In a move unlikely to win any friends at Google, Samsung is giving users of its Galaxy Gear smartwatch a choice to switch from Android to the company’s Tizen OS.
This comes after a recent report that Google executives are unhappy with Samsung over the Korean company’s effort to push Tizen on its smartwatches instead of Android Wear.
Samsung introduced the Galaxy Gear in 2013, running a variant of Android reconfigured to work on a watch. Since that time, Google has released Android Wear, its own version of Android created specifically for such wearables. While most Samsung watches are powered by Tizen, the company does sell the Android Wear-powered Gear Live through the Google Play Store.
According to Samsung, Gear owners who switch to Tizen will get access to 140 Tizen apps and have the ability to store music and play it back through Bluetooth headphones. It also includes the standard Tizen customization features, such as the ability to choose different icons, fonts, and wallpapers.
Building on its successful platform for monitoring the performance of IT systems, New Relic now offers a service that collects and analyzes app performance data to provide more information about how effectively businesses are serving their customers.
New Relic previewed the service, called Insights, earlier this year, and it was tested by over 6,000 New Relic customers. It is now available as a full-fledged commercial offering from the company, starting at US$250 per month.
New Relic’s speciality has been in the field of APM (application performance management), which involves collecting vast amounts of operational metrics potentially useful in monitoring system performance and debugging issues.
Although New Relic hasn’t traditionally pursued the market for general use data analysis software and services, it found that its customers “really wanted to use data to make their businesses better, but didn’t know how to do it. They saw us as a potential vehicle for them,” said James Gochee, New Relic chief technology officer and senior vice president of products.
Insights provides metrics on how an organization’s Web applications and websites are being used by their customers, using operational data already collected by New Relic’s software agents that are embedded directly into the Web pages and applications themselves.
Quizlet, which provides online learning tools, is one early user of the service. The company, whose website gets 20 million monthly visitors, was able to better understand how users traveled through its site and, as a result, redesigned it for easier navigation.
For the launch, New Relic also issued an app for Insights that can be run on Apple iPhones that provides access to all the metrics administrators have created within Insights.
This story, “New Relic’s analysis service goes live” was originally published by IDG News Service .
Samsung Electronics has temporarily suspended business with one of its Chinese suppliers, after a labor watchdog group accused the factory of hiring five underage workers.
The South Korean company said Monday its own investigations uncovered evidence of the illegal hiring at the supplier, Dongguan Shinyang Electronics. Local Chinese authorities are also looking into the matter, it said.
“If the investigations conclude that the supplier indeed hired children illegally, Samsung will permanently halt business with the supplier,” the company said in a blog post.
New York-based China Labor Watch alleged last week in a report that the supplier had been hiring “child workers” to help assemble Samsung products.
A month ago, China Labor Watch sent an undercover investigator to examine the working conditions at the factory. Located in the Chinese city of Dongguan, the facility builds and assembles covers and components used in Samsung phones, according to the labor group.
Their investigation found that the factory had hired five workers under the legal working age of 16 to work night shifts lasting 11 hours each day. Two of those workers were 14 years old with the other three aged 15.
“Each shift is a daily struggle for these children,” China Labor Watch claimed. “Tired, they must face high quotas and strict management, with supervisors frequently yelling at them.”
The findings countered Samsung’s own recent audits, which claimed that none of its Chinese suppliers had been found hiring underage workers.
Samsung demands that all company suppliers use ID checking scanners to verify the ages of its workers. But China Labor Watch’s own investigation found that none of underage workers at Dongguan Shinyang Electronics had undergone ID checks.
In its Monday blog post, Samsung said it had last audited the factory on June 25, and found no underage workers. The company’s follow-up investigation, however, found evidence of the illegal hiring that took place on June 29.
Dongguan Shinyang Electronics did not answer phone calls on Monday. China Labor Watch said the factory had forced the five underage workers to return home, following the group’s report.
This story, “Samsung suspends Chinese supplier over charges of using underage workers” was originally published by IDG News Service .
Sundar Pichai kicked off Google’s rapid-fire announcements at its annual conference on June 25 with one that hits close to home. The Android chief, a native of India, lamented the slow adoption of smartphones there and said Google would embark on an initiative to help the country along.
Pichai said the project, called Android One, is designed to help local hardware manufacturers build better, cheaper smartphones that’ll enable more people in emerging markets to afford to participate in the information revolution. Here’s what it’s really about: Google doesn’t want to lose its grip on Android like it has in China.
One piece of the Android One plan — the part Pichai most strongly emphasized during the presentation — is to compile up-to-date lists of tech specs for affordable smartphones. This should eliminate the need for smaller, low-margin device makers to pour money into designing a new smartphone from scratch every nine months to keep up with the industry’s pace, Pichai said. Google is working with Micromax, Karbonn and Spice in India on the first Android One products to debut in the fall. Pichai said he’s been testing a Micromax phone designed as part of the program, which has a 4.5-inch screen and features important to Indians, such as dual SIM cards, FM radio and a swappable memory card for less than $100.
“I’ve been using this phone for a while, and it is really good,” Pichai said on stage. “When I go back home to India and other countries like that, it is exciting to see the impact phones have on people’s lives, but it’s disappointing that only less than 10% of the population has access to smartphones. We want to change that.”
Surely, Google would also like to minimize the chances of having to compete with software makers in each country on Android, which the Silicon Valley giant gives away to device makers. So Android One phones will run on the base version of the mobile operating system without modifications. The phone manufacturer and the customer’s mobile carrier will be able to set devices to automatically download preferred apps, such as those popular locally, through Google’s Play Store, and to keep the system constantly updated.
China is a model for what can go wrong when Google doesn’t exert some control over what companies can do with Android. Google doesn’t offer an app store in China because it avoids doing business in the communist country. So many competitors have stepped up to fill in the holes. Samsung Electronics, Xiaomi and other phone makers have their own app stores in China and often modify the versions of Android on their devices to promote their offerings. Chinese Android users make a habit of installing various app markets to access games and other software that are exclusive to each one, said Jenny Lee, a managing partner at venture firm GGV Capital in Shanghai.
Software downloads comprise a big business that Google has ceded in China, the world’s largest mobile market. Chinese search giant Baidu bought 91 Wireless the country’s most popular third-party store, for $1.9 billion last year. Alibaba Group said this month that it will acquire the shares it doesn’t already own in UCWeb, which also operates an app store, and — in a nice bit of one-upmanship — that the valuation is bigger than 91 Wireless. Sky-Mobi, a publicly traded app store operator in China, gets promotional help from the the largest mobile carriers, and that has helped Michael Song, its chief executive officer, to become a “local king,” he said in a recent interview.
Google’s hold over the Android software market in India may be slipping, too. The Google Play Store faces challenges from 1Mobile Market and others that cozy up to local developers. Microsoft’s Nokia X smartphone, which runs a modified version of Android without Google’s apps, frequently appears on top-seller lists at Flipkart and Snapdeal, India’s largest online retailers.
“Android One is ostensibly about expanding access to smartphones, but is really about increased Google control,” tweeted Jan Dawson, an analyst at Jackdaw Research.
India is a logical place to start the Android One project. True, Pichai probably has a soft spot for the country, having grown up in the southern coastal city of Chennai. (He’s the subject of Bloomberg Businessweek’s cover story.) But more important, it’s one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world. Smartphone penetration is at just 10% there, and shipments were up 186% in the first quarter compared with the same period last year, according to research firm IDC. Meanwhile, China’s growth was 31% as the country begins to approach saturation.
“We can bring high-quality, affordable smartphones so that we can get the next billion people access to these devices,” Pichai said at the conference yesterday. “We are going to be launching this around the world, but we start this journey in India.”
Don’t expect Android One to come to China anytime soon. There’s only room for one king.
Last week’s announcement that SAP executive Vishal Sikka would be taking the top spot at Infosys may be an indication that the Indian outsourcing provider is capable of making fundamental changes in an attempt to regain its prominence in the offshore IT services industry. After all, Sikka will be the first non-founding CEO in the company’s history.
“Something needed to change — and fast,” says Phil Fersht, CEO of outsourcing analyst firm HfS Research. “He is new blood. He has youth on his side. He gives them the immediate facelift they were craving.” (Disclosure: SAP is a client of Stephanie Overby.)
In recent days, the Bangalore-based company also announced a dozen new executive appointments.
But it will take more than a few new faces to transform Infosys. While these executive appointments are important, says Thomas Reuner, principal analyst within Ovum’s IT services practice, what’s required is a complex orchestration of changes in a very competitive environment.
Founded in 1981, Infosys became the face of India’s booming post-Y2K IT outsourcing industry. New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman credited Infosys co-founder and former CEO Nandan Nilekani with inspiring his 2005 business best seller, The World is Flat.
But in recent years, Infosys has struggled to keep pace with its Indian and western rivals. “Despite a pretty decent financial performance in the market over the last 18 months — though lagging its major Indian counterparts — it was still abundantly clear that Infosys was struggling to break from its legacy past and make the changes necessary to rebuild company morale, reinforce strategic direction, and reinvigorate the whole company culture,” says Phil Fersht, CEO of outsourcing analyst firm HfS Research.
“The firm was getting squeezed and executives continued to leave the firm at a frequent clip — some voluntarily, but most forced out,” Fersht says. Infosys had come to be considered an old school offshore outsourcing provider by some.
Sikka is well-connected and well-liked by CIOs, say observers. But he will have his work cut out for him, most immediately in improving the deal pipeline at Infosys. “His first task is to fix the sales engine,” says Reuner.
Infosys has been overly dependent on smaller projects rather than large outsourcing relationships. “If you depend on discretionary spending, you’re in trouble when you encounter economic headwinds,” Reuner says. “They need a healthy percentage of their income to be predictable. We haven’t seen them win many large deals of late.”
Infosys also needs to further strengthen its platforms strategy, according to observers. “You only need to look at the acquisitions made by the likes of Accenture and IBM over the last couple of years to realize that cloud-based platforms that underpin analytical, consultative value-add services are the long-term future of services.” Infosys’ recent investment in its end-to-end Edge platforms were a step in the right direction. But “they’ve been struggling to execute on that,” says Reuner. Sikka’s technology product background could help.
Software executives, however, can struggle to make the transition to services. Consider Leo Apotheker’s short stint at hardware and services firm HP. “While we laud the bold approach Infosys is making by putting a technology products innovator at the helm, the firm is still primarily a services business with a services culture,” says Fersht.
“However which way we look at this, services is about people first. The CEO needs to understand what make millennials tick, how to develop training programs, how to keep wages low and morale high, how to develop succession plans and ‘up and out’ models that work, how to inject analytical and creative thinking into its staff.” Sikka must make the company’s front-line employees happier and stabilize the organization, agrees Reuner.
At the same time, Infosys needs to embrace increased automation. “This is more of a threat to current IT services and BPO delivery models, where advances in robotic automation software are enabling clients to reduce their already offshored services by a further 20 to 30 percent by replicating manually operated processes in robotic software solutions,” says Fersht.
“As robotics become more mainstream, because of client requirements, those providers with strong ability to replace labor with robotic process automation are going to be at an advantage.” Last year, Infosys struck a revenue-sharing partnership with robotic automation provider IPSoft, an indication that it recognizes that need to accelerate its automation option, says Reuner.
Sikka doesn’t take over until August. So it’s too soon to say whether the new CEO will be capable of making such transformational change. “Stabilizing the company is one thing,” says Reuner. “Catching up with peers who put in stellar results quarter after quarter is another. Even if you fix the internal problems, you still have the competitive pressure.”
While co-founder N R Narayana Murthy has officially stepped down, he could remain involved in decisions behind the scenes, which could thwart turnaround efforts, adds Renuer. “I don’t see him just playing golf.”
“Sikka needs to balance the realities of the present world with the one we’re moving into. Infosys isn’t IBM; isn’t at the sheer size and scale that it can throw all its eggs into the cloud basket and take its eye off the ball with its existing business. Infosys needs to keep one foot firmly planted in the reality of today’s business, while also developing for the future,” says Fersht.
“Vishal needs to take a pragmatic view of the pace at which Infosys can really change and evolve,” says Fersht. “Coming up with the big vision is one thing. Executing on it is another.”