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India

New Delhi Snapshot

F99270CC 5CF6 4789 8056 E122393E705A

A monsoon season sky here in the Indian capital on a recent afternoon.

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India Journalism Tech

Cash May Be King in India, but Google Is Prince of Mobile Payments

2019 09 19Google Pay

That’s the headline on my latest story, out today.

It begins:

NEW DELHI–The leading player in the battle for mobile payments in India isn’t either of China’s pioneers, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. or Tencent Holdings Ltd. It isn’t Apple Inc., Visa Inc. or even PayPal Holdings Inc. It’s Google.

The Alphabet Inc. unit has for years tried to diversify its revenues beyond advertising by pushing into new fields like cloud computing and hardware. While its profits remain healthy, it needs new ways to make money as the specter of regulation looms at home and around the globe. Its booming new business in the world’s largest untapped digital market could be the engine of expansion that it has been looking for.

In India today, the company has one of its fastest-growing hits ever with Google Pay, a two-year-old app that millions of consumers are using to spend and transfer tens of billions of dollars.

Resembling a chat app and available in local languages, Google Pay was the most downloaded financial technology app world-wide last year, according to SensorTower, a research and marketing firm for the app industry.

Click through to read the rest.

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India

New Delhi Snapshot: Bicycle (and Human)-Powered Knife Sharpening Setup

Spotted this guy near Connaught Place yesterday. A simple, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly way to sharpen blades!

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India Newley's Notes

Newley’s Notes 184: Smart-Enough Phones; Millionaire Gamers; Wearable ACs; Eager Pooches

2019 07 31abstract

Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes.

🔌 My latest story, out last Tuesday and teased on the WSJ front page Wednesday: The Hottest Phones for the Next Billion Users Aren’t Smartphones. It begins:

NEW DELHI–The hottest phones for the world’s next billion users aren’t made by smartphone leaders Samsung Electronics Co. or Apple Inc. In fact, they aren’t even smartphones.

Millions of first-time internet consumers from the Ivory Coast to India and Indonesia are connecting to the web on a new breed of device that only costs about $25. The gadgets look like the inexpensive Nokia Corp. phones that were big about two decades ago. But these hybrid phones, fueled by inexpensive mobile data, provide some basic apps and internet access in addition to calling and texting.

As I mention in the story, as part of our reporting we spoke with a fruit vendor here in New Delhi who makes about $80 per month. He couldn’t afford even the cheapest smartphones, but is now online – streaming Bollywood music and watching movies with his family night – thanks to a “smart feature phone” that cost only about $20.

📱 Click through to read the rest.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🍎 1) Apple contractors ‘regularly hear confidential details’ on Siri recordings [The Guardian]

“Although Apple does not explicitly disclose it in its consumer-facing privacy documentation, a small proportion of Siri recordings are passed on to contractors working for the company around the world.”

😳 2) The Most Gullible Man in Cambridge [New York/The Cut]

“A Harvard Law professor who teaches a class on judgment wouldn’t seem like an obvious mark, would he?

🤖 3) Tech-related longread of the week: The Hidden Costs of Automated Thinking [The New Yorker]

“In the past, intellectual debt has been confined to a few areas amenable to trial-and-error discovery, such as medicine. But that may be changing, as new techniques in artificial intelligence – specifically, machine learning – increase our collective intellectual credit line.”

🇭🇰 4) In Hong Kong Protests, Faces Become Weapons [New York Times]

“Hong Kong is at the bleeding edge of a significant change in the authorities’ ability to track dangerous criminals and legitimate political protesters alike – and in their targets’ ability to fight back.”

🏆 5) U.S. teen wins $3 million at video game tournament Fortnite World Cup [Reuters]

“Geirsdorf, 16, from Pennsylvania, was one of at least 100 players competing for $30 million in total prize money, as the booming popularity of video and online games has drawn top-dollar investments and fueled the emerging professional sport. ”

🌡️ 6) Sony’s Wearable Air Conditioner Should Be Ready for Next Year’s Heat Wave [Gizmodo]

“…Sony is crowdfunding a portable wearable air conditioner/heater so you can flip the bird to mother nature and live your best, climate-controlled life.”

💰 7) How Legal Marijuana Is Helping the Black Market [Politico]

“Expensive regulation and high demand across the country have made the illicit trade more profitable than going legit.”

⚒️ 8) Notre Dame Fire Revives Demand For Skilled Stone Carvers In France [NPR]

“In the workshops of the Hector Guimard high school, less than three miles from the cathedral, young stone carvers are training for that task.”

🍴 9) A Global Feast in an Unlikely Spot: Lancaster, Pa. [New York Times]

“This small city, best-known for its Amish and Mennonite communities, is a welcoming home for immigrants, refugees and their cooking.”

(Thanks, Jess!)

🎾 10) Hi! Can i interest you in a ball?!?! [Reddit]

💡 Quote of the week:

“Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading; cultivate curiosity and strive to become a little wiser every day." – Charlie Munger

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👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Newley

Categories
India Journalism Tech

The Hottest Phones for the Next Billion Users Aren’t Smartphones

smart feature phones

That’s the headline on my most recent story, which came out Tuesday.

It begins:

NEW DELHI—The hottest phones for the world’s next billion users aren’t made by smartphone leaders Samsung Electronics Co. or Apple Inc. In fact, they aren’t even smartphones.

Millions of first-time internet consumers from the Ivory Coast to India and Indonesia are connecting to the web on a new breed of device that only costs about $25. The gadgets look like the inexpensive Nokia Corp. phones that were big about two decades ago. But these hybrid phones, fueled by inexpensive mobile data, provide some basic apps and internet access in addition to calling and texting.

Smart feature phones, as they are known, are one of the mobile-phone industry’s fastest-growing and least-known segments, providing a simple way for some of the world’s poorest people to enter the internet economy.

While global smartphone sales began sliding last year as markets became saturated, smart feature phone shipments tripled to around 75 million from 2017, according to research firm Counterpoint. Some 84 million are likely to be shipped this year.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
India Journalism Tech

Netflix and Amazon Trail a Local Video Rival in India That’s Now Disney-Owned

2019 06 06 hotstar netflix amazon

That’s the headline on my most recent story, out Tuesday.

It begins:

NEW DELHI—To win in India, home to many of the world’s next billion internet users, Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are copying the tactics of a video-streaming service built for the local market.

Hotstar dominates the Indian market. Launched four years ago by media conglomerate Star India as a mobile-first streaming platform for watching cricket, movies and TV, it now has 300 million monthly users—roughly 10% more than YouTube, India’s second-biggest video content platform. While only three million users pay for access, that is still more than Amazon has, and more than twice as many as Netflix. Walt Disney Co. now owns Hotstar.

Netflix and Amazon, shut out of China and facing stiff competition in the maturing U.S. market, are adopting the strategies that fueled Hotstar’s success—low prices that the average Indian viewer can afford and loads of local content in multiple Indian languages.

Netflix is churning out Indian-language dramas, love stories and thrillers and slashing its monthly rates. Amazon has signed up local stand-up comedians and backed a “Sex and the City” clone about a group of women in Mumbai that is broadcast in three Indian languages.

Click through to read the rest.

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India

Newley’s Notes 178: Tsu-NaMo; Fake Pelosi Vid; SF Blues; Beagle Puppies

abstract

🇮🇳 Well, it’s official: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is back.

In a big way.

Official results out Thursday showed he’s won a sweeping mandate for another five years.

🌊 “NaMOMENT,” “Yes! Prime Minister,” “Modi Tsunami,” “Modi Magic,” “Tsunamo.”

Those were among the newspaper front page headlines on Friday. I posted some photos of them here on Newley.com.

🤔 So, what does Modi’s reelection mean for U.S. firms, like Amazon and Walmart, that are pouring billions of dollars into India?

For my latest story, I spoke with several folks to answer that question. The lede:

U.S. technology firms recently facing pushback in India, the world’s biggest untapped digital economy, can expect more scrutiny following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resounding re-election, according to executives and analysts.

“Electorally there’s no gain in mollycoddling Amazon and Walmart,” one senior executive at a tech firm told me.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🔍 1) Facebook on fake Pelosi video: Being ‘false’ isn’t enough for removal [Politico]

“Facebook said Friday that a video doctored to depict House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slurring her words will remain on the social network because false information alone does not violate the site’s rules.”

🕵️ 2) In Baltimore and Beyond, a Stolen N.S.A. Tool Wreaks Havoc [NY Times]

“Since 2017, when the N.S.A. lost control of the tool, EternalBlue, it has been picked up by state hackers in North Korea, Russia and, more recently, China, to cut a path of destruction around the world, leaving billions of dollars in damage. But over the past year, the cyberweapon has boomeranged back and is now showing up in the N.S.A.’s own backyard.”

🔮 3) Amazon Is Working on a Device That Can Read Human Emotions [Bloomberg]

“Amazon.com Inc. is developing a voice-activated wearable device that can recognize human emotions. The wrist-worn gadget is described as a health and wellness product in internal documents reviewed by Bloomberg.”

🌁 4) How San Francisco Broke America’s Heart [Washington Post]

“Tech isn’t what everyone talks about in San Francisco. It’s money. Real estate, income inequality, $20 salads, the homeless, adult children unable to move out, non-tech workers unable to move in.”"

🎸 5) Sofar Sounds house concerts raises $25M, but bands get just $100 [TechCrunch]

“Tired of noisy music venues where you can hardly see the stage? Sofar Sounds puts on concerts in people’s living rooms where fans pay $15 to $30 to sit silently on the floor and truly listen.”

⛵ 6) ‘It could change everything’: coin found off northern Australia may be from pre–1400 Africa [The Guardian]

“…the most likely scenario is that the Portuguese, who looted Kilwa in 1505, went on to set foot on Australian shores, bringing the coins with them.”

🌏 7) What Changed My Mind About Climate Change? [The Bullwark]

“As Cato’s director of Natural Resource Studies (and later, as a senior fellow and eventually vice president), I maintained that, while climate change was real, the impacts would likely prove rather modest and that the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions would greatly exceed the benefits. I changed my mind about that, however, because (among other things) I changed my mind about risk management.

⚔️ 8) An illustrated guide to all 6,887 deaths in ‘Game of Thrones’ [Washington Post]

“And after eight seasons of continually rising body counts, we can definitively confirm — “Valar Morghulis” — all men must indeed die.”

📊 9) How Data (and Some Breathtaking Soccer) Brought Liverpool to the Cusp of Glory [NY Times Magazine]

“Analytics has famously influenced the tactics in professional baseball and basketball in recent years. Ultimately, it may have just as great an impact on soccer, which traditionally hasn’t relied on statistics to figure out much of anything.”

🐶 🤩 10) When food is life [Instagram video: doglover_s]

🐱 😂 BONUS LINK: UPDATE – FOUND CAT – NEED OWNERS ASAP!! [Craigslist]

💡 Quote of the week:

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you.” – Carl Sagan

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👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,
Newley

Categories
India Journalism Tech

Modi’s Re-Election Means More Scrutiny for U.S. Tech Giants

2019 05 26modi tech

That’s the headline on my newest story, out Friday. It begins:

NEW DELHI – U.S. technology firms recently facing pushback in India, the world’s biggest untapped digital economy, can expect more scrutiny following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resounding re-election, according to executives and analysts.

They expect Mr. Modi’s government to continue tightening restrictions on American titans such as Amazon.com Inc., Walmart Inc. and Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp.

U.S. firms have been pouring billions of dollars into the country of 1.3 billion people in part because, unlike China, India has provided a level playing field for foreign firms at a time when hundreds of millions of people are getting online thanks to cheaper mobile data and smartphones.

Click through to read the rest.

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India

Modi’s Big Win: Some Newspaper Front Pages Here in India

modi election front pages

more modi election front pages

“NaMoMENT,” “Yes! Prime Minister,” “Modi Tsunami,” “Modi Magic,” “Tsunamo.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (aka NaMo) is back. In a very big way.

Above are some newspaper front pages from Friday, after official results came out.

The lede and from a story by my colleagues Eric Bellman and Corinne Abrams:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India’s popular nationalist leader, won a sweeping mandate for a second five-year term, setting the stage for more economic reform of the fast-growing economy and more divisive social policies for his Hindu supporters.

Categories
India Journalism

India Antitrust Watchdog Sniffs Around E-Commerce Players

india_ecommerce_amazon_flipkart

That’s the headline on my newest story, a scoop out yesterday with my colleague Rajesh Roy.

The lede and first few grafs:

NEW DELHI–India’s antitrust watchdog is assessing the domestic e-commerce sector, a step that could have consequences for Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart, which dominate online sales in the country.

In a questionnaire dated May 17, the Competition Commission of India says it is seeking to understand the evolution of the e-commerce industry, the sector’s methods and strategies, business practices and “implications for competition,” according to a copy reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Ernst & Young is conducting the study, according to the 14-page document, which is marked confidential.

The questions cover the percentage of products sold by categories, inventory practices, how pricing decisions are made and total sales volume, among other subjects.

“What if tomorrow Amazon takes over Walmart-controlled Flipkart or vice versa? Wouldn’t there be a complete monopoly? This needs to be checked,” said an official at India’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs who declined to be named. The ministry oversees the Competition Commission.

A spokesman for the Competition Commission of India didn’t respond to a request for comment about the questionnaire Tuesday. Representatives in India for Ernst & Young, Amazon and Flipkart also didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Click through to read the rest.