Chinese developers target Apple with antitrust suit

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Apple is facing complaints of anti-competitive behavior in China, according to The Financial Times.

The case, filed by a Chinese law firm on behalf of 28 local developers, alleges Apple violated antitrust regulations by abusing its control of the iOS App Store by charging excessive fees for in-app purchases and removing apps from its local store without detailed explanation.

In a statement, Apple noted that its App Store guidelines apply equally to all developers across all countries, and in the chance an app is removed from the App Store, developers have the opportunity to request a review to reinstate the app in a timely manner.

The complaint comes as Apple continues its efforts to maintain strong ties with China’s government, which has heavily restricted the ability of western technology companies to compete.

  • A few weeks ago, Apple announced the removal of several virtual private network (VPN) services from its App Store in China. This move came as the Chinese government had been pressuring the firm to ban all VPNs — which allow users to bypass China’s heavily regulated internet — that aren’t approved by state regulators.
  • Earlier this month, the company announced plans to begin storing its Chinese users’ data on servers run by a Chinese government-controlled company. This could arguably give the government access to users’ personal information. Meanwhile, CEO Tim Cook has taken a hard line against sharing user data with the US government.

Apple is looking to China as a key growth market, but has struggled in the region in recent quarters. With the Google Play store for Android smartphones being blocked in China since 2010, the Chinese app market plays to Apple’s advantage; China accounts for Apple’s largest source of iOS app revenue, according to App Annie. The country is also the firm’s largest market outside the US, accounting for over one-fifth of Apple’s total revenue in the 2016 fiscal year. However, revenue derived from China has fallen for six consecutive quarters, to $8 billion in fiscal Q3 (that ended June 30) 2017, down 10% from fiscal Q3 2016.

Laurie Beaver, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on app monetization that:

  • Provides key factors driving the expected growth of global app revenue
  • Evaluates the top app monetization strategies
  • Looks at emerging trends to help developers navigate the app ecosystem
  • Explains the challenges that developers face to compete in the app market
  • And much more
  • [Source”cnbc”]

Apple’s next big moneymaker is its biggest headache in China

Apple CEO Tim Cook attends the China Development Forum in Beijing, China, March 18, 2017.

For Apple, this summer is closing with good news and bad news.

On the one hand, its financials suggest that as iPhone sales plateau globally, it can count on software to spur growth. Revenue in Apple’s “Services” category—which includes sales in the App Store, as well as Apple Music subscriptions and other media—hit $7.27 billion for the three month-period ending July 1, making it the company’s second-largest business unit.

On the other hand, that growth is increasingly threatened in China, where Apple’s software ambitions face tough challenges as Beijing continues its efforts to wean the country off foreign technology.

The most recent incident came this week when Beijing-based law firm Dare & Sure announced it had filed a complaint (link in Chinese) to China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), which oversees antitrust issues, and the State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC), alleging that Apple has been engaging in monopolistic behavior. Representing a group of 28 developers, the firm argues that Apple deletes apps without sufficient explanation, and that its standard 30% take on in-app purchases is unfair. In April, when the firm first announced it was looking for Chinese developers (link in Chinese) to potentially represent, it wrote:

“Some of Apple’s behavior when operating the App Store, when coupled with its absolute advantageous market position, will or already has produced a negative impact on market competition. If Apple cannot explain the reasoning behind this behavior, or cannot prove that this sort of behavior creates benefits in the market that make up for its negative impact, this sort of behavior ought to be subject to China’s anti-monopoly regulations.”

In response to the complaint, Apple said in a statement sent to Quartzthat the App Store “has published guidelines that apply equally to all developers in every country,” and added that it holds “workshops in China throughout the year” to help Chinese developers. It did not address the lawsuit directly.

The SAIC did not reply immediately to Quartz’s request for comment. The NDRC couldn’t be reached for comment.

It’s not clear if the complaint will turn into a case. It’s also not the first of its kind—in 2012, a group of iPhone owners filed a suit against Apple arguing that its 30% take from the App Store was anti-competitive, and the case has yet to close. But the suit marks one of several instances where Apple’s software business has come under pressure in China.

In late July, Apple removed dozens of VPN apps from China’s App Store due to government demands. While not a wholesale removal, the ban nevertheless follows the government’s wider crackdown on software that circumvents the so-called Great Firewall, which blocks access to websites like Google and Facebook.

In May, Chinese tech giant Tencent removed a button in its chat app WeChat that had allowed users to donate small sums of money to bloggers and media personalities. Apple argued that the button was in violation of its policy of taking 30% of from in-app purchases. It also came not long after WeChat launched an app store of its own, which, if it becomes successful, could compete against Apple’s.

Before those incidents, the government targeted other software offerings from Apple. In January it forced Apple to remove the New York Times app from the Chinese App Store. Last year, the government forced Apple to shut down its Chinese iBooks and iTunes movie stores.

Apple needs Service revenue from China just as much as from everywhere else, if not more. For its most recent earnings (and for the third quarter in a row), the Greater China region (which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong) remained the only part of the world where total revenues, which come overwhelmingly from iPhone sales, did not grow annually.

Apple has taken additional steps lately that might help smooth the course in China. Recently it announced it would open a data center in China, in swift compliance with the recently-implemented Cybersecurity Law. It also created a head of Greater China position, and appointed native Chinese-speaker and longtime Apple executive Isabel Ge Mahe to take on the role. As long as these incidents continue at the same pace, she’ll have her hands full.

 [Source”cnbc”]

SoftBank invests at least $2.5 bn in Flipkart; biggest ever investment in Indian internet space

Flipkart said the SoftBank investment, which is the biggest-ever private investment in an Indian technology company, will make the Vision Fund one of the largest shareholders in the online retailer. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

India’s largest Internet firm Flipkart Ltd has raised at least $2.5 billion from SoftBank Vision Fund, scaling up its firepower in the fight with arch rival Amazon India for dominance over India’s e-commerce market.

The latest round of funding takes Flipkart’s cash reserves to more than $4 billion. Flipkart didn’t disclose the amount, but said that the SoftBank investment comprises a mix of primary (investment in the company) and secondary capital (purchase of shares from existing shareholders).

SoftBank invested at least $2.5 billion in Flipkart, three people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity. Mint and other publications had reported for months that SoftBank would invest more than $1.5 billion in Flipkart by putting in fresh capital and buying shares from Tiger Global Management, Flipkart’s largest shareholder.

Flipkart has now raised more than $6 billion in cash since starting out in 2007, by far the highest by any Indian start-up and among the highest by any start-up globally. Flipkartraised $1.4 billion from Tencent Holdings Ltd, eBay Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in April.

The SoftBank investment comes after Flipkart’s proposed takeover of Snapdeal, the Japanese investor’s portfolio company, collapsed last week.

“This is a monumental deal for Flipkart and India. Very few economies globally attract such overwhelming interest from top-tier investors. It is recognition of India’s unparalleled potential to become a leader in technology and e-commerce on a massive scale. SoftBank’s proven track record of partnering with transformative technology leaders has earned it the reputation of being a visionary investor,” Flipkart co-founders Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal said in a joint statement.

The investment will likely make SoftBank the largest investor in Flipkart and reduce the influence of Tiger Global, whose representative Kalyan Krishnamurthy is Flipkart’s CEO.

In the space of four months, SoftBank has struck two deals that have changed the dynamics of India’s Internet business and made the Japanese investor the most powerful and influential entity in the start-up ecosystem. In May, SoftBank, which is also the largest shareholder in cab hailing firm Ola, invested $1.4 billion in digital payments firm Paytm.

Already, some analysts and investors are saying that SoftBank may orchestrate a mega-merger between Paytm and Flipkart at some point in the future.

The SoftBank investment in Flipkart is part of the company’s latest financing round;

“We want to support innovative companies that are clear winners in India because they are best positioned to leverage technology and help people lead better lives. As the pioneers in Indian e-commerce, Flipkart is doing that every day,” said Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank Group Corp.

While expectations around the size of India’s e-commerce have significantly diminished from the heady estimates of 2015, it is still considered the last big e-commerce market left. Flipkart is the only local start-up that is seen as serious competition to Amazon India over the long term.

With its financing round in April and the latest SoftBank investment, Flipkart has settled the debate over its ability to take on Amazon. Its prospects have also lifted over the past nine months as it has seen a resurgence in sales

SDource:-livemint

Disney sued for allegedly spying on children through 42 gaming apps

A federal class action lawsuit filed last week in California alleges that the Walt Disney Company is violating privacy protection laws by collecting children’s personal information from 42 of its apps and sharing the data with advertisers without parental consent.

The lawsuit targets Disney and three software companies — Upsight, Unity, and Kochava — alleging that the companies created mobile apps aimed at children that contained embedded software to track, collect, and then export their personal information along with information about their online behavior. The plaintiff, a San Francisco woman named Amanda Rushing, says she was unaware that information about her child, “L.L.,” was collected while playing mobile game Disney Princess Palace Pets, and that data was then sold to third parties for ad targeting.

The class action suit says this violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which was enacted by Congress in 1999 and designed to protect the privacy of children online. COPPA requires that companies designing apps for children under the age of 13 obtain consent from parents before collecting personal information. In 2013, the FTC revised COPPA, expanding what counts as personal information to include things like geolocation markers and IP addresses. The update also requires third-party advertisers to comply with the rules.

In total, the lawsuit names 42 Disney apps it says run afoul of COPPA. The plaintiff is seeking an injunction barring the defendants from tracking and sharing data collected without parental consent, as well as “appropriate relief, including actual and statutory damages and punitive damages,” plus all costs related to prosecuting the action.

Disney has responded to the lawsuit, saying:

“Disney has a robust COPPA compliance program, and we maintain strict data collection and use policies for Disney apps created for children and families. The complaint is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of COPPA principles, and we look forward to defending this action in court.”

This is not the first time Disney has faced COPPA violations. In 2011, the FTC levied a $3 million civil penalty against subsidiary Playdom after it illegally collected and disclosed personal information from “hundreds of thousands of children under age 13 without their parents’ prior consent.”

Source:-theverge

Apple on Track to Become First Trillion-Dollar Company

Apple Inc. (AAPL

Apple Inc
AAPL
161.06
+0.61%

) is on track to become the first trillion-dollar company in the stock market, according to RBC Capital’s Amit Daryanani and Amitesh Bajad. In a note earlier today, the analysts wrote that Apple’s latest iPhone release will set the company’s stock up for the necessary gain.”From a near-term perspective, we would note historically AAPL stock has done rather well into product launches with median return 90 days prior to launch at 15.6% (median outperformance vs. S&P 500 at 10.9%). This, we think, sets up AAPL well heading into the product cycle this time around,” the analysts wrote. RBC currently has an Outperform rating on the stock with a price target of $176. At that level, the Cupertino, California-based company would have a valuation of $910 billion. The analysts attributed Apple’s future growth to strong gross margin performance and better trends in mainland China. (See also: Apple’s Q3: Investors ‘Sit Back and Wait’ on iPhone 8 Bombshell.)

According to reports, Apple plans to release three iPhones later this year. With an expected price range of between $900 and $1,100, two of the three iPhones are expected to be more expensive compared with previous versions. In a note earlier this year, analyst firm Goldman Sachs estimated that Apple’s margins will receive a middling to substantial boost of between 2% and 6.3% from the “hardware premiumization” trend. (See also: Apple’s $1,000 iPhone 8 Seen Fueling Stock Price.)

Apple has reported disappointing sales in China for the past couple of quarters. Most analysts believe that this is because the company is viewed as another smartphone hardware company there and has been beaten to the punch by cheaper vendors. However, the company is reportedly changing its strategy and boosting its presence in the smartphone services market in China. It has discontinued services and removed offensive apps from its iTunes store. Apple has also invested in R&D centers in the country and kowtowed to the Chinese government’s requests. The results are showing. Even as revenue from its hardware sales in the region declined, the company reported that sales from China’s App Store exceeded those of its U.S. counterpart this past quarter. (See also: Apple Names First Managing Director for China.)

RBC Capital has set a time frame of 12-18 months for Apple to reach the $1 trillion valuation target. In an interview earlier this year, Warren Buffett similarly voted for Apple to reach the trillion-dollar milestone soon. (See also: Is Apple an Undervalued Bank?.

Source:-investopedia

 

Markets jittery over North Korea as UK trade deficit widens – business live

Container ships at Felixstowe port in England.

The business of working and playing together

Productivity is often a blinding slave-driver. But it needn’t be at odds with a wholesome life of leisure, fitness and overall well-being. Corporates need to realise this, and they are.

To run a business well, encourage employees to run for their well-being. | courtesy AFSOAC

The batsman is taking guard. I have the ball tightly held in my hand. Index and middle finger on top and a twisted thumb buttressing it from the bottom. From the end of my run-up, I start marching. I deliver the ball. The ball is pitched on perfect Yorker length. Leg stump uprooted, the batsman gives me a dismayed look. I sprint across the ground in celebration, watching people in the stands clapping, screaming and waving their hands at me. I am a hero. I am a Champion.

*

With a sunbeam piercing my eyes and shuddering alarm tone in my ears, I woke up with a memory, of the distant past, transformed into a dream. A ‘me’ of my past clashed with a ‘me’ of the present. As I readied myself for the day with the morning rituals, breakfast, journey to the office and finally at my desk, I kept on thinking about that sportsman ‘me’. Where has the champion gone? The distracting thought kept me partially ‘unproductive’ the entire day. Throughout the day, during the WebEx calls with my team members, while fixing the bullet points of the PowerPoint presentation and in course of formatting the word document, that sportsman in me was distracting the ‘corporate athlete’ in me.

 

‘Corporate Athlete’ is a term coined by famous author and trainer Jack Groppel. In his pursuit to describe how restive, intense and frantic are the lives of employees in most organisations and how best can employees can cope up and stay ahead of the curve, his accounts in the length and breadth of his book, The Corporate Athlete: How to Achieve Maximal Performance in Business and Life is instrumental.

Every morning when we clothe ourselves in business formals, many of us wish the stifling suit was a bit more flexible like a sweatshirt, the slim-fit trouser like a comforting pair of track pants. We wish the laptop were the cricket bat; the headset the helmet; and the pointed shiny shoes a pair of muddy zigzagged skates. That’s the employee in us in embryonic pain trying to be free playful cricketers. Like that, there are footballers, shuttlers and basketballers in plenty. Most in identity crisis.

Unlike Groppel’s book, we won’t discuss how to become corporate athletes here. We discuss whether the players in us can cohabit with the employees in us. What it feels to play and work together in our lives with no demarcation between the personal and professional.

What is it to work and play?

To work and to play is to have a workplace where one can remain billable to customers while clocking hours in the gym cardio sessions. A workplace where one acquires that important certificate in ‘Business Analytics’ simultaneously with that half-marathon finisher’s medal. A workplace where all-hands calls are considered as serious as outdoor-activity sessions.

Are these the certainties everywhere? Are all organisations equally supportive? Do companies turn thrifty when investing in fitness and wellness?

Well-managed businesses follow a management concept called the Balanced Score Card (BSC). This maintains that to sustain business growth, companies need well-rounded and comprehensive strategies. Focus towards customers and stakeholders, finance, internal processes and organisational capacity (originally called learning and growth). A four-pronged strategy where employees play a pivotal role.

[Source”indianexpress”]

Aurobindo Pharma, Intas in race to buy Mallinckrodt’s US generic business

Aurobindo Pharma and Intas are in the race to buy UK-based Mallinckrodt’s generic drugs business in the US valued at USD 2 billion, this will be the biggest ever overseas acquisition for any Indian drug maker.

Aurobindo Pharma and Intas are in the race to buy UK-based Mallinckrodt’s generic drugs business in the US, sources said. The deal valued at USD 2 billion, will be the biggest ever overseas acquisition for any Indian drug maker.

Sources said the deal is currently in its preliminary stages. The companies have submitted an initial bid for the Mallinckrodt’s generic business, which has been up for sale for last couple of months.

Mallinckrodt’s generics business has sales of around USD 1 billion.

Mallinckrodt has world’s most diverse line of bulk medicinal controlled substances, which has generated interest from these companies. The margins in the segment are quite high with less competition in comparison to the plain generic drugs.

In reply to query sent by CNBC-TV18, Mallinckrodt said it does not comment on market speculation.

Mallinckrodt generic business fits well with the Aurobindo Pharma’s, which is a leading manufacturer of API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient).

Privately held Intas Pharma is backed by Temasek and ChrysCapital. Some strategic and global private equity players are also in the race to acquire Mallinckrodt’s generics business.

Mallinckrodt’s business Includes Fentanyl, Methadone, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Oxycodone, Morphine, Codeine-based drugs.

Aurobindo Pharma and Intas did not respond to queries sent by CNBC-TV18.

[Source”indianexpress”]

8 Apple iPhone 8 Alternatives To Buy That Are Also Apple

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For a moment between the leaks and rumors, when I was actually able to consider it all — I thought about saving up and buying an Apple AAPL +0.37% iPhone 8. The Apple iPhone 8 could finally be the iPhone that looks less like an iPhone and more like a Samsung. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 screen leaks are pretty close in size and OLED greatness as the iPhone 8 screen leaks. My point is, that even with a insanely high price point and an inter-dimensional quandary, the iPhone 8 could be worth it.

Then again, it might not. $1200 for a cell phone? That’s a little wild. I literally just bought a 1998 Subaru Legacy for $1200. Of course, the price point is not only what the market will bear, but come the September keynote, something that tech journalists and fans will be cheering. Even with production delays, the iPhone 8 is still expected to be released at the same time as the iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus.

Also see: Apple Finally Invents Instagram, Revolutionizing Your iPhone Photos

Gordon Kelly, who writes most of the iPhone leak articleshere at Forbes, suggests auctioning the iPhone 8 if you are able to get one before Christmas. He says this is the sensible option. While I’ve done that type of thing before (with a pair of Yeezy Boosts), perhaps you are just better off spending your $1200 on something else. Though, you’d still want something Apple related right? Well, here are eight Apple products well under $1200 you might want to buy instead of an iPhone 8:

  • Apple Newton MessagePad 2000. You can get one on eBay for under $200 in working order. Stylus pens are making a comeback, so why not be a total tech hipster and attend your morning stand-up meetings with this retro device in hand?
  • Apple Bandai Pippin. One of the worst video game systems of all time was limited to under 42,000 units actually released before it royally failed. Still cheaper than many modern cell phones. Plus you know you have a hankering to play Gus Goes to the Kooky Carnival in search of Rant.
  • Apple MacBook Air. Sure, we like our computing power in our pockets, but you can get two refurbished MacBook Air laptops for the price of one iPhone 8. Totally worth it and perfect for back to school.
  • A bag full of iPod Shuffles. Recently discontinued, now is the time to stock up on used iPod Shuffles. You can probably get about 40 4th generation iPod Shuffles for the cost of one iPhone 8. This was a great little device, I still have two. One of my favorite Apple products ever.
  • Macintosh Portable. I figure if typewriters are making a comeback, it’s only a matter of time before people start lugging around 16 pounds of 1 MB SRAM.
  • An Apple Watch. Just kidding. Apple Watches are terrible devices. Buy a Swatch instead.
  • Apple iPod Touch. Oddly enough, even with phones on the market with more storage than a base model iPod Touch, Apple still makes this. It’s not like you use your phone for actual phone calls anymore. If you hate your data plan and use WiFi like a boss, save some coin and get an iPod Touch for a fraction of the cost.
  • Around 3600 actual apples. It’s August, which means apple season is starting. Let’s say at 99 cents a pound, about three apples to a pound, you can get more than 3600 hundred apples for the price of an iPhone 8. That is some quality fiber and vitamin C right there.

Before you start taking out my knee-caps in the comments, I agree, this is total fluff. I just told myself at the start of the week that I needed to write some sort of silly tech listicle. I understand that I am no better today than the junk advertorial articles you see grouped together at the bottom of a Huffpo article.

Disclaimer aside, we are an always connected culture, consuming content in pace with our breathing. The Apple iPhone 8 will be another consumption device, programmed to be beautiful and wallet draining. It’s luxurious and smooth. So consider this instead — you can buy some nostalgia, or fruit.

Or you could just buy an iPhone 7S or iPhone 7S Plus. These will most likely be cheaper phones with a more traditional Apple iPhone design. There is a bit of wariness when considering the total sea change in design elements of the iPhone 8. I think I’ll stick to drawing on my MessagePad 2000.

[Source”timesofindia”]

Apple’s Services Business Is Growing Like The ‘FANG’ Stocks, Should It Be Valued Like One?

 Image result for Apple's Services Business Is Growing Like The 'FANG' Stocks, Should It Be Valued Like One?

Apple’s Services business has also seen robust growth, emerging as the company’s second largest segment in terms of revenue. Apple’s Services revenues grew by 21% in calendar year 2016 (the company’s fiscal year ends September 30) to a little over $25 billion, making it almost as large as Facebook. However, Apple, and its Services operations, aren’t valued like other high-profile Internet companies such as the so-called “FANG” stocks – Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google (Alphabet). In this note, we take a look at some of the key drivers of Apple’s Services business and its valuation.

We have a $164 price estimate for Apple, which is slightly ahead of the current market price.

Why Apple’s Services Valuation Lags Other Internet Companies

We currently value Apple’s Services segment at about $150 billion (excluding Apple’s net cash position), using our discounted cash flow model. This translates to a forward revenue multiple of about 5x. This is well below Netflix (valued at ~7x forward revenues), Facebook (13x) and Google (6.3x). While this is partly due to slightly lower growth rates and potentially lower margins, there are also some other factors that limit Apple’s Services business from being valued like other Internet stocks. For one, Apple’s Services revenues are tied to the sales of its devices, and there could be a slowdown in sales if Apple’s hardware shipments falter. For instance, customers tend to buy the AppleCare plan at the time of their device purchases, while potentially loading up on more paid apps earlier in the life cycles of their devices. Moreover, Apple has been reluctant to leverage user data – which is extremely valuable for Internet companies – as it focuses on the privacy aspect of its devices. In contrast, Google, Amazon and Facebook have shown a willingness to work with user data from their search, e-commerce and social media operations to grow their businesses.

Apple Still Has Ambitious Plans For Services

Apple has set a target of effectively doubling its Services revenues by 2020 (~18% CAGR between 2016 and 2020). While the company has grown Services revenues at an average rate of around 23% per year over the last five years, driven by an expanding iOS user base (we estimate that the user base grew 3x between 2011 and 2016), it’s unlikely to see similar growth rates in its installed base going forward. Instead, the company will have to primarily rely on expanding its Services ARPU to meet its targets. We estimate that its ARPU (considering only iOS devices) stood at about $33 last year.

There could be multiple avenues for Apple to improve its services ARPU. Firstly, App store revenues are expanding, and there may be further scope for growth as Apple launches new developer kits such as the augmented reality-focused ARKit, which could enable a richer Services experience. Apple also earns a commission (typically 15% to 30%) from third-party subscriptions on its platform, and it could be a big beneficiary of trends such as cord cutting and a shift towards streaming music services. For instance, the number of paid subscriptions on its platforms, including both Apple and third-party services, now exceeds 185 million, marking an increase of 20 million in the last three months alone. The Apple Pay business could also see revenues accelerate (albeit from a very small base) over the next few years, as Apple has already done much of the heavy lifting in terms of building out the requisite infrastructure in many developed markets. The company’s push to capture more budget-conscious users with devices such as the $329 iPad and the iPhone SE could also help it to expand its installed base and, in turn, drive Services revenues. While we expect the Services business to be a major driver of the company’s long-term growth, its relative discount compared to the “FANG” companies does seem warranted.

 [Source”timesofindia”]