Thursday, 26 February 2015

BlackBerry to help Google secure Android

BlackBerry Ltd said that it is working with Google Inc to enable its software to manage and secure some of Google's Android devices, a move that builds on BlackBerry's recent partnership with Samsung Electronics Co.
In November, BlackBerry announced partnerships with Samsung and other high-profile technology industry players, broadening the reach of its revamped mobile device management and security platform.
BlackBerry said it is offering a "highly secure mobility solution" for Samsung's Android devices. The new system weds BlackBerry's security platform with the South Korean company's own security software for its line-up of Galaxy devices that are powered by Google's Android operating system.
BlackBerry also outlined a similar tie-up directly with Google, to manage devices equipped with Android for Work -- Google's own solution to securely separate business and personal data and applications.
BlackBerry shares rose 4.3% to $10.71 on the Nasdaq following the announcement.

Vodafone challenges Trai’s lower termination charges in SC

Vodafone India has challenged the decision of telecom regulator Trai to lower termination charges for fixed-line and mobile calls in Supreme Court, seeking a stay on the move that will see consumer tariffs coming down.

The country's second-biggest telecom operator argued that Trai's new regulation on lowering Inter-Connection Usage Charges (IUC) has been taken in "undue haste", which is uncalled for, and at a time when some of the issues pertaining to the matter are already pending before the apex court.

The application, filed in the name of Vodafone Essar Gujarat Ltd, said, the decision will lead to a "grave and irreparable prejudice" to its business interests.

In its application, Vodafone said Trai should be "restrained from acting upon and giving effect" to the decision. "The impugned decision is in violation and contravention... and should be stayed till the appeal is pending."

The matter will come up for hearing on Friday.

On February 23, Trai had announced a reduction in charges that companies pay to terminate calls on competing networks. The measure, which has to be implemented from March 1, will mainly benefit companies giving fixed-line services as they will be able to offer major benefits to consumers such as increased free monthly calls and minutes.

Vodafone does not have a fixed-line business in India and could have been impacted by the decision in a big way, according to industry analysts. Major beneficiaries of lower tariffs in the fixed-line business are state-owned BSNL and MTNL and private companies such as Bharti Airtel, which command a big share in the category.

Trai had reduced the termination charges from fixed-line phones from 20 paise per minute to zero and from mobile phones to 14 paise per minute (a 30% reduction).

When contacted, a spokesperson for Vodafone India declined to comment on the matter, saying it is sub-judice.

Sources said the regulator will challenge the appeal in the court, arguing that it has the authority to pass the order.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Now, app to file corruption plaints against govt servants

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday inaugurated a mobile app for filing complaints against public servants demanding bribe in return for services.

The mobile app developed by the Public Concern for Governance Trust, led by former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro, can be downloaded on any mobile phone.

Fadnavis said the state government fully supports every effort to bring in transparency as it would only strengthen the democracy.

"Today, there is a trust deficit as there is no transparency. The Guarantee to Services Act will bring in transparency and those who do not provide services will be made accountable," he said. The Bill will be introduced in the legislature during the Budget Session.

Director general Anti-Corruption Bureau Pravin Dixit said that the department in 2014 had arrested 1,600 corrupt public officials. He added that the Bombay high court had granted permission for additional district judges to hear corruption cases.

He said to ensure that complainants and the panch (witnesses) do not backtrack on the complaint at a later stage, everything will be video-recorded. "The judiciary has assured us that they will consider such evidences," he said.

Fadnavis said that the government has nearly completed compiling the list of officials who have been convicted and they would shortly be dismissed from service. He added that he was focusing on strengthening forensic evidence.

Govt to launch internet safety campaign

The union government, in collaboration with internet giant Google, will launch an internet safety campaign, particularly aimed at sensitising young adults and children on sensitive and tricky issues such cyber bullying and identity theft. Awareness guidelines will also be issued to government officials.

The government plans to reach out to various departments and ministries for consultations on as well as dissemination of best practices on Internet safety and data security as a part of this campaign. The campaign, according to a PIB release, will be carried out by Department of Electronics and Information and Technology (DeitY) which falls under the union ministry of Communications and Information Technology, in collaboration with Google and the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert-In).

The date of launch, however, has not yet been specified.

To this effect, the first roundtable was held in the capital on Wednesday, hosted by MyGov, CERT-In and Google. Over 650 ideas pitched by citizens on digital safety on the MyGov were debated and presented. There were also over 200 creative entries in the form of posters on Internet safety.

"Government departments today are implementing e-governance initiatives, not just in urban areas but also in district and sub-district levels. It becomes important to exercise Internet safety measures to secure government and citizen data," MyGov CEO Gaurav Dwivedi who was present at the roundtable told TOI on phone, adding that children and young adults, who are among the most intensive internet users, will be made aware of common problems on social media use, such as cyber bullying and identity thefts.

Over the next few weeks, said Dwivedi, there will be discussions with more ministries and government departments to create crisp guidelines on Internet safety.

The meeting was, attended by officials from the DeitY, Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Google India, NCERT, CBSE, Cert-In, and the new media wing of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. According to the government's official communique, DeitY additional secretary Tapan Ray suggested a year-round programme to raise awareness of key policy makers on issues of Internet safety, according to the PIB release. The programme would include roundtables, workshops, "security cafes", and contests for young adults, policymakers, and NGOs.

Citizen-government interaction platform MyGov, in collaboration with all stakeholders, is also expected to "issue awareness guidelines soon on various safety measures, which can be followed by government officials, schools, guardians and other vulnerable sections," says the PIB release.

Microsoft to discontinue support for Google, Facebook chat in

Microsoft has announced that it will be killing off Google and Facebook chat from its email service in the coming weeks.

The company informed users about the change through an email. In the email, Microsoft attributes its decision to drop Google Chat support to search giant's decision to discontinue the chat protocol used by the Google Talk platform.

The email goes on to add, "We understand that this may disappoint some of our customers, but we hope that you'll try Skype for chat, and voice, video calling, so you can take advantage of the more robust ways to keep in touch with friends and family."

This means, going forward, the only chat service available on will be Skype.

The email from Microsoft also clarifies that "This update will not impact the connection to your Facebook and/or Google accounts, which means your People page will stay updated with the latest contact information from the services you have connected."

In all, the decision seems to be latest in the ongoing Microsoft-Google feud.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Bansals get new roles in Flipkart recast

India's largest online retailer Flipkart has undertaken a massive reorganization at a time when the e-tailer is looking to prune its losses and make itself IPO ready. Under the new structure, Flipkart will be split into three verticals to bring a sharper focus on its strategy and help the company tap its next phase of growth.

While the Bengaluru-based company's co-founder and CEO Sachin Bansal would continue to spearhead the e-commerce biggie at the top, he will also take on an additional role of pushing all the new initiatives at the firm. Sachin, who co-founded Flipkart with Binny Bansal (they are not related) in 2007, will reduce the scope of his day-to-day operational involvement in the company, sources privy to the development said.

Binny, who is currently designated as the COO, would be overseeing the logistics and supply chain side of the business, while Myntra's co-founder Mukesh Bansal would drive the commerce platform along with taking care of marketing activities and the marketplace vertical.

Mukesh, who came on board Flipkart after the fashion e-tailer was acquired by its cross-town rival for $330 million in May last year, has seen his influence grow steadily within the company. In November last year, Flipkart had given Mukesh the mandate to lead marketing for the online commerce major and also be in-charge of categories like consumer electronics and computers.

When TOI reached out to Flipkart on its recent reorganization, a company spokesperson said, "As a growing business, we are constantly reorganizing our teams to match the changing environment. Realigning roles and responsibilities helps us keep pace with our aggressive growth and the dynamic environment we operate in. We have done many such changes in the past and will continue to do the same in the future whenever the needs arise."

The company's engineering division is also getting a makeover. It will now be headed by Sameer Nigam, and its chief technology officer Amod Malviya would drive R&D and innovation.

Sources told TOI that the company's decision to split Flipkart into three units was taken at a board meeting held last week and was announced internally to all its employees last week.

Apple poaching employees from Samsung: Report

It appears that Apple is poaching talent from Samsung including technicians and engineers in signal- and visual-processing management, as per a new report.

South Korean publication The Korea Times, cites unnamed Samsung officials as saying that Apple is poaching Samsung's experienced technicians and engineers in fields like signal- and visual-processing management. The experts are lured by 'highly-competitive benefits and large annual paychecks' besides greater independence, as per the officials.

Apple is also hiring Samsung employees from the field of battery technology as the company is reportedly working on an electric car, as per the report.

"As the electric vehicle business is a new one, Apple needs patents and experts in battery technology. Top human resources firms have been approaching Samsung's battery experts, individually, and I think such human exchange moves are a win-win for both," said the Samsung official.
Although Apple and Samsung are rivals, the Cupertino giant relies on Samsung for displays, processors and DRAM chips.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Yandex sees slowing revenue growth in Q1

Russia's biggest internet search engine Yandex on Wednesday said it expected first-quarter revenues to grow by about 15%, year-on-year, after a 21% growth rate in the previous quarter.

The company, which is ahead of Google in Russia with a market share of about 60%, said its outlook was limited to quarterly guidance because of a high level of uncertainty over the economy.

Yandex reported fourth-quarter revenues of 14.7 billion roubles ($235.4 million) and said net income jumped 126% from a year ago to 7.6 billion roubles, boosted by a 4.7-billion-rouble foreign exchange gain.

Adjusted net income grew 13% to around 4 billion roubles while earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased 18% to 6.1 billion roubles, it said in a statement.

Yandex added its share of Russian search market, including mobile, averaged 59.7% in the fourth quarter, citing LiveInternet data, compared to 60.3% a quarter earlier.

From today, 2 UK banks to allow fingerprint login

Account holders of two of Britain's largest banks - Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest will become the first to log into their accounts using their fingerprint as the password.

Starting from Thursday, RBS and NatWest customers will be the first of any UK-based bank to be able to login to their mobile banking app using only their finger print.

Using Apple's new Touch ID fingerprint sensor, RBS and NatWest customers who have an iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus will be able to access their mobile banking app within seconds.

The technology recognises the customer's unique finger print, meaning they don't have to remember a tricky password - making it easier and more convenient to access their finances.

RBS and NatWest have introduced Touch ID following feedback from their customers who took to the banks' online community forum 'Ideas Bank' to ask for the latest technology in the mobile banking app.

More and more of RBS and NatWest's customers are using digital technology to bank. Nearly 50% of the banks' 15 million customers actively use online banking with over 3 millon customers using the mobile app every week.

RBS and NatWest have 1.8 million active iPhone users who use the app on average 40 times per month.

RBS and NatWest's busiest branch is the mobile app itself with over 167,000 of RBS and NatWest's customers use it between 7am and 8am on their commute to work every day.

Stuart Haire, managing director, RBS and NatWest Direct Bank said "There has been a revolution in banking as more and more of our customers are using digital technology to bank with us. Adding Touch ID to our mobile banking app makes it even easier and more convenient for customers to manage their finances on the move and directly responds to their requests."

According to a British Banking Association report, banking apps have been downloaded more than 12.4 million times in Britain.

The Way We Bank Now study which was released last June showed that people were making around 5.7 million transactions each day using smartphones and other internet-enabled technology.

Snapdeal buys luxury fashion site

Snapdeal, one of the country's largest e-tailers, announced on Wednesday that it has acquired Exclusively, which sells designer wear by Indian designers on its site, for an undisclosed sum. With this acquisition, Snapdeal looks to bolster its fashion business and keep pace with rival Flipkart, which had acquired fashion and lifestyle e-tailer Myntra last year.

Exclusively has a plan to add international labels to its portfolio soon. Kunal Bahl, co-founder & CEO, Snapdeal said, "We have witnessed a surge in the demand from consumers across the country for premium and luxury products." Luxury products and services market in India is pegged $14 billion. It is growing at 30% year-on-year, according to a recent KPMG-ASSOCHAM report.

Exclusively will continue to function as an independent site and all aspects of its online shopping will remain intact, Snapdeal said.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Software helps identify portrait of Anne Boleyn

She was one of the most enigmatic women in British history, yet little is known about the face of Anne Boleyn because contemporary portraits were thought to be destroyed after she was executed at the Tower of London in 1536.

Now scientists believe they have identified a portrait of Boleyn, King Henry VIII's second wife, using facial recognition software that has compared the only confirmed image of Anne on a medal in the British Museum with a painting known as the Nidd Hall portrait.
Art historians have debated whether the Nidd Hall portrait is Boleyn's or that of her successor, Jane Seymour, Henry's third wife.
However, a study has matched the portrait with the only known contemporary image of Anne on "The Moost Happi" medal, which was stamped in 1534 to commemorate the expected birth of her son. Amit Roy-Chowdhury of the University of California at Riverside said that a comparison of the faces in a range of portraits thought to represent Anne has identified only one, the Nidd Hall portrait, as being the same as the face printed on the Moost Happi medal.
The facial recognition software - developed from systems used to identify people in CCTV footage - compared a range of physical proportions, such as the width of the mouth and distance between the eyes, to assess the extent of a match between two portraits. A similar attempt to confirm the authenticity of portraits of William Shakespeare proved unsuccessful, the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in California was told.

DoT weighs legal option to keep auction on track

The telecom department is considering all options available to it, including approaching the Supreme Court, to pre-empt any telecom operator from stalling the auction of airwaves that is due to begin on March 4.

"We have sought opinion from the ministry of law and justice over the matter and we want to ensure the auctions don't get pushed further," a senior telecom department official told ET. According to the procedure announced by the government, operators have to file their applications by February 16 to participate in the auction.

The DoT's move comes in the wake of telecom operators going to various courts across the country and the telecom tribunal, seeking a postponement of the auction for what they called anomalies in the auction rules.

The government is hoping to raise at least Rs 80,000 crore from the sale of spectrum for second and third-generation services and is banking heavily on this expected revenue to keep its fiscal deficit under control. Any delay in the sale could derail the plans.

According to industry sources, however, more legal headaches could be in store for the telecom department as some operators are considering filing further petitions over what they called the 'interference' they are facing from across the border in the 3G spectrum held by them.

"Operators could ask the telecom department to provide them free and cleaner 3G spectrum, implying replacement of their existing holding before it goes ahead and auctions the new 3G spots," a senior telecom industry executive said.

Friday, 13 February 2015

When YouTube stars go offline and 'meetup' fans live

If you thought today's young YouTube celebrities have only virtual contact with their fans, think again. They have taken on something new: real life. A lastminute message on Twitter, internet or Facebook can bring hundreds, even thousands of teens out to a designated venue within hours to see their "vlogging" — video blogging — idols in the flesh. Teenager Leena waited in line in Paris last month to see France's number two YouTube comic, known as Norman. "I feel like cry ing," she gushed. "I've seen every one of his videos! It's going to be weird seeing him live," said 13year-old Eugenie, who has already attended several YouTube Meetups, as the encounters are known.

'Meetups' may have started as low-key bids to boost a YouTuber's reputation, but in many places including Britain and the US they have morphed into professionally organized, commercially driven events showcasing these new power brokers.

As elsewhere, France's "Gen eration Z" — kids born after 1995 whose world is dominated by digital props — have quickly embraced the trend. "Tomorrow I'll be at FNAC Saint-Lazare in Paris to sign autographs. Everyone come!" read a message from 27year-old Norman — full name Norman Thauvaud — posted on Facebook, the Generation Z bible, citing a well-known book, CD and electronic equipment store in the capital. His "Mister Average" persona delivers short posts on teen topics like dating, family or swear ing that score eight to 12 million views. He has 5.6 million subscribers and when he announces an event — even with 24 hours notice — hundreds of fans turn out.

YouTube's own staggering statistics have helped catapult vloggers like Norman to cult status. The site has over a billion users and 300 hours of videos are uploaded every minute, according to its press site. Mobile devices — like the smartphones used non-stop by Generation Z — account for half of YouTube's global views.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Citizen-centric features added to 'smart Chandigarh' app

Android based "Smart Chandigarh" application, which was prepared by UT food and supplies and consumer affairs wing, and was launched on the eve of Republic Day, has added three fresh citizen-centric features.

These include details of registration and licencing authority, first aid and administration directory with searchable option. Now, complete information related to RLA and transport department has been updated which includes procedure to make all kind of driving licence (learner's licence), renewal, procedure to make all kind of vehicle registrations (new registration, transfers, all forms related to driving licence and vehicle registrations can be downloaded. The smartphone application will also provide information regarding "first aid" guidance.

The idea of putting first aid manual in the application is to make people aware of medical emergency situations and precautions to be taken thereof. This application would be available for Apple users from March. The department has received many positive comments about this smartphone application. Google Play reports more than 4,000 downloads within 18 days of its launch.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Google I/O dates announced, ticket sales start March 21

Tech giant Google has announced the dates for this year's Google I/O, its annual conference where it unveils new products and showcases its latest technologies.

Google has revealed that the conference will take place on May 28 and 29, 2015 at the Moscone Center West in San Francisco.

Registrations for tickets will start on March 17 and will be open for two days. However, Google will choose attendees via a random lucky draw. This means that in addition to money you'll also need some luck to attend the event. Last year, Google I/O tickets were sold at $900.

The conference will feature product and platform innovations at Google, and will start with a live kickoff session from the company's senior vice-president of products and Android chief, Sundar Pichai.

Google I/O is also known for the free swag the company distributes to all attendees which sometimes costs more than the value of the event ticket. Last year, Google I/O attendees received two Android Wear watches and Google Cardboard box.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

IT growth will be 12-14% next year, says Nasscom

IT industry body Nasscom has forecast that the industry growth in the coming financial year would be about the same as in the current one. The association said on Tuesday that the growth would be 13% in 201415, and estimated that it would be between 12% and 14% in the coming year.

Nasscom communicated the estimate to the media after a strategic review here.R Chandrashekhar, president of Nasscom, said there were concerns with regard to slowdown in Europe, Brazil and China. "A lot of hope was pinned on these economies. So the big question is, where is the real growth taking place? If there is slowing down in some parts and degrowth in some countries of Europe, then there is less money available for the IT sector," he said.

Nasscom said software exports in 2015-16 would grow to $110-$112 billion from about $98.5 billion in the 2015 fiscal ending March.The overall Indian IT-BPM revenues is expected to be in the range of $165-169 billion next year, compared to $146 billion this year.

The domestic IT-BPM sector (including hardware, e-commerce and software products) is expected to outpace the country's IT exports. It's expected to grow by 15%-17% to $55-$57 billion, compared to $48 billion in the current fiscal. The growth is expected to come from e-ecommerce and the government's push to boost technology adoption.

In the current year, engineering design and product development was the fastest growing segment, driven by value-added solutions from existing players and newer global in-house centres being established in India.

Nasscom chairman R Chandrasekaran said the sector had posted phenomenal growth this year despite macro-economic challenges."We had articulated a vision to touch $300 billion by 2020; we are half way there. We are confident of meeting that billion target," he said.

The industry, which employs 3.5 million people, made a net addition of 2.3 lakh people in this fiscal. The sector's contribution to the country's GDP has risen to 9.5% from 8% last year. It contributes 38% to the country's total services exports.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Glitch delays launch of SpaceX rocket with US weather satellite

Launch of a SpaceX rocket with a US weather satellite bound for deep space was called off minutes before liftoff on Sunday due to a technical problem, officials said.

Launch had been targeted for 6:10 pm EST (2310 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. But about 2.5 minutes before liftoff, a problem cropped up with an Air Force radar system needed to track the rocket in flight.

The next opportunity to launch is 6:07 pm EST (2307 GMT) on Monday, said NASA launch commentator Michael Curie.

The rocket carries the Deep Space Climate Observatory, nicknamed DSCOVR, a partnership of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

DSCOVR is expected to replace a 17-year-old satellite monitoring for potentially dangerous solar storms. Tsunamis of charged particles from the sun, called coronal mass ejections, can disrupt GPS and other satellite signals, block radio-communications and impact electric power grids on Earth, NOAA said.

"We think of DSCOVR as a weather buoy," NOAA administrator and former astronaut Kathryn Sullivan said during a NASA launch webcast.

"It senses first the blasts of solar wind and embedded magnetic fields that are potentially going to wreak some havoc."

Following launch, DSCOVR will take more than three months to reach its operational orbit around the sun, almost 1 million miles (1.6 million) km inward from Earth.

The satellite's original mission, championed by then-vice president Al Gore, was to provide a near-continuous view of Earth that would be distributed via the internet in an attempt to raise environmental awareness, much like the iconic Apollo 17 'Blue Marble' picture of Earth did in the early 1970s.

The satellite, then called Triana — and lampooned as 'GoreSat' — was due to launch on the ill-fated space shuttle Columbia mission in 2003, but it was pulled from the manifest and put into storage after president George HW Bush moved into the White House.

A decade later, Triana was refurbished and reborn as the DSCOVR solar observatory. In addition to instruments to study the solar wind, it has two sensors for Earth science observations, such as tracking volcanic plumes,measuring ozone and monitoring droughts, flooding and fires.

The satellite also will take pictures of Earth every two hours that will be posted on the internet the next day, fulfilling in part Gore's dream.

"The opportunity for every man, woman and child who lives on the Earth to see their own home in the context of the whole can add to our way of thinking about our relationship to the Earth," Gore, who was at the Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch, told reporters.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Facebook, LinkedIn join hands to promote tech among women

Facebook and LinkedIn want to boost dwindling numbers of women studying engineering and computer science with a collaborative initiative announced Friday that they hope will eventually fill thousands of lucrative Silicon Valley jobs long dominated by men.

In a joint interview , Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and LinkedIn CEO Jeffrey Weiner said they're launching mentoring and support programs at colleges to get more women involved in studying technology in general, but also as future employees for their companies.

Fifteen percent of Facebook Inc.'s employees working in tech jobs and 31% of all employees are women, according to diversity figures the company released last year. At LinkedIn Corp., women comprise 17% of its tech employees and 39% of employees overall. Most Silicon Valley companies have similar demographics.

Telle Whitney, president and CEO of the Anita Borg Institute, which is a partner in the initiative, said diversity brings greater innovation in technology.

"Think about it," Whitney said. "If everybody who creates a product looks the same, you know the results won't be nearly as interesting. We want for the sake of our future to have women involved in all the projects that will change our lives."

Sandberg launched an international conversation about the dearth of women in positions of power with her 2011 book "Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead." She has pressed to bring about change through her nonprofit, which will provide a platform for the support groups.

"A lot of our consumers, at least half, sometimes more, are women. We build a product that gives people a voice. We know we can't build a product for the world unless our teams reflect the diversity of the people who use the product," she said.

But the talent pool is shrinking: The percentage of people enrolled in undergraduate computer science programs who are women peaked at 35% in 1985 and is now down to about 17%.

Weiner said LinkedIn needs gender equity to better serve users.

"To limit the perspective of the people building our product and services, if that's too narrow, it's going to lead to suboptimal outcomes," Weiner said.

The executives would not disclose how much of a financial commitment they are making, but the investment is different in that it's more focused on peer groups and a mentoring process already established through Lean In Circles. They hope it will go global, with groups at public and private universities.

Stanford University computer science student Lea Coligado, 21, said she and her female colleagues could use the support and mentorship.

"There's so few of us, so we definitely stick together," she said. "I think there's a stereotype. It's understated and people don't want to say it out loud, but it's there - the idea that women are just not very good at computer science - and some use that to justify why our numbers are so low. It's flabbergasting."

Coligado is not only good at programming, she loves it.

"Programming teaches me a very distinct way of thinking," she said. "If I have a problem, I break it into chunks and conquer it."

Paige Rogalski, a senior at Santa Clara University studying computer engineering, said she saw the already scarce number of girls in her program leave in their first year.

"I think it was because of the intimidation factor," she said. "Computer science has been a male-dominated field."

She said that while she's been mentored and largely supported, she also hears sexist comments and jokes, and was once told that her appearance was a factor in why she was hired.

"It still bothers me that as a woman I have to overcome prejudice and the sexualized view of women in order to be taken completely seriously," she said. "On the other hand, this comment has pushed me to work harder and have my effort and my work stand out and be what I'm known for."

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Twitter chief confirms Google 'relationship'

Twitter chief Dick Costolo said on Thursday that "a relationship" with Google has been rekindled, but he was coy on the details.
The deal will make Twitter messages more visible on the Internet, according to reports by Bloomberg News and The New York Times, with tweets showing up in Google searches as soon as they are posted.
"I do want to confirm that we have a relationship that we have agreed to with Google," Costolo said during a quarterly earnings call with analysts.
"I don't have any more details to share with you at this time."
Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler said in a research note that the tie-up "could be the catalyst to push shares meaningfully higher," and help Twitter add users.
When pressed, Costolo said that renewing its alliance with Google was driven, in part, by the opportunity to drive tremendous amounts of attention to Twitter given the online search giant's scale and scope.
"This is not something that you are going to see launched or rolled out for several months," Costolo said. "I just want to make that very clear."
Twitter chief financial officer Anthony Noto declined to provide analysts perspective on any revenue considerations stemming from the Google alliance.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Micromax pips Samsung to top slot in Oct-Dec: Survey

Low-cost mobile handset player Micromax has emerged as top smartphone seller, displacing Samsung in the fourth quarter of calendar 2014, a survey by a research firm showed on Wednesday, but the Korean giant contested the findings, saying it still maintains the pole position.

Research firm Canalys said Micromax finished the October-December 2014 quarter with a share of 22% whereas Samsung ended the period with 20%. "Micromax has been quicker than its competitors to improve the appeal of devices, for example, by including a wide variety of local languages," Canalys analyst Rushabh Doshi said, while praising another local vendor, Lava, which launched certain devices with greater battery life in line with market's requirements. "Vital to success is selling these handsets at low price points to appeal to the bulging mid-level income market in India."

Canalys said devices priced under Rs 6,000 accounted for 23% of smartphone shipments in the period, while Rs 6,000-12,000 range, where Micromax had "strong products," contributed 41%. This is the second instance in recent times that Samsung's leadership in the Indian mobile phone market has been questioned. CounterPoint Research had said in August last year that for the second quarter of 2014, Micromax had become the leader in India, which included feature and smartphones. It pegged Micromax's share at 16.6% in the April-June '14, while giving 14.4% to Samsung.

Asim Warsi, marketing VP (mobile business) for Samsung India, however, disputed the findings of Canalys. "As per the findings of GfK India market research firm, our share and leadership is clear and robust for the fourth quarter of 2014 as well as for the full year," he told TOI.
  Warsi said Samsung has managed to grow its market share in the Indian market to 34.3% in the fourth quarter of 2014. "For the full year, Samsung's India market share stands at 35.7% as per GfK, which is accepted by the industry," he said, adding that these are as per "actual retail sales and not just shipments."

Samsung has been under intense pressure off late as low-cost smartphones from companies such as Micromax, Lava and Karbon flood the market. The entry of top Chinese makers like Xiaomi, Motorola (now owned by Lenovo) and Gionee has only its problems.

Cognizant net profit goes up 12%

IT services major Cognizant today said its net profit rose 12% to $362.89 million for the quarter ended December 31, helped by increased traction from consulting, digital and business segments.

It had posted net profit of $324.33 million in the year-ago period, the US-based firm said in a statement. A large part of the company's workforce is based in India.

Revenues rose by 16% to $2.74 billion in the October-December quarter of 2014, as against $2.36 billion in the year-ago period. The company follows January-December as its fiscal year.

Cognizant expects revenues in January-March quarter of 2015 to be at least $2.88 billion. For the entire year, it expects revenues to rise to at least $12.21 billion.

The firm expects currency exchange rates to negatively impact its revenues in 2015 by about 2%.

Cognizant CEO Francisco D'Souza said: "Despite unfavourable European currency movements during fourth quarter, we finished 2014 with strong revenue performance and believe we are well positioned to continue that momentum into 2015 on strength of integrated consulting, technology, digital and business services capabilities."

The firm added (net) about 11,800 employees, including TriZetto and the year-end headcount was around 211,500.

Cognizant President Gordon Coburn said: "Integration of our $2.8 billion acquisition of TriZetto, completed in the fourth quarter, is well underway and we're excited by the healthcare opportunities we see."

In September last year, Cognizant said it will acquire US-based TriZetto for $2.7 billion in an all cash deal, a move which will help the IT services firm tap the lucrative healthcare IT software and solutions market.

"As we crossed 200,000 employee mark, we've been able to recruit top talent from around the world and believe we are in a unique position in the market to address a wide range of opportunities fuelled by digital transformations across all of our industry segments, service lines and geographies," he added.

On the outlook, the firm said: "In the first quarter 2015 revenue are expected to be at least $2.88 billion. Full year 2015 revenue are expected to be at least $12.21 billion, up at least 19% compared to 2014."

For the entire 2014, net profit rose by 17% to $1.44 billion compared to $1.23 billion in 2013, while revenues were up 16% at $10.26 billion from $8.84 billion.

Cognizant closed 2014 on a strong note. Revenue growth, excluding the TriZetto acquisition, exceeded the guided range for the quarter, reflecting the strong demand for the firm's services, Cognizant CFO Karen McLoughlin said.

"Despite current exchange rates which will negatively impact 2015 revenue growth by approximately 2%, compared to average 2014 exchange rates, we are pleased to provide 2015 guidance of at least 19% compared to 2014," she added.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Snapdeal to hire Silicon Valley’s tech guns

Ratan Tata and Azim Premji-backed e-commerce player Snapdeal is looking to poach technology talent from Silicon Valley to build a formidable product and engineering leadership team that would oversee over 1,500 engineers.

The e-tailer is looking to get senior executives from top consumer internet and technology companies in the Valley such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Salesforce. The company says it wants talent from companies that have demonstrated the ability to scale and grow at a rapid pace. And it expects that this talent will come at pay packages — including stock options — of about $1 million each.

Speaking to TOI, Rohit Bansal, co-founder and COO of Snapdeal, said, "We are at a point where we are running out of experienced talent in India. We have seen scale with respect to consumer internet products, but those products didn't get built in India."

Bansal said the talent he is looking for are those who have seen companies at an early stage and have scaled them by 30x or 50x in two years. "That's the kind of growth we are looking at," he said.

Snapdeal — which recently raised $627 million (over Rs 3,700 crore) from Japanese internet company SoftBank — saw its business grow 600% last fiscal, and is said to be on course to achieve similar growth figures in the ongoing fiscal. Such growth requires a significant beefing up of its technology division.

Big data, analytics, supply chain management, and mobile are some of the tech areas that Snapdeal is increasing its focus on. Over the next three years the company plans to have 1 million merchants retail their products through a handset, eliminating the need of a computer. The merchant app on the phone allows them to scan product barcodes and do everything else necessary to showcase their products on the Snapdeal site. Already close to 60% of the company's over 100,000-strong merchant base is using mobile as the preferred medium of sales.

Over the last six months, Snapdeal has doubled its product and engineering division strength. In the same period, the NCR-based firm has opened a 300,000-sq-ft engineering development centre in Bengaluru, with options to scale the facility to 500,000 sq ft.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

WhatsApp starts rolling out voice calling feature

 It looks like mobile messaging service WhatsApp has started rolling out the much awaited voice calling feature.

Reddit user Pradnesh Patil (pradnesh07) posted screenshots and even a video of WhatsApp's new interface that features voice calling.

Patil was able to use the feature on his Nexus 5 running Android Lollipop. The screenshots suggest that there would be separate screens for dialing a voice call to WhatsApp contacts, call logs and ongoing calls. The screenshots are similar to leaked pictures of the interface that appeared online in December.

As per Patil, the calling feature is included in WhatsApp's new build (2.11.508) which is only available on WhatsApp's website at the time of filing this story. So users will need to download the .apk file and side-load the app until it arrives on the Play Store.

However, even after installing the new version, voice calling will not be activated for all users. Users will only be able to get the voice calling feature if someone who has it enabled calls them through WhatsApp similar to an invite system, as per Patil. He added that the person who sent him the invite has confirmed that it works on all Android phones (and not just Android 5.0 phones) and in other countries (not just India).

WhatsApp has not announced the rollout of the feature yet. Perhaps, it's still testing the feature with select users.

Last year, WhatsApp had announced that it soon plans to roll out voice calling feature for its users. In December, a few screenshots of the feature had leaked.

According to WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum, the delay in rolling out voice calling feature was due to technical hurdles that developers were facing. He had said that the service had been delayed till Q1 2015, speaking at an industry conference in October.

The voice calling feature will bring WhatsApp in direct clash with apps like WeChat, Viber and Line that already allow users to make calls and send messages. WhatsApp is the biggest instant messaging app in the world, with 700 million active users in January 2015.