Enterprise

Google fined $21.1M by Indian watchdog for unfair search bias

That equates to around five percent of its turnover in India

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The Competition Commission of India (CCI), the country’s antitrust watchdog, on Thursday imposed a INR 136 crore (approximately US$ 21.1 million) fine on Google for “search bias” and abuse of its dominant position, in the latest regulatory setback for the world’s most popular internet search engine.

“Google was leveraging its dominance in the market for online general web search, to strengthen its position in the market for online syndicate search services,” the CCI said.

The CCI says its investigation found that Google was directing web users who were searching for flights to its own flight search page, and thereby disadvantaging businesses trying to gain market access, while also unfairly imposing its products on users of general search services as well.

The size of the CCI’s fine was calculated based on Google’s revenue from its operations in India only, and equates to around five percent of its turnover in the market. The regulator said that it has given thoughtful consideration on the submissions made by Google on issue of penalty and found it appropriate to impose a fine.

The watchdog has cleared Google of any competition violations related to other elements of its business like AdWords, Search Design, and other distribution agreements.

The ruling brings to an end a probe first started by the watchdog in 2012 on complaints filed by matchmaking website Bharat Matrimony and a not-for-profit organisation, Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS).

On the CCI ruling, a Google spokesperson said the company is “reviewing the narrow concerns identified by the Commission and will assess our next steps,” according to a PTI report.

Last year, The European Commission imposed a record EUR 2.4 billion (approximately US$ 3 billion) fine on the company for favoring its shopping service and demoting rival offerings. Google has appealed against the order. This is one of the rare cases wherein Google has been penalized for unfair business practices globally, even though it has been under probe in several countries.

Source: CCI

Enterprise

Microsoft now supports email addresses in 15 Indian languages

More than a billion people in India do not speak English

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Microsoft has announced support for email addresses in 15 Indian languages across its apps and services, including Office 365, Outlook 2016, Outlook.com, Exchange Online, and Exchange Online Protection (EOP).

The initiative by Microsoft comes on the occasion of International Mother Language Day, which is celebrated on February 21 every year. The company is also making efforts to support Email Address Internationalization (EAI), which makes technology accessible in local languages.

The 15 Indian languages supported for email addresses include Hindi, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Konkani, Maithili, Marathi, Manipuri, Nepali, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. These languages are a part of the IN Registry that keeps a record of languages in which IDNs can be stored.

An Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) is an Internet domain name that contains a language-specific script or alphabet — such as Devanagari, Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Tamil, Hebrew, or Latin Alphabets. They also support Unicode, an international standard that encodes languages and scripts so that it’s accessible on practically any modern computer out there.

Speaking on the addition of support for these languages, Microsoft India COO Meetul Patel said that the move represents a step forward in eliminating language as a barrier to the adoption of technology and communication tools. “Currently, Indian languages are under-represented online. Of the 447 different languages spoken in India, none make it to the list of top 50 digital languages,” Microsoft said in a blog post.

Starting with Project Basha in 1998, Microsoft has been working to provide local language computing in Indian languages. Microsoft currently supports 22 constitutionally recognized Indian languages — including 11 Indian language scripts for Office and Windows.

As a member of the Universal Acceptance Steering Group, the company says it will continue to extend support to languages and scripts, including right-to-left languages like Urdu and Arabic.

Google, too, had a launch on International Mother Language Day, and introduced Tamil language support for its advertising products Google AdWords and Google AdSense.

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Enterprise

Philippines improves 4G LTE availability but falls short at rankings

Still one of the slowest in the world

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It’s no surprise that internet in Southeast Asia hasn’t caught up with 2018 standards. Based on several OpenSignal reports throughout the years, the region still rattles out poor ratings in 4G availability and speed.

Sadly, the most recent report shows more of the same. Though improving in reliability, internet in the region is still the slowest in the world.

The data was collected from over 4.8 million devices and almost 59 billion measurements throughout October to December last year.

The latest findings, which show definite improvements over last year’s results, offers eye-opening insights about the current state of 4G internet and its uncertain future.

South Korea still on top, but stumbles in speed

 

As with previous years, it’s no surprise that Singapore and South Korea dominate the boards once again. The world’s prime destination for eSports tops 4G availability; internet users in South Korea enjoy 4G connections for 97.49 percent of the time — a huge feat when around half of the recorded nations struggle to move past the 75 percent mark. Unfortunately, the country falls off a bit in terms of speed. Whereas the previous report clocked speeds of 43.46Mbps, this report measures a lower but still speedy 40.44Mbps.

On the other hand, Singapore tops the rankings for speed again with 44.31Mbps. Also, the country slightly improved their reliability at 84.43 percent.

The Philippines improves, but still a lower-tier country

Learning from their years-long stint at the bottom of the rankings, the Philippines finally improves their rankings with a marked upgrade on reliability. From a paltry 52.77 percent last year, the archipelagic nation now enjoys 63.73 percent 4G availability. As a result, the Philippines is no longer in the bottom 10 nations of the world, but is still the third lowest in Asia.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the country’s speed. Despite an upgrade (from 8.59Mbps to 9.49Mbps), the Philippines is the fourth slowest country in the world (and third slowest in Asia). This year’s ranking is also slightly worse than last year’s list where the country placed as only the fifth slowest.

India barely moves up

Despite a brilliant showing in 4G availability, India still holds the unfortunate title of “slowest 4G internet in the world.” Indian internet speeds average only 6.07Mbps. The sub-par speeds slightly improved from last year’s showing, which only clocked in 5.14Mbps. This may be attributed to India’s status as one of the most populous nations in the world. On the bright side, the South Asian country marginally improved its reach — 86.26 percent from 81.56 percent last year.

4G internet speeds are plateauing

4G technology started in 2010. Since then, countries continue to edge closer but miss the vaunted 50Mbps mark. As of 2018, it’s safe to assume that everyone’s hitting the hay in the hunt for speed. Most, if not all, upgrades in speed this year were marginal at best. With the apparent plateau, the world focused on providing more reliable 4G internet across the globe. Countries fared better in improving their 4G reliability.

Too little, too late?

5G is just on the horizon. Tech companies are already pushing for 5G-compatible devices; 5G will soon obliterate the 4G speed plateau. With a more efficient solution coming, we should ask whether the race for the best 4G service shows an alarming trend.

Before we know it, the race to the best 5G network will kick off. Developed countries already have a leg up. Unfortunately, those who trailed in the 4G race will fall behind even further as 5G passes them by. Even if 5G will be easy to implement, the lack of reliable 4G in developing countries will only widen the gap between 5G-ready and 4G-ready countries.

SEE ALSO: Philippines still ranks near bottom for 4G LTE speeds and availability

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Apps

Uber plans to sell Southeast Asian arm to Grab

In exchange for Grab’s stakes

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A massive deal is brewing in Southeast Asia. After a rocky 2017, Uber is gearing up to sell its Southeast Asia operations to Singapore’s Grab.

Despite posting a whopping US$ 7.5 billion in sales last year, Uber reported an even more surprising US$ 4.5 billion in losses. Uber’s worldwide demand couldn’t offset the costs that it incurred throughout the previous year.

This makes the rumored deal between the two ride-sharing apps a timely one. Further, reports indicate that Uber is also preparing for an eventual IPO sometime next year.

Should it happen, Uber will receive a substantial stake in Grab’s company. Currently, Uber hasn’t finalized the deal yet. Reports don’t include a timeline on when (or if) this deal will conclude.

The strategic move works in favor of Uber as a business. However, it remains unclear how this will affect commuters.

Southeast Asian commuters heavily prefer the convenience of Uber and Grab, compared to the bustle of traditional public transportation. The two apps share similar popularity ratings across the region.

For its popularity, Uber is pummeled with more controversies than Grab. The earlier has already suffered from multiple cases of drivers raping passengers, taxi protests, and a recent attempt to stifle autonomous driving. The company’s long-standing CEO Travis Kalanick also resigned last year.

Despite the mounting scandals, Uber remains one of the world’s preferred ride-sharing service. Regardless of whether the proposed sale will push through, Uber continues to be a watchword in today’s transportation economy.

SEE ALSO: Five Uber app alternatives for your daily commute

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