Despite rising costs and increasing competition from rivals like Tencent, Chinese Internet giant Sina narrowed its first-quarter net loss to $13.2 million from $13.7 million a year earlier, the company reported today. Sina’s net revenue increased 19 percent year-over-year to $126 million, strengthened by stronger-than-expected non-advertising revenue.
The company’s Sina Weibo is China’s largest microblogging service, with over 46 million daily users. Last month, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group bought a 18 percent stake in Sina Weibo for $586 million, a deal that valued the site at over $3 billion.
Sina hopes that the Alibaba deal will allow it to strengthen advertising revenue despite the slowdown in ad sales that has hit all major Chinese Internet companies, including Baidu and Tencent. Sina’s ad sales dropped 15 percent in the first quarter from the previous quarter to $94.3 million.
Adjusted non-advertising revenue, which includes revenue share from Web games and membership fees on Sina Weibo, increased 17 percent to $27 million, more than the range of $21 million to $23 million range forecast by the company.
“As we start 2013, we are making good progress in transitioning from a PC-centric to a mobile-centric Internet company with new product launches and improved monetization,” said Sina chairman and CEO Charles Chao in the earnings release. “In April, we formed a strategic alliance with Alibaba Group to catapult us into social commerce. By partnering with Alibaba, Weibo is well positioned to play a key role in the future of e-commerce, particularly in mobile commerce as we explore ways to search, share and buy the goods and services of the millions of merchants on Taobao and Tmall.”
Read the original post: Sina Narrows Its 1Q Loss As It Counts On Weibo-Alibaba Deal To Bolster Ad Revenue
Airbnb released an update to its Android app today to help property owners and hosts better manage their listings. With the release, hosts can handle all the steps prior to selecting guests for their home, while also keeping track of when it’s available.
Previously these mobile features were only available for iOS devices. However, with only 5 percent of its total active hosts using Android devices, Airbnb could be hoping that because of this update, existing Android users will find it more appealing and new device users will sign up.
Airbnb says that when it tested these features on iOS, it resulted in “amazing” engagement. The company tells us that users who have downloaded the iPhone app are 83 percent more engaged and 78 percent more responsive than they were before. Take these percentages with a grain of salt as specific numbers were not provided.
In the update, hosts will now be able to manage all their pre-approval options, including denying reservations or requesting more information. Additionally, it also includes a calendar management feature that lets hosts choose when their listings are available.
Prior to its arrival on Airbnb’s mobile apps, users needed to use the company’s website to manage all of these features.
Photo credit: Thinkstock/iStockphoto
Who wants to see some boobs?
Thanks to a new feature from Brayola, the startup looking to pair your boobs with the right bra, you can not only check out an endless stream of breasts but perhaps you can even find a bra that fits correctly.
According to the company, 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra. Shocking, no? But the new Fit or Not feature from Brayola aims to change all that, and not in the most traditional way you might imagine.
Brayola already helps women find the right bra by asking them to give information on their favorite bras that they already own. Tell the service about the make, model and size of your favorite bras, and its engine will help you find more bras that will fit in a similar way.
With Fit or Not, the company is trying to help educate users on sizing, as that’s the most important factor in purchasing a bra that you’ll love and be comfortable in.
To start out with Fit or Not, you try on a bra and (prepare yourself for this) take a picture of your boobs. Brayola monitors all pictures uploaded to the service to ensure that no one’s face is ever pictured. Obviously, a tattoo or incriminating birthmark will blow all that anonymity to shreds if shown to the right person, so it’s understandable if the idea is a bit panic-inducing.
However, founder Orit Hashay believes that since the photos don’t show anyone’s face, are uploaded under usernames or handles (as opposed to being attached to your real name) and are uploaded to a community of fellow bra-wearing women, it’s not quite as risky as one might think.
Once the photo is uploaded, users of the service instantly have the option to say yes, no, or pass. Then, a “bra expert” steps in and makes the final call.
I know what you’re thinking — if 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra, why would I care what they think about the fit of my bra. They’re clearly misinformed.
But hold up just one second. In reality, the polling is more for those voting than for the woman trying on a bra. According to Hashay, women want to know whether or not they guessed right on the fit of a bra, and are many times surprised when a bra expert steps in and says that the majority of voters were actually wrong.
To Hashay, it’s a feature centered around education.
To use Fit or Not or Brayola in general, head on over to the website and sign up.
It’s Friday, friends, and that means we afford ourselves the moment to read up on what Microsoft got itself into during the last seven days. It’s been a heavy week for news on and about the company, so we’ll move quickly, hitting on a number of topics.
Microsoft has sold 100 million Windows 8 licences, up 40 million from the January 9th benchmark of 60 million. The rate of growth for Windows 8 has slowed, as expected, when the promotional pricing period for upgrades to the new operating system expired.
According to Microsoft’s Tami Reller, the vast majority of the 40 million freshly sold copies of the OS shipped on new computers. Here’s the lay of the land: Microsoft wants to lower the price gap between touch-based Windows 8 machines and non touch-based Windows machines. Doing so will get more folks using Windows 8 in a touch environment, which is a material benefit for Microsoft.
Why might that be? Because the Start Screen is a fantastically better experience when you can interact with it directly, instead of relying on a conduit of mouse and keyboard. Thus, in touch, people are likely more inclined to use the darn thing.
That means more app downloads, and the like, precisely what Microsoft, and Windows 8, need.
Windows still dominates the PC market, with Apple retaining a meaningful, if minor share. However, if you stack together notebooks, tablets, and smartphones, how does it fare? You will note that those three product categories exclude desktop PCs, a Microsoft staple. Still, under the rubric of mobile smart devices, what is the market share breakdown?
According to Canalys, as reported by TNW’s Emil Protalinksi:
In Q1 2013, 308.7 million smart mobile devices shipped worldwide, representing a year-on-year growth of 37.4 percent. Breaking down those numbers by operating system, Google’s Android dominated with 59.5 percent share, followed by Apple’s iOS and OS X at 19.3 percent share, and Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Phone at 18.1 percent share.
Tack on desktop PCs to that mix, for all providers where relevant, and Microsoft likely would have taken the second place spot. Still, Google’s Android dominance is well illustrated by the figure. If you didn’t understand why the Surface and Windows Phone 8 projects mattered to Microsoft, you now do.
Developers will get their hands on Windows Blue by the end of June. This was expected. Different versions of the operating system have been floating on various torrent websites, so interested developers can get an early peek, if they are so inclined.
Expect that the code goes out around the time of Build, Microsoft’s next developer conference, which will be held in San Francisco on June 26. Given that that date is towards the end of the month, well, let’s just say that if you leave the shindig without a copy of Windows 8.1, we’ll know who to blame.
Microsoft makes meaningful income from the Android device ecosystem. By signing licensing deals with Android OEMs for – in its view - infringing on its patents, it collects a payment on each device sold by the new partner. After years of deal making, more than 80% of Android smartphones sold in the United States pay the fee.
What does that tot up to? TNW went through a bit of mathmagic, which I quote here:
We can now do the math: 860 million Android devices in 2013, of which 65% pay Microsoft a fee, and that fee being $3 leaves Microsoft with $1.677 billion in Android revenue this year. That works out to just over $400 million per quarter, which fits with our earlier statements of Android patent revenue being in the low hundreds of millions.
Gartner expects 1.5 billion Android devices sold in 2017. Assuming that Microsoft can up its total percentage of devices under contract, and the sums involved could rival other business segments for Microsoft.
Go have a nice Earl Gray and start weekending, that’s enough news for the day.
Top Image Credit: Pete Brown
See more here: This week at Microsoft: Blue, Windows 8, and Android dollars
Facebook has revealed that its Home launcher for Android devices has been downloaded 1 million times from the Google Play store. Having launched four weeks ago, the social networking company shared that while this supposed number falls in line with its expectations, there are some things that it has received feedback on. For those Facebook Home users, a new update is being released today, as part of its “new every four week” cycle.
Launched to much buzz, Facebook Home is a layer that resides on top of the Android operating system. Last month, company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced several features that came with Home, including chat heads. The idea behind this whole concept was to showcase that Facebook had moved beyond mobile-first and into “mobile-best” — a step it says is where users are connected with their friends and content where things can also be shared and communicated.
At a Facebook whiteboarding session, the company shared some interesting metrics relating to engagement and messaging — two key things related to Home.
With regards to engagement, Facebook is looking at how people are interacting with the social network through News Feed through Home, along with how long people are spending with the launcher. The company said that it has seen a 25 percent increase in engagement since Home was released.
With messaging, it seems the company is fascinated with seeing how users interacted with chat heads. Specifically, it’s tracking two metrics: participation (how many people are using it within Facebook), and volume (how many messages being sent). With this feature, Facebook says that it is seeing a 7 percent increase in participation and 10 percent increase in volume.
It’s important to note that the above metrics are rather subjective since Facebook has not revealed any specific numbers.
What’s more, the 1 million downloads is also something to take with a grain of salt because the company didn’t reveal how many of those are active users. Soon after its launch, the reviews for Facebook Home were rather negative. What’s more, with the HTC First recently being heavily discounted to $0.99 by AT&T, one must wonder how the launcher’s performance and phone’s sale really is. Facebook would not comment about AT&T’s decision.
In the next couple of months, Facebook will also be revealing several new features for Home, including a new user experience (codenamed “Blue’s Clues“), a dock, and a dash bar. With “Blue’s Clues”, the idea is to help make Home less confusing and frustrating to use.
One of the feedbacks that Facebook has received from its users is that Home is missing a dock, that ever-present spot on the bottom of the screen that displays the apps that are always there and available. Another point of contention by users is with chat heads — there was no way to initiate a conversation easily. With dash bar, Home will have a feature akin to a buddy list on AIM that can be used for quick referencing.
During the whiteboarding session, Adam Mosseri, Director of Product, commented on the fact that there is a unofficial Home APK floating out in the marketplace to get the launcher out into unsupported phones. Facebook revealed that there are more than 10,000 users out there using the hacked Home APK.
Currently there are only four devices officially supported, but Mosseri hinted that there are two other devices that are being tested, but won’t be released until months later.
Today’s update will not be anything major. Facebook says that it will be bug fixes and other minor improvements. It will be an update for the main Facebook app on Android.
Future updates are planned to be released every four weeks, with the exception of July — that month, the schedule falls on the Fourth of July so the company is delaying it by a week.