Connect with us

News

Google threatens to block Australians over media law

Published

on

By Andrew LEESON

Google threatened Friday to block Australians from using its search service unless the government changed landmark legislation to make the internet giant pay news outlets for their content.

Google Australia managing director Mel Silva warned a Senate committee in Canberra that the world-first media law was “unworkable” and would undermine the functioning of the internet.

“If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia,” Silva said, the first time the company has made such a threat after months of difficult negotiations over the draft law.

The legislation was introduced last year to force Google and Facebook to pay local media organisations to host news content or face millions of dollars in fines, in one of the most aggressive moves globally to check the power of the US tech giants.

Under the laws, the firms would be required to compensate Australian media outlets, ranging from Rupert Murdoch’s giant News Corp to public broadcasters ABC and SBS, for publishing snippets of their content in search results.

The most controversial part of the law would require Google and Facebook to enter mandatory arbitration with media companies if they cannot reach agreement over the value of their content within three months.

The arbiter would then choose between the payment proposal put forward by a news outlet and that coming from the tech firm.

“This provision in the code would set an untenable precedent for our business and the digital economy,” Silva said Friday. “It is not compatible with how search engines work or now the internet works.”

The law would also require the platforms to give the news businesses two weeks’ notice of algorithm changes affecting the distribution of their content, and includes punitive clauses to stop the firms from blocking content to avoid payment.

Google and Facebook have been backed in their opposition to the law by the US government and internet architects including Tim Berners-Lee.

The initiative has been closely watched around the globe, as news media worldwide have suffered in an increasingly digital economy where big tech firms overwhelmingly capture advertising revenue.

Efforts to confront the tech firms on behalf of beleaguered news media in Europe have focused mainly on copyright law and have had some limited success.

But the Australian law relies on antitrust provisions and would have a more far-reaching financial impact on Google and Facebook.

– ‘Don’t respond to threats’ –

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose conservative government has heeded demands by the country’s biggest news organisations to crack down on the tech firms, responded sharply to the threat by Google, by far the dominant search engine in the country.

“Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our parliament,” Morrison said. “People who want to work with that in Australia, you’re very welcome, but we don’t respond to threats.”

At Friday’s hearing, Facebook similarly labelled the code “unworkable” in its current form and said it would cause the social media platform to stop publishing Australian news.

“The great majority of people who are using Facebook would continue to be able to do so, but we would no longer be able to provide news,” Facebook’s Simon Milner told the hearing.

Both companies stressed that they were willing to pay media companies for their content through various direct arrangements, including in products like Facebook News and Google News Showcase.

And they proposed a series of amendments to the draft Australian law to avoid a showdown.

“Withdrawing our services from Australia is the last thing that Google wants to have happen, especially when there is another way forward,” Silva said.

“There is a clear pathway to a fair and workable code, with only slight amendments,” she said.

The key change demanded by the companies is to drop the mandatory arbitration process in favour of mediated negotiations with individual news organisations.

Source: AFP

News

Tata Consultancy Services to invest Rs 690 crore in Innovation Park in Kochi

Published

on

NEW DELHI: In a big boost to the Kerala government’s bid to attract investment, leading IT services provider Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has agreed to invest Rs 690 crore to set up an Innovation Park in Kochi.

The state government has allotted 36.84 acres of land to TCS Ltd for setting up a unit for Electronics Hardware & IT/ITES in KINFRA Electronics Manufacturing Cluster, Kakkanad, Kochi.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard was signed here on Friday in the presence of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Industries Minister P Rajeev, an official statement said.

KINFRA Managing Director Santhosh Koshy Thomas and TCS Kerala Vice President Dinesh P Thampi signed the MoU.

TCS Ltd intends to operate a campus for Electronics Hardware & IT / ITES in an area of ??36.84 acres of land in KINFRA Electronics Manufacturing Cluster, Kakkanad, with an investment of Rs 698 crore and would accommodate nearly 10,000 employees in a phased manner, the release said.

The proposed project will be named as the TCS Innovation Park, it said.

The first phase is expected to commence operations in the financial year 2023-24, the statement said.

Once the campus becomes fully operational, it would have a capacity to cater 10,000 employees to be achieved in a phased manner, it said.

While Rs 440 crore will be invested for building the IT complex, Rs 250 crore will be allocated for related developments, official sources said.

The park will be set up in a total built up area of ??16 lakh square feet, they said. The second phase of campus development will be planned later, sources said.

Source: Press Trust of India

Continue Reading

Mobile Services

Apple to bring iPhone 13 lineup to India from September 24 with prices starting at Rs 69,900

Published

on

NEW DELHI: Apple enthusiasts will be able to get their hands on the latest line-up of iPhones — iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max — with prices starting at Rs 69,900 onwards later this month.

“Customers in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, the UK, the US, and more than 30 other countries and regions will be able to pre-order iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max…availability beginning Friday, September 24,” Apple said in a statement.

Customers can get iPhone 13 Pro for Rs 1,19,900 (onwards) and iPhone 13 Pro Max for Rs 1,29,900 (onwards) from Apple’s online store, it added.

The iPhone 13 will be available for Rs 79,900, while iPhone 13 mini will be priced at Rs 69,900.

The phones will also be available through Apple Authorised Resellers and select carriers, the statement said.

“Our Pro lineup pushes the limits with our most advanced technologies for users who want the very best iPhone. Best in class performance, best in class camera experience, great durability, larger displays and incredible design. This year, we build on that in a major way,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the launch event on late Tuesday night.

The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max also include 5G with more bands for better coverage.

According to Counterpoint Research Director Tarun Pathak, Apple now has a very aggressive entry point, starting with iPhone SE 2020, going till iPhone 13 Pro Max.

“However, we believe that it’s the iPhone 12 series that is likely to gain traction in India and take on the baton from iPhone 11, that until last quarter captured around 60 per cent of the overall iPhone sales. Apple is likely to capture a 2.4 per cent share in the coming Q4 2021 and will end the year as its highest ever crossing 4 million shipments,” he added.

Pathak noted that the share of the new iPhone within overall Apple sales during the launch quarter increases year-on-year and this year too, it will be the same – driven by iPhone 13.

Apple continues to go aggressive on trade-ins as well, he added.

“We think that iPhone 12 too will benefit from the price cut the most, even better than iPhone 11, and is likely to be the best seller for the festive season. This will also help the premium to reach a record share of the overall smartphone market in India with Apple likely to lead in the launch quarter,” Pathak said.

India is among the key growth drivers for Apple. Strong double-digit growth in markets like India and Latin America had helped the iPhone maker report double-digit revenue growth at USD 81.4 billion – a new record for the June quarter.

The company does not provide country-specific numbers.

Apple, which competes with players like Samsung and OnePlus in the premium smartphone segment, has been aggressively ramping up its presence in the Indian market.

In the past, Apple has talked about plans of setting up brick-and-mortar outlets in India in addition to its online store.

India is among the biggest smartphone markets globally and logging strong growth rates. Smartphone shipment in India grew by 82 per cent in the June 2021 quarter from the year-ago period to over 33 million units. The premium segment – although small – has been growing at a strong pace.

Devices priced under Rs 15,000 account for a significant volume share of the Indian market. Xiaomi (including POCO) accounted for a 28.4 per cent share of June quarter shipments, followed by Samsung (17.7 per cent), Vivo (15.1 per cent), Realme (14.6 per cent) and Oppo (10.4 per cent), as per data from research firm Counterpoint.

According to Apple India’s website, iPhone 13 Pro (128GB) will be priced at Rs 1,19,900; 256GB at Rs 1,29,900; 512 GB at Rs 1,49,900; and 1TB at Rs 1,69,900.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max (128GB) will be priced at Rs 1,29,900; 256GB at Rs 1,39,900; 512 GB at Rs 1,59,900; and 1TB at Rs 1,79,900.

The iPhone 13 mini will be priced between Rs 69,900 to Rs 99,900 for 128GB, 256GB and 512GB variants, while iPhone 13 will be available at Rs 79,900-1,09,900 for 128GB, 256GB and 512GB models.

iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max make up our most pro-iPhone lineup ever with the biggest advancement for our camera system, the best battery life ever in an iPhone, and the fastest performance of any smartphone, setting a new standard for iPhone and enabling incredible experiences never before possible, Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing Greg Joswiak said.

The new pro camera system offers even more pro photography capabilities like improved telephoto zoom, macro photography, photographic styles, cinematic mode, as well as ProRes and Dolby vision video, he added.

“The Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion is our best display ever; it intelligently responds to the content on your screen, offers fantastic graphics performance, and is perfect for any viewing experience, he said.

Apple has also introduced the new iPad (9th generation), featuring an A13 Bionic chip that packs even more performance and capability into the most popular iPad, all while retaining its all-day battery life.

The new iPad features a 10.2-inch Retina display with True Tone, a 12MP Ultra Wide front camera with centre stage, support for Apple Pencil (1st generation) and Smart Keyboard, iPad OS 15, and twice the storage of the previous generation (starts with 64GB of storage).

The new iPad, priced at Rs 30,900 onwards, is available to order from Apple’s website and will be available in stores from September 24.

iPad has never been more essential for working, learning, and communicating, and we’re excited to bring one of the biggest updates ever to our most popular iPad.

With the powerful A13 Bionic, more engaging video calls with Centre Stage, and double the storage, the new iPad delivers advanced capabilities, versatility, and simplicity at an incredible value, Joswiak said.

A new iPad mini – with an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display – will be available from September 24 and priced at Rs 46,900 onwards.

Apple Watch Series 7, featuring a re-engineered Always-On Retina display – will be available later this year.

Source: Press Trust of India

Continue Reading

Mobile Services

India allows 100 per cent FDI through automatic route in telecom reforms

Published

on

NEW DELHI: In big bang reforms, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a relief package for the telecom sector that includes a four-year moratorium on payment of statutory dues by telecom companies as well as allowing 100 per cent foreign investment through the automatic route.

Briefing reporters on the decisions taken by the Cabinet, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnav said nine structural reforms for the telecom sector were approved.

The definition of AGR, which had been a major reason for the stress in the sector, has been rationalised by excluding non-telecom revenue of telecom companies.

AGR refers to revenues that are considered for payment of statutory dues.

The minister said that 100 per cent FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in telecom via the automatic route was approved by the Cabinet.

Among the measures approved were a four-year moratorium on unpaid dues, AGR and spectrum dues, he said.

These measures are expected to ease the cash flow issues being faced by some players in the industry.

“The package announced by the Government aims to usher in structural reforms by infusing investor confidence and provide flexibility to telecom operators with respect to spectrum sharing, surrendering spectrum usage rights etc. One of the key announcements is allowing 100% FDI in the sector which was limited only to 49% from the automatic route. The other significant announcement is to have certainty for auctions in the sector which are slated to be conducted mostly in the last quarter of a financial year. These measure will certainly provide better planning by operators,” Akshat Jain, Partner, J Sagar Associates,

He further added that however, the liability to pay AGR dues continues. The deferment for AGR dues cannot be construed as waiver since the package only envisages a moratorium of four years on such AGR dues from 1st October 2021 (appointed date) with the interest and penalties accruing for such deferral. On other issues such as spectrum payments, bank guarantees etc., the relief appears to be prospective in nature. While this will temporarily provide some relief, it does not essentially alleviate the already bleeding balance sheets of the telecom operators since the dues will ultimately have to be paid with interest. It will be interesting to see whether these measures promote competition in the sector and achieve the desired objectives.

 

With Press Trust of India

Continue Reading

Trending