India

The next time I’ll meet evangelism folks from Nokia or Microsoft, I’ll give them a tight hug. Forget the market share discussions and fanboy arguments, the Windows Phone ecosystem is thriving in India. It’s a great time to follow the ecosystem, and makes my job easier (I hope Daniel is not reading this!).

Yet another key example of how Windows Phone continues to do well in India is the release of Airtel Money for Windows Phone 8.

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Bollywood Hungama (www.bollywoodhungama.com) is the most read Bollywood portal worldwide. Published by Hungama Digital Media Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., the largest aggregator, developer, publisher, and distributor of Bollywood and South-Asian entertainment content in the world, the official Bollywood Hungama app has just arrived on the Windows Phone Store.

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The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the national governing body for all cricket in India. Formed in 1928 and a member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), the BCCI owns all cricket events in India, including the Indian Premier League (IPL), an annual Twenty20 cricket tournament started in 2008 where different franchise teams participate for the title.

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Nokia is still caught up in a tax dispute in India, but the company has begun offering a voluntary retirement package to workers at a factory which was seized by a local tax office last year. The plant at Chennai has around 6,600 full-time employees, all of which are eligible for the retirement package. Nokia had originally planned to transfer the plant to Microsoft as part of the deal going ahead, but the situation has been complicated by Indian officials challenging Nokia.

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India is in the midst of General Elections 2014 as a billion people are voting for the next Government of the country. A new game on the Windows Phone Store arrived last week that attempts to serve as a funny ode to the diversity of the nation and the world’s largest democracy.

Lok Sabha is a funny spin-off about the political parties in India. In the game, two people play with their political ideologies placed head to head and compete each other for seats in the Parliament. Lok Sabha comes across as a fun, entertaining game for those who enjoy a little political satire.

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Rajasthan Royals is an Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise representing Jaipur. Started in 2008, IPL is an annual Twenty20 cricket tournament where different franchise teams participate for the title.

The official Rajasthan Royals app for Windows Phone, published by Tata Consultancy Services – the franchise’s official technology partner - got bumped to version 2 recently for the upcoming IPL season starting this month.

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Common Floor, India’s leading online real estate portal, has just released their official app for Windows Phone. Search, buy, rent or sell properties in India with this application. Common Floor has presence in more than 120 cities and has over 70,000 community listings. Their official app has released initially for iOS and Android, but it did not take long for the Windows Phone variant to follow.

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As the General Elections 2014 get underway in the largest democracy of the world, Microsoft has partnered with the Network18 media conglomerate to create the CNN-IBN Microsoft Election Analytics Centre to allow the citizens to search and engage with election data like never before.

The initiative brings comprehensive analytics on Indian election trends over the years across parties, candidates, and constituencies to www.bing.com/elections (Location aware).

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If you like to track the bullion market in India, either as a consumer or as a financial business owner, Shreeji Bullion is a fine app to stay in touch with the precious metal markets on the go.

This simple app provides live gold and silver bullion rates and the dollar exchange rate, round the clock. Shreeji Bullion has a very clean and minimalistic interface that is functional with fast a response time. You can skip the registration/signing-in if, like most users, you would only want to check the bullion rates.

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To celebrate the eight glorious years of Earth Hour and endorsing use of renewable energy, WWF India (www.wwfindia.org) and Nokia joined hands to develop an official app for Earth Hour 2014.

As part of the annual Earth Hour, people across the world switch off the lights for one hour in celebration of the world’s largest voluntary environmental action. Earth Hour this year will be celebrated by hundreds of millions of people in 7001 cities and towns across 152 countries.

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Hailing an auto rickshaw in Bangalore can be very frustrating. The one you flag down may refuse to go where you want, ask for an insane markup, or possibly even have a rigged meter. mGaadi, a commuting service with a network of commercial drivers powered by customer ratings, looks to improve that. In addition to Android, they have also just released an official app for Windows Phone.

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Firstpost is a popular Indian news portal owned by the Network18 media conglomerate that attempts to be a new-age digital newsroom with breaking news and opinion features. Last month Firstpost launched their official Windows 8 app, and now they’ve landed on the Windows Phone Store as well.

The app offers by-the minute news, views, and analysis around news and current affairs in India and the world. You can view photo galleries, read blog posts, and watch videos from the network’s news channels.  

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Nokia, BMW, IBM, Vodafone, and Royal Dutch Shell are just a few of the multinational companies caught up in tax battles with the Indian government. A few days ago we learned that an Indian Supreme Court ruled that Nokia must deposit $571 million into an escrow account before it can transfer a key manufacturing plant to Microsoft.

As you know, Microsoft is trying to finalize its deal to acquire Nokia’s phone unit for $7.3 billion. Microsoft and Nokia hope to finish the deal before the month ends. However, the Indian government is making things a little tricky for the two companies.

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This morning, Microsoft has announced new launch dates for the the Xbox One in various countries this September. The list is massive, but the big countries to really watch includes India, Russia, and Japan.

That's still quite a lead time, giving Sony perhaps an edge on distribution with their PlayStation 4. Other countries for the September launch include Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates.

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According to a report by Times of India, India’s handset players LAVA and Karbonn will launch their Windows Phone devices in coming months.

At the Mobile World Congress last month, Microsoft had announced nine new OEMs as Windows Phone partners. Out of these nine - Foxconn, Gionee, JSR, Karbonn, LAVA, Lenovo, LG, Longcheer, and ZTE – Karbonn and LAVA are two Indian handset brands which have managed to capture significant market share in the Android smartphones category.

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There are a few hurdles left for Microsoft to clear they can acquire Nokia’s handset unit. Recently we’ve seen some complaints from Korean companies and interest groups over potential patent abuse that could result from the deal. One little tangle in Microsoft and Nokia’s plans revolves around a manufacturing plant in Chennai, India currently involved in a legal battle with the Indian government. The plant is to be transferred to Microsoft as part of the $7.3 billion USD deal to acquire Nokia’s phone business. However, that manufacturing plant may now be shut down and not transferred to Microsoft. 

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Microsoft is beginning to try new things to tackle Android and iOS in the competitive smartphone market. Slashing the Windows Phone licensing fees for some OEM partners may be one option the company is looking into. According to a report on India Times, Microsoft is waiving license costs and offering the operating system to at least two Indian phone vendors for free.

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