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This is how the great LeEco India story went bust

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LeEco

New Delhi, March 3 : After arriving in India in January last year, Chinese internet and technology conglomerate LeEco fast became the “true disrupter” in the evolving Indian smartphone market with its huge marketing spend — and the announcement of a state-of-the-art assembling/manufacturing unit.

News that the company has fired 85 per cent of its India staff across the sales, marketing and distribution departments — and confirmed by a company source to IANS on Friday — has effectively punctured a mammoth dream just within a year.

The source also confirmed to IANS that both Atul Jain, Chief Operating Officer, Smart Electronics Business, and Debashish Ghosh, Chief Operating Officer for Internet Applications, Services and Content, were “asked to leave” and had not quit as reported.

Speculation is also rife that LeEco may finally exit the country after spending millions on promoting its ecosystem of “superphones” and “super TVs”.

“LeEco is in serious financial trouble and has, as a consequence, practically ceased India operations. The staff layoffs are a direct consequence of this. Even in the previous quarter, their shipments were close to zero,” Jaideep Mehta, Managing Director, IDC South Asia, told IANS.

After its entry into India, the company launched five superphones, a LeEco membership of content and internet services, its e-commerce platform LeMall and, most recently, “SuperTVs”.

“LeEco, as the name suggests, was built on the premise of an ecosystem. The device would open a user to an ecosystem and it was not just a smartphone. However, for a country like India, and even for many countries globally, this ecosystem isn’t ready yet. Paid content consumption hasn’t become big enough for a company to survive while earning nothing on the device itself,” Faisal Kawoosa, Principal Analyst, Telecoms, CyberMedia Research (CMR), told IANS.

On the contrary, if you see other handset brands, to an extent they too make money from content, but as value-added earnings — which is just a fraction of the actual earnings out of the device. For them, it is akin to average revenue per user (ARPU) of a telecom operator where the operator wants to earn more per user by offering additional services.

“LeEco came in to disrupt this business model and make the secondary streams of earnings as their primary. For that to happen, the ecosystem hasn’t arrived yet. So their positioning as well as proposition went wrong. It dismayed a user to see nothing extraordinary in terms of Device+ strategy,” Kawoosa added.

In August, LeEco announced a $7 million manufacturing unit in Greater Noida in the presence of IT and Electronics Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

“As the market size for electronics is expected to grow to $400 billion by 2020, it is imperative to promote indigenous manufacturing. LeEco is a name of global reputation and it is heartening to see it align with ‘Make in India’ after entering India just eight months earlier,” Prasad had told the gathering.

LeEco planned to ramp up the production to approximately 200,000 “superphones” per month by the end of 2016, before a severe financial crunch caught up with the company.

“I think there was a disconnect with their go-to-market strategy. Being an online player they spending was almost like a player with an offline distribution strategy. Although their products were good, it was the overall marketing strategy that led to quick cash-burn,” Tarun Pathak, Senior Analyst, Mobile Devices and Ecosystems at New Delhi-based Counterpoint Research, told IANS.

According to Kawoosa, for few years, LeEco should have positioned itself as a brand offering better specs of hardware at affordable prices.

“Eventually, as the ecosystem would have matured, they could have played the LeEco card,” Kawoosa told IANS.

For assembling/manufacturing in India, LeEco had partnered with the US-based company M2i which will continue to manufacture for others if, by any chance, LeEco doesn’t continue to manufacture in India.

“I would say, these experiments will go on and we may see brands coming in and out for manufacturing in India. For ‘Make in India’, I wouldn’t consider this as a blow yet,” Pathak noted.

Given the LeEco experience, other smartphone players need to look at their scale of operations and play to their strengths.

“Since India is a such a diverse market, one strategy doesn’t lead to guaranteed success throughout the country. With the smartphone segment being so competitive, and amidst razor-thin margins, brands need to watch their campaigns and invest wisely,” added Kawoosa.

“It is simply a case of an over-ambitious company going under,” Mehta noted.

By : Nishant Arora

(Nishant Arora can be contacted at [email protected])

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Elon Musk quits OpenAI group to avoid conflict with Tesla

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Elon Musk (File Photo)

 San Francisco, Feb 23: SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has quit the board of OpenAI, a non-profit artificial intelligence (AI) research company he co-founded that aims to promote and develop friendly AI that benefits the humanity.

“Elon Musk will depart the OpenAI Board but will continue to donate and advise the organisation. As Tesla continues to become more focused on AI, this will eliminate a potential future conflict for Elon,” the research group said in a blog post on Thursday, welcoming some new donors.

In 2014, Musk said AI was humanity’s biggest existential threat later adding that the United Nations needed to act to prevent a killer robot arms race.

OpenAI has fast become a significant voice in the global machine learning community.

Its research has been wide-ranging, including teaching computers to control robots with minimal instruction and the creation of AI agents to play popular video game Dota.

OpenAI recently contributed to the “Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence” report, which warned AI was ripe for exploitation by rogue states, criminals and terrorists.

Drones turned into missiles, fake videos manipulating public opinion and automated hacking are just three of the threats from artificial intelligence in the wrong hands, experts said in the report.

They said that those designing AI systems need to do more to mitigate possible misuse of their technology and that governments must consider new laws to tackle such misuse.

IANS

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Airtel offers Rs 2,000 cashback on Motorola, Lenovo 4G device

As part of the offer, Moto C would be available for Rs 3,999, Moto E4 for 6,499 and Lenovo K8 Note for Rs 10,999.

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AIRTEL

New Delhi, Feb 23: As part of its “Mera Pehla Smartphone” initiative, Telecom services provider Bharti Airtel announced to offer a cashback of Rs 2,000 on select 4G Motorola and Lenovo smartphones.

Two popular 4G smartphones from Motorola — Moto C, Moto E4 and Lenovo K8 Note are available with the offer.

As part of the offer, Moto C would be available for Rs 3,999, Moto E4 for 6,499 and Lenovo K8 Note for Rs 10,999.

“We look forward to working with Motorola to bring smartphones within the reach of more and more customers,” Vani Venkatesh, Chief Marketing Officer, Bharti Airtel, said in a statement.

“It is a great opportunity for Airtel subscribers to upgrade to 4G and enjoy the meaningful experiences across Motorola & Lenovo smartphones,” added Sudhin Mathur, Managing Director, Motorola Mobility India and Lenovo MBG India.

IANS

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New iPhone app to aid heart attack survivors

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Corrie app

New York, Feb 23: A new iPhone-based app may help patients who survived a heart attack to maintain their health and reduce the number of hospital readmissions, according to a study.

The “Corrie” app is the first cardiology app for the Apple CareKit platform and is designed to help patients navigate the hospital discharge process by educating them about heart disease.

The app allows them to keep track of medications, follow-up appointments and lifestyle changes needed after a heart attack.

“We have found there are many gaps in care in patients recovering from a heart attack,” said lead author William Yang, from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, US.

“We wanted to engage patients in their own care, and help them transition from the hospital to home using existing technology,” Yang added.

Heart attack patients “may suddenly have new doctors and more medical visits, including cardiac rehab, and the app helps them track and centralise all those appointments”, he said.

The app helps patients to keep track of all their medications, including how much to take and at what time.

It also syncs with the Apple Watch to monitor heart rate and keep track of how much they are walking and with a Bluetooth blood pressure monitor.

Yang said the app has also proven useful to patients even while they were still in the hospital as it allows patients to store important medical information on the app.

The results were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Cardiovascular Summit in Las Vegas.

IANS

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