Facebook India to help smartphone brands connect better with consumers

May 16, 2018 0

Gurugram– With mobile and Internet penetration on the rise in India, Facebook India is set to prepare companies — beginning with the smartphone industry — hit the right chord with consumers and eliminate the massive revenue loss owing to “friction”, a top company executive stressed here on Wednesday.

The social media giant said it will help smartphone manufacturers reduce the consumer drop-off from their purchase journey (referred to as “friction”), thereby creating $3.1 billion worth of potential revenue for smartphone brands by 2022.

“Facebook will work as a catalyst in terms of making companies aware that there is this huge opportunity and will build solutions for them to achieve that. Teams from Facebook will help companies and manufacturers design targeted approach depending on what products they have,” Sandeep Bhushan, Director, Facebook India and South Asia, told IANS.

India is currently the second largest smartphone market globally and is expected to hit 1.4 billion unique mobile subscribers by 2022.

“We will also work with our partners to bring in more capabilities. Consumers are ready, waiting to purchase more via smartphones. The onus is now on companies to understand this quickly and eliminate consumer dropouts on their path to purchase,” Bhushan added.

To help marketeers understand why consumers abandon purchase journeys, Facebook announced a “Zero Friction Future” programme with several industry research reports put together by the global research firm KPMG. The report is based on primary research and insights survey conducted by Nielsen.

Overall friction accounts for 66 per cent of consumer dropouts, while 34 per cent of consumer dropouts are attributed to media friction, leading to a loss of nearly $22 billion in revenues, the study said.

“With the launch of ‘Zero Friction Future’ programme, we want to help businesses adopt relevant mobile marketing strategies to offer seamless purchase experiences, to help them win consumers and increasing sales,” said Bhushan.

The report, titled ‘Eliminating Friction in Smartphone Path to Purchase’, highlighted that friction accounts for approximately two-thirds of consumer dropouts while buying smartphones and media friction contributes to approximately one third of the dropouts.

Currently, mobile influences 58 per cent of smartphone purchase decisions, amounting to $8.5 billion worth of sales and it is expected to grow 1.8 times to reach 73 per cent and influence $15.6 billion worth of sales by 2022.

Facebook influences 33 per cent of purchase decisions amounting to $4.8 billion worth of sales and it is expected to grow two times to reach 44 per cent and influence $9.5 billion worth of sales by 2022.

“When it comes to the 300 million-plus Indian smartphone market, we are right there for both Android or iOS devices. For low-end phones, we are there with Facebook Lite. Reliance Jio has KaiOS operating system and we are integrated for that too.

“We are building solutions for over 2.2 billion Facebook users globally, 1.5 billion users on WhatsApp and 217 million Indian users on Facebook. Whether the consumer is young or old, our platform is there to help them make right purchase decisions,” Bhushan told IANS.

The Facebook-KPMG study also noted that mobile influence will continue to dominate the smartphone purchase journeys as 7 in 10 smartphone purchases will be mobile influenced by 2022.

According to the findings, women seek more explicit communication, while men demand more relevant information.

“People age 35 and beyond are more likely to abandon purchase, as sensitivity to friction increases with age,” the report noted. (IANS)

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Global smartphone market declines in Q1 2018, Samsung leads: IDC

May 2, 2018 0

New Delhi– The smartphone vendors shipped 336.1 million units during the first quarter of 2018 — a 2.4 per cent decline when compared to the 344.4 million units shipped in the first quarter of 2017, the International Data Corporation (IDC) said on Wednesday.

The China market was the biggest driver of this decline with shipment volumes dipping below 100 million in the quarter.

Samsung remained the leader, grabbing 23.3 per cent share despite experiencing a 2.4 per cent decline from Q1 2017.

The new Galaxy S9 and S9+ led the way as the new flagships launched a quarter early for the Korean giant compared to last year’s S8 and S8+.

“Globally, as well as in China, a key bellwether, smartphone consumers are trading up to more premium devices, but there are no longer as many new smartphone converts, resulting in shipments dropping,” said Melissa Chau, Associate Research Director with IDC’s “Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers”.

“When we look at it from a dollar value perspective, the smartphone market is still climbing and will continue to grow over the years to come as consumers are increasingly reliant on these devices for the bulk of their computing needs,” Chau added.

Apple’s first quarter saw the iPhone maker ship 52.2 million iPhones, representing a modest 2.8 per cent year-over-year increase from the 50.8 million units shipped last year.

Despite rumours of an underperforming iPhone X in the quarter, Apple stated that the iPhone X was the most popular model each week in the March quarter.

Huawei climbed to a new market share high of 11.7 per cent even as it remained in third overall.

At fourth place, Xiaomi’s strong performance has no doubt been owing to its strong growth outside of China with 1Q18 the first quarter that less than half of its shipments were domestic, a transition that very few Chinese companies have reached.

“Xiaomi continues its retail expansion in India and Southeast Asia; however online channels remain the key contributor in India, its second largest market,” the IDC report noted.

OPPO held the fifth position with its year-over-year decline of 7.5 per cent more a result of the China slowdown than of its performance overseas. (IANS)

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Xiaomi becomes India’s Apple, logs record 31% market share in Q1

Apr 24, 2018 0

New Delhi– Xiaomi has once again topped the Indian smartphone market, with two global market research firms on Tuesday reporting an over 31 per cent market share for the Chinese smartphone maker — a whopping 155 per cent annual shipment growth — in the first quarter of 2018.

According to Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research, Xiaomi led the Indian smartphone market with 31.1 per cent market share while Singapore-based Canalys said the company shipped over nine million units, giving it a market share of just over 31 per cent — the highest ever for a vendor since Q1 2014 when Samsung had a 33 per cent share.

Samsung, with a 26.2 per cent share, was second, followed by Vivo at 5.8 per cent share in the smartphone segment, said Counterpoint.

Canalys, however, said Samsung with 25 per cent market share shipped just under 7.5 million smartphones — growing by 24 per cent on last year. Oppo took third place with 2.8 million shipments, and Vivo fourth with 2.1 million shipments.

“Xiaomi is becoming a force to be reckoned with in India. Xiaomi’s smartphones are now available in more places and in larger quantities. All in all, Xiaomi’s product and channel strategies are working,” said Canalys Research Analyst Ishan Dutt.

Xiaomi was the leader with 25 per cent market share in Q4 of 2017.

Xiaomi’s recently launched Redmi 5, Redmi 5A and Redmi Note 5 have seen runaway success, with the Redmi 5A reaching record sales of 3.5 million in the first quarter.

In comparison, Samsung’s best-selling device, the “J7 Nxt”, shipped 1.5 million units, said Canalys.

This is the first time that the top five smartphone brands accounted for more than 70 per cent market share in a single quarter.

“Xiaomi and Samsung alone captured 58 per cent of the total smartphone market. Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 and 5 Pro were the most popular models for the Chinese brand, whereas Samsung Galaxy J7 NXT and J2 (2017) drove volumes for the Korean vendor,” said Anshika Jain, Research Analyst at Counterpoint.

Honor (Huawei) entered top five smartphone brands for the first time. Honor (146 per cent), Xiaomi (134 per cent) and OnePlus (112 per cent) were the fastest growing smartphone brands.

“India remains a huge investment for any smartphone brand. For smaller vendors, such as Gionee and Lenovo, the pressure on profitability has forced them to relook at their Indian strategies,” said Canalys Research Manager Rushabh Doshi.

Lenovo’s smartphone shipments were just short of a million units, falling by more than 60 per cent year on year while Gionee shipped an all-time low of 150,000 units with shipments down 90 per cent year on year.

“Q1 2018 started off with some brands sitting on inventory post the festive season in Q4 2017, which continued throughout the quarter as industry moves to a Full View display portfolio,” noted Karn Chauhan, Research Analyst at Counterpoint.

Overall, the smartphone market in India grew at 8 per cent to 29.5 million units for the quarter.

The performance of Chinese brands remained strong, accounting for 57 per cent of the total smartphone market in Q1 2018, up from 53 per cent during Q1 2017.

In the feature phone segment, Reliance Jio topped with a massive 35.8 per cent share in the first quarter.

“The demand for JioPhone continued through Q1 2018 as Reliance Jio’s feature phone market share raced from 0 per cent last year to 36 per cent in Q1 2018. This demand was catalysed by the introduction of a cheaper data plan,” said Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint.

China based Transsion Group (the holding group of Tecno, Itel and Infinix) has become the fifth largest player with four per cent market share in Q1 2018 (combined for all three brands). (IANS)

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Account removal requests jump from India: Twitter

Apr 6, 2018 0

New Delhi– Between July and December 2017, the Indian government made 315 Twitter account information requests, up from 261 made during the January-June period, and asked the micro-blogging website to remove 144 accounts, up from 102 from the previous period.

According to Twitter’s 12th bi-annual Transparency Report that was released late Thursday, the company withheld content in three per cent of the account removal requests from the Indian government/police and courts (there were two account removal requests by courts and 142 from the government).

In 315 account information requests from India, Twitter “produced some information” in 15 per cent of such requests.

Twitter defines the government’s information requests as requests issued by law enforcement and other government agencies.

“This data includes government requests (and other complaints of illegal content from authorised reporters) we’ve received to remove or withhold content on Twitter from India,” the micro-blogging website said.

Overall, since August 2015, the company has removed over 1.2 million accounts globally that promoted terrorism.

“During the second half of last year, we permanently suspended 274,460 such accounts,” the report noted.

Twitter received 3 per cent fewer government information requests (emergency disclosure requests and non-emergency requests) that specified 52 per cent more accounts from July 1 through December 31 compared to the previous reporting period.

The total number of account requests originating from the US decreased by 17 per cent.

The US remains the top requester, submitting 28 per cent of total government information requests.

“While still the top requester, the percentage of requests from the US has decreased dramatically since 2012 when it accounted for 80 per cent of global information requests received by Twitter,” the report noted.

In line with the last three reports, Japan is the second top requesting country. Japan submitted 24 per cent of total information requests that specified 12 per cent of the total accounts reported.

“For the cases in which Twitter disclosed some account information, we provided non-content information in 93 per cent of the cases and content information in 7 per cent of the cases,” said the report.

“We notify users of specified accounts, of requests for their account information unless we’re prohibited or the request falls into one of the exceptions to our user notice policy (e.g., emergencies regarding imminent threat to life, child sexual exploitation, terrorism),” Twitter added. (IANS)

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How China can help India take a giant leap in Artificial Intelligence

Apr 2, 2018 0

By Nishant Arora

New Delhi– Tech honchos in Silicon Valley are deeply worried at China’s rapid progress in harnessing Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that has shown encouraging results in changing the way we work and live.

According to Eric Schmidt, former chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, China will overtake the US in AI by 2025.

Measured by start-up financing deals and dollars from venture capitalists, the United States’ AI start-up ecosystem currently dominates — followed by China, says a recent Accenture analysis titled “Rewire for Growth”.

When it comes to India, the number of AI start-ups has increased since 2011 at a compounded annual growth rate of 86 per cent.

But the size of funding till date is substantially smaller in India than in the US and China, reflecting the limited success of India’s AI start-ups in achieving scale so far, the report noted.

“According to our analysis, AI has the potential to add $957 billion, or 15 per cent of current gross value added, to India’s economy in 2035,” said Accenture.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi now wants that AI technology should be “Made in India” and “Made to Work for India” but despite promising starts, the country’s policy initiatives are not comprehensive yet and lag other G20 countries.

China, on the other hand, today harbours one of the biggest clusters of AI scientists.

According to The Economist, China’s State Council has issued an ambitious policy blueprint, calling for the country to become “the world’s primary AI innovation centre” by 2030.

“China’s AI programme is highly structured and driven ‘top down’ whereas India’s approach is more ‘organic’ — at least till this point — driven largely by the private sector and driven by their unique needs for AI,” said Dr Prashant Pradhan, Chief Technology Officer, IBM India/South Asia.

These represent very different approaches to “getting ready” for AI.

“China’s approach carefully manages investment, infrastructure, focus verticals and training. This has benefits in speed of execution and outcomes — especially when there is clarity on the priority areas of application,” Pradhan told IANS.

Advances in AI largely happen in an open, peer-reviewed community with free exchange of ideas. “Over time, there may be more coordinated government investment — especially in resource-constrained environments,” Pradhan noted.

When it comes to funding, Machine Learning (ML), recommendation engines and computer vision are the most popular segments of AI, accounting for almost 80 per cent of total funding globally.

“Big industry players that have the financial strength and business experience to invest in AI research and development (R&D) typically lead the strategic charge on global competitiveness for their country,” the Accenture analysis stressed.

Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are spearheading AI innovations in the US, and Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu are funding the AI research in China.

In line with the global trends, the digital platform companies are becoming the driving force of AI innovations in India too.

According to Rajesh Janey, Managing Director and President, India Enterprise, Dell EMC, the country is entering an era of monumental technological change, rich with opportunity.

“Globally, businesses plan to triple their investments in advanced AI within five years. India too will see the same enthusiasm, with investments in AI jumping from 31 per cent to 89 per cent in the same time-frame,” Janey told IANS.

AI will improve our interaction with technology, understand the abundance of data and rely on the predictions to automate excessively complex or mundane tasks, said Shaakun Khanna, Senior Director, HCM Strategy and Transformation, Asia Pacific at Oracle.

In February, Modi inaugurated the Wadhwani Institute of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Mumbai’s Kalina campus — reported to be the first AI research lab in the country.

US-based philanthropist brothers Romesh Wadhwani and Sunil Wadhwani have established the institute and want it to become like San Francisco-based non-profit “OpenAI” that has SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk as one of its co-founders.

In order to become a true AI powerhouse, it is high time that New Delhi makes Beijing a bigger partner in fuelling AI research at home.

According to Accenture, AI research has been motivated by societal needs in India so far and the first step now is to create a comprehensive, long-term vision and road-map for AI.

“The national AI plan with clear milestones should be set as a priority. Here, India can follow the lead of China which has laid out clear targets for AI development in phases, initially by 2020 and going forward by 2030,” it added.

The first critical thing is to understand the role AI is likely to play across multiple professions. “Targeted augmentation in every field will be the key to success for the country to have an AI-ready workforce,” Pradhan stressed. (IANS)

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Adobe unveils innovations in ‘Adobe Experience Cloud’

Mar 27, 2018 0

Las Vegas– Adobe on Tuesday unveiled innovations across “Adobe Experience Cloud”, including advanced capabilities in Advertising Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Analytics Cloud, and launched technology enhancements to “Adobe Cloud Platform”.

The next-generation of Adobe Cloud platform includes a new unified customer profile, Adobe Sensei services and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) readiness, the company said at the Summit 2018 here.

These enhancements would make it easier to unify data from disparate systems into an Experience Cloud Profile, enable data scientists and developers to better customise Adobe Sensei capabilities to suit their organisations’ needs and expedite the deployment of custom code and workflows.

Adobe Advertising Cloud — the industry’s first end-to-end platform for managing advertising across traditional TV and digital formats — would now bridge the divide between creative and media professionals.

The company also unveiled Adobe Analytics for streaming audio, giving brands a way to gain deep insights into online and offline audio.

Adobe also unveiled general availability of Adobe Experience Cloud Device Co-op, a core service of the Experience Cloud.

The company launched Adobe Sensei-powered content capabilities in Experience Manager, including intelligent image discovery, allowing the tailoring of images for different screens and automated personalisation of content.

Adobe also introduced “Adobe Experience League” — a new customer enablement programme to provide guided learning, training material, one-to-one support from experts, as well as the ability to connect with a community of fellow professionals.(IANS)

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US authorities confirm Facebook probe for data leaks

Mar 27, 2018 0

New York– The US Federal Trade commission has confirmed that it was investigating Facebook after the leak of personal and other data on some 50 million users to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

The FTC said on Monday that it “takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook”.

“Today, the FTC is confirming that it has an open non-public investigation into these practices,” Efe news quoted Acting FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director, Tom Pahl, as saying.

Pahl emphasized that the agency is committed to using “all of its tools” to protect the privacy of consumers and that the main such tool is “enforcement action” against companies that do not fulfill their promises in the data privacy area or that violate the law.

He explained that the FTC is acting against firms that do not abide by the “Privacy Shield” agreement regulating data transfer with the European Union and against companies that undertake “unfair acts” that harm consumers or violate the FTC Act.

“The FTC is firmly and fully committed to using all of its tools to protect the privacy of consumers. Companies who have settled previous FTC actions must also comply with FTC order provisions imposing privacy and data security requirements,” a statement said.

“Accordingly, the FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook.”

Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy privacy chief, said in a statement last week that the social networking firm remains “strongly committed to protecting people’s information,” adding that “we appreciate the opportunity to answer questions the FTC may have”.

A week ago, after the controversial leak of private information on millions of users came to light, press reports said that the FTC was investigating whether Facebook violated the terms of a 2011 consent agreement requiring user consent for sharing data by providing use data to Cambridge Analytica in 2014.

The London-based political research organization, which collaborated with the election campaign of Donald Trump in the runup to the 2016 vote, used the leaked information to develop a computer programme to predict the decisions of US voters and influence them.

In 2011, Facebook promised to ask for the consent of its users before making certain changes in their privacy preferences, as part of an agreement with the government, which accused the firm of abusing consumers by sharing with third parties more information than users had authorized.

Breaking that agreement could result in the tech firm facing a fine of $40,000 per violation, the CNBC financial network said.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on March 21 admitted that it was a “breach of trust” to allow an app developed by Cambridge University professor Aleksandr Kogan to collect data for Cambridge Analytica, and he added that the firm will “fix” the problem by, among other things, investigating all apps that could access users’ personal data before 2014 and banning any developer that “does not agree to a thorough audit”.

After Monday’s announcement, Facebook shares fell by as much as 6 per cent on Wall Street.

Last week, the firm suffered significantly in the markets as its stock price plunged, reducing the value of outstanding shares by some $50 billion. (IANS)

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We don’t save Android users’ data without permission: Facebook

Mar 26, 2018 0

San Francisco– Facebook has said that it does not save call and text data of Android users without their permission, adding the practice is “widely used” with users having an option to opt-out from it.

Facebook was replying to several media reports which claimed that the social media giant was saving the call and text data of Android users for years.

A report in technology website Ars Technica said that Android cellphone users have noticed that Facebook has saved a virtual trove of their personal call data.

“This past week, a New Zealand man was looking through the data Facebook had collected from him in an archive he had pulled down from the social networking site,” the report said.

“While scanning the information Facebook had stored about his contacts, Dylan McKay discovered that Facebook also had about two years’ worth of phone call metadata from his Android phone, including names, phone numbers, and the length of each call made or received,” the report added.

However, a Facebook spokesperson pointed out that the call log was “a widely used practice to begin by uploading your phone contacts”.

The spokesperson added that users give their consent by uploading their contacts, a function that’s optional. People can also delete contact data from their profiles by using a tool available on Web browsers, Facebook stated.

Later, Facebook issued a statement saying, “You may have seen some recent reports that Facebook has been logging people’s call and SMS (text) history without their permission. This is not the case.”

Facebook even explained how users could opt out from giving the social media giant permission to log the contacts.

“When you sign up for Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android, or log into Messenger on an Android device, you are given the option to continuously upload your contacts as well as your call and text history,” the company said.

“For Messenger, you can either turn it on, choose ‘learn more’ or ‘not now’. On Facebook Lite, the options are to turn it on or ‘skip’. If you chose to turn this feature on, we will begin to continuously log this information,” Facebook added.

The tech giant also said that its users’ information is securely stored and is not sold to third parties.

“You are always in control of the information you share with Facebook,” it said. (IANS)

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All about Cambridge Analytica data scandal

Mar 21, 2018 0

New Delhi– Cambridge Analytica, the London-based data consultancy firm in the midst of a global row, has allegedly been using Facebook users’ data to unfairly influence election results by psychological manipulation, entrapment techniques and fake news campaigns.

But Britain’s Channel 4 News on Monday exposed how senior executives at Cambridge Analytica were caught on camera suggesting that the firm could use sex workers, bribes and misinformation in order to try and help political candidates win votes around the world.

The Channel 4 News investigation followed articles published by The New York Times and The Observer that outlined how the data of millions of Facebook profiles ended up being given to Cambridge Analytica. The companies have denied any wrongdoing.

According to reports, Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan and his company Global Science Research created an app called “thisisyourdigitallife” in 2014.

The users were paid to take a psychological test and the app collected the data. It also gathered data on a person’s Facebook friends.

Kogan has admitted harvesting the personal details of 30 million Facebook users via the app. He was quoted by the Guardian as saying that he passed the data to Cambridge Analytica who assured him this was legal.

In this way, millions of Facebook profiles were mined for data.

Whistleblower Christopher Wylie told The New York Times and The Observer that Kogan along with Cambridge Analytica then created a software solution to help influence choices in elections.

He claimed that the Facebook data was used to develop “psychographic” profiles of people and deliver pro-Trump material to them online during the 2016 US elections. (IANS)


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Microsoft, BlackBerry collaborate to secure productivity apps on mobile phones

Mar 20, 2018 0

San Francisco– Former rivals BlackBerry and Microsoft have announced they were collaborating to offer enterprises a solution that integrates the latter’s expertise in mobility and security with Microsoft’s Cloud and productivity apps.

Through this partnership, the tech titans have collaborated on a first-of-its-kind solution — BlackBerry Enterprise “BRIDGE”.

“We saw a need for a hyper-secure way for our customers to use native Office 365 mobile apps. BlackBerry Enterprise ‘BRIDGE’ addresses this and is an example of how BlackBerry and Microsoft continue to securely enable workforces to be highly productive in connected world,” Carl Wiese, President of Global Sales at BlackBerry, said in a statement late Monday.

“Our customers choose Microsoft 365 for productivity and collaboration tools that deliver continuous innovation. Together with BlackBerry, we will take this to the next level and provide enterprises with a new standard for secure productivity,” said Judson Althoff, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Commercial Business at Microsoft.

By making Microsoft’s mobile apps seamlessly available from within BlackBerry Dynamics, enterprise users will now have a consistent experience when opening, editing, and saving a Microsoft Office 365 file such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word on any Android or iOS device.

As part of the collaboration, Microsoft added that BlackBerry Dynamics, along with the company’s Secure, UEM Cloud, BlackBerry Workspaces and AtHoc platforms are also now available on Azure Cloud, thus, allowing more flexibility for workers on the go. (IANS)

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