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Showing posts from March, 2017

Partnerships for Seamless Services: App Integration

India's most popular mobile app for transportation Ola, BookMyShow, India's largest online entertainment ticketing platform recently announced their exclusive partnership to enhance the entertainment experience of millions of users, reports Times of India. With Ola's integration on the BookMyShow Android app, millions of BookMyShow users across the country, who also have the Ola mobile app, will now be able to book a cab - Micro, Mini, Prime or Lux, right after booking tickets for a movie, play, event or concert on BookMyShow. After booking tickets on BookMyShow, users will either be able to 'Book an Ola' or 'Schedule an Ola', depending on the time remaining to the movie show or event. Once the desired option is selected, users will be automatically redirected to the Ola app to confirm the cab booking.
The feature, which is currently available only on BookMyShow's Android app, will soon be extended to its iOS app as well. BookMyShow users already have …

Matchmaker for Corporates and startups

If you can't beat them, join them. PwC plays matchmaker for its corporate clients and startups. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the big four accounting firms, has started an innovation programme in Hyderabad to engage with startups, co-work on products, services and solutions, and provide access to its corporate clients, reports Economic Times. If successful, the firm plans to replicate this in other cities across India, starting with Bengaluru or Mumbai. "This is a genuine need of our clients. Two large international banks have already given us their problem statements and have asked us to scout for startups who could solve the problem for them," said Murali Talasila, who will be heading this innovation programme.
Housed in the Telangana-backed incubator T-Hub, the firm wanted to stay close to and amid startups for the purpose of the innovation programme. "PwC has accelerators and incubators across the world, but this is the first in India," said Talasil…

Brand Safety: Next to Nothing Inappropriate

Ensuring brands get next to nothing inappropriate is a constant headache. With a slew of advertisers objecting to their ads being served up next to racist, sexist or otherwise offensive content, YouTube faces its biggest challenge yet, reports Economic Times. The YouTube Brandcast was supposed to be a victory lap for the video sharing site. And it mostly was, with YouTube getting unstinting praise, courtesy speakers from HUL and Maruti. But souring the celebratory vibe somewhat was an issue that Rajan Anandan, vice president, Google India and South Asia, felt compelled to address. “Brand safety is extremely critical,“ he said highlighting a major source of bad press for Google and YouTube over the last week. “Even one ad impression on inappropriate content is a major issue for brands.“
YouTube's troubles began in the UK when a report in The Times highlighted that advertising for leading brands had appeared next to highly controversial content - for instance, Volkswagen on the off…

India becoming a Website Wasteland

With app usage in India growing by 43% in 2016 according to some, content creators are targeting the mobile app market now. 
YouTube has been recognised as the fastest-growing online creators in India on the eve of fourth edition of YouTube FanFest in Mumbai, on Thursday, reports Times of India. With over 14 independent creators hitting the one-million subscribers mark across Entertainment, Music, Tech and Food, YouTube is continuing to see massive growth in online video viewership in India, reaching over 180 million users per month in India on mobile alone, according to App Annie. With over 300 million smartphone users now in the country, creators are finding audiences beyond the top metros thanks to improved access to the Internet, as well as more Indians coming online in tier 2 cities who are discovering new content in their languages. This demand is driving more hunger for YouTube content across all genres, the company said in a statement. 
These trends are driving YouTube's …

It's All About the Digital Content

Social media companies are considering charging money to users for premium services. And digital content providers, who already charge fees for their content, are entering social media. Users are willing to pay for good digital content. Subscription social media is really like Netflix entering social media.
Twitter is considering whether to build a premium version of its popular Tweetdeck interface aimed at professionals, raising the possibility that it could collect subscription fees from some users for the first time, reports Times of India. Like most other social media companies, Twitter since its founding 11 years ago has focused on building a huge user base for a free service supported by advertising. Last month it reported it had 319 million users worldwide.
But unlike the much-larger Facebook, Twitter has failed to attract enough in advertising revenue to turn a profit even as its popularity with US President Donald Trump and other celebrities makes the network a constant cent…

Where is the AI Talent headed?

Tech giants are investing heavily in AI (and AR, VR) and searching the globe for the best AI and cutting edge technology talent.
Baidu chief scientist Andrew Ng said on Wednesday he will resign from the Chinese search engine company after three years of leading its drive into artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) projects, reports Times of India. 
Ng, who announced his departure in a blog post on online publishing platform Medium, did not say where he would be heading to next, but said he would continue to be involved in entrepreneurship and research in the AI space. "As the principal architect of Baidu's AI strategy, I am proud to have led the incredible rise of AI within the company," he said in the post. "I will continue my work to shepherd in this important societal change."
His resignation comes as Baidu has been ramping up its focus on cutting edge technology to revitalise the company's shrinking profits, and after the company hired…

Data Giants

When interviewed about the Idea-Vodafone merger in India, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao is reported as saying that the main reason for the merger is data - "More than Jio or Airtel, I think it’s the arrival of data which is the key reason. Data, as you know, is very capital-intensive and requires a lot of spectrum".

Digital infrastructure is needed to allow millions of users access to greater amounts of data use and higher speeds. Users want more and more mobile content and this is creating huge data rich companies that have access to huge amounts of users' data.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

IoT Police

An Ohio man claimed he was forced into a hasty window escape when his house caught fire last year, reports Times of India. His pacemaker data obtained by police showed otherwise, and he was charged with arson and insurance fraud. In Pennsylvania, authorities dismissed rape charges after data from a woman's Fitbit+ contradicted her version of her whereabouts during the 2015 alleged assault. Vast amounts of data collected from our connected devices -- fitness bands, smart refrigerators, thermostats and automobiles, among others -- are increasingly being used in US legal proceedings to prove or disprove claims by people involved.
In a recent case that made headlines, authorities in Arkansas sought, and eventually obtained, data from a murder suspect's Amazon+ Echo speaker to obtain evidence. The US Federal Trade Commission in February fined television maker Vizio for secretly gathering data on viewers collected from its smart TVs and selling the information to marketers. The mak…

Music, Art and Literary Events in India

Music, art and literary events are catching on in India in a big way. They are there for brand promotion and for tourism development. India may not boast world famous music events just yet, reports Economic Times. What the country can take pride is music festivals that can attract huge crowds. Say hello to music tourism, which in the Indian context includes music and dance events at popular — and not so mainstream — cultural, heritage and tourist destinations.
To be sure, Indian music lovers can now look forward to a packed calendar of annual events that kick off with Nariyal Paani, a multi-genre event in January in Alibaug, right up to Sunburn in Pune (which was shifted from Goa in 2016), the popular electronic music carnival in December. In between these two popular fests are a few less mainstream events such as the Ziro Music Festival of Arunachal Pradesh. Every fall, music enthusiasts head towards India’s far east to the mystical Ziro valley at a height of 5,800 feet. Nestled dee…

Using universities to attract global startup talent

Using universities to attract global startup talent

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced that five Chicago-based universities will launch the Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) Program, reports Times of India. The universities -- Columbia College, DePaul University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University and Northwestern University -- will work with the city of Chicago and sponsor between 10 to 20 visas for start-up founders in the first year of the programme, American Bazaar online reported on Thursday. "We want entrepreneurs to see Chicago as a place where their ideas dreams their companies can happen," Mayor Emanuel said in a press conference on Wednesday. "I believe this initiative ... is saying yes to entrepreneurship, yes to diversity and most importantly, yes to the future of the city of Chicago."
The universities will sponsor entrepreneurs based on their company's growth. Early stage entrepreneurs will be employed part-time for…

Captives of Industry

Captive units of the largest global financial services firms like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo are growing faster than the $150-billion Indian IT industry - a troubling sign for Indian technology services companies which get almost half their revenues from that sector, reports Economic Times. Regulatory filings made by these captive units, accessed by ET, show a scorching pace of growth.Revenue grew by 68% to Rs 1,531 crore in fiscal 2015 for Citigroup arm -Citicorp Services India. The unit registered 66% growth in the previous year. American bank Wells Fargo's captive grew 31% in fiscal 2015 and 41% in the previous year while Goldman Sachs' captives revenue expanded by 15.7%.
In contrast, the Indian IT industry's revenues grew 13.1% in fiscal 2015, with the country's largest IT services firm, TCS, growing at 15% and Infosys at 5.6%. To be sure, the likes of TCS and Infosys are growing off a larger base, with revenues upwards of $15 billion and $8 billion …

How to Influence People

Shereen Sikka Bharwani is a Maybelline ‘It Girl’ and one of the global influencers for the make­up giant that flew her to New York to capture the zeitgeist of contemporary fashion on America’s eastern seaboard, reports Economic Times. Dove chose her for its real beauty campaign, while Jet Airways signed her on for the London Fashion Week. The 29 ­year ­old Bharwani is no movie star or sports celebrity, however. She is among the swelling ranks of young social media users who are creating careers leveraging platforms such as Instagram and YouTube. They are the latest campaign managers for product categories as diverse as fashion, food, fitness, beauty, or music, and are harnessing content to influence consumers. “I started off on social media platforms as a regular consumer, but when I started blogging, I saw the potential of such social media platforms such as Instagram and thought of harvesting this opportunity for promoting my blog content that had a further outreach,” said Bharwani…

Network, Content and Hardware

Reliance Jio is spending huge sums on getting their network in place along with the digital content to distribute and the now the hardware also to capture the market for mobile communications and mobile content delivery. It is getting the total digital infrastructure in place for IoT market.

Reliance Jio is reportedly working with Google to develop an affordable smartphone that will work exclusively on the Mukesh Ambani-led telco's 4G network, reports Times of India. The affordable smartphone is likely to be launched before the end of this year. The report said that Google branding will help Reliance Jio reach a larger market, besides ensuring deep integration of the latter's applications into Android platform. In addition to the smartphone, Google and Reliance Jio both are working together on developing software for the telco smart TV services, which will be launched later this year. Google branding will help boost Reliance Jio's plans to sell cheaper 4G handsets and rea…

Shedding Lite on Slow Networks in India

Ecommerce throws lite on Indian network data capacity.

Flipkart said it is working with Facebook to ensure that users of their apps and websites on slower networks and low-cost smartphones don't get bogged down by buffering or the need for updates. "I am working with Facebook to converge our solution — which allows users to skip updates to apps — and there is a platform called React Native to see if we can share each other's learnings and make one unified product for the developer community to leverage," said Amar Nagaram, vice president of engineering at Flipkart. Nagaram said developers from both companies are working on the project via open source. "The whole idea was to make the site work on low networks, which means consuming low data, without compromising the experience," he said.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a query on the matter. About 30% of India's over 1 billion mobile phone subscribers use smartphones and a lower number uses data…

Is India going Cashmore or Cashless?

With banks in India considering more charges and fees for cash transactions and e-wallet companies charging more for transfer to your account, will India go cashless?

Within 24 hours of introducing a 2% levy, PayTM on Friday withdrew the charge on credit card usage keeping "users' convenience in mind", reports Times of India. PayTM introduced the charge on Thursday, after blocking the credit cards of users who were suspected of exploiting a discount it offers. PayTM said it had applied a refundable fee of 2% with the intent of preventing misuse of the 0% bank facility. "At the same time, we are conscious that this move caused inconvenience to a large segment of our users, including those who are using their credit cards for genuine transactions," said PayTM in its blog. "Keeping the millions of customers and merchants interest as utmost priority, we have decided to suspend the 2% fees and will continue to build a series of features to curb such misuse,&qu…

Crime Tech

High-tech crimes, such as document fraud, money laundering and online trading in illegal goods, are at the root of almost all serious criminality, Europe's police agency said, reports Times of India. "These cross-cutting criminal threats enable and facilitate most, if not all, other types of serious and organised crime," such as drugs and people trafficking, Europol said in a study of organised crime that it publishes every four years. So-called "ransomware", which blocks a person or company's computer until a fee is paid to unlock it, has become a major concern. But traditional crimes also now rely increasingly on new technology, such as the drug trade's use of drones, and burglars using computers to scout neighbourhoods online and track social media posts to see when people are away from home.
Europol says there are some 5,000 international crime groups under investigation, with members from more than 180 nationalities. Drug trafficking remained the …

The difference between humans and bots

Google has enhanced reCAPTCHA, the technology that it uses to differentiate humans from bots on the internet, reports Times of India. Until now, the system asked users to either click on images related to a given topic or tick a checkbox. But now, it has gone invisible. "Now we're taking it a step further and making it invisible. Human users will be let through without seeing the "I'm not a robot" checkbox, while suspicious ones and bots still have to solve the challenges," reads the ReCAPTCHA website.
This means that CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) won't bother you anymore while accessing content on the internet. The system will now use machine learning and advanced risk analysis to detect user habits. But if Google thinks that you're a bot, it'll still give you one of the usual puzzles to solve. The system will still be tracking factors such as user IP address and even the mouse movements. …

Corporates create talent centres for future prosperity

Corporates create talent centres for future prosperity.

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing opened a new research and development centre in the US' Silicon Valley to attract top engineering talent, reports Times of India. The DIDI Labs in Mountain View, California will primarily focus on big-data-based security and intelligent driving technology, and are a landmark step for the company to create a global innovation nexus. "Sweeping changes are taking place in the global transport and automobile industries," Cheng Wei, founder, chairman and CEO of the company said, adding that they would build on rich data and fast-evolving artificial intelligence (AI) analytics to work with cities to build intelligent transport ecosystems for the future.
Didi, backed by Apple, has emerged as the single biggest car-haling app after Uber merged its operation with it last year in a deal valued at about USD 35 billion. Cheng said that Didi's international vision now extends to build…

Bringing a Brand into Being: Being Smart About Brand Strategy

For his next blockbuster, Salman Khan is betting on a smaller screen — the smartphone, reports Times of India. The star of such mega hits as Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Karan Arjunand Dabangg, Salman Khan is dialling a raft of investors for his smartphone venture, in which he may take a majority shareholding directly or through his family. He's currently building an operational management team to be headed by a professional with leadership stints at Samsung and Micromax, two top industry executives told ET. The Bollywood superstar, who owns the Being Human clothing brand, has registered the BeingSmart trademark for smartphones targeted at the entry-to-middle market segment. He has also selected the Chinese plant and initial phone models that will run on Android and cost below Rs 20,000.
"BeingSmart will be positioned against the Chinese smartphone brigade — Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi — at a time domestic handset makers such as Micromax and Intex are facing tremendous competition," sa…

Using Y Combinator companies as test ground for future products and services

Using Y Combinator (YC) companies as test ground for products and messaging apps.

WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service used by more than 1 billion people worldwide, is testing a system that would let businesses talk directly to WhatsApp users for the first time, according to communications about the project seen by Reuters, reports Times of India. The tests, which are being conducted with a handful of companies that are part of the Y Combinator startup incubator, are an important signal of how WhatsApp plans to make money from its massively popular service. WhatsApp has not developed a business model in the three years since Facebook Inc bought it for a hefty $19 billion.
WhatsApp, a pun on the phrase "What's up?", has helped to upend mobile services by allowing users to text or call friends and family for free, without text message charges. It competes with similar services such as WeChat, a unit of China's Tencent Holdings Ltd. One potential revenue sour…

Bollywood Bond

India's century-old obsession with films seems to have drawn overseas financiers: Eros International, the nation's biggest distributor of movies, has hit the markets selling Bollywood dreams wrapped in dollar bonds to offshore buyers in the first such fund-raising by the world's most prolific cinema industry, reports Economic Times.
The high-yield bonds, which opened for subscription on Tuesday for raising a potential $230 million, are of five-year maturity and carry a fixed rate. The initial price guidance is about 8.25%. The bond-sale remained open for subscription till the time of going to press.“If the issuance sails through, this would be the first overseas debt-fund raising by any film entertainment company from India,“ said one of the executives on the Regulation S bonds for European and Asian buyers.
India's film industry is the world's second-oldest. S and P Global Ratings rated Eros International with 'B+' rating and gave the company a 'stabl…

The Cost of Mobile Data

After Reliance Jio came on the scene, the telcos entered into a price war which has benefitted consumers in India a little. Mobile price plans have come down.

Now there is talk of a merger between Idea and Vodafone in India which would create India's largest mobile phone operator. Sunil Mittal of Airtel says that national and international roaming charges should be removed. Chinese telcos are apparently going to remove roaming charges.

More recently, news is that Netflix is going to partner with Airtel, Videocon and Vodafone to deliver its digital content to consumers directly.

Consumers need access to lots of cheap mobile data without roaming charges. Cloud computing should offer mobile users access to cheap mobile data. Consumers are getting a raw deal with telcos data packages currently on offer.

To use the words of William Wordsworth: I wandered very expensively on the cloud.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar


The global fight for digital assets in India

The global fight for digital assets in India - see also Indian e-commerce has a few owners
Global tech giants are heading for a proxy war in India. Alibaba is leading a $200 million investment into Paytm's marketplace, creating a new Indian unicorn, reports Times of India. It confirms the intention of the Chinese behemoth to take on Amazon, which is aggressively ramping up, investing $5 billion into its local operation as other homegrown rivals flail. Only one of the tech big boys will emerge victorious. The $255 billion Chinese group and Paytm have already invested together to build a dominant mobile-wallet payment business, now worth around $5 billion. Their smaller e-commerce unit is now being separated out to meet Indian regulations. 
After the latest fundraising, Jack Ma's Alibaba and its own payments affiliate Ant Financial will effectively control the e-commerce company and continue to own a large stake in the payments arm, which must be majority Indian-owned. Local ri…

Get Real with Mixed Reality

US tech giant Microsoft will start shipping the "Mixed Reality" headset later this month in a bid to make Windows 10 the most complete platform across the broadest range of devices, reports Times of India. Mixed Reality (MR) is a combination of virtual and augmented reality to produce new environments and visualisations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.
"When we begin the phased rollout of the developer kits this month, the kits will include the Acer headset, along with documentation and access to Windows 10 Insider preview builds and the software development kit (SDK) to enable developers to build mixed reality applications," said Alex Kipman, Technical Fellow, Microsoft. Acer Windows Mixed Reality Development Edition headset include two high-resolution liquid crystal displays at 1440 x 1440 resolution, display refresh rate up to 90 Hz (native), built-in audio out and microphone support through 3.5mm jack, single cable with HD…

Digital Content Delivery to Mobile Devices

The mobile phone industry is racing to improve its ability to deliver content as the popularity of watching TV series and films on small screens surges, forcing a shift in focus for the sector, reports Times of India. Mobile video traffic is forecast to grow by around 50% annually to account for over two-thirds of all mobile data traffic by 2021, according to a forecast by Sweden-based telecommunications operator Ericsson. The growing popularity of video is pushing phonemakers to come up with devices with better screens and sound quality.
For telephone operators it is pushing them to work closely with media giants like Vivendi and Turner, who are ramping up production of video content made specifically for mobile devices. "Video is not an option, it is a must for telecom operators today," Eric Xu, the CEO of China's Huawei, the world's third-largest phone maker after Apple and Samsung, said at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the phone industry's largest …

Of Crowdfunding and Cryptocurrencies: No Free Rein for Fintech

It appears RBI will not give free rein to fintech.
Banking has ceased to be the sole preserve of banks with developments in information and communication technology enabling non-banks to get into lending and other activities, according to the RBI deputy governor R Gandhi, reports Times of India. He, however, cautioned that two key developments in fintech — crowdfunding and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoins — will not be given a free run. 
According to Gandhi, the central bank will regulate crowdfunding. "You need an organised and a regulated entity to ensure that the innocent and weak parties are protected. Any democratic set-up cannot dismiss it quoting 'Consenting Adult' argument. 'Consenting adult' argument cannot be presented when mass scale failure takes place," said Gandhi.
On Bitcoins or any other virtual currency, Gandhi said the two important elements of any currency were confidence and anonymity. "The initial rounds are always filled with adve…

Aggravation for Aggregators

The aggregators and online marketplaces are under attack with Uber and Ola drivers complaining about their incomes dropping and earnings reducing for sellers and service providers. Drivers, sellers and service providers are forming associations which are causing aggravation for the aggregators.
E-commerce major Flipkart has changed policies for merchants who sell on its platform, slated to be implemented from March 15, reports Times of India. The e-tailer has reduced what is called 'fixed fee' by Rs 5-10 for small value items but the same has been increased by Rs 10 for products priced above Rs 1,000. The company has also changed slabs for implementing 'collection fee' of cash on delivery (COD) orders for sellers.
Flipkart's arch rival Amazon, on the other hand, has lower fixed fee for sellers and does not charge any collection fee from sellers on its platform. "We are passing the benefits to our sellers by bringing the new policies and it will help them do m…

Cloud Chaos Theory

The recent technical problems at Amazon's cloud services shows the widespread disruption that can happen as more and more users and businesses migrate onto cloud services.

Internet users experienced widespread disruption recently, after Amazon’s cloud service that hosts their data suffered a technical problem. Amazon’s Simple Storage Service, or Amazon S3, had difficulty sending and receiving clients’ data according to reports. Amazon has not yet disclosed the cause.
The far reach of the disruption highlights the increasing dependence organisations have on the cloud for cheap and secure data storage. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s biggest cloud business. Organisations, both large and small, suffered disruption due to the technical problems on the cloud service. Messaging startup Slack Technologies Inc. said users may have had difficulty uploading files due to problems with its hosting service, according to posts on Twitter. “Imagine your business not being able to run f…

Web Series Integrated with Brand Campaigns

Web Series Integrated with Brand Campaigns

Now, watching your favourite web series on OTT platforms like VOOT, Hotstar etc will fetch you more targeted campaigns and promotions, reports Times of India. Given that the audience on such platforms is between the ages of 18-40, brands are finding it easy to catch their eyeballs. Most new-age companies are thus launching targeted campaigns and advertisements on such sites. "An extra viewership of 5 lakh goes a long way to understand whether there is an engagement with the user. If you put an advertisement on television, you cannot quantify the number of viewers. With more ads on OTT, there is a scope of experimentation to see which ads resonate with the audience," said Ajay Rawal, national marketing head, JK Ansell, that makes Kamasutra Condoms.
Brands add that they find it easier to tap into the premium customer base, as the primary users of the OTT platforms are high-end mobile phone users, with higher disposable income. "…