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BW Businessworld

Tablets’ Low-Cost Battle

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It seems tablet PCs are going the cellphone way in India. With three firms announcing low-priced tablets, a price war of sorts has broken out in the coveted segment ruled by giants such as Apple, Samsung and RIM. On 18 August, Bharti Group firm Beetel Teletech launched its tablet Magiq priced at Rs 9,999, close on the heels of Reliance Communications introducing the Reliance 3G Tab, at Rs 12,999. In India, Apple's iPad 2 starts at $499 (about Rs 23,000), while RIM's PlayBook costs over $600 (about Rs 28,000). Bangalore-based LACS is also coming up with a tab, reportedly the lowest-priced so far, at about Rs 5,000. While players such as Spice and Olive have come up with reasonably priced tablets, Lava, Karbonn and Micromax are also planning to launch tablets.

Maha Performers
They are the gems, literally. Five central public sector enterprises were granted the coveted Maharatna title. The move gives ONGC, NTPC, IOC, SAIL and CIL greater financial and operational autonomy. To be eligible for the tag, a PSU should have, among other things, average annual net profit of over Rs 5,000 crore during the past three years.

Tough Ride
Debt-hit luxury hotel operator Hotel Leelaventure plans to raise Rs 1,000 crore through share sale by December. The qualified institutional placement would see a dilution of the promoter stake of 58 per cent by 14 per cent. Its debt is estimated to be Rs 3,950 crore. The group has also said it will sell its luxury hotel in Kerala's Kovalam Beach to Travancore Enter-prises for Rs 500 crore.

COST-WISE: The Leela group plans share sale to cut debts

Ringing In Cash

The Centre has received about Rs 2.15 lakh crore from telecom operators in spectrum and licence fees. Up to June, it received about Rs 1.3 lakh crore as spectrum charges and about Rs 88,100 crore in licence fees, according to communications and IT minister Milind Deora.

Power Entry
Sahara India Power Corp has said it will set up power plants with a capacity of 6,000 MW in India, along with South Korea's Korea East-West Power. The firms would jointly participate in tariff-based bidding for ultra-mega power projects in India.

Debt Status
India's public debt rose by 5.9 per cent to Rs 31.5 lakh crore during the first quarter ended 30 June 2011, from Rs 29.8 lakh crore during January-March 2011. Hope Standard & Poor's will not have a problem.

We Are Hiring
India's organised sector created more than 700,000 jobs in the first half of 2011 and might generate 350,00 jobs by September, says staffing services firm Ma Foi Randstad. Its survey shows healthcare alone generated 115,000 jobs in the first half of 2011, while hospitality sector saw 94,000 new jobs, followed by IT/ITES, 91,000 jobs.

Like Humans Do
IT giant IBM has developed a chip which it says replicates human brain better. The SyNAPSE system can "rewire" its connections as it encounters new data, much like biological synapses in work in humans. Experts claim such advanced chips will help machines perform human-like functions.

Inside Intel
Chipmaker Intel has created a $300-million fund to back technologies focused on Ultrabook computers — thin, light, low-price PCs. Good intent, but reports say Intel is hesitant to cut prices of its CPUs as demanded by several ultrabook vendors. While vendors want a 50-per cent cut, Intel has agreed only to 20 per cent. Profit concerns?

Tony Plays Soccer
Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes has taken over English professional football club QPR. The founder of low-cost airline AirAsia has secured 66 per cent in the club. He says the plan is to build "something the fans can be proud of". Watch out.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 29-08-2011)