Apple to Use Old or Refurbished IPhones to Break Into Indian Market

The Indian market is one notoriously hard to get into for many firms selling devices at a premium, with many Indian customers being incredibly sensitive to high pricing and the import taxes for the country are high. In response to this difficult market, Apple has a new plan to gain a foothold in India: selling older and refurbished iPhones at cheaper prices.

Compared to their strong advance into the Chinese market, Apple’s progress in India has been slow. Despite increasing the number of distribution channels across a number of Indian cities, the Cupertino-based company only managed to sell 1 million phones in the last quarter, making up just a 3 percent share of the Indian smart phone market.

According to Vishal Tripathi, a research director at Gartner, most of Apple’s recent growth in the Indian market has come from sales of their older devices such as the iPhone 4S and that they may be seeking to target the lower-end of the smart phone market with these dated models, a vastly different approach to in the West. Even the new (and cheaper) iPhone SE, with a price tag of 39,000 rupees for a 16 GB model is unlikely to gain much of a foothold in the market amongst price-conscious customers according to Tripathi.

Currently, Samsung leads the Indian smart phone market, possessing a mighty 27 percent share of the 25 million devices shipped in India in the last quarter, trailed by Indian firm Micromax at 14.1 percent. There is no doubt that Apple wants a piece of this potentially lucrative market, which one of their main smartphone competitors currently controls. Whether this strategy will take hold remains to be seen, but Apple looks to have an uphill battle ahead of them in India as many in the country see them as simply dumping old end-of-life models into the market.

Egypt Blocks Facebook’s Internet Service After Being Denied The Ability To Spy On Users

Facebook have been keen on allowing countries access to Free Basics, their low-cost internet system designed at giving people the ability to create a Facebook account and access a limited number of sites at no cost. Free internet sounds great doesn’t it? Some countries don’t believe so, with India already banning the platform and the system being suspended within Egypt, over what now seems to be because the government was denied the ability denied the ability to spy on users.

The Free Basics platform in Egypt was suspended officially on December 30th, 2015, with sources now stating the reason for the suspension was that Facebook wouldn’t allow the government to circumvent the systems security, thereby allowing surveillance to be conducted on users of the platform. Etisalat, the mobile carrier that provided the service when it started in October 2015, hasn’t responded to comment while Facebook has declined to comment while the Egyptian government has declined to say what kind of surveillance or changes they wanted to be made to the service.

Officially the line given is that the service was considered “harmful to companies and their competitors”, a tale that while believable may be as well be an April fools joke to cover what can only be considered a request to invade and monitor everyone’s internet access. With limited access already and concerns about net neutrality for the scheme, if it was found to provide monitoring and tracking the “free” basics program would almost certainly see counties drop the system.

Driverless Bikes Are Now A Thing Too

The term driverless isn’t anything new and it is probably most known in relation to cars and Google’s self-driving car project that’s been going on for years now. But we’ve also heard of driverless lorries coming to the UK, driverless pods in London, and even driverless Formula E racing as well as oversized quad-copters for personal usage, but driverless bicycles is one I haven’t heard of before.

The driverless bike, or i-Bike as it has been named, is the brainchild of Ayush Pandey and Subhamoy Mahajan, two students from IIT Kharagpur, India. The whole idea started with an idea that is as noble as the result is brilliant: The two wanted to build a simple vehicle that could help disabled people get more out of life by increasing their freedom. Now that’s an idea we all can get behind.

The i-Bike has autonomous steering, brakes, driving, and balancing mechanisms that can work completely on their own as well as aids to just help you with the part that might be troublesome for you.

Just riding a bicycle wasn’t the only problem the students tried to solve, parking and retrieving a bike can be equally challenging for a disabled person as bicycle locations by default rarely have much in disability friendliness. You wouldn’t expect them to ride a bicycle, so it isn’t out of bad intentions.

“We saw some differently abled people who could ride bicycles but had to face many problems when trying to take their bikes out from the parking space, as most such spaces are not disabled friendly. To tackle this problem we started working to make a bicycle that would be controlled wirelessly,” says Ayush, a fourth year Mechanical Engineering student

You can ride the i-Bike manually or you can get help from the dual locomotion technology. The autonomous driving is handled with the help of GPS as well as lasers and sonar based sensors to avoid obstacles in its path. The destination is set by an Android app that sends an SMS to the i-Bike. Upon receiving this, it will start its journey.

None of the techniques used is new as such, but this combination of them is awesome. It has a unique and affordable software architecture that enables it to follow specialised bicycle lanes as they are found in many countries already. It also offers live tracking and wireless control mechanism on top of all that.

What started as a team of two is now comprised of 13 undergraduate students from various departments of IIT Kharagpur, all working together and making up the i-Bike team. Since the project was started back in October 2014, the team has won several awards, most recently the innovation challenge organised by KPIT Technologies where they won first prize.

The trainer wheels that have been used for balancing can easily be retracted by a switch and the same goes for the steering aids that also can be turned on and off by the flick of a switch.

The i-Bike could solve many problems in urban cities and crowded spaces. Whether you want to prevent theft by sending you bike home, retrieve it where ever you are in order to get home, or just want to send it on a cruise of its own, the i-Bike can do it. It would also allow new options for bicycle sharing centres where you could rent a bike, drive where you need to go, and then send it back home again on its own. The same way you could order it back via your smartphone no matter where you are located, and you won’t even have to pedal yourself.

Once the team has the patent, they plan to collaborate with companies willing to start bicycle sharing centres in India – and hopefully this kind of technology will make it to the rest of the world too.

Seller of Indian $4 Smartphone Accused of Fraud

Recently an Indian company revealed that they would be selling a smartphone for only $4, however, 30,000 unit sales later, it has turned out that it may just be too good to be true. The company has been accused of fraud by congressman Pramod Tiwari, with another MP, Kirit Somaiya calling the operation a huge Ponzi scam and requested the government launch an investigation into the company. This is hardly the first trouble for the $4 smartphone too, with an early prototype of the device being uncovered as a phone belonging to another company as well as being subject to a government raid making the device seem less and less of a reality.

Set to be launched by a small company named Ringing Bells, the $4 Freedom 251 device originally impressed many by packing a decent set of specifications for the price. A 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 1,450 mAh battery, 4-inch 960 x 540 qHD display, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage and a 3.2-megapixel camera was what it was capable of on paper, far from the expensive flagship phones launched by big companies, but for 251 rupees, it seemed incredible. Pankaj Mohindroo, the founder and president of the Indian Cellular Association told CNN that the sum cost of the Freedom 251’s components, even when using the cheapest possible, would cost at least 2700 rupees ($40) to manufacture. The device’s 3.5-inch touchscreen alone would cost more than the $4 that the entire device was to sell for.

Adding to this, at the launch event for the phone, the sample handsets given out by Ringing Bells looked nothing like the previous renders of the phone, which were later revealed to be Chinese Adcom Ikon 4 phones with the branding covered up. Ringing Bells founders Mohit Goel and Ashok Chanda claimed that the branding was present on the devices as the screen components had been sourced from Adcom and the device was a quickly put together prototype to show off.

It doesn’t stop there either, with Ringing Bells having faced a government raid on one of its offices due its lack of credentials and attempting to market a device without having a Bureau of Indian Standards certification. Ringing Bells hadn’t even begun manufacturing the phones by the time they were selling them, with the money raised from pre-orders to be put towards purchasing the manufacturing unit to create them. The final falsehood from the company is their participation in the government run Make in India program, which they were proud to be a part of. Except they were planning to make the devices in India with no subsidies and the Indian Government confirming that the company had nothing to do with the program.

With so many deceptions and inconsistencies floating around, it is hard to consider that this device could really materialize. Even now Ringing Bells has stopped taking orders for the device, reportedly to work on creating the phones already ordered. Whether those who have ordered their devices ever see them materialize, it is hard to tell, but with the release date for the handset targetted for June, we may not have to wait too long.

India Bans Facebook’s Free Internet Platform Over Net Neutrality Concerns

India’s national telecom regulator has banned Mark Zuckerberg’s “free” internet endeavour for violating net neutrality. Free Basics, formerly known as Internet.org, was designed to bring free internet to developing countries, but access to websites was restricted to Facebook’s commercial partners, meaning Free Basics users could only visit sites that had paid to be featured.

“No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has ruled (via BBC News).

The World Wide Web Foundation, created by WWW inventor Tim Berners-Lee, has welcomed the ruling. “The message is clear: We can’t create a two-tier Internet – one for the haves, and one for the have-nots,” Programme Manager Renata Avila said. “We must connect everyone to the full potential of the open Web. We call on companies and the government of India to work with citizens and civil society to explore new approaches to connect everyone as active users, whether through free data allowances, public access schemes or other innovative approaches.”

While Zuckerberg has maintained throughout that Free Basics adheres to net neutrality rules – “Instead of recognizing that Free Basics fully respects net neutrality, they claim–falsely–the exact opposite,” he blustered back in December – a Facebook spokesperson claims that the company will work to ensure that its free internet initiative complies with net neutrality.

“Our goal with Free Basics is to bring more people online with an open, non-exclusive and free platform,” a Facebook spokeswoman said. “While disappointed with the outcome, we will continue our efforts to eliminate barriers and give the unconnected an easier path to the internet and the opportunities it brings.”

Amazon India Will No Longer Offer Refunds on Mobile Phones

Amazon’s ability to offer impeccable customer service and a straightforward returns policy has made it a global leader in online shopping. This ensures consumers have a loyalty to Amazon’s store through peace-of-mind shopping. There’s even been situations when the company has honoured misprices which has cost them money in the short-term. However, the company’s management looks towards the larger picture and knows more money will be made via repeat or future purchases instead of an individual mistake. While this kind of returns policy is absolutely fantastic for the consumer, some users can abuse it and send back perfectly functional items on a regular basis. Admittedly, I’ve returned products because they haven’t met my expectations or I’ve change my mind. However, it’s important to find a balance and consider each purchase very carefully.

In the US and Europe, Amazon can charge a restocking fee depending on the item’s condition if it’s not faulty. Honestly, I haven’t really seen many situations where this applies, and Amazon staff tend to refund the full amount including shipping. This policy doesn’t apply in the Indian market, and reports indicate some customers have been abusing the refund policy quite badly. As a result of this, Amazon India will not longer accept any refunds on mobile phones, and only replace them if the item is faulty. The updated statement reads:

“All mobile phones that are fulfilled by Amazon, purchased on or after 7th February 2016, will have a replacement only policy. Mobile phone items that are fulfilled by Amazon will no longer be eligible for refunds,”

It’s a shame that the minority who abuse Amazon’s return policy has spoilt it for the rest. Also, this is a fairly strict line from Amazon and could deter users from using them in the future. It makes business sense though if the amount of people abusing the system is costing them a lot of money. Please remember that this only applies to the Indian store, and consumer protection in the UK, and Europe explicitly states that a refund must be offered even if the items don’t meet your expectations.

Was This the First Recorded Death by Meteorite?

An Indian man who died after a mysterious blast at a private engineering college could be the first recorded death by meteorite, if reports are confirmed.

A bus driver, identified only as Kamaraj, was killed – with three others injured – after an explosion at the Bharathidasan Engineering College in Natrampalli, in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district – located in the South of India, with a population of around 60 million – on Saturday (6th February), according to India’s NDTV. NDTV followed up the story on Sunday, reporting that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa alleged that the “mishap” was the result of a falling meteorite.

“A mishap occurred yesterday when a meteorite fell in the campus of a private engineering college in Vellore district’s K Pantharappalli village,” Jayalalithaa said in a statement, adding, “I have ordered the Vellore district administration and hospital officials to provide [the three people injured with the] best treatment.”

If Jayalalithaa’s testimony is proven to be true, Kamaraj is set to become the first recorded death by meteorite in history.

The explosion in Tamil Nadu made a crater in the ground and left several nearby buses with broken windows. Early reports suggested that the incident was the result of a bomb, but forensic experts could find no trace of explosives.

Image courtesy of Science World Report.

Mechanic “Invents” Water Fuelled Car

I don’t think this gentleman will be on the Christmas lists of Shell or BP anytime soon, anyway, a car mechanic from India has claimed to have designed a new and rather a cheap way of fuelling a car and it arrives apparently in the form of water.

The gentleman in question goes by the name of Mohammad Raees Markani who has been modifying an “800 cc engine” for the last five years. He believes to have found a new alternative form of eco-transportation by using a mix of water and carbides (a compound composed of carbon)

Below is a video of this apparent achievement, amazingly, a one-litre mix of this potion costs around 2p. Mr Markani explained that his car “runs on acetylene gas” which is formed from a chemical reaction between calcium carbide and water. He also stated that he needed to make various changes to the engine with the aim of helping the performance of the car.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIWpLTVIFSo

If true, it’s astonishing considering Mr Markani has never been to school and also cannot read or write, it has also been noted that he began to experiment with various techniques around 5 years ago and has since made an efficient engine that runs on water.

Various high-profile companies are said to be interested and Mr Markani is open to offers, if they meet his one condition, this is, any plant or factory that is established in order to manufacture vehicles that utilize this technique will need to be built in his hometown of Madhya Pradesh. Mr Markani explained that he wants “things to change in my hometown

It will be very noteworthy to follow the development of this project and if true, could be a turning point for both eco-friendly vehicles and also the environment, well, until we run out of the water that is.

Zuckerberg Shocked India Doesn’t Appreciate His Free Internet

The Internet.org “free internet” initiative – now known as Free Basics – is under threat of closure by Indian authorities, but its founder, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, doesn’t get why India isn’t grateful for his efforts. The Time of India reports that the country’s telecoms regulator is putting pressure on Reliance to cease carrying Internet.org over fears that its “walled garden” structure – allowing only sites that are paid-up partners with Free Basics to be accessible to users – is anathema to the idea of a free and open internet.

Zuckerberg has now responded to the controversy, insisting that his vision for Internet.org is purely philanthropic, and lamenting the fact that no one seems to see that but him. “Who could possibly be against this?” he begs in a Times of India op-ed. “Surprisingly, over the last year, there’s been a big debate about this in India.”

“Instead of wanting to give people access to some basic internet services for free, critics of the program continue to spread false claims–even if that means leaving behind a billion people,” Zuckerberg says. “Instead of recognizing the fact that Free Basics is opening up the whole internet, they continue to claim–falsely–that this will make the internet more like a walled garden.”

“Instead of welcoming Free Basics as an open platform that will partner with any telco, and allows any developer to offer services to people for free, they claim–falsely–that this will give people less choice,” he argues. “Instead of recognizing that Free Basics fully respects net neutrality, they claim–falsely–the exact opposite.”

Many, including figures within the India government, disagree with Zuckerberg’s appraisal, with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik arguing in a letter to Indian regulators: “While the underprivileged deserve much more than what is available, nobody should decide what exactly are their requirements. If you dictate what the poor should get, you take away their rights to choose what they think is best for them.”

“2G Tuesdays” Arrives For Facebook Employees.

Facebook is launching a new initiative by the name of 2G Tuesdays, sounds like a tech version of TFI Friday, which will give all employees a taste of a super slow connection to better emphasize the current speeds in countries including the developing market place of India. While this implementation is certainly essential to a better understanding of the parameters for designing and testing the Facebook App in areas that offer atrocious speeds, I can see a text-book example of slow connection rage.

Surely the speeds cannot be that slow, well engineering director Tom Alison remembers the first time he opened Facebook on a phone with a 2G connection, he exclaimed that “It definitely tested my patience — it felt like parts of the product were just broken”. While US citizens are accustomed to a faster 3G or even 4G, millions of people are accessing the World Wide Web with 2G where a single webpage can take around 2 minutes to load, or as western audiences would say $@%$@.

This is why Facebook’s team of “emerging market engineers”, yes, apparently they have a division dedicated to this, have spent an extensive amount of time re working Facebook’s News Feed for slow connections.

So, how will 2G Tuesday work? Well, when a Facebook employee logs into the app on a Tuesday of every week, “they’ll see a prompt at the top of their News Feed asking whether they want to try out the slower connection for an hour”. For that hour their computer experience will be akin to a person residing in India or any other slow connected country.

A better understanding of varying speeds throughout the world has led to some fascinating projects including an Open-Sourced Network Connection Class System, (sounds like a citizen reviewed social class status), that lets Facebook and its app figure out how fast your connection is with the aim of then conveying a different news feed depending on the speed.

Facebook reckons a large proportion of employees will opt into this experiment, what mood they will be in by the end is another matter. On a side note, while many tech employees enjoy the freedom to develop with a comparable connection for their area, they may fall into the mindset that the whole world is the same, by slowing them down it speeds up a unique process with the aim of benefiting consumers who suffer from appalling speeds to the web.

MSI Bundles AC Chronicles: China & India With Selected AMD GPUs

We all like free stuff and MSI seem to agree to that, at least they have bundled a free copy of Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China and Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India with the MSI Radeon R9 380 GAMING or MSI Radeon R7 370 GAMING graphics cards.

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China brings you to China in 1526 where you play Shao Jun. Shao Jun is the last remaining Assassin of the Chinese Brotherhood and was he trained by the legendary Ezio Auditore, my personal favourite Assassin in the series. Your job is it to restore the fallen Brotherhood, but not without taking your revenge.

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India takes you to the middle of a conflict between the Sikh Empire and the East India Company in 1841. You are taking on the role of Arbaaz Mir and the mission is to return a mysterious item, but that’s likely not going to be as easy as it sounds.

The MSI Radeon R7 370 GAMING and MSI Radeon R9 380 GAMING graphics cards are equipped with MSI’s highly awarded TWIN FROZR V cooling solution that allow them to stay cool and quite throughout your battles.

The promotion and thereby free games started on September 21st and will run until October 31st, 2015, or while supplies last. Game codes that haven’t been redeemed by July 31st, 2016 will expire, so better activate it before the code gets lost in your mail folder somewhere.

Amazon India Lists Nexus 5X Specifications Before Official Announcement

Amazon India has mistakenly listed the Nexus 5X prior to Google’s official announcement and provides key information about the handset’s technical capabilities. According to the store page, the Nexus 5X features a 5.2-inch full HD display with a pixel density of 423ppi. Additionally, the device utilizes a Snapdragon 808 processor running at 1.8GHz with 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage. The main rear camera is 12.3 megapixels while the front shooter is a respectable 5 megapixel sensor. Apparently, the handset supports LTE connectivity and integrates a 2700 mAh battery.

The product page also includes information about the various colour options. In total, the Nexus 5X comes in Charcoal Black, Quartz White and Ice Blue. Amazon India displayed the weight at 177g and dimensions of 15.4 x 1 x 7.6cm. Unfortunately, the listing has now been removed and it’s unknown if these specifications are genuine. It does seem a little contradictory though as the weight is heavier than much larger 5.5-inch handsets. Although, I think the core specification is about spot-on and I’m interested to see if there’s any expansion slot for additional storage.

Another issue appears to be the rather mediocre battery. If the listing is true, then I highly doubt the handset will offer the kind of battery life people expect from the Nexus product line. However, this could be a more budget-orientated model.

Thank you AndroidCentral for providing us with this information. 

Indian Airport Paves The Way For a Solar Power Future

The world’s resources are becoming more and more finite in its capacity to provide for an ever-increasing population. Countries which previously had been considered as small and unassuming are now experiencing their version of an industrial revolution. As the planet becomes more hi tech, so the need for electricity becomes greater to the point where it is unsustainable and alternate solutions are in need of implementation.

This is where a pioneer of solar panels arrives with the aim of powering a whole airport using this technology. The airport in question is located in India and is called the Cochin International airport and has become the first airport in the world which completely operates on solar power. The feat is quite impressive considering the implementation of 46,150 solar panels laid across 45 acres near the cargo complex, which in turn generates a staggering 50000 to 60000 thousand units of electricity per day. This is with the aim of being consumed for all its operational functions, which in turn allows the airport to be power neutral.

This project is without a doubt a step in the right direction for the use of renewable energy, I am slightly surprised that India would be the first country in the world to envisage such a project which started way back in 2013, when CIAL ventured into the Solar PV sector by installing a 100 kWp solar PV Plant on the roof top of the Arrival Terminal Block, which turned out to be the first of many additions. Let’s just hope there are not any glitches in the system as passengers really do not like the idea of waiting for the sun to appear before landing.

Thank you cial for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of engadget

China Bans Supercomputer and UAV Exports Based on National Security Concerns

The Chinese superpower seems to be a bit concerned about its latest tech getting into the wrong hands and has banned the export of unlicensed supercomputers and some UAV models.

The ban seems to forbid any company attempting to export machines capable of outputting eight TFlops of data or more than 2 Gbps of network bandwidth. Taking a look at the Top 500 list of supercomputers, we see China’s Tianhe-2 at the top of it, while the US occupies the 2nd and 3rd place.

The UAV ban comes from news about an Indian drone being shot down in Pakistan, suspected of using Chinese tech. Pakistan has close ties with the US and we all know how the US is keen on getting their hands on Chinese technology, so the word regarding the drone seems to have freaked out some high-ranking officers enough to ban UAV exports from China too.

However, the UAV ban seems to affect only aircraft capable of flying for more than an hour or reaching altitudes of 50,000 feet, so there aren’t many UAVs boasting those kind of specs outside of military use.

There has been no official reason for the ban in question, but speculations point to the ban as a result of the US blocking Intel’s export of high-end x86 chips to China. The race for who has the best tech has been noticed between the US and China for ages now, but signs like this just keep on cropping up. So where is all of this heading? It could be anyone’s guess, but we like to hear your own!

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information

Trojan Posing as Infamous Movie The Interview Attacks Android Phones

Malware, under the guise of notorious Seth Rogen comedy The Interview, has been attacking Android smartphones in India. The Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-In) first detected the Trojan, proliferated via a link offering a supposed download of The Interview. The virus is designed to compromise any banking apps installed on the phone in order to access the users’ accounts.

The CERT-In blog reads:

“Once installed (the virus), the application will display an icon using imagery from the poster of the movie The Interview. When the Trojan is being installed, it requests permissions to perform either open network connections, write to external storage devices or install application packages.

When the app (application) is installed, it claims to allow users to watch the movie The Interview for free but instead installs a two-stage banking Trojan onto infected devices.”

The hope is that, now that cybersecurity has detected and catalogued the Trojan, that it will not be allowed to spread beyond the Indian locale.

Source: DNA

YouTube Announces Offline Playback… In Indonesia, India and The Philippines

YouTube has announced offline playback functionality for its Android app, allowing users to watch select videos when they’re without an internet connection. The only issue is however, it’s only for users in Indonesia, India and The Philippines.

The app will allow users to keep a variety of content, including trailers, movies and music videos, for 48 hours before being deleted. Users can also choose the quality of download so they can limit their data usage.

While many users all over the world would love this feature, it’s understandable why Google have only made it available to people in those countries. For instance, all of those countries have rather patchy mobile data networks, meaning it can be quite difficult to do anything online, let alone stream high quality YouTube videos. Plus, mobile data can be quite expensive in those places as well, making things even more difficult. So it’s understood that this is part of Google’s efforts to get its services to as many people as possible.

For users in those countries, the offline mode should be available in an update to the app.

Source: The Next Web

Uber Banned in Delhi Following Alleged Rape by Driver

The Delhi transport department has banned the popular ride sharing service following allegations of rape by an Uber driver. The male driver allegedly raped a 25-year-old female passenger on Friday.

Shiv Kumar Yadav was previously arrested for rape in 2011, but charges were dropped following a settlement between him and the alleged victim.

The news comes as a significant blow for Uber in India, a country where the ride sharing app has been growing quickly. India’s economic status combined with the easy business opportunities and subsequent cheap fairs that Uber can deliver, makes the service ideal for the country. The loss of the service in Delhi will bo doubt hamper that growth.

A statement from Uber’s CEO, delivered before the ban, made suggestions that Uber’s plans for background checks were to be more comprehensive than those already delivered by the Indian government in their own “commercial transportation licensing programs”.

“We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs. We will also partner closely with the groups who are leading the way on women’s safety here in New Delhi and around the country and invest in technology advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women.” – Travis Kalanick

Uber has had a pretty rough time recently, with allegations of spying, supposed plans to “dig up dirt” on journalists and opposition from governments and the transportation industry.

Source: Gizmodo

Australian Prime Minister in Facebook Fan Scandal

Recently, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been receiving a lot of hate from the Australian public, with people noticing that the bulk of his Facebook likes were residents of India – ok lets be honest, he always receives hate no matter what.

This brought upon allegations that Mr. Abbott and his management were using a commonly seen scheme to purchase cheap ‘bot’ Facebook likes from various organizations in order to bolster his public appearance and make it look much more appealing to the unwary public. However, new news has come to light that apparently this bolstering of fans is due to a ‘selfie’ posted with the Indian Prime Minister, taken around the time of the recent G20 visit.

This image was taken in Victoria, Australia at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and saw Abbott’s fan-base skyrocket in New Delhi – ranking amongst the #1 location for all of his fans around the world. The original allegations were first brought to light by a local comedy duo called “The Bondi Hipsters“.

When confronted on this speculation, a spokesperson for Mr. Abbott claimed that the likes were due to the selfie being promoted by Indian Prime Minister and no like purchasing had taken place.

“It is no secret that the Prime Minister hosted a number of world leaders in recent times, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. These visits attracted large international audiences to the Prime Minister’s social media channels, thus generating a spike in organic engagement with the page.”

Source: News.com.au.

Blackberry Hasn’t Given Up

BlackBerry CEO John Chen has said today that the Asian market is critical to the recovery of his company, but he will not be pushing hard into the Chinese sector just yet.

Chen commented that for BlackBerry, the Chinese market isn’t currently on the top of this to-do list. This is reportedly due to China being very concerned about data security issues making Blackberry do some extra yards to work around this fact. However, Blackberry have confirmed that they will be focusing on markets in India and Southeast Asia – in particular Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

An ex-coworker told me once that some nightclubs in Singapore require you to own a Blackberry device for you to be allowed into their premises, so you’d think that BlackBerry would have that market on a leash. Now whether this is true or not is another story, but either way it proves that BlackBerry as a company is though of very highly in that region.

In regards to the Chinese issue, Chen told today’s APEC forum:

“If we choose to expand our business in the Chinese market, it takes too long to win a reasonable market share, even if we have this time and money, I might choose our business for a region that has been reflected in the market, such as India and Southeast Asia.”

In 2012, there were reports claiming that the Indian government had allowed Blackberry to view some of its encrypted data, further rendering the Chinese government suspicions of any possible plans of company expansion in their region. Even given this information, Chen commented that this will not stop their research into increasing share in the Chinese market, stating: “Although the data is very sensitive issue, we still have a chance.”

BlackBerry is something that we haven’t really heard much of recently, especially due to the iPhone 6 release and many Samsung heavy-hitting marketing campaigns. Is the ‘business phone’ market something you still find relevant? Let us know your thoughts.

Image courtesy of IT home

Microsoft Targets TV Spectrum to Bring Internet Access Across India

Google’s working on Wi-Fi balloons with Project Loon, Facebook has it’s internet.org project in Africa and now it appears that Microsoft is pitching into the efforts to help bring people in impoverished nations online.

The company has announced plans to use India’s unused TV spectrum for internet access. They plan to use the unused ‘white space’ that exists between analogue TV channels to bring internet access across the country.

Microsoft India chairman Bhaskar Pramanik said to the Hindustan Times, “Wi-Fi has a range of only about 100 metres, whereas the 200-300 MHz spectrum band available in the white space can reach up to 10 km. This spectrum belongs mainly to Doordarshan (Indian public broadcaster) and the government and is not used at all. We have sought clearance for a pilot project in two districts.”

If the ambitious project goes ahead, the plans could help bring greater internet access to a country largely disconnected from the digital world.

Source: TheNextWeb

‘Exciting New Announcement’ by Google to Hit India September 15th

Invites have started arriving for a special Google event set to take place in India on the 15th of September – this marks the possible launch of their ‘Android One’ certified devices.

Although we know what the events purpose is, we’re unsure where  and what exactly is going on. NDTV has reported on the actual date of the event and rough starting time and this is all we have to go off.

Google have said they will release “More details closer to the date!”, but speculation points towards a launch of the aforementioned Android One devices. Originally uncovered in June at Google I/O, these devices were announced in partnership with Karbonn, Micromax and Spice. With these companies being based in India, the launch location starts to make perfect sense.

Googles Android One devices are said to reach a new pinnacle in mobile technology, providing consumers with a sub-$100 low-cost alternative running pure Android.

Image courtesy of NDTV

 

Finnish Smartphone Maker Jolla Expands to Two New Markets

Back in February, Jolla brought out release version 1.0 of their Sailfish OS and announced they were ready for global distribution. Since then it had been a bit quiet on that front and we hadn’t heard much. This changed during the past week when Jolla announced not one but two new partnerships on the emerging mobile markets.

Jolla is a new Finnish smartphone from the company of the same name. It is running the independent operating system, Sailfish OS. Based on the heritage of Meego, an open source operating system formerly developed by Nokia among others. The Jolla smartphone offers a distinct user experience, unlike any of the competition with its button-less design and unique gesture based user experience as well as Android application compatibility.

Snapdeal.com, India’s largest e-commerce marketplace, will be the new exclusive parter of Jolla Ltd. in India and should be available to their 25 million customers within a month.

Kunal Bahl, Co-founder & CEO, Snapdeal.com comments on this exclusive partnership: “We at Snapdeal.com constantly endeavour to offer high quality products across varied categories to our 25 million+ users at best prices. The smartphone category has been getting an extremely encouraging response on our platform. However the market in India offers few choices in terms of mobile operating systems. Jolla with its innovative Sailfish OS introduces an entirely new user experience to consumers. Jolla offers a unique smartphone experience both in terms of hardware and software. We look forward to a long term and mutually beneficial relationship”.

The second deal for Jolla was struck in Kazakhstan with Mobile Invest. This is the first partnership Jolla has in the CIS countries and the Co-founder of Jolla, Marc Dillon, commented that he was exited to attend the Jolla launch in Almaty.

Daniyar Galimzhanov, Mobile Invest comments: “The Jolla smartphone with its unique and independent Sailfish OS mobile operating system brings a breath of fresh air to the smartphone market, which has long been dominated by only a few players. We believe that Jolla has true potential to become a smartphone of choice for those looking for an alternative. We are honoured to open the world’s first Jolla showroom in Almaty.”

Thank you Jolla for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Jolla.

India to Build World’s Largest Floating Solar Farm

India is running short on space, so building their huge solar farm on land was hardly practical given that the land value alone would have made it a financial waste of time. Following in the footsteps of Japan’s solar farm which was built on water (see picture above), India plan to build a their solar farm at sea as well. The new plan will not only save them a fortune in land costs, but it will even help prevent evaporation in hot months.

A partnership has been struck between India’s National Hydroelectric Company and Kolkata’s college of renewable energy, who plan to build the massive 50-megawatt floating solar farm. Making it one of the largest solar farm installations in the world.

To trial their technology, a smaller 12-megawatt installation will be developed on lake Kerela in south-west India later this year. It’s great to see such a big investment in renewable energy and it will no doubt help bolster the rapidly developing Indian nation. If all goes well, it could pave the way for similar installations around the world.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

Urgent Certificate Patch Issued by Microsoft to Address ‘Out-of-Band’ Foreign Certificates

It is said that Microsoft normally releases their patches and updates on the second Tuesday of every month, also known by most as being Patch Tuesday. This time however, they have apparently been forced to release another update having discovered that foreign encryption certificates for big websites, such as Google, had been coming from the National Informatics Center of India’s certificate server.

The problem here is that attackers have allegedly gained access to the certificate generation system and have issued at least 45 certificates, allowing them to pose as companies ranging from email providers to search engines and even banks, as well as credit card processors. Having NIC generating the certificates, the possibility of becoming a victim is extremely high due to browsers showing the given web sites as being trustworthy, having Microsoft flagging the issue as top priority and issuing the urgent ‘out-of-band’ patch.

“The subordinate CA has been misused to issue SSL certificates for multiple sites, including Google web properties. These SSL certificates could be used to spoof content, perform phishing attacks, or perform man-in-the-middle attacks against web properties,” Microsoft warned in its emergency bulletin. “The subordinate CAs may also have been used to issue certificates for other, currently unknown sites, which could be subject to similar attacks.”

Microsoft has stated that the update in question is being rolled out automatically to all Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 users, as well as users of older Windows operating systems who have installed a recommended Windows Update patch, adding the certificate revocation support to the operating system.

Thank you Bit-Tech for providing us with this information

Google Street View Takes You On A Trip To The Taj Mahal

Google have long proven their ability to take Street View off of the highway and into some of the more unique parts of the world, from Easter Island to the insides of a sweetie shop. Now they’ve taken their their love for exploration around one of the worlds most famous landmarks with a trip to India’s legendary Taj Mahal.

Not all of us will be able to visit the Taj Mahal in our lifetime and while many will be familiar with what it looks like from pictures, we lack the ability to move the camera around and explore in more detail, until now of course.

The Indian ministry of culture has joined forces with Google to bring the Taj Mahal, as well as 99 other heritage sites, to Google’s Street View.

It’s great that Google are working to capture these places, the historical value of the data alone is worth the trouble and for education purposes it can be a very powerful tool to have.

The world is a big place, full of many sights that we may never see in person, but what places would you love to see captured by the Google Street View cameras?

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of The Next Web.

India Launches Their First Mars Bound Missions

India have just made a move that could see them enter into the interplanetary leagues as they launch their first rocket with a payload destined for the red planet. Of course their new Mars mission has to be successful for them to be classed along side the other countries that made it to the planet. Many have tried and only three countries have ever succeeded in the past. The Soviet Union attempted it in the 60’s, so did America, Japan took their shot in 90’s and Europe didn’t join the race until 2003. The most recent attempt was of course China in 2011.

India’s “Mars Orbiter Mission” is a satellite that will search the Martian atmosphere for chemicals such as methane. It will reach the red planet in about 300 days, but it still has to beat the odds that less than half of all Mars bound missions thus far have been successful.

At around $72 million the Mars Orbiter Mission is relatively cheap, and if successful could really help boost the countries aerospace industry. This would also put them ahead of China in some sectors since their mission for Mars didn’t get beyond earth orbit.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

21 Countries And Rising Have Joined Anti-NSA UN Resolution Discussions

RT reports that 21 countries have joined in draft discussions at the UN for an anti-NSA resolution to be passed. In the discussions are the following nations: Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Germany, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Norway, Paraguay, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay and Venezuela. The resolution seeks to condemn indiscriminate and extra-territorial surveillance and rectify that with independent oversight of all electronic monitoring.

The resolution was proposed earlier this week by Germany and Brazil, two of the largest and most vocal critics of the USA’s global spying operations. While the document does not single out the USA or NSA specifically, the rhetoric is clearly a direct attack on the NSA’s exposed global surveillance practices.

The draft resolutions states that UN members are “deeply concerned at human rights violations and abuses that may result from the conduct of extra-territorial surveillance or interception of communications in foreign jurisdictions.” and that “illegal surveillance of private communications and the indiscriminate interception of personal data of citizens constitutes a highly intrusive act that violates the rights to freedom of expression and privacy and threatens the foundations of a democratic society.”

Image courtesy of Joshua Lott / Getty Images / AFP