Internet

JioSaavn becomes India’s answer to Spotify and Apple Music

Posted by | alibaba, Amazon, Android, apple music, Asia, China, computing, Dhingana, digital audio, digital media, executive, funding, Fundings & Exits, india, Internet, JioSaavn, Media, New York, Pandora, pandora radio, rdio, reliance jio, saavn, Software, Spotify, Tencent, tencent music, tiger global, Times Internet, Walmart | No Comments

India finally has its answer to Spotify after Reliance Jio merged its music service with Saavn, the startup it acquired earlier this year.

The deal itself isn’t new — it was announced back in March — but it has reached its logical conclusion after two apps were merged to create a single entity, JioSaavn, which is valued at $1 billion. For the first time, India has a credible rival to global names like Spotify and Apple Music through the combination of a venture capital-funded business, Saavn, and good old-fashioned telecom, JioMusic from Reliance’s disruptive Jio operator brand.

This merger deal comes days after reports suggested that Spotify is preparing to (finally) enter the Indian market, a move that has been in the planning for more than a year as we have reported.

That would set up an interesting battle between global names Spotify and Apple and local players JioSaavn and Gaana, a project from media firm Times Internet, which is also backed by China’s Tencent.

It isn’t uncommon to see international firms compete in Asia — Walmart and Amazon are the two major e-commerce players, while Chinese firms Alibaba and Tencent have busily snapped up stakes in promising internet companies for the past couple of years — but that competition has finally come to the streaming space.

There have certainly been misses over the years.

Early India-based pioneer Dhingana was scooped by Rdio back in 2014, having initial shut down its service due to financial issues. Ultimately, though, Rdio itself went bankrupt and was sold to Pandora, leaving both Rdio and Dhingana in the startup graveyard.

Saavn, the early competitor to Dhingana, seemed destined to a similar fate, at least from the outside. But it hit the big time in 2015 when it raised $100 million from Tiger Global, the New York hedge fund that made ambitious bets on a number of India’s most promising internet firms. That gave it the fuel to reach this merger deal with JioMusic.

Unlike Dhingana’s fire sale, Saavn’s executive team continues on under the JioSaavn banner.

The coming-together is certainly a far more solid outcome than the Rdio deal. JioSaavn has some 45 million songs — including a slate of originals started by Saavn — and access to the Jio network, which claims more than 250 million subscribers.

JioSaavn is available across iOS, Android, web and Reliance Jio’s own app store

The JioMusic service will be freemium, but Jio subscribers will get a 90-day trial of the ad-free “Pro” service. The company maintains five offices — including outposts in Mountain View and New York — with more than 200 employees, while Reliance has committed to pumping $100 million into the business for “growth and expansion of the platform.”

While it is linked to Reliance and Jio, JioMusic is a private business that counts Reliance as a stakeholder. You’d imagine that remaining private is a major carrot that has kept Saavn founders — Rishi Malhotra, Paramdeep Singh and Vinodh Bhat — part of the business post-merger.

The window certainly seems open for streaming IPOs — Spotify went public this past April through an unconventional listing that valued its business around $30 billion, while China’s Tencent Music is in the process of a listing that could raise $1.2 billion and value it around that $30 billion mark, too. JioSaavn might be the next streamer to test the public markets.

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WhatsApp limits message forwarding in bid to reduce spam and misinformation

Posted by | Apps, Asia, computing, cyberspace, Facebook, General Election, india, Instant Messaging, Internet, internet culture, Mexico, Mobile, social media, WhatsApp, world wide web | No Comments

In a bid to cut down on the spread of false information and spam, WhatsApp recently added labels that indicate when a message has been forwarded. Now the company is sharpening that strategy by imposing limits on how many groups a message can be sent on to.

Originally, users could forward messages on to multiple groups, but a new trial will see that forwarding limited to 20 groups worldwide. In India, however, which is WhatsApp’s largest market with 200 million users, the limit will be just five. In addition, a ‘quick forward’ option that allowed users to pass on images and videos to others rapidly is being removed from India.

“We believe that these changes — which we’ll continue to evaluate — will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app,” the company said in a blog post.

The changes are designed to help reduce the amount of information that goes viral on the service, although clearly this isn’t a move that will end the problem altogether.

The change is in direct response to a series of incidents in India. The BBC recently wrote about an incident which saw one man dead and two others severely beaten after rumors of their efforts to abduct children from a village spread on WhatsApp. Reportedly 17 other people have been killed in the past year under similar circumstances, with police saying false rumors had spread via WhatsApp.

In response, WhatsApp — which is of course owned by Facebook has bought full-page newspaper ads to warn about false information on its service.

Beyond concern about firing up vigilantes, the saga may also spill into India’s upcoming national general election next year. Times Internet today reports that Facebook and WhatsApp plan to introduce a fake news verification system that it used recently in Mexico to help combat spam messages and the spreading of incorrect news and information. The paper said that the companies have already held talks with India’s Election Commission.

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Neos launches IoT-powered home insurance UK-wide

Posted by | Apps, artificial intelligence, economy, entrepreneurship, Europe, Finance, Gadgets, insurance, Internet, money, Neos, Private Equity, Startup company, Startups, TC, United Kingdom | No Comments

 What do you get if you combine the Internet of Things with the business of home insurance? U.K. startup Neos is hoping the answer is damage and/or theft prevention rather than just after-the-unfortunate-fact payouts. Read More

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Verizon buys Skyward, a drone operations company

Posted by | broadband, Gadgets, Internet, Skyward, Verizon, video on demand | No Comments

Treasury Wine Estates' staff operating drones at a vineyard. Forget about Yahoo for a minute. Verizon just announced it has acquired Skyward, a drone operations and management company based out of Portland, Oregon for an undisclosed amount. Verizon says Skyward will help developers and businesses better create and manage drones that also happen to utilize Verizon’s mobile network services and infrastructure.
Skyward had raised $8.15M since its… Read More

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Heavy Internet use leads to school burnout in teens

Posted by | Addiction, Column, Gadgets, human resource management, Internet, Mobile, stress, TC, Workplace | No Comments

Teens As if you didn’t need more proof that your darn kids need to get off the computer and into the back yard, researchers at the University of Helsinki and Department of Psychology have found that excessive Internet use — essentially bordering on addiction — leads to school burnout in teens. There isn’t much detail on the definition of excessive use (you’ll know it… Read More

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Google Fiber’s latest innovation is a landline

Posted by | Gadgets, Google, google fiber, Internet, isp, Landlines, Mobile, TC | No Comments

fiber Google Fiber may be the holy grail of Internet service for many, but many people still rely on landlines for everyday communication purposes or emergency use. In order to allow its subscribers to sever connections with the old local ISPs and telecoms completely, Google will soon offer home phone service for Fiber subscribers. Read More

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Samsung Launches Web Browser For Gear VR

Posted by | Apps, Browser, Entertainment, Gadgets, gear vr, Internet, Media, Mobile, Samsung, Virtual reality, VR, Wearables, web browser | No Comments

G-VR3_Main You’re strapped into a virtual reality delight and you want to Google something. What do you do? Now you can use a web browser built and optimized specifically for the Samsung Gear VR.
The company announced the web browser today, and it’s called simply “Samsung Internet for Gear VR.” Read More

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Data, The Speed Of Light And You

Posted by | Column, Gadgets, google fiber, Internet, Mobile, speed of light, TC | No Comments

speed-of-light We — humanity, that is — created 4.4 zettabytes of data last year. This is expected to rise to 44 zettabytes by 2020. And no, I didn’t make up the word “zettabytes.” For scale, it is estimated that 42 zettabytes could store all human speech ever spoken. One zettabyte is around 250 billion DVDs — almost enough fit the whole Friends series. Read More

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