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Beware the Apple iCloud phone phishing scam • Frequent Business Traveler
:
<p>Scammers have a new and improved way to fool people. A new phone-based phishing scam spoofing Apple’s official support number is likely to take a lot of people by surprise and result in those being called providing the scammers with sensitive information.

The call mimics an official Apple support call, displaying Apple’s logo, Cupertino address, and real toll-free number (800 692-7753). This is the same number, displayed as 800 MY-APPLE, when Apple customers request a call from the company.

Several FBT staffers have reported getting such calls in recent weeks. The calls are not identified by T-Mobile (the mobile operator used by our parent company, Accura) as “Scam Likely” even though it is clear that Apple’s number is being spoofed.

The automated message states that the recipient’s iCloud account “has been compromised” and that he should “stop going online.” The automated message then prompts the caller to dial a toll-free number with an 866 prefix for Apple support.

Typically, Apple’s automated system would prompt the caller to press “1” to be connected to Apple support.

I tried calling the 866 number, which was answered by a main greeting that told me I had reached Apple support and provided an expected wait time. The call was answered by a man with a vague Indian accent who, after asking the reason for my call, disconnected it.</p>


So much excess capacity in Indian call centres; seems like they've found a new version of their virus scam.
india  callcentre  virus  scam  icloud 
9 days ago by charlesarthur
How regional languages are fueling YouTube's growth in India • ETtech
Indulekha Aravind:
<p>The fall in data tariff caused other tectonic shifts — millions of new users came online through their phones from every corner of the country and a large section of people started watching more videos online. This statistic from media agency Zenith’s report, Online Video Forecasts 2018, is telling: if Indians spent 2 minutes a day on an average watching online videos in 2012, they were watching close to an hour a day in 2018.

This year, that figure is set to touch 67 minutes a day, the global average. Video streaming is estimated to account for 75% of mobile internet use in India by 2021, according to app analytics firm App Annie.

This meant for many Indians, video has become a window to the internet. At the centre of this shift is YouTube’s video streaming app in India, which today has 265 million active users a month. In 2016, according to Vidooly, YouTube reportedly had 60 million unique users a month.

YouTube has in a sense become a Google for users like Ahmed and Khan who prefer video to text and are more comfortable in their regional language. Google India says 2018 saw a 270% year-on-year growth in voice queries across all its platforms.</p>
india  youtube 
6 weeks ago by charlesarthur
India staring at a water apocalypse • Asia Times
Saikat Datta:
<p>While the ICIMOD study used climate change data and thousands of reports, another study using spy satellite imagery confirms that the loss to the glaciers has already arrived at an alarming stage. The study, published in the journal Sciences Advance, says that the region is losing 8.3 billion tons of ice every year. The average annual loss of ice between 2000 and 2016 doubled due to climate change. “Himalayan glaciers supply meltwater to densely populated catchments in South Asia,” the study notes, painting a grim picture of the region’s ability to sustain habitats.

If glaciers melting by the year 2100 is bad news, the outlook is worse when it comes to ground water. Himanshu Thakkar, who leads the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) in New Delhi, has been tracking water policies for decades. “Every study on the availability of water has now confirmed that ground water is the biggest source of water in the subcontinent. However, most governments are refusing to accept this as a reality. As a result, we have seen a succession of bad policies that has made matters worse,” he said.

Thakkar was part of a government committee in 2012 set up under the central planning commission, which used to design and implement India’s five-year development plans. Another study headed by noted water and development expert Mihir Shah concluded in 2016 that two-thirds of India’s irrigation needs depended exclusively on ground water.”However, since most of the finances are geared towards surface irrigation methods such as dams and canals, government agencies refuse to accept a scientific fact. As a result we have a slew of bad policies that have no bearing on reality,” Thakkar said.

Ironically, while India is facing one of its worst water crises and the southwest monsoons continue to be delayed, lawmakers who were recently elected in the general election don’t seem concerned.</p>


"Government agencies refuse to accept a scientific fact" is going to be written on humanity's gravestone.
water  india 
10 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Boeing's 737 Max software outsourced to $9-an-hour engineers • Bloomberg
Peter Robison:
<p>Increasingly, the iconic American planemaker and its subcontractors have relied on temporary workers making as little as $9 an hour to develop and test software, often from countries lacking a deep background in aerospace - notably India.

In offices across from Seattle’s Boeing Field, recent college graduates employed by the Indian software developer HCL Technologies Ltd. occupied several rows of desks, said Mark Rabin, a former Boeing software engineer who worked in a flight-test group that supported the Max.

The coders from HCL were typically designing to specifications set by Boeing. Still, “it was controversial because it was far less efficient than Boeing engineers just writing the code,” Rabin said. Frequently, he recalled, “it took many rounds going back and forth because the code was not done correctly.”

Boeing’s cultivation of Indian companies appeared to pay other dividends. In recent years, it has won several orders for Indian military and commercial aircraft, such as a $22bn one in January 2017 to supply SpiceJet Ltd. That order included 100 737-Max 8 jets and represented Boeing’s largest order ever from an Indian airline, a coup in a country dominated by Airbus.

Based on resumes posted on social media, HCL engineers helped develop and test the Max’s flight-display software, while employees from another Indian company, Cyient Ltd., handled software for flight-test equipment.

In one post, an HCL employee summarized his duties with a reference to the now-infamous model, which started flight tests in January 2016: “Provided quick workaround to resolve production issue which resulted in not delaying flight test of 737-Max (delay in each flight test will cost very big amount for Boeing).”</p>


Boeing says those programmers didn't do the MCAS software that's blamed for the crashes. There seems to be a deeper problem at Boeing, dumping its institutional memory (experienced staff) on the basis that its products are "mature".
software  india  boeing  outsourcing 
11 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Why Chennai, India's sixth biggest city, has run out of water • Gizmodo
Brian Kahn:
<p>Climate change has an influence on heat waves, raising the risks of more evaporation and baking in drought by sucking moisture out of the soil. Background warming has also <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00704-012-0646-6">raised Chennai’s temperatures about 1.3ºC (2.4ºF)</a> over the past 60 years meaning even without heat waves, climate change is altering the hydrological cycle. But the problems for Chennai’s water supply extend beyond low rainfall.

“The issue plaguing Chennai is a mix of over consumption and low rainfall during 2018 North East Monsoon,” Bhagat said. “The city and its neighbouring region has witnessed massive growth in all sectors over the last century which had resulted in massive [increases in water] consumption.”

Indeed, the city has seen its population grow by double digit percentages every decade since the 1940s. The huge growth coupled with weak planning has led to a water system that’s both overtaxed and widely inefficient. The rapid urbanization has also paved over once permeable surfaces, reducing groundwater recharge rates. Chennai’s reservoir capacity also remains well below what’s needed to serve the population and there’s no water metering program in place, meaning already scarce water resources aren’t being monitored for overuse.

In short, it’s the perfect storm of human failures and a harsher climate coming together create huge issues for the city’s residents.</p>


"No water metering program in place". Which isn't surprising (it's an old city), but suddenly looks necessary. However the cost of doing that would be colossal.

<a href="http://www.capetowndrought.com">Cape Town in 2018</a> (and that site is worth a look in its own right), Chennai in 2019, which ones shall we nominate for 2020?
india  water  climate 
11 weeks ago by charlesarthur
The Chinese takeover of Indian app ecosystem • FactorDaily
Shadma Shaikh:
<p>2018 is likely to be remembered as the year when the Chinese took over Indian smartphones. In December 2017, the top 10 mobile apps on Google Playstore looked a lot different than what they look from a year later. The Playstore rankings for India in 2018 have China written all over it. Five out of the top 10 mobile apps in India are Chinese — versus two at the end of 2017.

That’s not all. As of December 2017, there were 18 Chinese apps among the top 100 across various categories on Google Playstore. These included popular ones such as UCBrowser, SHAREit, and NewsDog. Fast forward to the end of 2018. The number of Chinese apps in the top 100 Playstore apps has reached 44. Beyond the top 100, there are others like Rozbuzz, a social entertainment content platform, and YouStar, a video chat room platform, that enjoy a more than one million downloads in India – a threshold that evokes grudging respect in this app community.

The growth of many of these global apps has a new hotspot: India. The message is clear for the Chinese — if you want growth, conquer India.

Several Chinese apps have become significantly popular over the last year in India: social content platforms such as Helo and SHAREit; entertainment and engagement apps such as TikTok, LIKE, and Kwai; video and live streaming ones such as LiveMe, Bigo Live, and Vigo Video; utility apps such as BeautyPlus, Xender and Cam Scanner; gaming leaders such as PUBG, Clash of Kings, and Mobile Legends; not to forget popular e-commerce apps including ClubFactory, SHEIN, and ROMWE.

A starking similarity not missed by observers of this industry is the target group of most of these platforms is the new internet users in India, specifically those from smaller cities and towns. To be fair, this market was first recognised by Bengaluru-based ShareChat that was founded back in 2015.</p>


Wonder how long it will take India to wrest this back with home-grown apps. You'd think they would have a cultural advantage. But many elements of successful apps - WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram - are cross-cultural. (Thanks Stormyparis for the link.)
india  china  smartphone 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
Facebook, Twitter sucked into India-Pakistan information war • Reuters
Drazen Jorgic and Alasdair Pal:
<p>[Pakistan social media campaigner Hanzala] Tayyab, 24, spends his days on Facebook and encrypted WhatsApp chatrooms organizing members of his Pakistan Cyber Force group to promote anti-India content and make it go viral, including on Twitter where he has more than 50,000 followers.

That ranges from highlighting alleged Indian human rights abuses to lionizing insurgents battling Indian security forces in Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan region at the heart of historic tensions between Pakistan and India.

Tayyab’s job became harder on Monday when the Pakistan Cyber Force’s Facebook account was taken down, one of 103 Pakistani accounts the social media giant said it had deleted because of “inauthentic behavior” and spamming. Some Indian nationalist accounts have also been suspended in recent weeks.

Portraying himself as an online combatant defending Pakistan from India’s attempts to destabilize his country, Tayyab plans to continue playing his role in the broader information war being fought between the nuclear-armed foes.

“We are countering the Indian narrative through social media, we are countering the enemies of Pakistan,” Tayyab told Reuters in the capital Islamabad.</p>


Lovely, delightful social media. Connecting the world.
pakistan  india  socialwarming 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
Spotify adds 1 million unique listeners in India in less than a week • Reuters
Akanksha Rana:
<p>Spotify Technology SA, the world’s most popular paid music streaming service, said it racked up more than 1 million unique users in India across its free and premium tiers since launching less than a week ago.

Spotify launched in India on Tuesday, stepping into a price-sensitive market crowded by well-funded players such as Reliance Industries’ JioSaavn and Apple’s Apple Music.

The Swedish company is offering a free version that will run with ads, alongside a premium ad-free variant that will charge users 119 Indian rupees ($1.68) per month.

India, with a population of 1.3 billion and more than 400 million smartphone users, is a potentially huge market for the Swedish company.

According to media reports, Tencent-backed Gaana leads the Indian streaming market with over 80 million monthly users.</p>


Uphill battle, but great for those user-count bragging rights. (Apple Music has been in India for a long time, I think.)
india  spotify  music 
march 2019 by charlesarthur
'Abhinandan', 'Balakot', 'Pulwama': Bollywood producers fight to register “patriotic” movie titles • HuffPost India
Ankur Pathak:
<p>“PULWAMA: THE DEADLY ATTACK,” declared the middle-aged Bollywood producer, before turning to his mousy assistant. “Kaisa laga?”

The assistant hurriedly indicated his assent. “Ek Aur Likho —Pulwama Attack Versus Surgical Strikes 2.0,” the producer said, before turning to this correspondent. “You’ve got to think of long, complicated titles. The straight ones like Pulwama, Surgical Strike 2.0, Balakot are all gone.”

While most of India anxiously waits for news of war and prays for the safe return of captured Indian Air Force Pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, Bollywood is moving quickly to capitalise on this national tragedy.

February 26, the day India launched air strikes on Pakistan, was an unusually busy day at the cramped up offices of the Indian Motion Pictures’ Producers’ Association (IMMPA) in Andheri in Western Mumbai as representatives of at least 5 different production companies rushed to reserve jingoistic movie titles for films that they hoped to make in the future.

A person present at the office described the scene as “a khichdi,” saying producers fought to register titles like Balakot, Surgical Strikes 2.0, and Pulwama Attacks. “After a point, they started discussing amongst themselves, suggesting variations of the same title,” said the person, who begged off being identified for the fear of upsetting Bollywood bigwigs. “It was quite a sight.”</p>


Something something clouds something silver linings something post-apocalyptic film showtimes
india  pakistan 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
Indian smartphone market grows 10% in 2018 • Canalys Newsroom
<p>India remained one of the bright spots in an otherwise declining global smartphone market in 2018. Smartphone shipments in the country were up by more than 12m at 137m, the best growth of any market in absolute volume terms. India now accounts more than 10% of the world's smartphone market, up from 6% five years ago. It is one of six markets in the top 20 that posted positive full-year growth, with its performance outshone by Indonesia (17.1%), Russia (14.1%) and Italy (10.0%). Of these four markets, India is the only one that has seen consecutive growth for the past three years.

In terms of vendors, Xiaomi took pole position for the first time in 2018, shipping 41.0m units to take 30% of the total Indian smartphone market. Despite being knocked off first place, Samsung still grew shipments by 20% and took a 26% share of the market. Vivo, Oppo and Micromax held third, fourth and fifth place respectively.

<img src="https://www.canalys.com/static/press_release/images/PR%20table.jpg" width="100%" /></p>


Notice the squeeze on "others" there.
india  smartphone 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
Apple iPhone sales in China fell by a fifth in fourth quarter, says IDC • Reuters
Brenda Goh, Sonam Rai and Sankalp Phartiyal:
<p>Apple no longer breaks out detailed numbers on iPhone shipments in its quarterly results, meaning that surveys and channel checks by the likes of IDC are often the clearest indicator of shifts in sales.

The figures in the report showed a 19.9% fall in Apple’s smartphone shipments in the final quarter of 2018, while Huawei’s grew 23.3%. That reduced Apple’s market share to 11.5% from 12.9% a year earlier, the report said.

“Besides regular performance upgrades in 2018 and small changes to the exterior, there has not been any major innovation that supports users to continue to change their phones at the greatly increased price,” the report said.

“The severe macro environment in China and the assault of domestic brands’ innovative products have also been reasons for Apple’s continued decline.”

A separate report from another common industry source, Hong Kong-based Counterpoint, earlier this month confirmed a similar sharp fall in sales in India - another big emerging market where Apple is struggling.</p>
apple  iphone  china  india 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
Over 40 smartphone brands exit India market owing to hyper-competition • ET Telecom
Tina Gurnaney:
<p>As many as 41 smartphone brands exited the India smartphone market in 2018 owing to hyper-competition, while 15 brands entered the market eyeing growth prospects that India has to offer, according to data shared by Cybermedia Research.

Mirroring the same pattern, more exits than entry of smartphone players is expected in 2019 as major brands like Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo, Oppo continue to consolidate their share by eating into those of the smaller brands, analysts say. Counterpoint Research predicts the exit of 15 smartphone players in 2019 versus entry of five players. CMR sees nine new entrants versus 10 exits in 2019.

As per CMR estimates, India currently has around 200 smartphone players operating in the market. At its peak in 2014-15, the mobile phone market had over 300 smartphone players.</p>


<em>That</em> was the peak? Yet it's still the fastest growing (big) market.
india  smartphone 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
Indians are so crazy about mobile video, they use Youtube like Google • WSJ
Eric Bellman:
<p>Indian smartphone users now download an average of about 8.5 gigabytes of data a month—or potentially more than 40 hours of video—off mobile networks without using Wi-Fi, according to research by Analysys Mason. That is more than what users in the U.S., China or Japan download.

Delhi student Ritik Taank says he misses playing cricket with friends. But these days, he says, everyone is at home watching and sharing funny video clips on their smartphones. The 18-year-old spends hours each day flipping through music videos, comedy skits, gaming clips and his favorite fashion and entertainment vlogs. He also uses YouTube to watch math and science explainer videos while riding the bus to school. Often, he reaches his one-gigabyte-a-day limit by sunset and has to switch to his mother’s phone.

“She scolds me,” he said. “But I explain it would be a waste if her data doesn’t get used.”

The video explosion is transforming the Indian media landscape, creating new stars in Bollywood, forcing new investment in servers and cellular sites, and launching new genres of online content. Video has surged in popularity elsewhere, of course; it has taken off in a new direction in China, where short-video platforms offering seconds-long clips have made companies like Beijing Bytedance Technology Co. among the world’s most highly-valued startups…

In India, it is creating new opportunities for YouTube—owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google—and other platforms to learn new lessons about video use. The South Asian nation’s surfers, many of them coming online for the first time, are exploring the web through video rather than static websites. They are driven more by swiping, speaking and viewing, and less by typing, searching and reading—prompting companies to adapt their apps.</p>

Maybe it's a glimpse of the 5G world?
India  video 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
Foxconn looks beyond China to India for iPhone assembly • WSJ
Yang Jie, Yoko Kubota, Newley Purnell and Rajesh Roy:
<p>Apple's largest iPhone assembler, Foxconn Technology Group, is considering producing the devices in India, people familiar with the matter said, a move that could reduce Apple’s dependence on China for manufacturing and potentially for sales.

Executives at Foxconn, a contract manufacturer that assembles a large portion of the world’s iPhones in China, are studying whether to include an India project in budget plans, one of the people said. Senior executives, possibly including Chairman Terry Gou, plan to visit India after next month’s Lunar New Year to discuss plans, the people familiar said.

Foxconn’s look at India comes as sustained friction between Washington and Beijing over trade and technology is pushing many companies to consider diversifying their supply chains away from China, a global center of assembly for smartphones, computers and other electronics.</p>

OK, but this isn't going to be sorted out by Christmas. For Foxconn to build a plant able to assemble iPhones in any volume is a 10-year project at least: find land, build plant, calibrate, test, full production. As a long-term shift, this is something Apple may be thankful for in the future, but it's not going to sort out its position between the rock and hard place of the US-China trade wars in a hurry.
Foxconn  iphone  apple  china  india 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
The malign incompetence of the British ruling class • The New York Times
Pankaj Mishra:
<p>From David Cameron, who recklessly gambled his country’s future on a referendum in order to isolate some whingers in his Conservative party, to the opportunistic Boris Johnson, who jumped on the Brexit bandwagon to secure the prime ministerial chair once warmed by his role model Winston Churchill, and the top-hatted, theatrically retro Jacob Rees-Mogg, whose fund management company has set up an office within the European Union even as he vehemently scorns it, the British political class has offered to the world an astounding spectacle of mendacious, intellectually limited hustlers.

Even a columnist for The Economist, an organ of the British elite, now professes dismay over “Oxford chums” who coast through life on “bluff rather than expertise.” “Britain,” the magazine belatedly lamented last month, “is governed by a self-involved clique that rewards group membership above competence and self-confidence above expertise.” In Brexit, the British “chumocracy,” the column declared, “has finally met its Waterloo.”

It is actually more accurate, for those invoking British history, to say that partition — the British Empire’s ruinous exit strategy — has come home. In a grotesque irony, borders imposed in 1921 on Ireland, England’s first colony, have proved to be the biggest stumbling block for the English Brexiteers chasing imperial virility. Moreover, Britain itself faces the prospect of partition if Brexit, a primarily English demand, is achieved and Scottish nationalists renew their call for independence.

It is a measure of English Brexiteers’ political acumen that they were initially oblivious to the volatile Irish question and contemptuous of the Scottish one.</p>

Mishra is the author, most recently, of “Age of Anger: A History of the Present.” There's an undertone - or perhaps overtone - of utter rage in this piece which is echoed by many watching the incompetent buffoons shamble towards a trade cliff edge. (Boris Johnson suggested this week he knows more about the car industry than the head of British vehicle maker Jaguar Land Rover.)
india  ireland  pakistan  brexit 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
‘It’s been a rout’: Apple’s iPhones fall flat in world’s largest untapped market • WSJ
Newley Purnell and Tripp Mickle:
<p>Amit Rajput, who runs a counter selling iPhones in a busy electronics shop here, cuts a lonely figure. He is lucky to sell one device a day, compared with the 10 or more smartphones his colleagues at desks for Samsung Electronics Co. , Nokia Corp. and China’s Oppo sell daily in the same store.

As customers walk past his display, he recalls a different time in 2013 when he sold as many as 80 iPhones a day. Now most people want to pay less than $300 for their devices—a fraction of what Apple's newer models cost.

Smartphone makers, facing sputtering growth in the rest of the world, have looked to India to make up the difference. With 1.3 billion consumers, the country is the world’s biggest untapped tech market. Just 24% of Indians own smartphones, and the number of users is growing faster than in any other country, according to research firm eMarketer.

How has that worked out for one of America’s most valuable companies?

The number of iPhones shipped in India has fallen 40% so far this year compared with 2017, and Apple’s market share there has dropped to about 1% from about 2%, research firm Canalys estimates…

…India’s market presents unique challenges. While competitors tweaked their phones to address local consumer concerns—increasing battery life, for example, and offering less expensive models—Apple took an inflexible stand on its pricing and products. Friction with the government hasn’t helped.

Whether the company can get its phones into the pockets of the world’s next billion smartphone buyers—in India as well as in other emerging markets, such as Indonesia and parts of Latin America—will help determine how much the company will grow in the coming decade.</p>
apple  india 
december 2018 by charlesarthur
That virus alert on your computer? Scammers in India may be behind it • The New York Times
Vindu Goel and Suhasini Raj:
<p>On Tuesday and Wednesday, police from two Delhi suburbs raided 16 fake tech-support centers and arrested about three dozen people. Last month, the Delhi authorities arrested 24 people in similar raids on 10 call centers.

In Gautam Budh Nagar, one of the suburbs, 50 police officers swept into eight centers on Tuesday night. Ajay Pal Sharma, the senior superintendent of police there, said the scammers had extracted money from thousands of victims, most of whom were American or Canadian.

“The modus operandi was to send a pop-up on people’s systems using a fake Microsoft logo,” Mr. Sharma said. After the victims contacted the call center, the operator, pretending to be a Microsoft employee, would tell them that their system had been hacked or attacked by a virus. The victims would then be offered a package of services ranging from $99 to $1,000 to fix the problem, he said.

Such scams are widespread, said Courtney Gregoire, an assistant general counsel in Microsoft’s digital crimes unit.

Microsoft, whose Windows software runs most personal computers, gets 11,000 or so complaints about the scams every month, she said, and its internet monitors spot about 150,000 pop-up ads for the services every day. The company’s own tech-support forums, where people can publicly post items, also see a steady stream of posts offering fake tech-support services.

…The scam is quite lucrative. Researchers at Stony Brook University, who <a href="https://securitee.org/files/tss_ndss2017.pdf">published a detailed study of fake tech-support services</a> last year, estimated that a single pop-up campaign spread over 142 web domains brought in nearly $10m in just two months.</p>


When I first reported on this in 2010, the focus was in Mumbai, but anywhere with a call centre will do. It's endless: there's always a call centre list, always willing people to run the scam, money to be made, people do be duped.

But you'd think they could stop the popup ads.
india  callcentre 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi top customer satisfaction in India • Strategy Analytics
<p>Based on analysis of more than 20,000 consumer ratings and reviews of 11 high, mid and low-tier smartphones in the Indian market, Strategy Analytics' new Consumer Ratings Index Report, India Smartphones: August 2018, has identified that Oppo’s Realme 1 led consumer satisfaction in India from June to August 2018.

• Based on consumer satisfaction, the top three smartphones in India from June to August 2018 were from Chinese brands: Oppo Realme 1, Vivo V9 and Xiaomi Redmi 5. Samsung’s Galaxy J8 was rated fourth.<br />• Consumer reviews in India mentioned the camera most. In fact, the Samsung Galaxy J8 and Vivo V9 were rated highest for camera satisfaction among those reviews analyzed.<br />• The Indian brand Karbonn was rated least favorably by Indian consumers, between June and August 2018.

Adam Thorwart, Lead Analyst and report author commented, “Despite Samsung not finishing atop the consumer sentiment chart, consumers of other brands are still mentioning it most. In fact, it nearly triples Oppo which is the second most mentioned brand. This indicates that Samsung is still very popular across India.”</p>


Chinese brands are six of the top 11 top-selling brands. It's a conquest.
india  china  smartphones 
october 2018 by charlesarthur
The iPhone franchise • Stratechery
Ben Thompson:
<p>probably the biggest surprise from these announcements (well, other than the name “XS Max”) is just how good of a smartphone the XR is.

• The XR has Apple’s industry-leading A12 chip, which is so far ahead of the industry that it will still be competitive with the best Android smartphones in two years, and massively more powerful than lower-end phones.<br />• The XR has the same wide-angle camera as the XS, and the same iteration of Face ID. Both, again, are industry-leading and will be more than competitive two years from now.<br />• The biggest differences from the XS are the aforementioned case materials, an LCD screen, and the lack of 3D Touch. Again, though, aluminum is still a premium material, Apple’s LCD screens are — and yes there is a theme here — the best in the industry, and 3D Touch is a feature that is so fiddly and undiscoverable that one could make the case XR owners are actually better off.

There really is no other way to put it: the XR is a fantastic phone, one that would be more than sufficient to maintain Apple’s position atop the industry were it the flagship. And yet, in the context of Apple’s strategy, it is best thought of as being quite literally ahead of its time.</p>

Reading this - in which he points out that smartphone strategies are worked out years in advance - I began to suspect that Apple's long-term strategy for India and other countries which have big markets but where it has negligible share is to let the XR age, and keep offering it more and more cheaply in those markets. The SE tried, but simply wasn't big enough; those markets demand big screens.
Iphone  india  xr 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
How spectacles transform the lives of tea-pickers • FT
Amy Kazmin:
<p>In India’s tea-growing Assam state, a recent randomised control trial highlighted the dramatic economic benefits of reading glasses for ageing tea-pickers suffering from presbyopia — the decline in near-vision that comes with age. 

The research took place last year at the peak of the harvest season, when tea-leaves are abundant. The only constraint is how fast the workers can pluck. Before the trial, not one of the 751 enlisted tea-pickers, all over the age of 40, had glasses. For the study, half got simple reading glasses — like those sold over-the-counter in many western countries — and half did not. 

Professor Nathan Congdon, of Queen’s University Belfast, says the results — published recently in the Lancet — were unequivocal, if unsurprising. Workers with glasses plucked around 5kg more tea each day than those without — a 21% increase in productivity. Tea-pickers over the age of 50 recorded even bigger gains, at 31%.

“For picking tea, that ability to see things up close is very important — to determine whether a bud of tea is ready to be picked or not,” Prof Congdon told me. 

Presbyopia is the most common global cause of sight impairment, and people living in rural areas are no less susceptible to it than city dwellers. For tea-pickers, who are paid by how much they pluck — and pruned from the labour force if they cannot meet minimum targets — correcting the problem is a major boost.</p>

On a day when we've been hearing about amazing technological efforts, it's good to remember that sometimes, the big wins are in simple technology.
india  glasses  productivity 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
India’s biometric database is creating a perfect surveillance state — and US tech companies are on board • Huffington Post
Paul Blumenthal and Gopal Sathe:
<p>Microsoft, which uses Aadhaar in a new version of Skype to verify users, declined to talk about its work integrating products with the Aadhaar database. But Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder, has publicly endorsed Aadhaar and his foundation is funding a World Bank program to bring Aadhaar-like ID programs to other countries. Gates has also argued that ID verification schemes like Aadhaar in itself don’t pose privacy issues. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has repeatedly praised Aadhaar in both his recent book and a tour across India.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment, but according to a BuzzFeed report, the company told Indian customers not uploading a copy of Aadhaar “might result in a delay in the resolution or no resolution” of cases where packages were missing.

Facebook, too, failed to respond to repeated requests for comment, though the platform’s prompts for users to log in with the same name as their Aadhaar card prompted suspicions from users that it wanted everyone to use their Aadhaar-verified names and spellings so they could later build in Aadhaar functionality with minimal problems.

A spokesman for Google, which has its own payments platform in India called Tez, told HuffPost that the company has not integrated any of its products with Aadhaar. But there was outrage earlier in August when the Aadhaar helpline was added to Android phones without informing users. Google claimed in a statement to the Economic Times this happened “inadvertently” 

But the same features that are set to make tech companies millions are are also the ones that threaten the privacy and security of millions of Indians.

“As long as [the data] is being shared with so many people and services and companies, without knowing who has what data, it will always be an issue,” said Srinivas Kodali, an independent security researcher. “They can’t protect it until they encrypt it and stop sharing data.”</p>


You thought that democracies didn't do surveillance databases?
india  aadhaar 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Chinese smartphone makers are winning in India -- the fastest growing market • VentureBeat
Manish Singh:
<p>India’s smartphone market is currently a key battleground for a number of phone makers from China, Taiwan, and South Korea. As the smartphone shipments slow in many parts of the globe, India’s handset market continues to grow. July saw 42 different smartphone models launched in the nation, up from 25 models during the same period last year, research firm Counterpoint told VentureBeat.

Most of the new handsets are from Chinese smartphone makers, many of whom see India as their most important market.

Leading the charge is Xiaomi, which last year ended Samsung’s five-year-streak as the top phone vendor in the nation. The period between April and June of this year was the fourth consecutive quarter for Xiaomi as the top vendor in India, according to IDC. Xiaomi (29.7% market share as of Q2) has aggressively undercut the offerings of its rivals by selling inexpensive but high-quality smartphones in India. A spokesperson for the company said that India is currently its most important market.

In the second quarter of this year, four of the top five smartphone makers were Chinese, according to IDC. In addition to Xiaomi, that number includes Oppo (7.6% market share), Vivo (12.6%), and Transsion (5%). Together with other Chinese phone makers such as Lenovo, the group held two-thirds of the local smartphone market in the second quarter, IDC said in a report published last month. Less than three years ago, the aggregate market share of these companies was under 15% in India.</p>


Apple is pretty much invisible there, with about 1% of the market. Possible clue: India is really, really price-conscious, and per-capita GDP is $1,940.
apple  india  china  smartphone 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
How to lose $3 billion of bitcoin in India • Bloomberg
Archana Chaudhary and Jeanette Rodrigues:
<p>…on Jan. 4, 2018, the state of Texas filed a cease-and-desist order against BitConnect. North Carolina followed five days later. The news came as the price of bitcoin crashed.

Amid the ensuing market turmoil, the Reserve Bank of India announced measures that virtually banned crypto transactions. Cryptocurrency exchanges responded with a lawsuit that is due to resume hearings in the Supreme Court in September.

Investigators across Gujarat and in the Indian capital of New Delhi say complaints about crypto frauds began pouring in after the U.S. cease-and-desist letters.

Still, those who had been trying to hide untaxed cash were in a quandary. If they went to the authorities, they would have to declare their investments.

So Bhatt and nine accomplices - including Paladiya - kidnapped two BitConnect representatives in Surat and demanded 2,256 bitcoin as ransom, CID investigators alleged. Paladiya, however, wanted more. He contacted his influential uncle, Kotadiya, and tapped the latter’s network in the local police to double-cross Bhatt and allegedly extort his bitcoin, according to allegations in police documents and interviews with investigators.

They were confident of success, gambling that Bhatt wouldn’t go to the authorities and certain that the anonymity of bitcoin would make the heist untraceable, according to the investigators.

They were wrong. Bhatt pressed charges.</p>


All as a result of Narandra Modi's move to ban high-denomination currency in November 2016 - just at the sort of time bitcoin began taking off.
bitcoin  india  economics 
august 2018 by charlesarthur
WhatsApp balks at India's demand to break encryption • VentureBeat
Manish Singh:
<p>As WhatsApp scrambles to figure out technology solutions to address some of the problems its service has inadvertently caused in developing markets, India’s government has proposed one of its own: bring traceability to the platform so false information can be traced to its source. But WhatsApp indicated to VentureBeat over the weekend that complying with that request would undermine the service’s core value of protecting user privacy.

“We remain deeply committed to people’s privacy and security, which is why we will continue to maintain end-to-end encryption for all of our users,” the company said.

The request for traceability, which came from India’s Ministry of Electronics & IT last week, was more than a suggestion. The Ministry said Facebook-owned WhatsApp would face legal actions if it failed to deliver.

“There is a need for bringing in traceability and accountability when a provocative/inflammatory message is detected and a request is made by law enforcement agencies,” the government said Friday. “When rumours and fake news get propagated by mischief mongers, the medium used for such propagation cannot evade responsibility and accountability. If they remain mute spectators they are liable to be treated as abettors and thereafter face consequent legal action,” it added.

India is WhatsApp’s largest market, with more than 250 million users.</p>


Nice try, India. It's the same swerve that <a href="https://www.geo.tv/latest/99194-pakistan-decides-to-block-blackberry-enterprise-services">Pakistan tried to pull on BlackBerry</a> (that's in 2015; it <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/aug/30/pakistan-bans-encryption-software">tried the same in 2011</a>) but it doesn't wash nowadays when E2E encryption is utterly commonplace.

Fake news is a problem - no doubt - but it's a problem about humans, not the machines they use.
fakenews  whatsapp  india 
july 2018 by charlesarthur
Horrified by terrible acts of violence, must work together: WhatsApp tells Modi government • The Wire
Anuj Srivas:
<p>In the past few months, a string of mob lynching incidents, allegedly prompted by rumours sent over WhatsApp, has turned the Centre’s attention to the issue of fake news and misinformation on the digital platform…

…On the issue of educating Indians on how to stay safe online, WhatsApp has promised the IT ministry that it plans on running “long-term public safety ad campaigns in India” and “news literacy workshops”.

“Already in India, the fact checking organization Boom Live is available on WhatsApp and has published numerous important reports on the source of the rumors that have contributed to the recent violence,” the letter notes.

“This kind of work gives everyone a better understanding of the problematic fake news circulating on WhatsApp, and how it relates to misinformation being shared on other platforms. In addition, it’s a helpful resource right within WhatsApp where people can get answers about content they’ve been sent. It’s why we’re looking at how best to ramp up these efforts in India going forward,” it added.

The company also points out that its ability to intervene heavily is limited because of the nature of the service’s end-to-end encryption. Also, the company insists that while WhatsApp messages can be “highly viral”, most Indians don’t use it to forward messages.

“Many people (nearly 25% in India) are not in a group; the majority of groups continue to be small (less than ten people); and nine in ten messages are still sent from just one person to another,” the letter states.</p>
whatsapp  india 
july 2018 by charlesarthur
India approves massive new 5,000 megawatt solar farm • Climate Action Programme
<p>The Indian Government has given planning permission to a huge new solar project which is set to become one of the largest in the world.

The approval for a 5,000 megawatt (MW) solar farm in the state of Gujarat was announced earlier this month by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.

The first 1,000MW stage of the project will be put out to tender soon.

Once complete the project near the town of Dholera will be the largest solar farm in India, stretching over 11,000 hectares and eclipsing the 2,255 MW Bhadla solar park currently under development in Rajasthan.

Saudi Arabia recently signed an initial deal to build a larger 200 GW solar farm, the first stage of which will be 7,200 MW.

The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Vijay Rupani, said on Twitter that the Dholera project is estimated to attract 25,000 crore rupees ($3.7bn), and employ 20,000 people.</p>


11,000 hectares is about 42 square miles.
solar  india 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
India's antitrust watchdog fines Google for abusing dominant position • Reuters
Aditya Kalra and Aditi Shah:
<p>The Competition Commission of India (CCI) said Google, the core unit of US firm Alphabet, was abusing its dominance in online web search and online search advertising markets.

“Google was found to be indulging in practices of search bias and by doing so, it causes harm to its competitors as well as to users,” the CCI said in a 190-page order.

“Google was leveraging its dominance in the market for online general web search, to strengthen its position in the market for online syndicate search services,” the CCI said.

However, the CCI said it did not find any contravention in respect of Google’s specialized search design, AdWords and online distribution agreements.

A Google spokesman said the company was reviewing the “narrow concerns” identified by the Commission and will assess its next steps.</p>

A fine of $21.7m. Google might be able to handle it. But is anyone keeping count of how many countries Google has been found guilty of antitrust in? Russia, Europe, South Korea, now India..
india  antitrust  google 
february 2018 by charlesarthur
Why Apple sells just 2.5% of India's smartphones • CNBC
Manish Singh:
<p>iPhones have remained beyond the budget for most Indians. The least expensive iPhone X model, for instance, is priced at 92,430 rupees ($1,450) in India, while the least costly iPhone 8 unit ships at Rs 66,120 ($1,040). The devices are so much more expensive in India because the local government imposes a heavy charge on imported electronics items.

The iPhone-maker, for its part, is trying to circumvent the customs duty by manufacturing the iPhone SE model locally in India through a partnership with Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron. That's made the iPhone SE the least costly iPhone model from the recent generations in the country.

But the company ought to do more, analysts told CNBC.

Samsung, and Chinese smartphone makers including Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo, many of which entered the Indian market in the last five years, are increasingly claiming dominance in the nation. Xiaomi and Samsung ship more handsets in India in under two months than Apple does in a year.

Samsung and the Chinese companies now control 80% of the smartphone market in India, while Apple settles for a meager 2.2%, Counterpoint and IDC said, citing data for the quarter that ended in September last year.

As of the quarter ending in December, Apple had 2.5% of India's overall smartphone market, according to Counterpoint.</p>

This shows Apple’s problem in trying to bring “affordable luxury” to everyone; it aims at the US market initially, but India is just different in so many ways. As a global company, it’s going to find itself in places where its strategy doesn’t give it a huge share.
apple  india 
january 2018 by charlesarthur
Samsung refutes report of Xiaomi overtake, says still top Indian manufacturer ‘by a distance’ • SamMobile
"Adnan F":
<p>A spokesperson for Samsung has said that “As per the German research firm GfK, which tracks sales to end consumers, in the last (November) quarter, Samsung had a 45 percent value market share and 40 percent volume market share.”

This is an important distinction that the company is making here. It’s not going by reports of units shipped by market research firms and instead relying on numbers that indicate just how many handsets were actually sold to the end user. A unit can be shipped and stay on retailers’ shelves for months but that still doesn’t count as a sale for the company.

“Samsung is a full range player and leads the smartphone business across every segment of the India market in 2017. More importantly, Samsung is India’s ‘Most Trusted’ brand. We owe our undisputed leadership to the love and trust of millions of our consumers in India,” the spokesperson added.

Samsung India’s global vice president Asim Warsi also pointed out this distinction in a recent interview. “German research firm GfK reports final consumption which is the most important measure of market share,” adding that while shipment numbers are important, they don’t tell the final market share.</p>


So the suggestion is that Xiaomi is "stuffing the channel" - pushing handsets in which just sit on shelves waiting to be sold. Also, strictly, Samsung *rebutted* the reports; it isn't a refutation to say there are different ways to measure this stuff. Clearly its pride is wounded though.
xiaomi  samsung  india 
january 2018 by charlesarthur
Xiaomi beats Samsung to become top smartphone vendor in India • Canalys
<p>India’s smartphone market has finally seen a change at the top, with Xiaomi now leading with shipments close to 8.2m units in Q4 2017. Despite annual growth of 17%, Samsung failed to maintain its lead, shipping just over 7.3m smartphones to take second place. The smartphone market in India grew by a modest 6% overall, in line with Canalys forecasts, following the seasonal dip as vendors and channel partners take stock after a busy Q3. Vivo, Oppo and Lenovo rounded out the top five, while total smartphone shipments were just shy of 30m units.

<img src="https://www.canalys.com/static/xcapturepr.JPG" width="100%" /></p>


This seems like a worrying development for Samsung. Look how Xiaomi has grown there, too.
xiaomi  india  samsung 
january 2018 by charlesarthur
The internet is filling up because Indians are sending millions of ‘good morning!’ texts • WSJ
Newley Purnell:
<p>Millions of Indians are getting online for the first time—and they are filling up the internet. Many like nothing better than to begin the day by sending greetings from their phones. Starting before sunrise and reaching a crescendo before 8 a.m., internet newbies post millions of good-morning images to friends, family and strangers.

All that good cheer is driving a 10-fold increase in the number of Google searches for “Good Morning images” over the past five years. Pinterest, the San Francisco visual-search platform, added a new section to display images with quotes. It saw a ninefold increase over the past year in the number of people in India downloading such pictures.

Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp messaging service—which has 200 million monthly active users in India, making the country its biggest market—added a status message last year so users could say good morning to all of their contacts at once.

Desh Raj Sharma, 71 years old, recently started using a smartphone. At around 6 a.m. every day he searches for and sends good-morning images to more than 50 friends and family using WhatsApp…

…When Google researchers peeked into Indian consumers’ phones, they found thousands of “good morning” images gumming up their storage. One in three smartphone users in India run out of space daily, according to a survey by data-storage firm Western Digital Corp. , compared with one in 10 in the U.S.

Google’s solution: a new app called Files Go that highlights files for possible deletion—with a special feature to search out and delete all good-morning messages at once.</p>


To be clear - the "peeking" was done by asking people in person to see what was on their phones. But I love the idea of the internet being filled up.

The obvious thing is to cater to the India market by offering phones with LOADS of storage.
india  phones  goodmorning  storage 
january 2018 by charlesarthur
How Vizag is putting land records on blockchain • Tech In Asia
Sumit Chakraberty:
<p>Property fraud is rampant in India and takes many forms. It’s one of the biggest avenues for investing black money. One way is to hold property in other people’s names, and this practice is called benami, which means ‘false name.’

In this murky scene, the government does not only lose revenue, but buyers can also be duped when the same property is sold to multiple entities. What exacerbates it is rampant corruption. The Indian government introduced a new law and have seized benami properties worth US$282 million since November last year.

We have already given up a lot of our black boxes. We will lead this transformation.
Sprawled across 160,000 sq km on the east coast with a population of over 50 million, the state of Andhra Pradesh wants to use blockchain technology to tackle the problem. Blockchain’s immutability can make land records tamper-proof. Its visibility to multiple entities also makes the system transparent.

The state is running a pilot by Swedish startup ChromaWay to put land records on a blockchain in fintech hub Vizag.</p>


Neat idea. Finally a real-world use for blockchain. Land registry is an important topic in developing countries.
india  blockchain  property 
november 2017 by charlesarthur
Here’s how people in India are manipulating Twitter trends to spread political propaganda • Buzzfeed
<p>Twitter is facing serious scrutiny in the United States over revelations that Russian state-linked trolls exploited its platform in an attempt to sow discord in American politics, and it’s making attempts to be more transparent about promoted tweets. But in India, the company’s fastest-growing market, politicians and their supporters have discovered an effective way to spread propaganda without paying Twitter a dime: hijacking the trending column with targeted hashtag campaigns.

A BuzzFeed News analysis found that at least 10 political hashtags that appeared in the top 10 in Twitter’s trends column in India during the last two months were the result of organized campaigns that gave people tweet templates and urged them to post duplicate tweets to promote the hashtags. More than 50% of the tweets containing these 10 trending hashtags had duplicates, and many seemed to be copy-pasted from these tweet templates. There were nearly two dozen other political hashtags that trended in this timeframe — but their popularity doesn’t seem to have been the result of orchestrated campaigns.

Spamming Twitter with duplicate tweets is a violation of Twitter’s rules, which say users aren’t permitted to “post multiple updates to a trending or popular topic with an intent to subvert or manipulate the topic to drive traffic or attention to unrelated accounts, products, services, or initiatives.” A Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News, “Any use of automation to game Trending Topics is in violation of the Twitter Rules, and we have had measures in place to address this since the spring of 2014.” Still, that isn’t stopping these campaigns that make political propaganda trend on the platform in India.</p>


Social media v democracy: seconds out.
twitter  india  trends 
november 2017 by charlesarthur
In just three years Xiaomi has nearly taken over India’s booming smartphone market •
Sushma UN:
<p>In the last year, Xiaomi’s market share in India has gone from just 6% to 22%, according to Hong Kong-headquartered market intelligence firm Counterpoint Research. That puts its share at par with South Korea’s Samsung, a leader for several years now. And as of September, three of the five most popular smartphones in India are from Xiaomi, Counterpoint said in a report on October 27.

It’s quite a coup considering Xiaomi entered India only in 2014 – Samsung has been around since 1995. The Beijing-based company has invested around $500 million in the Indian subcontinent in the last two years according to Bloomberg and intends to invest a similar amount between the next three and five years.

<img src="https://d1u4oo4rb13yy8.cloudfront.net/smtmlzsmqv-1509622533.jpg" width="100%" />

This stupendous success, analysts reason, is because of a strong supply chain and the company’s ability to sell value for money products in a very price sensitive market.

Since its entry into India, Xiaomi has stood out for its unique go-to-market strategy of selling only via e-commerce. It signed an exclusive partnership with e-tailer Flipkart and ran flash sales for new model launches, with the sales typically ending within seconds of opening. For instance, in a flash sale for the Redmi 1S model in September 2014, around 40,000 pieces were sold out in just 4.2 seconds.

This allowed the company to single-mindedly build capabilities around online retail, which now accounts for around 30% of India’s total smartphone sales. Most other brands have struggled with juggling online and offline sales, with many often failing to satisfy either set of customers.</p>


Notice that Xiaomi is trying to do offline retail in China - which is comparatively expensive. India is a particular market though: very aware of technical specifications and "value for money".
xiaomi  india 
november 2017 by charlesarthur
India’s biometric database is a massive achievement and a dystopian nightmare • VICE News
David Gilbert:
<p>Seven years ago nearly 400 million people in India did not exist in the eyes of the government. They were “ghosts” who had no identity and no way of getting one, says Sahil Kini, one of the architects of India’s controversial Aadhaar database. In a country trying to modernize on the fly and take its place among the world’s superpowers, this massive yet unknown population presented a huge problem.

So the Indian government set out on an ambitious course to build Aadhaar, the world’s largest biometric database, which would not only allow these people to participate more fully in society but also become a shining beacon of technological achievement for the rest of the world.

“What’s forgotten is that before Aadhaar was built there were 400 million people in India that did not have any form of identity; they were ghosts in the system,” Kini told VICE News. “So if you had to give them any kind of subsidy, you couldn’t, because they didn’t exist on paper.”

But as the database grew to include almost all of India’s 1.3 billion citizens, cracks began to appear, and in recent months those cracks have become chasms. Now more and more Indians say they worry that what the government actually created in Aadhaar is an all-seeing surveillance apparatus that has serious holes in its security and can be used to monitor all aspects of their lives.</p>


Remarkable piece of research and journalism. Aadhaar is the results of good intentions gone wrong.
india  aadhaar  biometrics 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
Apple’s refusal to approve India’s anti-spam app angers regulators • Bloomberg
Saritha Rai:
<p>The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has been trying unsuccessfully to get its Do Not Disturb software included in the App Store. The program lets people share spam call and text message logs with the agency, which uses the data to alert mobile operators to block the spammers. Apple has said the app violates its privacy policy, according to the regulator.

The standoff could impact Apple’s efforts to expand in India, where half a billion smartphones will be sold by 2020. The Cupertino, California-based company has been in discussions with India’s government to open retail stores and secure permission to sell used iPhones imported into the country. Apple has put forth a long list of demands, including tax breaks and other concessions, to set up manufacturing facilities. 

“Nobody’s asking Apple to violate its privacy policy,” said Ram Sewak Sharma, chairman of the Delhi-based telecom regulator. “It is a ridiculous situation, no company can be allowed to be the guardian of a user’s data.”

The regulator is currently seeking public and stakeholder comments on a <a href="http://www.trai.gov.in/sites/default/files/Consultation_Paper%20_on_Privacy_Security_ownership_of_data_09082017.pdf">consultative paper</a> on users’ control over their personal information and rules on the flow of data through telecommunications networks. The process, scheduled to be completed in September, could eventually lead to new rules governing user data. That could also become part of the telecom licensing process, Sharma said.

Any new measures could affect not just Apple, but Facebook, Google and other technology companies that handle large amounts of private and personal information.</p>
apple  india  app  privacy 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
Xiaomi partners with Google for Mi A1 smartphone, targeting developing markets • Forbes
Yue Wang:
<p>Over the past three years, Xiaomi has entered as many as 40 countries across regions, selling its phones and smart devices at cost to compete with brands like Apple and Samsung as well as China’s own Huawei, OPPO and Vivo for the attention of users in countries like India and Russia. The pace of expansion accelerated dramatically this year, with Xiaomi breaking into a dozen countries including Greece, Indonesia, Paraguay and Poland for the very first time, confirmed the company’s Senior Vice President Wang Xiang in a recent interview with Forbes.

In addition to partnering with online marketplaces and physical distributors in new markets, Xiaomi is also linking arms with Google’s parent company, Alphabet, to beef up its appeal. The company announced on Tuesday its $230 Mi A1 smartphone that will run on Google’s Android One operating platform, which will be the first Xiaomi device that doesn’t use the company’s default MIUI system. The handset, initially available in 40 markets including India, Indonesia, Russia and Mexico, is aimed at attracting users who are more familiar with Google-provided services, according to Wang. He also said that Xiaomi and Google have agreed to share revenues, but declined to provide more details. The Mi A1 will be available for purchase on September 12.</p>


Android One is back - except only with Xiaomi, seems like. Perhaps more will follow. But it doesn't seem like a great plan to do revenue-sharing with Google, unless it's on Play Store purchases and so on. China isn't panning out as the stronghold Xiaomi thought it would be (OPPO and vivo are eating that up).
xiaomi  india  smartphone 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
Internet Archive blocked in India • MediaNama
Nikhil Pahwa:
<p>In what is an inexplicable instance of censorship, India appears to have blocked access to the Internet Archive (also known as the Internet Wayback Machine). The block seems to be new, and is currently propagating. We checked, and on visiting web.archive.org via Airtel (Delhi, mobile) and MTNL (Delhi, wireline) connections, we’re getting the following boilerplate blocking message:

“Your requested URL has been blocked as per the directions received from the Department of Telecommunications, Government of India. Please contact administrator for more information.”</p>


The block seems to be about the UIDAI - the official Indian website for the organisation mandated to provide a 12-digit unique identifier for every Indian citizen. But quite why isn't yet clear - though problems such as <a href="https://www.medianama.com/2017/05/223-uidai-leaks-aadhaar-numbers/">leaking of those identifiers via the UIDAI site</a> could be part of it.
india  blocking 
august 2017 by charlesarthur
The end of typing: the next billion mobile users will rely on video and voice • WSJ
Eric Bellman:
<p>Instead of typing searches and emails, a wave of newcomers—“the next billion,” the tech industry calls them—is avoiding text, using voice activation and communicating with images. They are a swath of the world’s less-educated, online for the first time thanks to low-end smartphones, cheap data plans and intuitive apps that let them navigate despite poor literacy.

Incumbent tech companies are finding they must rethink their products for these newcomers and face local competitors that have been quicker to figure them out. “We are seeing a new kind of internet user,” said Caesar Sengupta, who heads a group at Alphabet Inc.’s Google trying to adapt to the new wave. “The new users are very different from the first billion.”…

…Google has revamped the way certain searches look in India. Seek a local cricket star, and the top of the search is crowded with photos and videos instead of long lists of links. Google’s YouTube created apps in India to make it easier for users to share videos directly—helping them avoid data costs and circumvent slow internet speeds.

One five-person Google team took a long train ride through the western Indian state of Maharashtra recently to poll passengers. “How does he get new music?” asked project manager Scott Velicer through a translator. “Ask him if he has trouble getting to know the name of songs he hears on TV.”

The team showed passengers a “low-fidelity prototype,” basically phone screens printed on paper with different apps and instructions, asking what they would do if they saw one of the screens. The group later stood at the Lonavla Station and discussed what it learned. “People here don’t read the text,” so the icons need to be easy to understand, Mr. Velicer said.

Google has also benefited from the dominance of its Android operating system.

Apple has been upping its bet on India, contracting with a manufacturer to assemble handsets locally, rolling out a bigger retail network and investing to support developers of more apps aimed at Indians. It has begun offering Apple Music—available for Android phones—for a lower price than in the U.S.</p>
video  india  voice 
august 2017 by charlesarthur
American tech companies are so afraid of offending Indians that they're censoring all their products • Buzzfeed
Pranav Dixit:
<p>“Western companies trying to expand in India are being overcautious because of the huge investments they are making in the country,” Prithwiraj Mukherjee, professor of marketing at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, told BuzzFeed News. “They don’t want to risk offending anyone’s sentiments in a diverse country like India.”

The country is a crucial market for Silicon Valley: There are now more internet users in India than there are people in the United States — and millions more will come online in the next few years. But as American tech companies pour billions into the country, they’re fumbling as they attempt to appeal to India’s already-online, Snapchat-savvy, English-speaking, Beyoncé-listening, urban millennials, while also trying to win over the country’s comparatively conservative millions.

Amazon Prime Video launched in India in December 2016, and was immediately blasted by angry Indian customers on Twitter for proactively censoring many TV shows and movies, including its own productions like Transparent. Worse, the censorship was arbitrary. Some nudity, like a sex scene a couple of minutes into the pilot of Transparent, was blurred out. In another instance, Amazon chopped one episode of its car show, The Grand Tour, in half to remove a plotline involving a car made of animal carcasses with a windshield of cow innards, presumably to avoid offending religious Hindus, who consider cows sacred. But most of Californication, a series well-known for its gratuitous nudity, survived Amazon’s airbrushing.</p>


One has to feel this makes a change from just assuming that whatever's right in the US is right in another country, though? India is a gigantic market, and reactions can be intense.
india  censorship 
july 2017 by charlesarthur
India cancels mega plans to build coal power stations due to falling solar energy prices • Indiatimes.com
Shreya Kalra:
<p>13.7GW of planned coal power projects have been cancelled so far this month and this goes to show the rate of change regarding solar energy.

In January 2016, Fortum, a Finnish company, got on board to generate electricity in Rajasthan at record low prices.

The Director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis said, “For the first time solar is cheaper than coal in India and the implications this has for transforming global energy markets is profound.

“Measures taken by the Indian Government to improve energy efficiency coupled with ambitious renewable energy targets and the plummeting cost of solar has had an impact on existing as well as proposed coal fired power plants, rendering an increasing number as financially unviable.

“India’s solar tariffs have literally been free falling in recent months.” According to him investors from the world over are interested in India’s fast-growing solar market.</p>


Lots of debate in the comments about how useful solar really is to satisfy base load. But nobody expects it to be base load.
india  energy  solar 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
Xiaomi's guardian angel is India • CNET
Daniel van Boom:
<p>The past year has seen Xiaomi fall from grace in its homeland of China, dropping from the top spot at the end of 2015 to just making the top 5 in 2016. But the company is now back to making a splash - only this time, it's in India.

Xiaomi scored a valuable silver medal over the weekend, with Counterpoint Research showing the company to be the second highest selling smartphone brand in India, behind only Samsung.

That's a growth of 200% from the year prior, according to Counterpoint Research analyst Tarun Pathak. "India has come to Xiaomi's rescue by adding an extra couple of million units to its quarterly numbers," he said.

"India is the most important and the largest market for Xiaomi outside of China," Manu Jain, managing director of Xiaomi India, said to CNET in a statement…

…Still, it's too early for Xiaomi to soak in a victory lap. Oppo and Vivo, the same competitors to displace it in China, are hot on its heels in India. Xiaomi owned 13% of the market in Q1, while Vivo and Oppo took 12% and 10% respectively.</p>


One gets the feeling this is like Temple Run, where Xiaomi is pursued by the monkeys and one wrong turn will bring calamity.
xiaomi  india 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
India market: Xiaomi facing increasing competition from Oppo, Vivo, says report • Digitimes
Wang Chuan-chiang and Steve Shen:
<p>Xiaomi Technology is facing increasing competition from rival vendors Oppo and Vivo in India's smartphone market, according to a China-based tech.qq.com report.

Xiaomi shipped over 10 million smartphones in India in 2016 and ranked as the second largest vendor in the market, trailing after Samsung. However, Xiaomi took the top spot for selling smartphones through online channels.

In order to maintain its leading market position in India, Xiaomi is building a second handset plant in India in cooperation with Foxconn Electronics, the report noted.

However, rivals Oppo and Vivo have also been expanding their share in India at a rapid pace by duplicating Xiaomi's business model, leveraging local factories, expanding online and offline retail channels, and building up brand image through advertisements, indicated the report.</p>


I can't find numbers that suggest that Xiaomi's shipments grew in 2016 from 2015, and its first quarter in 2017 seems to have been smaller than the same time in 2016. Xiaomi needs something special, soon.
xiaomi  india 
april 2017 by charlesarthur
Maniac killers of the Bangalore IT department • Bloomberg
Ben Crair:
<p>“TECHIE’S WIFE MURDERED” read the headlines in both the Hindu and the Bangalore Mirror. “TECHIE STABS FRIEND’S WIFE TO DEATH” ran in the Deccan Herald. To read the Indian newspapers regularly is to believe the software engineer is the country’s most cursed figure. Almost every edition carries a gruesome story involving a techie accused of homicide, rape, burglary, blackmail, assault, injury, suicide, or another crime. When techies are the victims, it’s just as newsworthy. The Times of India, the country’s largest English-language paper, has carried “TECHIE DIES IN FREAK ACCIDENT” and “MAN HELD FOR PUSHING TECHIE FROM TRAIN”; in the Hindu, readers found “TEACHER CHOPS OFF FINGERS OF TECHIE HUSBAND” and “TECHIE DIED AFTER BEING FORCE-FED CYANIDE.” A long-standing journalistic adage says, “If it bleeds, it leads.” In India, if it codes, it explodes.

The epicenter of techie tragedy is Bangalore, a city in the southern state of Karnataka that bills itself as India’s Silicon Valley. Bangalore has more startups than any other city in the country and is home to Apple, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and Oracle, in addition to big domestic information technology companies such as Infosys and Wipro. More than 10 percent of Bangalore’s 10.5 million residents work in tech, giving journalists plenty of unfortunate events to sensationalize: “ASSAULT OVER BANANA SPLIT: 3 TECHIES HELD”; “DEPRESSED BANGALORE TECHIE INJURES 24 IN SWORD ATTACK SPREE.”</p>


Wonderful observational journalism; and the appearance of "techie" isn't necessarily a compliment.
bangalore  india  news 
february 2017 by charlesarthur
Building a wall to save the economy? Britain has already done that (not Hadrian's, no) • Medium
Dave Birch:
<p>The American President recently reiterated his plans to build a “beautiful” wall along the border with Mexico, for no reason that I can fathom except to provide stimulus to the Mexican economy at a difficult time. As a good friend of mine says, we should not get too exercised about what is after all nothing more than a harmless public works project of the kind often undertaken by national leaders to secure a place in the national imagination.

I don’t think it will become an object of awe and admiration, though. This 1,000 mile long, 40 foot high barrier, a vanity project of unusual cost and complexity, may never become a tourist attraction to rival the Great Wall of China (the most astonishing man-made object that I have ever seen in my entire life, and I’ve been to the City of Manchester Stadium) but it may become a new Maginot Line for future generations to study.

Who knows. All I can say with absolute certainty is that it will make no long term difference to smuggling, immigration or the security of American citizens.

How do I know this?

Well, we Brits have been there and done that. We built a wall. We built a wall that was twice as long as Mr. Trump’s wall. And there is nothing left of it today. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.</p>


This is a wonderful, wonderful story. And it contains such lessons for the present. Such a pity Trump won't ever read it. (No, not Hadrian's Wall. I thought that. It isn't.)
wall  india  trump 
february 2017 by charlesarthur
Samsung and Chinese brands utterly dominated India’s smartphone market in Q4 2016 • TechCrunch
Jon Russell:
<p>India is in the midst of a revolution: the Chinese smartphone revolution. For the first time on record, there were no Indian companies ranked among the top five smartphone sellers in the country during the most recent quarter of business.

Samsung and a glut of ambitious, young companies from China have been busy pushing their devices in India, one of the few global markets that has untapped growth potential for smartphone sales, and now there is tangible evidence of their progress.

Samsung led the pile with 22 percent of the market, ahead of Xiaomi (11 percent), Oppo, Lenovo (both nine percent), and Vivo (seven percent), according to <a href="https://www.canalys.com/newsroom/media-alert-china-conquers-india">new data from analyst firm Canalys</a>. Indian brands, once dominant, saw their collective share shrink by more than half over the past year.</p>


Indian makers nowhere. But there are now 300m users - second only to China, and well ahead of the US. About 75% of them have mobile data plans.
india  samsung  smartphones 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
Viral WhatsApp hoaxes are India’s own fake news crisis • BuzzFeed News
Pranav Dixit:
<p>At 8 p.m. on Nov. 8, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi unexpectedly banned 86% of the country’s legal tender from circulation. The goal was to wipe out “black money” — a term used in India for cash that’s stashed outside the banking system to evade taxes. Old notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 would no longer be legal. Instead, the government would issue new, redesigned Rs. 2,000 notes.

Hours after the prime ministerial bombshell, the rumors started flying fast and thick over WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned instant messaging app used by more than 160 million Indians: The new notes would include an embedded GPS chip that would allow the government to track down hoarders.

Soon a video purporting to show one of these GPS notes being tracked on Google Maps went viral on WhatsApp, and then Facebook. And  less than 24 hours after the rumor started ,  Zee News, a leading Hindi television news channel, ran a 90-second report about the high-tech note, leading the country’s reserve bank to finally <a href="http://www.news18.com/news/tech/rbi-dismisses-rumours-of-gps-enabled-rs-2000-notes-1310033.html">debunk</a> it.</p>


WhatsApp is gigantic in India - and provides a terrific channel for rumours to spread. Terrific piece.
whatsapp  fakenews  india 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
More entry-level smartphone players will quit Indian market in 2017: Counterpoint • NDTV
<p>With mounting losses amid too many players fighting to grab a pie, exits will surpass entrants in the Indian smartphone market in 2017, analysts said on Thursday.

There are nearly 250m unique smartphone users in the country and by the end of 2016, there will be 280m Indians with these devices.

"With declining margins amid cut-throat competition, we predict some smartphone players will call it quits in 2017. We estimate that number of exits in the smartphone market will exceed number of entrants in the next year," Tarun Pathak, Senior Analyst, Mobile Devices and Ecosystems at New Delhi-based Counterpoint Research, told IANS.

"While some signs of this trend already started happening, we predict it will only intensify in 2017 and lead to consolidation in smartphone market," Pathak added.

Most of the exits will be seen at the entry-level smartphone segment, involving regional players which were unable to generate volume and, at the same time, were unable to scale up their portfolio.</p>

India has moved pretty fast from "next great opportunity" to "no-hope consolidation" market.
India  smartphone  counterpoint 
december 2016 by charlesarthur
43,203 Indian patient pathology reports were left publicly exposed by Health Solutions • Troy Hunt
<p>I'm used to seeing large amounts of personal data left inadvertently exposed to the web. Recently, the Red Cross Blood Service down here left a huge amount of data exposed (well, at least the company doing their tech things did). Shortly afterwards, the global recruitment company Michael Page also lost a heap (also due to a partner, Capgemini). Both cases were obviously extremely embarrassing for the companies involved and they did exactly what you'd expect them to do once they found out about it - they pulled the data offline as fast as humanly possible.

And this is how it generally goes with incidents like this; lots of embarrassment, lots of scrambling to fix then lots of apologising afterwards. Which makes the behaviour of Health Solutions in India all the more confounding. Here's how it all unfolded.

On Wednesday, someone popped up on the Twitters and shared a link with me via DM which went to www.hsppl.com/pathology/downloads/downloadReports and returned this page:

<img src="https://www.troyhunt.com/content/images/2016/11/Exposed-pathology-reports.png" width="100%" /></p>


See, it's already bad. (That page has been removed. But this was amazing neglect.)
privacy  india  health 
december 2016 by charlesarthur
Google’s Pixel captures 10% premium smartphone market share in India • Economic Times
Gulveen Aulakh:
<p>Google has captured a 10% share of the premium smartphone segment in India after what analysts said was a strong initial showing with its Pixel, which took advantage of the absence of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 in the market.

Google shipped 33,000 units of Pixel to India as of October end, becoming the No 3 player for the month in the segment where the smartphone costs Rs 30,000 or more. Apple has trumped Samsung to capture the No 1 position in this segment.</p>

Apple has 66% share (so 220,000 units). The Note 7's absence is hurting Samsung.
India  smartphone  note7 
november 2016 by charlesarthur
Why the vast majority of women in India will never own a smartphone • WSJ
Eric Bellman and Aditi Malhotra:
<p>In India, 114 million more men than women have cellphones. That represents more than half the total worldwide gap of around 200 million between men and women who possess phones, according to GSMA, an international cellphone-industry group.

<img src="https://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/P1-BY649_TECHBL_9U_20160916145110.jpg" width="100%" />

Tech evangelists often tout cellular phones and internet access as great levelers—tools that promote equality and ease social disparities.

But in countries such as India, the new technology is exacerbating an already deep gender gap. The gulf is blocking women from increasingly crucial ways of communicating and learning, and making it harder for them to find work, upgrade their skills and assert political rights.

In India, millions use smartphones to find jobs, bank, study, order train tickets, interact with the government and more. Offline options require freedom of movement not available for many women, and extra time and cost in traveling, standing in lines and filling out forms.

“Mobile phones, especially smartphones, are going to be the biggest challenge to achieving gender equity,” said Osama Manzar, founder of the nonprofit Digital Empowerment Foundation, which helps marginalized groups get access to technology. “Denying them to women means lost opportunity for women and the economy.”</p>


It's not just about affordability.
india  gender  inequality  smartphone 
november 2016 by charlesarthur
Google, Apple are about to face India's security demands • Bloomberg
Saritha Rai:
<p>India could force companies to use technology cooked up in a government-funded lab.

The initiative is part of a national biometric identity program called Aadhaar (Hindi for foundation). Millions of Indians use fingerprint and iris-scan authentication to access a range of public and private services that now includes banking. Failure to join the effort could limit the tech industry’s access to a vast and growing market, but companies like Apple and Google are expected to resist opening up their phones and operating systems to the Indian registration, encryption and security technology.

“There will be lots of pushing and shoving by the technology companies,” says Neeraj Aggarwal, managing director of the Boston Consulting Group in India. “It will be a battle of ecosystems, and companies will do their best to hold on to their own.”

A few weeks ago, government officials invited executives from Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to a meeting to discuss embedding Aadhaar encryption into their technology. None of the companies will comment on what transpired at the gathering - and Apple didn’t show up at all.</p>


This isn't going to fly with the tech companies. They won't allow a potentially insecure encryption system onto their devices. Which creates a delicate problem: how do you refuse to cooperate with a government which insists you do? Or can they find an interface between their system and the government's which keeps everyone happy?
india  biometric 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
Vendors realising the importance of robust offline smartphone distribution in tier 2&3 cities and beyond • IDC India
<p>The China based vendors on the back of their quality products at affordable prices and wide availability have largely contributed to the growth of price segment $150-$200 & $200-$250 across top 30 cities contributing 28% in Tier 1 cities in Q2 2016 as compared to 19% in Q1 2016 and 24% in Tier 2&3 cities as compared to 17% in the previous quarter.

“Apart from Reliance Jio (Lyf), other Indian vendors were unable to hold on to their market share in Q2 2016. Similar was with global vendors except for Samsung which managed to sustain its market leadership position. This has led to a sharp increase in the market shares of China based vendors across all Tiers even with their mid segment ASPs (ranging from $150-$200) purely on the back of strong distribution channel, better channel schemes and huge promoter programmes as compared to the rest” says Varun Singh , Market Analyst, IDC India. “This is a clear indication that the offline channel cannot be wished away by vendors for operating long term in highly competitive Indian market” adds Singh.

<img src="http://www.idc.com/getfile.dyn?sectionId=prAP41717116_pressrelease&amp;containerId=prAP41717116&amp;elementId=prAP41717116-F-1&amp;attachmentId=47238678" alt=""></p>


Chinese vendors, unable to find growth at home, are muscling in on India. Meanwhile Apple's tiny share of the overall market there translates to a 35.6% share of the $300+ market.
india  smartphone 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
Revealed in court: 100% cast iron evidence of how Uber lies to secretly investigate and smear its critics • Pando
Paul Carr:
<p>A week or so ago, a judge <a href="http://bangordailynews.com/2016/07/11/business/man-who-sued-uber-ceo-says-company-targeted-him-and-his-maine-lawyer/">ordered the release</a> of documents that show beyond all reasonable doubt that Uber hired a CIA-linked private investigation firm to investigate the personal and professional life of Portland attorney Andrew Schmidt and his client, Spencer Meyer. Meyer had recently filed a lawsuit against Uber and Kalanick. 

The emails, some of which are embedded below courtesy of the Bangor Daily News, show Uber executives contracting the investigations firm, Ergo, to dig into the backround of Meyer and Schmidt.

The plan begins with Ergo contacting colleagues and friends of Schmidt, and lying about the purpose of their emails and calls, in order to trick them into revealing damaging information which could form the basis of further investigation. Kalanick had previously denied that Uber was aware of any kind of secret investigation against Meyer and Schmidt.</p>


They also encrypted the emails. (NB: this article might be paywalled by the time this goes up.)
uber  india 
july 2016 by charlesarthur
Unsafe cars can save lives • Marginal REVOLUTION
Alex Tabarrok:
<p>David Ward, secretary general of Global NCAP told the Wall Street Journal:
<p>Global NCAP strongly believes that no manufacturer anywhere in the world should be developing new models that are so clearly sub-standard,” he said. “Car makers must ensure that their new models pass the UN’s minimum crash test regulations, and support use of an airbag.</p>


Let’s take a closer look. These cars are very inexpensive. A Renault Kwid, for example, can be had for under $4000. In the Indian market these cars are competing against motorcycles. Only 6 percent of Indian households own a car but 47% own a motorcycle. Overall, there are more than five times as many motorcycles as cars in India.

Motorcycles are also <a href="http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/motorcycles/fatalityfacts/motorcycles">much more dangerous than cars</a>.</p>


So easy to overlook the prevailing market conditions. How many motorbikes have airbags? A car without one is still safer.
economics  india  car  safety 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Indian smartphone shipments declined for the second consecutive quarter in Q1 2016 • IDC
<p>According to the International Data Corporation's (IDC) Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, 23.5m units of smartphones were shipped in India in Q1 2016 registering 5.2% growth over the same period last year. However, smartphone shipments shrank by 8.2% over Q4 2015, dipping consecutively for two quarters.

According to Karthik J, Senior Market Analyst, Client Devices, “The first quarter of the year is usually expected to be slow after the festive season in the last quarter of the year. However, the contraction in Q1 2016 is mainly propelled by the decline in shipments from all the Top 5 smartphone vendors of previous quarter. Shipments of key Indian vendors Micromax, Intex and Lava put together dropped 20.4% sequentially as they struggled to push their inventories into the market.” On the other hand, new entrants like Reliance Jio grew sharply over previous quarter as they prepare before the official launch.</p>


India and China have about the same population; the Indian smartphone market is about a quarter the size of China's, which has already peaked.
india  idc 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Five things you can get in India with a missed call • WSJ
Shefali Anand:
<p>Want to transfer funds from your account? Give your bank a missed call. Want to hear Bollywood music? Dial a number and hang up.

Making a missed call by calling a number and letting it ring is a popular way of communicating in India because the caller doesn’t have to spend money. Marketing companies, politicians, banks and others now use this practice to reach millions who have cellphones but limited means.</p>


Brilliant. Recalls how, in the days when long-distance calls were expensive, kids on their travels would call the operator and ask to set up a reverse-charge call to their parents. Parent's phone rings: "Alley Okey is calling from Wichita, Kansas. Will you accept the charge?" Parent: "No." Conversation ends, with parent knowing that the kid is OK and presently in Wichita.
india  calls  code 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Lenovo and Apple are fastest growing among India’s top 10 smart phone vendors • Canalys
<p>India’s smart phone market grew by 12% year on year, with 24.4 million units shipping in Q1 2016. The top five vendors stayed the same, with Samsung in the lead, followed by Micromax, Intex, Lenovo and Lava. Lenovo grew the most, thanks to its value-for-money handsets and offline channel strategy – its shipments were up 63% on Q1 2015. Established international brands Microsoft, BlackBerry, Sony and LG were the biggest losers as the market shifted toward low-cost and value-for-money handsets…

…But other vendors are maneuvering to move up the market share rankings. Though in eighth place, Apple continued to climb in India, increasing shipments by 56% to make it the second fastest-growing vendor in the top 10. ‘Apple is outperforming the overall market in India, and still has great growth potential,’ said Canalys Mobility Analyst Wilmer Ang. It is seriously challenging Samsung’s dominance of the premium segment. For devices priced over US$300 (INR20,000), Samsung’s market share fell from 66% in Q1 2015 to 41% in Q1 2016, while Apple grew its market share from 11% to 29%. Successive price cuts to the iPhone 5S made it the most popular Apple device on the market, despite its smaller screen and outdated hardware.</p>


Not clear how much the $300+ market is growing, though.
apple  india  samsung 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Apple increases iPhone prices by steep 29% • The Times of India
<p>Apple has increased prices of iPhones in India. The surprise revision in retail prices comes at a time when the company's new device SE got a poor response and managed to sell only a few thousand units. And, the hike is as steep as 29% for the iPhone 6 device. The company also decided to tinker with pricing of iPhone 5S, making it costlier by 22% to nearly Rs 22,000.

Sources said Apple decided to withdraw some of the discounts offered in January-March 2016 period. "It was felt that SE, which was criticized for having a 'high price tag', will not be able to see much traction if prices of bigger-sized iPhone 6 and 6S devices are not corrected. So, the decision was taken to revise the price upwards," a source said.</p>

I missed this originally (it's datelined April 23). It's either madness, or supreme confidence, to raise prices like this - a decision made ahead of the rejection of imported refurbished iPhones earlier this week.
apple  iphone  india  smartphone 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Apple's plan for refurbished iPhones in India faces opposition » Bloomberg
Saritha Rai:
<p>India has rejected Apple Inc.’s request to import and sell refurbished iPhones to the world’s second largest mobile population, a telecommunications ministry official said Tuesday.

The U.S. company’s application has been turned down, the official said, asking to not be identified, citing official policy. Apple has been seeking permission to import and sell used phones to court price-conscious consumers with a similar proposal rejected in 2015 by the environment ministry.

Apple declined to comment.

Apple’s rivals have mounted a public campaign against the effort, arguing that such a move would trigger a flood of used electronics while defeating the government’s Make-in-India program to encourage local manufacturing.</p>


Oh, and would also allow Apple to sell more iPhones. Quite a blow for Apple.
apple  india 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Four fresh presentations, four key charts » Creative Strategies, Inc
Ben Bajarin looks at why people who have a PC aren't upgrading, what people like about wearables, who wants virtual reality, and also whether people in India are interested in PCs:
<p>My gut told me there was an interesting opportunity brewing in India. I decided to commission a study, in collaboration with local researchers, to see if India was ready to move beyond the smartphone. We focused on the regions in India where PCs, smartphones, and tablets have the highest penetration — Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Chennai. We did a mix of online studies, focus groups, and 1:1 interviews of 525 Indian consumers in this market.

The theory was simple. As consumers in India mature and have owned more than a few smartphones, they will look to more traditional PC form factors to use for work, school, and more. But with Windows PC penetration in India at less than 10% of the total population and Windows largely being an enterprise/workplace requirement in India, our theory was Android would be more popular as an operating system. As it turns out, it was for the overwhelming majority of consumers looking to buy their first PC in India. Which is encouragingly high for a market that began their journey on the internet on a smartphone.

<img src="http://creativestrategies.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Screen-Shot-2016-04-20-at-2.35.44-PM.png" width="100%" /></p>
pc  india 
april 2016 by charlesarthur
Amazon, Alibaba and an Indian Illusion » Bloomberg Gadfly
Andy Mukherjee:
<p>How can opening the door mean the exact opposite? The devil is in details of the policy, which says e-commerce platforms will only provide a marketplace and not influence the sale price of merchandise. In other words, while foreigners can facilitate retail, they will not really be retailers, burning their deep-pocketed investors' money to drive myriad mom-and-pop stores out of business.Goldman Sachs believes the rules "could spell an end" to discount-led competition among e-tailers. While that might be a welcome path to eventual profitability for an industry surviving on bragging rights about how much merchandise it handles, what's good for the collective may be bad news for individual companies. Late last year, the lobby group of traditional Indian retailers kicked up a fuss when Amazon gave out measly 200 rupee ($3) gift cards to consumers, because this purportedly showed Amazon acting as a retailer when it was only allowed to be a technology platform.If the new rules do nothing but extend the "essential continuity" of the old rules, that might please Sir Humphrey -- but Jeff Bezos is certainly going to mind.</p>


Seems that the new regulations will bring online retailing to heel in India. Not good - but smartphones will probably provide a way around it.
india  etailingq 
march 2016 by charlesarthur
India's Micromax, once a rising star, struggles » Reuters
Himank Sharma:
<p>A year ago, Micromax vaulted past Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to become India's leading smartphone brand. Today, its market share has nearly halved, several top executives have resigned, and the company is looking for growth outside India.

In Micromax's slide to second place is a tale of the promise and peril of India's booming but hyper-competitive smartphone industry.

India is the world's fastest-growing smartphone market. Shipments of smartphones jumped 29% to 103m units last year.

Rapid growth has helped nurture a crop of local brands, led by Micromax, that outsourced production to Chinese manufacturers. Now, as Samsung rolls out more affordable phones, the same Chinese factories are entering the Indian market with their own brands, depressing prices and forcing Indian mobile makers to rethink their strategies.

"What the Indian brands did to the global brands two years ago, Chinese phone makers are doing the same to Indian brands now, and over the next year we see tremendous competition for Micromax and other Indian smartphone makers," said Tarun Pathak, analyst at Counterpoint Research in New Delhi…

…Last May, Alibaba walked away from a mooted $1.2bn purchase of a 20% stake, citing a lack of clarity on growth plans, according to one executive involved in the discussion. Micromax co-founder Vikas Jain said in an interview with Reuters this week that the company and Alibaba disagreed on a future roadmap.</p>


The smartphone business's evolution has been like the PC business's evolution speeded up; India's is like the smartphone one, speeded up again.
micromax  india  smartphone 
march 2016 by charlesarthur
Ringing Bells Freedom 251: cheapest Android smartphone for just Rs 251 ($3.65) » TechPP
Raju PP:
<p>• 4-inch qHD screen with IPS
• 1.3 GHz quad-core processor
• 1GB RAM
• 8GB internal storage
• microSD slot for up to 32GB of external storage
• 3.2MP rear camera with auto focus
• 0.3MP (VGA) front camera
• 3G support
• 1450 mAh battery
• Android 5.1 Lollipop

The above hardware specifications look like an entry level smartphone from 2014 with no major compromises. Going by the published images, it doesn’t look bad either, at least not an eyesore that one would expect for a phone costing less than what you’d pay for a coffee at Starbucks.</p>


Looks OK (they have actual photos). A bit like something from a cornflakes packet, but at that price it's proof of how Android is revolutionising communication, and the world.

Only question now is whether the company can survive and make enough.
android  cheap  india 
february 2016 by charlesarthur
WhatsApp is changing the way people in India grow and buy food » TakePart
Sarah McColl:
<p>Farmers Santhosh Kittur and Abhijit Kamath wanted to grow pesticide-free vegetables between the rows of banana plots each separately owned. Their shared interest in old-fashioned agricultural practices brought them together to grow bitter gourd, cucumbers, beans, cabbage, tomatoes, green chiles, red peppers, onions, and garlic—staples of the Indian customers and kitchens they planned to serve. But their modern approach to marketing has put them in direct contact with customers in a high-tech manner.

Across India, WhatsApp groups are not only connecting farmers to their customers in the virtual market—they’re creating a network of resources and support for the country’s farmers who need it most.

In Kittur and Kamath’s WhatsApp group, created last August, the two farmers post updates from their farms, including photographs, as well as what produce is available to the group’s 80 members. Vegetables are sold on Thursdays and Sundays. Members can place dibs on the quantity of specific vegetables they want and can pick up their order or have it delivered.</p>


There's a <a href="http://www.itnewsafrica.com/2007/11/mobile-phones-benefit-fishing-community/">famous piece of research</a> by Upsalla University from 2006 about how mobile phones benefited Tanzanian fishermen. It would be good to see a comparable piece of research around smartphone apps in emerging economies.

(And it's always amusing to hear Americans' amazement that people use Whatsapp. Like SMS in the early part of this century, it's huge outside the US, small inside it.)
whatsapp  india 
february 2016 by charlesarthur
India’s regulator effectively bans Facebook’s free basics service » WSJ
Sean McLain, Joanna Sugden and Deepa Seetharaman:
<p>Facebook’s efforts to expand Internet access in the developing world suffered a blow Monday when India’s telecommunications regulator ruled that the social-media company’s plan to offer free access to a limited number of websites undercut the purpose of the Internet.

The regulator said Facebook’s Free Basics service violated the principles of net neutrality, which call for equal treatment of all traffic on the Internet. The new regulations ban all programs in India that offer free access to a limited set of online services.

This means Reliance Communications Ltd., the mobile-phone service provider that is Facebook’s partner in India, can’t offer Free Basics or free access to Facebook’s social-media site.</p>


Net neutrality wins, connectivity loses?
facebook  india 
february 2016 by charlesarthur
Xolo sees slumping sales, triggers employee exits » Times of India
<p>Xolo, a sub-brand of homebred handset maker Lava International, has fallen on tough times, with slumping sales triggering a restructuring and employee exits. Its performance has been a drag on the parent, which, some estimates show, has dropped two positions since last year to the No. 5 spot in the fiercely competitive Indian market.

Marketing and sales teams at Lava and Xolo have been merged as part of a group-level restructuring aimed at reducing duplicate roles and bringing in efficiencies, several people close to the development told ET. Over the past few months, quite a few marketing and sales employees from Xolo have joined competitors, while some have been absorbed by Lava, one of them said. The company has shifted retail sales of Lava-branded devices exclusively to offline channels and Xolo to online platforms.</p>


The Indian smartphone market is going through the same crunches as the broader market, but speeded up about fivefold.
india  xolo  lava  smartphone 
january 2016 by charlesarthur
Apple India enterprise head Sharad Mehrotra quits, starts up with Hyve Mobility » timesofindia-economictimes
Muntazir Abbas:
<p>Sharad Mehrotra, iPhone maker Apple's enterprise mobility head in India, has quit and set up a handset company to compete in the world's fastest-growing smartphone market. Mehrotra, who was with Apple India since October 2007, has cofounded Hyve Mobility , which will launch smartphones using Android, the operating system that rivals Apple's iOS, by March.

"While consumers today have a lot of options to choose a smartphone, the element of customer delight is seriously missing," he told ET, adding that it was high time to get into the smartphone market…

…"In the current Android scenario, no brand enjoys customer loyalty and we want to bring the change with our path-breaking products portfolio and service offerings," said [Aditya] Agarwal, MD of Hyve Mobility.</p>
android  india  apple 
january 2016 by charlesarthur
Apple pushes to bolster market share in India » WSJ
Newley Purnell:
<p>India’s smartphone market is expanding quickly and by next year it should overtake the U.S. as the world’s second-biggest behind China, according to research firm IDC.

Just 35% of mobile phones sold in India now are smartphones, meaning there is room for growth as people upgrade from basic devices. Indian consumers, however, tend to purchase inexpensive devices: The average smartphone selling price in the country is likely to fall to $102 in 2018 from $135 in 2014, IDC says.

Apple’s problem has been that the sweet spot for smartphone sales in India has been handsets that cost less than $150. In a country where the average person earns about $1,500 a year and even middle-class consumers make less than $8,000 a year, the standard iPhone — which usually costs between $500 and $1,000 without a data plan — was just too expensive for most people to consider.

“Buying an iPhone is so expensive,” said Sakshi Maurya, a 20-year-old university student in New Delhi. She said she doesn’t understand why an iPhone is five times as expensive as some locally available Android phones. “It’s a luxurious thing.”</p>


India poses a particular marketing challenge for Apple: it's a mixture of very tech-savvy buyers and low-income buyers. Which does it target first, and how?
iphone  apple  india 
january 2016 by charlesarthur
A billion users may not be enough for India's phone industry » Bloomberg Business
Bhuma Shrivastava :
<p>India just signed up its billionth mobile-phone customer, joining China as the only countries to cross that milestone.

Yet that 10-digit base may not be enough to keep the industry from struggling. Asia’s third largest economy is crowded with a dozen wireless carriers - more than in any other country - spectrum is hard to come by and regulatory risks are high. Add it all up and it’s no wonder they deliver lower profitability than phone operators in other parts of Asia, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

"There are too many of them all fighting for limited spectrum," said Chris Lane, a telecommunications analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in Hong Kong. "In China by comparison, 1.3 billion subscribers are serviced by just three operators. The government in China allocates spectrum on the basis of need, and at no cost to the operators. As a result, the Chinese operators get scale benefits that Indian operators are unable to achieve.”</p>


Raises the question of what the optimum number of mobile (or other) operators is for any country to create a competitive but also sustainable market. Four? Five?
india  phone  competition 
january 2016 by charlesarthur
iPhone users in India embrace ad blocking: survey » Livemint
Dhanya Ann Thoppil:
<p>iPhone users in India are warming up to the US phone maker’s move to introduce ad blocking on its devices, as mobile banner blocking gains grounds in one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world.

A recent survey by market researcher GlobalWebIndex shows that 42% of India’s iPhone 6 users use the software to block ads on their devices compared with a global average of 31%…

…“There’s a sizable audience who are likely to adopt a similar approach on their smartphones and this is a behaviour which could spread quickly across devices, which could spell the end of the mobile ad banner,” the survey said…

…India ranked fourth among the 34 countries surveyed by the market researcher—after Russia, Poland and Indonesia—in terms of adoption of ad block.

To be sure, Apple accounts for only a tiny share of India’s smartphone market. According to Counterpoint Research, Apple has a 1.5% share of the 190m smartphones sold in India thus far. Android-based devices accounted for 93% of the market.</p>


Interesting split. Bandwidth is really expensive in India. But so of course are iPhones.
adblocking  india  iphone 
december 2015 by charlesarthur
Google CEO Sundar Pichai outlines plan to capture Indian market with free Wi-Fi, recruitment and faster access - but not Android One » IB Times
David Gilbert:
<p>In 2016, there will be more people using Android in India than there will be in the United States. Very few of those however will be using Android One, Google’s specially engineered version of its mobile software for emerging markets. On Wednesday Sundar Pichai, the new CEO of Google, addressed a large crowd in New Delhi where he avoided mention of the failed Android One effort and instead focused on Google's new three-pronged approach to get people online and at the same time put Android and Google search right at the heart of India's internet revolution.

The new approach will see Google aggressively increase its recruitment of developers in the region; getting people online with free Wi-Fi and an initiative to get women to use the internet; and by making the experience of using the internet much better -- even for those with limited connectivity.</p>


The Hindustan Times report is <a href="http://www.hindustantimes.com/tech/live-sundar-pichai-speaks-on-what-inspires-google/story-00MOFLR1ICzBJwBua2D70O.html">here</a> but Gilbert's has better background. Notable from the HT story: in India, mobile search passed desktop search in May 2013 - about two years before more developed countries.
india  mobile  google 
december 2015 by charlesarthur
Samsung, Micromax planning to discontinue 2G phones » Times of India
Writankar Mukherjee & Gulveen Aulakh:
<p>Samsung and Micromax, the leading sellers of smartphones in India, are planning to discontinue so-called 2G phones and focus on devices that run on faster 3G and 4G networks as prices have dropped sharply for such handsets in the past year. Then there's the Reliance Jio effect.

"The focus has shifted to 4G phones with telecom operators launching such services," said Micromax Informatics chief executive officer Vineet Taneja. "4G models already account for 30% of our portfolio with 14 models and will increase to 20 by March."

The imminent launch of 4G services by Reliance Jio Infocomm has prompted incumbents Bharti Airtel and Vodafone to launch their own high-speed networks in anticipation of competition. That coupled with falling prices has almost wiped out demand for handsets running on 2G.</p>
india  2g 
december 2015 by charlesarthur
Drones save over two hundred people in Chennai floods » DRONELIFE
<p>A senior officer of the Chennai police said that the force has deployed drones in several of the most unreachable neighborhoods, and have been able to locate as many as 200 people, rescuing all of them.  The search and rescue operation sends drones up from a control vehicle.  The aerial images obtained are then sent to a control room, where staff reviews footage and pinpoints affected homes and people.  When a rescue site is identified, the control room communicates with teams of volunteers nearest to the location through wireless walkie-talkie, sending rescue workers to retrieve victims stranded in their homes.</p>
drones  india  chennai 
december 2015 by charlesarthur
Android One fails to make a mark despite revamp » The Economic Times
Danish Khan:
<p>According to Counterpoint Research, only 1.2m units of Android One [handsets] were shipped to India during its first year (September 2014 to September 2015) in the country, making up only 3.5% of the $50-$100 phone market, the segment which sells the most phones.

Only 3m devices are said to have been shipped in total across the 19 countries that Android One has launched in. Of this, 85% of sales took place in the Asia-Pacific market.

Counterpoint's Tarun Pathak said that for Android One to succeed in India, Google and its partners need to scale down to lower price points and differentiate the product from biggest competitor which is "Android" itself, which is competing with Android One via original equipment makers (OEM) that are present across $50-$100 price band in India.</p>


Lack of LTE turns out to be a key mistake.
androidone  india 
november 2015 by charlesarthur
India to overtake US next month with 402 million internet users » Tech In Asia
Malavika Velayanikal:
<p>The number of internet users in India will reach 402 million next month, nearly 50% more than what it was last year, according to a <a href="http://www.iamai.in/research/reports_details/4487">study</a> by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International. With the latest surge, India will overtake the US to have the second-largest internet user base in the world, next only to China. This will be music to the ears of mobile and internet-based businesses targeting the fast-growing digital market in India.

It took a decade for India to move from 10 million internet users to 100 million, but only four years to quadruple that figure. The primary driver of this takeoff is the boom in affordable smartphones over the past couple of years. But two-thirds of India’s population remain outside the internet, and broadband availability is poor.</p>
india  internet 
november 2015 by charlesarthur
Facing pressure in China, Xiaomi also stalls in India » The Information
Amir Efrati:
<p>the domestic Chinese market has slowed, while Xiaomi has dropped to No. 2 there after Huawei Technologies in terms of market share for the third quarter of this year, according to research firm Canalys.

The results in India seem to bear out the bear thesis on Xiaomi’s expansion plans: that it will be harder to succeed outside of China because it would have to work within the bounds of Google’s version of Android, where it can’t customize the software—and run an app store—the way it does inside of China, where Google mobile apps are almost completely absent.

In India, Xiaomi is “just another low-cost phone hardware company,” says one rival executive.

One Indian e-commerce executive whose firm sells smartphones says Xiaomi has “stagnated” online and that sales of Samsung and Motorola phones were much stronger during a recent period of online promotions known as “Big Billions Days.” Xiaomi, bucking its traditional practice of selling phones only online, has been willing to sacrifice some margin and sell phones through some retail stores in India.</p>


If you have to offer Google Mobile Services, in the end your differentiation will be whittled away.
xiaomi  india 
november 2015 by charlesarthur
India LTE smartphone shipments grew 2400% annually climbing to 10m units in Q3 2015 » Counterpoint Technology Market Research
Tarun Pathak has the details. Here's one of the more interesting pullouts (from lots) about a local OEM:
<p>Micromax maintained the second position in both overall mobile phone market and the smartphone segment with a market share of 13.7% and 17.7% respectively.

The brand’s share from online channel increased during the quarter. However, it is now facing pressure competition in $50-$100 price segment from Intex, Lava and others.

Micromax’s Cyanogen based online only brand ‘Yu’ launched its cheapest LTE model ‘Yunique’ during the quarter and the brand has been growing steadily ever since its launch.

Micromax Yu brand alone is now selling more smartphones than Xiaomi online, depicting it’s going to be challenging even for popular brands such as Xiaomi to scale in Indian market</p>


If Xiaomi can't succeed in India, it's going to have a real problem.
micromax  india  xiaomi 
november 2015 by charlesarthur
Brazilian smartphone users quicker to adopt new Android OS than Indian users » Jana Blog
<p>Globally, 93% of Android users are using versions of either the Lollipop, KitKat, or Jelly Bean operating systems on their devices. When we looked at the market share of each Android OS in India and Brazil among mCent users, we saw a similar theme. 98% of mCent users in India and 97% of users in Brazil are using either Lollipop, KitKat, or Jelly Bean. KitKat is the most popular OS among mCent users in both countries…

…In the case of Samsung, the top device brand in India and Brazil, older versions of the Galaxy and the Note will never get the new Marshmallow OS update. So while some users may want to upgrade, they simply may not be able to depending on which device and carrier they have…

…When looking across the three popular Android OS, Lollipop, KitKat, and Jelly Bean, Brazilian users are currently pretty evenly spread out across the three. But when we look at India, the majority of users—52%— are on KitKat. As users in Brazil move to new operating systems, users in India are staying on older OS versions much longer.</p>


This is hardly amazing; Jelly Bean was released in late 2012. You'd be more surprised if newcomers to the smartphone market were on much older OSs.
india  brazil  android 
november 2015 by charlesarthur
Apple Watch India launch delayed due to lack of interest » India Today
Sahil Mohan Gupta:
<p>Sources in the supply chain have revealed to IndiaToday.in that the delay is more to due to lack of interest in Apple's channel partners in India. They aren't convinced about the product and no one is willing to take on a massive inventory for a product, which belongs to a category that's not yet developed in India.

As per the IDC, Apple has shipped 3.6m units of the Apple Watch in the last quarter trailing only FitBit which shipped 4.4m units. IDC estimates that the Cupertino-based company will ship around 22 million units of the product in the calendar.  

Apple is tailed by Chinese start-up Xiaomi, which shipped 3.1m units of its Mi Band. The wearable market is expected to be the next growth category for technology companies. 72.2m wearables will be shipped in 2015, estimates IDC, which will be massive 173% jump over 26.4m units in 2014.

Apple faces stiff competition from Android Wear based wearables which after a recent update also work with the iPhone.

In India, the wearable market hasn't taken off.</p>


So that's stiff competition from products in a market that hasn't taken off?
apple  india  watch 
september 2015 by charlesarthur
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