Enterprise

Why is Amazon starting a $250 million venture fund in India?

Aims to bring 1 million offline stores online by 2025

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Amazon has announced a US$ 250 million venture fund called Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund that’ll invest in small and medium-sized businesses. The goal is to boost India’s export by using technology and the marketplace’s reach.

Amazon Smbhav will be focusing on the digitization of small businesses, agri-tech innovations to raise farmer productivity, and health tech for quality universal healthcare. The fund was announced at Amazon India’s annual Smbhav Summit.

It intends to tap offline sellers and professionals via the fund and on onboarding a million shops by 2025. Another initiative is “Spotlight NorthEast,” which will bring 50,000 artisans, weavers, and small businesses online from India’s North-Eastern states. The region is known for its local produce like honey, tea, and spices.

The announcement came at a fireside chat at the summit between Andy Jassy, incoming CEO of Amazon and Amit Agarwal, Global Senior VP and Country Head, Amazon India. They also revealed the first bet Amazon was making through the new fund — invoice discounting platform M1xchange, in which it has led a $10 million investment.

Amazon said it created close to 300,000 jobs since January 2020 and one million in total. It also boasted of having almost 70,000 sellers, exporting Indian goods to other markets totaling US$ 3 billion in sales.

The timing of Amazon India’s announcement is key because the e-commerce companies have been barred from delivering in the state of Maharashtra amid a Coronavirus-led curfew. While the restrictions are regional, businesses are unable to get necessary and basic supplies. In a work-from-home world, getting an emergency mice/keyboard or mattress should be easy via digitization, but there are antitrust concerns.

Due to a lockdown, offline sellers cannot operate and thus, don’t want online businesses to eat their share. The Narendra Modi-led government has historically sided with the offline traders since they constitute a majority of India’s market. The offline market is still the king, and the gap between the two is very substantial.

If online players operate exclusively for too long, they’ll start gobbling up market share gradually, killing the smaller businesses. While the aim is to maintain a level-playing field, the current rules aren’t helping anybody at the end of the day. The region also fails to collect indirect taxes over the possible transactions, leading to a cash crunch while the pandemic rages.

The FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) rules for the retail market were changed in 2019, meaning Amazon India could no longer directly sell its products. It had to act like a marketplace to maintain healthy competition since 100 percent FDI is allowed in e-commerce as a tech platform, but not as a retailer.

Thanks to the fund, Amazon can show its commitment to India and its initiatives to encourage online trade. India’s new farm laws also make it easier for private companies to invest in agriculture or partner with farmers for contracts.

Amazon had announced an investment of US$1 billion in January 2020 and its purpose was also the same — digitizing India’s small and medium businesses. Founder Jeff Bezos had said back then, “We are doing this now because it is working. And when something works you should double down on it.”

For now, the concerns of a monopoly are diminished because Amazon is going up against India’s homegrown Flipkart, which Walmart now backs. Reliance is also eyeing this segment and has already kicked off a hyperlocal service called JioMart. Lastly, many other retailers like Dmart, Tata CliQ + Bigbasket, and Grofers are available.

Apps

US increases efforts to ban TikTok and other apps

New bill faces vote later this month

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Millions of users are fans of TikTok. However, the American government is clearly not. Over the years, the country’s officials have experimented with ways to ban the platform from the American tech space. While past efforts haven’t materialized into anything concrete against the Chinese platform, a new bill might finally pave the way to ban TikTok (and other apps) for good.

Today, American senators have introduced a bipartisan bill which will give the government the necessary authority to ban TikTok from American companies. As always, the new bill is concerned about TikTok’s potential as a gateway for Chinese surveillance. If passed, it will prohibit the app from being offered through the App Store and the Play Store on American soil.

If you’ve followed the drama all this time, you might be wondering what’s new this time. Unlike other efforts in the past, the new bill isn’t just limited to TikTok. In fact, it doesn’t even name the app explicitly.

Instead, it aims to introduce a system which will ban other potentially dangerous apps from “adversarial countries” such as China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela. When the next Huawei or TikTok rears its head, the government will have an established way to deal with the company, rather than going through years of discussions.

The bill must still pass through a vote later this month, so it’s still an open playing field. However, it isn’t the only effort to curb the platform. A recent act, the Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries Act, aims to deal with the app directly.

SEE ALSO: TikTok is now under investigation by the European Union

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Enterprise

Qualcomm announces world’s first iSIM

Coming with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

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Though the technology is ubiquitous today, there’s still a sense that eSIMs are still working their way into the mainstream. However, the world keeps turning and is already on its way towards the next big thing. Today, Qualcomm has announced what that next big thing is: iSIM.

Qualcomm and Thales have officially confirmed that the world’s first commercially deployable iSIM will arrive on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. All devices with the chipset will be able to enjoy the benefits of the burgeoning technology.

Now, let’s get the biggest question out of the way: What is an iSIM?

SIM cards, as we knew them back then, are little chips we inject (or used to inject) inside smartphones. Over time, the telecommunications industry developed the eSIM (or embedded SIM). Instead of a manually swappable chip, the eSIM is an even tinier chip physically soldered into the smartphone. Telecommunications networks can just digitally install the network data directly into the eSIM.

The iSIM, or integrated SIM, shrinks things even more. Instead of a physically soldered chip, the SIM is now installed inside the hardware, taking up less than 1mm2 of the device’s real estate. Though the difference seems miniscule, freeing up this much space leaves room for improvements in other components. Additionally, an iSIM takes up less power than traditional SIMs and eSIMs.

Qualcomm is already hopeful for the technology, expecting iSIM shipments to grow to 300 million devices by 2027.

SEE ALSO: Qualcomm partners with Mercedes-AMG in F1

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Enterprise

Nokia has an all-new logo

After 55 years with the old one

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Image source: Nokia

In the world of old tech, the Nokia logo is all-enduring. If you lived through the early days of mobile phones, you’ll recognize the simplicity of the Finnish company’s dark blue logo emblazoned on every device back then. Now, after five-and-a-half decades, Nokia is changing things up a bit with a brand new logo.

During MWC 2023, Nokia unveiled a new logo to reflect what the company stands for today. For a company that’s existed since the 1800s, the new logo is as youthful as a startup today. The new logo features a more open font and a brighter blue.

Though the company eventually got its big break for creating one of the most iconic mobile phones in history, Nokia is much more than just a phone brand. The company now handles a wider net of telecommunications technologies. To reflect that, the new logo aims to bring the company’s perception to the present and the future, while paying homage to the era that put it on the map.

If you’re wondering what that means for the brand’s modern smartphones, the old logo isn’t going away entirely. According to Nokia, the deal with HMD Global (which handles the brand’s smartphones today) will retain the old logo for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, both logos will exist in separate spaces. The old logo will exclusively pertain to the brand’s smartphones, while the new logo will usher in the brand’s endeavors in other industries.

SEE ALSO: Nokia seeks to kill OPPO’s sales in some countries

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