Parliament proceedings | Budget Session 2018, Day 8 — As it happened

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Venkaiah Naidu issues fervent appeal to maintain decorum expected of House of Elders; Promises and commitments made in the A.P. Reorganisation Act are a work in progress, says Jaitley.

Friday marks the last day of the first part of the Budget session of Parliament. It will reassemble on March 5.

 

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Apple Sold Record 22 Million iPhone Units in the US in the Holiday Season: Counterpoint

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Apple sold a record 22.39 million smartphones in the US in the holiday season last year, increasing its market share from 37 percent to 44 percent — the highest ever for Apple on home turf, a new report said on Wednesday.

Since its launch on November 3, with nearly eight million units sold, iPhone X outsold iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus by a 2:1 margin in the US.

According to Counterpoint Research’s Market Pulse programme, 51.2 million smartphones were sold during the holiday season quarter of 2017.

Apple shipped a record 22 million iPhones for the first time ever in a quarter in the US which is an impressive feat because the Q4 promotional season was not nearly as aggressive as previous years,” Research Director Jeff Fieldhack said in a statement.

Apple was able to grow their sell through 20 percent in a market that only grew 2 percent compared to last year. This means Apple has been successful to take share away from Samsung in the premium segment,” he added.

There are reports that iPhone X has disappointed on a global level, including in China, and the higher price ensured the demand remained softer than expected.

“But this has not been the case in the US market. The consumers, on an average, are probably on their third or fourth iPhone and are willing to pay for the Apple ecosystem which is much stronger in the US than, for example, in China,” said Research Director Neil Shah.

Samsung to Hire 1,000 R&D Engineers in India This Year

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In line with its commitment to hire 2,500 engineers for R&D in India in the next three years, Samsung on Wednesday said the company will hire 1,000 engineers from top engineering colleges including IITs, NITs and IIITs this year.

With a thrust on New-Age domains like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning (ML), biometrics, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Augmented Reality (AR) and networks including 5G, Samsung will hire 300 students from IITs this year.

The company will hire 35 students from IIT-Bombay, 32 from IIT-Delhi, 22 from IIT-Madras, 45 from IIT-Guwahati and 29 students from IIT-Kharagpur, among others.

Samsung India has three R&D centres — in Bengaluru, Noida and Delhi.

“Samsung is extremely bullish on R&D in India and this focus on R&D has helped us cement our Number 1 position in the Indian market. The three R&D centres in India work on several cutting-edge technologies,” Dipesh Shah, Managing Director, Samsung R&D Institute India, Bengaluru and Global Senior Vice President, Samsung, said in a statement.

Apart from IITs and NITs, Samsung is also hiring quality talent from other premier institutes such as the Delhi College of Engineering, BITS Pilani, Manipal Institute of Technology and IIITs, among others.

Last year, Samsung hired 800 engineers for its R&D facilities, out of which 300 were from IITs.

Apart from the traditional domain of computer science, students were hired from streams such as electrical engineering, mathematics and computing, applied mechanics and statistics, among others.

Samsung has a total of 32 R&D centres across the world and the Bengaluru one is Samsung’s largest R&D centre outside South Korea.

“As part of our ‘Make for India’ initiative, R&D centres in India also work on developing innovations that are centred on the needs of Indian consumers and also contribute to innovations for global products,” Shah said.

Google Removed Over 700,000 Bad Apps, 100,000 Developers From Play Store in 2017

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Over 250,000 apps impersonating big titles were removed
  • Google also removed apps with inappropriate content
  • Malware apps were reduced with the help of Google Play Protect

Google on Tuesday announced that Google Play in 2017 took action against “bad apps” by eliminating apps and developer accounts from the platform. The tech giant claims to have used machine learning to identify bad apps with identifiers like impersonation, inappropriate content, and malware to root out over 700,000 apps and 100,000 developers in 2017, which is a 70 percent jump from the preceding year. “In fact, 99 percent of apps with abusive contents were identified and rejected before anyone could install them,” was a claim mentioned on Android Developers Blog.

Impersonation
Google, on its Android Developers Blog, states that impersonators or ‘copycats’ are the most common red signal for removing apps from Google Play. In 2017 alone, the Mountain View giant removed as much as 250,000 apps that were caught impersonating big titles. The impersonators carried out this practice through deceptive methods such as “confusable unicode characters or hiding impersonating app icons in a different locale.”

Inappropriate Content
Much like any other Safe For Work public platform online, Google Play does not allow any kind of inappropriate content. Inappropriate content, according to the company’s definition, includes pornography, extreme violence, illegal activities, and hate. Google claims that its advanced machine learning models help quickly sift through app submissions and flag them for inappropriate content. Human reviewers then jump into the scene, with tens of thousands of apps removed in the past year.

Malware
And, finally, another red flag for Google is the presence of Potentially Harmful Applications (PHAs) that can cause harm to device users. Apps involved in phishing, fraud, and Trojans are part of this list. The tech giant claims PHAs are currently small in volume but research to remove them is being heavily invested in. With the launch of Google Play Protect – Google’s malware scanning feature – at I/O 2017, the annual PHA installs have apparently gone down by 50 percent year on year, the company said.

“Despite the new and enhanced detection capabilities that led to a record-high takedowns of bad apps and malicious developers, we know a few still manage to evade and trick our layers of defence. We take these extremely seriously, and will continue to innovate our capabilities to better detect and protect against abusive apps and the malicious actors behind them. We are committed to make Google Play the most trusted and safe app store in the world,” said Andrew Ahn, Product Manager at Google Play.

Fujifilm to Take Over Xerox in $6.1 Billion Deal, Create Joint Venture

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Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings is set to take over Xerox Corp in a $6.1 billion (roughly Rs. 38,775 crores) deal, combining the US company into their existing joint venture to gain scale and cut costs amid declining demand for office printing.

The acquisition announced on Wednesday comes as Xerox has been under pressure to find new sources of growth as it struggles to reinvent its legacy business amid waning demand for office printing. Fujifilm is also trying to streamline its copier business with a larger focus on document solutions services.

Consolidation of R&D, procurement and other operations would enable Fuji Xerox to deliver at least $1.7 billion (roughly Rs. 10,807 crores) in total cost savings by 2022, the two companies said.

Fujifilm now owns 75 percent of Fuji Xerox, the joint venture going back more than 50 years ago which sells photocopying products and services in the Asia-Pacific region.

The two companies said that Fuji Xerox will buy back that stake from Fujifilm for around $6.1 billion, using bank debt. Fujifilm will use those proceeds to purchase 50.1 percent of new Xerox shares. Plans were for the deal to be completed around July-August, they added.

The combined company will keep the Fuji Xerox name and become a subsidiary of Fujifilm, with dual headquarters in the United States and Japan, and listed in New York. It will be led by Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson, while Fujifilm CEO Shigetaka Komori will serve as chairman.

The joint venture accounts for nearly half of Fujifilm’s sales and operating profit.

Both companies have struggled with slow sales of photocopy products, as businesses increasingly go paperless. Fujifilm on Wednesday reported a 29.4 percent drop in operating profit at its document solutions operations, which includes Fuji Xerox, for the third quarter, underperforming its imaging and information segments. Overall, the company reported a 3.4 percent increase in operating profit for the quarter.

Xerox reported a net loss from continuing operations of $196 million (roughly Rs. 1,245 crores) in the fourth quarter, mainly due to a one-off $400 million (Rs. 2,542 crores) charge as it sought to take advantage of changes to US tax law but also reflecting the steady decline in office printing.

“This has been a speedy decision, but I believe it’s a creative one,” Fujifilm CEO Komori told reporters at a briefing. “The new structure will leverage the strengths of our three companies.”

As part of its own restructuring, Fujifilm said it was cutting 10,000 jobs at Fuji Xerox, more than a fifth of its workforce at the joint venture, in the Asia Pacific region.

Sluggish performance at Xerox had prompted investors to call on the US company, which had owned 25 percent of the joint venture, to explore strategic options.

Xerox has been targeted by activist investor Carl Icahn and shareholder Darwin Deason, who joined forces last week to push Xerox to explore strategic options, oust its “old guard”, including its CEO, and negotiate better terms for its decades-long deal with Fujifilm. Icahn is Xerox’s biggest shareholder, with a 9.72 percent stake.

Xerox’s CEO said the combined company would gain an increased edge in new technologies, along with higher revenues and cost synergies, while Xerox shareholders would also benefit from a $2.5 billion special cash dividend resulting from the deal.

“This transaction…offers substantial upside for shareholders of the combined companies, including current shareholders of Xerox and Fujifilm Holdings, who will own shares in a more competitive company that has enhanced opportunities for long-term growth and margin expansion,” Jacobson said in a pre-recorded video message.

The takeover deal comes less than a year after Fujifilm admitted improper accounting standards at Fuji Xerox, but Komori said that Xerox’s strong governance standards could be beneficial to the new company.

Fujifilm shares fell 8.3 percent on Wednesday ahead of its announcement of job cuts but after the Journal report about a deal with Xerox. Xerox shares ended down 0.5 percent on Tuesday.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

Jio vs Airtel vs Vodafone: Who Offers the Best Prepaid Recharge Packs?

Sim_Cards_1517388104045.jpgJio, Airtel, and Vodafone have been extremely active over the last few weeks as the competition has intensified in the Indian telecom sector. Attempting to retain subscribers or gain new users, all three operators have started offering more data and validity without raising prices, or have reduced prices of popular plans. Jio has, of course, been on the forefront of this change, and is offering data at tariffs lower than ever before to prepaid users. Unsurprisingly, Airtel and Vodafone – the two biggest players in the industry – have been quick to catch up, and have kept their prices competitive. But with so much choice, it becomes difficult for the consumer to keep track of the best prepaid packs for them. We take a look at the recharge packs the three telcos offer across price points with the best daily data allocations.

Jio, Airtel, Vodafone plans under Rs. 200

The Jio Rs. 149 plan offers 1.5GB data per day, unlimited calls across India, no roaming charges, 100 SMS messages per day, and access to the company’s apps for 28 days. At the same price, Airtel offers 1GB data per day, unlimited local and STD calls, free roaming, and 100 SMS messages per day for 28 days. Vodafone, however, offers 1GB data per day at Rs. 149, along with unlimited calls, no charges for calls made while roaming, 100 SMS messages per day for 28 days.

Around the Rs. 200 price point, Jio users will get 2GB data per day for 28 days at Rs. 199 courtesy the Republic Day 2018 Offer, along with the same freebies as mentioned above. Airtel offers 1.4GB data per day for 28 days at Rs. 199, while Vodafone offers the same at Rs. 198; both plans come with the respective above-mentioned freebies.

Jio, Airtel, Vodafone plans under Rs. 300
Under Rs. 300, only Jio has a plan with a daily data allocation – subscribers will get 3GB data per day for 28 days, meaning a total of 84GB data for the entire validity period. Of course, the free calls, SMS messages, and apps subscriptions will be available with this recharge too.

Jio, Airtel, Vodafone plans under Rs. 400
The Mukesh Ambani-backed operator presently offers 1.5GB data per day for 70 days at Rs. 349, while Airtel and Vodafone give 2.5GB data per day for 28 days at the same price. At Rs. 398, Jio users will get 2GB data per day for 70 days, and 1.5GB per day for 84 days at Rs 399. Subscribers of both Airtel and Vodafone will get 1GB data per day for 70 days at Rs. 399. The respective freebies apply for each telecom operator.

Jio, Airtel, Vodafone plans under Rs. 500

At Rs. 448, Rs. 449 and Rs. 498, Jio offers 2GB data per day for 28 days, 1.5GB data daily for 91 days, and 2GB data a day for 91 days, respectively. With the Rs. 448 recharge pack, Airtel gives prepaid customers 1.4GB data per day for 82 days, while Vodafone gives the same daily data allocation for 84 days at Rs. 458.

Jio, Airtel, Vodafone plans under Rs. 600
Jio users will get 4GB data per day for 28 days at Rs. 509, while Airtel and Vodafone offer 1.4GB per day for 90 days at the same price. Airtel also provides 3GB data per day for 28 days at Rs. 549 to its prepaid subscribers.

Arun Jaitley’s Last Big Budget Before 2019 Polls, Eye On Taxes: 10 Points

In Budget 2018, the top priority for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will be to address farmers’ issue ahead of the key state and national elections in 2019

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NEW DELHI:  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the Union Budget 2018 at 11 am today, the last full-year Budget before the 2019 general elections. Before that elections are due in eight states this year and the budget is expected to focus on farmers, the rural poor and small businesses. To keep investors’ confidence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will need to be seen containing the fiscal deficit, while also increasing spending in key areas of a slowing economy.

 

Here is 10-point cheat sheet to Budget 2018:
  1. The government may tweak income tax slabs and rates in today’s budget to bring down burden on individuals, according to a survey by tax and advisory firm Ernst & Young.
  2. Arun Jaitley has already made it clear that the agriculture sector will be the top priority for the government in this year’s budget as the government attempts to address farmer distress ahead of the key state and national elections.
  3. The budget will be watched closely for the fiscal deficit target for the next year. The Economic Survey, which was tabled on Monday, called for a pause in fiscal consolidation, leading to concerns that the government could widen its fiscal deficit targets for 2018-19.
  4. Markets will be focused on how much the government widens its fiscal deficit beyond the 3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) projected for 2018-19. A Reuters poll showed most economists expect a 3.2 per cent deficit as the government looks to increase investments in areas like agriculture.
  5. A modest widening of that nature would calm investors worried that the government may slip away from its judicious spending. But a deficit above 3.2 per cent could hit shares and send bond yields up by 20-25 basis points, depending on the size of the blowout, on fears of populist policy ahead of next year’s elections.
  6. A prudent budget could also soothe the Reserve Bank of India, which holds a policy review on February 6 and 7 amid worries it could raise rates in coming months after inflation hit a 17-month high in December, well above its 4 per cent target.
  7. While investors expect some spending to support an economy that’s expected to post its weakest growth in four years, they will want to see such stimulus is well-financed. Growth was impacted by the launch of the goods and service tax last year and a shock move to ban high value currency notes in late 2016, which hit tax revenues and increased the chances of a fiscal deficit shortfall.
  8. An expected pickup in growth next fiscal year and state asset sales estimated to raise 1 trillion rupees ($15.74 billion) should boost tax revenues.
  9. The government is also expected to stay on course with its focus on building highways and modernising the railways. Mr Jaitley had allocated a record Rs. 3.96 lakh crore to infrastructure sector in last year’s Budget.
  10. Experts don’t see the possibility of a big cut in corporate tax rate for India Inc given the fiscal constraints. In his Budget speech of 2015-16, Mr Jaitley had said proposed reduction of the rate of corporate tax from 30 per cent to 25 per cent over the next four years.