Compared to Apple’s growth, Samsung fell 30 percent, Huawei 5 percent, Xiaomi 10 percent, OPPO 16 percent, and others 23 percent in terms of smartphone shipments.
Last Updated: August 1, 2020, 11:24 AM IST
As the global smartphone market plummeted 14 per cent in the June quarter, Apple was the only vendor to grow as it shipped 45.1 million iPhones globally, a growth of 25 per cent compared to the previous year, according to a new report. Samsung fell 30 per cent, Huawei 5 per cent, Xiaomi 10 per cent, OPPO 16 per cent and others 23 per cent in terms of shipments in the second quarter, reported market research firm Canalys.
“Apple defied expectations in Q2. Its new iPhone SE was critical in the quarter, accounting for around 28 per cent of its global volume, while iPhone 11 remained a strong best-seller at nearly 40 per cent,” analyst Vincent Thielke on Friday. According to him, iPhone SE will remain crucial to prop up the volume this year, amid delays to Apple’s next flagship release. “In China, it had blockbuster results, growing 35 per cent to reach 7.7 million units. It is unusual for Apple’s Q2 shipments to increase sequentially,” said Thielke. The smartphone market worldwide fell to 285 million units, a second consecutive quarter of freefall, as lockdown orders caused by the Covid-19 pandemic persisted through April and May.
Huawei toppled Samsung with shipping 55.8 million units, compared to Samsung’s 53.7 million in Q2 2020. Apple was third with 45.1 million units. Xiaomi came fourth, shipping 28.8 million units, which was down 10 per cent, and OPPO reclaimed fifth place from Vivo, shipping 25.8 million units with a 16 per cent decline. “As well as the new iPhone SE, Apple is also demonstrating skills in new user acquisition. It adapted quickly to the pandemic, doubling down on the digital customer experience as stay-at-home measures drive more customers to online channels,” said the report.
Samsung has announced the launch of a new UV Steriliser in India that will enable users to both sanitise their devices as well in less than 10 minutes. The device also comes with a wireless charger to charge various gadgets. The device looks like a white plastic box with a lid and can hold smartphones, smartwatches, earbuds, and other devices. Furthermore, the box can charge 10W compatible gadgets while they are being sanitised.
As far as the usage of the UV Steriliser is concerned, users can simply drop anything inside the sterilising box, close the lid and press the start button. The UV Steriliser also comes with dual-LED indicator lights to help users understand when it’s working and when the sanitisation process is complete. According to Samsung, the UV Steriliser uses UV-C light to kill 99% of the bacteria and germs on both sides of whatever is placed inside the box.
Interestingly, this is not the first time Samsung has come up with UV sterilisation devices. At the height of Covid-19 crisis in March, Samsung launched a new initiative called Galaxy Sanitising Service in select countries including India. Under the initiative, Samsung offered to sanitise its smartphones and other gadgets for free at its service centres. Furthermore, as part of its hygiene initiative, Samsung also recently released a handwashing app for Galaxy smartwatches as well. So, it’s not surprising to see Samsung joining the fray in finally introducing an affordable UV Steriliser in India, in fact, there are aplenty due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. As for pricing, the Samsung UV Steriliser will cost Rs 3,599 in the Indian market and the device will go on sale from August at all retail channels, including Samsung’s own online store.
the report added that home-grown platform to reach nearly 59 billion transactions in volume by 2023, owing to its high P2P type of transaction penetration.
Last Updated: July 24, 2020, 10:35 AM IST
With the rise in usage of digital modes of transactions and the growing market of digital payment services, India is likely to contribute around 2.2 per cent to the sector by 2023, said a report by the Payments Council of India and PWC. The report titled ‘Empowering payments: Digital India on the path of revolution’ said that with global transaction value for digital payments expected to reach $12.4 trillion by 2025, India is expected to contribute 2.2 per cent of the world’s digital payment market by 2023 alone.
Underlining UPI is among the largest real-time payment systems in the world, the report estimates the home-grown platform to reach nearly 59 billion transactions in volume by 2023, owing to its high P2P type of transaction penetration.
“Clocking over 1 billion transactions every month, the platform has witnessed a CAGR of 785 per cent in volume and 570 per cent in terms of value from financial year FY 2017 to FY 2020,” it said. As per the report, India is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, showing rapid progression in the transformation of digital payments, largely due to its large population and demographics.
It has been attracting significant investments from private equity and venture capital firms and other international payment companies that want to enter India in the near future. According to the report, India has been identified as a leader across parameters — regulation of costs of payment systems, laws in place, availability of alternate payment systems, the share of e-money in payment systems among others.
With the sharp rise in demand for contactless payments increasing amid the pandemic, businesses are looking at integrating their online and offline channels to provide an omnichannel experience to its customers. From the statistics of UPI, BBPS and NETC for the months of February to June 2020, the report suggested that a V-shaped recovery in the digital payment sector is being prompted.
PUBG Mobile has just announced that it is partnering with Direct Relief to fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by supplying medical aid to frontline healthcare workers. The ‘Play As One’ campaign encourages the 600 million players worldwide to team up and play for the same goal and brings a new in-game challenge and community fundraiser for individual players to support and participate in Direct Relief’s COVID-19 response. The initiative is an attempt to bring a positive impact on society and helping more people and PUBG Mobile is taking the ‘social responsibility in a worldwide brand perspective and encouraging community members to contribute their own efforts.
The first in-game “Running Challenge For Donation” event will run from 15 to 28 July where players’ sprinting distance in-game will be added to the server milestone corresponding to a dollar donation by PUBG Mobile. This means the more you play and cover distances in the game, the more money goes to the relief fund. A milestone tracker starting with a donation of $1 million USD, will continue to increase as players run more distance in-game.
There is also a dedicated channel for community members where they can support the fundraiser by making voluntary donations. All donations will directly contribute to support Direct Relief’s emergency response to COVID-19 around the world. Apart from the in-game campaign, one can donate directly to Direct Relief at www.directrelief.org/pubgmobile.
India in March said all foreign billings for digital services provided in the country would be taxed at 2% from April 1 that caught the US tech giants off-guard.
Last Updated: July 7, 2020, 3:13 PM IST
A lobby group representing U.S. technology giants has said its members are not yet ready to make the first payment of the country’s digital tax due this week, urging New Delhi to defer the move. India in March said all foreign billings for digital services provided in the country would be taxed at 2% from April 1, a move that caught U.S. technology firms off guard as they were battling the coronavirus pandemic.
The tax applies to e-commerce transactions on websites such as Amazon.com. Google, in particular, has been worried as the tax applies to advertising revenue earned overseas if those ads target customers in India. The first quarterly payment of the tax is due on Tuesday, but in a letter on July 6 lobby group, U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) urged the finance ministry to defer the tax or postpone the date for payment.
The group argued the tax was “riddled with various ambiguities and interpretational concerns” and it wasn’t clear on what amount the companies needed to pay the levy. “There are practical difficulties in meeting this timeline,” USISPF wrote to the finance ministry in the letter, reviewed by Reuters.
The finance ministry did not respond to a request for comment. USISPF’s managing director for India, Nivedita Mehra, said the organisation had sent the letter to the finance ministry because it wanted to request help in resolving concerns of their member companies. An Indian government source this week told Reuters that New Delhi was committed to implementing the tax.
The tax, a so-called equalisation levy, is seen aimed at taxing foreign companies which have a significant local client base in India but were billing them through their offshore units, effectively escaping the country’s tax system. In its letter, USISPF also said the government’s new requirement of obtaining an income tax identification number for tax payments will pose “administrative challenges” to some foreign companies.
Judging when to tighten, or loosen, the local economy has become the world’s most consequential guessing game, and each policymaker has his or her own instincts and bench marks. The point when hospitals reach 70% capacity is a red flag, for instance; so are upticks in coronavirus case counts and deaths.
But as the governors of states like Florida, California and Texas have learned in recent days, such bench marks make for a poor alarm system. Once the coronavirus finds an opening in the population, it gains a two-week head start on health officials, circulating and multiplying swiftly before its reemergence becomes apparent at hospitals, testing clinics and elsewhere.
Now, an international team of scientists has developed a model — or, at minimum, the template for a model — that could predict outbreaks about two weeks before they occur, in time to put effective containment measures in place. In a paper posted on Thursday on arXiv.org, the team, led by Mauricio Santillana and Nicole Kogan of Harvard, presented an algorithm that registered danger 14 days or more before case counts begin to increase. The system uses real-time monitoring of Twitter, Google searches and mobility data from smartphones, among other data streams.
The algorithm, the researchers write, could function “as a thermostat, in a cooling or heating system, to guide intermittent activation or relaxation of public health interventions” — that is, a smoother, safer reopening. “In most infectious-disease modelling, you project different scenarios based on assumptions made up front,” said Santillana, director of the Machine Intelligence Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor of paediatrics and epidemiology at Harvard. “What we’re doing here is observing, without making assumptions. The difference is that our methods are responsive to immediate changes in behaviour and we can incorporate those.”
Outside experts who were shown the new analysis, which has not yet been peer reviewed, said it demonstrated the increasing value of real-time data, like social media, in improving existing models. The study shows “that alternative, next-gen data sources may provide early signals of rising COVID-19 prevalence,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, a biologist and statistician at the University of Texas, Austin. “Particularly if confirmed case counts are lagged by delays in seeking treatment and obtaining test results.”
The use of real-time data analysis to gauge disease progression goes back at least to 2008, when engineers at Google began estimating doctor visits for the flu by tracking search trends for words like “feeling exhausted,” “joints aching,” “Tamiflu dosage” and many others. The Google Flu Trends algorithm, as it is known, performed poorly. For instance, it continually overestimated doctor visits, later evaluations found, because of limitations of the data and the influence of outside factors such as media attention, which can drive up searches that are unrelated to actual illness.
Since then, researchers have made multiple adjustments to this approach, combining Google searches with other kinds of data. Teams at Carnegie-Mellon University, University College London and the University of Texas, among others, have models incorporating some real-time data analysis. “We know that no single data stream is useful in isolation,” said Madhav Marathe, a computer scientist at the University of Virginia. “The contribution of this new paper is that they have a good, wide variety of streams.”
In the new paper, the team analysed real-time data from four sources, in addition to Google: COVID-related Twitter posts, geotagged for location; doctors’ searches on a physician platform called UpToDate; anonymous mobility data from smartphones; and readings from the Kinsa Smart Thermometer, which uploads to an app. It integrated those data streams with a sophisticated prediction model developed at Northeastern University, based on how people move and interact in communities.
The team tested the predictive value of trends in the data stream by looking at how each correlated with case counts and deaths over March and April, in each state. In New York, for instance, a sharp uptrend in COVID-related Twitter posts began more than a week before case counts exploded in mid-March; relevant Google searches and Kinsa measures spiked several days beforehand. The team combined all its data sources, in effect weighting each according to how strongly it was correlated to a coming increase in cases. This “harmonised” algorithm anticipated outbreaks by 21 days, on average, the researchers found.
Looking ahead, it predicts that Nebraska and New Hampshire are likely to see cases increase in the coming weeks if no further measures are taken, despite case counts being currently flat. “I think we can expect to see at least a week or more of advanced warning, conservatively, taking into account that the epidemic is continually changing,” Santillana said. His co-authors included scientists from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Stanford University; and the University of Salzburg, as well as Northeastern.
He added: “And we don’t see this data as replacing traditional surveillance but confirming it. It’s the kind of information that can enable decision-makers to say, ‘Let’s not wait one more week, let’s act now.’” For all its appeal, big-data analytics cannot anticipate sudden changes in mass behaviour any better than other, traditional models can, experts said. There is no algorithm that might have predicted the nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, for instance — mass gatherings that may have seeded new outbreaks, despite precautions taken by protesters.
Social media and search engines also can become less sensitive with time; the more familiar with a pathogen people become, the less they will search with selected keywords. Public health agencies like the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which also consults real-time data from social media and other sources, have not made such algorithms central to their forecasts. “This is extremely valuable data for us to have,” said Shweta Bansal, a biologist at Georgetown University. “But I wouldn’t want to go into the forecasting business on this; the harm that can be done is quite severe. We need to see such models verified and validated over time.”
Given the persistent and repeating challenges of the coronavirus and the inadequacy of the current public health infrastructure, that seems likely to happen, most experts said. There is an urgent need, and there is no lack of data. “What we’ve looked at is what we think are the best available data streams,” Santillana said. “We’d be eager to see what Amazon could give us, or Netflix.”
Both Facebook and Instagram will now show an alert on top of the News Feed to encourage users to wear face masks in the US. The social network said that with the rise in COVID-19 cases in the US, they will put an alert at the top of Facebook and Instagram to remind everyone to wear face coverings and find more prevention tips from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Facebook will direct users to the COVID-19 Information Centre. Instagram will also have a similar notification with CDC links. Facebook said it is supporting the global public health community’s work to keep people safe and informed during the coronavirus public health crisis.
“We’re also working to address the long-term impacts by supporting industries in need and making it easier for people to find and offer help in their communities,” the company said in a statement on Thursday. The CDC has reported a new single-day record of COVID-19 cases across the country at 54,357.
According to the update of the CDC website, there are 54,357 new cases and 725 new deaths on Thursday compared to the previous day, Xinhua news agency reported. The recent surge of the pandemic also led to record positive rates and hospitalizations. Hospitals and ICUs are being stretched to capacity in states such as Arizona, Texas and Alabama. According to the CDC, 90,626 cases and 500 deaths of COVID-19 among healthcare personnel have been reported across the country.
Many countries including the US and those in the European Union have raised security concerns over Chinese companies such as Huawei.
Last Updated: June 25, 2020, 12:28 PM IST
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday listed Reliance Jio as among the “Clean Telcos” of the world for shunning doing business with Chinese companies like Huawei. “The tide is turning toward trusted 5G vendors and away from Huawei. The world’s leading telecom companies – Telefonica, Orange, Jio, Telstra, and many more are becoming ‘Clean Telcos’. They are rejecting doing business with tools of the CCP surveillance state, like Huawei,” Pompeo said in a tweet.
The US Secretary of State has been fiercely criticising the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government in recent days. In an earlier tweet, Pompeo said: “The Chinese Communist Party is behaving in ways that fundamentally put the American people’s security at risk. The @realDonaldTrump Administration is the first in decades to take this threat seriously,” he said.
“China’s contributions to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic are paltry compared to the financial and human cost of its cover-up,” he said in another tweet. Huawei has been called a security threat in some countries and with the 5G telecom network, there is a view in some countries like companies like Chinese companies like Huawei should not be allowed to participate. India is also taking tough action against Chinese vendors.
The solutions use the power of AI, IOTVision Analytics, Edge Computing, 5G, RFID, Biometrics and Gesture controls to reduce the need for human intervention, Infosys said.
Last Updated: June 11, 2020, 7:55 PM IST
Infosys on Thursday announced the launch of its enterprise-grade Return to Workplace solutions to help clients as they adapt to new ways of working amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The cloud and edge-based solutions offer a comprehensive framework that enables enterprises to implement. Elevated Body Temperature (EBT) screening, Contact Tracing, Mask Compliance / Social Distancing Compliance, COVID 19 Chatbot and Contactless biometrics, among others, the company said in a statement.
These solutions do not collect any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and use the power of AI, IOTVision Analytics, Edge Computing, 5G, RFID, Biometrics and Gesture controls to reduce the need for human intervention and enable data-driven decision making, it said.
Nitesh Bansal, SVP and Head- Engineering Services, Infosys, said, “We are implementing some of these solutions, starting with EBT checks, across five million sq.ft. of our own office spaces as we prepare for 20,000 Infosys employees to return to their workplaces in a phased manner.”
According to a recent tweet by the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY), it has been downloaded by 3 crore users. Additionally, the app has been downloaded over 10 crore times according to a Google Play Store listing.
Last Updated: June 9, 2020, 2:49 PM IST
A special version of the Aarogya Setu app was launched for KaiOS last month, primarily used by Jio Phone and Jio Phone 2. According to a recent tweet by the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY), it has been downloaded by 3 crore users. Additionally, the app has been downloaded over 10 crore times according to a Google Play Store listing.
The government had launched the Aarogya Setu app in India back in the month of April in an attempt to spread awareness and limit the spread of COVID-19. It is primarily a contact tracing app that uses Bluetooth and device location to trace your interaction with people who might have been or may test positive for COVID in the near future.
Soon after the launch, the app was lauded by the government as well as PM Narendra Modi himself. Soon after, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had made the Aarogya Setu app a compulsory installation on phones of all public sector and government employees, as well as private sector employees traveling to office. Ever since then, the app has been suspected of a variety of security concerns.
There has been a lot of debate around the privacy and surveillance aspects of the app, with critics suggesting that the app with its access to your location and Bluetooth proximity data, can be used for illegal surveillance.
Recently, renowned publication MIT Technology Review announced that they are working with experts around the world to understand what each COVID contact tracing app offers and the issues around it. As per our report from last month, it compared and ranked the Contact Tracing apps launched in 25 countries, including India’s Aarogya Setu that received just 2 out of 5 stars. The apps were being ranked on five parameters—is it voluntary or not, is it being solely used for public health purposes or there are usage scenarios for law enforcement, is the user data collected by the app deleted within a reasonable amount of time and whether the entire process is transparent.