Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Hyderabad most googled city in India this year

Mana city emerged the hot favourite among Indian netizens this year as it turned out to be the most 'searched for' city on search engine giant Google in 2013, beating other metros like Mumbai and Bangalore. Events that made Hyderabad the most sought after city in the virtual world were the Dilsukhnagar twin blasts in February that killed 17 people and injured more than 100, the Telangana crisis, which reached its peak during July, August and then again in September, the IPL matches held in the city, the questioning of terrorist Yasin Bhatkal by theHyderabad police and the Volvo bus tragedy in October that killed 45 people. 

These details were revealed by Google India's Year End Zeitgeist report, which laid out the hottest trends, people, places and events that captured the world's attention in 2013. 

"Hyderabad has been in the national news for a while now, with the bifurcation issue no more restricted to only the state. People from other cities are also curious about Osmania University(OU) and other educational institutes of Hyderabad," said educationist G Haragopal. 

Meanwhile, Tollywood stars such as Mahesh Babu, Kaajal Agarwal and Samantha were the most searched for local personalities on the internet. 

Interestingly, politician Akbaruddin Owaisi was the only non-film personality to figure on that list. 

Owaisi's virtual popularity peaked when he was admitted to hospital early this year and then again in August when he along with his brotherAsaduddin Owaisi announced expansion plans for their party, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), and the possibility of contesting elections in other states as well. 

Not so surprisingly, the MIM chief's hate speech delivered in 2012 saw the maximum number of hits in any news relating to the politician right through the year. OU, the hotbed of the Telangana agitation, was the most looked up educational institution in the city, followed by JNTU, Andhra University and Kakatiya University. Not really searched for its academic courses, hits for OU were the maximum during the clashes between the university students and the police on the Telangana issue. 

The place that was enquired about the most in Hyderabad was the Big Cinemas multiplex, which was in the news in May after it was announced that the chain of theatres will be thrown open to retail clothes stores. 

Ramoji Film City became a popular search topic in November when it entered into a pact with IRCTC to promote tourism in the state. 

"It is the composite cultural environment of the city that draws people to find out more about Hyderabad as and when events occur here," Haragopal added. 

Samsung Galaxy S5 may have diamond coating: Report

Samsung's next-generation flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, could sport a new exterior featuring a scratch-resistant coating with a diamond-like material. 

Samsung is testing a new technology called the "diamond metal surface treatment" that involves diamond material being coated onto the metal case surface of the phone, as per a report by South Korean publication ET News. 

The report points out the external design of Galaxy S5 is likely to be changed to a great extent. The process will make the phone's exterior less vulnerable to scratches and deformation. 

It adds that Samsung could expose carbon material to high temperature and high pressure turning it into powder or liquid. It could then be coated on the surface of the metal case of the phone. The metal surface could be treated with nano materials or convert it into paint to coat over the surface. 

However, it is worth pointing out that the company is expected to launch the Galaxy S5 in the first quarter of 2013. So it is unlikely it will be able to adopt this technology at a mass level so soon. 

Another report by Digitimes cites "Taiwan-based chassis makers" to report that Samsung may or may not adopt a metal design for the Galaxy S5 as there's no sign of mass production, and that the South Korean electronics giant is still introspecting on the matter. 

Other rumoured features of Samsung Galaxy S5 include iris recognition for security, a QHD (2560x1440p) screen, a 64-bit processor, 5.25-inch touchscreen, 16MP Isocell camera and Android 4.4 operating system.

Apple signs iPhone deal with China Mobile

Apple on Sunday unveiled a long-anticipated deal with China Mobile, the world's biggest wireless carrier, to bring the iPhone to customers in a market dominated by low-costAndroid smartphones. 

The deal gives Apple a bigger entry into the huge Chinese market and China Mobile's estimated 760 million subscribers. The network is also rolling out the world's biggest 4G network. 

Under the agreement, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c phones will be available at China Mobile and Apple retail stores across mainland China starting January 17, Apple said in a statement. 

"We know there are many China Mobile customers and potential new customers who are anxiously awaiting the incredible combination of iPhone on China Mobile's leading network," said China Mobile chairman Xi Guohua. 

Apple chief executive Tim Cook stressed that "China is an extremely important market for Apple and our partnership with China Mobile presents us the opportunity to bring iPhone to the customers of the world's largest network." 

He said "iPhone customers in China are an enthusiastic and rapidly growing group, and we can't think of a better way to welcome in the Chinese New Year than getting an iPhone into the hands of every China Mobile customer who wants one." 

Negotiations between Apple and China Mobile took years, with one key hurdle reportedly being the US firm's demand for sales volume guarantees. 

Analyst Horace Dediu at the consultancy Asymco said a conservative estimate of four percent of China Mobile customers would yield sales of some 30 million iPhones in the first year. 

Cantor Fitzgerald Research estimated that 35 million to 45 million iPhones were already on China Mobile's network as of October, despite the lack of a deal between the companies. 

The market tracking firm estimated that Apple could sell as many as 24 million iPhones on the China Mobile network next year if it were added to the network's formal line-up. 

Industry tracker IDC forecast that smartphone sales in China will reach 360 million this year and, with the issuance of 4G network licenses and iPhones launched on China Mobile, top 450 million in 2014. 

China Mobile has a unique 3G standard of its own that is not compatible with any existing iPhone models. Still, the California giant's handsets can be used on other networks in China. 

But the Chinese government granted three state-owned operators licenses early this month to offer services on the faster and better quality 4G network, expected to usher in a new era of competition between mobile phone makers. 

Apple will still have to compete with low-priced smartphones powered by Google's free Android software. 

Pricing details were not announced. Earlier this year, Apple rolled out its iPhone 5C, with a slightly reduced cost to appeal to cost-conscious consumers, notably in developing markets. 

The unsubsidized price of the iPhone 5C was $550 in the United States but higher in other countries, often due to tax and regulatory costs. In China the 5C sells at more than $700. 

The iPhone 5C is part of Apple's bid to counter the flood of low-cost smartphones from rivals, most of which use the Google Android operating system. 

Android's market share rose in the third quarter to 81 percent, extending its lead over Apple's iOS, used on its iPhones, according to an IDC survey. 

Even though iPhone sales grew 25.6 percent from a year earlier, the growth was slower than the overall market and Apple's share fell to 12.9 per cent from 14.4 per cent in the same period last year.

Laptops, smartphones preferred over tablets for accessing Net

Laptops and smartphones are preferred over tablet PCs when it comes to access the Internet, a survey by global consultancy firm Deloitte has said. 

"69 per cent of the respondents say that they use laptops to access Internet, while 64 per cent use their smartphones. Interestingly, only 24 per cent use tablets to access the Net," an online survey conducted by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited said. 

The survey was conducted among 2,000 consumers in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune and Ahmedabad. 

"About 60 per cent of smartphone users say they use the mobile network for data access. As for laptop users, about 80 per cent of them access the Internet through fixed broadband, the survey added. 

The survey said despite availability of data plans providing Internet access to mobile users, a significant portion of traffic from mobile devices has moved to Wi-Fi connections. 

However, mobile network remains the key connectivity channel for smartphones users, it said. 

Deloitte said data is one of the main reasons for a 'bill shock' among consumers. 

"More than 60 per cent of the respondents say that there have been times when their bills have been higher than what they expected over the past 12 months," it said. 

Data is followed by roaming charges for a bill shock among 46 per cent respondents, while 33 per cent respondents say it is due to exceeding call allowances and 32 per cent said its because of exceeding their mobile Internet usage allowance. 

"Deloitte sees that reduction in roaming charges lately will further tilt the trend towards data. Competition and a saturated mobile voice market has forced operators to offer very competitive capped data packages, which has led to affordability of data plans," it added. 

For purchasing a smartphone, battery life remains the top influencing factor in consumers' mind, followed by design, reliability, brand, operating system and camera quality. 

As for tablets, brand is the most important factor, followed by reliability of the device, operating system, battery life and design.

Microsoft woos Indian companies to take on Android

Indian smartphone market is dominated by Android. But, in 2014 this may change. Microsoft is working with Indian phone makers like Lava to launch Windows Phone(WP) devices that will take on the mainstream and low-cost Android phones. The WP devices sold by the local companies are likely to be available in the market in the first half of 2014. They will be powered by Windows Phone 8.1, the next version of Windows Phone.

Vishal Sehgal, co-founder and director of Xolo, a separate entity created by Lava for premium phones, said Microsoft was talking to his company for Windows Phones. "We will come out with a WP device next year. The plan is to launch with Windows Phone 8.1," he said.

The Windows Phone 8.1 is likely to fix several important issues like lack of notification centre that have so far kept consumers away from Microsoft's mobile operating system (OS).

Globally, Microsoft has found very little support from hardware companies for Windows Phone. Only Nokia, which doesn't makeAndroid phones, is pushing the OS. Samsung, HTC, Huawei have mostly focused on Android devices instead of their Windows Phone devices.

Microsoft is also talking to Micromax, the second biggest smartphone maker in India after Samsung. However, sources said a Windows Phone device from Micromax wasn't a certainty at this point of time.

"Talks are on but we need to agree on how we can do that. One of the contentious issues is the licence fee that has to be paid to Microsoft for using Windows Phone. Android on the other hand is free," said a Micromax official. "Given the tough competition, margins are low. If we also pay licence fee, it may make the device too costly for consumers".

Shashin Devsare, executive director of Karbonn, refused to confirm or deny that his company was in talks with Microsoft. But he added Karbonn was a hardware and software agnostic company. "Currently, all our smartphones are powered by Android. But we are talking with other companies and evaluating if their software will help us provide a different experience to consumers," he said.

According to IDC, Karbonn, Micromax and Lava had a combined share of 32% in the smartphone market in Q3, 2013. In total, local phone companies have a market share of over 50%. In comparison, Nokia, which makes Lumia phones powered by Windows Phone, had a market share of just 5%.

One of the factors that make Android, which according to IDC has a market share of around 90% in India, so successful is its adoption by local phone makers. And one of the reasons behind high adoption of Android is that it is free to use. Local phone companies are asking Microsoft to waive the licence fee if it wants them to use Windows Phone for their devices but so far Microsoft is yet to commit to the free OS.

A Microsoft spokesperson refused to confirm or deny that the company was talking to Indian phone companies. However, sources said the company was interested in strengthening Windows Phone ecosystem and was looking for ways to introduce the OS into more phones, especially in the mainstream and low-end segment.

Heavy Internet users show symptoms of addiction

Young adults who are heavy users of the Internet may also exhibit signs of addiction, scientists, including Indian-origin researchers, have found. 

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology, Duke University Medical Center and the Duke Institute of Brain Sciences compared Internet usage with measures of addiction. 

The research, presented on December 18 at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) International Conference on Advanced Networks and Telecommunications Systems in Chennai, India, tracked the Internet usage of 69 college students over two months. 

It revealed a correlation between certain types of Internet usage and addictive behaviours. 

"The findings provide significant new insights into the association between Internet use and addictive behaviour," said Dr Sriram Chellappan, an assistant professor of computer science at Missouri S&T and the lead researcher of the study. 

At the beginning of the study, the 69 students completed a 20-question survey called the Internet-Related Problem Scale (IRPS). The IRPS measures the level of problem a person is having due to Internet usage, on a scale of 0 to 200. 

This scale was developed to identify characteristics of addiction, such as introversion, withdrawal, craving, tolerance and negative life consequences. 

The researchers simultaneously tracked the campus Internet usage of participating students over two months. 

Chellappan, working with Dr P Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Duke University Medical Center, found that the range of IRPS scores among participating students over the two-month period ranged from 30 to 134 on the 200-point scale. 

The average score was 75. Participants' total Internet usage ranged from 140 megabytes to 51 gigabytes, with an average of 7 gigabytes. 

The subjects' Internet usage was divided into several categories, including gaming, chatting, file downloading, email, browsing and social networking (Facebook and Twitter). 

The total IRPS scores exhibited the highest correlations with gaming, chatting and browsing, and the lowest with email and social networking. 

The researchers also observed that specific symptoms measured by the scale correlated with specific categories of Internet usage. They found that introversion was closely tied to gaming and chatting; craving to gaming, chatting and file downloading; and loss of control to gaming. 

"About 5 to 10 per cent of all Internet users appear to show web dependency, and brain imaging studies show that compulsive Internet use may induce changes in some brain reward pathways that are similar to that seen in drug addiction," said Doraiswamy. 

The team cautioned that the current study is exploratory and does not establish a cause and effect relationship between Internet usage and addictive behaviour.
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