Netflix to Launch in Japan on September 2

Netflix will launch its streaming television service in Japan on September 2, the latest stop in its mission to be a global entertainment powerhouse, it said Tuesday.The company confirmed the launch date in an email to AFP, after a report in the news blog Venture Beat.

Netflix said in February it planned to launch this year in Japan, following rollouts in Australia and New Zealand in March.

Currently with some 65 million subscribers in over 50 countries, Netflix has set an ambitious goal to be in 200 markets by the end of 2016.

Netflix has promised a strong selection of Japanese television shows and films at launch, along with original content such as “Marco Polo,” Marvel’s “Daredevil” and acclaimed documentary “Virunga.”

Netflix planned to open a regional office in Tokyo to foster alliances with consumer electronics makers as well as creators of films and television shows.

Earlier this year, Netflix launched in Cuba, even though only a small percentage of the population there has high-speed Internet access.

Along with investing in supporting more languages and show libraries tailored to various markets, Netflix is making a priority of optimizing its service on mobile devices since those are the main tools for accessing the Internet in emerging markets, according to the company.

Apple Denies Plans to Launch Mobile Virtual Network Operator Service

Apple Inc, the world’s most profitable mobile phone maker, has denied a report that it is working on a plan to market communications services directly to consumers that would bypass telecom operators on which it now relies to deliver services.Business Insider had on Monday reported that the iPhone maker was testing a so-called mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service in the United States, which would involve it renting capacity from one or more network operators to sign up its own customers.

The mobile phone maker is also in talks with European operators about such an arrangement, the website reported.

“We have not discussed nor do we have any plans to launch an MVNO,” said an Applespokeswoman in a statement on Tuesday.

Apple recently reported that it sold 48 million iPhones in the quarter through June, raking in $31.4 billion (roughly Rs. 2,00,724 crores) in revenue, or 63 percent of its total sales.

Since it first launched the iPhone in 2007, carriers ranging from AT&T Inc and Deutsche Telekom AG to China Mobile Ltd have been crucial partners in ensuring the success of Apple’s move into the mobile phone business.

In order to ensure maximum coverage to its customers, Apple has moved away from an early focus on exclusive deals with single operators in key markets to work with as many operators as possible.

Last year, the company launched an own-branded Apple SIM card that allows consumers using its iPad tablet devices, but not its phones, to switch services between network operators. Several top operators in the United States and Europe support the Apple SIM.

Motorola India Pilots Doorstep After Sales Service With Moto Xpress

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Motorola on Tuesday announced a pilot project to provide doorstep service to its smartphone users in India. Called Moto Xpress, the service is being trialled in Delhi, Gurgaon, and Noida.

By sending service staff directly to the user, the Moto Xpress home pickup and drop service is aimed at rectifying software and accessory related issues on the spot within an hour, and hardware issues within five working days. Within the pilot period, users can book the Moto Xpress service by calling +911141717124. It costs Rs. 199 per service.

Motorola says its other customer care initiatives will continue to operate as is, and adds it has 160 service centres across the country. The company had launched its Moto Care centre in Bengaluru back in March.

Late last month, at the launch of the Moto G 3rd Gen (Review) smartphone in India, Motorola said it is evaluating options to set up a manufacturing facility in India to cash in on the burgeoning demand for smartphones in the country.

“Evaluation is going on… We will have news soon,” Motorola Senior Marketing Director Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific Marcus Frost told PTI when asked whether the company is considering setting up a production unit in India.

He declined however to disclose further details and timeline for the same. Motorola makes devices in China and Latin America. It had a plant in Chennai, which was shut down a few years ago. The Motorola Moto G (Gen 3) has been launched in an 8GB inbuilt storage variant with 1GB of RAM priced at Rs. 11,999, and a 16GB inbuilt storage variant with 2GB of RAM priced at Rs. 12,999.

Autodesk Unveils Stingray 3D Game Engine With Multi-Platform Testing

At the Game Developers Conference (GDC) Europe 2015 in Cologne on Monday,Autodesk launched its new Stingray 3D game engine and revealed an August 19 release date. The company, best known for its animation and design software like AutoCAD, 3ds Max, and Maya, first previewed the game engine at GDC 2015 in San Francisco.

Autodesk also announced that Maya LT Desktop Subscription customers will get access to Autodesk Stingray as part of their subscription later this summer. Stingray is built on the data-driven architecture Bitsquid engine, which Autodesk acquired in 2014, and firm says it supports industry-standard game development workflows and is aimed at simplifying game development across a wide range of platforms.

The highlight of Stingray is considered to be its multi-platform deployment and testing, coupled with a one-click workflow and ‘live link’ between Stingray and Autodesk 3D animation software. Together, these features make testing and deployment a more versatile process, allowing developers to make changes in integrated software like Maya for example, and see the redesigned product for a given platform in Stingray in real-time. Supported platforms are Android, iOS, Windows 7, Windows 8, Oculus Rift DevKit 2, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Stingray itself runs on Windows.

Not to be left behind in the graphics department, Autodesk says Stingray has physically-based shading, advanced particle effects, post processed visual effects, lightmap baking, and a high-performance reflection system.

Unlike most other popular game engines in the market however – Unreal and Unity come to mind – Autodesk’s Stingray is not free to use. It will be available via Autodesk Subscription at $30 (roughly Rs. 1,900) per month.

Commenting on the launch, Autodesk Senior Vice President, Media & Entertainment, Chris Bradshaw, said, “Between augmented reality, virtual reality and the proliferation of mobile platforms, the games industry is undergoing a major transition, which poses new complexities for both AAA and indie game developers. Autodesk developed Stingray with these challenges in mind, and we’re excited to share its debut with the game developer community. Stingray makes it easy and intuitive for artists with varying skill sets and programming expertise to create the next generation of 3D blockbuster games, entertainment and even architecture

Government Reviews Porn Websites Block; Lifts Ban on Non-Porn Websites

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Facing flak over blocking of 857 websites, the government on Tuesday reviewed its order and decided to lift ban on those sites which did not contain pornographic material but had still faced action.The decision follows a review of the earlier order, wherein the Department of Telecom had asked Internet service providers (ISPs) to block a total of 857 websites, although some websites were found to be hosting jokes, memes and other humourous content without any pornography.

The directive has sparked a raging debate on social media and other platforms with the government being accused of indulging into Internet censorship.

(Also see:  857 Websites Blocked for ‘Porn’, Triggering Furious Debate: 10-Point Cheatsheet)

In a damage control mode, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad took a high-level review meeting on Tuesday, which was attended by IT Secretary R S Sharma and Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, among others.

It was decided in the meeting that the ISPs would be immediately asked not to block those sites which do not contain pornographic material, including child pornography, Prasad told PTI.

(Also see:  Porn Websites Blocked in India: Government Plans Ombudsman for Online Content)

Explaining the rationale behind the original directive, Prasad said, “The instant action is basically in obedience to the observation of the Supreme Court where the court asked the department to take action on the list of alleged porn sites provided by the petitioner.”

The minister said that the government is committed for freedom of communication on the Internet.

“The government compliments the dissemination of idea on the social media. We have launched the mygov platform seeking views of people of India on developmental agenda and lakhs of people are participating on this platform,” he said.

The government officials say that the ban is a temporary measure till the final orders are pronounced by the top court.

Reacting to the outrage against the move, Prasad had said on Monday that the NDA government was committed towards freedom on social media and Internet.

“I reject with contempt the charge that it is a Talibani government, as being said by some of the critics. Our government supports free media, respect communication on social media and has respected freedom of communication always,” he had said.

B2B On-Demand Delivery Service Pickingo Raises $1.3 Million

Pickingo, a B2B on-demand hyperlocal logistics startup from Gurgaon, announced that it has raised $1.3 million (roughly Rs. 8.2 crores) in a founding round led by Rehan Yar Khan of Orios Venture Partners along with participation from Zishaan Hayath, an early investor in Ola Cabs and Housing.com, among other ventures. Orios Venture partners has previously made investments in Zo Rooms and Sapience Analytics.

Pickingo aims to disrupt the way goods move within a city from the merchant to the end user, and intends to expand to more than 20 cities by the end of the year. Founded in December 2014, it does reverse-pickups for large e-commerce players such as Jabong, Snapdeal, Shopclues, and Paytm across six cities, and has seen significant merchant adoption.

More than 300 restaurants, groceries, and pharmacies have signed up for its on-demand delivery service including some large hyperlocal startups, the company said. “It’s a very exciting space right now. Huge supply and demand are present in different planes of cost, time and geography, we just need to match them using technology to unlock a large number of transactions.” said CEO Rahul Gill.

Rehan Yar Khan, founder and partner at Orios Venture Partners said that hyperlocal logistics will be disrupted through on-demand players using an ‘uberised’ model, referring to its success in China and US. Pickingo will enable reliable and efficient movement of goods from the merchant to the consumer, vice versa and eventually even between consumers, he said.

Pickingo has scaled up in the past four months to more than 100 on-roll employees. It currently services around 3,000 deliveries per day with a fleet of 300 field executives, the company said.

The on-demand hyperlocal delivery space has seen plays from Snapdeal, Grofers andOla Store among others. B2B logistics provider Roadrunnr raised $11 million in July.

Samsung Claims 40 Percent Share in Indian Smartphone Market in June

Electronics giant Samsung on Tuesday said its market share in the Indian smartphone segment has crossed 40 percent in June.”Our market share (smartphone) has crossed 40 percent by value in June this year. Since January 2015, we continued to grow for six consecutive months and widened the gap (marketshare),” Samsung India VP marketing (IT and mobile) Asim Warsi claimed on the basis of GfK data.

“Our market share during January 2015 was about 35 percent,” he said during the launch of Galaxy A8 handset here.

Warsi said 2015 has a great start for the company with 16 devices launched till now.

However, he declined to comment over the margins in India when asked about reports over shrinking margin levels in the mobile division of its parent Samsung Electronics Co.

“India is an encouraging market with double digit growth,” Warsi said.

Mobile industry was growing at 12-14 percent with 6-7 million unit market for smart phones, he said.

Warsi refused to share details about its sales revenue from online channel and said it has 2,100 exclusive Samsung stores and reaches to 1,500 modern retail outlets.

Samsung on Monday launched a 4G-enabled smartphone in India, the second of three promised back in February. The Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime 4G is nearly identical to the 3G variant of the smartphone, which was launched back in September last year, except it includes 4G LTE connectivity. The phone supports both Band 3 and Band 40, which means it’s compatible with 4G networks being deployed in India right now.

Acer Unveils Windows 10-Based Chromebook Rivals With Cloudbook Lineup

Acer is reminding users that the Chromebooks aren’t the only cheap-priced laptops available on the market. The Taiwanese computer manufacturer, on Tuesday, launched three Windows 10-powered laptops in its Aspire One Cloudbook series that are priced between $169 (roughly Rs. 10,800) to $199 (roughly Rs. 12,700).

For what they cost, the laptops – the Cloudbook 11 AO1-131-C7DW, Cloudbook 11 AO1-121-C1G9, and Cloudbook 14 AO1-431-C8G8 – don’t sport sluggish hardware. All the Aspire One Cloudbook models are powered by dual-core Celeron N3060 processors clocked at 1.6GHz with Turbo Boost Technology that can speed it up to 2.16GHz. On the memory side, all the models sport 2GB of RAM. The C7DW, the lower Cloudbook variant comes with 16GB internal storage, while others rock 32GB (presumably) SSDs. The Cloudbook 11 models sport a 11-inch display of the resolution 1366×768 pixels, whereas the Cloudbook 14 series model comes equipped with a 14-inch display but with the same resolution.

If the internal storage is bothering you, Microsoft is giving a 100GB OneDrive voucher with the Cloudbook 16GB-specced laptop, and 1TB with the other two. The cloud storage space is available for one year. You also get an Office 365 Personal subscription plan valid for one year.

On the connectivity front, the laptops support Wi-Fi 802.11a/c and Bluetooth 4.0, and come with USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI, and SD card slots. The company has obviously cut corners on some sides to make up for the cheap price. The webcam, for one, won’t please many with its 480p image shooting capabilities.

Acer claims that both the laptops in Cloudbook 11 series will offer up to 7-hour of battery life on a single charge, whereas the Cloud 14 series model will run for 6 hours.

The big picture here is the software. All the models run Windows 10 Home, which as you may realize, would alone cost you about $120 (in addition to hundreds of dollar for OneDrive and Office 365 plans). Sure, the hard drive isn’t voluminous to carry tons of data, the display isn’t the most pleasant to look at, but you’re getting a full-fledgedWindows desktop operating system.

If you’re interested, the Cloudbook 11 will begin to sell later this month in the US, while the Cloudbook 14 will find its way to the store next month. The company will hopefully release it in other part of the world soon enough.

Scientists Develop New Super-Thin Lightweight Material

Indian-origin scientists Swastik Kar and Srinivas Sridhar have developed a new super-thin lightweight material with potential applications in a range of tools that we use everyday from cameras to computers, says a new study.The new material spun out of boron, nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen shows evidence of magnetic, optical, and electrical properties as well as thermal sensitivity.

Its potential applications run the gamut: from 20-megapixel arrays for cellphonecameras to photo detectors to atomically thin transistors that when multiplied by the billions could fuel computers, the study said.

The researchers from Northwestern University in Illinois, US found the material while working for a four-year project funded by the US Army Research Laboratory and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

They were charged with imbuing graphene with thermal sensitivity for use in infrared imaging devices such as night-vision goggles for the military.

Kar and Sridhar spent a lot of time trying to get rid of oxygen seeping into their brew, worried that it would contaminate the “pure” material they were seeking to develop.

“That’s where the Aha! moment happened for us,” said Kar, assistant professor of physics in the College of Science.

“We realised we could not ignore the role that oxygen plays in the way these elements mix together,” Kar, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, noted.

“So instead of trying to remove oxygen, we thought: Let’s control its introduction,” Sridhar, professor of physics and director of Northeastern’s Electronic Materials Research Institute, said.

Oxygen, it turned out, was behaving in the reaction chamber in a way the scientists had never anticipated: It was determining how the other elements – boron, carbon, and nitrogen – combined in a solid, crystal form, while also inserting itself into the lattice.

They named the new material 2D-BNCO, representing the four elements in the mix and the two-dimensionality of the super-thin lightweight material, and set about characterising and manufacturing it, to ensure it was both reproducible and scalable.

Adani Says in Talks With Foxconn for Joint Venture, No Deal Yet

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Conglomerate Adani Enterprises Ltd said on Tuesday it was in discussions with Taiwan’s Foxconn, the trade name for Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, for a joint venture, though no agreement had been signed.A local television channel reported earlier on Tuesday that the company was planning a joint venture worth $5 billion (roughly Rs. 32,038 crores) with Foxconn to build components for companies like Apple Inc and Amazon.

“We are at the discussion stage only and have not signed any agreement which requires disclosure,” the company said in a filing.

Foxconn is the world’s largest contract maker of electronic products and counts companies like Apple, BlackBerry, Motorola, Huawei and Xiaomi as clients.