Why Chinese smartphone giants have failed to succeed in US

Oct 25, 2017 0

San Francisco– Chinese smartphone giants like Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Lenovo have made deep inroads into India, Russia and even Africa, but grabbing a foothold in the American market still appears to be a distant dream.

Analysts have been predicting for well over 10 years that new Chinese entrants will be taking the US market by storm, Counterpoint Research said in a blog post on Wednesday.

“Yet, there has been limited change on this front. Globally, Chinese handset original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) own more than 43 per cent of smartphone market share. Yet, in the US it is 18 per cent,” said Jeff Fieldhack, Research Director at Counterpoint.

ZTE and Alcatel have cracked the top five, breaking through with solid volumes within prepaid channels. Motorola (Lenovo) remains a niche but well-known vendor within Verizon.

Others have been relegated to the US open channel with very limited growth prospects. Why is it so difficult for OPPO, vivo, Huawei and others to grab a foothold in the US?

“There are many barriers for new players in carrier-controlled markets. Carriers continue to hold the power in the US controlling over 70 per cent of sales. US carriers are not interested in building handset OEM brands,” Fieldhack said.

The US smartphone market is dominated by Verizon Wireless with 147.2 million subscribers (Q2 2017), AT&T Mobility with 138.8 million subscribers (Q3 2017) and T-Mobile US with 70.7 million subscribers (Q3 2017).

“Carriers expect brands to either bring in users on their own recognisance or for brands to spend big money to do so. Further, it is expensive to carry many brands, many stock keeping units (SKUs) ? especially when many do not sell well,” Counterpoint informed.

It is expensive to support the costs of testing, training, marketing and handle returns of low volume brands. New brands must present very unique or compelling cases to carriers.

“Carriers are interested in known brands bringing full portfolios. For example, it is easier for carriers to sell a full suite of Samsung Galaxies at multiple price points than smaller brands who only address certain price points,” explained Fieldhack.

US carriers are concerned that young handset OEMs are not fully paying for all required IP.

These carriers are concerned that they will have to deal with embargos and lawsuits if there is litigation following new OEMs they have ranged.

The US market has grown into an all-or-nothing market. Spend big on marketing campaigns or a device will be drowned out by the major launches.

“Carriers are looking for large, flashy ad campaigns to bring subscribers into stores. And, often carriers will throw in money to these large campaigns. Big spending has become a normal mode of business for the major carriers,” the blog post said.

Most importantly, the US market is a mature smartphone market and over 50 per cent of subscribers have purchased multiple Apple and Samsung smartphones.

“So, to become a top 5 OEM in the US market will take the hardware, heavy marketing, and a strong value offering to switch a subscriber from another OS and/or another OEM ecosystem,” Fieldhack said.

To crack the US market will take a multi-year plan and will take a considerable amount of patience, he added.(IANS)

Read More

Lenovo, Intel take first step toward killing passwords

Oct 25, 2017 0

San Francisco–  In a bid to protect online privacy, identity and other data, Lenovo and Intel have announced the first PC-ready, built-in authentication measures that adhere to FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance standards.

Instead of relying just on passwords, users now have a safer way to log into websites with the touch of a finger on an integrated fingerprint reader or a quick click of a button in real-time.

Using Intel “Online Connect” on 7th and 8th Gen Intel Core processors, Lenovo’s latest PCs including the Yoga 920, ThinkPad X1 Tablet (2nd generation), ThinkPad X1 Carbon (5th generation) and IdeaPad 720S integrate FIDO-certified authenticators directly into the core of the PCs.

This will bring simpler and safer online authentication when logging into popular websites like PayPal, Google, Dropbox and Facebook.

“I am thrilled to see the realisation of this partnership between FIDO Alliance board members Intel and Lenovo, which resulted in the PC industry’s first FIDO-enabled embedded fingerprint,” Brett McDowell, Executive Director of the FIDO Alliance, said in a statement.

The FIDO Alliance, backed by companies such as Samsung, Google and Microsoft, supports killing passwords altogether.

With these integrated FIDO authenticators, websites use security keys that are protected and rooted deeply in the PC’s hardware, ultimately increasing user protection and reducing fraud.

With the touch of a finger on the encrypted fingerprint reader embedded on the PC, users can easily authenticate to their PayPal account.

An additional security factor is incorporated into the authentication process after users log in to a website using their standard user ID and password access.

Instead of using a separate security key or SMS code, 2nd factor authentication is built into the PC to identify the user and directly prompts the user to click a button to log into websites.

With authenticators built directly into PCs, merchants can extend enhanced security measures to millions of users who routinely use their computer to access social media, banking information and online shopping.

“People need hassle-free, built-in security that helps to protect them when logging into websites for banking, shopping and social media,” said Johnson Jia, Senior Vice President of Lenovo’s PCs and Smart Devices Product Group.

Intel “Online Connect” can be downloaded from the web and will be made available via Lenovo System Update and Lenovo App Explorer on all Lenovo laptops with 7th and 8th Gen Intel Core processors.

“Intel continues to drive innovation that simplifies and secures the computing experience,” added Chris Walker, Vice President, Client Computing Group and General Manager, Mobility Client Platform at Intel. (IANS)

Read More

Indian techies driving Next-Gen cyber security architecture: McAfee CEO

Oct 23, 2017 0

By Sourabh Kulesh

Las Vegas– As enterprises the world over scout for next-generation cyber security architecture to mitigate attacks, the Indian systems integrator (SI) community is helping major companies embrace state-of-the-art security structures, Chris Young, Chief Executive Officer of McAfee, has said.

“A lot of companies in India are trusted providers of cyber security solutions to firms around the world. Indian companies have the same challenge and opportunity as other companies. I think they have the right ability to drive the architectural model that other firms are using,” Young told IANS on the sidelines on “MPOWER Cybersecurity Summit” here.

“Given the strength in the Indian SI community, they are actually playing a big part in helping other companies realise the next-generation architectural vision,” he added.

With its largest research and development facility in Bengaluru — employing over a 1,000 engineers — the US-based McAfee’s revenues are growing in double digits in India.

Over the next couple of years, the country is expected to become one of McAfee’s top markets.

India is one of the fastest-growing markets for McAfee in the APAC region. McAfee has partnered with approximately 49 per cent of ET 500 firms and aims to cover 60 per cent — with an overall target to increase the customer base by 20 per cent.

When asked to comment on the investment by the Indian organisations in the cyber security space, Young told IANS: “Several top firms in India have industry-leading cyber security operations and are working with the best available tools to ward off data breaches. They have some of the best people. I don’t see underinvestment happening in the cyber security space in the country.”

The time is ripe for companies globally to “move investment from where we have been to where we are going”.

On ransomware, Young said that it has been in existence for 30 years, with first attack reported in late 1980s. But the year 2013 saw a surge in ransomware attacks.

“This probably took off owing to the change in the hackers’ ability to monetise the attacks. Customers are witnessing data breaches which use exploits that go beyond malware itself. Hackers are using trusted tools to execute their sinister plans,” Young noted.

Young said there is a need to adapt to the situation to avert adversaries by detecting the problems, correcting them and eventually protecting them against cyberattacks.

“We need to increase the capabilities of the first responders by 20 per cent by keeping them up-to-date,” he told reporters.

Globally, McAfee cybersecurity solutions protect more than a quarter-of-a-billion endpoints across every category of device, serve nearly two-third of the world’s 2,000 largest companies and defend more than 200 million consumers each day.

To empower companies protect their systems, Young announced the launch of new endpoint and Cloud solutions during the event.

The solutions go beyond machine learning to take advantage of the speed and accuracy of advanced analytics, deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI), thus increasing efficiency of security operations.

The company also announced collaboration with networking and security major Cisco to provide customers comprehensive visibility and real-time security orchestration. (IANS)

Read More

Google now lets you take a virtual walk on Mars

Oct 20, 2017 0

Washington– If you are curious about the unknown terrains of the Red Planet, here is your chance to take a walk on Mars for free all the while staying in your living room, thanks to Google’s immersive experience initiative Access Mars.

Google collaborated with NASA to produce Access Mars that lets users wander the actual dunes and valleys explored by NASA’s Curiosity rover.

“The experience is built using WebVR, a technology that lets you see virtual reality right in your browser, without installing any apps. You can try it on a virtual reality headset, phone, or laptop,” Ryan Burke, Interactive Producer at Google’s Creative Lab wrote in a blog post late on Thursday.

The experience was adapted from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s OnSight software, which assists scientists in planning rover drives and even holding meetings on Mars.

Imagery from NASA’s Curiosity rover provided the terrain.

“We’ve been able to leverage VR and AR technologies to take our scientists to Mars every single day,” said Victor Luo, lead project manager at JPL’s Ops Lab, which led the collaboration.

“With Access Mars, everyone in the world can ride along,” Luo said.

Since being rolled out to JPL’s scientists in 2015, OnSight has made studying Martian geology as intuitive as turning your head and walking around.

Access Mars lets anyone with an internet connection take a guided tour of what those scientists experience.

A simple walkthrough explains what the Curiosity rover does and details its dramatic landing in 2012.

Google said that JPL will continuously update the data so that users see where Curiosity has just been in the past few days or weeks.

“All along the way, JPL scientist Katie Stack Morgan will be your guide, explaining key points about the rover, the mission, and some of the early findings,” Burke added. (IANS)

Read More

Snap, Discovery Eurosport collaborate for 2018 Winter Olympics content

Oct 19, 2017 0

Cannes– Snap Inc — the parent company of photo-sharing platform Snapchat — has signed a strategic advertising and content deal with Discovery Communications’ Eurosport to develop and deliver mobile content for Snapchat platform for 2018 Winter Olympics.

The 2018 games will be held in PyeongChang in South Korea.

The collaboration would be featured both on Snapchat’s “Our Stories”, curated features submitted by the platform’s users, and “Publisher Stories” that are magazine-like productions made by publishers.

Eurosport will curate “Publisher Stories”, the social media company was quoted as saying by Billboard late on Wednesday.

Discovery Communications President and CEO David Zaslav sees the Discovery-Snap Olympics Winter Games deal as a means to reach vital youth audiences, The Variety reported.

The deal marks the first time that Snap has committed to a European, multi-language deal covering the Olympics.

The coverage will feature behind-the-scenes action from Olympic like snowboarding, downhill and freestyle skiing and ice hockey, according to Discovery website.

Snapchat is expected to overtake Facebook for the first time in the US as the user growth of the latter is set to slow among teens and adults, a report by market research firm eMarketer earlier said.

The app currently has 166 million users globally. (IANS)

Read More

Apple, GE to bring ‘Predix’ industrial IoT apps to iPhones, iPads

Oct 18, 2017 0

San Francisco– Apple and GE on Wednesday joined hands to deliver industrial Internet of Things (IoT) apps designed to bring predictive data and analytics on iPhones and iPads.

The two companies unveiled a new Predix (GE’s industrial IoT platform) software development kit (SDK) for iOS, which gives developers the tools to make their own powerful industrial IoT apps.

The new Predix SDK for iOS will be available to download from October 26.

“GE is an ideal partner with a rich history of innovation across the industrial world in areas like aviation, manufacturing, healthcare and energy,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, in a statement.

“Together, Apple and GE are fundamentally changing how the industrial world works by combining GE’s Predix platform with the power and simplicity of iPhone and iPad,” Cook added.

The SDK gives developers the ability to make powerful, native apps that take full advantage of the industrial analytics from Predix and tap into the iOS platform.

The apps will give industrial operators more insight and visibility into the performance of their equipment and operations right from their iPhone or iPad.

For example, a Predix app can notify a worker on their iPhone of a potential issue with equipment such as a wind turbine and allow them to collaborate with remote teams when performing inspections and repairs, collecting relevant data instantly.

In collaboration with Apple, GE is also developing apps for both internal use and its customers, giving workers powerful tools to enhance their jobs and help operations run more efficiently.

“The partnership between Apple and GE is providing developers with the tools to make their own powerful industrial IoT apps,” said John Flannery, Chairman and CEO, GE.

GE will standardise on iPhone and iPad for mobile devices and also promote Mac as a choice for its global workforce of more than 330,000 employees.

Apple will promote GE’s Predix as the industrial IoT analytics platform of choice to its customers and developers. (IANS)

Read More

WhatsApp empowers women, kids with ‘Live Location’ feature

Oct 18, 2017 0

San Francisco– In a move that will help women and kids connect with their families and friends as they travel, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has introduced ‘Live Location’ feature.

The feature that allows people to share location in real-time with family or friends.

The end-to-end encrypted feature lets people control who they share with and for how long. You can choose to stop sharing at any time or let the Live Location timer simply expire.

“The Live Location feature in WhatsApp makes women feel confident about sharing their real-time location or a journey with someone close, so that it can be tracked for a purpose and privately,” said Sohini Bhattacharya, CEO of Breakthrough, a non-profit organisation, in a statement on Wednesday.

This is how this feature works. Open a chat with the person or group you want to share with. Under “Location” in the attach button, there’s a new option to “Share Live Location”.

Choose for how long you want to share and tap send. Each person in the chat will be able to see your real-time location on a map.

And if more than one person shares their Live Location in the group, all locations will be visible on the same map.

Live Location is available on both Android and iPhone and will be rolling out in the app in the coming weeks.

This feature will prove to be extremely useful during disasters and crisis situations, as help and relief can be provided more effectively and quickly.

“For women, in unsafe and dangerous situations, it may be a helpful tool for police officials and families, as real-time locations can be shared easily in WhatsApp,” said Ranjana Kumari from Centre for Social Research. (IANS)

Read More

SoftBank-Uber deal likely next week: Official

Oct 17, 2017 0

New York– SoftBank’s multi-billion-dollar investment into ridesharing app Uber will be finalised “very likely in the next week” Uber board member Arianna Huffington has said.

Uber’s board voted earlier in October to approve the Japanese tech conglomerate’s cash infusion, which would add six more board seats and annul super-voting shares held by former CEO Travis Kalanick among others.

Through its $93 billion Vision Fund, SoftBank plans to acquire between 14-20 per cent of the world’s most valuable privately-held tech startup, Recode quoted Huffington as saying at a media conference on Monday.

She confirmed reports that the proposed deal would involve both a direct investment in the company at the last private valuation and also a secondary transaction, buying out existing shareholders at a yet-to-be-determined discount, TechCrunch reported.

Uber is still “waiting on what’s going to transpire in terms of the price”, said Huffington.

She added that having SoftBank “on your cap table is very important when they’re also investing in so many of our competitors around the world”.

Implying that there could be more acquisitions in ridesharing, she said to “expect to see some consolidation.”

Huffington also spoke about the difficult period Uber has faced in the past few months.

The company’s work environment had come under fire, leading to the departure of several key executives, including co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick.

She voiced optimism about Uber’s new leader, Dara Khosrowshahi. Calling him “unflappable,” she said that there’s a renewed focus on image. His “goal is to get people to love the company and not just the product”.

Huffington also said that Khosrowshahi has a greater focus on cost-cutting, in order to meet the goal of taking Uber public by 2019. (IANS)

Read More

Google viewed as most authentic brand in India: Survey

Oct 17, 2017 0

New Delhi– Indian consumers regard Google as the most authentic brand, even though Amazon.com tops the list globally, reveal results of a new survey on Tuesday.

In India, Google is followed by Microsoft, Amazon.com, Maruti Suzuki and Apple.

“Consumers today want to buy from companies that engage with them in a genuine way. Our research shows a link between brands that behave and communicate authentically and their ability to attract and keep customers — and, ultimately, build stronger businesses,” said Donna Imperato, CEO of global communications agency Cohn & Wolfe.

Globally, Apple takes the second spot after Amazon in the authenticity race, according to the results revealed by Cohn & Wolfe.

The global authenticity index puts Microsoft, Google and PayPal at third, fourth and fifth places respectively — all technology brands, said the 2017 “Authentic Brands Study”.

According to the findings, 67 per cent of consumers in India report increased purchase interest in a brand they perceive as authentic.

“Brands that behave and communicate with authenticity will build better relationships with customers and deliver improved user experiences,” Matt Stafford, President of Asia Pacific, at Cohn & Wolfe, said.

“To differentiate their offerings and grow market share, our research shows that brands in India need to focus on the three drivers of authenticity — reliable, respectful and real,” Stafford said.

Cohn & Wolfe’s Authentic Brands Study series examines the role of authenticity in business, the attributes associated with an authentic brand and the impact of authenticity on consumer, investor and employee attitudes and behaviours.

This year’s study covered India, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US. (IANS)

Read More

Neck and neck with Samsung, Xiaomi grows real big in India

Oct 17, 2017 0

New Delhi– Riding on the success of its Redmi Note 4 device, Xiaomi has become the fastest growing smartphone brand in the third quarter of 2017, with a growth of 292 per cent Year-on-Year (YoY), market research firm Counterpoint Research said on Tuesday.

The Chinese handset maker was at the second spot with 22.3 per cent market share with its Redmi Note 4 as the best selling model for the third successive quarter.

South Korean major Samsung continued to lead the smartphone market with a share of 22.8 per cent, Counterpoint said in its preliminary estimates for Q3 2017.

Xiaomi retail store

“The rise of Xiaomi brand in India can be attributed to the fact that the mid-price segment (about Rs 10,000) in India started to peak in late 2016. Xiaomi, with its Redmi Note 4, was right there and became the model of the market within no time,” Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, Mobile Devices and Ecosystems, Counterpoint Research told IANS.

“Xiaomi’s offline expansion into India with right device portfolio helped the smartphone maker cement its position right after the market leader Samsung,” Pathak added.

Chinese players Vivo and OPPO registered 121 per cent and 117 per cent (YoY) growth, respectively, during the third quarter of 2017.

Meanwhile, smartphone shipments touched an all-time high in the third quarter, growing 13 per cent YoY and 32 per cent Quarter on Quarter (QoQ), as brands pushed stock into the channels to tap the festive demand.

Domestic handset maker Micromax posted its best-ever quarter since demonetisation impacted local brands in 2016, and emerged as the third largest featurephone player during the third quarter of 2017.

Micromax “Bharat 2” was the best-selling smartphone in the sub-Rs 5,000 segment.

“It will be difficult for Xiaomi to root out Samsung in the Indian market but yes, it won’t be a surprise to see Xiaomi becoming number one model in one of the upcoming quarters,” Pathak predicted.

In the feature phone segment, Samsung is the leader with 23 per cent share, followed by Itel at 13 per cent and Micromax at 11 per cent. (IANS)

Read More