Bitcoin – From $1, to $18,000, to Dot-Com crash

Bitcoin is down 70% since its December 2017 high, with many pundits this week describing the “Bitcoin bloodbath”.

Publications like Bloomberg have even compared its drop to the Nasdaq Composite Index’s 78% “peak-to-trough plunge after the US dot-com bubble burst”.

Many other cryptocurrencies have fallen hard as a result, and are now essentially worthless.

As the world’s first, and biggest, decentralised cryptocurrency built on distributed ledger technology, however, Bitcoin’s overall value is far from just its US dollar price.

The Bitcoin blockchain and its public ledger have created a global network without a centralised administrator, providing insight into new and powerful technologies.

Origin

The digital currency was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto in late 2008 and the first block in the Bitcoin blockchain was mined in early 2009.

At the time, Bitcoin was envisioned as a peer-to-peer electronic cash system which could facilitate payments between parties while being immune to censorship.

Bitcoin has evolved over time according to the consensus of its community and has been labelled many things, including a “store of value”, “speculative investment”, and even “digital gold”.

The major changes to the Bitcoin blockchain since inception, including the traffic on the network as well as changes made to the blockchain itself, have often been overlooked by many, however – particularly in the past year, where most attention was on how much its price tag was.

Despite Bitcoin’s huge popularity today, its initial adoption was slow – with the digital currency mostly used by cryptography enthusiasts to experiment with blockchain technology.

The number of active users on the Bitcoin blockchain began to grow at an increasing rate from 2013, with the total number of wallet users more than doubling each year.

This surge in interest also caused an increase in transaction volume and the price. As Bitcoin has a fixed supply, an exponential increase in users and demand for the token naturally caused the market value to increase.

The price of Bitcoin peaked at the beginning of 2018, at just over $19,000, before plummeting back down to around $6,000 in six months.

Bitcoin’s average transaction fee has also decreased following the drop in value and now rests at less than $1 – after peaking at over $50 in January 2018.

Despite the fluctuations in its market value, the Bitcoin blockchain continues to see improved adoption worldwide, with over 25 million wallet users registered.

Graphs demonstrating its journey so far – from Bitcoin blockchain explorer blockchain.info – are posted below.


Wallet Users

Bitcoin wallet users
Click to enlarge.

Transaction Volume

Bitcoin average transactions per block
Click to enlarge.

Market Value

Bitcoin market price
Click to enlarge.

Technology

Like most popular cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin has struggled to find a solution to its scaling problem as the number of transactions increased.

Conflict surrounding possible solutions to this problem peaked in 2017, with the community split between increasing block sizes and a solution called Segregated Witness (SegWit).

This resulted in a hard fork of the blockchain, with the community and ledger splitting into two chains – Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.

The core Bitcoin chain implemented SegWit to improve transaction times and fees, while the Bitcoin Cash blockchain opted to increase block sizes.

Both cryptocurrencies have seen improved adoption, market value, and developer interest since then, and the communities of both continue to develop their respective blockchain technologies.

Bitcoin has also started implementing its latest scaling solution, a second-layer platform built on the blockchain called Lightning Network.

Using payment channels which offer instant transactions, Lightning Network could solve the problem of paying for everyday micro-purchases with Bitcoin – while maintaining the decentralised core of the cryptocurrency.

There have been numerous other Bitcoin forks throughout the cryptocurrency’s lifetime, including Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Private, and many more, but have largely not affected the Bitcoin token most people know.

While its dollar price has dropped and its path in 2018 has been likened to huge market crashes, the adoption of the Bitcoin blockchain and the development of its technology continues.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are built on emerging technology and will continue to see new developments and changes as they develop, meaning that Bitcoin may experience further drastic price or structural movements in the future – it just comes with the territory.

Apple and Samsung’s patent battle comes to a close

Apple and Samsung have finally reached a settlement in their US patent battle, ending a seven-year-long fight over Samsung’s alleged copying of Apple’s patented iPhone features.

This settlement comes just a month after a federal court jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $539-million (R7.4-billion) for violating Apple’s iPhone patent.

Terms of the settlement, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, were not available. An Apple spokesman declined to comment on the terms of the settlement but said that Apple “cares deeply about design” and that “this case has always been about more than money.” A Samsung spokeswoman also declined to comment.

Ivan Komsky@IvanKomsky

It seems that the vs law suit’s been going on for too long. I thought the whole thing was over a long time ago but apparently not. They’ve been fighting since 3GS! The two have finally settled and Samsung is going to have to pay. $539 million dollars.

The legal battle started in 2011 when Apple sued Samsung for allegedly copying the patented design of the iPhone. This started a feud that elicited more than just hefty legal fees, inspiring the creation of Apple vs Samsung memes and later disproved rumours that Samsung paid Apple its $1bn fine in nickels.

MWEB handing over GameZone website

MWEB announced it is handing over its GameZone website, along with its associated content, media, and entertainment, to GeekXP.

The ISP said it will continue to focus its efforts on online network experience and events within the gaming community, however.

MWEB said it would continue to host a number of gaming servers, and events in its M-Cave in Cape Town.

GeekXP owner Les Allen said they will provide local pop culture fans with access to content and experiences they would otherwise not be able to enjoy.

Allen joined the team behind ICON Comics and Games Convention in 2015, bringing international guests and live streaming panels to the South African market.

“MWEB is excited to work closely with GeekXP, ensuring that gamers on the MWEB network enjoy the best possible gaming experience,” said MWEB.

The GameZone brand, website, and social media pages will be transferred to GeekXP on 1 July 2018

Instagram launches soundtracks for Stories

Instagram is adding a feature which allows users to implement soundtracks in Stories.

Users will now be able to add a soundtrack to their story, selecting a track from a library of thousands of songs.

After tapping to add a sticker to a photo or video in Stories, users will see a music icon – which they can select to add a soundtrack to their content.

The song library can be searched and sorted by mood and genre, and users are able to seek through a track and select the segment they want to include in their story.

Viewers will then hear the soundtrack playing as they watch the story content.

Instagram said its soundtrack feature is currently available in selected countries, and the ability to select a track before capturing video is currently only available on iOS.

Android support is rolling out soon, it added.

Xiaomi IPO raises $4.7 billion

Xiaomi Corp. and some existing investors raised $4.7 billion after pricing a Hong Kong initial public offering at the low end of a marketed range, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

The Beijing-based smartphone maker priced the sale of 2.18 billion shares at HK$17 each, the person said, asking not to be identified because the details are private. Xiaomi had offered the shares at HK$17 to HK$22 apiece. The pricing values Xiaomi at about $54 billion, roughly half the company’s initial goal.

Billionaire George Soros and Chinese investment firm Hillhouse Capital were among investors that placed orders for Xiaomi IPO shares, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier.

“Xiaomi’s exceedingly thin margins from hardware significantly drags down its valuation for potential investors,” said James Yan, an analyst with Counterpoint Research in Beijing. “I expect it to invest more in the smartphone unit, especially on international expansion. It also needs cash to beef up its ecosystem in markets like India. All those fronts are extremely capital-intensive.”

Xiaomi IPO raises $4.7 billion

Xiaomi Corp. and some existing investors raised $4.7 billion after pricing a Hong Kong initial public offering at the low end of a marketed range, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

The Beijing-based smartphone maker priced the sale of 2.18 billion shares at HK$17 each, the person said, asking not to be identified because the details are private. Xiaomi had offered the shares at HK$17 to HK$22 apiece. The pricing values Xiaomi at about $54 billion, roughly half the company’s initial goal.

Billionaire George Soros and Chinese investment firm Hillhouse Capital were among investors that placed orders for Xiaomi IPO shares, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier.

“Xiaomi’s exceedingly thin margins from hardware significantly drags down its valuation for potential investors,” said James Yan, an analyst with Counterpoint Research in Beijing. “I expect it to invest more in the smartphone unit, especially on international expansion. It also needs cash to beef up its ecosystem in markets like India. All those fronts are extremely capital-intensive.”

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The offering is Hong Kong’s biggest first-time share sale since September 2016, when Postal Savings Bank of China Co. priced a $7.6 billion IPO, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Xiaomi, led by serial entrepreneur Lei Jun, is the first major tech listing in Hong Kong since the city changed its rules to allow founders to keep outsized voting rights.

A Soros-backed fund placed an early order for a small amount of Xiaomi stock, according to one of the people with knowledge of the matter. Hillhouse placed an order of around $600 million, while U.S. asset manager Capital Group Cos. placed an order for more than $500 million of stock, the people said.

Reduced Ambitions

A price at the low end of Xiaomi’s IPO range translates into 22.7 times its forecast 2019 earnings, assuming a so-called over-allotment option is fully exercised, Bloomberg News reported earlier.

Representatives for Xiaomi, Hillhouse and Capital Group declined to comment. A representative for Soros Fund Management didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. IFR reported the final pricing earlier Friday in Hong Kong, citing unidentified people.

Xiaomi had already scaled back its ambitions for the offering. Top executives were initially pushing for an IPO valuation of as much as $100 billion when listing preparations began last year, Bloomberg News reported at the time.

The company was also planning to raise funds from mainland Chinese investors nearly simultaneously with the Hong Kong IPO. It has since delayed the plan to float so-called Chinese depositary receipts in Shanghai, which reduced its overall fundraising target.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and CLSA Ltd. led Xiaomi’s IPO as joint sponsors.

MTN investigating why customer was charged for toll-free calls

An MTN customer recently contacted MyBroadband regarding unusual activity on his contract SIM.

The customer said he owns two contract SIMs and two prepaid SIMs, which are registered on the MTN network.

The subscriber said when he calls his medical aid’s toll-free number using his primary MTN contract SIM, he is billed for the call.

However, when calling from any of the other three SIMs, a voice message is played before the call is connected, stating that the call will be free.

When using a SIM from another mobile operator, the customer is also not billed for the call.

The MTN customer said the mobile operator had been charging him for calls to his toll-free medical aid number for the past 18 months.

Upon contacting MTN’s call centre, agents reportedly said that only calls to network lines – such as the call centre – were free of charge.

Toll-free regulations

Amended number plan regulations published by ICASA in 2016 state that calls to toll-free numbers must be free of charge for the caller, irrespective of the electronic network used in the communication.

This rule applies to all toll-free numbers in the 080 number range.

ICASA also said that operators must maintain zero-rated wholesale termination fees while implementing a billing system of a commercially-negotiated origin rate.

The framework of toll-free calls means that the receiving party pays the mobile network for the cost of the call, and not the caller.

MTN responds

MTN Executive for Corporate Affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan said MTN does not charge customers for toll-free numbers, even in instances where an origination fee with another operator has not been finalised.

“These calls have been free of charge to our customers since 24 September 2016, as per ICASA’s Numbering Plan Regulations,” said O’Sullivan.

She said MTN is currently investigating the reader’s case and would be able to provide further feedback once the investigation had concluded.

“There is a possibility that a charging case has not been updated on a specific node,” said O’Sullivan.

She added that if a discrepancy exists which caused this problem, the error would be on MTN’s side and not the toll-free number provider’s – as MTN is responsible for billing the customer

(MyBroadband)

Microsoft beat Google to buy GitHub

Microsoft Corp. agreed to pay $7.5 billion for GitHub earlier in June, but it wasn’t the only interested party. Google was in the running too, according to Diane Greene, head of the company’s cloud arm.

“I wouldn’t have minded buying them, but it’s OK,” Greene said at a Fortune Magazine event in San Francisco on Wednesday. Alphabet Inc.’s Google has yet to confirm reports that it bid on the startup, a leading repository for software. Greene declined to say more about if Google bid.

For Microsoft, GitHub is a key asset for appealing to developers in the competitive cloud computing market. Greene said that two Google products are among the most popular now used on GitHub. “I really hope Microsoft can keep them totally neutral,” she said.

During the sale process, Greene was also dealing with an internal fire over Google’s Pentagon work. She opted not to renew the contract after staff protests, and Google released a set of principles for its artificial intelligence systems.

Others should follow suit, Greene said on Wednesday. Similar protests have spread to rivals Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft over government deals.

“Any company with a large contingent of AI researchers needs to do this because the researchers are going to want to know how their technology is being used,” she said. “It’s a tricky thing.”

 

Samsung to launch Galaxy Note 9 in August – Reports

Samsung has sent out invitations for a Galaxy device event on 9 August 2018, according to a report by The Verge.

The invitation does not specify what will be launched at the event, but speculation is that Samsung will reveal the Galaxy Note 9.

The report stated that the timing of the event – the Note 8 launched in August 2017 – and an image of a stylus with the invite points towards a new Note device.

Recent reports have stated that the Galaxy Note 9 will receive upgraded cameras and may also come in a 512GB model.

The August event comes a month before Apple’s expected September iPhone event, where three new iPhone models are expected to be 6

Rain Mobile network problems – Reports

Rain’s mobile network appears to be suffering from connectivity problems.

Two smartphones used by MyBroadband which are running Rain SIMs lost all network signal after 12:00. When the network signal returned, no data throughput was available on the network.

Multiple users on the MyBroadband Forum have also reported a loss of connectivity and data throughput.

The reported downtime comes after Rain recently offered its mobile users unlimited data usage for June.

Rain was contacted for feedback on the matter, but was not immediately available for comment.

Twitter ramps up efforts to fight spam

Twitter has announced a number of new measures to fight spam and malicious automation.

The social media platform aims to crack down on trolls, bots, and abuse by implementing a number of tools across its online service.

Twitter said it actively fights spam and malicious automation by identifying problematic accounts and behaviour, using machine learning tools to automatically take down networks of automated spam accounts.

“This lets us tackle attempts to manipulate conversations on Twitter at scale, across languages and time zones, without relying on reactive reports,” said the company.

These measures are reducing the number of total spam accounts on the platform, it said.

In an effort to deter spam accounts from registering, Twitter has also improved its sign-up process – requiring new users to confirm an email address or phone number when they register.