Facebook CEO Says Group Will Not Become a Media Company

Facebook CEO Says Group Will Not Become a Media Company

Facebook CEO Says Group Will Not Become a Media Company
Facebook will not become a media company, its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Monday, telling students the firm would remain a technology platform.

An increasing number of users are turning to social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, to find their news, but Zuckerberg said his firm had no ambitions to become a content provider.

“No, we are a tech company, not a media company,” said Zuckerberg, after a young Italian asked him whether Facebook intended to become a news editor.

While acknowledging the role Facebook has in supplying users with news through their connections and stressing the advantages of obtaining information from different parts of the world, Zuckerberg said Facebook was “a technology company, we build the tools, we do not produce any content”.

“The world needs news companies, but also technology platforms, like what we do, and we take our role in this very seriously,” he said, speaking from Rome’s Luiss university.

Earlier on Monday, Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan had a private audience with Pope Francis. It was the latest in a string of meetings the pontiff has held with Silicon Valley leaders, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet’s boss Eric Schmidt.
Zuckerberg said he gave the Argentine pontiff a model of Aquila, Facebook’s lightweight solar-powered drone aimed at beaming lasers to extend internet access to places that have yet to be connected.

“We … discussed the importance of connecting people, especially in parts of the world without internet access,” Zuckerberg posted on his personal Facebook profile after the meeting.

Zuckerberg also on Monday met Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who is pushing to upgrade Italy’s limited internet infrastructure.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Tags: Facebook, Social, trending, Mark Zuckerberg, Apps, News


India poised to become technology leader, say industry experts

R.S. Sharma, chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, at the EmTech India event on Friday. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

R.S. Sharma, chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, at the EmTech India event on Friday. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

New Delhi: India has all the ingredients to become a global technology leader, according to technology industry veterans.

At the EmTech India event organized by MIT Technology Review and Mint, the buzz was all about India’s potential in digitalization on the back of massive mobile penetration, ongoing programmes to improve broadband connectivity and Aadhaar. Industry leaders remained bullish about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship programmes—Digital India, Start-up India and Make in India.

India is moving towards its goal of becoming a digitally connected country, said R.S. Sharma, chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

“It is evident from the fact that the country now has more than a billion mobiles and data (consumption) is growing at 65% annually. This shows there is a massive interest in accessing services such as e-commerce and e-learning,” he said.

The government’s ongoing initiative Bharat Net’s aim is to connect India’s 250,000 panchayats at an estimated cost of $18 billion. Meanwhile, the government is looking at alternative approaches to connect India, including cable TV pipes and White Spaces (refers to the unused TV channels between the active ones). Another powerful soft digital infrastructure is Aadhaar, Sharma said, adding the government has started creating products based on Aadhaar like e-sign, which lets users digitally sign documents and digital lockers, which lets users store and save documents on cloud.

“With RBI issuing licences for payments banks, people can go to neighbourhood stores to take out money,” said Sharma, adding mobile payment is gaining traction in India rapidly.

“India has all the basic building blocks of Digital India ready,” he said. “What is required, however, is for all the ecosystem partners to work together to ensure this vision is realized. All the technology pieces which are available, there is innovation waiting to happen on the top of this stack.”

“Somehow, we have a mindset that we always have to follow the West. We should rely on technology we have built on. While we did not have a head-start, we do have an advantage going forward and, thus, we can leapfrog. For instance, we have gone from no connectivity to full connectivity. We had around 2 crore wireline connections in the past and now we have 100 crore mobile phones; so, it is possible to leapfrog and we must leapfrog.”

The government launched Digital India after coming to power in 2014 to ensure government services are made available to citizens electronically by improving online infrastructure and by increasing Internet connectivity. The initiative includes plans to connect rural India with high-speed Internet networks.

The Startup India campaign was launched in August to promote bank financing and create a favourable business environment for start-up ventures. Make in India is the flagship programme of the Modi government. It was launched on 25 September 2014. It aims to encourage Indian and multinational companies to manufacture their products in India.

“If you want to do a start-up, this is the right time; the infection point has a just happened,” said John Chambers, executive chairman of Cisco Systems Inc. Even as India still has a long way to go when compared with the US in the 1990s, Chambers said India is going to see a generation of start-ups coming up who will set examples for the world.

Kumud M. Srinivasan, president of Intel India, echoed the sentiments. India’s dream of becoming a start-up nation is facing challenges such as illiteracy, malnutrition, poor infrastructure and low-yielding crops, he said. “Our government is trying to get over this through efforts like Digital India, Start Up India and Make in India. In Make in India, we talk about competing with China with low-value, high-volume manufacturing. But we have to look at high-value manufacturing to improve the situation. Once we get there, the rest of the development will follow,” she added.

According to Kunal Shah, founder and CEO of Freecharge, the biggest challenge for start-ups is investment support. “I don’t know whether the government should be participating in it. But that is the need of the hour,” he added.

Responding to this, Raghav Narsalay, managing director, Accenture Institute for High Performance, said, “In initial stages, incentives do make a difference. But it is only for a certain point of time. Finally, it is the entrepreneurial zeal that matters.”


Addressing local needs helps Viper become one of Pakistan’s top computer brands

Viper 3

Viper plans further expansion, seeks government support

At a time when personal computers, commonly referred to as PCs, face existential threat because of the ever growing demand for smartphones, Viper Technology – one of Pakistan’s oldest computer brands – is eying nation-wide expansion, especially by increasing its footprint in the education sector.

Viper is the only Pakistani brand dealing in desktop computers, laptops, and tablets that has survived the beating from ‘higher taxes’ and influx of used computers that flooded the country over the past decade, Viper Chief Executive Officer Khushnood Aftab toldPakistan Today in a recent interview at his Karachi office.

Fast forward to 2016, the company has become one of the top selling PC brands in the country – courtesy its business strategy: identifying local needs and customising its products to meet those needs.

Now a established name, Viper has been expanding its footprint, especially in business-to-business (B2B) segment with its clientele comprising leading textile firms, leather goods manufacturers, banks, telecommunication companies, media organisations, education sector and government departments.

Worldwide PC shipments totaled 71.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to International Data Corporation, a global research, analysis and advisory firm specialising in information communications technology. This translates a year-on-year decline of 10.6 per cent compared to the same quarter of 2014.

While PC sales have slowed down globally, Viper is eying expansion particularly by tapping into the education sector.

The company has started penetrating in to the education sector through private schools, Aftab said adding two renowned schools in Karachi were using their products, which meet world-class standards. “Viper is in negotiations with other government universities and colleges too,” he said.

Explaining, the CEO said Viper trained their teachers who now feel comfortable using latest computer systems for teaching, and reject obsolete systems like teaching through blackboard – a big help in driving growth of PC business.

The company started assembling desktop computers in 1996 at MA Jinnah Road, Karachi. Back then, there were many Pakistani companies which assembled PCs locally including Inbox, Optimum Technology and others. However, most of these businesses did not survive. Viper, on the other hand, expanded its business and now has three sales offices in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad and support offices across the country.

The company imports computer parts and accessories from Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and other countries and assembles different high-quality products in Pakistan. These include PCs (desktop computers), heavy-duty computer servers, laptops, computer notebooks, and two-in-one computers which can be converted to tablets. It has also introduced touch screen computers in the country with internal built-in battery that has a backup, which lasts for four hours.

Viper was one of the first channel partners of Santa Clara, California-based chip-making giant Intel, which provides it with processors and other accessories to assemble PCs locally. They are the largest buyer of Intel chips and processors in Pakistan.

“We have been providing services to a number of national and multinational companies in Pakistan for the last 15 years,” Aftab said adding these companies remain satisfied with Viper’s services. “We make sure we assemble our PCs as per local needs.”

While the company’s journey has been exciting, it did not come without challenges. As it plans to expand its operations, the company seeks support from the government.

“The federal and provincial governments should at least support local brands in government offices, education centers and other places,” Aftab said referring to purchase of PCs by the government.

The CEO also complained the government was not giving them anything against taxes they pay.

The federal government imposed different kinds of taxes and duties – ranging from 33 to 40 per cent – on imports of accessories, Aftab said. This is in addition to income tax, but “we get nothing against those taxes”.

Pakistan is a huge market for PCs but local brands have not been able to tap even 1% of it, Aftab said. If the government can provide a level playing field, local brands will have a fair chance to compete against international brands, he said.