Intel and Nokia merge software platforms

The 'MeeGo' software platform will run on high-performance devices and deliver a range of Internet, computing and communication experiences, with visually rich graphics, multitasking and multimedia capabilities and the best application performance

Computer processor manufacturer Intel Corp and mobile handset maker Nokia Oyj have said that both the companies will merge their Moblin and Maemo software platforms to create a unified Linux-based platform called ‘MeeGo’.

"Our vision for seamlessly communicating between computing devices from the home, auto, office or your pocket is taking a big step forward today with the introduction of MeeGo," said Intel president and chief executive Paul Otellini.

Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, chief executive, Nokia said, "Through open innovation, MeeGo will create an ecosystem that is second to none, drawing in players from different industries. It will support a range of business models across the value chain, building on the experience and expertise of Nokia, Intel and all those who will join us. Simply put, MeeGo heralds a new era of mobile computing."

In a release, Intel and Nokia said that MeeGo will run on multiple hardware platforms across a wide range of computing devices, including pocketable mobile computers, netbooks, tablets, mediaphones, connected TVs and in-vehicle infotainment systems.

MeeGo also unites the robust worldwide Maemo and Moblin applications ecosystems and open source communities. For developers, MeeGo extends the range of target device segments for their applications. Using Qt for application development means that they can write applications once and easily deploy them on MeeGo and across other platforms, for example, on Symbian, the release said.

Nokia's Ovi Store will be the channel to the market for apps and content for all Nokia devices, including MeeGo and Symbian-based, with Forum Nokia providing developer support across all Nokia device platforms.

Since MeeGo runs on multiple device types, people can keep their favourite applications when they change devices, so they are not locked into one kind of device or those from any individual manufacturer, the release added.
 

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Steel, aluminium projects fall behind planned investments

The gap between planned investments in steel and aluminium projects has widened during 2003 to 2009 due to various issues like land acquisition problems and statutory permissions

While investments in steel projects have been on a constant rise ever since 2003, the gap between planned investments and implementation of these projects has more than doubled. Problems such as land acquisition, rehabilitation and permissions from various government authorities are cited as reasons for the widening of this gap.

According to data from ProjectsToday—a website that tracks various projects—in 2003, the total worth of investment planned in steel projects and the total worth of projects in the implementation phase were at par at around Rs25,000 crore. Post 2003, though the planned investments have increased rapidly, the growth in the implementation rate has been abysmal. During 2003 to 2009, planned investment in steel projects went up to Rs4 lakh crore while implementation miserably fell behind at Rs1.50 lakh crore.

“The high investments were encouraged by investment-friendly announcements by states like Orissa and Jharkhand, global demand for steel before recession and huge iron ore deposits. Due to these factors, the number of announcements for such projects increased and there were a number of memorandums of understanding (MOUs) signed for various projects. These reflect in the total amount (of) investments planned. But issues like land availability, other permissions like environmental clearances and rehabilitation plans pose a problem in actual implementation of these projects,” said Shashikant Hegde, chief executive officer, ProjectsToday and director, Economic Research India Ltd in the sidelines of  Minerals and Metals Review seminar held last week.

In 2005, the total planned investment in steel projects was around Rs1 lakh crore. However, the rate of implementation continued to stagnate at below Rs50,000 crore with a marginal increase from the 2003 level. Post 2005, the gap between the total investments planned in steel projects and the amount of projects in the implementation phase increased drastically. From a marginal difference in 2003, the gap widened to Rs1 lakh crore in 2005–06. It further increased to a difference of Rs2 lakh crore in 2008.  In 2009, the total planned investment in steel projects stood at Rs4 lakh crore against just Rs1.50 lakh crore worth of projects in the implementation phase, showing a huge gap of Rs2.50 lakh crore.

A similar scenario is playing out in aluminium projects as well. In 2002, investments in aluminium projects and projects in the implementation phase were below Rs20,000 crore. In 2003, the investment in aluminium projects increased to Rs40,000 crore, while the projects in the implementation phase stagnated at below Rs20,000 crore. In 2006, the investments in aluminium projects touched Rs1 lakh crore, while the projects in the implemented phase rose to about Rs30,000 crore. In 2009, the total planned investment in aluminium projects stood at Rs1.80 lakh crore and the worth of projects in the implementation phase stood at around Rs50,000 crore.
 

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Bharti offers $10.70 billion to buy Zain's African unit

Bharti Airtel has offered $10.70 billion to buy Kuwait-based Zain Telecom’s mobile operations in Africa

India's largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel Ltd on Monday said that it has offered $10.70 billion (nearly Rs50,000 crore) to buy Kuwait-based Zain Telecom's mobile operations in Africa, in a deal that would catapult India's largest private telecom firm in the league of the world's top ten operators, reports PTI.

"Bharti and Zain have agreed to enter into exclusive discussions until 25 March 2010 for the acquisition of Zain's African unit based on an enterprise value of $10.7 billion," the company said in a statement.

Zain has operations in 17 African countries and Bharti's offer covers all of them except Sudan and Morocco.

Bharti Airtel, which claims a subscriber base of over 125 million in India, would make it to the top 10 operators globally after acquisition of Zain, which has nearly 42 million users in Africa.

"This potential transaction does not include Zain's operations in Morocco and Sudan and remains subject to due diligence, customary regulatory approvals and signing of final transaction documentation," Bharti said.

This is Bharti's third attempt in the last two years to enter the African market. In September last year, Bharti's $23-billion merger talks with MTN fell through for the second time due to various reasons including regulatory approvals.

Other than India, Bharti has operations in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Bharti had recently recast its top management and had created a separate unit headed by chief executive officer Manoj Kohli to look into overseas opportunities.

With tariffs touching rock bottom and entry of eight new mobile players, Bharti has been facing tough competition in the domestic market and was looking for opportunities in the overseas market to spread its footprint.

"There can be no assurance that a transaction will be consummated. Further announcements will be made in due course," Bharti said in a statement.

Yesterday, the board of directors of Zain Group, formerly known as MTC, unanimously approved the sale of the group's assets in Africa to Bharti.

A consortium of Asian investors has for months been trying to buy Zain's stakes estimated to be worth $13.70 billion from Kuwaiti family conglomerate Kharafi Group, which is one of the main shareholders in Zain. In October last year, Zain halted talks to sell its African assets.
 

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