Facebook Phone Revealed
Last Thursday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of the highly anticipated Facebook phone. However, the ‘phone’ is in actual fact a series of apps that work in sync to create a custom home screen for Android smartphones.
Facebook’s latest venture has been named Facebook Home and integrates all the social network’s current services into an operating system for Android phones. Users will be able to use all their app services such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Facebook Camera using Facebook Home.
Facebook Home Brings All App Services To One Home Screen
Facebook Home will also sync users Facebook messages directly with their phone, meaning they can easily and seamlessly connect with contacts via Facebook without having to login to a separate application. Furthermore, the operating system will bring together all contact details and merge them, so whether you receive a text message, a Facebook message or an email, they will all sync with the contact in one place.
A Social Focus
Unsurprisingly, Facebook Home also focuses on social elements. The home page of Facebook Home is called Cover Feed, and allows users to move through links, photos and status updates. Users will be able to interact with their Facebook easily from their phone, and Notifications will also be directed to the Cover Feed.
In the past, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly denied working on any sort of a Facebook phone. During the press conference last Thursday, Zuckerberg reiterated that strategy, saying even a “great phone"” could likely only sell up to 20 million units, reaching just 2 percent of the company's one billion active users.
Flexibility Is Key
Facebook Home won't be tied to one device or a single manufacturer. Starting April 12, Facebook will offer Home as a download in Google's Play store to select devices including Samsung's Galaxy S III and Galaxy S4, and the HTC One X. The plan is to update the app every single month, not only adding more features, but also support for more devices.
Facebook Works Closely With HTC
Facebook may not have launched an actual Facebook phone, however Zuckerberg still unveiled a new phone on Thursday, albeit one not built by the company. To show handset makers and software developers what a good Facebook Home experience entails,
Facebook worked closely with HTC to deliver the HTC First, a mid-range smartphone with a 4.3-inch screen and 5-megapixel camera. While not the most exciting device, it embodies the idea that Facebook Home isn't intended to be cutting-edge technology for early adopters, but something far more universal.
Why Alibaba Cloud is doubling down in Southeast Asia
Alibaba has announced expansion of its cloud business within Southeast Asia, with the introduction of a digital upskilling programme for locals alongside acceleration of its data centre openings.
This doubling down of its cloud business in Southeast Asia comes as the company faces stiff competition at home in China from rivals including Pinduoduo Inc and Tencent and seeks to up its game in a region considered to be the fastest-growing in cloud adoption to compete with leading global cloud providers AWS, Google and Microsoft.
Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and second biggest revenue driver after its core e-commerce business, finally turned profitable for the first time in the December 2020 following 11 years of operation, thanks largely to the pandemic which has spurred businesses and consumers to get online.
Southeast Asia growing demand for cloud
In 2020, there was a noticeable increase in interest towards cloud in SE Asia, with the population embracing digital transformation during the pandemic and SMEs across the region showing increased demand for cloud computing.
Such demand has led to the expectation that Southeast Asia is now the fastest-growing adopter of cloud computing with the cloud market expected to reach US$40.32bn in Southeast Asia by 2025 according to IDC.
And there are plenty of players vying for a slice of the cloud pie. While AWS, the cloud arm of Amazon, is the leading player in Southeast Asia (and across all of APAC apart from China), Microsoft and Google are the next two most dominant players in Southeast Asia with Alibaba coming in fourth.
“There is no doubt that during the past year we have seen the acceleration of digital transformation efforts across all industries,” explains Ahmed Mazhari, President, Microsoft Asia. “Asia now accounts for 60% of the world’s growth and is leading the global recovery with the digitalization of business models and economies. Cloud will continue to be a core foundation empowering the realization of Asia’s ambitions, enabling co-innovation across industries, government and community, to drive inclusive societal progress.”
Alibaba’s commitment to Southeast Asia
At its annual Alibaba Cloud Summit, the Chinese company announced Project AsiaForward, an initiative designed to upskill local developers, small-to-medium-sized companies and connect businesses with venture capital. Alibaba said it would set aside US$1bn over the next three years to develop digital skills in the region, with the aim of helping to develop 100,000 developers and to help grow 100,000 tech startups.
But that’s not all. The company, which recently opened its third data centre in Indonesia, serving customers with offerings across database, security, network, machine learning and data analytics services, also announced it would unveil its first data centre in the Philippines by the end of 2021.
Furthermore, that it would establish its first international innovation centre, located in Malaysia, offering a one-stop shop platform for Malaysian SMEs, startups and developers to innovate in emerging technologies.
“We are seeing a strong demand for cloud-native technologies in emerging verticals across the region, from e-commerce and logistics platforms to FinTech and online entertainment. As the leading cloud service provider and trusted partner in APAC, we are committed to bettering the region’s cloud ecosystem and enhancing its digital infrastructure,” says Jeff Zhang, President, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.
What other cloud providers are pledging in the region
This pledge by Alibaba to upskill both individuals and businesses follows Microsoft’s announcement in April that it was planning to upskill Malaysia’s population and would invest US$1bn over the next five years to build a new data centre centre in Malaysia.
This is the latest in a long line of pledges to the region by the US tech giant, which is fast accelerating the growth of its cloud datacenter footprint in Asia, expanding form seven 11 markets, and recently adding three new markets across Asia – Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan. Back in February, it announced plans to establish its first datacenter region in Indonesia and to skill an additional 3 million Indonesians to achieve its goal of empowering over 24 million Indonesians by the end of 2021.
And recent research by IDC shows that Microsoft’s most recent datacenter expansions in Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan alone are set to generate more than US$21bn in new revenues and will create 100,000 new jobs in the next four years.
Also last month, Tencent announced it has launched internet data centres in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo to add to its second availability zone opened in Korea last year and plans to add an internet data center in Indonesia, and Google has also been pushing into the enterprise space in Southeast Asia for several years now.
Expanding data centers allows cloud providers to boost their capacity in certain countries or regions.