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News Digest: Android-Chrome OS; News Corp, I&B Ministry, Nokia, Manthan, HT, Telenor, Aircel & More

Open Sourcing Chrome OS & Potential Android Convergence
(by Nikhil Pahwa)
Last week, Google decided to open source the Chrome OS, built primarily for netbooks with web applications in mind. As the web becomes ubiquitous, applications have to become device agnostic, and the need for device agnostic platforms will arise. CNet reports that Google co-founder Sergey Brin told reporters that the Chrome OS (for netbooks) and the seemingly unstoppable Android platform (for mobiles) will have to converge at some point. Our question: why start with two different platforms anyway?

Telenor Cuts Down On India CapEx

Telenor has announced that it has cut down its accumulated Capital Expenditure for first 5 years by around Rs. 30-35 billion. Targeted rollout combined with better terms from equipment vendors is what has reduced the Capex requirements according to the company. Telenor has  a JV with Unitech Wireless in India and they are to start operations in India later this year with the brand Uninor.

Manthan Systems Get $15 Million Funding

FIL Capital Advisors (India) and venture capital firms IDG Ventures India and ePlanet Ventures are investing $15 million in retail business intelligence and data analytics company Manthan Systems. The company is expected to use the raised capital to acquire two companies in US and UK. The company will also use the fund to accelerate its R&D in consumer behaviour for its new platform ARC 6.0. (Read more at The Economic Times)

News Corp In Talks With Bing For Paid-Delisting From Google
(by Nikhil Pahwa)
Rupert Murdoch owned media behemoth News Corp is reportedly in talks with Microsoft, over being paid to de-index its news websites from Google, and make the content available only on Bing. This is possibly one way that news sites can earn from the web; the idea, it seems, is to make Bing the primary source for indexed news content on the web, thus driving traffic to Bing. Google has a significant majority market share in search, and with these talks, the yet to be ratified Microsoft-Yahoo search deal, appears to be just one part of Microsofts plan to unseat Google. One suggestion for Microsoft: don’t lose sight of Mobile. More at the Financial Times

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CoOptions Technologies Gets $10 million Investment

Walden International And Nadathur Holdings have co-invested over $10 million in CoOptions Technologies, a Hyderabad-based firm, which works with co-operative banks and has information on customers in the rural sector in the electronic form. CoOptions, along with the other partners of the Industry – Banking, Insurance, Procurement, etc, introduces a host of financial services at the Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies – namely Credit, Insurance, etc. on a transaction based revenue sharing model with the PACS. The firm at present works with half a million farmers in Andhra Pradesh and plans to expand it to 10 million farmers in the next two years. (Read more at The Economic Times)

HT Media Demerges  Hindi Business

HT Media has decided to demerge its Hindi Business to a 99.3 percent owned subsidiary Hindustan Media Ventures Limited. ‘Hindustan’, the Hindi daily; Hindi magazines, ‘Nandan’ & ‘Kadambini’, and the internet portals of these publications, including all assets, liabilities and employees pertaining to this business,will be transferred to the subsidiary for a consideration of Rs. 149 crores.

Aircel To Spend $ 5.5 billion

Aircel plans to spend $5.5 billion over the next five years to expand network and coverage in the country. Company Director has told Business Times that the company already has $3.5 billion and the reminder will come from shareholders including Binariang GSM Sdn. (Read more at Bloomberg)

BayTalkitec Appoints SVP (Sales & Marketing)

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BayTalkitec, a provider of 3G mobile VAS and mobile video applications in India has announced the appointment of T. Hariraj as Senior Vice President- Sales and Marketing. Prior to joining Bay Talkitec, Hariraj has worked at the senior management level in organizations such as Honeywell ED&S, TVS Electronics, Amtrex Hitachi Appliances Ltd, DCM Data Products and Parry & Co. He holds an engineering degree in electrical and electronics and a post graduate in Business Administration.

Temple, Mosque Prayers Live On The Mobile

Airtel is to start a service where users can hear live prayers and chants directly from popular temples, mosques and shrines. Charges for the service have not been announced yet. More at TheWall Street Journal

I&B Minister On Piracy

Union Minister Mrs. Ambika Soni has expressed grave concern over film & video piracy at the opening day of a business conclave on ‘Media & Entertainment’ being organised by FICCI in Chennai. She has revealed that the I&B Ministry has earmarked Rs. 1000 crore for the current financial year to strengthen terrestrial reach of the electronic media to safeguard people from propaganda from across the country. She expects the annual turnover of the industry to reach Rs. 1052 billion by the end of five years.

Nokia’a Social Networking Through SMS.

In October Nokia is planning to introduce two new mobile applications that let Nokia phone users create chat groups and buy and sell products using text messages. The applications is targeted at countries like India that have a large number of low-cost phones who use messages more than the mobile internet. One of the application is “We Meet,” a social networking application that lets you connect to other users through text messages. This app also tracks people using cell towers rather than GPS and the location keeps updating as the person moves. (Read more at Forbes)

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STel Outsources To Tech Mahindra

According to The Economic Times, STel has awarded a five year IT outsourcing contract to Tech Mahindra. The contract also includes maintenance of STel’s business and operational support systems. STel has plans to start its GSM service in the fourth quarter of the current financial year.

Norwest Venture raise $1.2 billion

Norwest Venture Partners (NVP) have raised $1.2 billion, twice the size  NVP X raised in 2006. It might have plans to invest more in India where it already has investments in the National Stock Exchange, a 2.11 percent stake worth 53$ million; $4 million in Appnomic Systems; stakes in OnMobile and Shriram City Union Finance and in Yatra.com.  (Read more at Reuters)

Vodafone Group Versus Indian On Tax

Vodafone Group has asked for two months more to reply to the 1.21 billion pounds tax claim that India has made on the buying of majority stake in Hutchison Essar for 6.78 billion pounds in 2007. In 2008, the Bombay High Court rejected Vodafone’s petition for exemption the Supreme Court declined to hear the case and ruled that the Central Board of Direct Taxes should rule. (Read more at Google)

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