Kids shun Facebook, more grandparents join the platform

Feb 12, 2018 0

San Francisco– Facebook is fast losing young users and two million people under the age of 25 in the US will stop using the social networking platform this year, global research firm eMarketer said on Monday.

Facebook is still adding monthly users but older age groups are mainly responsible for this.

The number of total Facebook users in the US will reach 169.5 million this year, up just under 1 per cent from 2017.

“For the first time, less than half of the US Internet users ages 12 to 17 will use Facebook via any device at least once per month,” the eMarketer report added.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s proportion of social network users accessing the platform will continue to decline over the forecast period.

Snapchat is set to gain from Facebook’s loss.

“Snapchat could eventually experience more growth in older age groups, since it’s redesigning its platform to be easier to use,” Debra Aho Williamson, Principal Analyst at eMarketer said in a statement.

“The question will be whether younger users will still find Snapchat cool if more of their parents and grandparents are on it. That’s the predicament Facebook is in,” he added.

In 2018, the number of US Facebook users ages 11 and younger will decline by 9.3 per cent.

Additionally, the number of users ages 12 to 17 and 18 to 24 will decrease by 5.6 per cent and 5.8 per cent, respectively.

This is also the first time eMarketer predicted a decline in the number of US Facebook users in those age groups.

“Facebook will lose two million users ages 24 and younger this year”, it said.

But not all of those users are migrating to Instagram.

Instagram will add 1.6 million users ages 24 and younger.

“Snapchat, meanwhile, will add 1.9 million users in that age group. Snapchat will continue to have more users ages 12 to 24 compared with that of Instagram,” the report added.

However, Instagram overall is still bigger in the US than Snapchat.

The number of Instagram users will total 104.7 million in 2018, up 13.1 per cent year over year. Snapchat, meanwhile, will see its user base increase by 9.3 per cent to 86.5 million, eMarketer said. (IANS)

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UberBAZAAR for driver partners launched

Jan 30, 2018 0

New Delhi– Ride-hailing app Uber on Tuesday launched “UberBAZAAR” for its driver partners that will give access to facilities like car maintenance workshops, fuel cards and tyre manufacturers.

“UberBAZAAR” is currently live in 11 cities.

“We have set up ‘UberBAZAAR’ for various requirements and needs. We expect this programme to be a springboard to improve the driving experience and impact the lives of our driver partners,” Pradeep Parameswaran, Head of Central Operations, Uber India, said in a statement.

As a precursor, the company organised free health camps and eye check-ups with over 10,000 participants across the 11 cities.

In August last year, Uber rolled out India’s first ridesharing insurance programme in partnership with ICICI Lombard General Insurance.

The policy provides driver partners with free coverage for accidental death and disablement, hospitalisation and outpatient medical treatment in case of an accident while online on the Uber app and are available for trip requests, en route or on a trip with Uber, the company added. (IANS)

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Google, Facebook bad for innovation, democracy: Soros

Jan 26, 2018 0

Davos– Calling Internet “monopolies” such as Google and Facebook an obstacle to innovation, billionaire investor George Soros has warned that social media companies can have adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy.

Delivering his remarks at the annual World Economic Forum here on Thursday, the Hungarian-born American billionaire declared that the days of the US-based IT giants are numbered.

“Social media companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it. This has far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy, particularly on the integrity of elections,” Soros said.

His remarks come at a time when many social network sites, including Facebook and Twitter, are facing scrutiny due to alleged Russian influence in the 2016 US presidential election through these platforms.

Soros, who created the Open Society Foundations to support democracy and human rights in countries around the world, said that social media companies deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide.

“This can be very harmful, particularly for adolescents,” he said.

But the real threat of these companies lie in their efforts aimed at inducing people to give up their autonomy, Holocaust survivor Soros said.

“The power to shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies. It takes a real effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called ‘the freedom of mind’,” he said.

“There is a possibility that once lost, people who grow up in the digital age will have difficulty in regaining it. This may have far-reaching political consequences. People without the freedom of mind can be easily manipulated,” Soros said.

But he believes that the dominance of the US-based Internet giants would end soon and “regulation and taxation will be their undoing”.

“It is only a matter of time before the global dominance of the US IT monopolies is broken. Davos is a good place to announce that their days are numbered,” he said.

In the same speech, Soros lamented that he finds the current moment in history rather painful.

“Open societies are in crisis, and various forms of dictatorships and mafia states, exemplified by Putin’s Russia, are on the rise. In the US, President Trump would like to establish a mafia state but he can’t because the Constitution, other institutions, and a vibrant civil society won’t allow it,” he said.

“Not only the survival of open society, but the survival of our entire civilisation is at stake. The rise of leaders such as Kim Jong-Un in North Korea and Donald Trump in the US have much to do with this. Both seem willing to risk a nuclear war in order to keep themselves in power,” he said.

Soros stressed that he considers the Trump administration a danger to the world.

“But I regard it as a purely temporary phenomenon that will disappear in 2020, or even sooner,” he said. (IANS)

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Samsung ropes in students for Safe India Campaign

Jan 24, 2018 0

New Delhi– Creating awareness about the dangers associated with the irresponsible smartphone use, including the selfie craze, Samsung India on Wednesday announced the next phase of its ‘Safe India’ campaign which also covers school and colleges students.

The campaign would roll out in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Lucknow through messages aired across media platforms and awareness campaigns.

“As a market leader, it is our duty to take the lead and support the government’s vision of reducing road accidents,” Deepak Bhardwaj, Vice President, CSR, Samsung India, said in a statement.

Samsung will also partner with traffic police departments in the four cities to communicate with people on road safety through public information systems.

Samsung has also invested in developing safe mobility apps for two-wheelers, cars as well as for pedestrains such as “S” bike mode, Car Mode and Walk Mode.

While nearly 60 per cent of two-wheeler users tend to “instinctively” answer their smartphones when driving, another 14 per cent of pedestrians take selfies while crossing the road at least once a week, a study commissioned by Samsung in November last year revealed. (IANS)

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Samsung to grow its presence across channels in India: Asim Warsi

Jan 19, 2018 0

New Delhi– As Samsung heats up the smartphone market in the New Year with two new offerings, the South Korean giant is looking to grow its business across channels, including online, as the year progresses, Asim Warsi, Global Vice President, Samsung India, said on Friday.

“We are wherever our users are. And that’s why we have the largest retail network in the country with over 1,50,000 touch points. We are constantly looking to grow our business and are looking to pave growth stories in all channels including the online space,” Warsi told IANS.

Samsung, which is gearing up to take on Chinese rivals in the online segment, has launched two back-to-back “online exclusive” handsets.

The two devices — Galaxy A8+ and Galaxy On7 Prime — are from different price segments.

While A8+ is priced at Rs 32,990 and will compete in the premium segment, On7 prime starts at Rs 12,990 and will compete in the highly-competitive, mid-price segment.

“A8+ will help Samsung consolidate its leadership in the premium segment (above Rs 30,000) where Samsung has nearly 60 per cent volume market share, according to Gfk,” Warsi added.

So far, Samsung was reluctant to go all out in the online segment as it has huge stakes in the offline trade, with over 1.5 lakh retail outlets.

Samsung has 43 per cent market share in the offline market, which account for nearly 75 per cent of all smartphones sales.

Besides Amazon and Flipkart, Samsung has partnered with Paytm for online sales. It recently recruited over 5,000 online dealers as part of its tie up with Paytm Mall.

Galaxy A8+ will compete directly with OnePlus in the premium category, while On7 Prime is a strong contender in the Rs 10,000-Rs 15,000 price bracket.

“Both the phones have been priced competitively and it seems that Samsung is gearing up to take on Chinese companies’ dominance in the online segment,” industry expert said.

The South Korean giant is planning to introduce a number of smartphones in the Galaxy “J” and “On” series in the coming months, industry sources told IANS.

Samsung first launched its online exclusive “On” series in 2015. Since then, the company has launched nearly eight models of online exclusive smartphones under the “On” series.

The company’s focus, said Sandeep Singh Arora, Vice President, Samsung India, is to address consumers’ needs in online as well as all price segments.

“Our focus is to address consumers’ needs across all channels, whether it is online or offline. If our consumers are on a particular channel, we would make sure that we address them,” Arora told IANS.

Both Galaxy A8+ and Galaxy On7 Prime will start selling on Amazon from January 20.(IANS)

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Our employees not monitoring Direct Messages: Twitter

Jan 17, 2018 0

San Francisco– Twitter has denied claims that its employees are monitoring Direct Messages (DM) exchanged among its over 300 million users on its platform.

In a statement, the micro-blogging platform denied claims made by conservative activist group Project Veritas that employees from the company monitor private user data, TechCrunch reported on Wednesday.

“We do not proactively review DMs. Period. A limited number of employees have access to such information, for legitimate work purposes, and we enforce strict access protocols for those employees,” Twitter said in the statement.

Project Veritas, in video footage, had claimed that Twitter employees look at users’ DMs.

A video shows current and former Twitter employees explaining “shadowbans,” a practice by which Twitter will make it more difficult to find and view a user’s tweets.

In one of the videos, “engineers from the company seemed to say that Twitter can hand over President Donald Trump’s data, including deleted tweets and direct messages, to the Department of Justice,” the report said, citing Project Veritas.

Twitter later issued a statement, saying employees shown in the video “were speaking in a personal capacity and do not represent or speak for Twitter”. (IANS)

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Google’s first India Cloud Platform set to empower enterprises, SMBs

Jan 12, 2018 0

By Nishant Arora

New Delhi– Several Indian enterprises have chosen Google Cloud to grow their businesses in the past few years. With the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) region now live in the country, the behemoth is one step closer to helping more local firms embrace Cloud.

The Cloud region in Mumbai — that uses Google’s core infrastructure, data analytics and machine learning — offers several services, including compute, Big Data, storage and networking.

“The launch of the Cloud region opens up new opportunities for several new partners who will benefit from building their services on Google Cloud,” Mohit Pande, Country Manager-India, Google Cloud, told IANS.

Google is bullish on India when it comes to Cloud adoption.

Hike Messenger — the first homegrown messaging platform — has migrated its entire messaging application and network as well as all front-end traffic on to Google Cloud.

Since the migration to Google Cloud, Hike has seen a 25-30 per cent reduction in latency, improving the overall user experience on its platform. Google Cloud is also allowing Hike to scale with efficiency and reduce its go-to-market time and effort.

Big enterprises and emerging businesses like Ashok Leyland, Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC), Dainik Bhaskar Corp, Reliance Entertainment-Digital, Dalmia Cement, DTDC,, GoIbibo, Royal Enfield, Air Vistara, Tata Sky and Walnut have chosen Google Cloud as their technology platform.

“The new GCP region will help more customers build applications and store their data, and significantly improve latency for customers and end users in the area,” Pande added.

The Mumbai region joins Singapore, Taiwan, Sydney and Tokyo in the Asia-Pacific, making it easier for customers to build highly available, “performant” applications using resources across those geographies.

The GCP region has three zones. Developers and network admins can distribute apps and storage across multiple zones to protect against service disruptions.

Hosting applications in the new region, said the Google executive, can improve latency from 20 to up to 90 per cent for end users in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Mumbai, compared to hosting them in the other closest region which is Singapore.

With over 50 million SMBs, India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. “We have an incredible local team of seasoned enterprise and developer experts connecting with start-ups, SMBs and large corporations to understand their needs and offer solutions accordingly,” Pande told IANS.

According to Manish Verma, Chief Technology Officer at Hungama, they wanted to have a low latency and secure cloud platform to create their active-active, high-availability and load-balanced multi-Cloud set-up.

“Google Cloud Platform gave us a low latency network, better than expected SSL [Secure Sockets Layer] performance, and the ability to optimise costs further with custom machine types,” said Verma.

For Sandeep Kalidindi, Head of Technology at one of India’s largest education networks PaGaLGuy, once the company was exposed to GCP and understood the superiority of the platform, its mindset changed from “let us do everything on our own” to “let us do what we do best” and delegate the rest.

“We are always eager to see what new services are being launched and are extremely excited about what GCP can provide as part of its roadmap,” Kalidindi added.

“We really appreciate the stability and scalability of the GCP platform. As a fast-growing start-up, we can scale our platform up and down in minutes without any worries,” Gaurav Tripathi, Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder at Innoplexus AG, wrote on the GCP Mumbai webpage.

Innoplexus caters to the life sciences industry, offering Data as a Service (DaaS) and Continuous Analytics as Service (CaaS) products.

Google recently announced a partnership with Cisco to help its customers improve agility and security in a hybrid world with a fully-supported, open solution for developing and managing applications on-premises and on Google Cloud.

To meet the growing demand for industry-ready workforce in cloud computing, data analytics and machine learning, Google has also collaborated with Coursera, a leading US-based global online education platform, to launch a series of on-demand GCP training courses.

These courses range in skill levels from beginner to advanced and include topics like cloud fundamentals, operations, security, data analytics and machine learning. (IANS)

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Twitter, Facebook asked to disclose more information on fake news

Jan 12, 2018 0

San Francisco–  Shareholders of Facebook and Twitter have asked the social media platforms to disclose more information about sexual harassment, fake news, hate speech and other forms of abuse that take place on their platforms.

According to a report in the Washington Post, the shareholder resolution by the New York State Comptroller’s office, which operates the state’s pension fund, and Arjuna Capital, a Boston-based boutique investment firm, has pressurised the companies to publish detailed reports on the scope of the problems and how they plan to address them.

“Together the shareholders hold roughly $35 million worth of Twitter stock and roughly $1.1 billion of Facebook,” the report added.

Facebook and Twitter declined to comment.

The report comes 15 days after the tech giants were warned of sanctions if they fail to provide all the necessary information to a British Parliamentary committee investigating Russian interference in the European Union (EU) referendum through spread of the so called “fake news” on the social networking platforms.

The social media giants have been given time until January 18 to hand over information the committee has requested, media reported.

Major social media giants in the Silicon Valley have been under fire due to the widespread abuse of their services, including incidents of spread of false news stories regarding the US presidential election and live streaming of the violent acts on the services.

Although, Twitter and Facebook occasionally post information about their progress, the disclosures are highly selective, the report said. (IANS)

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Apple’s first China data centre to begin operations

Jan 10, 2018 0

Beijing– In a move to increase transparency and make inroads into China, the first data centre of the Cupertino-based tech giant Apple in the country will be put into operation on February 28, the company announced on Wednesday.

From then on, photos, documents and other personal information uploaded to iCloud accounts by Apple customers in China will be stored at a data base in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, Xinhua news agency reported.

The iPhone maker will start informing its Chinese iCloud users from Wednesday with data transferred and uploaded to the new data base automatically.

The move is aiming to increase transparency and offer Chinese customers a safer and more fluent experience of iCloud, the company was quoted as saying.

Apple announced the constructing of the new data base in Guizhou last July, with an investment of $1 billion.

Other major technology companies, including Amazon and Microsoft, have also made similar deals to run data centres in China.

Apple’s gets most of its products manufactured in China and also sources its best electronics engineers from the there. (IANS)

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Biggest tech show on Earth kicks-off with focus on AI

Jan 9, 2018 0

By Hardev Sanotra

Las Vegas– The largest technology show on Earth took off in this hub of the gaming world on Monday with Artificial Intelligence (AI) taking centre-stage as the wonder kid of tomorrows world, promising to bring in sweeping changes in everyones concept of technology.

The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2018 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and other places would showcase products and solutions from almost all the tech giants, bringing in latest innovations and gadgets which would be available for buying or adopting in the coming months.

The Consumer Technology Association, which owns and produces the show going on annually for the last 50 years, estimates the number of visitors to touch 1,70,000, with 3,900 exhibiting companies from 150 countries offering more than just the latest developments in mobile technology, Virtual or Augmented Reality and AI during the tech week. Also present are over 7,000 media representatives.

Many in the tech world were already looking ahead after the mobile phones and wearable devices had stolen a march over personal computers, which triggered off the technology revolution bringing into the homes of the consumers all that is possible through innovation. An epitaph of sorts was being written for the PC.

But as developments in the personal computing spaces show here, the predictions of the demise of PC may have been premature. As David Rabin, Vice President, Commercial Marketing at Lenovo (PC&SD) says: “The PC market is not dead or dying. Those who say so are wrong. We see a strong growth in this segment and the numbers prove it.”

The smart office market, which extensively uses PCs, is in an expansion mode and is expected to hit $100 billion by 2020, he said, adding that the PC is adopting the changes that are rapidly sweeping the tech world across areas.

This year’s tech show comes under the shadow of news that Intel, AMD and ARM chips, that are at the heart of most computers, are vulnerable to security flaws. The news came just days before the show and sent a shock waves through the companies and millions of users.

Because chipmakers had remained unaffected by security issues even as news about major breaches have regularly erupted in some of the best-known companies. Stealing of private data of tens of millions of users has time and again roiled the tech world.

But on Monday, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich stepped on stage, aiming to allay fears of the breach through “Meltdown” and “Spectre”, the two vulnerabilities which have affected the chips used in the last two decades.

“Our primary goal has been to keep our customers safe. We have not received any information that these exploits have been used to obtain customers’ data,” Intel CEO told the audience during his keynote address here, urging everyone to patch their systems as soon as these are available.

Microsoft and others had discovered “Spectre” and “Meltdown”. All the big tech giants — Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and others — have pushed out updates for their devices to fix the vulnerabilities.

This year’s tech show also comes with an array of star speakers and performers from the field of music, movies sports and technology.

“We’re bringing the stars to Vegas. Nearly all of these entertainers and other celebrities are involved in some of the most interesting technology efforts out there. So it’s exciting to have star power on hand,” said Karen Chupka, Senior Vice President, CES and corporate business strategy.

The celebrities include singer and actor Ray J, Rapper Iggy Azalea, rock musician Joe Perry, actor Neil Patrick Harris, guitarist Tommy Shaw, Olympic medallists Usain Bolt and Nastia Liukin, Rock Band Styx, dormer NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and Baron Davis and Star Gigi Gorgeous. (IANS)

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