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Enterprise
Friday, September 20, 2019
Ericsson Acquires Niche AI Workforce for India Centre

Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson has acquired workforce of Niche AI for its Bengaluru-based artificial intelligence centre, and looking for more buyouts to build a team of 150 high-tech engineers for India operations this year, a senior company official said. The company started India wing of Global Artificial Intelligence Accelerator (GAIA) last year to develop open source solution to modernise telecom network, using AI and machine learning.

“We are looking at both organic hiring, one by one through recruitment off the market, as well as what you might call as inorganic, which is more through acquisitions and acquihires (acquiring only talents). One such company that we have acquired is Niche AI,” Sanjeev Tyagi, Head of Ericsson R&D Bengaluru told PTI.

Ericsson has plans to have a team of around 300 highly qualified engineers in GAIA by end of 2019 of which half are expected to be located in India.

“We continue to be on our target and towards our objective we have hired more than 75 engineers between Bangalore and Chennai and with a couple of dozen more expected to join in the coming months and we continue to recruit actively,” Tyagi said.

The company is acquiring talents from companies for GAIA and not their assets like patents, clients etc.

Tyagi said that as 5G technology will start spreading, there will be huge proliferation of internet of things devices and large number of different elements in the network, which can be efficiently managed only through AI and ML like technologies and for which GAIA is developing solutions.

“The exponential growth in IoT devices will mean that the traditional methods of managing networks are no longer going to scale and that is an area where we are going to need self-organizing, self-healing, self-governing networks using AI and ML,” Tyagi said.(Source: Economic Times) “We are looking at both organic hiring, one by one through recruitment off the market, as well as what you might call as inorganic, which is more through acquisitions and acquihires (acquiring only talents). One such company that we have acquired is Niche AI,” Sanjeev Tyagi, Head of Ericsson R&D Bengaluru told PTI.

Ericsson has plans to have a team of around 300 highly qualified engineers in GAIA by end of 2019 of which half are expected to be located in India.

“We continue to be on our target and towards our objective we have hired more than 75 engineers between Bangalore and Chennai and with a couple of dozen more expected to join in the coming months and we continue to recruit actively,” Tyagi said.

The company is acquiring talents from companies for GAIA and not their assets like patents, clients etc.

Tyagi said that as 5G technology will start spreading, there will be huge proliferation of internet of things devices and large number of different elements in the network, which can be efficiently managed only through AI and ML like technologies and for which GAIA is developing solutions.

“The exponential growth in IoT devices will mean that the traditional methods of managing networks are no longer going to scale and that is an area where we are going to need self-organizing, self-healing, self-governing networks using AI and ML,” Tyagi said. (Source: Economic Times)


Sony India’s Revenue Falls for Fourth Year in a Row

Sony Corp’s revenue from Indian operations fell for the fourth consecutive year in the fiscal ending March 2019 and net profit took a beating for the first time with the Japanese major struggling in entry-level televisions from Chinese brands and those selling exclusively online.

Responding to ET’s questions, Sony India managing director Sunil Nayyar attributed the fall in revenue to global restructuring of the mobile phone business (this led to its exit from the segment in India this fiscal), exit from laptop a few years ago, and more specifically, a dip in the 32-inch television where, he said, performance couldn’t match the expectation. Currency volatility and change in basic custom duty, too, impacted the business, he said.

Nayyar said Sony is now focused only on the premium-end in India and is the largest brand in OLED and 4K HDR televisions, high-end headphones such as those with noise-cancelling features, party speakers, full-frame mirrorless cameras and lens segments. “We are going strong in our premium product portfolio and are bullish about it,” he said.

Analysts, however, predicted a tough year ahead for the company in India with Chinese brands like OnePlus and Xiaomi ready to enter the premium television segment. These brands are 30-40% cheaper than Sony, Samsung and LG.

According to Sony India’s latest filings to the Registrar of Companies (RoC), revenue from operations in 2018-19 fell by 8.3% from a year ago to ₹6,417.52 crore. Sony’s sales peaked to ₹11,010 crore in 2014-15 but revenues started falling since FY16.Net profit from Indian markets dipped 5.9% last fiscal to ₹101.15 crore.

“Sony needs a new strategy in India to make a strong comeback and especially one that focuses on increasing revenue and not just reducing expenses. In the last few years, it had grown net profit by reducing expenses,” said Mohit Yadav, founder of business intelligence platform Veratech Intelligence. (Source: Economic Times)

'Lenovo Could Make India a Mobile Manufacturing Hub'

Lenovo, the world’s largest personal computer maker, said India could become one of its global manufacturing hubs at a time when it is in the cross fire of tariff increases, direct fallout of the US-China trade fight.

Last month, US President Donald Trump announced a plan to impose a 10% import tariff on Chinese goods while new duty on certain consumer items from China, such as cell phones and laptops, will be decided by December.

“For the time being, the picture is so unstable to decide what to do. But mobile (in India) is one possibility,” said Gianfranco Lanci, chief operating officer at Lenovo.

“We are considering India as a big hub to make mobiles that will serve other countries or nearby markets right from Middle East, Africa and parts of Europe.”

The company that makes one in every four PCs sold world over has about 37 manufacturing centres globally, including Mexico and India. However, it said higher import duty and lack of vendors and supporting infrastructure in India is still a big challenge to scale up PC manufacturing for its global requirement.

Despite being a price sensitive market, the company said it has seen an increasing consumer shift towards premium products such as ultrathin laptops and gaming PCs in India. At a time when the country is seeing people cutting down on discretionary spends especially on large ticket items, Lenovo still expects better growth due to upgrades to business computers and Reliance’s JioFiber launch, which offers low-priced and faster internet service.

“If you bring internet at affordable cost, it will change the dynamics of the number of devices you can sell and the entire industry will benefit. Our industry will become a little bit more competitive but it will also enlarge the market,” said Lanci, adding that India is already among the top ten markets in terms of priority and investment.

In India, Lenovo controls nearly a third of personal computer market while it remains a fringe player in mobile phones segment dominated by Xiaomi and Samsung. Research firm IDC said Lenovo’s share rose to 46% compared to HP’s 22% in April-June quarter, largely due to a large order by the Tamil Nadu government for its plan to distribute 1.5 million laptops to students. (Source: Economic Times)


Apple may Unveil New Phones and Other Devices on Sept 10

The most-anticipated event in the world of technology is right around the corner and Apple fans worldwide on Tuesday would witness the next generation of iPhones, top-of-the line Watch models and ramped up services like Apple TV+.

Set for its unveiling at the Steve Jobs Theater at the company's headquaters in Cupertino, California, on September 10, iPhone 11 or XI is likely to be opened for pre-order on September 13 and be available in-store on September 20 globally. Apple traditionally launches the new iPhones on Tuesday, starts preorders on Friday and begins delivering the devices a week later. — IANS (Source: Economic Times)

Apple mulling 2-3 physical and an online retail store in India

Apple plans to set up up to three brick-and-mortar outlets in India besides an online store as the iPhone maker looks to further cement its position in one of the world’s largest smartphone markets.

According to sources privy to the development, Apple has conveyed to the government its plans to set up physical as well as an online store, in line with its ‘global experience’ centres for Apple-branded products.

The move comes at a time when global smartphone manufacturers have reiterated their commitment to the Indian market and are looking to significantly ramp up their manufacturing capabilities in the country.

Apple, which works with Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron in India, currently makes iPhone 6S and 7 here. One of the sources said Apple is looking at assembling more models in the country. Apple did not respond to a query on this issue.

FDI norm relaxation
In a major push to single-brand retail, the government last week had relaxed FDI norms, offering players more flexibility on local sourcing norms. It also did away a provision that required companies to mandatorily set up a brick-and-mortar store before getting into online retail trading.

Following the announcement, Apple had said it is keen on offering online and in-store experiences to Indian users that are at par with its global standards and aims to open its maiden retail store in India.

Possible locations
While the company has remained mum on the locations of its stores, reports suggest that Mumbai could become home to India’s maiden Apple retail store.

India is looking to galvanise smartphone manufacturing and position itself as a global hub, dishing out incentives to sweeten the deal for international brands.

Amid growing concerns around US-China trade war, India now has an opportunity to woo companies that had so far concentrated their manufacturing operations in China.

The government has been engaged in a dialogue with key players to understand their concerns and requirements.

India's mobile handset market
A recent report by industry body IAMAI had pointed out that India’s mobile manufacturing lacks scale and depth despite its ambition to become global production hub, and the country needs to “think big” by manufacturing at scale, producing high-end phones, and incentivising exports.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) report had also noted that the global handsets market is worth about USD 467 billion (about Rs 32 lakh crore), and this demand is being met almost entirely by China, Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan.

The same report stated that in 2018-19, India exported mobile handsets worth USD 1.4 billion compared to USD 2.7 billion in 2012-13.

The production of mobile handsets had reached 225 million units in 2017-18 and India has the potential to manufacture one billion handsets annually, it had said. (Source:The Hindu Businessline)


Google urges employees to not debate politics at work

Alphabet Inc’s Google has posted new internal rules that discourage employees from debating politics, a shift away from the internet giant’s famously open culture. The new community guidelines tell employees not to have disruptive conversations and warn workers that they will be held responsible for whatever they say at the office.

“While sharing information and ideas with colleagues helps build community, disrupting the workday to have a raging debate over politics or the latest news story does not,” the new policy states. “Our primary responsibility is to do the work we’ve each been hired to do.”

Google has long encouraged employees to question each other and push back against managers when they think they’re making the wrong decision. Google’s founders point to the open culture as instrumental to the success they’ve had revolutionising the tech landscape over the last two decades.

Rash of problems
But the free-wheeling culture has led to a rash of problems for Google management in recent years. Progressive employees have used internal chat boards to rally other workers against some Google projects, helping push the company to end work on a search engine for the Chinese market and an image-recognition AI system for the US military.

A handful of conservative employees have been accused of using internal systems to harass co-workers they deem too liberal. The new policy says: don’t troll, name call, or engage in ad hominem attacks. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Infy Sees a Jump in Cloud Services as Co Ties up with Biggies

Partners with Google Cloud, Amazon web services and Microsoft Azure. Infosys is witnessing a jump in cloud-based services as it has partnered with large cloud providers such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure to help clients move their applications from traditional IT infrastructure to the cloud.

The Bengaluru-based IT services provider is betting on this growth to drive digital services.

“The expectation from what this unit will do is higher from us than from some of the other service lines and rightfully so,” Narsimha Rao Mannepalli, head of cloud and infrastructure at Infosys, told ET. “This is a space where a lot of IT spend will happen and opportunities will be there.”

Technology researcher Gartner has projected that the market size and growth of the cloud services industry at nearly three time the growth of overall IT services through 2022. In April, it projected the global public cloud service market to grow to $331 billion by 2022 from $182.4 billion in 2018.

Infosys has internally set a target to achieve over 50% of its revenues from the digital services, up from 35.7% in the quarter to June, Company CEO Salil Parekh had recently told ET.

Digital services grew at 41.9% in the quarter to June.

“A lot of that (50% target) is only doable if we continue to do well on the cloud side,” Mannepalli said. “It’s very unlikely that we can achieve any of those if we don’t succeed on the cloud side.”

The company looks to further tap into enterprise contracts by offering infrastructure transformations, helping create new business models and digital experiences, and cloud advisory services, he said. Mannepalli said North America will continue to see highest traction for its services followed by Europe, while aggressive bets in cloud are also being made in the Australia region.

“Infosys already has a thousand odd customers in our client list-...so we always begin with that-…so the cloud revenues will reflect the larger Infosys revenue,” he said. (Source: Economic Times)

Xiaomi on Bharat Yatra for Growth

Chinese firm now has 2,000 stores that help it reach out to rural areas, towns. Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi now has 2,000 exclusive Mi Stores across the country, helping grow its presence in small towns and rural areas, at a time when sales growth has begun to taper off in the category.

The addition of the last 1,000 Mi Stores, which are third party-run small format stores, has come in a little over four months. These stores are different from the Mi Studios and company-run Mi Home stores, which Xiaomi has been opening across Metro and tier-I cities.

These stores will help the company reach its target of driving 50% of sales through the offline channel by year-end, said Xiaomi India managing director Manu Jain. Moreover, the company is aiming to open 3,000 more stores in the next 12-18 months.

“With this, we should be the smartphone player with the most number of exclusive stores in India,” Jain said in an exclusive interaction with ET. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re one among the top brands, not just smartphone brands, in terms of number of exclusive stores in the country.” Xiaomi, which started selling in India with an online-only sales model around five years ago, began its offline push nearly two years back.

Experts say it was this push that helped the company to eclipse South Korea’s Samsung as the top handset manufacturer in the country.

Given its headstart in online sales, Xiaomi claims it already controls 50% of the online smartphone market, leaving little wiggle room for growth there. However, in the offline market, the company says it has just a little over 20% share and wants to increase its market presence. (Source: Economic Times)

TikTok owner to set up data centres in India

China’s Bytedance Ltd, which owns the popular TikTok and Helo apps, plans to establish data centres in India. The company was recently issued a notice by the Indian government for allegedly misusing the platforms for “anti-national activities”. The firm was warned that the apps may face a ban if it fails to submit appropriate responses by 22 July.

“We are now in the process of examining options for safe, secure and reliable services for our Indian users within India’s borders,” Bytedance said in a press release on Sunday. The move is in line with the government’s efforts towards data localization for user data gathered from India. The investment towards the local data centres will be part of the billion dollar investment in India that Bytedance had announced earlier this year, according to a Business Standard report.

The company also said it has so far been storing Indian users’ data in third-party servers located in the US and Singapore. The firm had made similar claims earlier this month when Congress party leader Shashi Tharoor accused the firm of collecting user data illegally and sending it to China.

“These claims are simply untrue. The privacy and security of our users is our top priority, and we abide by local laws and regulations in the markets where we operate,” Bytedance said in a statement at the time. (Source: Mint)

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