Google Pixel 2 and iPhone 7 at Rs. 39,999, ‘Biggest Ever’ iPhone X Sale, and More Mobile Deals in Flipkart Sale

Google Pixel 2 and iPhone 7 at Rs. 39,999, 'Biggest Ever' iPhone X Sale, and More Mobile Deals in Flipkart Sale

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Pixel 2 offer includes a flat discount, apart from a card-based discount
  • Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days sale will be held from Thursday
  • There will also be discounts on iPhone 7 and Xiaomi Mi A1

The Google Pixel 2 is the company’s latest offering in the premium smartphone segment but the steep pricing has been putting off a lot of prospective buyers, especially in India. To woo back the pure Android lovers, Google and Flipkart are offering a major discount on the Pixel 2 during the latter’s Big Shopping Days sale, which starts on Thursday, December 7 and extends to Saturday, December 9. The Flipkart Big Shopping Days sale has a Mobile segment, and offers include discounts on the Xiaomi Mi A1, Redmi Note 4, popular iPhone models, as well as a limited stock sale of the iPhone X.

The Google Pixel 2’s base model will be available at Rs. 39,999 in Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days sale. This offer price will include a flat discount of Rs. 11,001 as well as a Rs. 10,000 discount that will be subject to card partners during the sale. Exchange offers with up to Rs. 18,000 discount will also be made available, and a BuyBack Guarantee of Rs. 36,500 has been announced.

 

Launched in India earlier this month, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are the latest flagship smartphones by Google. The smartphones have high-end hardware that includes high-resolution 18:9 OLED display panels, Snapdragon 835 SoCs, 4GB RAM, 64GB and 128GB onboard storage.

Apart from the Pixel 2, the iPhone 7 will be available at Rs. 39,999 as well in the upcoming sale in limited stocks. The Xiaomi Mi A1 will come at a discount of Rs. 2,000 and cost Rs. 12,999 on Flipkart during the Big Shopping Days sale. As we mentioned, Flipkart’s sale next week will also see the iPhone X coming back in stock, in what the e-commerce platform is promoting as the “biggest-ever” sale of the handset in the country so far.

The Flipkart sale will also see the first release of Redmi 5A (Rs. 5,999), Micromax Canvas Infinity Pro (Rs. 13,999) and Infinix Zero5 (Rs. 19,999) in the Indian market.

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[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Line, the Biggest Tech IPO of the Year, Struggles to Show Its Growth Plan Can Work

Line, the Biggest Tech IPO of the Year, Struggles to Show Its Growth Plan Can Work

In delaying its IPO by two years, Japanese messaging app company Line Corp bought time to correct weak financial reporting controls, work on its business plan, bolster staffing – and left billions of dollars on the table as its valuation shrivelled.

Line’s initial public offering in the next three weeks is set to raise about $1 billion, which given a global drought of such deals could make it the biggest tech listing this year, but sceptical fund managers point to tepid growth in Line’s home market and doubts about its prospects for regional expansion. They also question whether its advertising revenue strategy will work.

In seeking to earn more from its major Asian markets of Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan, Linewill try to generate more revenue from services such as advertising and offer more localized products, its IPO filing said.

The bulk of Line’s revenue comes from games and sales of emojis and electronic stickers, including Brown the bear and Cony, his flatulent rabbit girlfriend.

“Localisation of the service, of the marketing, of the stickers that we provide – this is very important,” CEO Takeshi Idezawa told Reuters in April.

Fund managers who have watched Line’s growth slow in a crowded global messaging app market assess the plan with caution.

“I’m not interested,” said Yasuo Sakuma, portfolio manager at Bayview Asset Management, which manages JPY 270 billion ($2.64 billion). “Its growth outlook is very poor.”

“Among the four countries that it’s focusing on, only Indonesia has big room for growth in use,” he added. “Even there, the business outlook is not that easy.”

Growth in Line’s monthly active users has tailed off after tripling across the world over the past three years. Last year, user numbers rose just 13 million to 218 million at the end of March, the IPO filing showed. The company isn’t providing much visibility about the future either – it says in its filing that limited operating history makes it “difficult” to forecast future results.

Globally, Line is the seventh-most used messenger app, data from researcher Statista shows, behind the likes of Facebook’s WhatsApp and Tencent’s WeChat.

Earthquake aftermath
The company will fix its IPO price range on Monday. There is no change to the listing’s schedule following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, a Line spokeswoman said on Friday.

The dual New York and Tokyo listing, set for July 14-15, would value Line at about JPY 588 billion ($5.75 billion) and make it the country’s largest listing since Japan Post’s $12 billion offering last year.

Line’s likely valuation is far less than the $10 billion-$20 billion that was expected by investors when South Korean parent Naver Corp previously talked of a Line listing in 2013-2014, although Line may not have had much choice but to wait.

Line declined to comment, citing a media blackout period ahead of the IPO.

Line’s messaging app was launched as NHN Japan in the aftermath of Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami to overcome downed communications, growing unexpectedly to become the country’s dominant mobile messaging platform over the next few years.

However, in that period, it identified what it described in its IPO filing as “material weaknesses” in controls over financial reporting.

Line has now tightened board and management approval for major transactions, it said in its prospectus, and crafted a strategy focusing on Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan, which account for more than half its users.

Line has also bolstered staff numbers by recruiting over 750 workers between December 2014 and March, its IPO filing shows, with designers and engineers among the recruits. It has around 2,540 full-time employees.

Pushed as value play
Idezawa, who became Line’s chief executive in March last year, has been key to tightened procedures, a person familiar with the matter said. Idezawa is known for his strictness on compliance-related matters, the person added.

Idezawa was previously chief executive of internet company Livedoor, joining that company a year after it was hit by a high-profile 2006 accounting scandal.

“When Line was first seriously considering an IPO around 2013, the overall company was pretty disorganised,” said a person involved in the IPO. “It was very much still a venture in terms of mindset. So a lot of people were hired to strengthen the company.”

Line has pitched its IPO to investors in terms of value and steady returns instead of explosive growth potential.

While that story has been met favourably by Japan’s risk-averse retail investors – Tokyo brokerages including Daiwa Securities say retail investors have shown strong interest in Line shares – fund managers are wary of Line’s ad-driven growth push.

“I went to the company’s meeting with investors… but nothing moved me,” said a fund manager at a major Japanese asset management firm who declined to be named because of company rules against discussing individual shares. “It’s not clear how it can make money out of its advertisement business.”

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Tags: Apps, Line, Line apps
[“Source-Gadgets”]

Myntra generates biggest monthly sales in January

Myntra CEO Ananth Narayanan.

Myntra CEO Ananth Narayanan.

Online fashion retailer Myntra.com said that it generated annualized gross sales of $800 million this month, a 70% jump from last January, as the firm splurged on advertising to promote its end-of-season fashion sale.

Volumes in January were boosted by Myntra’s private brands, increased contribution of international brands such as Marks & Spencer and Forever 21 and strong growth in women’s products, Myntra said in a statement. The company generates a fifth of its business from higher margin private brands such as Roadster, HRX and Dressberry.

“January has been the biggest month ever for Myntra. Our focus for the year will be to attain positive gross profit while maintaining scale during the year,” said Ananth Narayanan, who joined Myntra as chief executive officer in October.

Fashion retail is a highly seasonal business with January comprising single-biggest month for retailers, both online and offline. Stores offer discounts of anywhere between 20% and 70% to lure shoppers as brands liquidate their end of season stock during the month. After January, monthly sales drop back again to more normal levels.

Narayanan said that Myntra’s annualized gross sales will be around $600-650 million by March.

The company has a target of reaching $1 billion in gross sales by March 2017, by which time it also expects to be profitable.

Gross sales exclude discounts and product returns. Net sales tend to be much lower.

For instance, for year ended March 2015, Myntra, which is owned by Flipkart Ltd, reported a net loss of Rs.729.2 crore on net sales of Rs.758.5 crore, according to documents with Registrar of Companies (RoC).

In that month, Myntra’s gross sales were anywhere between $350 million and $400 million.

Myntra, which is looking to cut losses under Narayanan, said it reduced discounts by six percentage points and supply chain cost by five percentage points in the Diwali quarter, compared with the preceding quarter.

In January too while discounts rose compared with December, they were still lower by five percentage points compared with the same month in 2015.

To try and cut discounts, Myntra is aiming to create social networks for fashion enthusiasts, encouraging them to share tips on these websites as well as read articles and see videos.

By getting customers hooked on to its app, Myntra hopes they will be willing to buy more full-price products.

Late last year, the company launched a revamped version of its app to boost customer engagement. The updated app has features such as a fashion feed (similar to that of Facebook Inc.), a forum for users to interact with each other and content on fashion brands.

The online fashion store also said it cut supply chain costs by five percentage points in the Diwali quarter,primarily because of economies of scale and use of technology that helped it predict its delivery routes in a cost-efficient manner.

Myntra shut its website and became an app-only online store in May in attempt to dominate mobile commerce. A majority of online retail, though not nearly all, is expected to happen through smartphones by 2020.

To prepare the organization for this, Myntra became an app-only platform.

Initially, sales dropped for the first two or three months, but Myntra said that its sales growth returned to normalized levels soon after. Analysts are still sceptical of the app-only move, especially as rivals Jabong, Amazon India and Snapdeal are snapping away at Flipkart-Myntra.

[“source-Livemint”]

MGS 5’s ending IS finished argues Japan’s biggest Metal Gear expert (but it’s complicated)

WARNING: WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE ENDING SO THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

There’s no doubt that MGS 5 is an excellent game but the odd pacing and strange ending led many to argue that it was ultimately unfinished – with the ongoing disintegration of Kojima and Konami’s relationship clearly being held up as the culprit.

It didn’t help that one piece of content, the game’s 51st chapter, titled Kingdom of the Flies, was apparently cut and only turned up on a bonus Blu-ray disc in the collector’s edition of MGS 5.

Much of the discussion about whether MGS 5 got the ending it deserves hinges on how integral this missing piece was to the story (it’s something we’ve discussed at length before). Which is where Kenji Yano comes in. He’s the author of ‘METAL GEAR SOLID Naked’, a hugely authoritative Japanese book on the series, as well as the editor of several Japanese MGS novelisations. He’s basically probably one of the few people in the world that has a Kojima-level grasp on the series.

He’s spoken on the ending previously, talking to Famitsu in December, but his take on what happened has only recently been translated. As far as he’s concerned, Episode 51 is not “essential to the game.” Instead it has become “an outlet for venting all the unease and confusion” that followed the end game reveal that you’d actually been playing as an impostor the whole time. “Up until Episode 46, The Man Who Sold The World, players experience the story as Snake,” explains Kenji, “but then they have the rug pulled out from under them.”

One thing Kenji is sure about is that “as a commercial product and physical thing Metal Gear is definitely over.” (Which might come as news to Konami as it prepares to make a non-Koj MGS 6.) However, he also thinks that “in a way it isn’t,” highlighting a passage from Moby Dick (a reference that runs rife through the entire game). The passage in question involves the Moby Dick character Ishmael lamenting his role as narrator (the “shabby part of the voyage”) before taking the place of Ahab’s bowman, “when that bowsman assumed the vacant post”. Sounds a little like the role swapping in MGS 5 to you?

As I mentioned earlier, we’ve talked about MGS 5’s ending before  and spookily a lot of what Kenji says ties in to our own interpretation:

“If MGS5 is Kojima’s final MGS game, it’s clear he is passing on ownership of the series to us. Not only do MGS5’s open-world systems make you author of its legacy (each gamer’s story will be their own), but he is deliberately stepping back from didactic cut-scenes and holding our hand. It couldn’t be any more clear: we are Big Boss now”

The elements of confusion and ambivalence, making it hard to pin an ending down more clearly, appear deliberate. In a translation of Kojima’s own thoughts on the game, he says, “there is a blank space, but it will not be filled. In that blank space there is always a hero. Because there is a blank space, you can advance ahead. It is this blank space exactly that is ‘V’” Kojima also explains the idea that the player “(as Ahab, or BB’s double) is facing up to this ‘blank space’…” When you think about it, even the game’s reveal was built around the blank spaces that appeared in the logo.

Finally, in the same translation Kojima actually added extra fuel to the ‘Metal Gear is totally over’ fire (in his eyes) by talking about the series’ 28 year lifespan and quoting author, Dennis Lehane: “No matter what kind of series it is, there is a time that it must end.”

[“source-gamesradar”]