Technology Now
The business and culture of our digital lives
Closing gender gap in mobile phone usage could add $170 billion to market

Businesses and mobile carriers are missing out on billions of dollars in potential revenue by not closing the gender gap in mobile phone ownership and usage in developing countries, according to research by the GSMA, an association of mobile operators and related businesses.

The research, which used 11,000 interviews with men and women from countries like Niger, India, Egypt, Kenya, China, Mexico and Indonesia, found that on average, women are 14% less likely to own a mobile phone than men. In South Asia, the gap is 38%. This presents an untapped market for mobile carriers, phone makers and software developers, the report said. Closing that gender gap could add an additional $170 billion to the mobile industry by 2020.

“It’s a significant disadvantage to not have access to a mobile phone,” said Claire Sibthorpe, Connected Women Program director at the GSMA. “Beyond the basics of keeping in touch with people, phones give people access to things like health information, education and...

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New Tinder Plus to cost date-seekers $9.99 a month or more

Tinder Plus, the dating app’s first attempt at converting its millions of users into paid subscribers, officially launched Monday.

An update to the Tinder app adds buttons for two of the paid features. When either is clicked, most U.S. users are prompted to pay $9.99 a month. Pricing varies by country and by user's age. For example, users in some developing countries pay about $2.99 a month while people 30 and older in the United States are charged $19.99 a month.

With Tinder Plus, users get to “rewind” if they accidentally reject someone and receive a “passport” to search for people outside their region. Tinder is the "dominant" dating platform in 56 countries and international usage has doubled in the last three months, Tinder co-founder Sean Rad said Monday morning on CNN.

Tinder, based in West Hollywood, has been among the few online matchmaking systems to be rapidly adopted by the 25-year-old and younger crowd. Analysts have raved about the hundreds of millions of dollars Tinder...

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Samsung unveils new Galaxy, new Edge, and Samsung Pay

Samsung, locked in a tight race with Apple to be the world's biggest smartphone maker, has unveiled an important new phone that ditches its signature plastic design for more stylish metal and glass.

The South Korean phone manufacturer also unveiled Sunday a premium model with a display that curves around the left and right edges so that information can be glanced at on the side. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will include technology for mobile payments, though Samsung isn't unveiling a service to rival the iPhone's Apple Pay until this summer.

Samsung and Apple have gone back and forth as the world's top smartphone maker in recent years. Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, released last year, have helped the Cupertino, Calif., company catch up. Both of Apple's new phones are larger than previous versions and their size was heavily marketed, in part to appeal to customers who liked Samsung's large phones.

Now Samsung's S6 phones will have a metal frame — like the iPhone. The phones also have a...

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Google releases 'Street View' of Amazon rainforest

The Amazon rainforest is the latest natural wonder to get the Google “Street View” treatment.

A camera that's normally attached to a car's roof to capture what neighborhoods look like instead recently took to a zipline, a hiker’s back and a boat in the Amazon jungle. Google has previously captured the Arctic and the waters near the Galápagos Islands.

The imagery from the Amazon launched on Google Maps late Sunday. It gives viewers a sense of what it’s like to encounter the trailhead for the rainforest and to live nearby. The panoramic pictures also show the expanse of waterways and the density of flora.

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Google plans to launch small wireless network

A Google executive said Monday that the company plans to launch a cellphone network to introduce technology that it wants to see big carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T adopt.  

Google expects to formally announce the service in the coming months, Sundar Pichai, the company's senior vice president of products, told an audience at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, Spain.

The small project appears similar to what Google has done with cellphones and broadband Internet service. Google developed a line of Nexus cellphones and tablets to show off the capabilities of the Android operating system. In select cities, Google is also building a super-fast Internet service called Google Fiber. In each case, Google wanted to spur innovation among an industry’s heavyweights.

Existing wireless service carriers are expected to be involved in Google’s cellphone service in some capacity.

Separately, Google is developing drones and balloons equipped with technology to beam...

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FCC's new net neutrality rules are sure to be challenged

After two failed attempts to enact rules for Internet traffic, regulators adopted a heavily criticized — but legally stronger — strategy to try to make sure their net neutrality rules stand up in court.

But an expected lawsuit is only one hurdle for the new policy.

The plan that the Federal Communications Commission approved this week treats broadband as a more highly regulated telecommunications service, directly addressing a problem federal judges found last year in the agency's last attempt to create net neutrality regulations.

The move should keep the new rules, designed to ensure the uninhibited flow of data online, from being overturned, said Marvin Ammori, an affiliate scholar at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society.

"I am about as confident as you can be," said Ammori, who argued an earlier net neutrality case before appellate judges as general counsel for digital rights group Free Press.

But critics of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal, which passed on a...

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