Categories
Hong Kong Journalism Tech

Facebook, Twitter, Google Face Free-Speech Test in Hong Kong

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

U.S. technology titans face a looming test of their free-speech credentials in Hong Kong as China’s new national-security law for the city demands local authorities take measures to supervise and regulate its uncensored internet.

Facebook Inc. and its Instagram service, Twitter Inc. and YouTube, a unit of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, operate freely in the city even as they have been shut out or opted out of the mainland’s tightly controlled internet, which uses the “Great Firewall” to censor information.

In Hong Kong many citizens have grown accustomed to freely using their accounts to speak out on political matters, voice support for antigovernment protests, and register their anger at China’s increasing sway over the city.

Now the U.S. tech companies face a high-wire act, analysts say, if authorities here ask them to delete user accounts or their content. Refusal could invite Beijing’s scrutiny and potentially put them at risk of legal action under the new national-security law. Complying would alienate longtime users in the city, some of whom continue to speak out on their platforms, and leave the companies open to criticism from politicians in the U.S. or U.K.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
India Journalism Tech

India Orders WhatsApp, Google to Save Data on Mob Attack

That’s the headline on my newest story, with my colleague Krishna Pokharel, out Tuesday. It begins:

NEW DELHI — An Indian court ordered Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to preserve data connected to an attack on a university campus earlier this month in the latest attempt by authorities in the country to wrangle more control over the messaging and search giants.

According to an attorney involved in the case, the Delhi High Court said Tuesday that the companies, local police and university authorities must try to save messages, photos and videos connected to the Jan. 5 attack, when several dozen people stormed the campus of New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, injuring 32 students and two faculty members.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
Journalism Newley's Notes

NN201: Newest Page One Story — Podcast Appearance — 1 Billion Surveillance Cams — Bonus Puppy Content

2019 12 04wsjpage1

Sent as an email newsletter December 9, 2019.

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

Apologies for NN’s absence last week. After an enjoyable Thanksgiving…your faithful correspondent promptly fell ill. But I’m back now!

✍️ I’m proud to say I had another page one story (the second in a week’s time, following my piece on lending apps), this one out on Wednesday. The headline: U.S. Tech Giants Bet Big on India. Now It’s Changing the Rules.

And the first few grafs:

NEW DELHI – After Walmart Inc. sealed a $16 billion deal last year to buy India’s biggest domestic e-commerce startup, it got some bad news. India was changing its e-commerce regulations.

Foreign-owned online retailers would need to modify their supply chains and stop deep discounting. Those rules didn’t apply to Indian companies.

India, the world’s biggest untapped digital market, has suddenly become a much tougher slog for American and other international players.

It’s not just Walmart, but also the likes of Amazon, Google, and Facebook’s WhatsApp that are facing shifting regulatory sands.

Please give it a read.

📹 Meanwhile, my colleague Liza Lin and I had a story out Friday that has captured a lot of attention (it was even shared on Twitter by Marco Rubio. The headline: A World With a Billion Cameras Watching You Is Just Around the Corner. It begins:

As governments and companies invest more in security networks, hundreds of millions more surveillance cameras will be watching the world in 2021, mostly in China, according to a new report.

The report, from industry researcher IHS Markit, to be released Thursday, said the number of cameras used for surveillance would climb above 1 billion by the end of 2021. That would represent an almost 30% increase from the 770 million cameras today. China would continue to account for a little over half the total.

Fast-growing, populous nations such as India, Brazil and Indonesia would also help drive growth in the sector, the report said.

🎧 Other news: I was on the latest edition of the excellent Asia Matters podcast. In an episode called “What China’s ambitions tell us about tech in Asia,” I joined my ex-WSJ colleague Andrew Peaple and Julian Gewirtz of Harvard to share my perspective from India.

You can listen here, or search for “Asia Matters” on Spotify or in your favorite podcast app.

Okay – enough self-promotion. On to this week’s links…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

📈 1) Google Management Shuffle Points to Retreat From Alphabet Experiment [WSJ]

“Sundar Pichai’s appointment this week as chief executive of Google parent Alphabet Inc. effectively shifts the focus back on the company’s advertising profit machine and away from its “moonshots” and other potential new businesses.”

👓 2) Warby Parker Wants to Be the Warby Parker of Contacts [Bloomberg]

“At $440 for a year’s supply, the lenses will be slightly cheaper than many daily contacts but will be sold with what Warby says will be a much improved ordering process.”

⛺ 3) How Hipcamp Became the Airbnb of the Outdoors [New Yorker]

“Alyssa Ravasio, Hipcamp’s founder and C.E.O., is not a purist. For her, camping is a leisure activity, an escape valve, a business opportunity, a wealth-redistribution system, and a political strategy: an avenue to environmental awareness, engagement, even activism.”

🍎 4) Apple worth more than US stock index’s energy sector [Financial Times]

“Apple is now worth more than all large-cap US energy stocks put together.”

🧘 5) Buddhism scholars: Meditation apps are fueling tech addiction, not easing stress [Fast Company]

“…Buddhist apps, rather than curing the anxiety created by our smartphones, just make us more addicted to them and, in the end, even more stressed.”

🏎️ 6) These Guys Just Drove an E63 AMG Across America in a Record 27 Hours 25 Minutes [Road & Track]

“After leaving the Red Ball garage on the east side of Manhattan at 12:57 a.m. on November 10, it took Toman, Tabbutt and Chadwick 27 hours and 25 minutes to reach the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, in L.A.’s South Bay. In a car.”

💾 7) Version Museum [VersionMuseum]

“A visual history of your favorite technology.”

🗺️ 8) Map: The most common last name in every country [Reddit]

🏈 9) Sad/heartwarming dog-related story of the week: This college football player lost his parents before Senior Day, but he didn’t walk out alone [CBS News]

“A Michigan State University football player whose parents died before Senior Day walked out with his adopted dogs onto the field for the occasion.”

🐶 10) Dog-related video of the week: This is the most Indian photo bomb [Twitter: @Tim_Kimber]

💡 Quote of the week:

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” – Raymond Chandler

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Newley

Categories
Newley's Notes

NN192: Google’s Mobile Money Momentum; WeWork Founder in Spotlight; Saharan Cellphone Jams; Puppy + Cookie Monster

2019 09 25india money

Photo by Ishant Mishra on Unsplash

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

🔌 My latest story, out Thursday: Cash May Be King in India, but Google Is Prince of Mobile Payments.

TLDR: India is the world’s biggest untapped market for digital payments. Google – known for its search business, not mobile money – is showing surprising momentum.

The story begins:

"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."

🎙️ I discussed the story on Friday’s edition of our “Your Money Briefing” podcast. You can listen or download it via Apple Podcasts and other platforms here.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

⚠️ 1) There were two important and engaging tech stories from my WSJ colleagues this week. The first, by Dana Mattioli: Amazon Changed Search Algorithm in Ways That Boost Its Own Products [WSJ]

“Amazon.com Inc. has adjusted its product-search system to more prominently feature listings that are more profitable for the company, said people who worked on the project—a move, contested internally, that could favor Amazon’s own brands.”

👀 2) And the second, by Eliot Brown: How Adam Neumann’s Over-the-Top Style Built WeWork. ‘This Is Not the Way Everybody Behaves.’ [WSJ]

“Mr. Neumann muses about the implausible: becoming leader of the world, living forever, amassing more than $1 trillion in wealth. Partying has long been a feature of his work life, heavy on the tequila.”

📵 3) Parenting’s New Frontier: What Happens When Your 11-Year-Old Says No to a Smartphone? [Vogue]

“As I learned on his birthday, my son had decided three things about smartphones. 1. They’re infantilizing, a set of digital apron strings meant to attach you to your mother. (He was onto something there.) 2. They compromise a boy’s resourcefulness because kids come to rely on the GPS instead of learning Scout skills. 3. They make people trivial.”

⌛ 4) Can We Slow Down Time in the Age of TikTok? [New York Times]

“There is no Soylent version of thought and reflection – creativity is unpredictable, and it simply takes time.”

📸 5) An iPhone 11 Pro Review For Dogs (And Their Owners) [Buzzfeed News]

I take more pictures of my dogs than I do of my kids. I feel no guilt in saying this. My dogs are often a lot more entertaining than my kids, who spend a lot of time doing homework and don’t have an irrational fear of Amazon boxes, large bags, or the wind. ”

🎧 6) The 100 best albums of the 21st century [The Guardian]

“We polled 45 music writers to rank the definitive LPs of the 21st century so far.”

🎬 7) The signature film of every major city [YardBarker]

“Even if you’re a casual movie fan, it’s impossible to visit a major city and not conjure the memory of a favorite movie that was shot there. ”

🌍 8) Music from Saharan Cellphones [Sahel Sounds/Bandcamp]

“Music from Saharan cellphones is a compilation of music collected from memory cards of cellular phones in the Saharan desert.”

🕹️ 9) USA PIXELART!! A map of the U.S. done in video game style, by Pixeldance. [Deviant Art]

🐾 10) The joy of this dog when receiving his new prosthesis and being able to walk is priceless. Simply wonderful 😍 [Twitter: @akkitwts]

🍪 BONUS CANINE CONTENT: @MeCookieMonster and a puppy – it just doesn’t get any cuter than this! [Twitter: @sesamestreet]

📖 Book I’m Currently Reading

The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age,” by James Crabtree. Very much enjoying it.

💡 Quote of the week:

“The only interesting ideas are heresies” – Susan Sontag

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Newley

Categories
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.

Categories
India Journalism

India Investigates Google for Suspected Android Abuse

google india

That’s the headline on my most recent story, out Friday, which I wrote with my colleague Rajesh Roy.

It begins:

India’s antitrust watchdog is investigating whether Alphabet Inc.’s Google used its Android platform to block rivals, New Delhi’s latest move to try to tamp down American tech behemoths.

The investigation launched by the Competition Commission of India resembles a case last year in which the European Union fined Google $4.87 billion for what it said was abuse of its dominant Android mobile operating system to boost its own business, according to an Indian government official with knowledge of the matter.

The case is another example of antitrust authorities in many parts of the world taking cues from the EU, which has been investigating Google for nearly a decade.

“We have consulted the EU and the U.S. on the matter, and decided to move forward with the investigation as primary scrutiny suggests abuse by Google,” said the official, who declined to be identified.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
India Journalism

Mobile Money Heats Up in India as Google Doubles Down

That’s the headline of my most recent story, which came out yesterday. It begins:

NEW DELHI–Alphabet Inc.’s Google is raising its mobile-payments game in India with new functions and services as global players race to woo the nation’s legions of consumers who are skipping credit cards and transacting on smartphones instead.

A day after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said it had invested in the parent company of India’s largest digital-payments firm, called Paytm, Google said it is expanding its mobile money service in the South Asian nation. It is partnering with several local banks to offer consumer loans from within its app in the coming weeks, aiming to assist users seeking cash to cover expenses such as school fees.

Google is also expanding its tie-ups to more online merchants as well as to physical retail shops such as India’s ubiquitous mom and pop stores.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
India Journalism Tech

A Browser You’ve Never Heard of Is Dethroning Google in Asia

Uc browser

That’s the headline of my newest story, out today. It begins:

JAKARTA, Indonesia—A mobile browser rarely used in the West has outflanked Google’s Chrome in some of Asia’s fastest-growing markets, giving owner Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. an advantage in the race among technology giants to capture the next generation of internet users.

Hundreds of millions of people in India, Indonesia and other emerging markets getting online for the first time are picking UC Browser, owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, over ones made by U.S. rivals. Users say UC Browser works better in countries dominated by low-end smartphones and spotty mobile service.

“It’s faster, it takes up less memory, and it looks better” than Chrome, said Rizky Ari Prasetya, a 20-year-old Jakarta resident who recently ditched Chrome for UC Browser.

India and Indonesia are among the last, great untapped markets for internet users. Just 30% of India’s 1.3 billion people are online, and only 25% of Indonesia’s 260 million use the web, according to the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations body.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
India Journalism

Google, India and Next Billion Users Follow up: More Data

google

Following my story Tuesday about Google, India, and the future of the web, I wanted to share the text of some tweets, slightly edited for presentation here, that I posted after Google’s launch event.

These are some stats Google revealed at the gathering, along with a obvservaiton of two of mine:

–…India now has 400 million internet users, most accessing the web via their smartphones, Google says.

— Still, some 900 million Indians aren’t online.

230 million people use the web in local Indian languages today.

170 million are using messaging services, Google says, and 106 million consume online news.

— Some 1 billion apps are downloaded every month from Google’s Play Store, more than any other nation.

28% of search queries in India are done via voice.

Google is seeing 400% growth in Hindi queries year on year.

— On Google’s new India-first mobile payment app, Tez: launched 10 weeks ago, about to pass 12 million active users, Google says. 500,000 merchants are on the platform.

There are “big new features planned, especially for merchants,” in 2018, said Caesar Sengupta, of Google’s Next Billion Users team.

Re-cap of new stuff: Android Oreo (Go edition), for inexpensive smartphones. Google Go, search app for beginner web users. Files Go, for freeing up space on (again, inexpensive) phones. Google Assistant for JioPhone. Maps feature for motorbike riders. [Note: more details are here.]

— And an incident that illustrates how tough voice search tech can be to get right. An exec was demo-ing how to use Google Assistant to find a restaurant in Delhi.

In live demo, he said: “How do I get there?”

The phone then displayed the text:

huawei adventure advocate?

— He and the audience laughed it off, and he tried again, asking for directions, and Google Assistant gave him directions to different location than the restaurant.

UPDATE, December 29: If you’d like to watch the event, you can find it on YouTube here.

Categories
India Journalism Tech

By Me Yesterday: Google, India, and the Future of the Web

india_traffic

The story begins:

NEW DELHI—An explosion of smartphone usage in India is changing the way Alphabet Inc.’s Google sees the future of the internet.

As a mobile price war in the South Asian nation has slashed data rates to less than $5 a month for unlimited high-speed access, hundreds of millions of people are getting online for the first time and bingeing, stretching their low-end smartphones to the limit.

The Mountain View, Calif., company rolled out several apps and functions Tuesday aimed directly at these net newbies and those like them in other emerging markets.

As online activity here has increased this year, the inexpensive smartphones used by many consumers have struggled to handle the surge. To help, Google has shrunk the file size of its mobile operating system and many popular apps. Users in India are frequently offline so Google has given them the ability to do more without an internet connection. Also, they are much more likely to get around on motorcycles than in cars so Google Maps has started offering suggested routes and travel-time estimates for two-wheelers.

Click through to read the rest.

For more on the products, here’s a blog post from Google containing additional details.