Nokia Chairman Reopens Old Wounds With New Book
Nokia's chairman has pointed the finger at his predecessor over the mobile phone maker's fall from grace in a book that has reopened old wounds in Finland, where the company remains a source of national pride. Nokia was the world's largest mobile handset maker and Europe's highest valued company at its peak, accounting for about 4 percent of Finland's economic output. But it failed to recognise the threat to its existence posed by the rise of touchscreen smartphones after Apple launched the iPhone in 2007. It has since sold off its handset business, with thousands of jobs lost along the way, and is now focused on telecoms networks and licensing its technology patents.
Nokia's decline was partly down to a lack of entrepreneurial leadership and the failure to face up to bad news, according to the book by Risto Siilasmaa, Nokia's chairman, who joined the company's board in 2008. Named "Transforming Nokia: The power of paranoid optimism to lead through colossal change," the book has made headlines beyond the business world because of its attacks on former Nokia CEO and Chairman Jorma Ollila. Siilasmaa said Ollila, one of Finland's best known business leaders who once considered running for president and is also a former chairman of Royal Dutch Shell, was quick-tempered and spread fear in the organisation, which curbed open discussion and led to a reluctance to share bad news.
Siilasmaa said he proposed Nokia look into choosing Google's Android platform for Nokia's smartphones over the company's own Symbian system in 2009, but a memo he had sent to Ollila was never discussed in the boardroom.
Siilasmaa said Ollila also sought to prevent his election as chairman in 2012, and yelled at him over phone when he briefed Ollila the following year about the plan to sell the handset business to Microsoft. "Our conversation followed the usual pattern: I tried to be polite; he exploded and yelled that I had ruined his legacy," Siilasmaa wrote. Ollila, now 68 and retired from frontline business, was Nokia chief executive in the phonemaker's heyday from 1992 to 2006, a year before the iPhone's launch, and then served as its chairman until 2012.
In Finland's Helsingin Sanomat daily he said that Siilasmaa, 52, was exaggerating with his accusations and had trouble understanding that running a large global company was different from managing a small company. Siilasmaa is the founder of Finnish cybersecurity and privacy company F-Secure. Under Siilasmaa's command, Nokia ended up selling the handset business to Microsoft in 2014.
Nokia then bought control of a joint venture with Germany's Siemens and followed up by acquiring Franco-American Alcatel-Lucent, making itself one of the world's biggest mobile network makers.
Amazon Says India Customer Base Surges During Festive Sale
U.S. online giant Amazon said its festive season sale in India had got off to a strong start, with three times the number of people signing up to shop in the first two days compared to last year. Amazon and homegrown Indian rival Flipkart, owned by Walmart, kicked off competing sales events on Wednesday, jostling to grab shoppers in India's October-December festive season when households make most big-ticket purchases.
"We are particularly excited by the three times higher new customer and Prime sign ups," Amit Agarwal, Amazon's India head said on Friday, adding the site is becoming the destination of choice for existing and new customers across India. The comment comes after Flipkart chief Kalyan Krishnamurthy, late on Wednesday, told Reuters Amazon was losing relevance in the country. Amazon and Flipkart are locked in a battle to dominate an Indian e-commerce market tipped, within a decade, to be worth $200 billion annually, according to Morgan Stanley.
Agarwal said the company's push on attractive credit facilities, product insurance and a Hindi-version of its mobile website were among measures paying off this time around. Amazon's 'Great Indian Festival' sale will go on till Oct. 15, while Flipkart's version 'Big Billion Days' ends a day earlier. Amazon, which already has over 100 million registered users in India, is making a deeper push in the country's small towns and cities in a bid to attract another 100 million customers by investing in infrastructure and partnering with local players for quicker deliveries.
Its Prime loyalty programme, which offers free delivery, early access to deals during sales and free music and video streaming, has helped Amazon win tens of millions of clients, making India its fastest-growing Prime market globally. Flipkart now offers a similar scheme. Large appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines as well as TVs are selling in huge numbers in this year's sale, Agarwal said, with fashion products becoming the largest selling category.
Neither company gave specific sales numbers, but said their festive sales will break last year's record as competition intensifies after Walmart's acquisition of a controlling stake in Bengaluru-based Flipkart this year. "Amazon remains the most visited, most transacted, most trusted online marketplace in India," Agarwal said. "We look forward to maintaining this momentum for the rest of the holiday season."
Google challenges European Commission’s $5 billion Android fine
San Francisco: Google has appealed against the European Commission’s nearly $5 billion fine that was imposed on the tech giant in July for illegally using Android mobile devices to strengthen dominance of Google’s Search engine. The Commission’s ruling gave Google 90 days to end the anti-competitive behaviours or face additional penalty. According to a report in The Verge, Google on Tuesday filed the appeal.
The Commission said that since 2011, Google has imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general Internet search.”Our case is about three types of restrictions that Google has imposed on Android device manufacturers and network operators to ensure that traffic on Android devices goes to the Google search engine,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager who is in charge of competition policy.
“In this way, Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits. “They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” Vestager added.
In particular, Google has required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and browser app (Chrome), as a condition for licensing Google’s app store (the Play Store). The company made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices.
The Commission also found that Google prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android that were not approved by Google. Reacting to the ruling, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in July the company will appeal against the Commission’s decision.
The decision, according to the Google CEO, ignored the fact that Android phones compete with iOS phones. US President Donald Trump also slammed the EU for fining Google, tweeting that the incident proved that the bloc has “taken advantage of the US, but not for long!”Google also faces a $2.7 billion fine from the Europe’s anti-trust body for ranking its own shopping services higher than those of its competitors in search results.
Chief technology officers of Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel quit
Chief technology officers of telecom operators Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have resigned from their respective companies.
Reliance Jio Group Chief Technology Officer Jagbir Singh had joined the company before the soft launch of 4G services.
Prior to this assignment, Singh was working with Samsung, and had previously worked with Airtel for about a decade.
According to a source, he is moving back to Delhi but did not disclose any further details.
Email sent to Reliance Jio did not elicit any reply.
Bharti Airtel's Chief Technology Officer for mobile networks, Shyam Prabhakar Mardikar has also put in his papers.
When contacted, Bharti Airtel spokesperson confirmed the development.
According to the source, Mardikar has resigned to move up the ladder in his career path.
Mardikar has been with Airtel since August 2012. This was his second stint with the telecom major. Earlier, he has served Airtel for about a decade from 2001-2010 after quitting his job at the Department of Telecom.
He was serving as CTO of Airtel's mobile network since January 2017.
Mobile internet services suspended in Manipur for 5 days
IMPHAL: Mobile internet services suspended in Manipur for 5 days The Manipur government has suspended mobile internet services for five days to curb rumours-mongering through spread of hate videos and messages in the state.
An order issued yesterday by Special Secretary (Home) Kh Raghumani said the step was taken to prevent spread of rumours "which might have serious repercussion for the law and order situation in the entire state of Manipur."
It said the step was taken to prevent disturbances of peace and public order, besides mob mobilisation.
In the recent past, the state has seen several cases of mob violence and lynching which were triggered allegedly by spread of fake and inciting videos and messages through social media platforms.
Amazon, Myntra on anti-profiteering watch list
Ecommerce companies such as Amazon and Myntra are likely to face an audit by tax authorities to check if they have passed on cuts in goods and services tax (GST) rates to consumers.
The National Anti-Profiteering Authority has directed the director general, audit, to conduct the examination.
The GST Council had slashed tax rates on a host of household products such as chocolates, toothpaste, shampoo, washing powder and shaving creams to 18 per cent from 28 per cent in November last year. More products were shifted to a lower slab or fully exempted at the GST Council’s latest meeting.
Tax authorities have kept a close watch on companies to ensure that rate cuts were being passed on to consumers, with several of them paying excess amounts collected to the government for the consumer welfare fund. They include Nestle and Hindustan Unilever.
Others that got notices were Jubilant FoodWorks (Domino’s Pizza), Hardcastle Restaurants (McDonald’s), retailer Lifestyle International and auto firm Honda Motor, EThas reported previously.
The government carried out a campaign to educate consumers about the tax cuts and what they could do if they found shopkeepers were not complying.
Tax experts say it’s important for ecommerce companies to look at the aspect of refunding excess tax to consumers.
“The objective is to check if excess amount collected before rate reduction has indeed been refunded to buyers or not,” said Anita Rastogi, indirect tax partner, PwC. “Hence, it becomes critical for e platforms to examine this aspect and refund the amount ( if required) as soon as possible.”
Incidentally, the anti-profiteering GST watchdog recently gave relief to Flipkart in a significant ruling on a complaint dealing with voluntary discounts offered by sellers on the platform.
The discount, the authority said, was offered out of the supplier's profit and GST was charged at the appropriate rate and there was no case of antiprofiteering.