India’s Crackdown on Chinese Technology Companies Gathering Pace

India’s Crackdown on Chinese Technology Companies Gathering Pace

HIGHLIGHTS

  • UCWeb was earlier reported to be leaking data from India to China
  • UC Browser has over 100 million monthly active users in India
  • The matter is being looked into by government before it takes any action

India is intensifying a crackdown on Chinese technology companies with a government official saying security testing of China’s UC Browser is being done to see if it’s leaking data.

Testing on the popular browser made by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s UCWeb is under way and the government is awaiting a report before deciding on any action, Ajay Prakash Sawhney, secretary in the Ministry of Information Technology, said on Wednesday. UC Browser has over 100 million monthly active users in India and claims over 50 percent of the mobile browser market in the country.

The IT Ministry said earlier this month that it was focusing on “securing Indian cyberspace” and its digital infrastructure. It directed over two dozen smartphone companies to provide detailed written responses by Monday on their “safety and security practices, architecture, frameworks, guidelines and standards.” The companies included prominent Chinese device makers such as Xiaomi, Lenovo, Oppo, Vivo and Gionee as well as global brands Apple and Samsung and Indian companies.

While the government hasn’t singled out Chinese phone companies, it noted in the directive that mobile devices have achieved 75 percent penetration in the Indian market and “there’s a need to ensure the safety and security of the devices.”

Brands such as Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and Lenovo have improved their market share, accounting for over half of the smartphone shipments to India for the second successive quarter ending in June, according to data from researcher IDC. Xiaomi, which is fast closing the gap with the country’s leading brand Samsung, plans to open 100 brick and mortar stores in the next two years to further its market share.

Samsung, Apple, Micromax, Oppo and Vivo did not respond to emails seeking comment on the government’s directive. Xiaomi declined to comment.

Border standoff
The security audit comes amid a tense standoff between the armies of India and China over territory in the tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan.

India’s sudden directive has puzzled phone makers. “Let’s not play hide and seek. If the government wants that Indian data should not go out, it should say so decisively,” Pankaj Mohindroo, national president of the Indian Cellular Association, said in a phone interview.

The government could be seeking to locate data hosting servers in India, create a national firewall for the apps and create a standard for a secure smartphone, he said.

It’s not just the growing market share of Chinese brands that worries the government, but also that the bulk of components are directly imported from China. “Over 95 percent of the components come from China or are made by Chinese-owned companies in Taiwan or elsewhere, nothing is made in India other than chargers, batteries and headsets,” said Sudhir Hasija, chairman of Karbonn Mobiles Pvt, a domestic budget phone maker.

“There’s a feeling that China collects data through their chip sets from users,” said Hasija. “This is the worry of the whole world and this is also the worry of the Indian government.”

India’s imports of electronics could rise to about $300 billion (roughly Rs. 19,22,538 crores) by 2020 with demand increasing to $400 billion (roughly Rs. 25,63,383 crores), according to a June forecast by The Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India, an industry body.

“This could be the first step to getting technology companies to set up servers within India,” said Ravinder Zutshi, a former deputy managing director of Samsung India and the ex-chief of the country’s leading consumer electronics manufacturers’ body. “This could be the government’s way of ensuring that there’s no data leaking outside the country’s borders,” Delhi-based Zutshi said by in a phone conversation.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

AI-powered filter app Prisma wants to sell its tech to other companies

Prisma, the Russian company best known for its AI-powered photo filters, is shifting to B2B. The company won’t retire its popular app, but says in the future, it will focus on selling machine vision tools to other tech firms.

“We see big opportunities in deep learning and communication,” Prisma CEO and co-founder Alexey Moiseenkov told The Verge. “We feel that a lot of companies need expertise in this area. Even Google is buying companies for computer vision. We can help companies put machine vision in their app because we understand how to implement the technology.” The firm has launched a new website — prismalabs.ai — in order to promote these services.

Prisma will offer a number of off-the-shelf vision tools, including segmentation (separating the foreground of a photo from the background), face mapping, and both scene and object recognition. The company’s expertise is getting these sorts of systems — powered by neural networks — to run locally on-device. This can be a tricky task, but avoiding using the cloud to power these services can result in apps that are faster, more secure, and less of a drain on phone and tablet battery life.

Although Prisma’s painting-inspired filters were all the rage last year (the app itself was released in June 2015), they were soon copied by the likes of Facebook, which might account for the Russian company’s change in direction.

Moiseenkov denies this is the case, and says it wasn’t his intention to compete with bigger social networks. “We never thought we were a competitor of Facebook — we’re a small startup, with a small budget,” he said. But, he says, the popularity of these deep learning filters shows there are plenty of consumer applications for the latest machine vision tech.

Moiseenkov says his company will continue to support the Prisma app, and that it will act as a showcase for the firm’s latest experiments. He says the app still has between 5 million and 10 million monthly active users, most of which are based in the US. The company also started experimenting with selling sponsored filters on its main app last year, and says it will continue to do so. It also launched an app for turning selfies into chat stickers.

There have been rumors that Prisma would get bought out by a bigger company. Moiseenkov visited Facebook’s headquarters last year, and the US tech giant has made similar acquisitions in the past — buying Belarus facial filter startup MSQRD in March 2016. When asked if the company would consider a similar deal, co-founder Aram Airapetyan replied over email: “We want to go on doing what we do and what we can do best. The whole team is super motivated and passionately committed to what we do

Source:-theverge

Walmart Holds Open Call 2017, 500 Made in USA Companies Compete for Store Shelf Space

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

Recently, 500 companies — mostly small businesses and startups — went to Walmart (NYSE:WMT) company headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, to pitch their products to company buyers.

If they’re selected, they’ll get to sell their products at Walmart stores and on the retailers website. It could mean huge growth for those small companies. But there are challenges involved as well.

This is the fourth Open Call event Walmart has held.

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

This year, Walmart is specifically looking for American companies and is promoting American manufacturing. So companies that sell products that are made in America could have a good chance of getting their products placed in Walmart stores or even getting the opportunity to manufacture some of Walmart’s private label products.

Walmart Open Call 2017

Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart vice president for U.S. Sourcing and Manufacturing said in a statement, “While finding products our customers want is a year-round focus for our buying teams, Walmart’s annual Open Call is a special opportunity to connect our buyers with companies that are manufacturing products in the U.S. and to identify new and unique product solutions.”

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

American manufacturing has been experiencing a resurgence in some sectors. So this type of open call allows Walmart to potentially tap into some interesting new markets while also taking advantage of some of the positive public perception that often comes with supplying American-made products and supporting job growth and the U.S. economy.

But for the businesses in attendance, the opportunity could be even more significant.

Walmart is the world’s largest retailer. So getting products featured on store shelves or on Walmart.com could provide a huge sales boost.

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

And the significance of that opportunity was not lost on the small businesses in attendance, some of which went to extra lengths to put on a great presentation for their products.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

In fact, nearly 100 companies received deals on the spot. And dozens more will continue to have conversations with Walmart about future opportunities.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

The companies that receive deals from Walmart could also gain some local notoriety and extra coverage for their participation.

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

Overall, this type of event provides a unique opportunity for small businesses, many of which face major roadblocks in getting their products in front of large retailers or corporations.

Of course, this also means that those small businesses that receive deals will need to step up production in order to meet that increased demand. But for the businesses that can take on the extra work, it’s a potentially huge opportunity.

[“Source-smallbiztrends”]

BlackBerry Direct Sales Woos Small Businesses and Companies With Cheap Unlocked Phones

Just last month, BlackBerry announced an interesting sales initiative dubbed the BlackBerry Direct Sales Program. The program is supposed to, for the first time, allow IT administrators and business owners to directly purchase and deploy in-volume unlocked BlackBerry devices from the company’s Smartphone Business Sales Team, and now their efforts seem to be paying off.

“We’re starting to see a very positive reaction from our customers,” BlackBerry ecommerce product marketing manager Richard Lamb told Nicholas Greene in a BlackBerry post. “People are happy to hear from BlackBerry, and happy to talk to our team.”

According to BlackBerry, a variety of features are attracting businesses to the program. Here are the big ones.

Blackberry Direct Sales Features

Cost and Convenience

BlackBerry says that unlocked BlackBerry devices that are sold directly from the company are significantly cheaper compared with those sold by carriers and that buying unlocked devices this way can slash total cost of ownership over several years.

Businesses “don’t have to worry about the long-term costs of subsidies, and they’re able to negotiate better service plans, as well,” explains BlackBerry sales representative Elliott Coulter. “This can save them anywhere from 75 to 100 dollars per device.”

Businesses and companies that purchase directly from BlackBerry enjoy a 30-day money back guarantee, dedicated account manager, one year complimentary support, one year manufacturer’s warranty, volume purchasing and payment advantages as well as free shipping that significantly reduces the device costs. The only catch here is that as a business, you must be willing to buy in bulk.

A Wide Range of Devices

Businesses are enjoying a wider selection of BlackBerry devices. You can ask for products that may be hard to come by in your region. These may include models such as the BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition and BlackBerry Leap.

Direct and Dedicated Line of Support

Businesses that are using the BlackBerry Direct Sales Program are enjoying a direct line of support and considerable security expertise.

“When customers contact the direct handheld sales team, they’re dealing with BlackBerry experts,” says Coulter. “We work with all OSes and brands, and can get answers much more quickly than if they were going through a third party. Small businesses are used to trolling support forums or going to Google for answers — we connect them directly with a product manager, who can assist them with any problem they encounter.”

Other advantages accompanying the BlackBerry Direct Sales Program include deeply customized service for customers already working for those that have ties with BlackBerry, fast delivery and deployment and superior security and productivity — something that BlackBerry has become known for over the years.

This program will most likely benefit both small and big companies, but an immediate impact would be to smartphone retailers that are looking for unlocked, high-quality smartphones at affordable prices. The fact that they can get direct support and 30-day money back guarantees makes it even better.

Image: BlackBerry

[“source-smallbiztrends”]