<IT WORLD> Delhi targets Google, Skype By Martin J
HUA HIN, Thailand - Research In
Motion (RIM), which makes the BlackBerry
smart-phones beloved by people who want their
e-mails safe from prying eyes, has won a 60-day
extension of an Indian government deadline to
allow access to encrypted data services offered by
the Canada-based company.
deadline for BlackBerry corporate e-mail and
messaging services to meet Indian demands or be
shut down was set for September 1. The Home
Affairs Ministry stated this week that "RIM have
made certain proposals for lawful access by law
enforcement agencies", and later said that the
situation will be reviewed in two months.
The decision to delay suspension of
BlackBerry services could
have been linked to the
fact that New Delhi next month hosts the
Commonwealth Games. A ban before then would affect
the important communications of many of the
country's 1.1 million resident BlackBerry users
and thousands of visitors attending the event.
RIM is still battling with similar
requests for data access from a number of Asian
and Middle East nations, including Saudi Arabia,
the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Indonesia.
Immediately after the temporary reprieve
for RIM, the Indian authorities went straight back
on the warpath by stating that it they must have
lawful access to data from all telecoms firms.
This puts Google and Skype directly in the firing
According to a Times of India
report, an official stated that "the Ministry of
Home Affairs has made it clear that any
communication through the telecom networks should
be accessible to the law enforcement agencies and
all telecom service providers including third
parties have to comply with this".
Google's encrypted Gmail and Skype's voice
over Internet protocol (VoIP) services fall into
these categories, along with virtual private
networking (VPN) services used by many corporate
employees working remotely.
It is highly
likely that India's new snooping directives are a
result of an increased concern over terrorism and
the tools used by terrorists to communicate and
direct operations within the country.
Industry Microchip giant Intel
moved this week to close an agreement for the
purchase of Infineon Technologies' wireless
business for US$1.4 billion. Infineon, Europe's
second-largest chipmaker, makes the processors for
Apple's iPhone among other devices. Intel has 80%
of the world's personal computer market covered
but it has been notably absent from mobile phones.
The deal, which many see as an
acknowledgement of the company's failure to act
quicker in the mobile market, follows Intel's
$7.68 billion acquisition of McAfee, announced
last month. As mobile devices become more enticing
to hackers, security threats are bound to
increase; Intel will now be able to build in
security systems using McAfee technology at the
As Microsoft faces increasing
competition from software developed to be used
over the Internet, Intel is confronting similar
issues, with mobile devices slowly eating away at
the traditional desktop computer market and
becoming the machines of choice to access the
Intel chief executive Paul
Otellini said the full spectrum of wireless
technology includes Wi-Fi wireless networking, 3G
data networks over cell phones, WiMax long-range
wireless networking, and Long-Term Evolution, the
next-generation of wireless phone networking, also
known as 4G.
The company clearly aims to
be in control of every aspect of micro-processing
in today's computing world, and tomorrow's, an
ambition as clear as Google's in its avaricious
desires to control Internet data flow. As another
company gets swallowed up, the global conglomerate
monopolies continue to get fatter.
Graphics As the Intel juggernaut
rolls on, rival Advanced Micro Devices is doing
some rebranding, deciding to drop the ATI name
from its product line by the end of the year. AMD
in 2006 paid $5.4 billion for graphics cardmaker
ATI, whose name and brands, which include Radeon
and FirePro, have been much admired by graphics
enthusiasts since 1985 when the company was
AMD had teething problems
incorporating ATI into its operations, and the
tie-up was initially labelled a failure. However,
the benefits have since been reaped and the
company recorded a faster year-on-year growth in
the graphics market for the second quarter of 2010
than leader Intel and rival Nvidia.
move to drop the ATI name comes as AMD prepares to
release its first Fusion accelerated processing
unit (APU), which will put the computing and
graphics units on the same die. The demand for
such chips is increasing rapidly with the recent
surge in netbook and tablet sales.
Entertainment Apple fans spent
the week in high anticipation of news from chief
executive Steve Jobs, at the company's annual
shindig in San Francisco on Wednesday. The big
announcement was an upgrade of the underperforming
Apple TV set-top box, which had not lived up to
expectations following the product launch in 2006.
The new unit, a black 4-inch square device
that enables the user to play movies and shows on
their TV via iTunes, has been revamped and the
price cut to a mere $99 from $229. The plan is
obviously to sell content via iTunes as opposed to
making money on the units themselves, in a similar
fashion to music on the iPod. The company has
so far made deals for rental content only with
News Corp's Fox network and Walt Disney's ABC. It
hopes to include more networks later. Others, such
as CBS, NBC and Time Warner, have declined to
participate, stating that episodic television is
not a pay-per-view business.
Apple has its
eyes on your living room now, but the product is
far from revolutionary; it faces stiff competition
from Netflix, Yahoo, Amazon and Google, all of
which have targeted the television with their own
plans and gadgets to stream content over the
Martin J Young is an Asia Times Online correspondent based in Thailand.