Jio dethrones BSNL
Also in today’s edition: What US midterm elections bode for Ukraine; Google doubles down on hardware; Parler is a bad buy for Ye; Fashion is in a fix
Good morning! India’s grand old party has its first chief from outside the Nehru-Gandhi clan in 24 years. Gandhi loyalist Mallikarjun Kharge trounced Shashi Tharoor in the Congress party’s presidential election, winning 84% of the delegate votes. Will it matter ahead of the 2024 general elections, though? The Economic Times reports that ~$40 million of the $56 million raised in 2021-22 by the corporate-backed Prudent Electoral Trust—India’s richest electoral trust—went into the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s coffers. The Congress received just $1.9 million. The trust’s biggest donor? ArcelorMittal, which pumped in $16 million.
🎧 Reliance Retail has partnered with at least 50 Indian mithaiwalas across India for a sweet deal. The Signal Daily is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, and Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
The Market Signal*
Stocks: The Indian rupee hit a new record low (₹83.02) against the US dollar on Wednesday. Inflation in the United Kingdom hit a 40-year high at 10.1%. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has predicted tough times for the United States economy.
Despite economic woes, Asian fund managers are betting big on China. Tough luck for India, they say.
Early Asia: The SGX Nifty shrunk (-0.87%) at 7.30 am India time. The Hang Seng Index (-2.64%) and Nikkei 225 (-1.32%) sagged.
Reliance Jio Grabs Landline Crown
There was a historic shift in the month of August. Reliance Jio became India’s largest landline provider, beating the state-owned BSNL.
Leaderboard: Reliance now operates 7.35 million landlines to BSNL’s 7.13 million and MTNL’s 2.6 million. BSNL also fell behind Bharti Airtel in wired broadband subscribers. The latter is nipping at the heels of market leader Jio.
No contest in mobile: BSNL and MTNL, monopolies once upon a time, have not been able to withstand the competitive pressures of the marketplace. They’ve ceded space to nimbler, deep-pocketed private-sector players. Their combined market share in wireless services has now shrunk to below 10% even while the overall telecom user base expanded by 1.42 million in August.
Another player that’s bleeding subscribers is Vodafone Idea, which lost 1.9 million users in August.
The War May Be Approaching Its Sell-by Date
Is there a deadline for the war in Ukraine? Could it be November 8, when the US goes for midterm elections?
The US has spent about $60 billion in economic and military aid to Ukraine. A Republican Party majority in the House of Representatives will significantly reduce the appetite for foreign wars. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy told Punchbowl News that people will not write a “blank cheque to Ukraine”.
If the US funding fades, where will it leave private supporters such as Elon Musk, whose satellite internet service Starlink is losing $20 million every month providing connectivity to Ukrainians? That Pentagon cheque Musk had hoped for is certainly not coming.
Can Google Crack Hardware?
Earlier this month, we told you about the Mountain View major competing with Apple for literal cruise control. Google had an early advantage with Android Automotive, whose integration with native car platforms (such as Volvo’s VolvoCars.OS) went beyond infotainment.
The Information now reports that Google may divert some talent from Automotive because the division’s estimated revenue of $1 billion is a drop in the company’s overall bucket of ~$258 billion. Curiously, it’s not reallocating resources from Android Auto, which can only mirror contents from compatible (Android) devices—much like Apple’s CarPlay.
But why?: Google is redeploying people from software engineering and product development to work on Google-branded devices. The shift comes amid regulatory scrutiny on Google search, a digital ad slowdown, and Apple’s iPhone eating into the market share of Samsung, its biggest Android partner.
So far this year, Google slashed incubation lab projects, and shuttered its cloud-gaming service Stadia and its Pixel laptop division. The company’s decision to invest less in voice-assist support for non-Google devices (specifically, partners who aren’t Samsung, OnePlus, or Xiaomi) is probably because Google Assistant doesn’t make much money.
Google ramped up shipments of the competent Pixel 7, but it’s only available in 17 countries. The company is also late to the smartwatch bandwagon, and has a history of haphazard hardware strategies. Can CEO Sundar Pichai turn the tide?
A MESSAGE FROM OUR PARTNER
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Experience it all on October 29, at The Hub Bengaluru.
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Parler May Be Ye’s Most Expensive Mistake Yet
We don’t know how much Kanye West will pay for the alt-right Twitter, but it’s a bad buy regardless. Parler’s parent Parlement Technologies was reportedly looking to offload the platform. Not surprising, given Parler only has 50,000 daily active users.
Parler’s honchos are working on building a digital infrastructure, including an alternative to Amazon Web Services, which had suspended Parler.
Brigade: Free-speech absolutists Ye and Elon Musk aren’t the only ones jostling to control social media. Salem Media Group, whose empire spans publishing, radio, TV, and even a social media influencer network, is getting conservative figureheads to do the equivalent of a rath yatra as the US approaches midterm elections. Other right-wing platforms include Donald Trump’s floundering Truth Social, Peter Thiel-backed Rumble, and Clubhouse alternative Callin, launched by enfant terrible David Sacks.
Couture Suffers A Great Unspooling
It’s going to be a brutal winter for fashion manufacturers in Europe. Rising energy costs are roiling workshops and textile factories, threatening 1.3 million jobs in the textile-manufacturing industry.
Context: What was once a part of the production cost has now become a source of worry for fabric makers. Energy costs currently account for 25% of the total bill from what was initially as low as 5%. Fashion retailers such as Zara and H&M are already moving production to Turkey, which is still in Russia’s good books.
Bed of woes: Even if Europe were to ration gas, fabric makers fear they’d never be part of the relief. The glass and metal industries—active contributors to the economy—are also under strain. China has increased its share in global textile exports by 40% in 2020. Europe's biggest fast-fashion chain Primark has also issued a profit warning.
🎧 Rising energy costs are coming for fashion manufacturers in Europe. The Signal Daily is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, and Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Welcome to Japan: The country will make it easier for cryptocurrency companies to list coins without going through a screening process.
Steady and ready: Tata- and Zomato-backed fitness company Cult.fit is looking to head to the bourses in the next 12-18 months on the back of its core business turning in an operating profit.
Pick and choose: Amazon has entered the online insurance price comparison market in the UK with a portal. Google too had a price comparison service, Google Compare, offering similar propositions before it shut down in 2016.
In the bag: With one eye on strengthening its aviation portfolio, the Adani Group will acquire 71-year-old Air Works Group, India’s largest airline maintenance, repair, and overhaul company.
New hatch: Jack Dorsey, the former Twitter CEO, has unveiled a new Bluesky social protocol called AT Protocol, which is a decentralised answer to the microblogging platform.
Fresh moolah: Kotak Investment is looking to raise a $1 billion fund to invest in residential properties in India’s top five cities. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Allianz SE are among those reportedly investing in the fund.
No moonlighting: Karnataka IT minister CN Ashwath Narayan has termed moonlighting “literally cheating”, backing Bengaluru-headquartered IT companies Infosys and Wipro’s stance on the matter.
THE DAILY DIGIT
That’s how much Mukesh Ambani splurged to buy Dubai’s most expensive villa, which is a stroll away from his other $80 million home in the vicinity. (Bloomberg)
Plantain a seed: How did the banana go from being an inedible crop with hard seeds to the pulpy, seedless fruit we know today? In their quest for an answer, botanists discovered that bananas have three wild ancestors still unaccounted for. Tracking them down is key for breeding more resilient varieties that can withstand climate extremes, disease, and fungal outbreaks. Tangent: did you know the pulp of the Hawaiian banana (which is blue) tastes like vanilla custard?
Ditch the straighteners: You may want to think twice about straightening your hair. According to a new study, chemical straightening products could potentially increase uterine cancer risk. These straighteners come with endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The same products were once notoriously linked to breast and ovarian cancer. That's one more reason to go au naturel.
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