Latest News Today: Netflix Mobile-Only Plan for India, IMF Cuts Growth Forecasts for India

GDP of India forecast slashed by IMF. India reportedly in top 50 club of Global Innovation Index. HUL Q1 net profit jumps 15% to INR1,755cr; volume growth falls to lowest in seven quarters. L&T Q1 profit rises 20.5% YoY to INR1,361cr. Nissan’s job cuts will expand to 10,000. Netflix announces INR199/month mobile-only plan for India. US government announces broad investigation into big tech firms like Facebook, Google and Amazon. Report says Huawei helped North Korea build its wireless network, in violation of international sanctions. The future of the internet will not be dominated by smartphones. Microsoft invests $1bn in artificial general intelligence. Should robots look like humans?

 

Moving on to the top Business news of the day. 

 

 INDIA 


IMF cuts 2019 and 2020 growth forecasts for India. India reportedly in top 50 club of Global Innovation Index.

2020 Vision: The IMF has cut India’s GDP growth forecast for 2019 and 2020 by 0.3pp. India will grow by 7% this year and 7.2% next year according to the organisation’s World Economic Update.

The downward revision was attributed to weaker-than-expected outlook for domestic demand.

Meanwhile, tariffs and weakening external demand led to the IMF cutting China’s forecast as well by 0.1pp to 6.2% in 2019 and 6% in 2020, which would mean India will still be the fastest growing major economy in the world.

Indexing Innovation: For the first time, India is reportedly set to be among the top 50 countries in 2019’s Global Innovation Index, to be released on Wednesday.

The list ranks 126 countries on 80 indicators and under seven pillars including market sophistication, research, infrastructure and productivity. This year it will be launched in New Delhi, a first for an emerging economy.

 

 RESULTS 

HUL Q1 net profit jumps 15% to INR1,755cr; volume growth falls to lowest in seven quarters. L&T Q1 profit rises 20.5% YoY to INR1,361cr.

Some Hits, Some Misses: Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), India’s largest listed consumer packaged goods firm by sales, reported a 15% rise in net profit to INR1,755cr in Q1, spurred by higher revenue and a fall in raw material cost.



Growth in volume however, fell to the lowest in seven quarters at 5% vs 7% in the previous quarter on back of weak consumption, particularly in rural areas.


Place Your Order Here: Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has reported a 20.5% YoY increase in consolidated PAT (profit after tax) at INR1,361cr in Q1 vs INR1,129cr last year.


The engineering and construction giant also reported that during the same period, it has bagged new orders worth 38,700 crore, registering a YoY growth of 11%. Order wins in infrastructure and power segments were the major contributors.



Also This: Snapchat has reported that the number of daily active users on its platform rose to 203 million in Q2 vs 190 million in the previous quarter and 188 million a year earlier. The growth in users is likely to have been propelled by a better version of its Android app and the launch of new augmented reality photo lenses. 



The company also reported revenue of $388m for the second quarter, up 48% compared to a year prior.


 
Shares of Snap jumped 9% to $16.29 in after-hours trading.

 

 COMPANIES 

Nissan’s job cuts will expand to 10,000. Netflix announces INR199/month mobile-only plan for India.

We Don’t Work Anymore: In its plan to turn around business and generate profits, Nissan will reportedly expand job cuts to 10,000.

The cuts, which amount to 7% of the automaker’s 138,000-strong workforce, will be announced on Thursday with financial results, which are expected to reveal one of Nissan’s weakest numbers since the 2008 global financial crisis.

Paisa Vasool, Now Streaming on Netflix: In a big bet on the Indian market, Netflix has announced an INR199/month mobile-only plan limited to India.

The new subscription service will be available alongside the platforms already-existing plans. But it will be available only on mobiles and tablets, restricts usage to one user and one stream, and offers only 480p viewing.

The move reflects Netflix’s bullish ambitions in India even as its user base in the US stumbles. It aims to reach a customer base of 100 million in India – 25 times its current subscriber base - despite rising local competition.

 

 TECH 

US government announces broad investigation into big tech firms like Facebook, Google and Amazon. Report says Huawei helped North Korea build its wireless network, in violation of international sanctions.

Big Tech in Big Trouble: The US Department of Justice has announced a broad antitrust investigation into the practices of big tech companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon.

In its press release, the DoJ said it would probe “practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers”

The investigation will assess the competitive conditions online, especially “search, social media and some retail services”, to ensure users have access to “free markets in which companies compete on the merits to provide services that users want”.

Where There’s a Bill There’s Huawei: The Chinese tech tsar has been at the centre of the US-China trade war for some time now. Now, a report in The Washington Post threatens to make the West even more suspicious of Huawei and Beijing.

According to the report, Huawei partnered with a Chinese state-owned firm on a string of projects in North Korea over a period of eight years that gave the country its wireless cell network.

So What?:  North Korea is under sanctions over its nuclear programeme and human rights abuses. If the report is true, Huawei – and because a state-owned company was also involved, even the Chinese government – flouted the sanctions on Pyongyang. And if Huawei used American products and parts while building this wireless network, the consequences could be even more dire.

Furthermore, this comes at a time when relations between Washington and Beijing are at an all-time low. And at a time when the Trump administration is trying to build a relationship with North Korea.

 

 FUTURE 

The future of the internet will not be dominated by smartphones. Microsoft invests $1bn in artificial general intelligence. Should robots look like humans?

Cheap and Best: The future of mobile phones isn’t smartphones – it’s “smart feature phones”. These are basic avatars of smartphones that are inexpensive, ususally non-touch, akin to the archaic Nokia phones that used to be in vogue, and equipped to handle some basic apps in addition to calling and texting.

In this decade, smartphone sales stagnated and began to slide last year after sales saturated. But smart feature phone shipments between 2018 and 2017. This year, over 80 million of them are expected to be shipped.

Coupled with low data rates and internet availability, these devices are the tools that will bring the 3.4 billion not connected to the internet online.

GI Skynet: Microsoft is investing $1bn in San Francisco-based AI research lab OpenAI, which was founded by Elon Musk and Sam Altman. OpenAI’s goal? To engineer artificial general intelligence (AGI).

Normal AI is proficient at certain tasks – the ones it’s programmed to be good at – like chess or news reporting. AGI is considerably smarter: it is AI that can understand and learn any task that human beings can do. AGI is the stuff that science fiction is made up of. It is what is often described as the “holy grail of AI”.

Offbeat Drumbeat: Speaking of Skynet, how comfortable would you be if you found out your best friend was actually a humanoid species with a circuit board for a heart? Is it realistic (or desirable) for robots to look like humans?

 

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