Riding high under the leadership of Satya Nadella, Microsoft has surpassed Exxon Mobil to become the second-most valuable company in the world, placing it just behind Apple, which holds the top spot.
The companies swapped places last week when concerns about the falling price of oil brought Exxon’s shares down — the energy giant’s market capitalization fell to $401.9 billion on Friday from $403.9 billion on Wednesday.
On the other hand, a surge in Microsoft’s share price drove its total market value above $410 billion on Friday, something which is being seen as a direct result of Nadella’s turnaround efforts, including job cuts, and refocusing the company on mobile and cloud computing. Investors have also been pleased with his efforts to undo the mistakes of Windows 8, released two years ago.
Meanwhile, Apple with a market capitalization of over $668 billion remains the world’s most valuable public company.
A recent update for WhatsApp on Android has introduced end-to-end encryption. Unlike similar communications on other major networks from Facebook and Google, WhatsApp is unable to decrypt user messages, even if they were forced to for legal reasons. Many suggest it is the strongest encryption available on any major text service.
WhatsApp teamed up with Open Whisper Systems to create the new feature. Open Whisper was previously responsible for a number of apps but it was its TextSecure program that caught the company’s attention. It uses forward secrecy to keep messages encrypted even if the key is compromised in the future. TextSecure is thought of quite highly among the security community after being published and withstanding several public audits.
It took the company around 6 months or more to ready TextSecure for WhatsApp’s massive user base. There’s no information on when the feature may come available on iOS, but Open Whisper will continue its work both in-house and on other major collaborative efforts like this one in the mean time. As some have suggested its a pretty strong move forward for end-to-end encryption on user messages, considering the more than 600 million users on the WhatsApp network, this is the largest deployment of this kind of encryption.
The mobile revolution is moving forward at full throttle. According to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, nine out of 10 people over the age of six will have a mobile phone by 2020.
During the third quarter of 2014, roughly 65-70 percent of all phones sold were smartphones – up from just 55 percent during the year-ago quarter. Ericsson expects to see 800 million new smartphone subscriptions by the end of 2014, bringing the total worldwide count to 2.7 billion units.
Smartphones currently account for just 37 percent of all mobile phone subscriptions which indicates there’s still plenty of users that have yet to make the switch from feature phones. By 2020, the report predicts there will be 6.1 billion smartphones in use globally.
In a statement on the matter, Rima Qureshi, Senior Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of M&A at Ericsson said the falling cost of handsets, coupled with improved usability and increasing network coverage, are factors that are making mobile technology a global phenomenon that will soon be available to the vast majority of the world’s population, regardless of age or location.
Unsurprisingly, Ericsson’s report notes that video continues to dominate mobile networks. Video constitutes as much as 55 percent of mobile traffic on 4G networks thanks largely in part to the rise of streaming video services and the improved experience that large-screen devices afford.