Microsoft hikes prices in India by up to eleven percent

Asia In Brief Microsoft has quietly announced big price rises for its software and services in India.

"Due to currency fluctuations, Microsoft India is announcing Indian rupee pricelist changes to harmonize its prices for commercial on-premises software and online services between India and the Asian region, effective February 1, 2023," states an undated announcement. A Microsoft spokesperson provided said announcement in response to The Register's queries about advice to Microsoft partners mentioning - but not specifying - imminent price rises.

From February 1, 2023, Indian rupee prices for commercial on-premises software will increase by 4.5 percent, online services will increase by nine percent, and Get Genuine Windows Agreements will increase by 11 percent.

Microsoft says the price rises bring charges in India "close to prevailing USD pricing levels in the Asian region."

"Microsoft periodically assesses the impact of its local pricing for software products and online services to ensure there is reasonable alignment across regions and this change is an outcome of this assessment," the company's announcement states.

Orders placed at current prices won't be affected.

"Customers across India buying online services in Indian rupee will continue to find Microsoft cloud offerings highly competitive," the company insists.

But the statement says nothing similar about on-prem software or Windows.

The price rises in India come after Microsoft announced a price review in Japan and South Korea but did not respond to The Register's request for information.

- Simon Sharwood

Eight million more outsourced jobs coming to India, predicts minister

India's minister for communications, electronics & information technology and railways, Ashwini Vaishnaw, has predicted the nation can attract eight million more jobs to its business process outsourcing sector in just two years.

Speaking at the launch of a startup promotion initiative, Vainshaw added the prediction that India's push to establish itself as an electronics manufacturing power will add between two and three million jobs in the next two years.

The minister did not explain exactly how India will add eight million business process outsourcing jobs in such a short period of time. But India's National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) - the nation's peak tech trade association and lobby group - recently published the prediction that the nation will attract 500 more global service centers by the year 2026, with many focusing on work from the front and middle offices instead of the back office work on which the industry made its name. US-based organizations continue to be the biggest operators and/or consumers of Indian business process outsourcing facilities, most of which are located in the cities of Bengaluru or Hyderabad. - Simon Sharwood

APAC companies redesigning offices to lure workers back to their desks

Companies in Asia Pacific want their employees onsite, and 70 percent of them are planning office redesigns in the next 18 months to entice them there, according to IDC. The analyst firm reports that 25 percent of businesses are already engaged in a redesign, and the redesigns are taking up around eleven to 30 percent of company budgets. "Hybrid work is no longer debated. About 60 percent of employees prefer to work remotely, so the office must provide a comparable or even better experience for them when they are to come back in person," said IDC's research director Dr Lily Phan.

India becomes world's biggest smartwatch market

India has overtaken China to become the world's largest and fastest-growing smartwatch market, according to analyst firm Counterpoint.

The firm's Global Smartwatch Model Tracker for Q3 2022 found India's market grew 171 percent year-on-year and more than doubled its global market share - from 14 percent in 2022 to 30 percent this year.

Local brands Noise and FireBoltt dominate the Indian market with devices priced to suit local buyers. Holiday shopping saw both vendors experience sales surges that propelled India to the top of the global sales and growth charts.

Counterpoint describes the two Indian firms as vendors of "basic" smartwatches - devices that can't install apps - and rated Noise as the planet's top vendor of such products with 25.2 percent market share, ahead of Fire Boltt's 24.6 percent.

In the high-level operating system (HLOS) market - for smartwatches that can install apps and have more bells and whistles - Apple has 50.6 market share. That puts it well clear of Samsung's 22.3 percent.

- Simon Sharwood

Australia warns on IoT shoe risks

Australia has ordered a warning about the dangers of Bluetooth-powered sports shoes be issued.

Product Safety Australia last week advised eleven models of shoe made by Under Armour "were sold without a warning that the right shoe contains a button battery that is sealed within a pod and embedded in the shoe."

The presence of the battery is a hazard to young children, who sometimes mistake the shiny energy sources as a snack and then risk choking or suffer internal burns.

UA's "HOVR" and "FLOW" shoes include a sensor that tracks movement, and shares data with online services to let owners track their workouts and performance.

Product Safety Australia has advised that owners of the shoes should contact UA to obtain a copy of a warning about the button battery contained in the shoes. - Simon Sharwood

Equinix expands into Malaysia

Equinix has announced it will enter the Malaysian market with a datacenter located in Johor, to be called JH1.

Construction costs are expected to hit $40 million for a facility that boasts 1960 square metres of colocation space and 500 cabinets. The facility is due to open for business in Q1 2024.

The two storey facility will be located at Nusajaya Tech Park (NTP) in Iskandar, Johor - just 15km from Singapore.

Equinix believes that location makes the datacenter ideally placed to run workloads for Singaporean organizations and for Malaysian domestic customers. - Simon Sharwood

In other news

Our regional coverage from last week included coverage of Singapore's use of LiDAR, AI and sensors to track the majority of its seven million trees in an elaborate Internet of Things monitoring scheme.

Japanese printer maker Epson is calling it quits on laser printers, citing sustainability issues. Japanese messaging app Line announced it is closing its US cryptocurrency exchange business, Bitfront, and instead focusing on its blockchain-related business. Space researchers in Japan were caught fabricating data from an experiment on the effects of confined life on the International Space Station (ISS), according to a report from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced its first retail digital Rupee pilot will commence on December 1, 2022. The governor of South Dakota has issued an executive order banning employee use of TikTok on state-owned devices, citing national security. India's Telecom Regulatory Authority is cracking down on TXT spam via artificial intelligence after a failed attempt to manage the nuisance with blockchain. China's Tiangong space station will host six taikonauts this week as a new crew is set to overlap with the old crew before it packs up and leaves.

Japan convenience store chain Lawson opened a store staffed almost exclusively by avatars. A segment of a major submarine cable connecting Africa to Asia was severed, causing poor internet performance in multiple areas. NTT Data is adopting datacenter inspection robots in 15 of its facilities with the intention of eventually offering the robots as a service to customers. ®

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