Microsoft Expands Azure Cloud Service in Push for $10 Billion Pentagon Contract

Microsoft Expands Azure Cloud Service in Push for $10 Billion Pentagon Contract

Microsoft Corp said on Tuesday its expanded Azurecloud service to help government clients save data on their own servers would be available by the end of the first quarter of 2019, as it battles with Amazon.com for a $10 billion (roughly Rs. 74,200 crores) Pentagon contract.

The two companies are left in the fray for the lucrative contract after Alphabet’s Google dropped out on Monday, saying the company’s new ethical guidelines do not align with the project.

Pentagon’s JEDI, or Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, cloud computing solution contract is part of the Department of Defense’s efforts to modernise its IT infrastructure.

The expanded Azure Government Secret cloud service will make Microsoft “a strong option for the JEDI contract,” said Julia White, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure, adding that the company is capable of meeting the highest classification requirement for handling “top secret US classified data”.

[“source=gsmarena”]

Spotify to launch music streaming service in India to stay ahead of Apple

Spotify to launch music streaming service in India to stay ahead of Apple

The world’s largest music streaming service, Spotify, is looking to bring its service to India, one of the fastest-growing internet markets in the world, as it looks to boost growth and stay ahead of rival Apple.Announcing Spotify’s plans to list on public markets on April 3, CEO Daniel Ek said the Stockholm-based company was planning an entry into some of the largest markets in the world. Spotify is taking a rather unusual path to go public and will directly sell shares to the public.”We are working on launching in some of the biggest markets in the world, including India, Russia, and Africa, which have a very rich musical culture,” Ek said during his presentation. He said that post IPO, the company would continue to focus on growth rather than turning on the profit machine.While no further details were divulged on when Spotify could launch its service here or its pricing in the country, the company did disclose in its IPO filing last week that it has leased office space in Mumbai. The company has also made ex-Googler Akshat Harbola as its Head of Market Operations in India.Plans to enter India and other fast-growing markets comes as industry analysts say Apple’s rate of signing up new paid subscribers is far outstripping that of Spotify’s. In the US, the largest music streaming market in the world, Apple Music could beat Spotify in the next few quarters to become the leading player there.Despite its service not being available in India, there already are several thousand users in the country who use Spotify via VPNs. Spotify said that the awareness of its brand among users in India is already high, alluding to the fact that the company would be able to achieve organic growth in India.However, India’s market for music streaming is witnessing a marked shift now.

While Times Group-owned Gaana, which recently received $115 million in funding led by Tencent, currently leads the India market in terms of a sheer number of users, competition in the space is becoming cutthroat.In India, Apple charges the lowest subscription fee for its Apple Music service anywhere in the world. While a person in the US pays $9.99 every month to access Apple Music, in India the monthly charge is just Rs 120 or under $2. However, the company has failed to make a big dent in India largely due to its lack of regional content.Amazon, the latest entrant into India’s music streaming space is offering customers access to its Prime Music as part of its Rs 999 yearly Prime loyalty programme. The company has already scored millions of users via its video streaming service and free expedited delivery service, but has also tied up with several large regional music producers to bring their content on its platform.Spotify will need to drop its prices from $9.99 per month to something more affordable in India if it wants to grow its base of paid users in the country. It will be seen if the company can maintain the same pricing here but still convert a free user to a paid one in under 12 months as it claimed was its average during its financial presentation yesterday.

[“Source-business-standard”]

Uber Re-Enters Barcelona With Professional Driver Service

Uber Re-Enters Barcelona With Professional Driver Service

Uber is seeking a second chance in Barcelona three years after it was forced to shut down in the face of taxi driver protests – by introducing a fully licenced ride-hailing service that meets local transportation laws.

Its new UberX service will operate with hundreds of professional, licenced drivers in contrast to the UberPopservice it ran until late 2014 using non-professional drivers to pick up and drop off passengers, Uber said on Tuesday.

Uber is looking to make a clean break with business practices that resulted in a litany of regulatory battles, driver and consumer scandals and court cases.

“We made mistakes along the way,” Uber General Manager for Southwest Europe Carles Lloret said in a company blog post.

“We are changing the way we do business, putting integrity at the core of every decision we make and working hard to earn the trust of the cities in which we operate. Barcelona is no exception.”

Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in January he was focused on “responsible growth” as he seeks to put an end to the take-no-prisoners culture he inherited upon joining the pioneer of ride-hailing services last year.

Two years ago, Uber re-introduced UberX using professional drivers in Madrid. In December 2014, a judge had ordered all Uber services to be shut down in Spain’s capital city.

Decrying Uber’s return as unfair competition to their livelihoods, taxi drivers have mounted a series of 24-hour strikes in Madrid, Barcelona and other Spanish cities over the past year.

“We are fully committed to working with the entire sector – including taxis – to improve mobility in Barcelona together,” said Lloret.

San Francisco-based Uber pre-emptively closed its services in Barcelona in December 2014 as local officials geared up to pass legislation against the UberPop service, which city authorities legally barred the following year.

Protests by taxi associations over the past year against Uber have also targeted Madrid-based Cabify, a rival founded in 2012 that operates in Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

Uber operates a range of ride-hailing services in more than 600 cities around the world.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Apple buys app development service Buddybuild

Apple continues to ramp up its efforts to court developers by making it easier to create and iterate their apps for its platforms. The iPhone giant has now acquired Buddybuild, a Vancouver-based app tools startup that describes itself as “mobile iteration platform” focused on continuous integration and debugging tools — essentially giving an app development team a simple workflow for iterating and pushing their apps out into the world through GitHub, BitBucket or GitLab.

Apple confirmed the acquisition directly to us, and the startup also noted the move in a blog post this afternoon.

No financial terms have been disclosed for the deal. Apple tells TechCrunch that the team (currently employing around 40 or so engineers) will stay put in BC, a fact that the startup celebrated by noting that it’s “always been proud to be a Canadian company.” 

As part of the acquisition, Buddybuild will be rolled into Xcode, Apple’s suite of development tools for iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS, although Apple and Buddybuild have not given a specific timeline of when that will happen. 

Buddybuild’s service will continue to be available to existing customers as a standalone product through the company’s site — though new customers will no longer be accepted through that portal, beginning today.

But the deal also means the effective end of the Android app development that the company added last February. That aspect of the service will be sunset in March. Apple similarly discontinued Android compatibility when it acquired TestFlight, effectively removing a key development tool from Google’s ecosystem. 

The system should fit nicely into Apple’s existing set of tools, bringing additional methods for testing, debugging and deploying mobile apps through a proprietary channel.

More to the point, it should make developing and iterating apps for iOS that much easier than before.

Apps are a key battleground for smartphone makers: they lure users to buy their devices, and when the pace of smartphone acquisition slows down as markets mature, apps increasingly become a revenue stream in their own right.

Apple, whose iPhones have long been outstripped by devices powered by Google’s Android in terms of market share, still generates considerably more revenue from apps than the latter. Of the $17 billion generated in Q3 from apps globally (excluding China), Apple accounted for around $11 billion of it, according to App Annie.

But with Google outstripping Apple in downloads, you can see some of the math that might lead Apple to making sure its platform and app tools remain developer-friendly and replete with new features and tools to make it easier to use.

The move echoes Apple’s acquisition of TestFlight back in 2014, which began to require users to employ Xcode to utilize the service.  

Buddybuild was founded in 2015 by former Amazon employees Dennis Pilarinos and Christopher Stott. In its nearly three years of existence, the startup has managed to raise around $8.8 million, including a $7.6 million Series A led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield back in May of 2016.

Stewart Butterfield has served as an advisor for the company, and Slack has become one of its more prominent clients. The remaining roster of existing customers is an impressive one, including Mozilla, Hootsuite, Reddit, SoundCloud, FourSquare and The New York Times.

Buddybuild added in its blog post that Vancouver has become something of a hotbed for software development, and adding Apple’s extra cache should make local recruitment even easier if the company does decide to grow.

[“Source-techcrunch”]