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The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and Qualcomm through its venture investment arm, Qualcomm Ventures, announced Thursday, the “QPrize Make in India” contest for startups, which will award $350,000 (roughly Rs. 2.3 crores) in equity investment as prize money to the winning startup.

The goal of the contest is to catalyse India’s startup community to drive the entire value chain from innovation to creating a local product design and manufacturing ecosystem manufacturing in India, DIPP said.

Startups can submit their entries to the contest on the Make in India website, the last date for submitting entries is February 12, 2016. DIPP will announce the shortlist on February 15, 2016.

Shortlisted companies will be invited for the final pitch presentation during the grand finale on February 18, 2016, which will be held at the Make in India Centre, MMRDA Grounds, Bandra – Kurla Complex.

“We are delighted to announce the QPrize Make in India contest that will be a driving force for Indian entrepreneurs aligning with our Prime Minister Modi’s vision for Startup India and Make in India,” said Amitabh Kant, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India in a press statement. “Besides the Rs. 2-Crore prize money through equity investment, they will bring in immense experience and support to nurture the startups through their Qualcomm Ventures arm and Design in India initiatives targeted towards making India a hub for design and manufacturing,” he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Make in India Week, which will be held from February 13 to 18. The government expects participation of over 1,000 companies and delegates from over 60 countries. The theme of the event will be innovation, design, and sustainability.

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Our latest roundup mostly sees seed funding activity centred around sectors like online insurance, learning kits, and co-working spaces, with a couple of Series A rounds in areas like Industrial IoT and driver analytics.

Personalised insurance platform Turtlemint has raised an undisclosed sum in an investment round led by Nexus Venture Partners, with participation from Blume Ventures. The Mumbai-based startup was launched four months ago by Dhirendra Mahyavanshi and Anand Prabhudesai. Turtlemint uses proprietary algorithms and data analytics to provide recommendations on insurance purchase and claims assistance to customers through a network of trusted offline facilitators. Its platform uses over 20 factors to recommend the apt amount of health insurance cover to the user. The funds will be used to further scale up its technology and operations, and expand to over a 100 cities in the next few months, the company said in an emailed statement.

Silicon Valley-based Zendrive, a driver analytics startup with an engineering base in Bengaluru announced Friday its fundraise of $13.5 million (roughly Rs. 91 crores) in its Series A round led by by Shervin Pishevar of Sherpa Capital with participation from Nyca Partners, Thomvest Ventures, and existing investors First Round Capital, BMW i Ventures, Fontinalis Partners, and Tad Montross. The funding will drive the company’s focus on safety innovation, using mobile sensor data to provide actionable insights that improve safety for passengers and drivers, the company said in an emailed statement. The transportation and logistics sectors in India are undergoing rapid growth and modernisation, with road safety is becoming an increasing focus for regulators and communities,” said Pankaj Risbood, Co-Founder of Zendrive.

Pune-based Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) platform startup Altizon Systems has closed a $4 million (roughly Rs. 27 crores) round of series A funding led by Wipro Ventures, with support from Lumis Partners and current investors, The Hive and Infuse Ventures. The company plans to utilise the funds for scaling up its sales and marketing functions both in India and globally.

Magic Crate
Bengaluru-based Magic Crate, a provider of theme based activity kits for 4-8 year-old kids, has reportedly raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding in a round led by TV Mohandas Pai and Aarin Capital. Founded in 2014 by IIT-IIM alumnus Viswanathan R, the startup plans to use the funds to expand its product portfolio, team size, and manufacturing capabilities.

Gingercrush, an on-demand platform for customising licensed products, has reportedly raised a pre-Series A round of $1 million (roughly Rs. 6.75 crores) led by Saha Fund. The Vadodara-based startup, founded in 2015, licenses intellecutal property from Disney, Mattel and Viacom18, and offers customised prints for t-shirts, mugs, and other merchandise.

Bengaluru-based Bhive, a provider of coworking spaces for startups has raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from a group of angel investors, including TaxiForSure founder Raghunandan G. The company reportedly plans to launch its fourth location in the HSR Sector 4 with the funds.

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Twitter said Friday it suspended more than 125,000 accounts, most of them linked to the Islamic State group, as part of increased efforts to eradicate “terrorist content” on the popular messaging platform.

The accounts frozen since mid-2015 were targeted “for threatening or promoting terrorist acts,” said Twitter, which is under pressure from governments to act but is also keen not to be seen as effectively censoring free speech.

“Like most people around the world, we are horrified by the atrocities perpetrated by extremist groups,” Twitter said on its policy blog.

“We condemn the use of Twitter to promote terrorism and the Twitter rules make it clear that this type of behavior, or any violent threat, is not permitted on our service.”

The announcement comes after the United States and other governments urged social networks to take more aggressive steps to root out activity aimed at recruiting and planning violent acts.

Twitter said it already has rules to discourage this activity, but that it was driving up enforcement by boosting staff and using technology to filter violence-promoting content. However the service warned that there is no easy technological solution.

“As many experts and other companies have noted, there is no ‘magic algorithm’ for identifying terrorist content on the Internet, so global online platforms are forced to make challenging judgment calls based on very limited information and guidance,” Twitter said.

“In spite of these challenges we will continue to aggressively enforce our rules in this area and engage with authorities and other relevant organizations to find viable solutions to eradicate terrorist content from the Internet and promote powerful counter-speech narratives.”

Pressure in US, EU
Pressure has been growing on social networks since attacks in Paris in November and southern California in December which were linked to supporters of the Islamic State group, sometimes referred to as Isis.

The White House last year called for “dialogue” with Silicon Valley and others on the subject, saying more should be done “when the use of social media crosses the line between communication and active terrorist plotting.”

The European Commission has also called for talks with major social media networks. And France passed emergency measures last year that could shut down websites or social media accounts which encourage terrorist actions.

In Congress, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr proposed legislation to require online communications services to report potential terrorist activity.

Twitter said it has long sought to enforce its rules on promoting violence, while maintaining an open platform.

“As an open platform for expression, we have always sought to strike a balance between the enforcement of our own Twitter rules covering prohibited behaviors, the legitimate needs of law enforcement, and the ability of users to share their views freely – including views that some people may disagree with or find offensive,” the blog said.

But in recent months, Twitter added that “we have increased the size of the teams that review reports, reducing our response time significantly” and used “spam-fighting tools to surface other potentially violating accounts for review by our agents.”

By ramping up the efforts, Twitter said, “we have already seen results, including an increase in account suspensions and this type of activity shifting off of Twitter.”

Brett McGurk, a US government envoy in the global coalition to counter the Islamic State group, lauded Twitter’s move.

“Welcome moves by @twitter to shut down over 125k #ISIL related and #ISIL associated accounts,” he tweeted, using another acronym referring to the Islamic State group.

Also welcoming the effort was Abraham Cooper, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate Project, who has long pressed for curbs on groups promoting violence online.

“This is a long overdue move,” Cooper said in a statement. “For years, Twitter has been the social media weapon of choice for terrorists, with Isis alone sending out 200,000 tweets a day. The decision to remove terrorists’ postings by Twitter will help degrade the incredibly successful international online marketing campaigns by Isis, al Qaeda, Al Shabab and their ilk.”

Last March, Facebook updated its “community standards,” saying this would curb the use of the social network giant for promoting terrorism or hate speech.

The update said Facebook will not allow a presence from groups advocating “terrorist activity, organized criminal activity or promoting hate.”

The move came after videos of gruesome executions appeared on Facebook and other social media as part of Islamic State group propaganda efforts.

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Apple has asked the US Supreme Court to dismiss Samsung’s appeal in the blockbuster patent case between the two smartphone giants, saying the ruling followed “well-established” legal precedent.

A filing Thursday from the California giant came in response to Samsung’s appeal seeking to overturn a $548 million (roughly Rs. 3,720 crores) award for patent infringement related to copying features from Apple’s iPhones.

“Samsung had its day in court – many days, in fact – and the properly instructed jury was well-justified in finding that Samsung copied Apple’s designs and should pay the damages that the statute expressly authorizes,” Apple said in its response, first reported by the blog Foss Patents.

“While this litigation may be high-profile, it is legally unexceptional, and Samsung has shown no reason for this court to prolong it.”

Attorneys for the South Korean consumer electronics titan argued in December that the massive payout was not warranted, because smartphones “contain countless other features that give them remarkable functionality wholely unrelated to their design.”

“Even if the patented features contributed one percent of the value of Samsung’s phones, Apple gets 100 percent of Samsung’s profits,” the appeal said.

The arch-rivals have battled in close to a dozen countries, with each accusing the other of infringing on various patents related to their flagship smartphone and tablet products.

Florian Mueller, who publishes the Foss Patents blog, said the case could present an opportunity for the top court to review the issue of “design patents,” a key element of the case.

“The Supreme Court hasn’t heard a design patent case in about 122 years,” he wrote.

“It’s so obvious that a lot of things have changed during that period, and the role design patents play in connection with complex technology products really needs to be adjudicated again.”

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Just over a decade ago, students at a smattering of elite colleges were debating the merits of a new website called It was all the rage at Harvard, naturally, where it had been launched by a sophomore who “literally” made it in a week.

“I’m just like a little kid,” Mark Zuckerberg told the Harvard Crimson in 2004. “I get bored easily and computers excite me. Those are the two driving factors here.”

The other students on campus were pretty excited, too. Within weeks of going online, the site offering a “visualization of your social network” gained thousands of users, expanding quickly to other schools.

At Columbia, where there was already a social media platform called “CUCommunity” (later restyled to “Campus Network”), there was the sense that The Facebook was trying to usurp a preexisting tool. In an April 2004 column, one student accused Zuckerberg of launching his website out of jealousy.

“Thanks to CUCommunity, our undergraduate body is closer than ever before,” the piece said. “But the cowards in Cambridge just couldn’t accept that. They had to create They had to challenge us.”

The Harvard Crimson shot back with an editorial called “Manifest Destiny, Facebook Style”:

“Harvard students have a duty to help those at lesser schools – like Columbia and Yale – break free from social life in the social slow lane and bring them up to speed on the superhighway of cool. Clubs, bars, movies moving – all passe, bona fide faux pas in the 21st-century etiquette. It seems as though everyone has forgotten what it means to ‘have fun.’ While students at Dartmouth, Columbia, even Yale (if one can even call them students) drink beer and frequent parties, we ask of them: have you ever confirmed a friend? Have you ever visualized your friend network? Have you ever been poked?”

To every rival school’s chagrin, the Harvard Crimson was right. Stanford students took to it quickly, as nearly 3,000 students registered for The Facebook within a week. Come September of 2004, it appeared that even Columbia was admitting defeat: an article on the front page explored how social rites were changing “in the age of The Facebook.”

The rest, as we all know, is history. (Alternatively, it is an Oscar-winning film directed by David Fincher.)

Facebook turned 12 on Thursday. It celebrated this milestone with a self-proclaimed holiday and a blog post reporting that people are more connected than they have ever been before.

On “Friends Day,” the data scientists at Facebook announced that we are all a lot closer to one another than we thought.

The adage that there exist only “six degrees of separation” between everyone in the world has been around for at least the last century, when the Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy proposed the notion in a short story called “Chains.” Then in the 60s, scientists Stanley Milgram and Jeffrey Travers corroborated the idea that everyone in the world is but six short social connections away from everyone else in the world. It’s since been tested repeatedly, with mixed results.

More recently, the theory has evolved into games like “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” a way for celebrities to score their status in the entertainment industry based on their distance from the actor-musician.

Now, it appears that active Facebook users are nearly twice as connected as they once (supposedly) were.

“Playwrights, poets, and scientists have proposed that everyone on the planet is connected to everyone else by six other people,” the blog post read. “In honor of Friends Day, we’ve crunched the Facebook friend graph and determined that the number is 3.57. Each person in the world (at least among the 1.59 billion people active on Facebook) is connected to every other person by an average of three and a half other people.”

The blog post also uses an algorithm to calculate each user’s individual degrees of separation. Sheryl Sandberg, for instance, is separated from the rest of the Facebook universe by a meager 2.92 degrees.

Of course, this measurement ignores the nearly 6 billion other living humans who don’t use the site, and hence can’t truly overturn the long held belief that it’s six degrees of separation that governs for most of humanity. But it does raise the question of how the social lives of those 1.59 billion have changed since they joined the site.

Facebook users contemplated this through the hashtag #BeforeFacebookI, and the recollections ranged from humorous to resentful to truly thought-provoking.

“#BeforeFacebookI got a phone call when someone close to me passed away and when something cool was going to happen,” a Michelle Orack wrote. “Before fb I didn’t realize how big of a scale of insane and idiotic people there are in the world. I liked people and I didn’t have a filter or have to worry about who I offended … On a positive note, I have gained some pretty great friends near and far …”

“BeforeFacebookI had to remember everyone’s birthday,” wrote a Debbie Mitchell, “now I don’t have to. Thank You FB!”

At least one user felt that Facebook had made him more enlightened.

“#BeforeFacebookI went unchallenged in many of my assumptions about class, race, gender, prejudice, and identity,” a Dan Jones wrote. “I did not know many of my friends as well as I do now. . .I was a less interesting person, and a less curious one.”

But others feel that they’re now exposed to more than they care to know. A 2013 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 36 percent of Facebook users “strongly dislike” oversharing.

“The level of navel-gazing that defines our lives today seems to reach new peaks daily,” Huffington Post columnist Ann Brenoff lamented in 2012. “The irony, of course, is that we practice this form of narcissism with the insistence that we are sharing. News flash: It is not sharing when you post a photo on Facebook of the eggs you ate for breakfast.”3

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When driver service Uber launched in Kenya’s tech-savvy capital, it was eagerly welcomed by many in Nairobi.

But the taxi app has faced a violent backlash from traditional cab drivers angry at the new competition, with Uber drivers and cars attacked.

“A car came in front of me, blocked my access from the exit. A few guys came out and stabbed my left tyres, both of them, front and back,” said Martin, an Uber driver, who like many asked only to be indentified by his first name.

“I understand their frustration, but like in any normal business, competition has to be allowed to progress.”

Launched in San Francisco in 2009, Uber now boasts of operating in 400 cities across 68 countries, and says on its website it “delivers food and packages, as well as people, all at the push of a button.”

Some visitors to Kenya might be surprised at seeing people tap on a smartphone to order a cab, followed by a driver bouncing down the often potholed or even dirt roads a few minutes later.

But the East African nation has a thriving tech start-up scene, including the enormously successful M-Pesa mobile money transfer system which allows clients to send cash with their cellphones.

‘Barbaric acts’
With formal registered taxis few and far between outside major hotels or airports, people previously relied on a handful of telephone numbers of private taxi drivers to pick them up.

In a city famed for sometimes nightmarish traffic jams, an online service that can see a driver arrive within minutes had a ready and willing market, proving popular immediately.

But that also made others angry and triggered some violent reaction.

Another Uber driver, Victor, described how a colleague was dragged out of the car, beaten, and had his phone and cash stolen.

“Most of Uber drivers are kind of scared. During the day, there are not such incidents, it’s safe,” Victor said. “It is only at night that you are getting intimidations, threats, all those crazy happenings.”

Uber does not employ drivers or own vehicles, but instead uses non-professionally licensed contractors with their own cars, allowing them to run their own businesses.

Traditional taxis remain fiercely opposed.

“Some of these taxi drivers are operating as hooligans… They rob you, they beat you up, they vandalize the car,” another Uber driver said.

Kenyan police say there have been multiple reports of violence but insist they are taking action.

“We have received numerous complaints from Uber taxi drivers complaining how they are being harassed by these other drivers and even assaulted,” police spokesman Charles Owino said. “This is a matter we are taking very, very seriously.”

Kenya’s Interior Ministry has issued a “strong word of caution to those behind the attacks that such barbaric acts cannot and shall not be tolerated.”

‘Join the technology’
Uber, valued at over $50 billion, and operating in five African countries Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya has tried to calm the opposition.

“We have been engaging with taxi associations since last year to find a way that we can partner with them,” said Uber spokeswoman Samantha Allenberg.

“We do not feel that it should be about Uber or taxi – but rather Uber and taxi.”

But taxi drivers say they won’t back down, issuing an ultimatum ending on next Wednesday to the government to shut down Uber, or they will block roads in Nairobi already congested with hours long traffic jams at the best of times.

Job Nzioka, senior member of the Kenya Taxi Cab Association, denies his members have been involved in attacks.

“Those are lies,” he said, dismissing reports Uber cars have been smashed up, and saying the taxi drivers in his association would not engage in violence.

“They are disciplined because we also have our way of disciplining our guys when they go out of the way,” he added.

Uber drivers say they will not give up, and that it is the traditional drivers who should adapt.

“It’s very hard to fight technology,” said Daniel, a driver. “It is here: it is changing things, it is making things become efficient.

“The only way to survive with the coming of new technology is to join the technology.”

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As the world embraces the power of two-in-one computers, Canonical is also not sitting behind. On Thursday, the company, best known for providing commercial support to the open-source Ubuntu Linux distribution, unveiled the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet that can also serve as a full-fledged desktop computer when connected to a keyboard and mouse.

Made by Spanish manufacturer BQ, the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition’s hybrid nature isn’t its only highlight. The computing device also packs in impressive processing muscle. The BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition sports a 10-inch multi-touch full-HD (1920×1080 pixel) display. It is powered by a 64-bit MediaTek MT8163A quad-core ARM processor that clocks up to 1.5GHz, paired with 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of inbuilt storage. The storage can be expanded up to 64GB using a microSD card.

Other features of the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition include an 8-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and dual flash, a 3-megapixel front-facing camera, front-facing speakers, a Micro-HDMI port (allows users to connect to a monitor as well), and a 7280mAH Li-Pro battery.

On the software front, the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition runs Ubuntu OS – the touch-friendly version of the operating system. It comes with a number of interesting features. There’s a “side stage” feature, for instance, that allows users to view two different applications on the same screen. Canonical says that users can utilise the hundreds of apps and scopes that are available from the Ubuntu App Store.

“We’re bringing you everything you’ve come to expect from your Ubuntu PC, now on the tablet with BQ, soon on smartphones. This isn’t a phone interface stretched to desktop size – it’s the right user experience and interaction model for the given situation,” Jane Silber, Canonical CEO wrote in a blog post. “Also, in terms of applications, we have something no other OS can provide: a single, visual framework and set of tools for applications to run on any type of Ubuntu smart device.”

The BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet will go on sale in Q2 2016 via BQ’s online store. The company hasn’t revealed the price just yet, but it is speculated to be around EUR 250 (roughly Rs. 19,000).

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Apple is getting serious about India. The iPhone maker sees the country as one of the most important growth areas, Tim Cook, company’s chief executive was cited as saying. Cook also confirmed that Apple is in early stages to bring its official retail stores in India.

As Apple worries of slowing growth in its main markets, the Cupertino-based giant is reportedly focusing its attention to emerging regions such as India. In a town hall meeting at the company’s campus, Tim Cook shared with employees the importance of India, reports 9to5Mac.

Tim Cook said that 4G LTE networks are still not widely available in every emerging market, and Apple sees it as an opportunity to push its products to such regions. The state of 4G LTE penetration, performance, and coverage in the country is still in the nascent stage, as also seen in OpenSignal’s recent global LTE report.

Cook also confirmed that Apple will be opening retail stores in India. Last month, it was found that the company had applied to set up its own stores in the country – something the company itself later confirmed. As of now, Apple sells its iPhone, iPad, Mac, and other products through third-party resellers in the country.

Reports claim that Apple representatives have held talks with Indian governments officials about a relaxation of the 30 percent local-sourcing rule. It is also believed that Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States, in which he met several top Silicon Valley executives including Cook, may have played an instrumental role in Apple’s growing focus in the country.

Talking about other topics, Cook noted that both Apple TV and Apple Watch have been selling well. He said that Apple Watch was one of the hottest product last quarter, whereas the company has never sold as many Apple TV before. He also said that employees will be moving to the company’s new Cupertino Apple Campus 2 by the end of January 2017.

Cook also talked about Apple Music for Android. The company’s decision to bring its product to rival Google’s platform has become a talking point in the industry. Cook said that with the Android app, the company is testing the waters for expanding its services on other platforms. This would, the report adds, open up the door for more porting in the future.

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The number of mobile users in India is projected to grow at a CAGR of 4.4 percent to 990.2 million, covering about 71 percent of the country’s population, by 2020 from 798.4 million last year, according to a report by networking giant Cisco.

Also, mobile data traffic generated is forecast to grow 12-fold to reach 1.7 exabytes (about 430 million DVDs) per month by 2020, driven by availability of cheaper smartphones and affordable data tariffs, said Cisco’s Mobile Visual Networking Index released on Wednesday.

Mobile data traffic was about 148.9 petabytes (34 million DVDs worth of data) per month in 2015.

“With the ever-increasing billions of people and things that are being connected, mobility is the predominant medium that’s enabling today’s global digitisation transformation,” Cisco Vice President Service Provider Marketing Doug Webster said.

Future mobile innovations in cellular like 5G and Wi-Fi solutions will be needed to further address new scale requirements, security concerns, and user demands, he added.

The report said 4G connections in India are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 144 percent in 2015-2020, accounting for 26.2 percent of the total mobile connections by 2020.

3G connections are forecast to be 52.6 percent of the total mobile connections by 2020, compared to 15.7 percent in 2015, it added.

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Amazon said Thursday that its Echo wireless system will play songs from Spotify as the retail giant delves further into the booming sector of streaming.

Echo, which went on sale last year, is a wireless speaker that responds to voice commands to carry out tasks such as looking up information on the Internet or setting alarms.

Through the tie-up, Echo owners will be able to play instantly from the vast catalogue of Spotify, the Swedish company that is the leader in on-demand music streaming.

Echo, which responds when addressed as Alexa, will look up and play songs on Spotify when it hears the verbal request.

The tie-up will only be available in the United States and for paying subscribers of Spotify, which also offers a more popular free tier.

“Music is one of the most popular features on Amazon Echo, and Spotify has been one of the most requested services, so we’re excited to bring it to our customers today,” Toni Reid, director of the program at Amazon, said in a statement.

Amazon is a behemoth in both physical music sales and downloading, with the company the second most popular site after Apple’s iTunes to buy digital music.

But streaming has rapidly expanded in recent years, offering a key source of growth in the industry as sales of both CDs and digital downloads weaken.

In a sign of future trends, Apple has bet big on streaming with the launch in June of Apple Music.

Amazon is already involved in the sector through Prime Music, which lets members of the company’s Prime shopping membership club stream tracks online for no additional cost.

The New York Post reported last week that Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos was looking to launch a more thorough stand-alone streaming service to compete directly with Spotify, Apple Music and other rivals.

The latest project, however, would appear to encourage Amazon customers to subscribe to the premium service of Spotify, which has actively sought partnerships with major companies including a tie-up with coffee chain Starbucks.

Echo already offers several other music services including Internet radio station Pandora.

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