Maharashtra Bets Big on AI as Global Business Conclave Kicks Off

Maharashtra Bets Big on AI as Global Business Conclave Kicks Off

Maharashtra is betting big on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning by setting up India’s first ever centre for research in AI and the state government is collaborating with the Wadhwani Foundation which is investing over 200 crores to set up the centre in Mumbai. The centre was inaugurated by the Prime Minister on Sunday evening. It will look at solutions for traffic management, agricultural distress and rural and urban healthcare, problems that the state has been unable to resolve.

It’s being described as Maharashtra’s leap of faith in the technology domain

and this centre will put Mumbai on India’s technology map, officials say. “This is in line with the vision of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister in order to create a future ready environment for the state,” says Kaustubh Dhavse, Officer on Special Duty to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The effort the founders say will be to make the centre a hub for AI in India. Co-founder and former CEO of Information Technology company iGate says the time is just right.

“This would be the perfect time to take the power of AI and apply it to accelerating social development. Interestingly with all of this AI work being done all over the world all of it is being designed for commercial interests and very little is done being done to help people at the bottom of the pyramid and that is what our institute will focus on,” Sunil Wadhwani, Founder of Wadhwani Initiative for Sustainable Health (WISH Foundation) told NDTV.

The institute will be headed Dr. P Anandan, a renowned researcher in computer vision and artificial intelligence with a career spanning over 30 years in academia and industry. “AI is the cutting edge of high tec technology. Moreover, AI for social good is not being done anywhere. There is no institute anywhere in India or abroad whose primary focus is to develop AI technology and apply it to social good. So in that sense, Mumbai becomes a leader right away,” Dr. Anandan said.

The industry too believes that India can become a hub for AI…given its big data potential. Bob Lord, Chief Digital Officer at global technology giant, IBM says “That data will allow you to have different insights than not being able to monitor it all and allow us to make better decisions for our consumers, businesses and schools.”

“I think it’s really exciting and we would like to have more of it in our school and give more access to it so that we can also give birth to future innovations and disruptions,” said Radha Kapur, Founder & ED of Dice Districts.

As the magnetic Maharashtra Business conclave kicks off, the technology sector is going to be key in terms of investments and Maharashtra is keen to showcase its potential in the technology sector to put Mumbai on India’s technology map.


Google Parent Alphabet Reports Strong Results on Mobile Ads, YouTube, Other Bets

Google Parent Alphabet Reports Strong Results on Mobile Ads, YouTube, Other Bets

Google’s parent company Alphabet on Thursday reported profit in the recently-ended quarter leapt as money poured in from ads delivered to mobile devices and returns improved on “other bets.”

Alphabet profit was up 32.4 percent to $6.7 billion (roughly Rs. 43,555 crores) on in the quarter on revenue that increased 24 percent to $27.8 billion (roughly Rs. 1,80,724 crores), up 24 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Chief financial officer Ruth Porat credited “strength across Google and Other Bets.”

The earnings topped market expectations, and Alphabet shares jumped in after-market trade on the Nasdaq exchange before concerns about growing expenses apparently caused them to settle back a bit to be up nearly 3 percent to $1,021.

“It is what everybody looks at every time: what is going on with expenses?” independent analyst Rob Enderle told AFP.

“For the most part they seem to be well managed, but you watch to make sure they remember they still have limits even though they are printing money.”

While mobile ads were a main area of growth, they brought with them higher traffic acquisition costs, pushing up Google expenses in a trend seen as unavoidable.

Investing in cloud services and artificial intelligence also means spending more on data centers to provide the massive computing power involved.

“I’ve been really proud of the progress this quarter; launching popular new products and continuing to grow our business in new areas,” Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said in an earnings call with analysts.

“It’s been particularly exciting to see our early bet on artificial intelligence pay off and go from a research project to something that can solve new problems for 1 billion people a day.”

YouTube continued to see “phenomenal growth” with more than 1.5 billion people spending an average of an hour a day watching videos there on mobile devices, and surging use on television screens in homes, according to Pichai.

He boasted of progress winning businesses over to Google services hosted in the internet cloud, where the company competes with Amazon and Microsoft in that market.

Pichai also said that opening day pre-orders for recently unveiled Pixel 2 smartphones were double that seen for the first-generation Pixel.

Google is “seriously committed to making hardware” as well as working with partners such as South Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung which is a major producer of smartphones powered by Android software made available free by the US Internet company.

“The intersection of hardware and software is how you drive computing forward,” Pichai said.

“I think it’s important we thoughtfully put our opinion forward.”

Smartphones and other devices “made by Google” can showcase the potential of its Android and Chrome software, setting a bar for partners.

A corporate reorganisation started two years ago created Alphabet, which has holdings including cash-engine Google and ventures devoted to innovative “moonshots” such as Waymo self-driving car unit and a Loon project for delivering internet service from high-altitude balloons.

Subsidiaries other than Google were put into an “other bets” group which saw revenue in the quarter rise to $302 million (roughly Rs. 1,963 crores) from $197 million (roughly Rs. 1,280 crores) during the same three-month period last year.

Google ads accounted for the bulk of Alphabet revenue, contributing $27.47 billion (roughly Rs. 1,80,369 crores), according to the earnings release.

Alphabet earlier this year spun off a little-known unit working on geothermal power called Dandelion, which will begin offering residential energy services.

Dandelion chief executive Kathy Hannun said her team had been working for several years “to make it easier and more affordable to heat and cool homes with the clean, free, abundant, and renewable energy source right under our feet,” and that the efforts culminated in the creation of an independent company outside of Alphabet.

Meanwhile, Alphabet’s life sciences unit Verily announced a study to track people for years, right down to their genetics, in a quest for insights into staying healthy.

Alphabet also owns Nest, which recently expanded its line-up of smart home devices to include a security system.

Nest, Fiber, and Verily were said to be top performing other bets in the quarter.

Waymo on Thursday announced plans to begin testing self-driving cars in notoriously troublesome ice and snow conditions in the US state of Michigan this winter.


Freedom 251 Maker Bets on Bollywood to Push HD LED TV Orders

Freedom 251 Maker Bets on Bollywood to Push HD LED TV Orders


  • The 31.5-inch HD LED TV costs Rs. 9,990
  • The launch event is set for July 25
  • Bookings will begin from July 26

After dispatching 5,000 units of Freedom 251 smartphones priced at less than $4 to those who had booked the device in the cash on delivery (COD) mode, its Noida-based maker is ready for customer feedback and its next big bet: HD LED TV.

According to Ringing Bells CEO Mohit Goel, the firm has booked a sports stadium in Noida where the world’s cheapest HD LED TV – at Rs 9,990 – will be unveiled in the presence of Bollywood personalities.

“On July 25, we are organising a big event in Noida where the star cast of the upcoming film Dishoom – John Abraham, Varun Dhawan, Jacqueline Fernandez and Akshaye Khanna – will join us for the HD LED TV launch,” Goel told IANS on Tuesday.

Bookings for the 31.5-inch HD LED TV will begin from July 26. The delivery of LED TVs will start from August 15.

Before the mega event, Goel will personally distribute nearly 200 Freedom 251 smartphones in his home town Garhipukhta in Shamli district, western Uttar Pradesh.

“I am planning to go to Shamli on July 14 to hand over 200 Freedom 251 units to those who booked the device from these areas purely because of the emotional connection as I hail from Shamli,” he told IANS.

According to Goel, the company has received nearly 48,000 fresh booking orders for the newly-launched four feature phones, two smartphones and three power banks last week.

“These customers will also receive their units on cash of delivery (COD) mode. I expect the booking numbers to rise many fold in the days to come,” he added.

The four feature phones are available under the names of Hit (Rs. 699), King (Rs. 899), Boss (Rs. 999) and Raja (Rs. 1,099).

The two smartphones – Elegant 3G and Elegant 4G – are available for Rs. 3,999 and Rs. 4,999, respectively.

The company said it has tied up with RV solutions Pvt Ltd for the distribution of the devices.

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Tags: Freedom 251, HD TV, Home Entertainment, India, LED TV, Ringing Bells, Televisions

App Annie bets on Southeast Asia, India to capture smartphone surge

App Annie—derived from App Nanny, to imply it takes care of all things app—is mostly unknown outside of tech circles yet counts the biggest names in the industry among its customers.App Annie—derived from App Nanny, to imply it takes care of all things app—is mostly unknown outside of tech circles yet counts the biggest names in the industry among its customers.

Singapore: A Singaporean shophouse may seem an unlikely symbol of Asia’s mobile boom. Yet one muggy evening in March, about a hundred people packed App Annie Ltd’s new and larger offices to mark its plan to capture data on millions of new smartphone users.

The start-up will triple staffing at its office in Singapore to 25 people this year as it targets new customers in India and Southeast Asia for the data it compiles on apps, how often they are used and the revenue generated. That’s being bankrolled by a recent $63 million funding, which also helped pay for the soiree attended by executives from the industry’s biggest names: Google Inc., Sequoia Capital and Zalora among them.

App Annie is going where the demand is. Spending on mobile apps in Asia is expected to surge 24% to $28.3 billion this year—double that of the Americas—as rising incomes spur smartphone use in markets such as Indonesia. With more than 150 workers in China, where the company got its start before relocating to San Francisco, the Singapore expansion will help it measure the users around the region who’re bypassing earlier technologies.

“Devices are getting cheaper and many consumers are experiencing their first Internet experience through an app in smartphone,” said Bertrand Schmitt, the company’s bespectacled 39-year-old founder. “Asia Pacific is already big and it keeps getting bigger. For us, that makes the region very exciting as a market. Revenue and downloads, growth are expected to be big.”

App Annie expects China to overtake the US this year to become the largest single app market with an estimated $11.8 billion in revenue. China is already the world’s biggest smartphone market while India has passed the US for second place.

The surging number of mobile devices and people going online through apps for the first time are fueling Asia’s mobile software arena, said Avinash Sundaram, a research manager for enterprise mobility at IDC in Singapore.

“Asia is a clean slate and there are no legacy systems people have to worry about,” he said. “So they have the freedom to create new business models, which is helping to drive this app economy in Asia.” He cited Tencent Holdings Ltd’s payments- to-voice messaging service WeChat as an example.

App Annie—derived from App Nanny, to imply it takes care of all things app—is mostly unknown outside of tech circles yet counts the biggest names in the industry among its customers. It competes with Yahoo Inc.’s Flurry and Apptopia, making money by collating data from different sources and then signing up clients for subscriptions of $10,000 to more than $1 million a year.

Game developers to sharing-economy players rely on its data and analytics to keep track of their businesses as well as their competitors’. Google uses App Annie’s services, as does Chinese search rival Baidu Inc. while other customers include Samsung Electronics Co., LinkedIn Corp. and Inc.

In favour

About one-fifth of App Annie’s customers are venture capital firms including Redpoint Ventures, according to Schmitt. They use the data to inform their investment decisions and avoid pitfalls as the global economy cools. Its own backers include Sequoia and Institutional Venture Partners.

Market trends appear in their favour. Consumer spending on mobile apps in the Asia Pacific region, home to more than half the global population, is expected to reach $57.5 billion by 2020, App Annie estimated in February. That’s more than half of the estimated worldwide consumer spending on apps of $101.1 billion.

In markets like India, the influx of smartphones priced below $50 is boosting adoption and downloads. In November 2015, average data usage per smartphone user in India and Indonesia grew by more than 50% on year, according to App Annie.

Longer term, the shift to a mobile-oriented economy is inevitable, he said.

“Every business is becoming an app business,” Schmitt said. “Because people are spending so much time on the phone, you need an app to provide a constant, connected experience for your consumers.”