WhatsApp violates privacy laws over phone numbers: Report. (Source: The Economic Times)

WhatsApp, one of the most popular apps in the world, contravenes international privacy laws because it forces users to provide access to their entire address book, Canadian and Dutch data protection authorities said. 

WhatsApp, which ranks as one of the world’s top five best-selling apps, is an instant-messaging application for smartphones including Apple’s iPhone and Research in Motion’s Blackberry. 

The report comes at a time of increased criticism of internet companies, such as Facebook, over the storing and sharing of personal information. 

Produced by California-based WhatsApp Inc, it provides a free internet alternative to SMS, or text messaging, sending more than a billion messages every day. 

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) and the Dutch Data Protection Authority, in a joint report released on Monday, said the app violated privacy laws because users have to provide access to all phone numbers in their address book, including both users and non-users of the app. 

“This lack of choice contravenes (Canadian and Dutch) privacy law. Both users and non-users should have control over their personal data and users must be able to freely decide what contact details they wish to share with WhatsApp,” said Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority. 

WhatsApp was not immediately available to comment. The investigators found that WhatsApp retained the mobile numbers of non-users, contravening privacy laws. 

WhatsApp committed to making changes to protect users’ privacy, including allowing the manual addition of contacts, according to the investigators. In September 2012, it introduced encryption for its mobile messaging service, partly in response to concerns raised by the investigation. 

The Dutch agency said it would continue to monitor WhatsApp and could impose penalties iof privacy continued. 

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IBM Connections: IBM’s smarter connections for social business.(Source: The Economic Times)

If Facebook delights you, Twitter excites,YouTube entices and LinkedIn energises you, what would you call something that offers you the specs of all four and has additional blandishments to boot? Well, IBM Connections. 

“Social business is getting smarter,” says Alistair Rennie, GM (social business), IBM. All big companies are going social, he insists. In fact, he says, 60 per cent of Fortune 100 companies are now on a social platform. The path-breaking offering from IBM is the showpiece of the five-day Connect2013 that opened here on Monday. 

The conference got off to a rocking performance by the band ‘They Might be Giants’ followed by a scintillating speech by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt , whosehitRECord is considered a community that is an epitome of social business. Getting its developers and users together, Big Blue intends to enhance collaboration and make the furious exchange of ideas sharper and focussed. 

A formal yet more collaborative social media tool for business, IBM Connections is a social software platform that enables an organisation to use the right people and drive innovation through all its branches. The software also allows employees of an enterprise and its clients to store, share and post information and ideas and innovate on the fly. 

So, for instance, a Daltonganj dealer of Asian Paints, a company that uses the software extensively, can blog his experiences and ask other loggers — dealers as well as Asian PaintsBSE -0.42 % employees — for a solution to an intractable problem he faces in the back of beyond . Once he discovers the solution, he can post it on the site for the benefit of all users. 

Collaboration is the pivot around which Connections revolves. The software gives a leg up to team spirit and allows users to swap ideas. In fact, it encourages a potent exchange of ideas. Part of IBM Collaborative Solutions, a razorsharp bundle of umbrella software that includes IBM Notes, Sametime, Portal andSmartcloud, Connections is now into its fourth version, with 4.5 already being beta-tested. 

The programme’s genesis lies a decade ago in a tool the storied company started using to trade ideas and solutions among employees. IBM Connections, when it was made solid by intense exchange of ideas and made problem proof , was launched in 2007. Himanshu Goyal, country manager for IBM Collaborative Solutions in India and South Asia, says Connections reached a user base of 1 million in flat 13 months. 

Only Facebook was faster — reaching a million in 10 months. Twitter did it in 24 months, and LinkedIn, too, took around the same time. With IBM’s buyout of Kenexa last year, Connections will acquire a more muscular HR focus and actively use the Cloud for storing and exchanging information. Its clients in India include small and medium enterprises such as Paragon, the footwear maker, and large ones such as Asian Paints. 

Most of them, Goyal says, are finding the experience enriching for both the employees and users. Allowing co-partners to develop software on its platform for Connections, the company ensures no security breaches happen. 

“An IBM platform is absolutely secure,” says Goyal. Security, says the ICS country head, is non-negotiable and IBM packs every product with multiple layers of defence measures . Goyal is confident of getting more Indian companies on board. It’s an enticing platform where lots of collaboration happens seamlessly. Once companies take to it, they stay hitched. 

Are they out to build a long-lasting connection with rapidly expanding India IncYes, says Goyal and his team of diehard, always-connecting optimists. 

Nokia to transfer 800 employees to TCS, HCL Tech, cut 300 jobs. (Source:The Economic Times)

Troubled phone maker Nokia on Thursday announced restructuring of its IT organization, which includes transfer of 820 of its employees to India’s HCL TechnologiesBSE 0.60 % and Tata Consultancy ServicesBSE -0.31 %

Nokia also plans to reduce its IT organization by up to 300 employees. The company has been working with Noida based HCL Technologies for over 5 years. 

Nokia said it will offer its employees affected by these planned reductions both financial support and a comprehensive ‘Bridge support’ program. “We believe these changes will increase operational efficiency and reduce operating costs, creating an IT organization appropriate for Nokia’s current size and scope,” said a Nokia spokesperson. 

The majority of the employees affected by these planned changes are based in Finland. The Finnish company said these are the last anticipated reductions as part of Nokia’s focused strategy announcement of June 2012, under which it had planned to reduce up to 10,000 positions globally by the end of 2013. 

TCSBSE -0.31 % has been operating in Finland for about 10 years, servicing clients such as Nokia Siemens, ABB and Telenor. 

HCL Tech had also won a large contract from Nokia in 2009 under which it provided IT infrastructure and helpdesk support in 13 languages to the phone maker from its centres in India and Finland. 

The Finnish telecom major has been losing market share globally to Samsung and Apple, which has plummeted its profits in past few years. In its annual 2012 results the company said that seasonality and competitive environment are expected to have a negative impact it in the first quarter 2013. 

Global mobile phone shipments is likely to grow at a much slower pace of 2% this year, as per a report by Credit Suisse, cannibalised by tablets and phablets (hybrids between phones and tablets) and slower consumer buying in 2013. 

Nokia, which tied up with Microsoft to adopt its Windows Phone platform for its smartphones, is relying on its Lumia series of phones, to bail itself out. Nokia shipped 4.4 million Lumia devices in the fourth quarter of 2012, bringing its total smartphone shipments to 6.6 million devices. 

In the third quarter of 2012, Samsung led the world smartphone market with a 23% market share, followed by Nokia at 19.2%. The Korean mobile phone maker beat Nokia to grab the title, last year, which Nokia held for over 14 years 

In India, the company leads in overall shipments with about 22% share but lags in the lucrative smartphones segment with only 19% share. Samsung leads the India smartphone market with about 41% share. 

NYSE-listed Nokia’s shares which were trading at $5.5 a piece till a year ago have declined about 18% in a year to about $4.5. Shares of HCL Tech which had announced robust quarterly results and a CEO change on the same day, gained about 29% post the news announcement on BSE. TCS shares gained about 1%, post the Nokia announcement.

 

RIM says users line up to try new BlackBerry 10 platform. (Source: The Economic Times)

 BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is helping customers prepare to switch to its soon-to-be-launched BlackBerry 10 smartphones that it hopes will help it reclaim market share from rivals such as Apple Inc. 

RIM is betting that the new range of touch-screen and keyboard devices, set for a Jan. 30 launch, will revive its fortunes. 

The company was “very enthused by the engagement and response of our customer base” to a program aimed at persuading them to adopt the BlackBerry 10 devices, Bryan Lee, senior enterprise accounts director, told Reuters on Wednesday. 

Indeed, whether it will be successful in clawing back market share will depend on the response from RIM’s top clients, like companies and government agencies, who have long valued the strong security features that BlackBerry devices offer. 

Lee said more than 1,600 customers in North America had registered for its recently launched BlackBerry 10 Ready Program and more than a thousand were actively using the program, which offers customers access to services, information and tools to ease their transition to the BlackBerry 10 and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10. 

RIM also said its BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10, which runs the new devices on corporate networks, was in beta testing with more than 130 major government agencies and corporations in North America. 

SHARES RISE 

Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, a one-time pioneer in the now ultra-competitive smartphone industry, has bled market share to Apple’s iPhone and devices powered by Google’s market-leading Android operating system, even among enterprise clients who once used BlackBerry devices exclusively. 

Early adoption of the long-awaited BlackBerry 10 devices by government and corporate clients will help breathe new life into the struggling company, whose shares are down 90 percent from an all-time high of more than $148 in 2008. 

Still, shares of RIM, which fell as low as $6.22 in September, have more than doubled in value over the last four months as the BlackBerry 10 launch approaches. 

Lee said clients that were beta testing the new BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10 included more than 60 Fortune 500 companies and top North American government agencies. 

RIM promises that its new line of devices will be faster and smoother than existing BlackBerry phones and will boast a large catalog of apps, crucial to the success of any new line of smartphones. Image

Shares of RIM were up 3.8 percent at $15.03 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq on Wednesday, after Visa approved the smartphone company’s method of handling secure mobile payments; the technology will potentially allow users to tap their smartphones on credit card readers and pay for purchases. 

RIM’s Toronto-listed shares were up 3.9 percent at C$14.83.

Facebook rolls out friends-based search product to take on Google. Source: The Economic Times

 Facebook Inc took the wraps off a new search tool on Tuesday that lets people trawl their network of friends to find everything from restaurants to movie recommendations, an improvement that’s likely to increase competition with review websites like Yelp and potentially even GoogleInc. The so-called graph search marks the company’s biggest foray into online search to date, though it displays only information within the walls of the social network rather than links to sites available across the Internet.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s 28-year-old founder and chief executive, introduced the new product at the company’s first major product launch since a rocky initial public offering in May.

“Graph search is designed to take a precise query and return to you the answer, not links to other places where you might get the answer,” Zuckerberg told reporters at its Menlo Park, California, headquarters. “What you’ve seen today is a really different product from anything else that’s out there.”

Facebook shares, which have climbed 15 percent since the start of the year, slid 3 percent Tuesday to just above $30. The product news fell short of some of the most optimistic predictions, which included speculation that the social network would introduce its own smartphone or an Internet search engine.

Dubbed “graph search” because Facebook refers to its growing content, data and membership as the “social graph,” the function will be available at first only as a “beta,” or trial, for just hundreds of thousands of its billion-plus users.

Facebook rolls out friends-based search product

It will let users browse mainly photographs, people, places and members’ interests. Zuckerberg stressed that people can sort through only content that has been shared with them, addressing potential privacy concerns.

Shares in Yelp dived more than 6 percent on fears that Facebook’s new friends-based search concept will begin to draw users away from the popular reviews site, which also lets people maintain a circle of trusted friends. Google stock held steady.

Some analysts said Facebook may be taking a tiny step toward eventually challenging Google on its home turf, but said that was a much more challenging undertaking and a long-term possibility at best.

Facebook rolls out friends-based search product

Zuckerberg stressed that the new graph search did not encompass Internet searches, Google’s specialty.

Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia said the product was inevitable. “We think this will enable them to expand beyond display ads and ultimately compete with Google,” he said.

 

Apps Race: Google closes gap on Apple. Source: The Economic Times

The number of apps on Google Play, the new avatar of the Android Market, is estimated to have touched 800,000 this month, according to The Sociable, a technology and media blog. That’s a shade more than 775,000 available on Apple’s App Store.

Officially, Google’s app count is 700,000 as of October 30, 2012.

Offi cially, * Google’s app count is 700,000 as of October 30, 2012.