Displaying items by tag: Sony
Sony Mobile Communications announced a new addition to its Xperia smartphone portfolio on August 21: Xperia XZ1, the first smartphone capable of scanning 3D objects. The product unveiling follows Sony Mobile’s recent Q1 2017 financial results, which saw operating income reach 3.6 billion yen (US$32.9 million).
For the first time ever in a smartphone, Sony unveiled a smartphone that can capture high quality 3D scans of objects in just one minute using four scan modes of Sony’s 3D Creator; a unique innovation in-house algorithm for fast and easy scanning of 3D objects. The phone can perform a head scan, face scan, food scan and freeform scan.
Each mode has its own custom guides for ease of use and after finishing your object scan there are various playful options. Either share with your friends on messenger apps using 3D stickers or upload to the 3D community such as Sketchfab, make the scan come alive by using it to create an avatar for use in the camera AR effects options, third party apps or as a live wallpaper, or even send your scan to a 3D printer to make it into a memorable keepsake.
Sony’s Xperia XZ1 incorporates the latest Motion Eye camera for capturing detail beyond human eye capability, new ground-breaking technology for mobile with 3D scanning, class-leading display technologies for beautiful on-screen images including HDR display, and a premium listening experience with Hi-Res Audio.
Combining advanced processing power with super-fast download speeds, Xperia XZ1’s memory-stacked Exmor RS image sensor pushes motion capture to the next level and produces exceptional image quality. You can record videos in 960 frames per second, providing super slow motion video playback.
Plus, the 19 MP rear camera’s new Predictive Capture stays one step ahead and automatically starts buffering images when it detects action or even a smile, before you press the shutter button. So you can find a moment you have missed from a selection of up to four shots. Its new Autofocus burst intelligently follows your subject, adjusting the focus to make sure your action shots stay sharp.
Rounding off the premium camera experience is the first-class 13-megapixel front camera with a 1/3” sensor and a display flash so you’ll get outstanding selfies in any light.
The Xperia XZ1 takes full advantage of Sony’s BRAVIA TV technology and it brings more color and contrast by incorporating HDR (High Dynamic Range) in its 5.2” Full HD display. Further technologies, including TRILUMINOS Display for mobile, X-Reality for mobile and Dynamic Contrast Enhancer work together to give razor-sharp, detailed and brighter images on screen.
Sony audio expertise also lets you immerse yourself in the authentic sound of Hi-Resolution Audio with Xperia XZ1. Thanks to Sony’s DSEE HX you can also enjoy more of your music in near Hi-Resolution with its up-scaling capability.
The smartphone is water resistant, dust-proof and reinforced with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the display. Wrapping up the premium design are four new colors: Moonlit Blue, Venus Pink, Warm Silver, and classic Black.
Xperia XZ1 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform with X16 LTE, designed to provide blazing fast Gigabit LTE downloads speeds (up to 1Gbps) and performance to enjoy a modern lifestyle whilst working or having fun.
The Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform is engineered to support stunning graphics, smooth performance and enhanced battery efficiency. File transfers are also super-charged thanks to the USB 3.1 connection which is 10 times quicker than USB 2.0 with a transfer speed of up to 5Gbps.
Chinese firm DPVR overtook HTC as the top virtual reality (VR) headset vendor in China in Q2 2017, according to Canalys research, shipping 18,000 headsets, resulting in a 30 percent quarter-on-quarter increase. HTC, whose only product is the HTC Vive basic headset, suffered a 6 percent sequential decline, shipping 14,000 units.
Sony took third place in China, according to the research, shipping 9,000 PlayStation VR headsets. According to Canalys estimates, the overall VR headset market in China grew 25 percent quarter-on-quarter to reach 80,000 units. Notable vendors, including Pico, 3Glasses and Hypereal, contributed to growth with new product releases.
DPVR ships a variety of VR products, with a strong focus on standalone smart VR headsets, which accounted for 60 percent of its total shipments in Q2. The company benefited from a better product mix, according to Canalys, with the addition of the newly-released E3, a basic VR headset that tethers to a PC.
“The E3’s biggest selling point is its competitive price,” said Canalys Analyst Jason Low. “By dropping the barrier to entry, businesses are now investing more in VR. DPVR is winning contracts from B2B partners, including media content and service providers looking to deliver VR content to customers at home.”
DPVR shipped 7,000 E3s in Q2 2017, though it still trailed behind HTC and Sony in the basic VR headset segment.
In the second half of the year, Canalys expects the market to move toward smart VR headsets. HTC announced the recruitment of developers for its upcoming smart VR headset during ChinaJoy 2017, an entertainment expo held in Shanghai in July.
“HTC saw the need to quickly launch a standalone headset specifically for the Chinese market to follow the trend early,” said Low. But even as HTC drops the selling price, the current Vive system poses many challenges for both consumer and business adoption due to its complexity and the need for VR-ready PCs. “HTC will regain its top position in China if it produces an appealing standalone headset that is affordable yet capable of providing new use cases for both businesses and consumers.”
China’s consumer market remains challenging, especially for basic VR headsets that need an additional external computing device, according to Canalys. But Chinese vendors have identified opportunities that HTC and Sony missed.
“Hypereal, a newcomer to the industry, released the Pano, an affordable headset suitable for VR gaming on the PC, to fill the void caused by the absence of Oculus in China,” said Canalys Research Analyst Mo Jia. “Vendors must lower prices while improving the user experience and content to drive growth and adoption in the consumer market. Pico demonstrated that it is possible to produce an appealing standalone headset while offering a decent VR experience for under CNY 2,000 (US$300).”
Canalys estimates that worldwide VR headset shipments reached 800,000 units in Q2 2017, with China accounting for 10 percent of the market.
For the second time this year, the price of Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset equipment dropped, fueling speculation that the technology has become difficult to sell. The price of the headsets was reduced to just $399 for the company’s ‘Summer of Rift’ sale. Oculus VP, Jason Rubin insists the reduction was an attempt at giving the hardware mass market appeal now that games are more available, but critics aren’t as optimistic.
VR emerged as a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 when startup Oculus promised a transformative and immersive experience for users like never seen before. In 2016 the technology debuted commercially after Facebook purchased Oculus for $3 billion in 2014. Other successful VR brands include Sony’s PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive. VR was hailed as an entirely new form of technology that could revolutionize entertainment and communication.
“Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home,” said Facebook founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg after the company acquired Oculus in 2014. Zuckerberg’s VR ambitions have been met to a degree, but there are signs that Oculus Rift, among its competitors, hasn’t met its mark.
The price drop of the Oculus Rift has given rise to the belief that the hardware is too expensive and out of touch with everyday consumers, and that the only way to get more consumers on board is to make VR equipment more affordable and less high-end.
For the Summer of Rift sale, Oculus Rift headsets with matching controllers cost just $399 which is $400 less than when the product first hit the market, and $200 less than when its price was initially slashed in March. The price cut propelled the Oculus Rift to the bottom of the price chain, making it even more affordable than its cheapest rival, Sony, which sells PlayStation VR at $460 including headset and controllers.
In an interview with Reuters, Oculus vice president, Jason Rubin defended the hardware price cut against those who suggested it was initiated because the product was failing to sell. He said the reduction wasn’t a sign of weak product sales, but rather a move to give the Oculus Rift headset more mass appeal now that VR games are more available.
However, critics have been quick to highlight the fact that Oculus has faced its fair share of controversy lately, including the closing of its nascent film studio, as well as the shutdown of many in-store VR demo stations, and a controversial intellectual property lawsuit.
In February, Oculus was ordered to pay half a billion dollars to the gaming company ZeniMax after a jury determined that Oculus founder, Palmer Luckey, failed to comply with a non-disclosure agreement. ZeniMax sued the virtual reality startup in May 2014, months after it was acquired by Facebook. The game-maker alleged Oculus had improperly used code from ZeniMax to build its VR headset. Oculus said it would appeal the decision adding that the company was committed to the “long-term success of VR”.
The continual price drops in Oculus VR hardware are great for consumers wanting to try out the technology at an affordable price, but it certainly raises the issue of whether or not Facebook is concerned about the product’s market penetration and the overall entry price of virtual reality technology. There are also concerns that consumers are reluctant to try the clunky headsets which are unfamiliar to them.
CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber told Technology Review: “I think in a store environment getting people to sit down and go through that experience [demo] of getting a headset on and getting set up is quite a difficult thing to achieve.”
Blaber believes VR will appeal to a larger market once companies can convince consumers that the technology is about more than just gaming. Another important characteristic holding back VR’s mass appeal, according to analysts, is that the high-end systems require a PC with very high specs which makes consumers reluctant to purchase the hardware knowing there are high costs involved.
There’s speculation that Oculus dropped the price of its VR hardware because it’s planning to drop something better soon. Consumers will be aware that it has been more than a year since the first-generation of systems from HTC and Oculus were launched and they will be anticipating when the next, more advanced hardware will come along. Consumers might be thinking: ‘Is it really worth spending all that money now for VR hardware that could soon be second best?’
In addition, Oculus will now have a better chance of competing against its rival HTC Vive which sells for $799 ($300 more expensive than the Oculus Rift). Oculus will be keen to expand its market share, which is currently around half of HTC’s, according to Steam Hardware & Software Survey of June 2017. HTC Vive is the most popular VR headset, the survey reports, followed by Oculus Rift.
Could mobile be the solution?
The VR industry is set to become a $7 billion business this year, according to an April 2017 report by Greenlight Insights, which also predicts that global VR revenues will totally close to $75 billion by 2021. But these estimates must be taken with a grain of salt, because the main players in VR headsets haven’t yet revealed any actual sales numbers for their equipment. HTC Vive and Oculus have been silent about their figures so far.
Samsung, however, has come forward with promising results from sales of its mobile Gear VR headsets. In an official announcement during a press conference at CES 2017 in January, the company said more than 5 million of its headsets were already in consumers’ hands globally. The company also said those users have watched more than 10 million hours of video in Gear VR, and the mobile headset is currently available in 20,000 retail stores across the US.
Google also shared the success of mobile virtual reality with its Daydream VR headsets. 260,000 of the headsets were sold in the last quarter of 2016, according to SuperData Research; however, Google hasn’t yet revealed any official numbers. The company also says more than 10 million of its Cardboard viewer headsets have shipped worldwide, with 160 million downloads of Cardboard apps on Google Play.
The success of Google and Samsung’s mobile VR headsets suggests that VR for smartphones could be the way to attract mass appeal to the technology. HTC has caught on to the trend and is expected to soon follow up the Vive with a new VR mobile system. HTC’s president of global sales, Chia-lin Chang, said the company has a “good plan in terms of combining mobility with VR” in a recent interview with CNET in Singapore.
HTC is also focused on creating more content for VR, especially since the amount of fresh VR content that appeared at CES was “underwhelming” according to analysts who attended the event. HTC relies on the success of its VR products due to its stumbling core phone business, and is working hard, according to Chairman and CEO Cher Wang, to foster more VR content to keep the industry humming.
“We have learned much from our entrance into the world of virtual reality,” said Wang, “and we believe our focused approach to building the ecosystem is the right strategy to enable the whole industry to expand through the creation of compelling content and rich experiences.”
Japanese electronics giant Sony Corporation says it will drop its smartphone portfolio under the ‘Premium Standard’ category which was launched in 2016 and comprised of the Xperia X and the Xperia Compact. The devices were designed by Sony to be both affordable and offer flagship specifications, but sales didn’t take off.
Sony faced some backlash after it discontinued the popular Xperia Z series of smartphones and replaced it with its Premium Standard collection. Reports suggest fans were disappointed by the fact that Sony was promoting the new collection as flagship devices but the phones lacked certain features and choice of processor compared to the popular Xperia Z lineup.
The disappointment showed in the low sales figures for Sony which eventually led the company to end their Premium Standard smartphone series. Sony first hinted that it would be axing the $500 price range smartphone series at its May 24 Japan-based Investor Relations Day event. The company now plans to focus on its flagship Xperia XZ models and its XA mid-ranged smartphone lineup to recover from the lost sales and regain market share.
In Sony’s FY 2016 sales targets and results statement, its unit sales target achievement rate of the Premium Standard smartphone models was just 31 percent outside of Japan last year. In addition, the unit sales target achievement rate of the handsets in Japan and international markets were 85 percent and 43 percent, respectively.
This highlights a disparity when compared with the Xperia XZ and Xperia X smartphones, which grossed a total of 60 percent unit sales target achievement rate outside Japan and 88 percent in the international markets. Sony will now focus on its flagship and mid-ranged devices including the Xperia XZ (flagship) and the Xperia XA1 and XA1 Ultra (mid-range).
Sony Mobile Communications has shown strong global financial performance by reporting a profit of 10.2 Billion Yen (US$ 91 Million) this year, as per financial results from the company.
Continuing its growth trend, Sony Mobile expects to increase annual smartphone unit sales by 1.9 million year-on-year, mainly in the Middle East and Europe, to 16.5 million units. Sales revenue is expected to increase 8 per cent year-on-year to 820 Billion Yen, which will be a record operating income for Sony Mobile.
Sony Mobile has put emphasis on higher value-added models to achieve profitability. Operating results improved significantly mainly due to a reduction in operating costs and benefit from restructuring initiatives. Further improvement in profitability resulted from a concentration on fewer geographic areas and a reduction in restructuring charges.
Hideyuki Furumi, Executive Vice President, Global Sales & Marketing, Sony Mobile Communications said: "We are committed to the vision of offering personalised and intelligent products to the market and continue to push the boundaries of communication through cutting-edge technologies. We are developing Artificial Intelligence apps on our phones. We have continued to evolve and transform our smartphone portfolio, with an unwavering focus on delivering the most advanced technology in elegantly designed products. We expect to see a good next year financially, with a range of new products and increasing smartphone unit sales."
Sony Corporation, of which Sony Mobile is a division, is targeting its highest annual operating profit in two decades, thanks to continued dominance in gaming and strong growth in phone-camera chips. Operating profit is on track to reach 500 Billion Yen for the fiscal year through March 2018, which will be more than that posted in any year since 1998.
Sony has introduced two new smartphones to market, one of which will be added to its flagship Xperia X series with the launch of the XZs. The Xperia XZs has arrived to much fanfare - and it boasts a number of advanced features – including slow-motion recording capabilities which have excited consumers in Asia.
Sony also introduced the Xperia XA1 – the device is aimed at more budget conscious consumers and has a power efficient processor specifically aimed to enable longer battery stamina within the device. The camera is without doubt the main focus of the XZs – it features a new 19-Megapixel camera that Sony bosses have claimed has 19% larger pixels in order to capture more light. In addition to this, the XZs which will take residence in the organizations flagship series possess the ability to capture videos in super slow-motion at a blazing 960 frames per-second (fps) that slows fast-moving subjects to snail’s crawl.
Another eye-catching feature of the new smartphone XZ introduced by Sony is that camera also has a ‘predictive capture’ feature which automatically starts buffering images when it detects motion – which effectively enables you to capture that desired picture in an effortless manner. However, if this isn’t enough for you, the camera also possesses capabilities to record videos in 4K resolution and has 5-axis stabilization for smoother videos.
In modern society, we like to photograph and document everything - we even take pictures of our meals and post them on social media channels. The new XZs has a 22mm wide-angle lens that Sony sources says will allow you to fit more people into a group selfie! Specs-wise, the XZs come powered by a Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage that can be expanded to 256GB via microSD card. The Xperia XZs will come in three different colors which are ice blue, black, and warm silver and reports are suggested the product will retail at $655.
Sony has also catered for its more budgetary conscious customer base following the introduction of the XA1 smartphone, this latest release continues the borderless design initially introduced by the company in 2016, and features a 5-inch edge-to-edge design with a 720p resolution. On the camera side, the XA1 boasts a 23-Megapixel camera with Exmor RS sensor that is complemented by a 24mm wide-angle lens and f/2.0 aperture to allow for better lowlight capture.
Both products are expected to be available for pre-order from March 29 until April 9 at authorized locations and online via 11Street. Pre-order customers of the XZs will get a SBH80 stereo Bluetooth headset, UCH12W Quick Charger and a silicon case while XA1 customers get a DK60 charging dock, silicon case and tempered glass screen protector.
Sony Mobile Communications (Sony Mobile) has unveiled the Xperia L1 - a sleek smartphone with a large 5.5” HD display and fluid performance, all at an accessible price point.
“Xperia L1 is a smartphone that matches form with function" said Tsutomu Sato, Director of Global Product Marketing, at Sony Mobile Communications. “It combines an immersive display and smooth performance within an iconic Sony design, that you can be proud to show off."
Xperia L1 has understated premium looks – a large 5.5” HD display for an immersive and compelling viewing experience, whether enjoying content at home or on the move. This all sits within a recognisable Sony design; a seamless rounded frame that looks great and feels comfortable to use. Xperia L1 will be available in classic Black and White, with an additional Pink variant for select markets.
Powering Xperia L1's smooth and fluid performance is a Quad-core platform and fast 4G LTE capability. Downloading and storing content is also made easy, with a large 256GB memory expandable via microSD card, capable of securely housing images and videos.
Also, “Smart Cleaner” works unobtrusively in the background to ensure maximum power is available to your Xperia L1 at all times - automatically removing unused processes and cached data, for a smooth experience and longer-lasting device.
The Xperia L1 features Sony Mobile's "Xperia Actions" engine to responsively adapt device settings and functionality to your surroundings – the “Good Night” mode will automatically set the device to “Do not disturb”, lower display brightness and ensure there’s no disruption whilst charging.
Introduced in 2016, “Xperia Tips” is your personal assistant – attuning to your preferences, to provide relevant and timely on-screen advice to help you get the most from your Xperia L1. The Xperia L1 launches across select markets in Europe, Middle East & Africa, Asia, North America and Latin America from late April 2017.
The GSMA announced that Sony's Xperia XZ Premium is the "Best New Smartphone or Connected Mobile Device at MWC 2017" at the annual Global Mobile Awards (Glomo Awards) at Mobile World Congress 2017.
"Xperia XZ Premium is our most technologically capable smartphone ever," said Hiroki Totoki, President and CEO at Sony Mobile Communications. "We're honoured by this recognition - Xperia XZ Premium has received endorsement from operator partners, media, consumers and industry peers alike, which is testament to our relentless pursuit of innovation, to deliver great products and experiences for consumers."
"Our congratulations to all of the winners and nominees of the GSMA's Glomo Awards at Mobile World Congress this week," said Michael O'Hara, Chief Marketing Officer, GSMA. "The Glomo Awards truly showcase those companies and individuals that are driving innovation in the rapidly evolving mobile industry. We thank all of our entrants, judges, sponsors and partners for supporting the 2017 Glomo Awards."
Xperia XZ Premium features Sony's new Motion Eye camera system to enable advanced features and excellence in picture quality, as well as the world's first 4K HDR display in a smartphone (5.5"). Motion Eye is capable of 960fps Super slow motion video capture and playback, which is four times slower than any other smartphone. Xperia XZ Premium rolls out globally from late Spring 2017 - available in Luminous Chrome and Deepsea Black.
Sony Mobile Communications (Sony Mobile) announced its most ground-breaking smartphone to date, Xperia XZ Premium, at Mobile World Congress 2017, with a camera so advanced it captures motion that the human eye can’t see, a beautiful 4K HDR display, super-fast download speeds, a stunning loop design and even more intelligent features.
Encapsulating decades of Sony innovation, Xperia XZ Premium incorporates imaging know-how embedded on Sony ‘α’ and Cyber-shot cameras to create the new Motion Eye camera system, for capturing life in ways no other smartphone can.
The first smartphone to feature a memory stacked Exmor RS sensor usually only found on premium compact cameras, it provides 5 x faster image scanning and data transfer. This means you can create sensational videos from your everyday moments by recording in 960 frames per second, providing Super slow motion video playback that is four times slower than other smartphones giving you more detail than has ever been possible in the palm of your hand.
Plus Predictive Capture stays one step ahead and automatically starts buffering images when it detects motion even before you press the button, so you can find a moment your eye may just have missed from a selection four shots taken a second before you clicked.
On top of this, the new 19MP high resolution sensor has 19% larger pixels to capture more light and provides exceptional detail and sharp images even in low-light and backlit conditions.
Additional improvements have been made inside Motion Eye to the Bionz for mobile processing engine meaning you’ll get sharper motion images without noise. Whilst clarity, detail and texture are improved to give exceptional image quality thanks to the redesigned G lens.
For the first time ever in a smartphone, Xperia XZ Premium features a 4K HDR (High Dynamic Range, 2160 x 3840) 5.5” display. A truly unique Sony experience, it uses Sony’s BRAVIA TV technology to give you an immersive 4K HDR viewing experience in the palm of your hand, removing the constraints of your sofa.
Astonishing brightness, colour, clarity and contrast are realised to create levels of realism you almost feel part of the scene. The sharp, vivid quality of the display is enriched by Sony’s native technologies TRILUMINOS Display for mobile, X-Reality for mobile and Dynamic Contrast Enhancer.
Xperia XZ Premium is powered by the cutting edge Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 platform, making it one of the very first smartphones capable of Gigabit Class LTE (up to 1Gbps). This is possible because of the integrated Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, which has the potential to transform how customers use their mobile devices by delivering fibre optic speeds on the go.
The Snapdragon 835 platform also supports stunning graphics, superior performance and enhanced battery efficiency. File transfers are also super-charged thanks to the USB 3.1 connection which is 10 times quicker than USB 2.0 with a transfer speed of up to 5Gbps. And with the USB Type-C socket, plugging in is easy because the connector is always the right way up.
Rain is one less thing to think about when you’re out and about with the Xperia XZ Premium. It’s water resistant, dust-proof and reinforced with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back of the handset, taking beauty and durability to new heights.
Taking intelligence to the next level Xperia XZ learns how you use your phone and adapts and makes recommendations to give you our most smartest and personal experience yet. The battery is maximised with Smart Stamina which uses the Xperia learning engine to accurately estimate how long your current battery will last based on your normal usage.
It even warns you if it detects you’re going to run out of power later that day and prompts you to activate Stamina mode. Battery Care and Qnovo Adaptive Charging are also included to protect your battery and keep it healthy up to twice as long.
The Sony experience is continued through to the audio and gaming capabilities. High Resolution Audio playback allows you to hear every nuance and detail in a track as if you’re right there with the artist. Sony’s native DSEE HX technology even up-scales streamed tracks or MP3s to near High-res quality and if you connect with wireless speakers or headphones, LDAC ensures you don’t lose a drop of sound quality by transferring three times more audio data than normal Bluetooth.
Working with your PlayStation 4 console, you can play the latest cutting-edge games on your Xperia XZ Premium - its advanced processing and fast memory access means game-play is always smooth and responsive, plus the 4K screen and powerful stereo speakers make it feel like you’re actually in the game.
Xperia XZ Premium is available globally in Luminous Chrome and Deepsea Black, from late Spring 2017. A range of supporting accessories will be available including the Quick Charger UCH12W which offers hours of battery time by plugging in for just a few minutes.
The head of Sony’s entertainment business, Michael Lynton, says he will step down from his position to devote his time to Snap Inc. (Snapchat) as the company prepares to go public. Lynton will reportedly step down from Japan-based Sony’s pictures and music business as of February 2 to spend more time as chairman of Snap Inc., Sony Corporation said in a release.
Lynton, who became chairman of Snap Inc.’s board late last year, was an early investor in the company, and has been on the board for almost four years. In the Sony release, Lynton said, “I have been involved with Evan (Spiegal) and Snapchat since its early days, and given its growth since then, decided the time was right to transition and focus on my role as chairman of the board of Snap Inc.”
According to the release, Lynton will stay on as “co-chief executive officer” of Sony Entertainment, and will work with Sony Corporation chief Kazuo Hirai to find a suitable successor. To oversee operations, Hirai will reportedly have a second office at Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City, California.
“The entertainment industry continues to undergo some of the most transformative changes it has ever seen,” said Hirai. “Michael’s vast experience and expertise in the entertainment and media space has been invaluable in charting a path forward through this new landscape.”
Lynton will now focus his efforts on Snap Inc., the company behind the successful photo and video messaging app Snapchat, which reportedly has over 150 million daily active users, including 50 million in Europe alone. The company recently announced London as the location of its international headquarters.
Snap Inc. reportedly filed confidential paperwork in November for a public share offering valuing the messaging platform at more than $20 billion. The initial public offering (IPO) would be among the biggest in the tech sector in recent years, shining a light on the fast-growing platform where mobile messages and photos disappear within seconds of being viewed by recipients.