Convergence Plus
Saturday, September 19, 2020
Apple TV+ goes live in India, 100 other countries

Movie and television buffs in India have another source of entertainment today as Apple TV+ goes live in India and in 100 countries and regions around the world.

Apple TV+ is Apple’s first all-original video subscription service and home. Apple TV+ will offer original shows, movies and documentaries, including “The Morning Show,” “Dickinson,” “See,” “For All Mankind” and “The Elephant Queen.” The service will be available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac and other platforms, including online at, for Rs 99 per month with a seven-day free trial.

Customers who purchase any iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch or Mac can enjoy one year of Apple TV+ for free. Through Family Sharing, up to six family members can share one Apple TV+ subscription.

“With Apple TV+, we are presenting all-original stories from the best, brightest and most creative minds, and we know viewers will find their new favourite show or movie on our service,” said Zack Van Amburg, Apple’s head of Worldwide Video. “Each Apple TV+ original offers its own unique story, fresh perspective and powerful message — all meant to entertain, connect and inspire cultural conversations.”

Some of the shows available on Apple TV+ include:

“The Morning Show,” a cut-throat drama starring and executive produced by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, and starring Steve Carell, explores the world of morning news and the ego, ambition and the misguided search for power behind the people who help America wake up in the morning.

“See,” an epic drama starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard, is set 600 years in the future after a virus has decimated humankind and rendered the remaining population blind. When all humanity has lost the sense of sight, humans must adapt and find new ways to survive.

“Dickinson,” a darkly comedic coming-of-age story, explores the constraints of society, gender and family through the lens of rebellious young poet, Emily Dickinson.

“For All Mankind,” a new series from Ronald D. Moore, imagines what would have happened if the global space race never ended and the space program remained the cultural centrepiece of America’s hopes and dreams.

Helpsters,” a new children’s series from the makers of “Sesame Street,” stars Cody and a team of vibrant monsters who love to help solve problems. It all starts with a plan.

“Snoopy in Space,” a new original from Peanuts Worldwide and DHX Media, takes viewers on a journey with Snoopy as he follows his dreams to become an astronaut. Together, Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the Peanuts crew take command of the International Space Station and explore the moon and beyond.

“Ghostwriter,” a reinvention of the beloved original series, follows four kids who are brought together by a mysterious ghost in a neighbourhood bookstore, and must team up to release fictional characters from works of literature.

“The Elephant Queen,” an acclaimed documentary film and cinematic love letter to a species on the verge of extinction, follows a majestic matriarch elephant and her herd on an epic journey of life, loss and homecoming.

Oprah Winfrey joins the world’s most compelling authors in conversation as she builds a vibrant, global book club community and other projects to connect with people around the world and share meaningful ways to create positive change. There is also a Bollywood channel including films such as PK, Wake up Sid, a collection of Amitabh Bachchan movies, and other collections. The service comes at a Rs 99 cost but individual shows can either be rented or bought for differing prices. (Source: Hindu BusinessLine)

Future’s Amazon Deal Set to Close Soon, says Biyani

Future Group founder Kishore Biyani said his deal to sell minority stake to Amazon has moved a step forward even as the Competition Commission of India (CCI) sought more information from the US ecommerce firm.

“It is a process to comply with information sought by the commission and to satisfy them in all aspects of the transaction which is being done and we expect a closure of the transaction soon,” said Biyani.

Amazon had sought CCI approval last month for its proposed ₹1,500 crore deal to acquire 49% of Future Coupons through its investment arm, NV Investment Holdings LLC, which in turn will give them 3.5% stake in Future Retail, Biyani’s flagship company. In its CCI filing, it said it would acquire “voting and non-voting equity shares” of FCL in the proposed deal.

Amazon has the option to become the largest shareholder in Future Retail and can exercise this call option anytime between the third and the 10th year. However, details haven’t yet been announced or notified in the CCI filing. “It is submitted that each of the constituent steps of the proposed combination, including the acquisition of shares of FCL by the investor, on a standalone basis, are exempt transactions, and need not be notified to the Hon’ble commission,” Amazon said in its application.

Last week, Reuters reported that CCI had approached Amazon to explain the contours of the deal as well as questioned the US retailer on its procedure to seek approval, which in turn could delay the clearance.

“They wanted general information on Future Group's operations including products and store locations which was submitted a fortnight ago. There was also a personal hearing last week and the transaction should be cleared by December,” said an official involved in the deal.

This is similar to CCI’s earlier stance when they sought details from Samara Capital last year on the role of Amazon and how the proposed deal by them to buy the More chain of supermarkets from Aditya Birla Retail was in line with the government’s revised FDI policy in ecommerce issued in December last year.

The competition watchdog's queries to Samara Capital-owned Witzig Advisory Services was also specific to whether Amazon will be involved in day-to-day operations of More, its representation on the board and whether More will be integrated into the Amazon India marketplace. The deal was subsequently cleared by CCI in January this year. (Source: Economic Times)

Govt Flags Risks to Payments Through Social Media Cos

WhatsApp Fallout. Centre reaching out to RBI, NPCI to discuss safety features. The government is approaching the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) over the risks in allowing social media platforms such as whatsApp into the digital payments space in light of the recent hack of the messaging app.

The move comes as the hacking issue is being monitored at the highest levels of government.

“We are reaching out to the NPCI and the RBI to discuss safety features and in case some extra steps need to be undertaken to ensure security of financial data is not breached,” a senior government official told ET.

The recent lawsuit filed in the US against Israeli company NSO and its software Pegasus, said to be responsible for the intrusion, had spread alarm among Indian authorities, he said. Facebookowned WhatsApp has maintained that the platform is secure thanks to end-to-end encryption, the official pointed out.

WhatsApp-MeitY Row Continues

The latest development could mean further delays in the launch of WhatsApp’s payment feature, which is yet to pass the test of compliance with India's financial authorities, experts said.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said recently that the company was optimistic about starting soon. The messaging app, which has about 400 million users in the country, has been testing its payment service in India since last year and will be pitted against the likes of Paytm, Google Pay and Phone Pe in the fast-growing payments space. Meanwhile, the row between WhatsApp and the Indian authorities continued with company insisting it had informed the government of the security breach, along with details. The government said the information submitted had at best been speculative in nature.

“We maintain that WhatsApp didn’t disclose entire information to us. We learnt of it through media reports,” the official said.

The government said WhatsApp did inform CERTIN about the hacking incident, but maintained that the social media app didn’t disclose the names and identities of Indian citizens affected by the breach to the authorities, which it should have. The controversy began with WhatsApp/Facebook filing a lawsuit in the US against the Israeli company NSO on October 29, within days of the Indian Supreme Court allowing the Centre to issue intermediary guidelines in three months.

The guidelines are expected to allow the government to legally bind WhatsApp and any other messaging platform to tracing the source of any message on their platforms. WhatsApp has resisted this, saying it would be impossible without compromising the encryption that supposedly guarantees user privacy. (Source: Economic Times)

Cloudconnect: - In India’s Newly Hyperconnected, Mobile-First World, Businesses

CloudConnect: - In India’s newly hyperconnected, mobile-first world, businesses need to move beyond the limitations and cost-inefficiencies of traditional Business Communication Systems. CloudConnect Communication Pvt. Ltd. is India’s first DOT-licensed and regulation-compliant fully-operated and managed cloud-based voice platform that’s remarkably feature-rich, flexible, and easy-to-use, ensuring better productivity and business continuity, no matter how business is spread.

With CloudConnect Small and Medium Businesses gain access to 21st-century enterprise communication systems such as PBX on Mobile, which is a first in India, it also offers a range of services including Business Phone Solutions, Unified Communications, and Customised Business Communication Solutions. Keeping in mind the modern workforce, multiple offices, flexible-working, hot-desking and working from home, CloudConnect gives Indian SMBs access to Fortune 500 features with their Business Communication App so mobile workers have never-before access to all the same business features, across devices, and locations, across single and multiple offices. This ensures business communication never stops and, staff, productivity, and profits aren't tied to their desks and business continues as usual even across remote locations. This empowers teams to securely communicate faster, reduce downtime, and collaborate smarter with much-needed flexible features that work at any location, any time, on any device. This helps businesses to reduce the cost and management hassles of expensive on-premises hardware.

India’s most comprehensive and secure Business Communication Suite:- CloudConnect is hosted in India’s premier Tier-4 data center, ensuring all data is secure.CloudConnect is Simple, Scalable and Seamless. The product and development teams have ensured an easy-to-install, easy-to-maintain, easy-to-use system that can manage multiple locations with multi-office centralized PBX through a single integrated platform for Voice, Video, Data Sharing, and Office automation.

CloudConnect integrates Business Communication channels, networks, systems, IT business and, consumer applications and devices all delivered through the cloud, on mobile. Customized solutions such as teleconsultation, Hosted IVR, PBX on Mobile, Unified Communications, HD audio & video, broadcast, and geo-location will enable Indian SMBs and Startups in industries like Healthcare, Education, Real-estate, Manufacturing, Sales & Marketing, Logistics, and Technology to thrive.

CloudConnect has a team that has deep expertise in the technology and telecom sector, lead by Gokul Tandan, together with seasoned industry veterans with decades of leadership in their respective industries.

Headquartered in Delhi, CloudConnect was started in 2017 with an aim to bridge the gap and address the immediate the need for businesses in India’s new digital economy to be agile, responsive, to provide next-generation customer experience, and digitally transform their business. With CloudConnect, businesses are now powered by a faster system of communication that enables their teams to drive up productivity with smarter, mobile-first audio, and video collaboration tools, amongst a host of features that will help a business communicate faster, and collaborate smarter on any device, anytime, anywhere.

Within a short span of time from its inception CloudConnect has an ever-growing clientele of businesses who were looking for the right partner to help orchestrate complete digital transformation. For Delhi-based Roam1, CloudConnect’s Cloud Telephony services provided a one-stop, fully functional, advanced enterprise communication solution that replaced their costly traditional telephone carriers and PBX systems eliminating the need to buy expensive on-premise PBX and giving them full functionality on any mobile device. Additionally, CloudConnect’s analytics on their platform made it far easier for Roam1 to collect comprehensive data, improving the scope for analysis so they can continuously improve their business. (Source: Convergence Plus)

BSNL to open VRS window on Monday; October salary not credited, yet

BSNL is expecting a likely savings of about ₹7,500 crore in case 80,000 employees opt for VRS. State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is slated to accept

Applications for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) starting from Monday, even as the public sector unit (PSU) defaulted on October salaries. BSNL plans to offer VRS to employees above 50 years of age and expects at least 80,000 personnel to avail it.

“The 30-day VRS window opens on Monday, and the management and unions have requested employees eligible for it to submit applications. Under the proposed VRS formula, employees will get 100-125 per cent of the salary for remaining years of service, including pension, based on the retiring month wage,” a source close to the development told BusinessLine. “It would take at least three months to implement the VRS,” the source said, adding the implementation of the scheme will not affect the company’s services.

BSNL was expecting a likely savings of about ₹7,500 crore in case 80,000 employees opt for VRS. BSNL employs nearly 1.59 lakh personnel as of date, of which nearly 1.06 lakh are aged above 50 (eligible for VRS). The company’s employee costs stood at ₹14,492 crore in 2018-19.

In case the VRS turns out to be a success, then the PSU might not reduce the retirement age to 58.

Retirement age

The proposal under the revival plan was to slash the retirement age to 58 from the present 60 after the implementation of VRS.

As part of the revival package, the Centre will direct all government departments and State governments to take BSNL landline and broadband connections. As and when 4G rollout happens, BSNL mobile services also will become mandatory for government departments, another source said.

BSNL is also making it mandatory for its own officers and staff to use a BSNL connection.

Salary delay

Separately, the company has defaulted on October salary, which was to be credited on Thursday. This time also the salary is expected with a 15-20 days delay.

“The salary delay will continue for another 3-4 months, and till the revival package is in place and other issues including the VRS are ironed out,” another source said.

BSNL has also launched a new scheme offering 6 paise cashback for voice calls. The scheme, a festival offer, is limited to wireline, broadband and Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) customers. Subscribers making calls of 5 minutes or more would be credited with 6 paisa cashback.

Meanwhile, both BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) received Department of Telecommunications approval for their revival plans. The letter dated October 29, approved reducing employee costs, administrative allotment of spectrum for 4G services, debt restructuring through bonds, monetisation of assets and merger of BSNL and MTNL. (Source: Hindu Businessline)

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