its search title, but the company claims that it does so by providing a superior product.
The Justice Department sued Google for civil antitrust in late 2020 after a year-long investigation.
“If the government does not enforce the antitrust laws to enable competition, we will lose the next wave of innovation,” said then-Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen. “If that happens, Americans may never see the ‘next Google.’”
A large coalition of state attorneys general filed their own parallel suit against Google, but Judge Amit Mehta ruled that the states did not meet the bar to go to trial with their search ranking complaints.
The search business case against Google is separate from a federal antitrust lawsuit filed earlier this year. The Justice Department claims Google used “anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful means” to neutralize threats to its digital advertising empire in that lawsuit.
Justice Department attorney Kenneth Dintzer set the stakes for the first major tech antitrust trial since Microsoft’s late 1990s reckoning on Tuesday. “This case is about the future of the internet, and whether Google’s search engine will ever face meaningful competition,” Dintzer said.
Beginning the trial, the government focused on Google’s deals with phone makers, most notably Apple, that give its search product top billing on new devices. Dintzer claimed that Google maintains and grows its search engine dominance by paying $10 billion annually for those arrangements.
“This feedback loop, this wheel, has been turning for more than 12 years,” he said. “And it always benefits Google.”
Google lawyer John Schmidtlein refuted that claim, hinting at the company’s legal defense in the coming weeks.
“Users today have more search options and more ways to access information online than ever before,” Schmidtlein said. Google will argue that it competes with Amazon, Expedia, and DoorDash, as well as Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
Google planted the seeds for this defense. According to internal research, Google Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan said last year that more young people are using TikTok to search for information than Google Search.
In our studies, almost 40% of young people don’t use Google Maps or Search to find lunch, Raghavan said. “They use TikTok or Instagram.”
Google will be decided by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in the coming months. We’re far from that decision, but the company could be fined heavily or ordered to sell parts of its business.
The trial could change Google’s digital empire if the Justice Department wins. Other tech companies that dominated online markets in the last decade are also watching. If the government fails to hold an iconic Silicon Valley giant accountable, big tech will likely continue its aggressive growth trajectory.
If the Justice Department succeeds, the next decade could be different. The industry-wide reckoning could cripple incumbents and allow upstarts to define the next era of the internet, wresting the future from tech titans.
India warns of Android malware threats
India has warned its residents of an advanced Android malware that can access sensitive data and give hackers control over affected devices.
Indian Defence Ministry’s Controller General of Defence Accounts issued an advice on DogeRAT, a Remote Access Trojan discovered by cybersecurity company CloudSEK. The letter added the malware, which targets Android users in India, is spread via social networking and messaging platforms like ChatGPT, Opera Mini, and “premium versions” of YouTube, Netflix, and Instagram.
“Once installed on a victim’s device, the malware gains unauthorized access to sensitive data including contacts, messages and banking credentials,” the August 24 advisory stated.
The statement added the malware can hijack affected devices and send spam, make illicit payments, change files, take images and keystrokes, track the user’s location, and record audio.
The advisory notes that fraudsters recently utilized Telegram to spread fraudulent versions of ChatGPT, Instagram, Opera Mini, and YouTube. The threat’s origin is unknown.
The Defense Ministry advises its agencies and officials to avoid downloading apps from unknown third-party platforms and clicking on links from unknown senders. Install an antivirus program and update handsets with the newest software and security updates.
In late May, CloudSEK blogged that Java-based open-source Android spyware targeted banking and entertainment users. The startup also emphasized that while much of the marketing initially targeted Indian people, it is designed to be worldwide.
CloudSEK researchers said DogeRAT’s author demonstrated on GitHub that a Telegram bot and an open-source NodeJS app hosting platform could begin the malware campaign.
Local news outlet Moneycontrol reported the advisory’s emergency.
Cybersecurity breaches have increased in India, the world’s second-largest internet market after China, due to digitization. The Indian IT ministry recorded 192,439 government department cybersecurity incidents in 2022, up 171% from 70,798 in 2018.
Last year, a major cybersecurity breach hit India’s largest public medical facility, AIIMS in New Delhi. The administration told lawmakers in December that the ransomware attack affected five servers with 1.3 gigabytes of data.
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