Former Vodafone boss backs India’s music-streaming service Saavn as it hits 18M users

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Mumbai-based music-streaming service Saavn announced Thursday that former Vodafone chief executive Arun Sarin has joined as an investor and strategic advisor.

The news comes less than three months after the company announced $ 100 million in fresh funding. At the time, it said it was adding one million new users per month, with 14 million in total.

As of today, that number has grown to 18 million monthly active users, which it says represents a tenfold increase in daily active users in India since last year.

Beyond that, it’s claiming more than 20 million songs (over 250 million streams per month) and a global team of 145 people across five offices.

“Music streaming is a core app on today’s smartphones, and Saavn is superbly positioned to grow rapidly in the fast expanding smartphone market in India,” Sarin said in a statement.

“As an innovative and nimble music-streaming company, at the heart of one of the world’s most valuable markets, Saavn hits all the right notes,” he added.

Meanwhile, the company’s cofounder and chief executive, Rishi Malhotra, said that over 90 percent of the service’s usage is driven by smartphones, and that it plans to “work more deeply with carriers in India and additional territories” in the coming months.

Sarin’s investment amount was not disclosed.

The company’s most recent series C round in July was led by New York-based hedge fund Tiger Global Management, and at the time it said that it expects to hit 20 million users by the end of the year.

But while the service may be the market leader on its home turf in India, it certainly has its work cut out if it hopes to expand globally — an area in which Sarin’s expertise will no doubt help. That said, the company did not make any mention of expansion plans today.

In general, the music-streaming space has been busy.

Earlier this week, we reported that Deezer is planning an IPO later this year as the battle with rivals Spotify and Apple Music heats up. And Google Play Music continues to expand with its official entry into Japan a few weeks ago.

Microsoft’s Groove Music just announced support on Sonos speakers, and Spotify hasn’t managed to keep out of headlines either: On Wednesday it launched its new “Mix Mates” playlist generator to help friends find music they share in common. (We also heard rumors that Spotify will be supported on Google’s upcoming second-generation Chromecast.)

The announcements from Saavn today are encouraging, but it’s only just the beginning of the global music-streaming wars — and versus many of the other big players, its user numbers are still relatively low.

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Here’s the one VR concept that the smartest people at Oculus admit they’re nowhere near figuring out

Yes, there is something that Abrash doesn't know how to do.

We finally have a workable virtual-reality platform, but plenty of obstacles are between us and a Star Trek-style holodeck.

If you reach out to touch a table, you’ll feel the molecules of that piece of furniture push against your hand. Do the same thing in virtual reality, and you’ll feel nothing. This is a problem — and it’s one of the few that Oculus VR says it has no idea how to solve.

The company held a keynote address as part of its annual Oculus Connect developers conference today, and it put on something of a parade of its top talent. Business-development leader Anna Sweet, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, and even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg all took the stage. But one of the more interesting points came when Oculus chef scientist Michael Abrash gave an in-depth speech about everything the company needs to do to go from where VR is today to where it should get to in the future.

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Abrash talked about improving the visuals with a wider field of view. He talked about providing 3D audio. He even speculated about creating a chemical-based way to deliver various smells to Rift users.

For every problem, he posed a solution that is either possible today or one that the company sees a way to work to in the future. Well, he did that for every problem except one.

Abrash pointed out that no one is even working on a technology that will make it feel like your hand is touching a table where no table exists.

This is something I asked Palmer Luckey about in a conversation we had a few months ago. He told me — and Abrash’s talk today reiterates this point — that the company wants to solve every aspect of VR. He essentially wants Oculus working on a way to fool every one of your senses. When I asked him about touching an object and feeling like it exists, that led us to the aforementioned Star Trek holodecks. That sci-fi technology manifests protons that it can give mass to. When I posed that idea to Luckey as a joke, I was surprised that he had already considered the idea.

“Photons are a dead-end,” said Luckey then.

So while Oculus doesn’t know what will work to make objects feel real in VR, it has already scratched one idea off the list.

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Google Offers Cheaper Version of Cloud Services to Run Low Priority Jobs

Google Cloud 300x267 Google Offers Cheaper Version of Cloud Services to Run Low Priority JobsSome departments in your company do not need cloud computing resources to carry high-performance tasks, right? Because Google has just formatted a service plan for such demands. Google launched Preemptible Virtual Machine, a new cloud service that allows to use computing resources at low costs. The offer is suitable for workloads with low priority and can, therefore, be interrupted.

The search giant introduced a new cloud platform that cost 70% less than the same default setting in Compute Engine. The Preemptible Virtual Machine can do well cheap, about $ 0.01 per instance/hour. The most affordable VM charges per hour can range anywhere between $ 0.03 per hour, up to $ 0.11 per hour or more. The problem is that the VMs may stop working when you need it or face peak periods.

The company argues, however, that the offer (in beta) serves very well the various computational tasks. The company cites, for example, some critical workflows that can be distributed among multiple virtual machines. However, it would be a bad idea to adopt the approach to process analysis, modeling, and simulations that require high computing power and instant answers.

To provide the service, Google will use the free capacity in its data center. At times when there is a peak in demand and Google needs more resources, virtual machines involved in Preemptible Compute Engine VMs are recalled and interrupts the current processing. Users receive a notice period of 30 seconds, which should be enough to save your work. Google said No Preemptible VM can run for more than 24 hours straight.

According to the Google post, “all machine types are charged a minimum of 10 minutes. For example, if you run your instance for 2 minutes, you will be billed for 10 minutes of usage. After 10 minutes, instances are charged in 1 minute increments, rounded up to the nearest minute. For example, an instance that lives for 11.25 minutes will be charged for 12 minutes of usage.”

According to Google, there are many that utilize cloud scalability and pricing model to calculate relatively intensive, but short-term assignments. It includes the coding of video, reproduction of visual effects and calculations based on large amounts of information, such as in data analysis, simulation, and genomics.

The solution is quite similar to that of Spot Instances offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). The model of AWS differs in price. Google has a fixed cost while the competitor price varies according to demand.

The market leader AWS routinely cuts their cloud pricing. The company is facing tough competition with Google and Microsoft to maintain its lead in cloud computing and tries to woo more developers to come to its solutions with lower prices, more hardware offerings and more advanced technologies. Microsoft, on the other hand, progressed enough to be a serious threat to Amazon’s dominance in the market.

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