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经济学人:Facebook与WhatsApp

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Business

商业报道
Facebook and WhatsApp
Facebook与WhatsApp
Getting the messages
即时通讯,拿下!
Why Mark Zuckerberg's social network is paying such a whopping sum for a messaging startup
马克?扎克伯格的网络帝国为何花这么大笔钱收购一家初创的即时通讯公司?
THE rivalries among the tech industry's giants have often resembled a Game of Thrones, in which companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple constantly try to invade one another's online kingdoms.
科技巨头们的对抗往往跟权力的游戏里所呈现的相差无几,就像Facebook、谷歌、亚马逊和苹果一样,他们彼此之间都不停地尝试着入侵对方的网络王国。

On February 19th Facebook took a dramatic step to defend its turf, saying it would pay 19 billion for WhatsApp, a messaging service that had also attracted the attention of Google and almost certainly other suitors.

为了捍卫自己的领地,有家企业则于2月19日迈出了惊人的一步:Facebook宣布将以190亿美元的价格收购WhatsApp。而这是一家同时吸引了谷歌以及几乎可以肯定其他一众追求者的即时通讯应用公司。
Even veterans of Silicon Valley goggled at the staggering sum of money changing hands, which comprises a mixture of cash and shares in Facebook.
这笔交易涵盖了现金和Facebook的股权,而其数额之大就算是在硅谷打滚了多年的行家也为之侧目。
WhatsApp's price tag is the most ever paid for a venture-capital-backed company and gives a startup founded in 2009 a valuation that is greater than that of household names such as Southwest Airlines and Sony.
这是有史以来针对风投支持的创业公司规模最大的一笔收购交易,同时,这次交易也让2009年创立的WhatsApp估价比诸如西南航空、索尼之类家喻户晓的企业更高。
The deal marks the coming-of-age of messaging apps, which let people send text messages and share photos and other stuff without incurring charges from telecoms firms.
这笔交易标志着即时通讯软件的成熟。通过WhatsApp,人们不需要向电话运营商付费,就能够发送信息、分享照片以及一些其他东西。
WhatsApp is free to use for 12 months and then costs a mere 99 cents a year.
人们可以免费使用这款软件长达12个月,接着每年仅需99美分便可继续使用。
Plenty of other such apps have sprung up, including Viber, which Rakuten, a Japanese internet giant, recently bought for 900m, and the immensely popular WeChat, which belongs to Tencent, an innovative Chinese company.
许多相类似的应用已经在市场中涌现,例如最近被日本网络巨头Rakuten以9亿美元收购的应用Viber,以及受到极大欢迎的微信,而这是一个由中国创新企业腾讯公司所开发的应用。
All of them have benefited from two profound trends that are transforming the technology landscape.
以上的所有应用均得益于两大影响深远的,正改变着科技格局的趋势。
The first of these is the rapid growth of web-connected smartphones, which has allowed WhatsApp and its rivals to spread like wildfire.
首先便是能够连接互联网的智能手机迅速普及。这一趋势让WhatsApp以及其对手们能够像野火一般飞快地蔓延开来,获得大量的用户。
Announcing the deal Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's boss, said WhatsApp had reached 450m users much faster than any other web service.
在宣布交易之时,Facebook的老板马克?扎克伯格表示,目前WhatsApp已经拥有了4亿5千万用户,远比其他任何网络应用服务的用户要多。
It has also made itself addictive: 72% of its users are active on it every day.
与此同时,它也成功地使用户们沉溺其中:每天的活跃用户数占总数的72%。
And the viral nature of its appeal means it has achieved all this without spending a penny on marketing.
如此强烈的病毒式吸引力意味着这家公司没有在市场营销上投入过一分钱,便取得了这一切成就。
Casual-gaming apps are also spreading rapidly on mobile devices.
同样地,休闲游戏类应用正迅速地攻占着人们的移动电子设备。
King.com, which filed for an IPO in New York on February 18th, is a case in point.
英国移动游戏公司King.com于2月18日在纽约提交的IPO申请书,便很好地印证了这一点。
The company, which makes the hit game Candy Crush Saga, saw its monthly active users soar from 67m in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 408m in the same period last year.
这家公司便是知名游戏《糖果粉碎传奇》的开发商,而他们的每月活跃用户数量从2012年第四季度的6千7百万上涨至去年同期的4亿8千万。
Its revenues soared too, hitting 1.9 billion last year compared with 164m in 2012.
公司利润也在飞涨,其数额从2012年1亿6千4百万美元上涨至去年的19亿美元。
The second trend behind WhatsApp's success is the dramatic decline in the cost of building start-ups.
WhatsApp成功背后的第二个趋势便是创业成本的大幅降低。
Thanks to things such as cloud computing, which lets young firms buy vast amounts of cheap computing capacity, entrepreneurs can create globe-spanning businesses on shoestring budgets.
在种种因素的作用下,企业家们可以用极低的成本在全球扩展业务。例如云计算,这便是一种能让新公司廉价购买大量运算能力的方法。
WhatsApp has just 32 software engineers, which means that each one supports some 14m users.
WhatsApp仅有32名软件工程师,也就相当于每一位工程师要维护接近1千4百万用户的运作。
And the volume of messages it is handling is said to be the equivalent of all the SMS messages transmitted by the world's telecoms companies.
据称,WhatsApp所处理的信息总量已相当于全世界所有电话运营商所处理的短信量总和。
Indeed, WhatsApp's success in many ways mirrors that of Facebook itself, which came from nowhere to dominate social networking.
诚然,WhatsApp的成功或多或少复刻了Facebook自身的发展模式,他们同样地是从默默无闻小公司起步,建立起了自己的社交网络帝国。
Recently, however, Facebook has been losing some of its cool, especially among younger users.
然而,近期Facebook已不再像从前一样那么吸引人,这一情况在更加年轻的用户群体中尤为明显。
That may explain why the famously paranoid Mr Zuckerberg is willing to pay a king's ransom for a company that might ultimately eclipse his own creation.
这或许能解释为何众所周知的偏执狂扎克伯格愿意付出一笔巨资去购买一家可能会完全超越自己Facebook的公司。
He has spent lavishly before, paying around 1 billion for Instagram, a photo-sharing app, in 2012.
而在此之前,他也做过一掷千金式的事情:2012年支付了约10亿美元收购。
But does the whopping price tag for WhatsApp make sense?
但是,对WhatsApp进行如此高价的收购真的合理吗?
Assuming it keeps adding users at its current rate of 1m a day—and they end up paying for its service—it could generate hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue.
假设它依旧能保持每天1百万的用户增长速度,接着这批用户最终将付费使用这款应用,而这能够为公司带来成千上万的收益。
Twitter, which reported 665m of revenue last year, has a market capitalisation of 30 billion.
据称,去年利润为6亿6千5百万美元的Twitter总市值为300亿美元。
Much will depend on how well Mr Zuckerberg gets on with Jan Koum, the boss of WhatsApp, who is joining Facebook's board and will run the app as an independent business.
这笔交易的最终收益情况如何,很大程度上将取决于扎克伯格是否能与简?库姆进行良好合作。这位WhatsApp的老板将加入Facebook董事会,并且会继续独立运营这款应用。
Mr Koum, who has a well-known aversion to collecting people's data and plastering advertising over his app, seems an odd bedfellow for Facebook.
虽然这位以不采集用户个人信息以及回避应用广告推广而闻名的库姆,对Facebook来说似乎格格不入。
But the deal was clearly one that he couldn't refuse.
但很显然,这确实是一笔让他无法拒绝的交易。
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