Technology News

19 Jun 2015

#*China to allow full foreign ownership of e-commerce businesses,width-300,resizemode-4/ecommerce.jpg

BEIJING: China will allow full foreign ownership of some e-commerce businesses, aiming to encourage foreign investment and the development and competitiveness of the industry, the ministry of Industry and Information Technology said.

The move, effective immediately, will apply to "online data handling and trade handling services", the ministry said in a statement on its website. It was not immediately clear how this would affect e-commerce companies already operating in China.

China's e-commerce industry has been booming, with companies like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Inc benefitting from a rising middle class with more disposable income.

Other players include US online retailer Inc, Vipshop Holdings Ltd and US supermarket chain Wal Mart Stores Inc, through its stake in shopping site Yihaodian.

Allowing full foreign ownership "supports our country's e-commerce development, encourages and brings in the active participation of foreign investment, and further excites market competition," the ministry said.

In recent years, the government has lent its support to the industry by keeping taxes low and loosening restrictions on cross-border trade, among other concessions.

E-commerce and the internet sector more broadly have been shining stars for Chinese industry.

Companies including Alibaba, social networking and online entertainment firm Tencent Holdings Ltd and search leader Baidu Inc account for hundreds of billions of dollars in stock market capitalization.

Their success comes as the world's second-largest economy grows at its slowest pace in three decades and Beijing looks to catalyze a shift away from a dependence on manufacturing and towards higher-value services.


#* Data privacy: WhatsApp scores poorly, Apple gets top marks​,width-300,resizemode-4/Whatsapp.jpg

In the post-Snowden era, tech companies are increasingly being rated not only for the quality of their gadgets and services, but also for how they handle government requests for customer data. In the Electronic Frontier Foundation's annual report on data collection practices, tech companies like Yahoo, Apple and Adobe earned top marks, while WhatsApp and AT&T came in last. 
Apple, Adobe, Yahoo, Dropbox and were among those that scored highly. AT&T and WhatsApp, which earned the lowest marks, with one out of five stars, did not immediately have comments. Verizon Communications, which earned two stars in the report (down from four stars last year when the report had slightly different criteria) declined to comment.
The report this week from the EFF, a nonprofit that focuses on digital rights, evaluated companies based on factors including their transparency to consumers about data requests and data retention, as well as their public positions on so-called back doors that grant government agencies access to customer data.
The wide-ranging nature of government surveillance programmes, many of which have been revealed by documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, put pressure on tech companies to be more proactive about sharing their data collection and disclosure practices. 

Most tech companies have published transparency reports detailing the number of requests they receive from government agencies, while also describing the types of data they collect and share. A number of big tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft, have urged US president Barack Obama to reject policies aiming to weaken encryption technologies that protect internet communications. 

The broad conclusion from the EFF's report is that the tech sector's data practices are broadly improving. When the nonprofit group began publishing the report, called "Who has your back?" in 2011, virtually every company on the list had a low score.


#* Traders bet on Twitter near-term gains as takeover chatter persists​,width-300,resizemode-4/twitter.jpg

NEW YORK: Dick Costolo's decision to step down as Twitter's chief executive last week failed to stem the weeks-long slide in the company's shares, but options traders appear to be betting on a near-term rebound.

The stock has shed more than a third of its value since Twitter reported first-quarter results in April. It edged up 6 cents to $34.62 on Thursday, after touching a year-low of $33.51 on Tuesday.

On June 11, Costolo said he would resign as CEO under pressure from investors frustrated by the microblogging company's slow growth, but the move failed to prop up Twitter's shares.

Options traders seem to be focusing on the near-term and may be looking for something like a takeover bid to make the stock jump, strategists said.

"It seems that everyone and their uncle is betting that Twitter will be bought by another firm," said Steven Place, founder of options analytics firm in Destin, Florida.

Since May, open interest in calls, usually used for bets on the shares rising, has swelled at a faster pace than the open interest in puts. For every open put contract, 1.7 calls are open, the most bullish for this ratio since early March.

Traders have bid up near-dated options, with the demand for upside reflected in options skew - the difference between expectations for volatility priced into puts versus calls.

Normally, puts tend to have a higher premium relative to calls, because people are willing to pay more to protect against risk of losses. For Twitter, calls have become more expensive than puts.

"The upside skew in Twitter most likely reflects the possibility of an upside event between now and July expiration," Place said.

That might not necessarily mean that traders are bullish on the stock, but it does suggest investors want to own upside calls in case of a takeover, said Pravit Chintawongvanich, derivatives strategist at Macro Risk Advisors in New York.

Twitter's second-quarter results, due toward the end of July, could be another reason for near-dated options to be bid, Chintawongvanich said. The stock is usually volatile after reporting results, with average one-day moves of 15%.

That co-founder Jack Dorsey is taking over from Costolo only on an interim basis has left some analysts wondering if it is a signal for a potential acquisition of the company.

Twitter has denied that it is in talks to be acquired.


#* Providing local language content made easy with LinguaNext​,width-300,resizemode-4/.jpg

NEW DELHI: Leading multinational companies, including Fujitsu and a top chip maker, has tapped Helion Venture Partners' backed LinguaNext Technologies for using its technology that converts business software into local language. 

The Pune-based company has also converted direct benefit transfer scheme portals of leading oil PSUs into about a dozen local languages. 

As more people from non-urban areas take to the internet, companies such as Google are taking keener interest in providing content in local languages for a larger adoption. And it is this change that the Pune-based company wants to cash in on. 

Narendra Nayak, executive vice president at LinguaNext Technologies, said, "We have been tapped by Fujitsu and a major chipmaker who have either used or are in the process of implementing our technology for offering their services in more languages in India and overseas." 

Nayak revealed that Fujitsu was using Linguify.Cloud for getting their applications localized to multiple languages, including English. Linguify.Cloud allows an existing application to be made multi lingual within weeks without the need to make any changes to the underlying source code or database. 

Having multi language capabilities is critical in the Indian market, top players such as Google, Xiaomi, Micromax and several others agree, as companies will require them to spread their reach into non-urban markets. 

According to Boston Consulting Group, the use of vernacular content is estimated to increase from 45% in 2013 to more than 60% in 2018, mirroring consumption patterns in mainstream media such as print and television. 

Taking the initiative, Google created the Indian Languages Internet Alliance in 2014 in which it teamed up with news content producers in India and the government to ensure that internet content in Hindi becomes available. It is aiming to attract the next 300 million users who are not proficient in English but will be using internet for the first time, preferably on smartphones.


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