Facebook Adds Video to Its Messenger App -- Tech Roundup

Facebook (FB) , the leader in social media, has been challenged, not necessarily in terms of advertising dollars but usage. A recent study found teens preferred Snapchat over Facebook's Instagram, leading to Facebppl unveiling new Instagram features, such as Stories and photo-zooming, to keep its users interested. 

The company has also made video a major priority on its platforms, and execs even believe that video is the future for all things Facebook. 

With that in mind, it's really no surprise to see Facebook launch Instant Video for its Messenger App. From the company's site:

"It's perfect for sharing quick moments with friends who aren't right by your side or making your conversations richer by seeing each other face-to-face when you are messaging. Sometimes you want to ask a friend's opinion on a pair of shoes you want to buy, weigh in on what ice cream flavor they should bring home, or just want to see your BFF's reaction to your witty message when you're in a place where you can't actually talk live."

It sounds like an indirect rival to Snapchat. Perhaps it's not, but I'm sure Facebook wouldn't mind winning back some of its users' time away from the popular photo- and video-sharing app. 

Shares of Facebook closed at $126.17 Thursday, up 0.04%. 


Apple's (AAPL) CarPlay is "a smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car. CarPlay takes the things you want to do with your iPhone while driving and puts them right on your car's built-in display." 

That sounds good. But the service, which is available on select vehicles, may come at a price. Those buying a BMW will need to pay $300 to obtain the service. BMW is the first to charge for CarPlay. 

However, many BMWs are already built with CarPlay installed, meaning the cost is already built into the vehicle's price. Will other automakers follow suit, not just with Apple but with other third-party infotainment services? 

Only time will tell and so far there hasn't been much backlash. Nor has there been a reaction from Apple (perhaps we shouldn't expect one anyway). 

Shares of Apple closed at $106.73 Thursday, up 0.6%. 


Xiaomi, the Chinese electronics manufacturer that makes smartphones and now laptop computers, isn't done with new products. On Thursday, the company announced that it will launch its own mobile payments platform

The move is really no surprise given that Xiaomi has looked to essentially be the lower-priced version of other big-name tech companies. Its new service, Mi Pay, is like that of Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay. 

Given that Xiaomi devices already had a wallet app and a fingerprint scanner, that, too, made it likely the company was in a "when, not if" phase when it came to mobile payments. It has partnered with UnionPay to bring Mi Pay to life and will support 20 credit and debit cards from China.

For now, the service only works on the Xiaomi Mi 5 and only works in China. But that's not surprising and it's assumed that the service will expand throughout Asia over time. 

The company appears to be doing what it can to win over market share and bolster its ecosystem, even if it's doing so with far lower margins than some of its international peers. 

Facebook and Apple are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells FB or AAPL? Learn more now.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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