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Chinese smartphone brands’ market share in India slips: Counterpoint Research

Chinese smartphone brands saw their market share in India fall to 72 per cent in June quarter from 81 per cent in the preceding three months due to COVID-19 supply chain disruption and growing anti-China sentiment, Counterpoint Research said on Friday. Chinese brands such as Oppo, Vivo and Realme had a commanding market share in the world’s fastest growing smartphone market but their share declined during April-June, Counterpoint said in a report.

India’s smartphone shipments declined by 51 per cent year-on-year to just over 18 million units in the June quarter, impacted by the nationwide lockdown imposed by the Indian government to combat COVID-19 in April and May, Counterpoint said. Shilpi Jain, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research, said the contribution of Chinese brands fell to 72 per cent in June quarter from 81 per cent in March 2020 quarter.

“This was mainly due to the mixture of stuttering supply for some major Chinese brands such as Oppo, Vivo and Realme, and growing anti-China sentiment that was compounded by stringent actions taken by the government to ban more than 50 apps of Chinese origin and delay the import of goods from China amid extra scrutiny. This all resulted from the India-China border dispute during June,” she said.

However, local manufacturing, R&D operations, attractive value-for-money offerings and strong channel entrenchment by Chinese brands leaves very few options for consumers to choose from, she said.

“… in the era of globalisation, it is difficult to label a product based on country of origin as components are being sourced from many different countries. This development has given a window of opportunity for brands like Samsung and local Indian brands such as Micromax and Lava, to recapture market share,” Jain said.

She noted that Jio-Google’s partnership – which was announced earlier this month – to bring a highly affordable 4G Android smartphone could also gain ground, banking on the growing #VocalforLocal sentiment. Xiaomi led the tally with 29 per cent share of the smartphone market, followed by Samsung (26 per cent), Vivo (17 per cent), Realme (11 per cent), Oppo (9 per cent) and others (8 per cent) in the June quarter.

In the March quarter, Xiaomi had 30 per cent share of the smartphone market, while Vivo had 17 per cent share, Realme (14 per cent) and Oppo (12 per cent). Samsung – which had fallen to the third spot with 16 per cent market share in the March quarter, regained the second position in the June quarter cornering 26 per cent share.

Smartphone vendors had shipped a little over 31 million units in the March 2020 quarter, and 37.7 million units in the June 2019 quarter, as per previous Counterpoint reports. The Counterpoint report said the coronavirus-induced lockdown had resulted in zero shipments during April. However, the market is starting to return to normal and in June 2020.

Indian smartphone shipments registered a mild decline of 0.3 per cent y-o-y in June on the back of pent-up demand as well as a push from brands, it said. Due to concerns over potential COVID-19 infection, consumers prefer contactless purchasing and online channels, it said adding that smartphone brands are also recognising this trend by pushing more inventory to online channels.

“The COVID-19 pandemic wiped-out almost 40 days of production as well as the sales of smartphones due to the nation-wide lockdown… the market witnessed a surge in sales as the lockdown restrictions were slowly lifted,” Counterpoint Research Senior Research Analyst Prachir Singh said. The quarter was, thus, marred by both demand and supply constraints which led original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to rethink their go-to-market strategies, he added.

“On the supply side, the factories were shut down in April and started operating in May, which resulted in supply shortages for some manufacturers. Some brands maintained the supply of their products by importing fully assembled handsets,” Singh said. Additionally, the last week of the quarter saw components being held up at customs, which also impacted the supply chain, he added.

OnePlus regained its top position in the premium market (over Rs 30,000 segment), while Apple remained the leading brand in the ultra-premium segment (over Rs 45,000). In the feature phone segment, Itel occupied the top slot with 24 per cent share, followed by Lava (23 per cent), Samsung (22 per cent), Nokia (9 per cent) and Karbonn (5 per cent).

Counterpoint said the feature phone market was the worst affected segment as it declined by a massive 68 per cent y-o-y in the June 2020 quarter as consumers in this highly cost-sensitive segment tried to save money by reducing discretionary purchases. In the near-to-mid term, this could actually boost the used and refurbished mobile phone market, it said adding that India is home to more than 350 million feature phone users.

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View: Banning apps a band-aid solution, need a functionally robust Data Protection Authority

By Amar Patnaik

Ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY)’s June 29 decision to block access to 59 Chinese mobile apps – by invoking the exception clause relating to sovereignty under Section 69 of the IT Act – has been welcomed by most. But it is at best an ad hoc measure. Amongst other concerns, the MeitY order specifically refers to the mining, profiling and unauthorised use of personal data. These issues are a continuing cause of concern for any application or data system and need to be addressed systemically and dynamically.

Ad hoc measures act at best as a temporary Band-Aid, but may result in disproportionate responses instead of well-planned alternatives backed by law and a well-defined strategy. The instant ban is yet another call for having a functionally robust Data Protection Authority (DPA).

The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 entrusts the DPA with the mammoth task of protecting the right to privacy of 1.3 billion Indians by regulating approximately 600 million entities, including the proliferating digital ecosystem of both the government of India and the states.

As opposed to a sectoral regulator like SEBI, IRDA, TRAI etc, it is a sector agnostic body and has wide powers cutting across different sectors and economic spheres with powers to penalise not only both central and state governments but also other fourth branch watchdogs such as Comptroller and Auditor General of India and the Election Commission and even more significantly, the legislature and judiciary itself.

For impartial and effective discharge of its crucial role, there is a need for the DPA to have sufficient capability to discharge its functions. The EU shares its data only with countries which meet the ‘adequacy requirement’ under the General Data Protection Regulations (EUGDPR) and the OECD privacy guidelines. The independence of the DPA is the foremost criterion for meeting such a requirement and a necessary prerequisite for a free and fair cross-border transfer of data. Only with an independent DPA can India unlock its true potential in global digital commerce.

First, under the bill, the Centre has the power to notify categories of ‘sensitive personal data’ in consultation with the DPA and concerned sectoral regulators. Such powers should vest solely with DPA as it is the primary rule making body under the bill and must remain at more than an arm’s length from the government. Second, the Centre is empowered under Section 86 of the bill to issue binding directions to the DPA without any prior consultation with it. This may adversely affect the functional autonomy of the body.

Third, while the power to notify certain large data fiduciaries as ‘significant data fiduciaries’ rests solely with the DPA, the Centre has been given the power (in consultation with the authority) to notify social media intermediaries as significant data fiduciaries, thereby diluting DPA’s power.

Data fiduciaries at all levels of the government, ranging from the panchayat level to the Centre, will be regulated by the DPA. To design effective regulation, monitoring and enforcement mechanisms and create awareness of data protection rights at grassroots level, the DPA must be a decentralised body on the lines of the State Information Commissions or the Consumer Protection Authority and the Consumer Fora. A single centralised body as conceptualised now may not even be able to functionally discharge its responsibilities of safeguarding every citizen’s right to privacy and preventing any harm to him. But a decentralised body will pave the way for an efficient, agile and flexible DPA.

Further, given its cross-sectional mandate, the DPA may need to be constituted as a collegial body with a combination of full-time, part-time and independent members from judiciary, civil society and persons of ability, integrity and standing in the field of data protection, technology and regulation. Considering the brisk pace of change in the field of technology and data sciences, increasing DPA’s capacity, both qualitatively and quantitatively, in this area is a crucial imperative.

The bill adopts good practices of involvement of various stakeholders such as industry, trade associations, departments of the governments, other sectoral regulators and the public in the formulation of code of practices. However, the same transparent and consultative method is missing from the process of framing other rules and regulations. An opaque regulation making process has the potential of becoming the Achilles heel of the bill.

The DPA must also be required to publish results of inspections and inquiries that it conducts on data fiduciaries. Strong disclosure and reporting requirements must therefore be enshrined in the bill to gain much-needed public trust and make enforcement effective. The DPA has to subject itself to the requirements under the RTI Act.

Lastly, the bill confers absolute discretion to the Centre for deciding the number of adjudicating officers, the manner and term of their appointment and jurisdiction. The adjudicating officers preside on disputes under the PDP Bill. This unfettered discretion may create issues of independence, conflict of interest and bias. The appointment of adjudicating officers must therefore be vested in an independent DPA with benches established at the district and block levels to improve accessibility.

Any law or policy is as good as its enforcement. Efficacious and effective implementation and enforcement depends upon capacity and capability. With rapidly progressing technology in a global world, we must envisage a DPA which is able to meet contemporary challenges, so that it becomes a model worth emulating.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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Up and running: Data centre providers burn the midnight oil to keep the new oil flowing

MUMBAI: When the government declared data centres as essential service at the onset of the lockdown, many spent between Rs 50 lakh to Rs 2 crore on staff safety and site maintenance to keep the data centres running.

At least 40 data centres across major metros like Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru and Chennai, kept critical staff — 10-25 per location — within the premises for over three months of the lockdown in order to minimise the risk of employees getting exposed to Covid-19. These were all male members in their 20s and 30s, the companies told ET.

Data centre providers were able to offset the additional expenditure due to a sudden surge in demand for data storage and computing capacity from companies as online traffic and transactions surged during the lockdown. Most commercial data centres saw business grow by 80-100% in the last four months.

In some cases, employees of these companies have spent over 100 days away from their home and family, either on-site or at hotels arranged by the company nearby.

Steering-Clear

While 60%-65% of work at a data centre can be performed remotely, it is critical for some technical and on-site 24×7 to maintain and monitor different parameters that ensure the system works smoothly.

“Even if one person were to catch the virus, the rest of the staff on duty would have to be quarantined and the data centre would have to remain shut for a brief period for sanitisation. And we have to keep the data centre running all the time,” says Nikhil Rathi, CEO of Web Werks, a data centre provider that rents space to companies to host their servers and equipment for data storage and computing at three locations — Navi Mumbai, Pune, and Noida — in India.

Commercial data centres like Web Werks store and run data applications of various companies across sectors like healthcare, ecommerce, banking, e-learning, video-streaming, telecom, cloud companies, and government agencies, among others. The internet practically runs through servers hosted at these centres.

Bounce-Back-India

“One night of downtime at a data centre can wreak havoc especially during these times when everyone is communicating and transacting online,” says Mayuresh Annegiri, GM of data centre operations and technology at Web Werks. Annegiri worked and stayed onsite at Web Werks’ data centre in Rabale at Navi Mumbai from March 17 to July 7, 2020. “For a brief period, we could stay at the nearby hotel. Their kitchen was shut so we arranged for a cook who could prepare food for 25-odd people. Shortly after, though, the hotel turned into a quarantine facility for police personnel from the area as their teammate had tested positive.”

For most of their stay on-site, Annegiri and team used company provided mattresses and duvets and bunkered up in meeting rooms inside the data centre. “It was like living inside a Big Boss house, sans all the fighting,” he quips.

At another data centre provider called GPX, 48 members of its staff were stationed on-site across its two centres in Mumbai. While most of the technical staff has been recently replaced with those who were working from home all this while, about one-fourth of them — like the security personnel — still haven’t left.

(This story is part of a series of articles in association with Facebook. Facebook has no editorial role in this story)

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Wipro to acquire Salesforce implementation partner 4C for 68 million euros

BENGALURU: Wipro will acquire Salesforce implementation partner 4C for 68 million euros, the Bengaluru-based software services exporter said on Thursday.

This is the company’s second acquisition since Thierry Delaporte took over as chief executive officer earlier this month.

On July 14, Wipro said it would acquire Brazil-based IVIA Servicos for $22.4 million.

Founded in 1997, 4C is an independent Salesforce Platinum Partner and it has deep capabilities across multiple Salesforce clouds including sales, marketing and field services. It specialises in transforming Quote-to-Cash processes with Salesforce’s Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) and billing solutions. Quote-to-Cash is an integrated management business process.

“This combination, along with Wipro’s reach across the region and industry, will help us become a dominant player in Europe and a leader in Salesforce’s Quote-to-Cash domain,” said Harish Dwarkanhalli, President, Cloud Enterprise Platforms, Wipro.

4C has more than 350 employees across offices in London, Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen and Dubai.

“Acquisitions will be part of our agenda. There are positions to take, we will continue to look for companies that are reinforcing our position in areas that we feel are strategic; it can be specific market, specific industry, or specific technology,” Delaporte told ET in a recent interview.

The Indian IT services company, which has a Salesforce business in the Americas, Japan and Australia that had been reinforced with the acquisition of Appirio in 2016, said the 4C acquisition would significantly strengthen its position as a Salesforce solutions provider in these markets.

4C will be consolidated as part of Wipro’s Salesforce practice. The acquisition is expected to close in the quarter ending September 30.

The Belgium-based company’s made revenues of 31.8 million euros, 24.1 million euros and 17.9 million euros in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. The company’s fiscal year ends on January 31.

This is a small tuck-in acquisition to boost Salesforce competency for Wipro, said Madhu Babu, an IT analyst at brokerage firm Centrum.

Wipro has offered a reasonable price given 4C’s strengths, he added.

“4C was bought at 2.1x revenues, which looks reasonable, as it is in high growth Salesforce competency; (and) Infosys paid 3x Sales for Simplus, another Salesforce focused company, in February. 4C’s revenues grew by 33% CAGR over the past two years,” Babu pointed out.

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Wipro to launch 5G edge services solutions suite built with IBM Edge Ecosystem & TRIRIGA

Bengaluru: Wipro said it would launch its 5G (fifth generation) edge services solutions suite built with IBM TRIRIGA and IBM Edge Application Manager.

The edge-compute-enabled offering allows communications service providers and mobile tower operators to deploy their applications into dispersed edge devices, said the company in a press release.

While the advanced artificial intelligence and cloud-based services address the challenges of edge computing; it provides real-time visibility and data insights that help enable holistic management of edge infrastructure for mission critical applications in manufacturing, transport, healthcare, oil and gas and retail industries among others, said Wipro.

Wipro is joining the IBM Edge Ecosystem, an initiative to help partners implement open standards-based cloud native solutions that can be deployed and autonomously manage edge applications at large scale.

The Indian IT services company’s solutions combined with IBM Edge Application Manager and TRIRIGA is expected to address a range of concerns related to deploying and managing globally distributed services on devices, private edges and telecom operator’s Multi Access Edges.

“Our strong telecommunication domain capabilities coupled with leadership in cloud and infrastructure lifecycle and investment in the Wipro IBM Novus Lounge equips us well to deliver these industry-specific solutions. We are confident that this will enable efficient deployment and management of infrastructure with 5G and Edge for our customers in the telecommunications, manufacturing, oil and gas and retail industries,” K R Sanjiv, chief technology officer, Wipro, was quoted saying.

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Internet speeds across networks rise to pre-covid levels: Speed tracker OpenSignal

Internet speeds across networks have almost recovered to pre-lockdown levels with an exception of few tier-2 cities which continue to experience congestion ever since the lockdown was imposed in March, data from third-party speed tracker OpenSignal showed. In fact, urban users are experiencing even faster speeds than pre-lockdown levels.

In the week gone by, users in Delhi saw the greatest improvement of 38.1% in download speed, followed by users in Mumbai (33.5%), Hyderabad (33.1%), Gaziabad (32.4%) and Chennai (30.4%), data showed.

“That said, Dhanbad, Kanpur, Solapur and Thiruvananthapuram were the exceptions where our users continued to see significantly lower download speeds throughout the period when lockdown loosened,” OpenSignal said.

Throughout the initial phases of lockdown beginning March 22 (Janta Curfew), overall download speeds had declined by 16% while Tier 3 and Tier 2 cities saw greater declines of 23% and 25% respectively.

In fact, for most of April, which was the strictest phase of lockdown, Tier 2 cities such as Solapur, Ludhiana, Nashik, Surat and Ahmedabad witnessed the highest decline of 35% or more compared to pre-lockdown levels, OpenSignal said.

The third phase of lockdown (May 4-May 17) was when the speeds had returned to pre-lockdown levels in a majority of cities.

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Autodesk acquires construction software provider Pype at an undisclosed amount

NEW DELHI: Nasdaq listed Autodesk Inc, one of the global leaders in computer-aided design (CAD) software, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Pype, a AI based construction software provider, at an undisclosed amount.

Both the companies have offices in India and after acquiring Pype, Autodesk India expect to capture larger share of real estate and construction market which is looking to finish projects in time despite the delay caused by COVID-19 induced lockdown.

This acquisition is the latest of construction-based acquisitions by Autodesk in 2020, and the second in India after minority stake in Aurigo Software in April. The demand for construction software is likely to increase for faster completion in coming days and government is also planning to mandate few of them for its large projects.

“Several hurdles that India’s construction sector face include frequent miscommunication and workflow disruptions, leading to project delays and cost overrun. Automation presents an opportunity to do things better – technologies such as AI, BIM, and cloud-based collaboration can help to address these challenges for increased productivity, lower risks, and better quality of output,” said Autodesk CEO, Andrew Anagnost.

Autodesk India provides construction software to airport and highway projects in the country and is looking to work with real estate developers in the country.

Anagnost said that Pype employees based in India will be joining Autodesk. Pype’s software reduces manual entry and human error that can lead to rework, cost overruns and schedule delays on construction projects.

The company’s technology leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically analyze and extract critical construction data such as project plans and specifications to be used throughout the project lifecycle.

According to the latest report by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, at least 355 projects have a cost overrun of Rs 3.88 lakh crore and about 552 projects have time escalation.

“Autodesk has approximately 500 employees in India, and the acquisition of Pype adds another 40 employees to the count. Pype’s technology and talent will help Autodesk construction cloud become the most advanced and automated project management solution within the industry landscape,” said Anagnost.

Autodesk said that acquisition will empower general contractors, subcontractors and owners to gain even more value from Autodesk Construction Cloud by automating critical construction workflows such as submittals and closeouts to increase productivity and mitigate project risk.

Since 2017, Autodesk has invested in nine construction technology startups. The company also acquired Assemble, BuildingConnected and PlanGrid; these three acquisitions alone total more than $1.1 billion.

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Countries have a sovereign right over data to protect privacy of citizens: Prasad at G-20 meet

NEW DELHI: Countries have a sovereign right over data to protect privacy and security of its citizens, union electronics and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said while addressing a virtual G-20 Ministers meeting on Wednesday. He also said that digital platforms which operate across multiple geographies must become trustworthy, safe and secure.

This comes after India banned 59 Chinese apps citing threats to the country’s “sovereignty and security” late last month. The apps included top social media platforms like TikTok, WeChat and Helo along with ShareIT, UC Browser and shopping app Club Factory.

“Digital platforms anywhere in the world have to be responsive and accountable towards the sovereign concerns of countries including defence, privacy and security of citizens,” Prasad told the digital Ministers of the G20 countries which was also attended by China.

“Digital economy must go hand in hand with the data economy because data is an important component to accelerate the digital economy, ” he said. “Yes we understand the issue of data innovation, data cross flow, but we also need to acknowledge who has the sovereign right over data? He said that India is very clear that data must belong to the sovereign nation concerned to protect the privacy of its people, to protect digital concerns of its people and obviously giving them occasion for innovation, enterprise…”

He also said that India is soon going to put in place a robust personal data protection law which will not only address the data privacy related concerns of citizens but also ensure “availability of data for innovation and economic development.” The personal data protection Bill, 2019 which was introduced in the Parliament last year is currently under the review of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) of the Parliament. The JPC is expected to resume its consultation with the companies and industry bodies soon after a hiatus of four months imposed due to the CoronaVirus pandemic.

Prasad also spoke about the need for building a resilient global supply chain in the wake of Covid-19 talking about the vision for Atma-nirbhar Bharat and making India an attractive destination for investment that is closely integrated with global supply chains.

He also expressed India’s commitment to emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence for inclusive growth and development especially in healthcare and education. Prasad called for building “trustworthy Artificial Intelligence systems” that can transform the society.

India’s banked on digital platforms like Aarogya Setu mobile app, geo-fencing system for monitoring quarantined patients and COVID19 Savdhan bulk messaging systems, Prasad said adding that during the Covid crisis, digital systems such as like Direct Benefit Transfers and digital payments helped the government in providing relief to the citizens during the lockdown.

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Work-from-home exemption extended for IT & ITeS industry till December 31, 2020

NEW DELHI: The department of telecom has extended the exemption given to the IT & ITeS industry to work from home till December this year. The exemption was going to expire at the end of July.

“In view of the ongoing concerns due to Covid-19, the department has decided to further extend these relaxations upto Decmeber 31, 2020…”

The industry has cheered the move.

“Thank you to the government for their tremendous support on the new ways of working from day 1. This has helped tremendously in further elevating our standing and responsiveness globally,” tweeted Rishad Premji, chairman of Wipro.

India’s IT industry has been asking the government to make permanent the relaxations to allow employees to work from home so that companies are able to optimise their existing real estate and quickly adopt a blended model of remote working and from the office.

“Thank u @rsprasad n Secretary @DoT_India for your strong support for Indian IT. This will ensure business continuity n employee safety.. n also increase our talent pool to tier 2 n 3 cities,” tweeted Debjani Ghosh, president of Nasscom.

Since March, India’s IT industry has moved over 90% of its 4.3 million workforce to work remotely due to the Covid-19 imposed lockdown.

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Government asks 59 Chinese apps to ensure strict compliance to ban order

The government has warned Chinese companies whose apps were banned last month to strictly comply with its order and make sure that the 59 proscribed

apps are not available for download or installation, either directly or indirectly.

Non-compliance will attract “penal provisions” and “strict action”, notices sent on Tuesday by the Ministry of Electronics and IT

(MeitY) said.

“Continued availability and operation of these banned apps, directly or indirectly, is not only illegal but also an offence under the Information Technology Act and other

applicable Acts, which would attract penal provisions,” a top government official told ET.

If the app is found available for use within India, it would be construed as a violation of the order.

“The companies have been directed to ensure strict compliance of the orders of the Ministry, failing which serious action will be

taken,” the official added.

On June 29, the government banned the 59 Chinese mobile apps, including top social media platforms TikTok, WeChat and Helo, citing threats to the country’s

“sovereignty and security”.

ShareIT, UC Browser and shopping app Club Factory are also among other prominent apps that have been blocked, amid border

tensions between India and China.

The government official explained that the notice was for those apps whose files were being shared through other websites, instead of on

Google Play Store or the Apple App store.

Google has taken down most apps after the government order, while others such as TikTok suspended their applications.

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