Tag Archives: Awesummly

Will it now be Jio vs Non-Jio?

This blog was originally written for Awesummly. Awesummly is an android which provides you with real-time summarised news. To download the app, click here.

At a time when Indian telecommunication companies are blamed for charging much more than they ought to, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani seems to have brought a revolution in this sector with the commercial launch of Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) on September 1, 2016, at the Reliance Annual General Meeting. From providing highly attractive introductory offers in voice calling and 4G services to its ambitious plan of capturing up to 10 per cent of over 1 billion-strong customer base, Jio has caught the attention of both mobile subscribers as well as mobile service providers. It aims to serve 100 million subscribers by the end of this year, with an addition of 1 million subscribers per day. Following this, Reliance plans to make revenue in the range of ₹36,000 crores to ₹50,000 crores in FY17.

In an impactful speech, which cost Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular approximately ₹12,000 crores in losses in under 45 minutes, Mukesh Ambani announced a series of measures which is set to directly affect mobile users’ behaviour, waging a “tariff war” with incumbent players in the telecom sector. From issuing free SIM cards and providing lifetime free voice calls (local plus national roaming) to providing free mobile data till December 31, and lowest data rates per megabit consumption (4G data rates will see a decrease from ₹250/GB which is charged by the incumbent players to ₹50/GB), advent of Jio is sure to have sent jitters down the telecom sphere. It is said that competition leads to better performance, but in all this brouhaha, future seems bleak for the likes of Aircel and Telenor. How Bharti Airtel, Vodafone or Idea Cellular effectively react to this is yet to be seen. A battle for providing the lowest tariff will not be a surprise.

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The Jio rates

The erstwhile Infotel Broadband Services Limited was rechristened as Reliance Jio Infocomm in 2015. Jio was previously launched as a beta service to its employees and partners in December 2015. As far as the initial investment in this project is concerned, Jio is supposedly world’s biggest venture with ₹150,000 crore investment. With a very strong backing by RIL, it is all prepared to take initial blows in terms of direct losses till 31 December. It will only start making revenue from January 2017 when it begins to charge for its data usage (from ₹149 to ₹4999 on a monthly basis). Apart from data services, it aims to leverage revenue from various digital services like video streaming (with a feature similar to Netflix) and other sources, not to forget the already profit-making RIL.

All this is indeed a welcome step towards digital literacy, especially as it is brought about by a private entity. This will motivate other players to step in –  a step they must take in order to survive in the competition. According to media reports, Vodafone and Airtel have called Jio’s offer a “gimmick” while the state-owned BSNL has pledged to match Jio “tariff-by-tariff”. At the current stage, Reliance Jio has everything to experiment with, owing to its strong financial support. What is left for other big players is to prevent an exodus of their top customers to Jio, for 30 per cent of the customers contribute to 70 per cent of their revenue. The launch of Jio seems to have been played out positively on consumer sentiment. Whatever level of competition and commotion this leads to, the end beneficiary is going to be the customers. And this is what really matters to us.

This blog was originally written for Awesummly. Awesummly is an android which provides you with real-time summarised news. To download the app, click here.

Not a Yahoo! moment

This blog was originally posted on Awesummly. Awesummly is a news app available on Play Store. To download the app, click here.

It is said that Internet is an unforgiving place for yesterday’s great idea. Acquisition of Yahoo! Inc.’s core business by Verizon Communication on 25 July for $4.83 billion validates this fact. Verizon is America’s top ranking telecommunication company, which has started to experience a radical increase in digital content consumption from its mobile users. Hence, Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo is clear as the latter had emerged as an unavoidable, but struggling, player in the field of content distribution. Last year, Verizon had acquired AOL Inc.(Yahoo’s biggest competitor for a long time) for $4.4 billion. Surprisingly, because of Verizon’s increasing customer base in the area of digital consumption, its biggest competitors now are Facebook and Google, the big brothers in providing content, and not AT&T or Sprint, big names in America’s telecommunication sphere.

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Verizon’s growing empire (source: Bloomberg)

Yahoo has reached its end as an independent company which was founded in 1994 by Stanford graduates David Felo and Jerry Yang. One of the biggest names during its heydays in the nascent world of dot-com, Yahoo was the front door to Internet for many first-generation users. At its peak in 2000, it was valued at $125 billion, having evolved through numerous products such as Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Answers, Yahoo Finance and many more. By mid-2000s, Yahoo struggled to maintain its spot, courtesy- beginning of era of Google and Facebook. For every Yahoo Search, there was a Google Search; for Yahoo Messenger, there was a Google Talk. Arguably, every Yahoo Mail user started to have a taste of Gmail, and the competition just got increasingly tough for Yahoo.

Just like many companies, Yahoo made goof-ups, but it had to pay a massive price for some of them, as it turns out to be in recent times. A shocking incident as it may come out to be, Yahoo had missed opportunities to acquire both Google and Facebook. Apparently, Yahoo was not willing to spend even $1 million to buy Google! Again in 2008, Microsoft offered a deal of $44 billion which was rejected by Yahoo.

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No more Yahoo!

Flash-forward to the present scene. No doubt, Yahoo has lost its charm. After this acquisition, Yahoo will have stakes remaining in the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba (estimated at $40 billion), Yahoo Japan and other small portfolio of high-end patents. Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, who had a long stint at Google, will be paid a severance package of $57 million. Notably, she was hired in 2012 to revive Yahoo but failed to do so. After all these years of pressure for Yahoo and its ultimate acquisition, one thing on which we all can agree is: Yahoo! came to its logical end.

This blog was originally posted on Awesummly. Awesummly is a news app available on Play Store. To download the app, click here.

Television news media is shaping our perception

This blog was originally posted on Awesummly. Awesummly is a news app available on Play Store. To download the app, click here.

Famously regarded as the fourth pillar of the Indian democracy, the television media in India has expanded both in its purview and responsibilities. It appears to be diverting from its presumed duty of divulging unbiased and neutral information, and from existing as a platform where people can raise and share their opinions — a phenomenon that has caught the attention of news viewers. Primetime debates on TV news channels look no longer like debates, and resemble more like an entertainment show catering to a man in search for a mood change after the day’s tiring work. Arguably, not every panellist’s point of view is addressed in these debates, resulting in a discussion that is heavily biased and sometimes confusing. Surprisingly, viewers tend to be more attracted towards the rhetoric of host and the speakers rather than the outcome of these debates.

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All eyes on you!

Shortcomings of the Indian television media

The quality of reportage by TV channels have raised questions by many sections of society. An instance of astonishing reportage by the TV media is the consistent impression of a fellow politician’s character upon the viewers. While a politician’s actions might be suggesting a positive assertion, such a reportage does not allow time and space to alter the negative image in the eyes of the people. Another shortcoming is the range of news coverage by some of the Hindi news channels, ostensibly labelled as “mainstream” and “national” news channels. Their coverage is remotely pan-India and grossly inadequate — in case it is not known — the 2015 Chennai floods took 3 days to hit the headlines of these news channels; environment issues and tribal affairs fail to find a space in their news ticker. Rarely does one see a news from the Northeast in these channels, and if the Northeast seems far enough, a state like Odisha (which is among the most neglected by the Central government, but the most mineral-rich in India) has a similar story to tell. Little coverage of these areas amounts to little public awareness, leading to reduced scope of outreach and development in these areas. No wonder the organization National Socialist Council of Nagaland- Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) is, to this day, demanding a separate flag and passport for their proposed Greater Nagalim region. Apparently, the only time a person in the north hears of Kanyakumari is in the phrase Kashmir se Kanyakumari tak, most popularly pitched in political speeches in Hindi. Compare this with coverage of the NCR and the North India, and the difference will be all too clear to justify. In all this, the fundamental problem is in the news coverage, and to a greater extent in them being labelled as “national” news channels. How can a channel with a grossly limited coverage be dubbed as a national channel?

It is not only the political affairs that lack their due coverage. Various sports in India marred by minimal coverage have a similar story to tell. Undoubtedly Cricket has a massive fan following in India, perhaps more than all other professional sports combined. Is it then not the right time that other sports like be popularised and promoted? No doubt, the government and the various sports bodies have a role to play, but the media can play an even larger role because of its wide reach and popularity. This assumes greater importance at a time when our country is sending the largest-ever contingent for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil.

Shaping our perception

While a person is entitled to her opinion on a personal level, the same is not true for a news channel which is expected to be all-encompassing to as much an extent as possible. News is expected to be presented as it is without manipulation, and the final judgement of a right or a wrong should be left for the media audience to decide. Moreover, hunting down a single person or a group, for more TRP, and not giving them their due time and space to defend, sets a bad precedent for journalism in our country as this diminishes the distinct roles and responsibilities of the media. In light of the recent controversy regarding the Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, the media trial against him was regrettable. Several TV news channels stepped out of their expected roles of unbiasedness and left no stones unturned in shaping public’s opinion against him. Another incident involved the comedian Tanmay Bhat’s video that went viral in the social media. Though it might be too late to comment on this issue but it still stands relevant: Tanmay Bhat was already made a scapegoat before he could appear in the public to defend himself. The same thing happened in the case of the JNU incident where one of the students, Umar Khalid, was lambasted in a live TV debate and not allowed to put forth his argument. The media trial that followed is known to all. In such incidents, common questions arise: Is this kind of action by media justified? What is the TV news media creating — an informed public or a misguided mob?

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Is this a debate? (cartoon by Vignesh Rajan)

It should be noted that is the same media which airs a high-level coverage on Salman Khan’s acquittal from the Bombay High Court but fails to discover about Kailash Satyarthi and his works until he is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Because of incident such as this, there is a high chance of the public missing out on issues of social importance. Isn’t it the responsibility of the media to make more and more voices heard, and not just the popular ones?

In this age of globalization, it has become all the more important for us as citizens to be aware of the prevailing situations and develop a tendency to engage, if not appreciate, a different perspective, even on a non-permanent basis. We should not let ourselves be derailed by the decibel level while watching a TV debate. And so far as the role of television news media is concerned, the lines by the English writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall fits appropriately — I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

This blog was originally posted on Awesummly. Awesummly is a news app available on Play Store. To download the app, click here.