NEW DELHI: Google has brought its Google Play Music subscription service to India at an introductory price of Rs 89 and will compete with the likes of Apple Music, Saavn Pro and Wynk.

Available across Android, iOS and the web in India, Google Play Music allows users to stream music, download hits and even listen to them offline.

It has a catalogue of over 40 million local and international hits.

As part of the introductory offer, the service will be available for Rs 89 per month for those signing up within the first 45 days, Google India said in a statement.

“With Google Play Music subscription, Indian subscribers can listen to their favourite music across a variety of languages, including Hindi, English, Tamil and more,” Google Play Music Lead Product Manager Elias Roman said.

He added that context and machine learning is used to make the experience deeply personalised.

These technologies help in recommending music based on each listener’s preference, place and activity.

Source: ET

MUMBAI: Global professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal India has appointed Suman Jagdev as senior director in the recently launched Corporate Solutions practice of the firm. Jagdev will lead automotive and industrial sectors with a focus on transaction advisory and performance improvement.

Jagdev, who has been into client advisory for 15 years across automotive, industrial equipment, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), metals and mining sectors is claimed to strengthen the proposition of A&M India’s Corporate Solutions Group.

“Given, the Indian auto industry is one of the largest in the world; we see immense potential and opportunities for growth. Suman’s hire demonstrates our commitment to provide clients with the exceptional operations and transformation solutions that help drive change and create value,” Manish Saigal, managing director, A&M India, said.

“A&M brings more than three decades of global heritage, pioneering turnaround and performance improvement solutions, and has established a strong foothold in the Indian market across its business offerings. I look forward to working with A&M’s automotive and industrials clients to strengthen the performance of their holding companies, affiliates and portfolio businesses,” Jagdev said.

Before joining A&M, Jagdev served as director with Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) adivising automotive and industrial equipment companies on market entry, growth and revenue enhancement programs.

Source: ET

NEW DELHI: Consumer spending on devices like mobile phones and PCs is expected to grow two per cent to about USD 600 billion this year as they opt for new gadgets at higher average selling prices (ASPs), research firm Gartner today said.

The global spending on these end-user devices is expected to grow from USD 587.2 billion in 2016 to USD 599.13 billion in 2017 and further rise to USD 627.16 billion in 2019, Gartner said in a report.

However, shipments of PCs, ultramobiles and mobile phones are projected to be flat this year at 2.3 billion units compared to 2016.

Gartner said the ASPs for computing devices and mobile phones are expected to increase by two per cent this year in current US dollars for two reasons.

“First, component price increases are continuing into 2017 (mainly for PCs but also to some extent for phones), which is resulting in more expensive products,” it said.

Also, users’ interest in value and higher quality phones is increasingly overriding their desire for low prices, it added.

“Across the world, the device market is becoming less price-sensitive. Consumers and businesses are seeking better products that suit their lifestyles, rather than just opting for the cheapest products,” Gartner Research Director Ranjit Atwal said.

The mobile phones category, representing 67 per cent of the total spend, is expected to reach nearly USD 400 billion in 2017. This is an increase of 4.3 per cent from 2016.

Spending on PCs (desktops and laptops) is expected to grow to USD 163.35 billion this year, while that on ultramobiles is forecast to be at USD 36.28 billion.

In terms of shipment, 265 million PCs, 161 million ultramobiles and 1.91 billion mobile phones are expected to be shipped this year.

Source: ET

NEW DELHI: BlackBerry’s recent change in strategy to move away from in-house hardware development will result in both strategic and financial benefits, allowing the company to focus its core strengths to provide secure mobile solutions globally and in India, a top official said.

“India is an important market for BlackBerry and delivering the best possible customer experience is extremely critical for us. It made absolute sense to us to team up with a key partner in India — one of the fastest growing mobile nations and among the most important markets for us,” Alex Thurber, general manager, Mobility Solutions, BlackBerry, told ET.

The Canadian enterprise software and solution maker in late 2016 announced a licensing model to enable third parties to make, market and sell handsets with the BlackBerry brand. In February it inked a deal with India’s Optiemus for the local design, manufacture and distribution of smartphones. Under the deal, BlackBerry has licensed its software and services for the production of BlackBerry Android handsets in markets like India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.

“There are both strategic and financial benefits to our new approach,” Thurber said.

The company recently launched its KEYone, made by China’s TCL, while its Indonesian partner BB Merah Putih announced the BlackBerry Aurora smartphone. The executive said BlackBerry is working with its partners to define a competitive hardware portfolio, leverage their distribution scale and access new channels.

“Our strategy also allows us to expand the mobility choices available to our customers by bringing BlackBerry security and productivity applications to a wider audience across multiple platforms and devices… more will be revealed by our partners when they go to market,” he said.

Thurber said Optiemus’ design and go-to-market plans combined with Black-Berry’s secure and productive software will be a great fit for customers in India.

“This fits in our overarching principle, in the new business model, which can be summed up as “global consistency with local flavour.” We believe we will achieve greater localization and scale in India with our partnership,” he added.

The executive said the three existing handset-based licensees are only the first phase of BlackBerry’s licensing strategy, and the company is implementing phase 2 of its strategy, though he declined to share details.

As part of its revival strategy under which it is rebuilding its business with main focus on enterprise sales, BlackBerry roped in HCL Infosystems as national distributor of its enterprise products and solutions, aimed at increasing total addressable market for its software and solutions.

Source: ET

BENGALURU:Global software major Infosys‘ Board is under fire again, this time from its former board member V Balakrishnan for letting down its founders by giving a whopping wage hike to Chief Operating Officer UB Pravin Rao.

“The present Infosys’ Board has let down its founders and lost credibility to continue. Its members should be replaced with new people,” Balakrishnan said on Wednesday, two days after the company justified giving Rao a 70 per cent wage hike even after co-founder NR Narayana Murthy opposed it in private.

Backing Murthy for raising the red flag at a time when the Indian IT industry was facing lot of pressure due to global headwinds, he said the present Board had lost moral courage by favouring executives and ignoring employees.

“What moral courage the Board will have to face the employees after denying them similar favour. You can’t justify a 70 per cent wage hike for a senior executive when salaries of middle and senior level techies were muted,” contended Balakrishnan.

Defending Murthy for sharing his concerns with the media on Sunday over the wage hike to Rao when entry-level and junior employees were not given wage increase over the last two-three years, Balakrishnan said the Chief Founder was forced to go public after the Board ignored his advice and feelers privately.

“What could Murthy do when the Board for the second time had not considered his opinion, which is valid, as evident from the points he raised in the e-mail to the media on April 2? I think it was his last option, having exhausted all avenues to convince the Board of his concerns and values,” he said.

Murthy, who founded Infosys with six other co-founders 35 years ago, raised lapses by the Board in corporate governance in February, which blew into an all-out war between the promoters and the Board headed by Executive Chairman R Seshasayee and CEO Vishal Sikka.

Noting that there was a disconnect between the Board and its founders who toiled to build the company from scratch, the former Director said when the industry was going through pain, it was immoral to pass it on to the employees than taking and enduring it.

“The Board should have deferred the decision and waited for the industry to turn around. There is a disconnect between the Board and its past, as none of its members carries the cultural legacy of the company and has no sense of history,” lamented Balakrishnan.

Recalling the saying “practice before you preach”, he said the leadership should take the pain and set an example.

“In this respect, Murthy raised a valid point because at the end of the day, it is the Board which should take the moral responsibility and face the pain than passing it to others down the line,” he reiterated.

On the company’s defence that 67 per cent of the shareholders had approved the wage hike proposal in a postal ballot, Balakrishnan said since one-third of shareholders had opposed it (proposal), the Board should have been sensitive to the latter’s decision instead of going ahead with the majority.

“It is the for the first time the company’s history that a Board proposal was voted against by a section of the investors in contrast to the unanimous approval of its resolutions in the past either through postal ballot or show of hands,” he said.

Other co-founders, including Nandan Nilekani, S Gopalakrishnan and SD Shibulal who steered the company as Chief Executives, however declined to join the issue in public though they had conveyed their views to the Board in private.

Source: ET

NEW DELHI: The domain name ‘Googlee’ has gone to search engine major Google as the Delhi High Court held that it was registered in bad faith, and not a coincidence, by an entity.

The high court refused to interfere with the decision of an arbitrator ruling in favour of Google and transferred the domain name Googlee.in to the Internet major.

It also took a dig at the man for filing an appeal against the arbitrator’s decision, saying that perhaps it was wrong ‘Googlee’ by him in adopting the domain name Googlee.in.

“Is a ‘Googlee’ a wrong one? A cricket enthusiast will say, ‘Yes of course’. In the virtual world too, the answer is well, yes, petitioner Gulshan Khatri found to his consternation, when he used it as a domain name:’googlee.in’,” Justice S Muralidhar said.

Khatri had moved the high court challenging the May 2011 decision of the arbitrator, who had held that googlee.in, the domain name registered by him, was deceptively similar to the one registered by Google.

Interestingly, Justice Muralidhar in his judgment has put a screenshot of the home page of googlee.in to substantiate the claim of the parties and did not find any merit in the petitioner’s submission that ‘Googlee.in’ was not similar to ‘Google’.

“The domain name and mark ‘google’ is a coined word, distinctive in nature, particularly in relation to the goods and services that it represents. The adoption by Khatri of a nearly identical mark/domain name ‘googlee.in’ is indeed in bad faith and not merely a coincidence.

“A glance at his web page shows how slavish his imitation is of Google’s writing style, font, colour scheme and layout,” the court said.

The court said that the petitioner was rightly stopped in his tracks by the arbitrator from continuing with his “misadventure”.

“He could not have hoped to get away with exploiting Google’s goodwill and reputation by merely adding an ‘e’ to its domain name. Google rightly cried foul. The arbitrator declared Khatri out… Khatri stands bowled by his own ‘googlee’,” the judge added.

In 2007, Khatri applied to the .IN Registry, run by National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) to register the domain name of his website, googlee.in. Before opening .IN domain names for registration to the general public, NIXI began with a sunrise period, during which trademark holders are allowed to register domain names which are similar to their own. Khatri got his domain name registered in 2008 and in 2010, it was renewed up till 2020.

Google Inc., US, in September 2010 issued cease and desist notice against him in 2010, claiming that apart from copying their trademark, his website also had a nearly identical writing style, font, colour scheme and layout.

After their legal notices to Khatri failed to get any reply, Google filed a complaint against him under the .IN Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (INDRP).

Following which, the arbitrator held in favour of Google, since Khatri had offered no shot, failing to offer any explanation for the fact that his website was virtually identical to Google’s, hence, the cancellation of googlee.in was directed.

In the challenge to this decision, Khatri, who claimed to be the sole proprietor of M/s TCI Web Gate, had made several points on privity of contract and natural justice.

Source: ET

NEW DELHI: Telecom operators Aircel, Reliance Communications and Airtel did not meet regulator TRAI‘s various quality norms for 2G services in multiple licence areas for the quarter ended December 2016.

“… whereas Aircel is not meeting the various parameters in 27 licence areas, Reliance Communications in GSM services in 25 service areas and Airtel in 15 service areas,” Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

The telecom regulator TRAI monitors the performance of service providers, including state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) against the benchmarks for various quality of service parameters through quarterly performance monitoring reports submitted by service providers.

Citing TRAI’s December 2016 report, the minister said that for 2G services MTNL is meeting all the parametrise except one pertaining to percentage requests for termination and closure of services complied within seven days (whether the set benchmark is 100 per cent).

Similarly, BSNL is meeting benchmarks for all parametrise except for one in West Bengal service area.

In the quarter ended December 2016, for 3G services, MTNL met the benchmark for all parametrise except one on congestion at the point of interconnect.

“Whereas Aircel is not meeting the benchmark for various parametrise in 14 licence areas,” the minister said.

According to information shared by the minister, newcomer Reliance Jio has 94.28 per cent urban subscribers as on December 31, 2016. For Bharti, this number stood at 50.88 per cent, and in the case of Vodafone and Idea at 46.29 per cent and 45.23 per cent, respectively.

Responding to another query, Sinha said an estimated 55,000 villages in the country do not have mobile coverage.

Various schemes are being implemented with financial support from the Universal Service Obligation Fund for provision of services in commercially unviable rural and remote areas of the country.

To a separate question, the minister replied that the powers of the telecom department to impose financial penalty on various service providers for violation of terms and conditions of the licence agreement stands reinstated, with the pronouncement of an order of the Division Bench of High Court of Tripura in favour of Union of India.

Source: ET