By Reuters | Updated: 28 October 2022
Amazon, Microsoft, and Intel said this week that customers were taking an axe to cloud and datacentre spending, in a further sign that large companies may be girding against an imminent recession. Cloud services for years has been one of the largest and most dependable sources of growth for some of the biggest tech companies, including during the pandemic as people worked and studied from home. Now investors are looking to see whether there is a glut in capacity that will lead to investment cuts as companies deal with rising costs amid soaring inflation, while interest rate increases have squeezed consumer demand. The strong dollar has been a particular headwind.
Growth in Amazon Web Services (AWS), the firm’s lucrative cloud unit serving enterprises, has ticked down consistently in the past four quarters, adjusted for changes in forex.
Net sales in the business grew 28 percent in the July-September period versus 39 percent a year earlier, the slowest since the fourth quarter of 2020. They fell short of a 31 percent average analysts’ forecast.
Amazon shares slumped 12 percent after the bell on Thursday after it forecast a slowdown in sales growth for the holiday season, erasing some $140 billion (roughly Rs. 11,54,000 crore) from its market value and capping a week of dismal earnings from global tech firms.
“The AWS slowdown is a clear sign that businesses are beginning to trim costs, so this will likely put more of a squeeze on Amazon’s bottom line in the coming quarters,” said Andrew Lipsman, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence.
Microsoft’s cloud business Azure, which had supercharged revenue growth at the software giant for years, dropped to 35 percent growth in the July-September quarter from 50 percent a year earlier, missing estimates of a 36.5 percent increase according to Visible Alpha.
The company projected another drop in the holiday quarter.
Alphabet’s Google Cloud revenue grew 38 percent in the quarter, beating estimates. That was a silver lining in an otherwise gloomy quarter but a far cry from the 45 percent growth the company posted a year earlier.
Europe, China drag
Speaking broadly about cloud deployments from AWS, Microsoft, and Google-parent Alphabet, YipitData research specialist Matt Wegner said: “We really first started to see (a slowdown) in April … and it’s continued. The European region is a source of weakness.”
Eurozone inflation is close to 10 percent and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde on Thursday acknowledged that the risk of an economic contraction is on the rise due to soaring energy prices and higher interest rates.
Intel, which makes chips for data center customers including AWS, said third-quarter revenue from that business slumped 27 percent and profits were nearly wiped out. The business was hurt partly due to soft demand from Chinese enterprise customers, Intel boss Pat Gelsinger said.
The company cut its profit and revenue forecast for the year, reflecting economic uncertainty that Gelsinger said he expected to last into next year and that it was taking time to ramp up sales into datacenters.
Cloud services typically help companies save money so budget cuts in this sector could be especially worrying, indicating that companies think cost is king going into tougher times.
Businesses usually build out more cloud and datacenter capacity than needed and then wait for it to be absorbed, said Dean McCarron, president of Mercury Research, which tracks chipmakers.
“The “build more” happened in 2021 and we’ve been coasting down since then,” said McCarron. He added that he expects Intel’s datacenter weakness to be bottoming soon “though there are larger macroeconomic concerns about how much improvement we might see on the next growth cycle.”
© Thomson Reuters 2022
New Zealand Plans to Introduce Law to Make Google, Facebook Pay Local Outlets for News
By Reuters | Updated: 5 December 2022
The New Zealand government said it will introduce a law that will require big online digital companies such as Alphabet’s Google and Meta to pay New Zealand media companies for the local news content that appears on their feeds.
Minister of Broadcasting Willie Jackson said in a statement on Sunday that the legislation will be modelled on similar laws in Australia and Canada and he hoped it would act as an incentive for the digital platforms to reach deals with local news outlets.
“New Zealand news media, particularly small regional and community newspapers, are struggling to remain financially viable as more advertising moves online,” Jackson said. “It is critical that those benefiting from their news content actually pay for it.”
The new legislation will go to a vote in parliament where the governing Labour Party’s majority is expected to pass it.
Australia introduced a law in 2021 that gave the government power to make internet companies negotiate content supply deals with media outlets. A review released by the Australian government last week found it largely worked.
The law, which took effect in March 2021 after talks with the big tech firms led to a brief shutdown of Facebook news feeds in Australia, may need to be extended to other online platforms, the review said.
Since the News Media Bargaining Code took effect, the tech firms had inked more than 30 deals with media outlets compensating them for the content which generated clicks and advertising dollars, said the Treasury Department report, published last week.
The report mostly recommended that the government consider new methods of assessing the administration and effectiveness of the law, and did not suggest changing the law itself.
“At least some of these agreements have enabled news businesses to, in particular, employ additional journalists and make other valuable investments to assist their operations,” said the report. “While views on the success or otherwise of the Code will invariably differ, we consider it is reasonable to conclude that the Code has been a success to date.”
© Thomson Reuters 2022
Google CEO Sundar Pichai Pays Tribute to Indian Roots on Being Honoured With Padma Bhushan
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 3 December 2022
“India is a part of me and I carry it with me wherever I go,” Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai has said, as he received the prestigious Padma Bhushan award from the Indian envoy to the US.
Indian-American Pichai was awarded the Padma Bhushan for 2022 in the Trade and Industry category. The Madurai-born Pichai was named one of the 17 awardees earlier this year.
He received India’s third-highest civilian award in the presence of his close family members in San Francisco on Friday.
“I am deeply grateful to the Indian government and the people of India for this immense honour. It is incredibly meaningful to be honoured in this way by the country that shaped me,” 50-year-old Pichai said while accepting the award from India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu.
“India is a part of me. I carry it with me wherever I go. (Unlike this beautiful award which I will keep somewhere safe),” he said.
“I was fortunate to grow up in a family that cherished learning and knowledge, with parents who sacrificed a lot to make sure I had opportunities to explore my interests,” Pichai said.
India’s Consul General in San Francisco, T V Nagendra Prasad, was also present during the event.
Sandhu said that Pichai represented the limitless possibilities of technology for transformation.
“He has been making commendable efforts towards making digital tools, and skills accessible to across various segments of the society in different parts of the globe,” he said.
Recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of technology that combines 3Ss – speed, simplicity and service, Sandhu hoped that Google would make full use of the digital revolution happening in India.
Pichai said that it had been amazing to return to India many times over the years to see the rapid pace of technological change.
The innovations created in India are benefitting people around the world – from digital payments to voice technology, he said.
“I look forward to continuing the great partnership between Google and India, as we work together to bring the benefits of technology to more people,” he said.
Businesses are seizing the opportunities for digital transformation, and more people have access to the internet than ever before, including in rural villages, Pichai said.
“Prime Minister Modi’s Digital India vision has certainly been an accelerator for that progress and I’m proud that Google continues to invest in India, partnering with governments, businesses, and communities over two transformative decades,” he said.
“Every new technology that arrived at our doorstep made our lives better. And that experience put me on a path to Google, and the chance to help build technology that improves the lives of people all over the world,” he said.
Pichai said he sees so much opportunity ahead.
On India taking over the G20 presidency, Pichai said: “It’s an amazing opportunity to build consensus on strengthening the global economy by advancing an internet that is open, connected, secure, and works for everyone. That’s a goal we share, and are committed to advancing with you.” India formally assumed the G20 Presidency on Thursday.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to do this work together and bring the benefits of technology to more people,” Pichai said.
Google this year added 24 new languages to its translation service using a new advancement in machine learning. Eight of them are languages native to India.
“It means so much to see how people can access information and knowledge in their preferred language, and see the world open up to them in new ways. That’s why I continue to be so optimistic about technology, and why I believe India can and must continue to lead,” he added.
Amazon’s Media Chief Jeff Blackburn Announces Plans to Retire in 2023
By Agencies | Updated: 3 December 2022
Amazon.com’s top media executive Jeff Blackburn plans to retire at the start of 2023, the e-commerce giant said on Friday.
The company said that the media and entertainment businesses, led by Blackburn since May last year, will be overseen by two current executives, Mike Hopkins and Steve Boom, who will report directly to Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy.
The businesses include Prime Video, Amazon Studios, Music, Audible, Games, and Twitch.
Blackburn, who also served as senior vice president at Amazon, joined Amazon in 1998 and guided the company through its initial public offering prospectus at Deutsche Bank.
He left Amazon briefly in February 2021, before returning again in May 2021.
“I’ve decided to spend 2023 differently, giving more time to family, and feel strongly this is the right decision for me,” said Blackburn.
Over the past year and a half, Blackburn was a key figure behind the success of shows like Rings of Power as well as the acquisition of movie studio MGM this year, said Amazon.
Meanwhile, Amazon witnessed mass layoffs in November this year, which are now claimed to extend into next year, as stated by CEO Andy Jassy. The company has informed workers in its devices and books divisions about layoffs. A few employees were also offered a voluntary buyout offer.
Amazon has already notified that it would lay off about 260 corporate workers at various facilities in the state. For those being laid off, Amazon is offering severance packages. It is one among the many tech companies that are witnessing mass layoffs this year. Meta and Twitter also announced job cuts in November, laying off thousands of employees.
UPI, Digital Transactions: Government Extends Deadline to Implement 30 Percent Cap
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 3 December 2022
The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) on Friday extended the deadline for third party UPI players to meet its 30 percent volume cap in digital payment transactions by two years to end-December 2024.
The decision may provide a relief to third party app providers (TPAP) like Google Pay and Walmart’s PhonePe which have a majority share in UPI-based transactions.
NPCI runs the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) used for real-time payments between peers or at merchants’ end while making purchases.
In November 2020, NPCI had announced to limit a single third party app to handle only 30 percent of overall UPI transaction volumes. The cap was to come in force from January 1, 2021.
However, the TPAPs (live on November 5, 2020) which were exceeding the cap were given a period of two years to comply with the norms in a phased manner.
“Taking into account the present usage and future potential of UPI, and other relevant factors, the timelines for compliance of existing TPAPs who are exceeding the volume cap, is extended by two (2) years i.e. till December 31, 2024, to comply with the volume cap,” NPCI said in a circular.
NPCI further said that in view of significant potential of digital payments and the need for multi-fold penetration from its current state, it is imperative that other existing and new players (banks and non-banks) shall scale-up their consumer outreach for the growth of UPI and achieve overall market equilibrium.
TPAPs typically tie-up with banks at the back-end to add users and process payments for them.
It was reported last month that the NPCI is planning to propose the Reserve Bank to implement the earlier deadline of December 31, 2023, for limiting the volume cap of players to 30 percent. It is to be noted that currently there is no volume cap, leading to Google Pay and PhonePe accounting for around 80 percent of the total market share.
Medibank Data Breach: Hackers Upload More Customer Data, Say ‘Case Closed’ on World Cybersecurity Day
By Reuters | Updated: 1 December 2022
Medibank, Australia’s biggest health insurer, said on Thursday hackers had released more of its stolen medical records, as the media reported that the complete set of data on millions of customers was now public.
The Office of the Australian Information Commission (OAIC), the country’s privacy regulator, has also begun investigating how the company handles personal information, Medibank said in a statement.
The latest release on the dark web follows progressive uploads, including records of customers’ mental health and alcohol use, that began after Medibank said on November 7 it would not pay a ransom.
“The raw data we have analysed today so far is incomplete and hard to understand,” chief executive David Koczkar said. “While there are media reports of this being a signal of ‘case closed’, our work is not over.”
On Thursday, the media reported that a blog, believed by cyber experts to be used by the hackers, carried a new post: “Happy Cyber Security Day!!! Added folder full. Case closed.” It also included a file that had several compressed files amounting to more than 5 gigabytes.
Reuters has not verified the contents of the latest files uploaded on the dark web, part of the World Wide Web that is accessible only with special software.
Medibank did not immediately respond to a Reuters question about whether it believed all stolen data had now been released.
Australian Federal Police last month said Russia-based hackers were behind the Medibank cyberattack, which compromised the details of almost 10 million current and former customers. Medicare revealed the breach on October 13.
In an update on Thursday morning, Medibank said there were currently no signs that banking data had been stolen. Personal details accessed by hackers were not enough to enable financial fraud, it added.
Six zipped files placed in a folder called “full” and containing raw data believed to have been stolen had been uploaded, Medibank said in a statement.
Australia has been grappling with a recent rise in cyber attacks. At least eight companies, including telecoms company Optus, owned by Singapore Telecommunications, have reported breaches since September.
The OAIC, which is also investigating Optus over the breach, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the Medibank investigation.
Technology experts have said Australia has become a target for hackers just as a skills shortage leaves an understaffed, overworked cybersecurity workforce ill-equipped to stop attacks.
© Thomson Reuters 2022
YouTube Removes More Than 17 Lakh Videos in India in Q3 2022 for Violating Community Guidelines
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 30 November 2022
YouTube has removed over 17 lakh videos uploaded from India during the July-September quarter for violating the company’s community guidelines, the Google-owned firm said on Tuesday. “Between July and September 2022, in India over 1.7 million videos were removed for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines,” YouTube said in the Community Guidelines Enforcement report for the third quarter of 2022.
Globally, YouTube removed over 56 lakh videos for violating community guidelines.
“Of the videos detected by machines, 36 percent were removed before they received a single view, and 31 percent received between 1 and 10 views before removal,” the report said.
The video hosting platform removed over 73.7 crore comments from the platform for violation of the guidelines, the report said.
YouTube data shows 99 percent of the comments were removed after they were flagged by its automated system and only 1 percent were removed after they were flagged by its users.
The Alphabet-owned company recently said that it is bringing shopping features to its Shorts video service, as it looks to fortify its revenue against a drop in spending by recession-wary advertisers. The feature, being tested with eligible creators in the US, will allow them to tag products from their own stores. “Viewers in the US, India, Brazil, Canada, and Australia can see the tags and interact with them and we’ll continue to bring tagging to more creators and geographies,” a Google spokesperson said.
Sony Ready to Make Humanoid Robots Quickly Once Usage Becomes Clear, CTO Hiroaki Kitano Says
Goldman Sachs Looking at Buying, Investing in Bargain Crypto Firms Impacted by FTX Collapse
US FTC Investigating Several Crypto Firms Over ‘Possible Misconduct’ Concerning Digital Assets
India Is Planning to Roll Out 6G Telecom Network by Decade End, 5G to Launch in Few Months: Prime Minister Modi
Hyundai Partners With Tata Power to Set Up Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure
India’s 5G Testbed Successfully Tested in IIT Madras, Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw Made First 5G Call
Science2 weeks ago
ISRO’s RH200 Sounding Rocket Registers 200th Consecutive Successful Launch
Mobiles3 weeks ago
Mobile Industry Agrees for Phased Rollout of Uniform Device Chargers in India
Science3 weeks ago
SpaceX Employees Fired for Criticising Elon Musk Accuse Firm of Violating US Labour Law
Computers3 weeks ago
Nvidia Working With Microsoft to Build ‘Massive’ Cloud AI Computer Using Several Thousand GPUs
Computers3 weeks ago
US Senators Lobbying for Ban on Government Deals With Chinese Chipmakers: Report
Apps3 weeks ago
WhatsApp Business Chat to Drive Sales Sooner Than the Metaverse, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg Says
Games3 weeks ago
Activision Blizzard to Suspend China Game Services After NetEase Licenses End in January
Mobiles1 week ago
Huawei, ZTE Sale, Import Banned in US After Being Listed as Threats by FCC