For those who couldn’t find time to check up on the news in between bites of leftover turkey sandwiches, here’s a wrap up of some of the stories you might have missed.
Apple admits it puts a speed-limit on older smartphones
While some might claim this is not news, it is perhaps the first time the iLeader has admitted to doing something a little dodgy. Of course, it is for your benefit however.
Just after Christmas, Apple admitted and apologized for slowing down performance of some of its devices, but its intentions were good. The reason was down to battery life. The slower your phone, the longer between charges, and therefore it is a move which is entirely for the good of the consumer. Naturally, any benefits of upgrading your phone to a newer (and more expensive) model are purely coincidental.
Getting the iChief to admit it has done something wrong is a monumental achievement, but it would appear this rare instance of humility is starting to bite back. As Apple did not seek authorization from users to slow down performance, it is now facing several lawsuits around the world.
In France, consumer rights group Halte a L’obsolescence, has filed a complaint against Apple on the grounds of scheduling obsolescence, a crime which can be punishable with a two-year prison sentence in the country. Similar complaints have also been filed in the US and Israel.
In response, Apple has announced it will drop the price of replacement batteries from $79 to $29, more in line with standard prices across the industry. After all, the iBoss wouldn’t want to get a reputation of holding its customers to ransom. That’s not very Apple-like is it.
Reliance Communications offered a lifeline
Reliance Communications has seemingly be circling the drain for a lifetime, but there light be a glimmer of hope for the punch-drunk Indian telco.
Over the last couple of weeks two separate bits of news have emerged. Firstly, a restructuring of its mountain of debt, which has been agreed with its lenders, many of whom have been trying to force a winding-up order. As part of the restructuring deal, according to the FT, much of the retail business will be sold off, while it will redefine itself as a smaller, B2B player.
Reliance Communications has stated it has not received notification of the petition, but has said it is actively talking with creditors, including China Development Bank, to plot a path back to the right side of wrong. The company currently owes around $7 billion to creditors, and considering the direction the telco is currently heading, you can see why China Development Bank is getting a bit nervous.
According to Ovum’s WCIS, Reliance Communications is one of the only major players who is not growing its mobile subscriber base, market share has declined from 10% to 6.4% and the proportion of postpaid customers has declined to 3.95% from 6.63% (the vast majority are heading the opposite direction). Revenues also declined to $407 million in the latest quarter, down from $768 million in the same period for 2016, while expenses were $839 million.
The second bit of news indicates there may well be some loving feelings between the Ambani brothers. Mukesh Ambani, CEO of the disruptive Reliance Jio, has emerged as the highest bidder for Reliance Communications spectrum holdings, 43,000 telecom towers and national optical fibre network.
How much of the $7 billion debt this auction will resolve is unknown for the moment, though Anil Ambani might be relieved his Reliance Communications business will be able to continue living, albeit as a much smaller organization.
Edward Snowden lends out security reputation
Perhaps the worlds’ most famous whistle-blower, Edward Snowden, has backed a new app which notifies the user when there has been some sort of snooping on their device.
Known as Haven, the app has been designed for “investigative journalists, human rights defenders, and people at risk of forced disappearance”, according to the team, and is designed to trap those who want to access user data without notification.
2017 was a big year for the snoopers and peepers in government agencies, as new regulations were brought out and the head-butting against the technology industry intensified. The tech industry, while not completely innocent of data privacy poking, has generally resisted the intrusion of governments and sticky fingered spies, and the release of this app is perhaps evidence the argument will not be left in 2017.
UK Gov says everyone deserves to watch cat videos on the train
As part of its 5G strategy, the UK Government has unveiled its first step to making the digital world a reality for citizens; better connectivity on trains.
Minimum standards for on-board mobile and WiFi connections are in the process of being introduced, but the latest announcement outlines steps to be taken to improve connectivity by 2025. Just in case you were getting a bit excited by a bit of ambition from the UK Government, the public sector has done what it does best, paced itself.
Rail passenger connectivity is largely delivered through mobile phone networks operating from remote masts, most of which are not trackside, meaning coverage can be patchy at best. Upgraded trackside infrastructure will be a priority to ensure the improved connectivity. Some might break into a smile at the news, though others might realize this will possibly be used as another reason to justify another painful hike in ticket prices.
We’re sceptical to say the least. If railway operators are unable to get the trains to run on time, what chance to they have at delivering gigabit speeds, even if they do have the help of our “digital-savvy” government.
IDC forecasts decline of cash in India
India, one of the world’s fastest growing digital economies, is set to see digital payments to supersede cash and non-digital payments by 2022.
The country has long been one which has relied on cash, though the last couple of years have seen various government initiatives to improve the penetration of digital payment methods and business models which are more suited to the connected economy. These initiatives have been very successful, with the Indian population happily converting, perhaps fuelled by the smartphone revolution inspired by the Reliance Jio disruption.
Over the course of 2016-2017, the volume of digital payment transactions doubled, though cash still remains king. The popularity of digital payment methods, as well as mobile banking, is gaining notable momentum however, with IDC predicting the transition to a digital majority economy by 2022.