India made 321 user data requests to Microsoft during January-June – Source The Economic Times

India made 321 user data requests between January to June this year to software giant Microsoft (including Skype), which disclosed subscriber/ transactional data for nearly 80 per cent of those requests. 

For entire 2012 calendar year, Microsoft including Skype had received 471 user data requests from India. 

Microsoft’s second law enforcement request report details the number of requests for data it received from law enforcement agencies globally and how it responded to them. 

They also cover requests for data relating to all of Microsoft’s online and cloud services. 

The latest report reveals that India made 278 requests (excluding Skype) for user data affecting 413 accounts between January-June 2013. 

The firm revealed only subscriber/transactional data for 80.6 per cent of these requests, while in 16.2 per cent cases no data was found. It rejected 3.2 per cent of the requests made by India. 

For Skype — which allows users to make voice calls over the Internet — India made 43 user data requests affecting 102 accounts during the first six months of this calendar year. 

Microsoft said it provided only subscriber/transactional data for 79.1 per cent of these requests. The company rejected 18.6 per cent of the total requests made while no data was found for 2.3 per cent of the Skype-related requests. 

Globally, Microsoft (including Skype) received 37,196 requests from law enforcement agencies impacting 66,539 accounts in January-June 2013 compared to 75,378 requests and 137,424 potential accounts in the whole of 2012. 

“While we see requests from a large number of countries, when you look at the overall number, the requests are fairly concentrated with over 73 per cent of requests coming from five countries, the US, Turkey, Germany, the UK, and France,” it said. 

For Skype, the requests were similarly concentrated the US, the UK, France and Germany, accounting for over 70 per cent of requests, Microsoft added. 

The report comes close on the heels of technology firms coming under pressure following revelations of a secret US Government programme which scoops up data from Internet firms. 

Technology firms, including Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter and Google, have been releasing information on government data requests in the belief that it would help in reassuring their customers.

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NSA tracks social network activities of US citizens – Source The Economic Times

Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and email logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after NSA officials lifted previous restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former NSA contractor.

The policy shift was intended to help the agency “discover and track” connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an NSA memorandum from January 2011.

The agency was authorized to conduct “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness” of every email address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of U.S. citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents.

They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.

NSA officials declined to say how many Americans have been caught up in the effort, including people involved in no wrongdoing. The documents do not describe what has resulted from the scrutiny, which links phone numbers and emails in a “contact chain” tied directly or indirectly to a person or organization overseas that is of foreign intelligence interest.

The new disclosures add to the growing body of knowledge in recent months about the NSA’s access to and use of private information concerning Americans, prompting lawmakers in Washington to call for reining in the agency and President Barack Obama to order an examination of its surveillance policies.

Games, apps market in India to touch Rs 2,700 cr by 2016: Report – Source The Economic Times

Mobile games and applications in India are expected to be a Rs 2,700-crore market by 2016, driven by strong smartphone growth and expanding 3G user-base, a report by Avendus Capital said on Sunday. 

“The digital content market (other than caller ringback tones) in India has been sub-scale due to large-scale piracy. Mobile Internet is opening the doors for large-scale monetisation of digital content through paid apps which is expected to grow to become a Rs 2,000-crore market in the next 3-4 years,” Avendus Capital Executive Director and Head (Digital Media and Technology) Ashish Bhinde said.. 

According to the report, smartphone users in India are expected to grow to 67 million this year and 382 million by 2016. 

Similarly, 3G subscriptions are also expected to rise from 11 million in 2011 to 56 million this year and touch 266 million by 2016, it added. 

More than 50 per cent of mobile Internet traffic and paid content revenues come from smartphones, dominated by Google and Apple app stores. 

Google Play and Apple App store revenues are expected to cross Rs 800 crore by 2016, the report said. 

While the average revenue per user for paid apps is expected to come down from Rs 132 in 2012 to Rs 78 in 2016, the growing 3G subscription base (11 million in 2011 to 266 million in 2016) will help the overall revenues from paid apps to touch Rs 2,065 crore. 

The report estimates the paid apps market in India to be worth about Rs 300 crore in 2012. 

Five categories that dominate Indian content landscape on mobile phones include cricket, music, news, video and games. Facebook, Google and Whatsapp lead in terms of time share, the report said. 

Feature phones with Internet capabilities will too help the apps and games ecosystem to grow. 

“Feature phones will continue to play a key role as they continue to maintain a substantial market share. Indian players have a stronghold in this segment and the opportunities for them are in the area of (developing) hyper-local models like browser content, entertainment and m-commerce,” the report said. 

The number of smartphone users in India was only 36 million as of March 2013, while the number of Internet-supported mobile devices stands at 431 million, the report said. 

“While smartphones are driving traffic to third-party app stores, there will still be a significant mobile user base on feature phones going forward, which in itself will provide a large potential market for telco app stores,” Bhinde said.

The Season’s Smartphone Flagships – Source The Economic Times

While both variants of Apple’s iPhone, the 5s and 5c are expected to arrive in India next month, Apple’s competitors have grabbed the opportunity to launch their flagship phones in the Indian market.

Companies are also hoping to cash in on the upcoming festival season, but thanks to the fluctuating Rupee, these phones command a premium – they’re all upwards of Rs 40,000. To put that into perspective, a large portion of laptops sold in India are priced between Rs 30,000 to 40,000. Let’s see how they stack up: 

LG G2 
LG has incorporated hardware keys on the back of the smartphone instead of the sides. The volume rocker and power key is placed where your index finger rests when holding the phone. This makes the phone easy to operate with single hand and provides great grip too 

Display: 5.2-inch (1920 x 1080 pixels) 

Processor: 2.26Ghz quad core Snapdragon 800 

RAM: 2GB 

Storage: 16GB 

Camera (rear/front): 13MP/2.1MP 

OS: Android 4.2 

Battery: 3,000mAh 

Weight: 143 grams 

Price: Rs 41,499 

Sony Xperia Z1 
The Z1 has a gorgeous design, shatterproof glass display and IP58 certification – it is dust and water proof and still manages to retain a slim 8.5mm design. Sony has also incorporated a 20.7MP EXMOR RS sensor with Sony G lens – typically found on Sony’s digital cameras 

Display: 5.2-inch (1920 x 1080 pixels) 

Processor: 2.2Ghz quad core Snapdragon 800 

RAM: 2GB 

Storage: 16GB + microSD 

Camera (rear/front): 20.7MP/2MP 

OS: Android 4.2 

Battery: 3,000mAh 

Weight: 170 grams 

Price: Rs 44,990 

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 
The Note 3 offers excellent hardware specifications, the best battery life, a brilliant 1080p super amoled display, very high quality cameras and precise stylus control. It’s also the only Android phone with the latest Android OS v4.3 

Display: 5.7-inch (1920 x 1080 pixels) 

Processor: 1.9 GHz Quad + 1.3 GHz Quad-Core Processor 

RAM: 3GB 

Storage: 32GB + microSD 

Camera (rear/front):13MP/2MP 

OS: Android 4.3 

Battery: 3,200mAh 

Weight: 168 grams 

Price: Rs 49,900 

Nokia Lumia 1020 
Thanks to the 41MP PureView camera, the Lumia 1020 claims to be the best camera phone available today with features like optical image stabilisation, 4x lossless zoom, manual focus, manual controls and even a xenon flash 

Display: 4.5-inch (1280 x 768 pixels) 

Processor: 1.5Ghz dual core Snapdragon 

RAM: 2GB 

Storage: 32GB 

Camera (rear/front): 41MP/2MP 

OS: Windows Phone 8 

Battery: 2,000mAh 

Weight: 158 grams 

Price: Expected – Rs 48,000 

Apple iPhone 5s 
Apart from the revamped iOS7 interface, the 5S is the first phone to incorporate a 64 bit processor on a mobile device. It also integrates a fingerprint scanner inside the home button which can unlock your phone or authenticate iTunes purchases 

Display: 4-inch (1136 x 640 pixels) 

Processor: 1.3Ghz dual core Apple A7 

RAM: 1GB 

Storage: 16GB 

Camera (rear/front): 8MP/1.2MP 

OS: Apple iOS7 

Battery: 1,560mAh 

Weight: 112 grams 

Price: Expected Rs 45,000

Accenture expects revenue of $7-7.3 bn in September-November quarter – Source The Economic Times

Global technology services and consulting company Accenture expects revenue in the September-November quarter to be in range of $7-7.3 billion.

For fiscal September-August 2014, the firm has forecast revenue growth of 2-6 per cent.

The firm reported a 4 per cent increase in revenue to $7.1 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 from a year earlier, while revenue for the entire fiscal climbed 3 per cent to $28.6 billion.

“Accenture expects net revenues for the first quarter of fiscal 2014 to be in the range of $7-7.3 billion,” it said in a release. “For fiscal 2014, the company expects net revenue growth to be in the range of 2-6 per cent in local currency.”

The company estimates operating cash flow in fiscal 2014 to be in the range of $3.6 billion-3.9 billion, property and equipment additions to be $400 million and free cash flow at $3.2 billion-3.5 billion.

Operating cash flow was $3.3 billion and free cash flow was $2.9 billion in fiscal 2013.

“We remain focused on investing to further differentiate our industry, technology and business process capabilities, particularly in digital marketing, mobility, analytics and cloud,” Accenture Chairman and CEO Pierre Nanterme said.

Accenture is targeting new bookings for fiscal 2014 in the range of $32-35 billion against new bookings for fiscal 2013 of $33.3 billion.

Tech giants fear spread of patent wars to Europe – Source The Economic Times

The technology industry is expanding its fight against patent trolls to Europe. In the United States, technology companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft have spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars to defend patent-infringement lawsuits by companies that make a business of buying technology patents primarily for suing software companies and makers of products like smartphones. 

Now, they worry that Europe could soon become a broad battleground for such court battles. In a letter to be sent to European officials Thursday, 14 companies outline their concerns about a coming change that will give most of Europe a unified patent court system for the first time. So far, the technology industry has generally supported this Pan-European effort as a better way to protect intellectual property, compared with the current thicket of country-by-country rules. 

But in looking at the details of this approach, tentatively scheduled to begin in 2015, the companies fear that the new system could be vulnerable to what they call patent assertion entities, less politely known as patent trolls, which make a business of filing patent-infringement suits. Such companies say they play a valuable role in protecting innovators , but many corporations see the suits as frivolous and damaging. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission has a patent-troll investigation under way. 

In interviews, executives of some of the companies that sent the letter said one of their concerns was that court-shopping by patent trolls in some smaller European countries could turn parts of the Continent into the equivalent of the Eastern District of Texas. That federal court jurisdiction has become a US capital of patent litigation known for sympathetic juries and speedily moving cases. In one notable case there, in 2010, a jury awarded an obscure company more than $600 million in a lawsuit against Apple related to its operating systems, although the award was eventually overturned by the trial judge, and by the US Supreme Court this year. A host of companies also had to fend off a suit in East Texas filed by a company that claimed to have invented the “interactive Web.” “Unprincipled plaintiffs would be able to extract substantial royalties” through settlements or verdicts “from European and other companies based on low-quality and potentially invalid patents,” the letter said. The letter was signed by 14 corporations , including Apple, BlackBerry , Cisco, Google, Hewlett-Packard , Intel, Microsoft, Samsung and Yahoo . It was also signed by some big European companies – like Adidas, Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia – and was provided to The New York Times by the companies. 

Top officials drafting the rules of the new court system said they were listening to the industry’s concerns -which is perhaps no surprise, since several people involved in the drafting process work for law practices or lobbying firms that count such companies as clients. Some officials suggested that the concerns were overblown.”I don’t see it as a major problem at all,” said Kevin Mooney, a British patent lawyer who is the chairman of a drafting committee that is advising a panel set up to oversee the creation of the court system. “We have one set of procedures for all these courts,” he said. “It would be nonsense if we allowed one court, Romania, say, to become the Eastern District of Texas.” Some companies say the new European system is being too heavily influenced by the German model, which requires that the legal question of whether a patent is valid be handled as a separate issue from whether one patent infringes on another .

Keyboard lovers worry as BlackBerry could leave business of making phones – Source The Economic Times

What is a BlackBerry user to do? 

After teaching the world to type on tiny buttons, BlackBerry could soon be leaving the business of making phones – leaving fewer options for a vocal minority still committed to phones with its once popular physical keyboard. 

“It’s not good, not good at all,” said Gord Rosko, the president of GR Communications, a consulting firm in Edmonton, Alberta. 

Rosko said he had used BlackBerrys for about nine years. 

“What I call my fat Polish fingers have a hard time with touch-screen keyboards,” he said. “So I’m going to keep using this thing until I can’t anymore.” 

The possibility that BlackBerry would exit the handset business was only reinforced Friday, when the company announced disastrous financial results, including a quarterly loss of nearly $1 billion. BlackBerry had warned last week that the results would be bad, heightening expectations that it would put less focus on handsets. 

In the past few years, most smartphone users have switched to touch-screen models, like the iPhone, with virtual keyboards that appear on a glass screen. 

That has left few good alternatives for people like Rosko, especially beyond BlackBerry.

Charles Golvin, an analyst at Forrester who tracks the handset market, said most phones with buttons were inexpensive models aimed at teenagers. Most use slide-out keyboards, but those add extra weight and heft. He offered simple advice for people sticking to a physical keyboard. 

“The way you now interact with phones is through touch screens. Get over it,” he said. “Maybe the message isn’t just get over it; it’s give touch screens a chance.” 

Still, the chances that some company will try to pick up BlackBerry’s single-digit market share are good. Ted Schadler, Forrester’s vice president and principal analyst, said he expected some companies to experiment with keyboards. 

“Then there’s a big question mark of whether people will go for them,” he said. 

The experiments may actually come from the companies that overtook BlackBerry in smartphones. 

Samsung Electronics, whose Android-based phones are a leader in smartphone sales, has already offered phones with physical keyboards. But more important, it is aggressively going after professionals who were the first adopters of the BlackBerry and who appear to disproportionately remain its final users. This year it introduced Knox, a set of security features for Android aimed at government and corporate users. 

Motorola Mobility, as it rebuilds itself under Google’s ownership, might also re-enter the keyboard phone market, too. Before the Google takeover, some of its most popular Android phones included a slide-out keyboard. 

Golvin said he was skeptical about any company trying to build a high-end smartphone with a physical keyboard. BlackBerry’s method of combining a screen and keyboard significantly reduces screen size, he said. The smaller screen often requires developers to tweak their apps to work on the different size, making some reluctant to make apps that work on the phones. 

But more important, Golvin said, is that the overwhelming majority of smartphone users have spoken and found that the downsides of on-screen keyboards – namely, more typos – are outweighed by a variety of other advantages. 

While there remains a chance that BlackBerry will continue to churn out handsets, the company’s results Friday underscored how big of a challenge that would be. Because the handset business requires a large sales volume to be profitable and to sustain development, many analysts expect BlackBerry to focus its remaining resources on software and services for corporations. 

That strategy could change if the company is sold. The company’s largest shareholder has made a tentative and conditional offer to buy the 90 percent of BlackBerry’s stock it does not own. But many analysts expect BlackBerry to soon leave the business of making phones regardless of the owner. 

The loss reported Friday mainly reflected a $934 million write-down of a growing inventory of unwanted BlackBerry Z10 phones, the devices that the company had hoped would restore its fortunes, as well as $72 million in charges related largely to layoffs. 

The $1.6 billion in revenue during the three-month period that ended Aug. 31 was much less than the $3 billion that analysts had expected and reflected a 49 percent drop from the first quarter, 

Phone sales were just as bad during the period. While BlackBerry said that 5.9 million BlackBerry phones were sold to customers during the quarter, many were from inventory that had been shipped to wholesalers and carriers in an earlier quarter. During the last quarter, BlackBerry shipped just 3.7 million phones. And most of those phones, the company said, were older models that it plans to phase out. 

Still, there are the devotees, like Jonathan M. Lindsey, a public affairs consultant in Phoenix. 

“I am concerned that I’ll have to change the way I do my work,” he said. 

He said he had tested both an iPhone and an Android phone, and found that neither allowed him to type as quickly as a BlackBerry or manage his email as effectively. 

But Lindsey, who said that he was in his early 30s, said that after eight years, he was resigned to the fact that the physical keyboard may soon become a thing of his past. 

“I’m not opposed to going through the process of adapting,” he said.