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Screenshots of WhatsApp’s First Peer-to-Peer Payments System Surface Online

Over a year ago now, we reported on claims that popular mobile chat platform WhatsApp was looking at introducing a peer-to-peer payments system, beginning with a rollout for users in India. Today, the first iPhone screenshots of such a system appeared online via social media, revealing a list of Indian banks that will apparently support the service at launch.

The images indicate that the WhatsApp payment method will utilize the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), an instant real-time payment system developed by National Payments Corporation of India that facilitates inter-bank transactions.

UPI is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India and works by instantly transferring funds between two bank accounts on a mobile platform. The same system is also used by Swedish-based phone number lookup service Trucaller, which introduced user-to-user payments in India via a tie-in with ICICI Bank last April.

WhatsApp's UPI setup process appears to involve just a couple of steps, after which users can presumably instantly transfer cash to other WhatsApp users' bank accounts. The payment system could be ready for launch in India in the first quarter of 2018, although WhatsApp's plans for a similar payments system for users in other countries remain unclear.

Facebook has had a payments system in its Messenger app for some time in the U.S., but WhatsApp remains far more popular in India and is heavily used there as an e-commerce portal, despite not yet offering any features that specifically support the practice.

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Apple’s iPhone, iPad And Mac Products Are Growing Fast In India

Apple’s Q1 in 2018 seemed to have scored fairly well with financial sales in India,  with the iPhone being the biggest market drive, the Mac and iPad had steady record pace as well.

Luca Maestri, Apple’s chief financial officer believes India is one of the prominent markets for Mac devices, the company sold 5.1 million Macs in the December quarter alone. Reports state that these products sales are growing at a faster pace than the global average since the company expanded its distribution sales in India.

The iPhone is of course the main product that consumers in India gravitate toward the most in Apple products. The iPhone has brought the company to 77.3 million unit in sales, despite this number, it is lower than Apple’s Q1 2017 unit sales of 78.3 million.

With the iPhone, iPad, and Mac sales increasing,  Apple has hired senior executives to lead policy and HR in India, it seems the Mac sales have increased by 2% globally between October through December of 2017, with strong revenue earning centering from counties in Latin America, India, Turkey, and Central and Eastern Europe.

According to Maestri, the iPad has surpassed marginal sales and has sold 13.2 million units of iPads with average sales per week increasing by 8% since last year’s December quarter. iPad and Mac products have grown at a record pace, in fact, in Latin America, the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, and India has shown the strongest in sales by proving double-digit in market numbers.

Source: Gadgetsnow, Economictimes

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India Announces Latest Tax Increase on Imported Smartphones, Including iPhone

India is preparing to raise its customs duty on imported mobile phones -- including Apple's iPhone models besides the iPhone SE -- from a previous standard of 15 percent to 20 percent (via Bloomberg). The latest tax hike for imported iPhones comes under two months after the last one, which saw the taxes on imported mobile phones increase from 10 percent to 15 percent.

Like the previous increase, the new raise on taxes for imported smartphones is a move by the Indian government to promote India's domestic manufacturing and get more companies to build products within the country. While Apple has set up an iPhone SE assembly in India, and is looking into doing the same for the iPhone 6s, this further increase is yet another setback for Apple's expansion in India.

India is raising custom duties on imported mobile phones to 20 percent from 15 percent, a bid to promote domestic manufacturing that may hurt Apple Inc.’s ability to compete in the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market.

The iPhone maker has been seeking to expand its presence in India and has negotiated with the government for lower tariffs on certain components. But the latest duties -- part of a budget unveiled Thursday -- show the country moving in the opposite direction.
The raise is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's long-running Make in India program, aimed at getting foreign companies to build more manufacturing and assembly operations in India. At the time of the 15 percent tax on imported smartphones, the price of iPhone models rose by about 3.5 percent across the board (excluding the Bangalore-built iPhone SE). The most expensive model, a 256GB iPhone X, cost 105,720 rupees ($1,646), up from 102,000 rupees ($1,593).

As most of Apple's hardware becomes more expensive in India, users of the company's software in the country spoke about the poor performance of services like Apple Maps and Siri. One user in Bangalore, Mihir Sharma, told CNBC that "Apple Maps is a joke in India," and many users reported that Siri "often struggles" to make sense and correctly respond to Indian accents. Analyst Faisal Kawoosa said, "There is no denial that the Apple ecosystem isn't aligned much to the usage and value of Indian users," and until Apple can expand its footprint in India most customers believe it will stay that way.

Tag: India

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Apple Supplier Wistron to Explore iPhone 6s Assembly in India Following Plant Expansion

Apple's main iPhone manufacturer in India is closing in on a land deal in the tech hub of Bengaluru that will see the firm invest around $157 million to assemble iPhone SE and potentially iPhone 6s models on the site, according to Reuters.

Unnamed Indian government officials on Wednesday reportedly confirmed the Taiwanese contractor's intentions, which could result in its iPhone SE assembly unit taking over about 100 acres in and around the capital of the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

Wistron executives reportedly toured the area in November and met with the industries minister of Karnataka earlier this month, and a deal on the land lease could be struck in a few weeks, according to one of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not authorized to publicly comment on the plans.

Another source who spoke to Reuters said Apple will likely begin assembling iPhone 6s models in India soon, using Wistron's expanding manufacturing capacity in the country, as it looks to cut costs and diversify its production base beyond greater China. Launched over two years ago, the iPhone 6s is still popular in emerging markets because of its affordability relative to Apple's iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and iPhone X.

Apple sees opportunities to save on import taxes, price phones cheaper and potentially widen its customer base in India if it assembles phones locally. However last month India raised import taxes on electronic goods, which caused Apple to raise the price of most iPhone models there except for iPhone SE.

Apple has sought tax breaks and incentives from the Indian government for months as it looks to expand operations in the country, but despite some positive comments from state officials, no exceptions have yet been made for Apple.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE
Tags: India, Wistron

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Indian iPhone Users Discuss Apple’s Poor Services Performance: ‘Apple Maps is a Joke’

Apple's ongoing struggles in India have been highlighted this week in a report by CNBC, which interviewed locals to ask about their experiences with the cost of Apple devices and the company's services. Indian users were favorable of Apple Music over rival services -- thanks to an improved catalog and affordable subscription price -- but Apple Maps and Siri received much lower marks.

Echoing some complaints about the two services heard in other countries, including from United States users, Indian customers said that Apple Maps has sparse data for a number of cities and towns, misses landmarks, and lacks basic turn-by-turn directions. One user in Bangalore, Mihir Sharma, summed it up by stating, "Apple Maps is a joke in India."

Other mapping complaints in India included the lack of similar navigation features within CarPlay. CNBC's report on the topic comes nearly two years after Apple announced the opening of a new Hyderabad-based development center focused on improving Apple Maps in India.

Otherwise, many of the issues users had with Apple in the country focused on Siri, which is said to not understand "many words of Indian origination" and "often struggles" to make sense and correctly respond to Indian accents. Apple added Hindi dictation in iOS 11 last fall, including support for 11 local languages, but those locals asked said it still "isn't good enough." Rival AI assistants from Google and Amazon are both reported as performing better in India.

The poor performance of Apple's services in India carries into the low sale volumes of its hardware, and analyst Faisal Kawoosa explained that the "Apple ecosystem isn't aligned much to the usage and value of Indian users." Data gathered by research firm Counterpoint said that Apple represented a total of 2.5 percent of India's smartphone market as of the quarter that ended in December 2017.
"There is no denial that Apple ecosystem isn't aligned much to the usage and value of Indian users. So, the services offered don't have flavors that would entice the Indian users," Faisal Kawoosa, an analyst with research firm CMR India said. "At the same time, the typical segment buying Apple products isn't that typical Indian user. But, no brand can afford to underserve a segment — big or small," he added.
In addition to the issues with Apple services, iPhones are more expensive in India due to the country's charge on imported electronics, further lowering sales volume in the country. Apple has begun to manufacture the iPhone SE locally in India to sell it cheaper, as well as allow retailers to reduce the price of older iPhones, but all other models remain expensive. The cheapest iPhone 8 costs Rs 66,120 ($1,040) and the cheapest iPhone X costs Rs 92,430 ($1,450).

Even as Apple attempted to gain market share with older and cheaper iPhone models, the company increased the prices of most of its newer iPhones sold in India following the Indian government's decision to raise taxes on imported smartphones. In the wake of this, Apple appointed Michel Coulomb as lead of sales operations in India, with the aim to help Apple in its attempts to gain a bigger share of the country's smartphone market and boost local manufacturing.

During Apple's Q4 2017 earnings call, CEO Tim Cook likened the company's current struggle in India to "the many years" it put into fostering growth in China. Cook said it'll take time to see India meet up with China in this regard, and will come with building stores, building the developer ecosystem, and more. He finished by stating, "I feel like we're making good progress there and are gaining understanding of the market. But we still have a long way to go, which I sort of see as an opportunity, instead of a problem."

Tag: India

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