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Apple buys Intel’s smartphone modem business for $1 billion

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Apple Inc took a major step toward supplying its own smartphone chips by purchasing the majority of Intel Corp’s modem business in a deal valued at $1 billion, the companies said on Thursday.

Under the deal, about 2,200 Intel employees will join Apple, along with intellectual property, equipment and leases. Combined with its existing portfolio, Apple will have 17,000 wireless technology patents, ranging from cellular communication standards to modems, making it a more powerful player in global licensing talks that will likely take place between major 5G patent holders such as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL].

Intel shares rose 5.7% to $55.05 after the news and the company’s report that its earnings beat analysts’ expectations. Apple shares edged up 0.1% to $207.29.

After the deal, Intel will retain the right to develop modems for non-smartphone applications, such as PCs, industrial equipment and self-driving cars.

Modem chips connect devices like the iPhone to wireless data networks, but Apple has always relied on outside suppliers for the part. Intel positioned itself as the sole source of iPhone modem chips over the past year after Apple got into a prolonged legal fight with previous supplier Qualcomm Inc over patent licensing practices.

Cupertino, California-based Apple reached a surprise settlement in April that called for the iPhone to once again use Qualcomm modem chips. Within hours, Intel said it would quit the smartphone modem business.

Apple’s acquisitions have mostly been much smaller companies, making the Intel deal its second-largest ever after its $3.2 billion purchase of Beats Electronics in 2014.

The deal with Intel will bolster Apple’s goal to make its own modem chip. Two of Apple’s biggest global rivals – Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Huawei – already have the ability to self-supply modem chips.

Technology news publication The Information last year reported Apple’s efforts to develop its own modem, but the iPhone maker has never formally acknowledged it. In February, Reuters reported that Apple moved its modem engineering efforts into the same chip design unit that makes the custom processors for its devices, signalling a doubling down on the pursuit of self-designed modem chip.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has also long said the company wants to control its own technological fate, what analysts have called the “Cook Doctrine.”

“We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make,” Tim Cook told investors back in 2009.SPEEDING UP DEVELOPMENT

The purchase of Intel’s assets could help Apple meet its aggressive timeline for producing a modem.

A person familiar with the matter said Apple plans to use Qualcomm’s modem technology for a 5G iPhone in 2020 but wants to have an internally developed 5G modem technology ready for use in some of its products by 2021. Intel previously disclosed plans to have a 5G modem ready by 2020, so tapping the Intel assets could help Apple hit its target.

But any replacement of Qualcomm is likely to happen in phases, this person said, as Apple builds up its ability to ensure that its modems work on all the networks and countries where Apple sells phones. Ensuring worldwide compatibility is Qualcomm’s historical strength, and Apple might still have to rely on Qualcomm for some modems during a transition period to its own devices.

“There’s a fierce desire (at Apple) to have Independence, but they also realise it has to be done responsibly,” this person said.

Apple’s license deal with Qualcomm lasts six years and its accompanying chip supply agreement could also last that long, said one chip industry veteran who requested anonymity to discuss confidential matters. Apple is likely to continue to use the San Diego firm’s chips in its flagship models even if it phases in its own silicon for lower-end and older models, this person said.

Apple has engaged with Taiwan’s Global Unichip Corp, a chip design house in which Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co is an investor, to explore a modem design, but the work is in early stages.

“Clearly Apple saw the handwriting on the wall, because they came around and did a deal with Qualcomm,” this person said.

Apple declined to comment on its plans, and Qualcomm and Global Unichip did not immediately respond to a request for comment.PATENTS AS LEVERAGE

The most valuable aspect of the Intel deal for Apple could turn out to be patents. To sell a 5G iPhone, Apple will need to strike deals with the major holders of 5G patents, including Nokia , Ericsson, Huawei and Qualcomm. Apple executed a licensing deal with Qualcomm, but it has not disclosed whether it has deals in place with the others.

Erick Robinson, a patent attorney who had worked in Qualcomm’s licensing division in Asia, said the patents could give Apple better leverage in licensing talks.

“I don’t think Intel has quite the portfolio that Qualcomm has, but they certainly have a large enough one to impact the valuations when it comes to a cross-licensing deal,” he said. “It’ll save (Apple) a huge chunk of change in cross-license deals.”

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Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 could launch this month: Here’s what to expect

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Xiaomi’s sub-brand is prepping to launch a new 64-megapixel camera phone which is speculated to be the Redmi Note 8. The company has confirmed Redmi Note 8 is in the works and has also been teasing its 64-megapixel camera phone.

Lu Weibing, Redmi’s General Manager, shared a teaser video on Weibo highlighting the 64-megapixel camera sensor. The teaser doesn’t reveal much but outlines the design of the phone with its 64-megapixel quad-camera setup. Weibing also says that this phone went into mass production two weeks ago which would mean the beginning of August.

Xiaomi unveiled its 64-megapixel camera tech earlier this month in China. The company is using Samsung’s ISOCELL Bright GW1 image sensor which is equipped to deliver better lowlight images and richer details in brighter settings. The Samsung sensor also brings real-time HDR of up to 100-decibles. Xiaomi’s 64-megapixel camera phone will deliver 9248×6936 pixel resolution photos with about 19MB in size.

Weibing hasn’t officially announced that the new Redmi phone is Redmi Note 8 but new leaks corroborate the speculation. According to a MyDrivers report, the two variants of a Redmi smartphone were spotted on China’s 3C website. The listing shows that the Redmi phones support 18W charging and are expected to be powered by MediaTek’s new Helio G90T chipset.

Xiaomi India head Manu Kumar Jain had recently confirmed a new phone with this chipset would launch soon. The MediaTek Helio G90T chipset comes with gaming-focused features. This would make the upcoming Xiaomi phone the first gaming phone from the Chinese company.

The report also showcases a render of the alleged Redmi Note 8 with its quad-camera setup. The smartphone is seen in a white colour similar to the Mi A3 and the cameras placed at the centre. There’s no presence of a fingerprint sensor indicating that the phone will opt for an in-display one.

Xiaomi has been continuously dropping hints of its new 64-megapixel camera smartphone. At the same time Redmi’s Weibing has also been teasing the new phone. All speculations lead to Redmi Note 8 launching with the 64-megapixel camera sensor. This phone is expected to launch in Xiaomi’s turf by the end of this month.

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Reliance JioGigaFiber expected to launch next month: 5 things you need to know

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Reliance Jio is reportedly going to officially announce the commercial launch of its broadband service GigaFiber at its Annual General Meeting on August 12. The optical fibre-based Reliance JioGigaFiber was announced last year but has been available to limited users as beta phase. Reliance Jio’s new service is expected to disrupt the broadband space as it did to the mobile data segment.

What is Reliance JioGigaFiber?

Similar to Airtel’s V-Fiber network, Reliance JioGigaFiber is a fibre optic-based broadband service. Fibre optic is said to be much faster than the traditional copper wire-based network with lower latency and higher throughput over longer distances. Reliance Jio’s broadband service is promised to deliver internet speeds up to 1Gbps. Currently, very few players such as ACT offer 1Gbps data plans. A faster network will allow users to stream high-resolution content such as UHD and make live video conferencing seamlessly.

How do you register for JioGigaFiber?

Reliance Jio’s website is still accepting new registrations for its GigaFiber service. To register, visit GigaFiber.Jio.com/registration. Enter your location (work or home) and then confirm the registration by providing your full name, mobile number, and email ID. You will receive an OTP on your registered phone number for verification.

What are Reliance JioGigaFiber plans?

Reliance Jio doesn’t offer postpaid plans for its GigaFiber services. The company is currently running a ‘JioGigaFiber preview offer’ under which users can get high-speed internet up to 100Mbps for 90 days along with a monthly data of 100GB. In the case, you finish your 100GB data in less than a month, you can top-up up to 40GB data through My Jio application or Jio.com website. Note that Reliance Jio isn’t charging anything for installation but it does take a security deposit of Rs 4,500 for the ONT device. The deposit, however, is refundable.

Not just the internet

Reliance Jio is looking to leverage its GigaFiber broadband service to tap the Internet of Things (IoT). The company last year unveiled GigaRouter and GigaTV set-top box devices. It also launched a bunch of smart home solutions ranging from audio and video dongle, smart speaker, Wi-Fi extender, smart plug to TV camera and more. Since the GigaFiber announcement, Jio has made investments in top local cable networks such as Den Networks and Hathway Cable.

Cheaper plans with more benefits

Reliance Jio is expected to launch its GigaFiber services at ultra-affordable prices. According to recent reports, Reliance Jio will offer a combo package of broadband, TV service, and landline for as low as Rs 600 a month. The Triple Play Plan is said to offer 28 days of validity and up to 100GB of data.

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Billionaire Azim Premji helps create India’s newest tech unicorn

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Billionaire Azim Premji has helped create India’s latest tech unicorn: a fast-rising software startup that symbolizes the growing investor interest in the Asian nation’s enterprise technology space.

Icertis, which competes with SAP SE and Oracle Corp. to help businesses manage contracts in the cloud, has raised $115 million, propelling it to unicorn status as investors flock to enterprise software makers.

The advanced-stage funding round in Bellevue, Washington and Pune, India-based Icertis was co-led by Greycroft Partners LLC and PremjiInvest, the fund managed by the family office of Indian tech billionaire Premji. Existing investors including B Capital Group and Cross Creek Advisors participated. With this, Icertis has raised over $211 million.

The enterprise software segment is heating up as investors from Tiger Global Management to Sequoia and Accel scour the industry for India’s next startup giants. Many are expected to be business- rather than consumer-focused, as the country’s talent pool shifts from IT outsourcing services for global clients toward designing and providing online software.

Icertis said it now helps customers worldwide manage over 5.7 million contracts, from supply chain and procurement deals to employee agreements and nondisclosure pacts, that have a total value of more than $1 trillion.

“As contracts get converted from static documents to digital assets for the first time in history, every dollar in or out is governed by a contract, putting them at the heart of every enterprise,” said Samir Bodas, Icertis’s co-founder and chief executive officer. “Every global company faces unprecedented global competition and needs software to manage contracts.”

Icertis is currently valued at “well north of one billion dollars,” Bodas added. The company will use the additional funding to grow its business, including by expanding sales and marketing. Global compliance demands involving Brexit, tariffs, European data privacy regulations as well as rapid digitization has worked in Icertis’s favor, while technologies like artificial intelligence helped enhance the sophistry of its services.

“We have been able to ride the technology wave and assert leadership in the space despite large competitors,” Bodas said, citing consultancies Forrester Research and Gartner.

Icertis works on a subscription model, charging customers based on the number of contracts drawn up and tracked using its software. MGI Research forecasts the total spending by companies for such contract management at over $20 billion from 2018 to 2022, with services on the cloud growing around 37% annually over the same period.

Founded in 2009 when Bodas and friend Monish Darda began exploring cloud-based applications, Icertis in 2015 homed in on building a contract management platform. Today, more than 600 of its 850 employees are based in Pune, where the product is developed. The startup operates a dozen offices from Sofia to Sydney.

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