NEW DELHI/BENGALURU (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google has extended its deadline for Indian app developers to comply with a new billing system for commission fees by six months, it said on Monday, days after local startups voiced anger about the charges.
Google will now enforce its global policy more strictly and charge a 30% commission fee for in-app purchases from Indian developers from March 31, 2022, the company said, saying it was “being mindful of local needs and concerns”.
The move comes after many startups in India banded together to consider ways to challenge the company by lodging complaints with the government and courts over the original deadline for compliance of Sept. 30 next year.
They were upset about the commission fee and also criticised several other Google Play Store policies for hurting their businesses.
“We do not succeed unless our partners succeed,” Google said in a blog post, adding that it will set up “listening sessions” with leading Indian startups to understand their issues.
Last week, Google fixed the enforcement date for the new billing system at Sept. 30, 2021 and said only 3% of apps globally were non-compliant.
The dispute started after Google briefly took down India’s top digital payments app Paytm for violation of certain Play Store policies last month, drawing sharp rebukes from the Softbank-backed Indian company’s founder, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, and several other entrepreneurs.
Nearly 99% of India’s half a billion smartphones run on Google’s Android mobile operating system. Some Indian startups say that allows Google to exert excessive control over the types of apps and other services they can offer, an allegation the company denies.
“A deferment (of the fees) is just not enough,” said an Indian startup executive, who did not wish to be named. “The gatekeeper of the biggest application store should be fair and transparent.”
The spats have strained Google’s strong ties to Indian startups. It has invested in some and helped hundreds with product development. In July, its Indian-born CEO Sundar Pichai committed $10 billion in new investments over five to seven years.
Globally, app developers have said a 30% fee is excessive compared with the 2% fees for typical credit card payments processors. Google and rival Apple, which charges a similar fee, have said the amount covers the security and marketing benefits their app stores provide.
On Monday, Paytm’s Sharma posted a newspaper clipping of Google’s decision to defer the fee, saying it “proves who is ruling us”.
In recent days, dozens of Indian entrepreneurs held calls to strategise challenging Google legally and by designing a local mobile application to list apps and reduce dependence on Google.
Leading Indian newspapers carried a front-page ad from Paytm on Monday announcing the launch of a “mini app store”.
“Calling all developers. Let’s build India’s Digital Revolution, together,” the ad said, adding there would be no payment charge when a Paytm wallet or a state-backed payment system is used.
Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi and Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Christopher Cushing
5G smartphone teardowns confirm benefits of radio system integration – Electronic Products & Technology
Global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research, using the teardown expertise of System Plus Consulting, unpacked two 5G smartphones to confirm that smartphone OEMs are extending fully integrated modem-RF system designs to support 5G and LTE implementations over their flagship devices. The teardowns analysis shows that Qualcomm’s RFFE system design covers both sub-6 Gigahertz (GHz) and Millimeter Wave (mmWave) 5G options, as well as LTE frequency bands, which will enable OEMs to efficiently and cost-effectively integrate 5G with 3G/4G into complex form factors. Such a fully integrated modem-RF system design is vital to drive wider adoption of 5G beyond the traditional smartphone market.
“Of particular interest in these teardowns is the use of mmWave modules, which are showing signs of increasing adoption as they aim to reach markets beyond North America. The use of these modules will be even more crucial for enabling new and complex form factor designs, such as foldable phones, to support mmWave access,” states David McQueen, Research Director at ABI Research.
Smartphone OEMs favour integrated system solutions
With 5G smartphone sales expanding rapidly, the RFFE has now replaced the modem/chipset as the largest revenue growth opportunity in the industry.
“High design and RF components sourcing complexity are evident in 5G, so smartphone OEMs are seeking to favour integrated system solutions to accelerate time to market while differentiating in terms of performance and overall power consumption,” McQueen explains. “Optimizing integration between 3G/4G and 5G using a single supplier could not only provide a superior system design, enabling the production of cost-effective, smaller form factors, and low-power consuming devices, but it also has the potential to support newer features, such as 5G Carrier Aggregation (CA) and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). Furthermore, 5G mmWave ecosystem momentum is gathering pace as the complexity of integration in smartphones is addressed through a fully integrated and miniaturized mmWave RF module design, which appears to have already matured enough to support ultra-thin foldable smartphone designs.”
Handling the complexity of the entire cellular radio systems for OEMs can only be achieved if the modem-to-antenna system as a whole is taken into consideration, including co-existing mmWave/sub-6 RFFEs.
“However, these latest teardowns suggest signs in the industry that this approach has expanded to encompass an optimized design that now includes 4G,” McQueen points out. OEMs cannot ignore this level of integration to rationalize RFFE procurement. “Moreover, this approach ensures that OEMs’ devices can address issues such as integrating all network technologies without compromising the efficiency of the RFFE system designs and the overall device form factor. It simplifies the complex and costly sourcing processes associated with RF components, involving collaborations with multiple suppliers, which could lengthen the overall product development time and their time to market,” McQueen concludes.
Apple Shares New 'Dark Universe' Experimental Video Shot on iPhone 12 Pro – MacRumors
As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available.
Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other…
Cloud9 Signs Top All-Women Valorant Team MAJKL, AT&T to Serve as Presenting Partner – TEO – The Esports Observer
The release of Valorant has already created significant forward progress for women in esports. Just last month, Spectacor Gaming’s FTW initiative became the first tournament organizer to receive official professional-level tournament status from Riot Games for an all-women tournament. Now, esports organization Cloud9 is looking to take that progress one step further with the signing of that tournament’s champion, MAJKL, as a sister team to its existing Valorant roster.
The team will now compete under the name “Cloud9 White” with the (currently) all-male team rebranding to “Cloud9 Blue.” Additionally, AT&T has expanded its deal with the organization to become the presenting partner of Cloud9 White.
While multiple teams including Dignitas and Counter Logic Gaming currently field women’s rosters in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and/or Valorant, those teams most commonly compete in all-women events. According to Cloud9 Senior General Manager Gaylen Malone, the organization is committed to turning Cloud9 White into a true sister team competing in Valorant’s male-dominated pro scene.
She told The Esports Observer that the company’s strategy was inspired by early Korean League of Legends. In the early 2010s, many Korean LoL organizations signed 10 players divided across two rosters with similarly-themed names (Azubu Frost/Blaze, Najin Black Shield/White Sword, etc). These rosters would frequently play practice matches against one another and occasionally exchange players back and forth. “I don’t expect us to exchange players week-by-week,” said Malone, “but I do expect for the coaches and players of Cloud9 Blue to eventually look to integrate some of the women from Cloud9 White into their roster.”
Like those old Korean rosters, the teams will have scheduled practice time competing against one another and will have coaches “sharing systems across both rosters.” In addition to practicing like sister teams, Cloud9 intends to have its two rosters compete in the same tournaments. The two rosters will both aim to qualify for the game’s first official championship, First Strike, which takes place later this year.
For Malone, the decision to sign the MAJKL roster was not only due to their status as the top women’s team in the game, but their approach to competition. “The thing that stood out to me about this team is that they were already playing together and scrimming together. They weren’t a team that were all friends before Valorant and were playing for fun. They are a talented group of women who came together because they all wanted to be the best at the game and were committed to improving as a team. They were already working like a C9 team should, which is what made me so interested in them! This team was already clearly the top women’s team and they are ready to work on becoming the top Valorant talent, not just the top women’s Valorant talent.”
Shizuka Suzuki, head of sponsorships and experiential marketing at AT&T, also expressed her excitement regarding the signing and expanded partnership to TEO. She explained that both C9 and AT&T have a commitment to elevating women in gaming. AT&T recently announced a gender equality initiative for game developers called Unlocked Games.
“We’ve got a huge passion around gender equality in sponsorships overall,” Suzuki said. “Whether that be with the WNBA, whether that be women’s soccer – a lot of different areas where we’re intentionally making investments to help provide women with a platform to make sure they’re being seen by the younger generation or by others.”
In addition to its traditional sports activities, AT&T has been active in esports for several years sponsoring mobile gaming initiatives for ESL. Suzuki noted that, despite the smaller scale of many women’s esports programs, brands should take notice of the opportunities that exist in the space. “It’s almost a best-kept secret. Generally, those rights fees are a little cheaper than in men’s sports. What that allows is for companies of all marketing budget sizes to be able to go invest in world-class athletes.” She did however caution that brands need to make sure that such initiatives align with their values before entering the space.
While it remains to be seen whether Cloud9 White can compete consistently with the top teams in Valorant, the organization is setting itself up to make significant strides for women in esports, pushing one step closer to the ultimate goal of co-ed teams becoming the norm in the space.
“It’s going to take everyone,” Suzuki said. “If we all share that same passion of giving women a better opportunity, more opportunities to be seen, and certainly more content around them…it’s going to take all of us as part of that ecosystem to move the needle.”
In part, Cloud9 is able to help potentially move that needle due to groundwork previously laid by the women’s ecosystem of CS:GO. The similarity in gameplay between it and Valorant allowed for women’s teams to more easily migrate over from what is currently the most professionalized women’s esports infrastructure in the industry. Malone echoed the sentiment of this requiring a collaborative effort:
“I think that CS:GO was able to make such great strides because of the community and the TO’s pushing for it to happen. It is apparent that Valorant is making similar strides through a concerted effort between the community and the developer. Riot Games is making decisions early on to include women in competition and to ensure those women will be supported in the scene. I think that other titles could find similar success if they invested resources to the same degree while making conscious decisions to be more inclusive and provide stepping stones for women.”
That commitment from Riot Games is also part of why Cloud9 made the decision to sign a women’s roster. “We have seen opportunities to jump into women’s CS:GO in the past, but I think our relationship with Riot Games really made this a unique opportunity. Having
an open line of communication with the developer and being able to talk about long term goals, really made us want to jump in and start developing talent for Valorant.”
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