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PUBG Mobile plots return to India following ban

PUBG Mobile, the sleeper hit title that was banned in India two months ago over cybersecurity concerns, is plotting to make a return in the world’s second largest internet market, two sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.
The South Korean firm has engaged with global cloud service providers in recent weeks to store Indian users’ data within the country to allay New Delhi’s concerns about user data residency and security, one of the sources said.
The gaming giant has privately informed some high-profile streamers in the country that it expects to resume the service in India before the end of this year, the other source said. Both the sources requested anonymity as they are not authorized to speak to the press. PUBG Corporation did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The company could make an announcement about its future plans for India as soon as this week. It also plans to run a marketing campaign in the country during the festival of Diwali next week, one of the sources said.
In recent weeks, PUBG has also engaged with a number of local firms, including SoftBank-backed Paytm and telecom giant Airtel, to explore whether they would be interested in publishing the popular mobile game in the country, an industry executive said. A Paytm spokesperson declined to comment.
Chinese giant Tencent initially published PUBG Mobile apps in India. After New Delhi banned PUBG Mobile, the gaming firm cut publishing ties with Tencent in the country. Prior to the ban, PUBG Mobile’s content was hosted on Tencent Cloud.
Late last month, two months after the ban order, PUBG Mobile terminated its service for Indian users. “Protecting user data has always been a top priority and we have always complied with applicable data protection laws and regulations in India. All users’ gameplay information is processed in a transparent manner as disclosed in our privacy policy,” it said at the time.

PUBG Mobile to terminate access for users in India on October 30 following ban order

With more than 50 million monthly active users in India, PUBG Mobile was by far the most popular mobile game in the country before it was banned. It helped establish an entire ecosystem of esports organisations and even a cottage industry of streamers that made the most of its spectator sport-friendly gameplay, said Rishi Alwani, a long-time analyst of Indian gaming market and publisher of news outlet The Mako Reactor.
PUBG Mobile’s return, however, could complicate matters for several industry players, including some that are currently building similar games to cash in on its absence and their conversations with venture capital firms over ongoing financing rounds.
It would also suggest that more than 200 other Chinese apps that India has banned in recent months could hope to allay New Delhi’s concerns by making some changes to where they store their users’ data. (That was also the understanding between TikTok and Reliance when they engaged in investment opportunities earlier this year.)

ByteDance in talks with India’s Reliance for investment in TikTok

PUBG Mobile plots return to India following ban

PUBG Mobile to terminate access for users in India on October 30 following ban order

PUBG Mobile, the sleeper hit mobile game, will terminate all service and access for users in India on October 30, two months after New Delhi banned the game in the world’s second largest internet market over cybersecurity concerns.
India on September 2 banned PUBG Mobile Nordic Map: Livik and PUBG Mobile Lite, along with more than 100 apps with links to China. The ban came after India banned TikTok and dozens of other popular Chinese apps in late June.
These apps were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order,” the country’s IT Ministry said on both the instances.

India bans PUBG Mobile, and over 100 other Chinese apps

But unlike other affected apps that became unavailable within days — if not hours — PUBG Mobile apps remained accessible in the country for users who already had them installed on their phones, tablets and PCs. In fact, according to one popular mobile insight firm, PUBG Mobile had retained more than 90% of its monthly active users in the country, a mobile-first market where 99% of smartphones run Android, in the weeks following New Delhi’s order.
(Following the ban, Google and Apple pulled PUBG Mobile apps from their app stores in India. But soon enough, guides on how to work around the ban and obtain and install the apps became popular on several forums.)
PUBG Mobile had about 50 million monthly active users in India, tens of millions of users ahead of Call of Duty: Mobile and Fortnite and any other mobile game in the country.
“PUBG Mobile kickstarted an entire ecosystem — from esports organisations to teams and even a cottage industry of streamers that made the most of its spectator sport-friendly gameplay,” said Rishi Alwani, a long-time analyst of Indian gaming market and publisher of news outlet The Mako Reactor.
“Granted Tencent did a lot of the heavy lifting in building it out, but the game’s quality itself was heads and shoulders above what most Indians were used to on smartphones. And that’s a reason many kept coming back, some eventually monetising as well,” he added.

India bans TikTok, dozens of other Chinese apps

South Korea-headquartered PUBG Mobile attempted to assuage New Delhi’s concern by cutting ties with Tencent, the game’s publishing and distribution partner in India.
On Thursday, PUBG Mobile said, “protecting user data has always been a top priority and we have always complied with applicable data protection laws and regulations in India. All users’ gameplay information is processed in a transparent manner as disclosed in our privacy policy.”
“We deeply regret this outcome, and sincerely thank you for your support and love for PUBG Mobile in India,” it added.

PUBG cuts publishing ties with Tencent Games in India a week after ban

PUBG Mobile to terminate access for users in India on October 30 following ban order

Daily Crunch: India bans PUBG and other Chinese apps

India continues to crack down on Chinese apps, Microsoft launches a deepfake detector and Google offers a personalized news podcast. This is your Daily Crunch for September 2, 2020.
The big story: India bans PUBG and other Chinese apps
The Indian government continues its purge of apps created by or linked to Chinese companies. It already banned 59 Chinese apps back in June, including TikTok.
India’s IT Ministry justified the decision as “a targeted move to ensure safety, security, and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.” The apps banned today include search engine Baidu, business collaboration suite WeChat Work, cloud storage service Tencent Weiyun and the game Rise of Kingdoms. But PUBG is the most popular, with more than 40 million monthly active users.

The tech giants
Microsoft launches a deepfake detector tool ahead of US election — The Video Authenticator tool will provide a confidence score that a given piece of media has been artificially manipulated.
Google’s personalized audio news feature, Your News Update, comes to Google Podcasts — That means you’ll be able to get a personalized podcast of the latest headlines.
Twitch launches Watch Parties to all creators worldwide — Twitch is doubling down on becoming more than just a place for live-streamed gaming videos.
Startups, funding and venture capital
Indonesian insurtech startup PasarPolis gets $54 million Series B from investors including LeapFrog and SBI — The startup’s goal is to reach people who have never purchased insurance before with products like inexpensive “micro-policies” that cover broken device screens.
XRobotics is keeping the dream of pizza robots alive — XRobotics’ offering resembles an industrial 3D printer, in terms of size and form factor.
India’s online learning platform Unacademy raises $150 million at $1.45 billion valuation — India has a new startup unicorn.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
The IPO parade continues as Wish files, Bumble targets an eventual debut — Alex Wilhelm looks at the latest IPO news, including Bumble planning to go public at a $6 to $8 billion valuation.
3 ways COVID-19 has affected the property investment market — COVID-19 has stirred up the long-settled dust on real estate investing.
Deep Science: Dog detectors, Mars mappers and AI-scrambling sweaters — Devin Coldewey kicks off a new feature in which he gets you all caught up on the most recent research papers and scientific discoveries.
(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)
Everything else
‘The Mandalorian’ launches its second season on Oct. 30 — The show finished shooting its second season right before the pandemic shut down production everywhere.
GM, Ford wrap up ventilator production and shift back to auto business — Both automakers said they’d completed their contracts with the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Daily Crunch: India bans PUBG and other Chinese apps

Bangladesh regulator orders telcos to stop providing free access to social media

Bangladesh’s regulator has ordered telecom operators and other internet providers in the nation to stop providing free access to social media services, becoming the latest market in Asia to take a partial stand against zero-rating deals.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, the local regulator, said late last week that it had moved to take this decision because free usage of social media services had spurred their misuse by some people to commit crimes. Local outlet Business Standard first reported about the development. Bangladesh is one of the largest internet markets in Asia with more than 100 million online users.
Technology companies such as Facebook and Twitter have struck partnerships, more popularly known as zero-rating deals, with telecom operators and other internet providers in several markets in the past decade to make their services free to users to accelerate growth. Typically, tech companies bankroll the cost of data consumption of users as part of these deals.
In Bangladesh, such zero-rating deals have been popular for several years, said Ahad Mohammad, chief executive of Bongo, an on-demand streaming service, in an interview with TechCrunch (Extra Crunch membership required) .
Grameenphone and Robi Axiata, two of the largest telecom operators in Bangladesh, enable their mobile subscribers to access a handful of services of their partners even when their phones have run out of credit. Both telecom firms have said they are in the process to comply with Dhaka’s order.
It remains unclear whether Free Basics, a program run by Facebook in dozens of markets through which it offers unlimited access to select services at no cost, will continue its presence in Bangladesh after the nation’s order. Facebook relies on telecom networks to offer data access for its Free Basics program.
In Bangladesh, Facebook struck deals with Grameenphone and Robi Axiata, according to its official website, where Facebook continues to identify Bangladesh among dozens of markets where Free Basics is operational.
Several nations in recent years have balked at zero-rating arrangements — though they have often cited different reasons. India banned Free Basics in early 2016 on the grounds that Facebook’s initiative was violating the principles of net neutrality.
Free Basics also ended its program in Myanmar and several other markets in 2017 and 2018. Facebook did not respond to requests for comment.

Bangladesh regulator orders telcos to stop providing free access to social media

Apple unveils iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur features for India, China and other international markets

Apple will roll out a range of new features and improvements that are aimed at users in India, China and other international markets with its yearly updates to iOS, iPadOS, and macOS operating systems, it unveiled today.
iOS 14, which is rolling out to developers today and will reach general users later this year, introduces new bilingual dictionaries to support French and German; Indonesia and English; Japanese and Simplified Chinese; and Polish and English. For its users in China, one of Apple’s biggest overseas markets, the iPhone-maker said the new operating system will introduce support for Wubi keyboard.
For users in India, Apple is adding 20 new document fonts and upgrading 18 existing fonts with “more weights and italics” to give people greater choices. For those living in the world’s second largest internet market, Mail app now supports email addresses in Indian script.
Apple said it will also deliver a range of additional features for India, building on the big momentum it kickstarted last year.
Messages now feature corresponding full-screen effects when users send greetings such as “Happy Holi” in one of the 23 Indian local languages.
More interestingly, iOS 14 will include smart downloads, which will allow users in India to download Indian Siri voices and software updates as well as download and stream Apple TV+ shows over cellular networks — a feature that is not available elsewhere in the world.
The feature further addresses the patchy networks that are prevalent in India — despite major improvements in recent years. Last year, Apple beamed a feature for users in India that enabled users in the nation to set an optimized time of the day in on-demand streaming apps such as Hotstar and Netflix for downloading videos.
New improvements further shows Apple’s growing focus on India, the world’s second largest smartphone market. Apple chief executive Tim Cook said earlier this year that the company will launch its online store in the country later this year, and open its first physical store next year. A source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch last month that the global pandemic had not affected the plan.
iOS 14 will also allow users in Ireland and Norway to utilize the autocorrection feature as the new update adds support for Irish Gaelic and Norwegian Nynorsk. And there’s also a redesigned Kana keyboard for Japan, which will enable users there to type numbers with repeated digits more easily on the redesigned Numbers and Symbols plane.
All the aforementioned features — except email addresses in Indian script in Mail and smart downloads for users in India — will also ship with iPadOS 14. And the aforementioned new bilingual dictionaries, new fonts for India, and localized messages are coming to macOS Big Sur.
Additionally, Apple says on the desktop operating system it has also enhanced predictive input for Chinese and Japanese results in more accurate and contextual predictions.

Here’s everything Apple announced in the WWDC 2020 keynote today

Apple unveils iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur features for India, China and other international markets