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Govt Welcomes Apple, Samsung's Local Manufacturing Move, Chinese OEMs Skip PLI Offer

Manufacturing partners of Apple and Samsung in India have announced their participation in India’s Production Linked Incentive (PLI) offer to do away with India’s dependence on China. Speaking to the media on Saturday, August 1, union telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government has welcomed Apple and Samsung to make the most of India’s local manufacturing benefits, which has extended incentives of up to Rs 41,000 crore subject to meeting local manufacturing targets.

The list of local manufacturing applicants in India include global players as well as their subsidiaries, including Samsung, Pegatron, Foxconn, Wistron, Rising Star, Dixon, Padget, Lava, Micromax and more. The mix includes production partners for global smartphone giants Apple and Samsung, of which the latter is a dominant presence in India as well. While Samsung has been a long time player in India’s local manufacturing ecosystem, Apple has also made the move for local manufacturing of smartphones stronger in the recent years. After starting with making its older devices, Apple has started pushing for its latest crop of iPhones to be made in India as well.

However, it is interesting to note that despite making initial noise about its support for the Indian government’s local manufacturing, ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘vocal for local’ initiatives, the government has noted that no Chinese OEMs have so far applied for the PLI benefits that have been floated by the government so far. The update comes in times of growing unrest against Chinese brands as an aftermath of India-China’s border clash at Galwan Valley.

Apart from Samsung, most major smartphone vendors in India are Chinese companies. India’s leading smartphone seller is Xiaomi, with the highest market share for a single brand. Other major brands in India include Realme, Oppo and Vivo, while in the premium segment, alongside Apple, fellow BBK Electronics brand OnePlus is a significant player too. For each of these brands, India is also a major contributor to their revenues.

While local manufacturing in India is still largely going to be limited to assembling of devices in India, setting up of more extensive assembly plants would be the first step towards developing India’s manufacturing ecosystem. Alongside promoting local making of devices, India is also looking to not including Chinese OEMs in its upcoming 5G trials in India.


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Apple's Taiwan suppliers, Samsung apply for India's local smartphone scheme

Apple's Taiwan suppliers, Samsung apply for India's local smartphone scheme

Apple Inc’s Taiwan contract manufacturers Foxconn, Wistron Corp and Pegatron Corp have applied for India’s $6.5 billion scheme to boost local smartphone manufacturing, the country’s tech minister said on Saturday.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: August 1, 2020, 2:08 PM IST

NEW DELHI Apple Inc’s Taiwan contract manufacturers Foxconn, Wistron Corp and Pegatron Corp have applied for India’s $6.5 billion scheme to boost local smartphone manufacturing, the country’s tech minister said on Saturday.

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has also applied for the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told a news conference.

The plan offers companies cash incentives on additional sales of devices made locally over five years, with 2019-2020 as the base year.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor



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Local U.S. election officials fight disinformation 'virus', whether from overseas or Trump

WASHINGTON As the clock ticks toward the U.S. presidential election in November, state election officials are devoting more time – and money – to educating voters about the dangers of disinformation while reassuring them that the system is fundamentally sound.

On a recent Zoom call, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the state’s top election official, ran through slides showing altered Facebook photographs, misleading tweets from the last presidential election and photographs of Russian hackers.

“Disinformation spreads like a virus,” the presentation warned its audience of Black pastors, minority leaders, and civil rights campaigners, detailing how Moscow carried out “an all-out assault on African-American voters using social media.”

It was an eye-opener, one attendee said.

“We had not had this kind of training or dialogue that I know of in the 20 years that I have been in Ohio,” said Andre Washington, who leads the state chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, an African-American trade union organization.

LaRose’s sessions are one in a series of initiatives being rolled out by the state and other local officials who run elections across the country to help head off a repeat of 2016, when hackers and trolls pumped stolen emails and propaganda into U.S. public forums. It remains unclear if – or how – it affected the outcome of the vote.

Senior intelligence officials predict that Russia – along with China and Iran – will attempt to influence the 2020 election as well.

The process this year will be even more fraught due to the coronavirus pandemic, which will compel many Americans to use unfamiliar new forms of voting, including drive-throughs, drop-off boxes, or mail-in ballots.

Partisan politics is also poisoning the discourse. Trailing in opinion polls, Republican President Donald Trump has said mail-in ballots will open the door to massive fraud, despite the lack of evidence for such a view.

“When we were thinking about this 10 months ago or two years ago, we were probably thinking more in terms of external, foreign adversaries – Russia doing misinformation campaigns,” Kim Wyman, Washington’s secretary of state, told Reuters in June.

Referring to a tweet that Trump had posted that day alleging that millions of mail-in ballots would be printed by foreign countries in a “RIGGED 2020 ELECTION,” she said: “Today’s tweets show that it can come from anywhere.”

On Thursday, Trump went a step further and raised the possibility of a delay, which is not in his power to do. “2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history … Delay the election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???,” he said in a tweet.

Surveys suggest Americans were already worried about the integrity of U.S. elections before the coronavirus. A Gallup poll conducted in 2019 said 59 percent of Americans are “not confident” in the honesty of U.S. elections. And a Marist Poll from January said those polled believed “misleading information” represented the biggest threat facing the vote.

Wyman said that her mission – and the mission of “every election official in this country right now” – was “getting people to have confidence in our system.”

U.S. political parties, donors, and social media platforms are all trying to be on better guard than they were in 2016.

Over the last four years, social media giants, including Facebook and Twitter, have improved their ability to spot inauthentic behavior, like Russia’s past use of “sock puppet accounts” to spread fake or inflammatory claims. Election officials say they now have direct lines of communication to platforms like Facebook, allowing them to fast-track the removal of election-related lies.

LaRose of Ohio, who like Wyman is a Republican, said he is trying to fight disinformation no matter what the source.

“It can be uncomfortable when it’s a member of my party that shares something that’s incorrect, but – my God – I wear the referee’s jersey in this capacity,” LaRose told Reuters.

NEW TACTICS

Wyman and LaRose are part of a cadre of election officials who are trying new tactics to inoculate voters against false claims.

That includes developing and expanding local government social media accounts to counter misinformation, hiring advertising firms to design communications strategies, and offering pre-recorded virtual tours of voting facilities, educational television broadcasts and election classes for local journalists.

Public outreach in past years tended to feature generic get-out-the-vote literature; this year’s ads are aimed at reassuring constituents that their vote will be properly tallied.

In Washington’s Thurston County, home to the state capital, Olympia, auditor Mary Hall said authorities were wiring up the county ballot processing center – a converted warehouse southwest of town – to livestream the vote-counting process.

“Every part of our Ballot Processing Center is recorded during the election,” read one recent Facebook ad. “These recordings are kept for months after certification so we can keep a record of everyone that had touched a ballot.”

There’s no nationwide tally on how much money is going to the effort. Election observers say while budgets remain small, they’re seeing a spending surge this year compared to past cycles.

Hall said Thurston County officials used to spend around $500 for Facebook ads to communicate with voters. This year the county was putting $35,000 toward ads on Facebook, music streaming service Pandora, cable television, and in the local newspaper.

Iowa will “easily spend” twice as much as in 2018, Secretary of State Paul Pate told Reuters, without giving details.

Election security experts who spoke to Reuters said while they support the educational effort, it would likely only reach a small percentage of the population before November.

All the more reason to get ahead of the problem, according to a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security, who spoke to Reuters on condition that he not be named.

“We believe it’s important to control the battle space now,” he said.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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Tech

Local U.S. election officials try to ward off 'virus' of disinformation in November

WASHINGTON As the clock ticks toward the U.S. presidential election in November, state election officials are devoting more time – and money – to educating voters about the dangers of disinformation while reassuring them that the system is fundamentally sound.

On a recent Zoom call, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the state’s top election official, ran through slides showing altered Facebook photographs, misleading tweets from the last presidential election and photographs of Russian hackers.

“Disinformation spreads like a virus,” the presentation warned its audience of Black pastors, minority leaders, and civil rights campaigners, detailing how Moscow carried out “an all-out assault on African-American voters using social media.”

It was an eye-opener, one attendee said.

“We had not had this kind of training or dialogue that I know of in the 20 years that I have been in Ohio,” said Andre Washington, who leads the state chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, an African-American trade union organization.

LaRose’s sessions are one in a series of initiatives being rolled out by the state and other local officials who run elections across the country to help head off a repeat of 2016, when hackers and trolls pumped stolen emails and propaganda into U.S. public forums. It remains unclear if – or how – it affected the outcome of the vote.

Senior intelligence officials predict that Russia – along with China and Iran – will attempt to influence the 2020 election as well.

The process this year will be even more fraught due to the coronavirus pandemic, which will compel many Americans to use unfamiliar new forms of voting, including drive-throughs, drop-off boxes, or mail-in ballots.

Partisan politics is also poisoning the discourse. Trailing in opinion polls, Republican President Donald Trump has said mail-in ballots will open the door to massive fraud, despite the lack of evidence for such a view.

“When we were thinking about this 10 months ago or two years ago, we were probably thinking more in terms of external, foreign adversaries – Russia doing misinformation campaigns,” Kim Wyman, Washington’s secretary of state, told Reuters in June.

Referring to a tweet that Trump had posted that day alleging that millions of mail-in ballots would be printed by foreign countries in a “RIGGED 2020 ELECTION,” she said: “Today’s tweets show that it can come from anywhere.”

Surveys suggest Americans were already worried about the integrity of U.S. elections before the coronavirus. A Gallup poll conducted in 2019 said 59 percent of Americans are “not confident” in the honesty of U.S. elections. And a Marist Poll from January said those polled believed “misleading information” represented the biggest threat facing the vote.

Wyman said that her mission – and the mission of “every election official in this country right now” – was “getting people to have confidence in our system.”

U.S. political parties, donors, and social media platforms are all trying to be on better guard than they were in 2016.

Over the last four years, social media giants, including Facebook and Twitter, have improved their ability to spot inauthentic behavior, like Russia’s past use of “sock puppet accounts” to spread fake or inflammatory claims. Election officials say they now have direct lines of communication to platforms like Facebook, allowing them to fast-track the removal of election-related lies.

LaRose of Ohio, who like Wyman is a Republican, said he is trying to fight disinformation no matter what the source.

“It can be uncomfortable when it’s a member of my party that shares something that’s incorrect, but – my God – I wear the referee’s jersey in this capacity,” LaRose told Reuters.

NEW TACTICS

Wyman and LaRose are part of a cadre of election officials who are trying new tactics to inoculate voters against false claims.

That includes developing and expanding local government social media accounts to counter misinformation, hiring advertising firms to design communications strategies, and offering pre-recorded virtual tours of voting facilities, educational television broadcasts and election classes for local journalists.

Public outreach in past years tended to feature generic get-out-the-vote literature; this year’s ads are aimed at reassuring constituents that their vote will be properly tallied.

In Washington’s Thurston County, home to the state capital, Olympia, auditor Mary Hall said authorities were wiring up the county ballot processing center – a converted warehouse southwest of town – to livestream the vote-counting process.

“Every part of our Ballot Processing Center is recorded during the election,” read one recent Facebook ad. “These recordings are kept for months after certification so we can keep a record of everyone that had touched a ballot.”

There’s no nationwide tally on how much money is going to the effort. Election observers say while budgets remain small, they’re seeing a spending surge this year compared to past cycles.

Hall said Thurston County officials used to spend around $500 for Facebook ads to communicate with voters. This year the county was putting $35,000 toward ads on Facebook, music streaming service Pandora, cable television, and in the local newspaper.

Iowa will “easily spend” twice as much as in 2018, Secretary of State Paul Pate told Reuters, without giving details.

Election security experts who spoke to Reuters said while they support the educational effort, it would likely only reach a small percentage of the population before November.

All the more reason to get ahead of the problem, according to a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security, who spoke to Reuters on condition that he not be named.

“We believe it’s important to control the battle space now,” he said.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


Categories
Tech

Your Local Kirana Store Goes Online Thanks to JioMart-Whatsapp Tie-up

Thanks to the investment by social media giant Facebook, JioMart will leverage the power of WhatsApp messaging to bring local vendors, independent hawkers and small kirana stores online. The move was announced as a part of the deal signed between Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Mukesh Ambani-backed Jio Platforms back in April which also involves Reliance Retail. JioMart is an online groceries delivery platform and originally announced at beginning of the year as part of Jio Platforms’ expansion into the e-commerce space in India.

“JioMart is built to digitally enable, empower and engage kirana stores. Kiranas will stay connected and transact with their customers on the JioMart platform, facilitated by a multifunctional POS,” said Isha Ambani at the 43rd Reliance Annual General Meeting.

JioMart will allow local vendors and small kirana businesses will be able to register on the online groceries delivery platform, and receive seamless orders through WhatsApp. As we all know, WhatsApp is the ubiquitously preferred messaging and communication service across different segments of internet users. This could, therefore, help in expanding the scope of business for kirana stores that so far largely survived on offline, physical orders. This should lead to JioMart seeing considerable growth as it would bring the convenience of offering to users their favourite, local grocery stores.

As of May, JioMart was available across 200 cities and towns in India including all leading metro cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Kolkata. While Reliance is yet to launch a dedicated app for JioMart, it has a dedicated website (www.jiomart.com) which is currently live. It is beyond doubt, that the latest move by Reliance is expected to throw a tough competition to other prominent grocery delivery services like Amazon India, Flipkart, and Big Basket.

JioMart deliveries had been in the test run phase in Mumbai as a small pilot project. The deliveries were available in Navi Mumbai, Thane, and Kalyan. Reliance also started signing up small Kirana stores which would allow customers to order online and get groceries delivered from their neighbourhood shop to their doorstep amid the coronavirus crisis.


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Tech

JioMeet Video Conferencing Tool Amplifies PM Modi's Vocal for Local Push in India

One of the major points that Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought forth in a bid to revive the Indian economy in light of the Covid-19 lockdown was a push for Indian services. With vocal for local and ‘atmanirbhar Bharat’ calls growing strong, JioMeet has arrived to address the imminent requirement of an Indian video conferencing service that amplifies PM Modi’s vocal for local push. This takes Indian technology to the forefront of global services, and gives the people of India a homegrown service that they can use for all official purposes.

So far, the JioMeet service was so far on a trial phase, and required invitation codes to work. Now, with the service being opened up for everyone, JioMeet will be directly rivalling services such as Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Skype. This brings it head to head with all of these services in terms of the features on offer, which incidentally is right up with global offerings.

To match the features on offer by Zoom, Google Meet, Skype and others, JioMeet will allow video conferencing with up to 100 participants. Given that JioMeet is available for free, this certainly beats the likes of Zoom and Google Meet, which allows lesser participants in their free versions. JioMeet also allows users to schedule meetings prior to a conference, which would therefore allow companies to set up pre-scheduled conference meets online. It further includes the option for participants to share screens, therefore allowing live sharing of content across computers. JioMeet will further allow participants to instantly join calls directly from their web browsers.

Additionally, JioMeet promises encryption and security for every video conference, therefore enabling complete privacy and data protection for its users. JioMeet is now available on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Windows, macOS and also as a web service. JioMeet can also be integrated into enterprise suites that employ Outlook, so that organisations can directly collaborate via video calls on Outlook itself.

With video conferencing becoming a key tool in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, JioMeet will play a key role in streamlining heavy conferencing needs. JioMeet also fills the gap of an Indian video conferencing solution, which the government of India had called for after various security issues were highlighted with a number of global video conferencing service providers.

One big aspect that will work in JioMeet’s favour is its Indian roots. With data privacy and data localisation being key concerns, JioMeet will address India’s requirement for a reliable, robust video conferencing platform that can be used for both personal and enterprise purposes. JioMeet is now available for all users, therefore filling the void in the market for an established Indian video conferencing service.

Disclaimer:News18.com is part of Network18 Media & Investment Limited which is owned by Reliance Industries Limited that also owns Reliance Jio.


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Local Manufacturing of Smartphones: Does India Still Remain Dependent on China?






Jun 30, 2020 02:29 PM IST
iVideos iVideos

With almost six years into PM Narendra Modi’s Make in India announcement, brands have set up considerable facilities that assemble smartphones locally. In fact, some are also exporting to other nations. However, what about the critical components such as chipset, memory and display? Does this mean that we are, in the long run, still tied to China? If we are, then what will it take for India to become fully independent of China to become a complete manufacturing hub? This report takes a look.

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Tech

Amazon Pay Will Now Let You Pay at Local Stores Using QR Code

Amazon Pay on Friday launched Smart Stores feature in India where customers need to scan the store’s QR code using the Amazon app to begin exploring the products available within the store. The ‘Smart Store’ feature would empower local shops with capabilities to increase footfalls, improve customer experience and generate more sales, the company said in a statement.

“Amazon Pay is already accepted at millions of local shops, we are trying to make customers’ buying experience at local shops even more convenient and safe through Smart Stores,” said Mahendra Nerurkar, CEO, Amazon Pay. After selecting the products, customers buy with Amazon Pay, which gives them a choice of using UPI, balance, or credit or debit cards.

Customers can on-the-spot convert a transaction into an EMI and from time-to-time avail exciting rewards from their banks or through Amazon Pay. Smart Store will enable a local shop to launch a digital storefront, thereby enabling customers to discover products, read reviews, evaluate offers while in the store or from anywhere using the Amazon app.

It will also enable local shops to offer Amazon Pay reward coupons to attract new customers. Thousands of local shops across the country have already signed up as Amazon Pay Smart Stores, like Sri Balaji Kitchens in Vishakapatnam, USHA Company Store in Jabalpur and outlets of brands such as Big Bazaar, MedPlus and More Supermarkets. “Through EMIs, bank offers and rewards, we seek to make these purchases more affordable and rewarding for customers, and help increase sales for merchants,” Nerurkar added.


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Revamped PLI Scheme Aims to Boost Local Smartphone Manufacturing in India

Smartphone manufacturing in India is being seen as a big avenue going forward, and the government of India is making a few changes to enable that. At the top of the charts is a revision of the existing production-linked incentive scheme for smartphone manufacturers, where an empowered committee has decided that it will no longer evaluate manufacturing plant and machinery brought into India by a brand at just 40 percent of its value. Revealed in a report by The Economic Times, this was one of the clauses to which Apple had raised an objection to. Now, the government is reportedly in discussion with manufacturers such as Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron to attempt to move some of their manufacturing activities over to India.

Interestingly, the government committee that made the above change on Friday also voted to begin involving industry players in meetings and discussions, before making any further changes to this PLI scheme. To be involved in the decision making process, companies will need to have invested and setup some scale of manufacturing processes in India already. To further ease the rules and make local manufacturing of smartphones in India seem attractive, the committee has chosen to remove certain valuation caps from the production process, and also de-link the payout of the local manufacturing incentive from the government’s financial condition. In other words, companies manufacturing in India will have an assurance of earning its PLI, therefore making India seem like a viable alternate manufacturing destination after China.

The PLI scheme will lay out a graded target of 4 percent to 6 percent incentives for companies manufacturing in India, over a five-year period. According to reports, the scheme demands companies to manufacture ‘high end’ phones (above $200, ~Rs 15,000) in India worth Rs 4,000 in the first year, followed by Rs 8,000 crore, Rs 15,000 crore, Rs 20,000 crore and Rs 25,000 crore between the second and fifth years of making in India. The government has reportedly earmarked a total of Rs 40,951 crore to be paid out as incentives to smartphone companies, and according to ET, the benefits may even be altered depending on the performance of companies. A new part of the PLI scheme has also added that these companies may also seek relief from the government’s set targets, in case of unforeseen circumstances disrupting flow of business in the future, such as the present Covid-19 pandemic.

Going forward, it remains to be seen if this encourages manufacturers to shift more of their production to India. Apple, which may be one of the prime targets of this move, already manufactures a select range of older generation iPhones in India. Other companies, such as the Korean Samsung, already has a bigger assembly setup in India. In recent times, Chinese players such as Xiaomi, and the BBK Electronics-backed brands of Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus have also contributed to the Make in India ventures. However, local manufacturing and exports of smartphones only account for less than $3 billion right now, which the government hopes will grow to over $100 billion by 2025, marking a big move that can shape the future of India’s local smartphone manufacturing ventures.



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Apple Details Safety Plan For Store Reopening: Local Data Monitoring, Daily Deep Cleaning & More

Image: Apple

Image: Apple

Apple says they will look at every available piece of data — including local cases, near and long‑term trends, and guidance from national and local health officials.

  • Last Updated: May 18, 2020, 9:17 AM IST

Apple has detailed its plans to safely reopen its retail stores worldwide, depending on the COVID-19 situation region by region. The company says it will carefully analyze data including local cases, near and long‑term trends, and guidance from national and local health officials, before taking a decision to reopen stores. This comes at a time when certain countries are easing lockdown restrictions depending on the curve of COVID cases in that area. Apple insists they will be cautious and not rush into a decision. The company now has more than 100 stores open worldwide.

“As of today, nearly 100 of our stores globally have been able to open their doors to our customers again,” says Deidre O’Brien, senior vice-president of Retail at Apple, in a letter posted on the company’s website. “We look at every available piece of data — including local cases, near and long‑term trends, and guidance from national and local health officials. These are not decisions we rush into — and a store opening in no way means that we won’t take the preventative step of closing it again should local conditions warrant,” she adds.

Consumers can find a store near them by using the Find a Store tool on the Apple website.

Apple says that for reopened stores, focus will be on limiting occupancy at any given point of time. “Giving everybody lots of room,” as they say. There will also be renewed focus on one‑on‑one, personalized service at the Genius Bar and throughout the store.

“Face coverings will be required for all of our teams and customers, and we will provide them to customers who don’t bring their own. Temperature checks will be conducted at the door and posted health questions will screen for those with symptoms — like cough or fever — or who have had recent exposure to someone infected with COVID‑19,” says O’Brien. Every Apple store will also focus on enhanced deep cleanings that place special emphasis on all surfaces, display products, and highly trafficked areas, throughout every day.

Apple also says that in countries and regions where they have an online store, anyone ordering online will have the option of getting their order delivered home or can pick it up from one of the nearby assigned stores.

Apple has also played an active role in supporting the health workers as well as medical infrastructure dealing with COVID cases in the US and around the world. This includes the more than 30 million masks and 10 million custom‑built face shields for doctors and nurses and the partnership with manufacturers in the United States to deploy more than a million testing kits per week. Apple and Google are also working towards releasing a health tracking and contact tracing software for iPhones and Android phones, which will put user privacy as a primary requirement.




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