Enterprise

Huawei in talks with Swiss-based ProtonMail for Gmail substitute

The Swiss firm also offers a VPN service

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Huawei and Google have finally split ways. After months of uncertainty, Huawei has finally confirmed the first Google-less smartphone. Unlike its predecessors, the Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro will ship without Google’s officially licensed products. That said, a pressing question remains: what will replace Google in Huawei’s devices?

The Chinese company has already discussed several alternatives including an open-source version of Android. Huawei’s most compelling alternative is its in-house software, Harmony OS. Currently, Harmony OS is in development in preparation for an eventual application for mobile devices. However, despite the seemingly positive developments, Huawei has lacked something critical: a new ally.

So far, Huawei’s potential solutions are either developed in-house or still clinging on to the Android ecosystem. Fortunately, Huawei’s lone battles are coming to an end.

The company is now discussing a potential partnership with an unlikely ally: the Switzerland-based ProtonMail. Notably, Switzerland is a neutral territory, allowing Swiss companies like ProtonMail to do business with Huawei.

In an official blog post, the Swiss company has extended support for Huawei’s official app store, AppGallery. According to a Bloomberg interview with the company’s founder, “what [Huawei sees] from [ProtonMail] is having an alternative to Google in case they can’t offer Google anymore.”

“As Huawei devices are especially popular in developing countries where Proton has many users, publishing on the Huawei AppGallery could become essential to continue supporting these user communities,” according to the blog post.

Additionally, ProtonMail has commented on Google’s shadier practices. “Google doesn’t respect users’ privacy,” the post further said. The company has notoriously gone off against Google in the past.

In contrast, ProtonMail offers an email service with end-to-end encryption and open-source cryptography. The company also offers an accessible VPN service called ProtonVPN. The company’s founder, Dr. Andy Yen, has continuously advocated for stricter privacy in digital communication. His team aims to add ProtonCalendar and ProtonDrive to their products in the future.

UPDATE [09/10/19]: ProtonMail has posted a follow-up blog post explaining the situation. Despite the emailing service’s support for Huawei’s AppGallery, both companies are not currently pursuing an official partnership with each other.

SEE ALSO: Huawei announces flagship Kirin 990 processor

Apps

Grab kickstarts growth of digital economy in the Philippines

Here’s how Grab can help small businesses sell more

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For almost a decade, Grab affixed itself as a staple in Filipinos’ lives. The ride-hailing app’s advent revolutionized mobility in the Philippines, making living in the metro relatively convenient.

In 2020, Grab takes things a step further, launching Small Business Booster Program. Moreover, the company partnered with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Tourism, and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Grab is aiming to support local businesses in their transition to a growing digital economy. It seeks to bridge the gap between MSMEs and consumers relying on digital-based services. Furthermore, it kickstarted initiatives that are accessible to small business owners — particularly mom-and-pops or independent, family-owned businesses.

Transitioning to digital services

“Small, independent businesses are the backbone of our economy,” according to Grab Philippines Brian Cu.

Believing that supporting government initiatives will help these businesses rejuvenate the economy amid the pandemic, the Small Business Booster Program strives to provide digital support to businesses, such as GrabMerchant.

This all-in-one platform helps business owners augment their customer base efficiently. Some features include Insights — providing analytics to a merchant’s sales, marketing campaigns, and its customers’ profile and buying behavior.

There’s also an ads creation tool, which allows merchant-partners to create their own advertisements and track performance in Grab’s platform.

GrabMerchant is available to existing Grab merchant-partners as an app. A web portal is already in the works, which will roll out by the end of August 2020. Currently, there are over 78,000 merchant-partners onboarded in the Grab app across Southeast Asia.

In the Philippines, Grab recorded almost 12,000 merchants between March and June 2020, with small businesses seeing at least 57 percent growth in their online revenues. Interested merchants can sign up through this link.

Photo by Grab Philippines

Free, personalized ads

Aside from GrabMerchant’s Ads creation tool, Grab is committed to supporting Filipino merchants with advertising solutions. Most merchant-partners saw up to 300 percent return on ad spend, after placing an ad on GrabFood’s homepage.

Through its “Homegrown Heroes” initiative, Grab will create personalized ads for over 1,000 merchant-partners, featuring their businesses for five weeks on the most prominent spaces within the app. Costs and resources required to produce materials will be covered by Grab.

An easy way to receive payments

If you’re a social seller, take advantage of Grab’s Offline to Online (O2O) Merchant Support Program. Businesses with no online presence can set up their online stores, and utilize an integrated GrabPay checkout for virtual payments through a landing page on Grab.com.

Since the lockdown, people turned to social selling for sustenance. However, online selling plies with tricky payment methods. Grab aims to ease purchasing and receiving payments through its Remote GrabPay link solution, where sellers can hand out URLs to their customers.

These links will allow customers to make direct payments from their GrabPay Wallet, which sellers receive easily. Access the service through this link.

Connecting rural entrepreneurs

Grab is also leveraging its leadership in technology and innovation to help expand livelihood opportunities to Filipino farmers across the country.

It has been actively working with local governments in helping traditional ecosystems maintain their presence in a growing digital economy. Together with the Department of Agriculture’s Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita program and the Department of Tourism’s Philippine Harvest Initiative, Grab seeks to create an avenue for Filipino farmers to earn through the Grab platform. More importantly, their fresh produce will be delivered to customers across Metro Manila.

To learn more about Grab’s response in the COVID-19 impact, check their social report, Grab for Good through this link.

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Enterprise

Facebook, to boycotters: ‘You’ll be back’

They won’t change any policies

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Between piling privacy issues and moderation controversies, Facebook is facing a reckoning. The company’s own employees have already started to revolt against Mark Zuckerberg’s stances on current issues. Externally, Zuckerberg is also under fire from its huge slate of advertisers. Since last week, the world’s biggest brands have started pulling out of the platform’s advertising opportunities. The list includes Starbucks, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, PlayStation, and counting.

As the boycott gains momentum, the ball is on Zuckerberg’s court. Unfortunately, based on a leaked transcript of an internal meeting obtained by The Information, the Facebook boss has no intentions of taking the boycott seriously.

According to Zuckerberg, Facebook will not change any internal policies or strategies “because of a threat to a small percent of [their] revenue.” He assures the company that the boycotting brands don’t make a dent on their bottom line. True enough, Facebook’s revenue stream relies mostly on advertising, wherein millions of companies post ads on the platform.

Further, Zuckerberg claims that “these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.” Though ballsy, his statements echo an odd strategy to downplay the effects of the boycott. If anything, he also plans to meet with boycotting brands to develop a compromise for the situation. Of course, whatever the compromise will be, it won’t change anything substantial in the company’s overall policies.

Whether you believe in Zuckerberg’s braggadocio or not, screaming “you’ll be back” at dissatisfied customers is an ill-advised practice in public relations. As of now, the boycott is still full steam ahead. Only time will tell if more advertisers will join the battle.

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Enterprise

US is calling Huawei, ZTE a national security threat

The odds aren’t in China’s favor

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The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated Huawei and ZTE as a national security threat. This doesn’t come as a surprise since the US has been trying to sideline the two Chinese telecom equipment companies for months.

However, with the new designation comes a flood of bad news for the two companies. The action means carriers won’t be able to use money from federal subsidies to buy or maintain equipment from the two companies. While the US has actively tried to reduce its dependence on Huawei or ZTE gear, the latest announcement is an indication of escalation.

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said on Tuesday that “untrustworthy equipment” continues to remain a part of US telecom infrastructure. He asked Congress to allocate funding to replace the remaining equipment.

Three state-controlled telecom operators — China Telecom Americas, China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks Corp, are also on the grinding block. FCC is considering termination of its authorization to operate.

Huawei is combatting issues on multiple fronts at the moment. The US has lobbied allied countries to avoid Huawei or ZTE technology. Furthermore, Huawei is barred from transacting with American counterparts like Google. Its consumer smartphone division has come to a startling halt since the phones can’t run the full capabilities of Android via Google Mobile Services.

ZTE too has been out of luck. In 2018, US President Donald Trump had said that of the two vendors, ZTE could continue trading after paying a fine of US$ 1.3 billion, and providing “high-level security guarantees.” However, the latest designation again puts the company in an impossible spot.

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