Friday, 2 December 2016

Opportunity for Indian Authors and Publishers

Amazon's Kindle will support eBooks and other digital content in 5 Indian languages. This will provide an opportunity for India's authors and publishers like IdeaIndia.Com

Amazon's e-book reader, Kindle will now support content in five Indian languages, including Hindi, Gujarati and Malayalam, a move that will help the US-based firm tap into the niche but growing 'digital regional content' market in India, reports Times of India. "We are adding thousands of digital books in Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati and Malayalam, including the largest digital selection of best sellers, hundreds of exclusive titles and free classics to the Kindle Book Store," Amazon Kindle Director (Content) Sanjeev Jha told. Readers can access these books on Kindle eReaders as well as the free Kindle apps for Android and iOS, he added. "Subscribers of Kindle Unlimited will also have access to the Indian language content. The new language selection is in addition to over three million books that are already available on the Kindle Book Store," he said.

Kindle already supports languages like Chinese, German, French and Japanese among others, apart from English. While Amazon does not share country specific growth numbers, Jha said India is among its fastest growing markets globally for Kindle. Amazon will make available bestseller titles like 'Ishq Mein Shahar Hona' by Ravish Kumar (Hindi), 'Rajaraja Chozhan' by Sa Na Kannan (Tamil), 'Mrutyunjay' by Shivaji Sawant (Marathi), 'Ek Bija Ne Gamta Rahiye' by Kaajal Oza Vaidya (Gujarati) and 'Aarachar' by K R Meera (Malayalam). The exclusive titles include 'Banaras Talkies' by Satya Vyas, 'Ki.Mu.Ki.Pi' by Madhanand, 'Draupadi' by Kaajal Oza Vaidya and titles like 'Mayapuri' by Shivani will now be available in digital format for the first time.

"We are bringing features like font size adjustment, ability to add notes and highlights, and automatic save and sync of your furthest page read across all your devices," he said. According to industry reports, the print book market in India is estimated to be worth about $4 billion. India ranks third in English language publishing, after the US and the UK. India, which is one of the fastest growing smartphone markets globally, also has a significant number of people reading e-books on their phones. While there is ample amount of content in English available online, that in Indian language has been few. Companies like Google are taking a number of initiatives to increase penetration of regional content in the digital world.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Flipping Executives at Flipkart

Flipkart's SVP (engineering) Peeyush Ranjan, who was the chief technology officer at the company till a few months back, has resigned, adding to the list of top-level exits that have hit the e-tailer since last year, reports Times of India. Ranjan, a former Google executive, joined the e-commerce major in May last year along with another Googler, chief product officer Punit Soni, who also has quit the Bengaluru-based online retailer. Both these high-profile Silicon Valley hires were reportedly drawing $1 million in cash and stock options.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Year of the Hack

2016 has been the year where we have seen regular news of computer systems being hacked. Whether its government systems, email accounts, political parties, banks, transport systems to name a few.

Its no surprise that cybersecurity is high on the agenda. for governments and corporates with investments on the rise for security technology and expertise.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Cybersecurity Startups get Funding

Cybersecurity startups are flavor of the month for investors.

When Vishal Gupta started Seclore, an enterprise security company in 2010, investors and customers were apprehensive, reports Economic Times. There was till then no established model of an Indian software provider in the cybersecurity space. “We had trouble establishing trust“ Gupta recalls.

Today, Gupta says, the environment has dramatically changed. Out of the 29 funded startups in the cybersecurity space, 12 have raised funding in 2015 and 2016, according to startup analytics firm Tracxn. Some 27 new companies came up in this space in the same period.

Much of this is driven by large-scale data breaches across sectors. “Even five years ago, security used to be a sub-function of IT. It wasn't something which would get reported in the top management. Now, information security is becoming a boardroom topic. When you lose information, it is not just about embarrassment anymore. You lose money, customers, and even lives. Acknowledgement of that implication has made budgets and investor interest shoot through the roof“ says Gupta.

Sandip Panda, founder of InstaSafe, a cloud security startup, says fraud levels have increased sharply, and everyone's impacted, from individuals to the largest of companies. Investor interest is also driven by Indian startups' success with customers, including global ones. Druva, one of the early and most successful startups in the space, has more than 4,000 customers, with 85% of its customers being outside India. Founder Jaspreet Singh says Druva is invariably competing with global players like IBM, EMC, and Commvault.

Seclore works with over 10,000 small and large companies. Although US customers account for only 25% of Seclore's customer base, almost 50% of its revenue comes from that country. Indian Angel Network (IAN) has made three bets in this space, their first investment being in Druva in 2010. Padmaja Ruparel, president, IAN, says there is a lot of potential in the space for innovation.

Jishnu Bhattacharjee, MD, Nexus Venture Partners, which has made five investments in the space, says cybersecurity innovation is happening in India, though not at the scale at which it is happening in Silicon Valley or Israel. According to research firm CB Insights, most of the $3 billion invested globally in the cybersecurity space in 2015 went to startups in the US and Israel.

Almost all the funded companies in India were bootstrapped for quite a significant amount of time, due to lack of early-stage funds. All of the investments made since 2015 were raised by companies that were formed on or before 2013. Pune-based Druva, founded in 2008, is the most funded, at $118 million.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Opportunity amid the Chaos: Demonetisation, Disruption and Digital India

News that the Andhra Pradesh government is planning to distribute free mobile phones to enable economically-backward people to undertake cashless transactions in the wake of Demonetisation, suggests there is opportunity amid the chaos.

With recent news that Airtel, Idea and other telcos have been granted payment bank licences to, in effect, become bankers and compete with the established banks, with the spike in digital payment, e-wallets subscribers and more interest in e-commerce and m-commerce, Demonetisation is proving to be a major disruptor in India with opportunities available.

People are having to look for alternatives to cash in India. Demonetisation is proving to be a shot in the arm for Digital India and a major disruptor in India.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

AI finds its way in Translation

Using AI to translate between multiple languages.

Google has introduced a newly updated machine-learning based system for its translator service - Google Translate. Announced via an official post on its Research blog, the company has updated its Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) tool with the addition of 'Zero-Shot Translation'. According to Google, GNMT allows it to provide 'an end-to-end learning framework that learns from millions of examples' and significantly improves translation quality. But it's also quite a challenge for developers to add translation support for more than 100 languages.

After the Zero-Shot Translation update, Google will be able to perform translations between languages without the presence of a similar pairing instance in the past. 'In Google's Multilingual Neural Machine Translation System: Enabling Zero-Shot Translation, we address this challenge by extending our previous GNMT system, allowing for a single system to translate between multiple languages. Our proposed architecture requires no change in the base GNMT system, but instead uses an additional "token" at the beginning of the input sentence to specify the required target language to translate to. In addition to improving translation quality, our method also enables "Zero-Shot Translation" — translation between language pairs never seen explicitly by the system' reads the post.

Furthermore, the post says that while Google may display similar results and analyses going forward, it hopes that the findings resonate with not only machine translation researchers, but also 'linguists and others who are interested in how multiple languages can be processed by machines using a single system'. The post ends with the company adding that the new multilingual Google Neural Machine Translation system is up and running for all Google Translate users. According to Google, 'multilingual systems are currently used to serve 10 of the recently launched 16 language pairs, resulting in improved quality and simplified production architecture.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Micro funds fill a niche in India's startup ecosystem

Micro funds fill a niche in India's startup ecosystem.

Delhi-based small fund Quarizon is in the last leg of closing its second round of capital raise of Rs 20 crore to give startups a fillip to their humble beginnings, reports Times of India. Quarizon has just finished deploying its first fund of Rs 12 crore across eight startups in need for seed investments. The funding squeeze in the tip of the startup pyramid this year, may have slowed sentiment at the bottom too, but a new wave of investors, such as Quarizon, are slowly rising to fill the gaps. According to data from Venture Intelligence, Q3 2016 has seen a dip in early-stage investments with a mere 27 deals worth $22 million as against $33 million raised by early-stage startups in Q2. It is this problem that is being inadvertently addressed by the wave of small or micro funds such as Quarizon. The funds, with a corpus of anything between Rs 15 crore to Rs 100 crore, typically look at investments ranging from Rs 75 lakh-1.2 crore per startup.

But apart from funding, these firms also don the accelerator's hat. "We also guide them through the intricate business environment and statutory regulations and then take them (forward until) Series A or Pre series A after which we will exit," explains Rajiv Semwal, Principal Advisor at Quarizon. Micro funds such as Quarizon, LetsVenture, Venture Catalysts and Hyderabad Angels don't follow a set pattern when it comes to sectors and prefer to deploy investments across different areas such as QSR, Fintech, Media, Edutech, etc. But established early-stage investors believe a sector-agnostic investment mantra may actually be the best way to go, in this market.

"All VC funds -large or mid-size -invest across sectors; mainly technology but across sectors. In India, it may be too early for a fund to invest only in one sector," says Sasha Mirchandani, founder of early-stage investment firm Kae Capital. Experts believe the creation of micro funds is a result of the funding slowdown in larger stages that has forced traditional early-stage companies to write larger cheques, therefore leaving startups looking for smaller amounts of seed funding in a lurch. Rehan Yar Khan of Orios Venture Partners explains that when traditional early-stage firms are pushed to do larger rounds, someone needs to take up the mandate of writing the smaller cheques.

"At the end of the day, we can do only a fixed number of companies. Even if my fund gets larger, my bandwidth doesn't expand. I can't do more companies, I can do bigger investments," reasons Khan. But even with a small corpus, these micro funds are expecting significant returns at the end of 2-3 years. "24-36 months is a pretty reasonable time frame to expect to exit. In an average period of 24-36 months, and taking into account laggards as well as performers, (Quarizon) might just land up at a multiple of 2.5-3x when it comes to returns," says Semwal.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

App Development, Enhancement and Marketing from Users

As users find different ways of using an app, whether its WhatsApp or Uber, the app provider adds new features to allow users to take the app in the direction the users want. Whether its groups on WhatsApp that allow users to promote their businesses to others or Uber getting into event-related travel.

Taxi-hailing app Uber has partnered WedMeGood, a wedding planning website, to offer mobility solutions for wedding-related travel in 12 Indian cities, report Times of India. UberWEDDINGS will be live till February 2017 and will provide convenient, hassle-free and cashless mobility solution to users in New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Ludhiana, Pune, Udaipur and Lucknow, Uber India said in a statement.

Apart from India, Uber offers UberWEDDINGS in Washington DC, San Francisco, New York, Boston and LA as well. "Weddings in India are typically an elaborate affair, often spanning month-long planning and week-long celebrations involving family and friends. While we all enjoy the fun and celebration, they also bring in the logistical challenge of a coordination and managing the commuting needs," Uber India general manager (Delhi and NCR) Prabhjeet Singh said. According to estimates, weddings in India form a whopping $40 billion industry.

Prior to the wedding, hosts can buy a specific number of Uber rides of set denominations (promo code based) on a specifically dedicated page on the WedMeGood website. They can then, share them with their guests as an extension to their invitations or give them to their family members to ride for free during preparation, the statement said. This will enable the host to keep a track of their travel expenses without worrying about coordinating pick-ups and drops, parking, waiting charges. The promo codes can also be customised with host's name or their wedding hashtag which will be printed by Uber and made available within three working days of the purchase request.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Monday, 21 November 2016

Chinese Investments in Indian Startups

Boycott China messages may have become routine on WhatsApp in India, reports Times of India. But in the startup world, India and China are drawing closer. Chinese companies and funds have become big investors in Indian startups, and they are becoming particularly useful now as US funds slow down. Beijing Miteno Communication Technology, a Chinese tech conglomerate, made this year's biggest acquisition in the technology startup space - the $900 million buyout of Media.net, a subsidiary of Mumbai-based Directi founded by brothers Bhavin and Divyank Turakhia.

E-commerce giant Alibaba has made large investments in Paytm and Snapdeal. Didi Chuxing, the equivalent of Uber in China, has invested in Ola. Internet giant Tencent recently led a $175-million fun ding in messaging app Hike. Prior to that, it led a $90-million f round in healthcare solutions firm Practo, and, through its joint venture with South Africa's Naspers, invested in online travel firm Ibibo Group.

Cheetah Mobile, which owns products like Clean Master, invested in fitness app GOQii late last year. Ctrip, one of China's largest online travel companies, invested $180 million in MakeMyTrip in January. China-based investment firm Hillhouse Capital has invested in CarDekho. Smartphone maker Xiaomi led a $25-million funding round in content provider Hungama Digital Media Entertainment in April. Web services company Baidu has said it is scouting for investment opportunities in Indian startups.

"There are demographic similarities and both countries are seeing consumer growth for digital companies. Also, the Chinese players have experience in market creation, they have experience in running successful digital companies, so they can play a bigger role than being just financial investors," says Ashish Kashyap, founder of Ibibo Group, which last month merged with rival MakeMyTrip. Alibaba, for instance, is seen to be actively helping Paytm in various aspects of the latter's business.

Bhavin Turakhia says the Chinese understand the Indian market better than the US companies do as the Indian market is on the same evolution path as that of China, but about five to 10 years behind. For instance, China and India are both primarily mobile markets, unlike the US. Even other Asian companies are nowhere close to investing as much as the Chinese in Indian startups. Japan's SoftBank and Singapore's Temasek are among the few non-Chinese ones that have made investments. Taiwan's Foxconn has also made several investments, like in Qikpod, Hike and Snapdeal, but some see Foxconn as practically a Chinese company, given that much of its operations are in China.

What's pushing Chinese tech companies to make large investments are two things: one, many of them are making big profits in their home market, thanks partly to the restrictions on foreign competition; and two, the Chinese economy is slowing. So they want to use their surpluses to expand into what is potentially the world's third largest digital market.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Danger, Selfie Ahead

Next time you're at the Taj Mahal, find yourself standing on a precarious cliff or see an approaching train, maybe just enjoy the moment rather than trying to capture the perfect selfie, reports Times of India. These are just three of the ways that 76 selfie-takers in India have lost their lives, according to a study published by US-based Carnegie Mellon University and Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi.

In the quest for the coolest selfie, more people have died in India in the past two years than the total number of selfie-related deaths in the rest of the world, according to the study titled "Me, Myself and My Killfie: Characterizing and Preventing Selfie Deaths". Using special search techniques to trawl the internet and social media, the researchers identified 127 confirmed selfie deaths since March 2014. They blamed people's desire for more "likes" and comments on social media for driving increasingly risky selfie-taking. "(The) clicking dangerous selfies (has proved) to be so disastrous that during the year 2015 alone, there have been more deaths caused due to selfies than shark attacks all over the world," the researchers said in a blog post.

Three students in northern India died trying to take a daring selfie in front of an oncoming train, according to the study published last week. Another student lost his life when the cliff he was standing on for a photo cracked, sending him plunging 18 metres (60 feet) into a ravine. A selfie-taking Japanese tourist died after he slipped down the stairs at the Taj Mahal while seven people posing for a group selfie died when the boat they were in capsized. Pakistan took second place in the global killer-selfie rankings with nine deaths, followed by the United States with eight and Russia on six.

India's population of 1.25 billion is nearly four times the size of the US's and over six times the size of Pakistan, but that fails to account for the huge discrepancy between the number of fatalities. According to the study, China with its population of 1.37 billion only had four selfie-related deaths. The group behind the study hopes their work will raise awareness of the killer trend -- and maybe encourage people to just appreciate the view.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Maximising ad revenue, digital content and pivoting

Maximising ad revenue, digital content and pivoting for the future

Mobile is best known for Android apps like Clean Master, CM security, Piano Tiles and live-streaming apps like Live.me, reports Times of India. At the sidelines of the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) held in Bengaluru, Morden Chen, General Manager of Cheetah Mobile Asia Pacific Business spoke to ETtech about privacy issues, their unique ad-monetisation platform, push towards Video and news content and how Robotics is the future for the mobile ad company.

Edited excerpts:
Reports sight that Cheetah mobile manipulates android users through deceptive advertising on its apps...
We are a company which makes utility apps which people use daily to boost their phones through cache cleaning apps, battery saver or making beautiful wallpapers. These are universal features that almost every mobile user needs. This helped us get a huge user base. Making utility apps in the android mobile space helped us scale over the years to clock 600 million users till date. Today, we have a 3,000-people team and 10% of them come from around the world.

But then, how do you monetise from your ad network and apps platform?
We have the freemium model, paid apps, advertisement within apps and trial and pay model which helps us rake in cash. But India, Brazil, China and Russia as compared to US and European countries believe in free apps. Internally, we give ads within our apps to monetise. We use a system called Orion Ad platform where we collect data on user behaviour from the apps used, downloaded and deleted by the user. Then we also create a virtual profile of the mobile user and use this data for targeting our audience. We also categorise players as casual and serious games depending on the games you download on your system.

Is the open nature of the android OS stopping you from directly publishing apps on iOS?
We chose android because unlike iOS, which controls the app ecosystem, the former is an open platform and each app can talk with each other in the background while iOS does not allow apps to communicate with each other because of the Sandbox ecosystem.You cannot have a battery saving app in iOS as the system would not allow third party manufacturers to build such apps and you have to jail break to perform such actions. You cannot override the system. In Android, it's easy to build such apps as the platform gives us a lot of system access.

How critical is video and news content to your overall 2016-17 strategy?
India is currently the most important branding-advertising market for Cheetah mobiles. India also contributes the most to the portion of branding and ad revenue. We want people to watch our ads on our apps but we don't want the ad videos to play on mobile data; so we are working to enable such ads to play only when the phone is connected to WiFi. We have found that news content related apps are used big time in India unlike countries like Indonesia where people use browsers to consume mobile news. We are planning to put more services on News Republic and we have a content-partnership team here based in our Gurgaon office. We have two types of content partnerships -first, content acquisition, where we sign official licensed contracts with content creators, and second, we work with like-phone manufacturers where we generate content through Cheetah Content streaming, which is an SDK that can be plugged into different OEM maker's phones. We can monetise through advertising and share revenue with OEM manufacturers.

What does the future hold for Cheetah mobiles?
Internally, I saw a video where our CEO was playing with a tiny robot that can recognise his orders in Chinese.It's an early-stage prototype and for the same we are hiring folks in artificial intelligence in China and the US.We are going big time into robotics.We have a fully-owned subsidiary running it in China as there are lot of hardware manufacturers there.Content is the closer future, robotics is the longer future.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Friday, 18 November 2016

India's migration to digital is well under way

India's migration to digital is well under way with demonetisation, UPI, Aadhar card and now with major corporations investing heavily in IoT and IIoT.

Reliance Industries and GE has announced a global partnership to built digital solutions for $25 billion worth industrial internet of things (IIoT) business, reports Times of India. "RIL and GE will work together to build out joint applications on GE's Predix platform," said a joint statement. "The first-of-its-kind partnership marks the coming together of two of the world's largest industrial conglomerates to provide Industrial IoT solutions to customers in oil and gas, fertilizer, power, healthcare, telecom and other industries," it said.

IoT products are connected to internet and can be operated from any part of the world using data connectivity like remote locking of car, controlling function of CCTV, water and electric meter reading using mobiles. "The presence of ubiquitous high bandwidth connectivity and cloud services enabled by Jio will be a key enabler for the rapid growth of IIoT within India. It's time we brought smart manufacturing capability into India by providing value added IIOT solutions for the industry that will enable India s economic growth," RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani said.

GE will provide its Predix cloud offering, Industrial Internet applications and data science expertise and RIL will develop solutions on Predix as an Independent Software Vendor. Predix is operating system from GE used for the Industrial Internet. RIL will also offer nationwide connectivity infrastructure to customers through a 4G network of Jio, the statement said.. GE would offer the security, availability and monitoring aspects of the platform to RIL and its customers. "India's potential in driving the migration to digital is well appreciated. The partnership with Reliance Industries will shape the future of the Industrial Internet not just in India but globally," GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said. 

The potential for other revenue streams includes telecom, healthcare and agriculture, the statement said. "A one per cent productivity gain for companies creates around $250 billion value over 15 years, across these key energy and infrastructure industries. The digital market is growing at a fast pace with IIOT contributing the highest degree of growth at over 10%," it said. According to Gartner, there exists a market opportunity of over $25 billion by 2022 for IIoT solutions across the four key industries of oil and gas, power, healthcare and transportation.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Other Uses for Blockchain

Accenture patents editing system for Blockchain technology, this puts in doubt the main feature of Blockchain technology which is said to be its immutability, by a system that will allow data processed and stored using the technology to be edited. How will this impact use of Blockchain?

IBM and Walmart are to be part of a joint effort to track movement of Chinese food products with Blockchain to try to prevent food contamination. So not just financial transactions being tracked but products also.


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Changing search rankings for fake news

Alphabet Inc's Google said on Monday it is working on a policy change to prevent websites that misrepresent content from using its AdSense advertising network, a move aimed at halting the spread of "fake news" and other types of misinformation on the internet, reports Times of India. The shift comes as Google, Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc face a backlash over the role they played in the U.S. presidential election by allowing the spread of false and often malicious information that might have swayed voters toward Republican candidate Donald Trump.

The issue has provoked a fierce debate within Facebook especially, with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg insisting twice in recent days that the site had no role in influencing the election. Google's move does not address the issue of fake news or hoaxes appearing in Google search results. That happened in the last few days, when a search for 'final election count' for a time took users to a fake news story saying Trump won the popular vote. Votes are still being counted, with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton showing a slight lead.

Nor does it suggest that the company has moved to a mechanism for rating the accuracy of particular articles. Rather, the change is aimed at assuring that publishers on the network are legitimate and eliminating the financial incentives that appear to have driven the production of much fake news. "Moving forward, we will restrict ad serving on pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher's content, or the primary purpose of the web property," Google said in a statement. The company did not detail how it would implement or enforce the new policy.

AdSense, which allows advertisers to place text ads on the millions of websites that are part of Google's network, is a major source of money for many publishers. A report in BuzzFeed News last month showed how tiny publishers in Macedonia were creating websites with fake news - much of it denigrating Clinton - which were widely shared on Facebook. That sharing in turn led people to click on links which brought them to the Macedonian websites, which could then make money on the traffic via AdSense.

Facebook has been widely blamed for allowing the spread of online misinformation, most of it pro-Trump, but Zuckerberg has rejected the notion that Facebook influenced the outcome of the election or that fake news is a major problem on the service. "Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99 percent of what people see is authentic," he wrote in a blog post on Saturday. "Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes."

Google has long had rules for its AdSense program, barring ads from appearing next to pornography or violent content. Work on the policy update announced on Monday began before the election, a Google spokeswoman said. The company uses a combination of humans and artificial intelligence to review sites that apply to be a part of AdSense, and sites continue to be monitored after they are accepted, a former Google employee who worked on ad systems said. Google's artificial intelligence systems learn from sites that have been removed from the program, speeding the removal of similar sites.

The issue of fake news is critical for Google from a business standpoint, as many advertisers do not want their brands to be touted alongside dubious content. Google must constantly hone its systems to try to stay one step ahead of unscrupulous publishers, the former employee said. Google has not said whether it believes its search algorithms, or its separate system for ranking results in the Google News service, also need to be modified to cope with the fake news issue. Fil Menczer, a professor of informatics and computing at Indiana University who has studied the spread of misinformation on social media, said Google's move with AdSense was a positive step. "One of the incentives for a good portion of fake news is money," he said. "This could cut the income that creates the incentive to create the fake news sites." However, he cautioned that detecting fake news sites was not easy. "What if it is a site with some real information and some fake news? It requires specialized knowledge and having humans (do it) doesn't scale," he said.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Monday, 14 November 2016

Social Media Before and During Live Events

Twitter still seems to be the preferred social media platform for users in major live events like elections and, therefore, for advertisers.

Facebook has also been in the news over alleged fake news items that were supposed to have helped Trump get elected. Facebook seems to be the preferred platform for comments and news for the time leading up to live events.

Twitter said it was able to deliver more viewers than promised to advertisers on a US election night livestream, good news for the microblogging site as it tries to ward off growing competition for ad dollars from Snapchat and Instagram, reports Times of India. Twitter partnered with BuzzFeed to host an election night broadcast on Tuesday and attracted major advertisers, including Paramount Pictures, Amazon.com Inc's (AMZN.O) "Man in the High Castle," Activision Blizzard Inc's (ATVI.O) "Call of Duty," Johnnie Walker and Izod.

San Francisco-based Twitter declined to say how much it charged brands to be included in the livestream, but said by email that it overdelivered between two to three times on its live ad impressions that were guaranteed. Video from advertisers fetches higher rates than text and photo-based ads and is seen as key revenue source for Twitter. Snapchat has been building up its ad sales team ahead of next year's IPO and Instagram will take a larger role in growing Facebook Inc's (FB.O) ad revenue. At least one of the advertisers, PVH Corp's (PVH.N) Izod, is eager to work with Twitter more in the future.

Izod ran a 60-second video featuring presidential debate sensation Ken Bone in his trademark red Izod sweater. "We're going to look long and hard about increasing our presence there," said Mike Kelly, executive vice president of the Marketing Group, PVH's in-house agency. "We walked away a bit changed in our point of view." Twitter handled the ad sales, and split half the revenue with BuzzFeed, according to a source familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity. The BuzzFeed broadcast began around 6 p.m. (2300 GMT) and ended sometime after midnight (0500 GMT), and was watched by a total of 6.8 million unique viewers. The average minute audience, the best metric to use when comparing to a TV audience, was 165,000 viewers globally. By comparison, Fox News drew an average minute audience of 12.2 million.

The overperformance for advertisers came at a much-needed time for Twitter, which has staked its future on video. The company has made a point of getting advertisers to move toward video buys as a way of stemming its declining ad revenue growth. On Wednesday, chief operating officer Adam Bain, a key figure in building Twitter's ad business, announced he was leaving the company in what was seen as a big blow. Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto, who attended BuzzFeed's election night broadcast in New York, will replace Bain while still holding his current title until the company finds a new CFO.

Hosting BuzzFeed's stream was seen as a bit of an upset for Twitter, as most had expected BuzzFeed to work with Facebook instead. Unlike Facebook Live, Twitter's video strategy more closely mimics what viewers see on television. The company has signed deals with numerous US professional and college sports leagues, most notably with the National Football League, in an effort to both increase its stalled user base and court larger advertisers that have traditionally worked with television, but are looking to reach consumers who are not subscribed to a cable TV package. Shares of Twitter closed up nearly 1 percent at $18.55 on the New York Stock Exchange.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Indian Language Software needed for SMEs

Christopher Richard wants to be the Tata Consultancy Services for small-and-medium businesses in India, but he wants public cloud companies like Microsoft and Amazon to pay him for it, reports Economic Times. Richard's company - G7CR - offers SMEs customised software hosted on the Microsoft's Azure public cloud but does not charge them for the development costs. The SMEs just pay for the cost of using Microsoft's services, typically less than Rs 5,000 a month.

"Because I am a registered cloud service provider with Microsoft, you typically get about 15% of all the cloud spends you bring in. So that is my margin. Then are also other incentives that they have like sometimes there is a 20% cash back, though those are not constant," Richard told ET. G7CR's business model is not yet common in the software technology sector. Indian IT services companies typically only sell application development services to large players. SMEs typically have to buy off-the-shelf software products that are pay-per-use but that are not necessarily customisable.

Experts say affordable and easy-to-use software are the need of the hour in order to get more of the 50 million SMEs in India to begin to use technology. Large IT companies have tried to change that but haven't really succeeded. Tata Consultancy Services built and marketed its SME-focused iON platform five years ago. The initial attempt was not a success, though iON has since been reinvented as the pre-eminent examination platform in the country. "The real game-changer for SMEs in India will come when there is there is more software available in Indian languages. That is when it will take off. But we are seeing usage based models like this one as well," Praveen Bhadada, partner in charge of digital transformation at Zinnov, said.

Low-costs are also the key for companies to gain share in the potential $15 billion SME market. Richard said he lowers the cost of developing the software, which he promises to deliver in less than 45 days, by keeping the building blocks of most applications in a software library. Richard plans to fund the cloud vertical with up Rs 10 crore from his existing business. The company is targeting Rs 100 crore in revenue in the next 24 months.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Preparing for AI

With the major tech firms and startups investing in AI research and with the larger tech firms buying up AI companies like there's no tomorrow (see AI M and A), AI will clearly have a huge impact on jobs and services.

Investors believe it is "inevitable" that artificial intelligence (AI) will destroy millions of jobs and that governments are unprepared for such an impact, according to a survey published on Thursday, reports Times of India. Artificial Intelligence, or the process by which computers or robots take on tasks that need human intelligence, is one of the key themes of this week's Web Summit in Lisbon. The poll among 224 venture capitalists (VCs) attending the conference showed 53% believed AI would destroy millions of jobs and 93% saw governments as unprepared for this.

The survey also found that 83% of the investors canvassed expect Britain's exit from the European Union to damage Europe's economy and 77% believe it will damage British startups. London is widely seen as the main tech startup hub in Europe, thanks to its large pool of talent and a much bigger pool of funding than in rival centres. Cities like Berlin, Amsterdam and Lisbon are eager to attract more tech startups. 

The Web Summit, one of Europe's biggest tech conferences, is being held for the first time in Lisbon, with 53,000 attendees, after moving from Dublin where it was first launched in 2010. The venture capitalists taking part have more than $100 billion of capital in total to invest. The Web Summit conducted the poll on Nov. 7.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Rumours spread fast on social media and messaging apps

Rumours abound about the security features of the new currency notes in India.

The all-new Rs 2,000 currency notes hitting the market today are rumoured to be quite hi-tech, reports Times of India. Wonder what all technologies they are supposed to be embedded with GPS, nano-chip and camera, so claim the numerous messages doing rounds on WhatsApp. The high-value Rs 2,000 note with GPS nano-chip embedded is supposed to track the notes' location. The messages claim that the signal reflector in these chips share the precise location of the note. It is said to be so strong that it can be tracked even if the notes are kept 100 meters below the ground. Here's one of the WhatsApp message circulating:

Why RBI is issuing these 2000 Rupees Notes
The Rs 2,000 currency is designed keeping in mind to eradicate the black money issues using state of the art indigenous nano technology, every Rs. 2,000 currency note is embedded with a NGC (Nano GPS Chip).

The unique feature of the NGC is it doesn't need any power source. It only acts as a signal reflector. When a Satellite sends a signal requesting location the NGC reflects back the signal from the location, giving precise location coordinates, and the serial number of the currency back to the satellite, this way every NGC embedded currency can be easily tracked and located even if it is kept 120 meters below ground level. The NGC can't be tampered with or removed without damaging the currency note.

For those, still believing in the rumours, here's confirmation from Reserve Bank of India. RBI spokesperson Alpana Killawala told News18 that these rumours are nothing but "figment of imagination". She said that RBI has clearly detailed the security features of the new notes on its website. As per the salient features given on RBI's website the security features of the Rs 2,000 note include: Windowed security thread with inscriptions 'Bharat' (written in Hindi), RBI and 2000 on banknotes with colour shift. Colour of the thread changes from green to blue when the note is tilted. The notes are also visually impaired-friendly and include "Intaglio or raised printing of Mahatma Gandhi portrait, Ashoka Pillar emblem, bleed lines and identity mark".

On November 9, just hours after PM Modi announced the demonetisation of high-value notes, the Reserve Bank issued new series of notes for Rs 500 and Rs 2,000. The Rs 2,000 note, which is a first under the denomination, will be called the 'Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series' and has the motif of the low-cost mission to Mars, the Mangalayan, on the reverse, the RBI said. The base colour of the note will be magenta and the size of the note will be 66mm by 166mm.