Enterprise

India’s richest man is giving away free HD TVs

He’s selling something more valuable

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Reliance Jio is India’s largest telecom operator and has managed to get onboard more than 340 million users within a span of three years. Launched in 2016, the company revolutionized 4G connections in the country and offered dirt-cheap plans to attract subscribers.

Now that the company has conquered the wireless market, it aims to establish supremacy in the fixed-line segment. It announced the launch of its fiber-based broadband service offering minimum internet speed of 100 Mbps for INR 699 (US$ 9.75) a month, a rate significantly lower than the rivals.

Dubbed “Jio Fiber”, the service will offer free voice calling anywhere in the country, unlimited data and video conferencing.

In a bid to attract users and make them use bandwidth, they’re handing out TVs to hook users on movies and entertainment shows via internet. Lifetime subscribers get a 4K set top box for streaming TV channels, while a 4K television set would be complimentary with plans with higher payouts such as ‘Gold’ and above.

Jio is offering complementary TVs to annual subscribers of broadband plans in the range of INR 2,499 to INR 8,499 (US$ 35 – 120). The company is also offering television set on two-year subscription of gold plan priced at INR 1,299 (US$ 18) per month.

Jio Fiber Platinum and Titanium plan users will also get access to Jio VR platform, Jio First-Day First-Show movies service, and special sports content.

To get a new connection, a one-time charge for installation will be applicable — INR 2,500 (US$ 35), out of which INR 1,500 will be the refundable security deposit for the Jio router. Rest will be non-refundable.

Instead of relying on hardware sales for revenue, the company is making internet bandwidth its main selling point. Higher data consumption translates into better revenues, indirectly covering up the cost of providing complimentary hardware.

Enterprise

Essential shuts down, ending the Essential Phone

Rest in peace

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Years ago, the Essential Phone earned its bit of the limelight. Going up against a downpour of identical phones, Andy Rubin’s smartphone promised a refreshing change for a disenchanted market. On launch, it delivered on its grand promise, outing a powerful, edge-to-edge display for a workable price.

Unfortunately, Essential, the company, never developed a promising follow-up for the Essential Phone. In fact, Essential’s history has been tumultuous since the Essential Phone’s launch. Since then, Essential has downsized the company, repeatedly reduced the original phone’s price, and failed to deliver on promised devices. Most recently, the company stopped further production of the Essential Phone.

Now, the inevitable has finally happened. In an official blog post, Essential is closing shop, ending operations as a company.

In its final exit, Essential is leaving behind an unfinished Project GEM. After shutting the Essential Phone 2 down, the company hinted at an extra-long smartphone, a new mobile experience unlike any other. Because of today’s announcement, Project GEM will never see the light of day. “Despite our best efforts, we’ve now taken Gem as far as we can and regrettably have no clear path to deliver it to customers,” Essential said.

Further, Essential has also released its final update for the Essential Phone, rolled out on February 3. Though still functional indefinitely, Essential Phone users will not receive any support from the company anymore. When it was still operation, the company outed consistent updates for its fans, including one of the earliest accesses to Android Pie. If anything, Essential will provide development resources to the public, ensuring crowd-sourced support, at the very least.

Regardless, Essential is officially dead. For real this time.

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Enterprise

Google Station winds down, bids goodbye to free Wi-Fi

Passing the torch to Smart Communications

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More than 400 venues offering free Wi-Fi will wind down through 2020, as Google Station bids goodbye. In a report by Manila Bulletin, an anonymous source stated how partners are losing money due to a lack of sustaining advertising revenue ultimately leading to Google shutting down the service.

Google responds

However, Google denied the claims that Google has not provided support to partners resulting in revenue loss. In a statement, Google expounds on how the change in landscape and scalability is the reason why Google Station is winding down.

“4G is getting prevalent in a number of markets and data prices are dropping globally. This, combined with the complex and varying technical requirements across partners and countries, makes it a challenge to scale and sustain Station.”

“This has made us re-evaluate our plans and we have decided to wind down the program through 2020. We are working with our partners to support our users and them to gradually transition. We remain committed to look for ways to make the internet more accessible for users around the world,” a representative from Google added.

Passing the torch

Google’s current installations for the Google Station project will be taken over by Smart Communications, its local partner. Passing the torch, Smart Communications will be rebranding the current project, continuing Google’s promise of fast, free, and reliable connectivity in its current locations — only with Smart on its name.

Google Station will wind down through 2020 in the Philippines, alongside India, Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico, Nigeria, Brazil, and Vietnam.

Source: Manila Bulletin

 

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Enterprise

France punishes Apple for slowing down iPhones

Specifically for not notifying users

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Apple’s planned obsolescence is a well-known controversy by now. The iPhone maker notoriously slows down old phones after their respective life cycles. In Apple’s defense, the obsolescence apparently prolongs the device’s life. Consumers, however, are angry over being forced to upgrade.

Since then, lawmakers have tried to sue companies for purposefully slowing down their phones. For example, the Italian government successfully challenged Samsung for similarly doing the same thing.

Now, France is suing Apple for the same controversy. Sort of.

France’s case doesn’t explicitly deal with Apple’s practice. Instead, the French are suing Apple for not notifying users of the practice. According to the case, Apple did not do wrong by slowing down phones. Apple did wrong through “deceptive commercial practice by omission.”

Regardless, Apple’s fine is quite hefty, even for a global corporation. Because of the case, Apple must pay EUR 25 million in fines (or around US$ 27 million).

Of course, the fine is ultimately just a minor fender bender in Apple’s cash-making machine. However, it is still enough to institute some form of change, especially in France. As part of the punishment, Apple is required to display notices on its French website.

Since the initial controversy, Apple has practiced better transparency in explaining the need for the slowdown. Still, no one likes slow phones. Even in 2020, Apple’s planned obsolescence is still a hot topic.

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