Alibaba’s Streaming Video Subscription Service Rolls Out In China

streaming video Alibaba’s unlimited video streaming subscription platform, Tmall Box Office (TBO), is now available for some users of its smart TV operating system in China. Tech In Asia spotted TBO’s homepage, which gives viewers access to Chinese and foreign shows and movies starting at RMB 39 (about $6.10) for a month’s subscription. Read More

Alibaba’s Streaming Video Subscription Service Rolls Out In China

streaming video Alibaba’s unlimited video streaming subscription platform, Tmall Box Office (TBO), is now available for some users of its smart TV operating system in China. Tech In Asia spotted TBO’s homepage, which gives viewers access to Chinese and foreign shows and movies starting at RMB 39 (about $6.10) for a month’s subscription. Read More

Xiaomi reportedly working on $470 laptop with Samsung, others due early 2016

Flickr / Jon Russell

China’s smartphone giant Xiaomi is reportedly working on its own line of laptops with partners including Inventec and Foxconn for release in early 2016, according to a report by DigitTimes Tuesday.

Samsung may also be tapped to supply the chips and displays, according to a separate report from Bloomberg Wednesday.

DigiTimes, which is initially predicting a 15-inch notebook model priced at around $470 running Linux, cites its sources as saying:

For the notebook business, Xiaomi is planning to use the same strategy as the one for smartphones and will release notebooks with high price/performance ratio.

While much cheaper than Apple’s MacBook offerings, it’s likely that Xiaomi will be positioning itself to steal marketshare from both Apple and homegrown rival Lenovo. Bloomberg’s sources specifically claim it will look to compete with the two brands.

VentureBeat has reached out to both Samsung and Xiaomi for comment, and we’ll update you if we hear back.

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U.S. weighs sanctioning Russia as well as China in cyber attacks

Reuters / Dado Ruvic

Washington (By Arshad Mohammed, Matt Spetalnick and Mark Hosenball) — The United States is considering sanctions against both Russian and Chinese individuals and companies for cyber attacks against U.S. commercial targets, several U.S. officials said on Monday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no final decision had been made on imposing sanctions, which could strain relations with Russia further and, if they came soon, cast a pall over a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September.

The Washington Post first reported the Obama administration was considering sanctioning Chinese targets, possibly within the next few weeks, and said that individuals and firms from other nations could also be targeted. It did not mention Russia.


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A move against Chinese entities or individuals before Xi’s trip, the officials said, is possible but unlikely because of the strain it could put on the top-level diplomatic visit, which will include a black-tie state dinner at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama.

“The Chinese government staunchly upholds cyber security, firmly opposes and combats all forms of cyber attacks in accordance with law,” Chinese Embassy spokesman Zhu Haiquan said in a statement.

He said China wants enhanced dialogue and cooperation with  the United States and that “groundless speculation, hyping up or accusation is not helpful to solve the problem.”

The  Russian Embassy did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

The U.S. government has suffered a series of embarrassing cyber attacks in recent months, including one on the White House Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that potentially provided a treasure trove of data about government employees to foreign spies.

U.S. officials suspect that attack was linked to China, which has denied any involvement in hacking U.S. databases and says it too has been a victim of cyber attacks.

The sanctions Washington is currently considering would not target suspected hackers of government data, but rather foreign citizens and firms believed responsible for cyber attacks on commercial enterprises, one official said.

If taken, the action would be the administration’s  first use of an executive order signed by Obama in April to crack down on foreign hackers accused of penetrating U.S. computer systems.

The officials declined to name any potential targets, concerned that advance warning would allow them to hide assets.

One U.S. official said that sanctions imposed on individuals or companies would effectively cut them off from using the U.S. financial system, which could be a death-sentence for a serious business venture.

The official also said that entities or individuals from countries other than Russia or China could face sanctions.

Another U.S. official suggested that a decision on targeting Chinese entities could depend partly on whether diplomatic efforts, such as last week’s visit by White House national security adviser Susan Rice to Beijing last week, produce positive results going forward.

Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel visits China next weekend for further talks ahead of Xi’s U.S. trip in the second half of September.

STRAINED U.S.-RUSSIAN RELATIONS

U.S.-Russian relations have been deeply strained in recent years, notably by Russia’s March 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine as well as its continued support for pro-Russian rebels fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine.

Cyber security was a major issue between China and the United States during the June Strategic and Economic Dialogue that gathers some of the top financial and foreign policy officials in the two governments.

“The United States, as we all know, has sharp disagreements with China over its actions in cyber space,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters on Monday.

“We have remained deeply concerned about Chinese government-sponsored cyber-enabled theft of confidential business information and proprietary technology from U.S. companies,” he added at his daily briefing.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest declined to confirm the United States was weighing sanctions against Chinese entities, though he said U.S. cyber security concerns were “not a surprise” to Beijing.

“It would be strategically unwise for us to discuss potential sanctions targets because that would only give the potential targets of sanctions the opportunity to take steps that would allow them to evade those sanctions,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One.

He said an executive order signed by Obama in April provided “an additional tool in the toolbox to confront this particular challenge.”

(Aditional reporting by Julia Edwards and Yeganeh Torbati in Washington.; Writing By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Sue Horton)


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Food delivery service Ele.me is now China’s third-most funded startup

A customer pushes a cart at a supermarket in Fuyang, Anhui province, August 9, 2015. Reuters / China Stringer Network

China’s popular food delivery service Ele.me (which translates to “Hungry?”) raised a whopping $630 million in Series F funding at a $3 billion valuation right before the weekend.

The round propels it into the number three spot of China’s top-funded startups, with about $1.1 billion in capital raised to date. Group buying website Meituan slips to fourth place, also with about $1.1 billion — though it could be argued the two are now joint-third.

Meanwhile, taxi-hailing app Didi Kuaidi and smartphone maker Xiaomi are still ahead in spots one and two respectively.


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Didi has raised in the region of $3.4 billion at a reported $15 billion valuation in its fight against Uber (who hasn’t been having the easiest time in China of late, despite its best efforts), while Xiaomi has raised about $1.4 billion at a $45 billion valuation.

Ele.me previously raised $350 million in January from investors including CITIC Private Equity, Tencent (who owns WeChat, China’s popular mobile messaging platform that also supports food delivery services), ecommerce giant JD.com, and Sequoia Capital.

The latest round saw these existing investors back for more, plus the addition of Chinese retailer Hualian Group and private equity firm Gopher Asset.

The company now claims to have 300,000 restaurants on its platform across 260 cities in China, records close to $9.5 million in daily orders from about 40 million customers (98 percent of which are through mobile), and employs 10,000 people.

Ele.me leads the country’s online-to-offline (O2O) food ordering market with 40 percent market share, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International. (Meituan and Baidu are second and third, respectively.)

Many of China’s largest Internet companies are this year investing in their own O2O push. Alibaba, for example, integrated O2O services into its Alipay e-wallet last month — part of a wider $1 billion push into the space. And in May, the ecommerce giant embraced new visual QR-style codes for O2O transactions.

This may not be the last big investment we see into an O2O service in China this year.

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Nokia agrees on China joint venture with Huaxin

The Nokia headquarters is seen in Espoo The Nokia headquarters is seen in Espoo, Finland, July 28, 2015. REUTERS/Mikko Stig/Lethikuva

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia <NOKIA.HE> on Friday said it has agreed to create a joint venture in China with state-owned Huaxin, following Nokia’s proposed takeover of Alcatel-Lucent.

Alcatel-Lucent and Huaxin currently share a similar joint venture.

According to a memorandum of understanding, Nokia said it expects to hold 50 percent plus one share in the new joint venture, with Huaxin holding the remaining shares.

The Nokia-Alcatel deal has not yet won approval from Chinese authorities. The transaction is expected to close next year.

(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; editing by Jason Neely)


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Uber confirms China police investigating driver over alleged robbery and sexual assault

Reuters / Tyrone Siu

Police in China have opened an investigation after an Uber driver reportedly robbed and sexually assaulted a female passenger in the city of Chengdu on August 5, the company has confirmed to VentureBeat.

Uber previously failed to reply to multiple requests for comment by Reuters on Thursday.

Reports first surfaced Wednesday (link in Chinese) on local state media that a 42-year-old female passenger had hailed an Uber at 2am August 5, only to be robbed of about $800 and sexually assaulted by the male driver.


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The ordeal reportedly lasted for about three hours before the passenger was dropped off. She also claims the male driver, who had a knife, took compromising photographs of her and threatened her not to report the incident to police.

An Uber spokesperson told VentureBeat the company “is in close contact with local authorities” in China, and that police are treating it as a criminal case.

It added that, as with any such safety incident, Uber is conducting its own due diligence on the matter.

“It is our policy to de-activate any driver-partner following any such allegation,” the spokesperson said, “which we did immediately in this instance upon learning of the incident. All Uber driver-partners undergo background checks before being activated on our platform. This driver is no exception and did not have any prior criminal record.”

Uber has previously got itself into hot water over rape claims. In December last year, the service was banned in Delhi following a high-profile rape case. On December 7, Indian police arrested a driver, and Uber went on to issue a public apology.

More recently in June, Chinese police reported the first rape claims against a driver of a car-hailing app, though at the time it didn’t emerge if it was an Uber driver specifically.

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Xiaomi’s reported move to in-house chips could spell trouble for Qualcomm

Reuters / Bobby Yip

Fresh reports (link in Chinese) surfaced Thursday that Xiaomi, China’s number one smartphone maker, is planning to use in-house chips for its low- and mid-range smartphones in 2016.

The rumored move, which first appeared earlier this month (link also in Chinese), is notable because of the sheer size Xiaomi has grown to. Any changes in its business verticals will have a rippling affect on other players and suppliers in those industries.

The Chinese upstart was the fourth largest smartphone maker in Q2 by shipments, behind rivals Samsung, Apple, and Huawei.


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The move spells bad news in particular for already-struggling chip maker Qualcomm, who supplies Xiaomi with the more lucrative chips in its mid-range and flagship devices. These include the recently launched Mi Note Pro in January ($480) that runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810, and the Mi 4i in April ($200) that runs on the slower Snapdragon 615.

Xiaomi’s lower-end devices, like the Redmi Note 2 ($168) that launched this month, are already running on chips from Chinese chip maker MediaTek. If we backtrack to last year, we have the case study of Xiaomi-owned Pine Cone Electronics working with Chinese chip maker Leadcore Technology to develop the LC1860 processor. That processor ended up in the low-end Redmi 2A ($96), which proved a lucrative model for Xiaomi and allowed it to keep prices low. Qualcomm’s comparable processor would have reportedly cost double — $8 apiece instead of $4.

Qualcomm recently saw its quarterly profits slide by as much as 46 percent, and is reportedly preparing to lay off several thousand employees. Like an increasing number of technology companies, including Apple, the California-based chip maker is over reliant on sales from Asia.

In Qualcomm’s case, as much as 84 percent of its annual sales come from this part of the world, as of July data, and Xiaomi is no doubt one of its biggest customers. But the move seems to be part of a wider trend that is leaving Qualcomm in the lurch.

South Korean giant Samsung moved away from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon earlier this year, which it had been expected to supply, opting instead to use its own in-house chips for the flagship Galaxy S6.

It’s not unforeseeable that Xiaomi will ultimately look to do the same with its own flagship devices. For now though, they are still running on Qualcomm’s technology — a Snapdragon 820 is expected to power the Mi 5, rumored for a November release.

Xiaomi is eyeing a U.S. entry for its smartphones in 2016 (it already sells some products there), but owning as many verticals as possible first is a logical move if it wants to compete against local players. Producing its own chips is part of that wider vision of control, much like Apple.

A report in May by the EETimes quoted a Leadcore executive as saying that “Xiaomi wants its own custom-designed processors to differentiate its products and control its destiny.”

Meanwhile, a separate report by a Chinese-language newspaper (via DigiTimes) said that the company has obtained the right to gain access to ARM processor technology.

Xiaomi declined to comment for this story. Qualcomm has not replied to our request for comment, but we’ll update you if we hear back.

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Xiaomi’s reported move to in-house chips could spell trouble for Qualcomm

Reuters / Bobby Yip

Fresh reports (link in Chinese) surfaced Thursday that Xiaomi, China’s number one smartphone maker, is planning to use in-house chips for its low- and mid-range smartphones in 2016.

The rumored move, which first appeared earlier this month (link also in Chinese), is notable because of the sheer size Xiaomi has grown to. Any changes in its business verticals will have a rippling affect on other players and suppliers in those industries.

The Chinese upstart was the fourth largest smartphone maker in Q2 by shipments, behind rivals Samsung, Apple, and Huawei.


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The move spells bad news in particular for already-struggling chip maker Qualcomm, who supplies Xiaomi with the more lucrative chips in its mid-range and flagship devices. These include the recently launched Mi Note Pro in January ($480) that runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810, and the Mi 4i in April ($200) that runs on the slower Snapdragon 615.

Xiaomi’s lower-end devices, like the Redmi Note 2 ($168) that launched this month, are already running on chips from Chinese chip maker MediaTek. If we backtrack to last year, we have the case study of Xiaomi-owned Pine Cone Electronics working with Chinese chip maker Leadcore Technology to develop the LC1860 processor. That processor ended up in the low-end Redmi 2A ($96), which proved a lucrative model for Xiaomi and allowed it to keep prices low. Qualcomm’s comparable processor would have reportedly cost double — $8 apiece instead of $4.

Qualcomm recently saw its quarterly profits slide by as much as 46 percent, and is reportedly preparing to lay off several thousand employees. Like an increasing number of technology companies, including Apple, the California-based chip maker is over reliant on sales from Asia.

In Qualcomm’s case, as much as 84 percent of its annual sales come from this part of the world, as of July data, and Xiaomi is no doubt one of its biggest customers. But the move seems to be part of a wider trend that is leaving Qualcomm in the lurch.

South Korean giant Samsung moved away from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon earlier this year, which it had been expected to supply, opting instead to use its own in-house chips for the flagship Galaxy S6.

It’s not unforeseeable that Xiaomi will ultimately look to do the same with its own flagship devices. For now though, they are still running on Qualcomm’s technology — a Snapdragon 820 is expected to power the Mi 5, rumored for a November release.

Xiaomi is eyeing a U.S. entry for its smartphones in 2016 (it already sells some products there), but owning as many verticals as possible first is a logical move if it wants to compete against local players. Producing its own chips is part of that wider vision of control, much like Apple.

A report in May by the EETimes quoted a Leadcore executive as saying that “Xiaomi wants its own custom-designed processors to differentiate its products and control its destiny.”

Meanwhile, a separate report by a Chinese-language newspaper (via DigiTimes) said that the company has obtained the right to gain access to ARM processor technology.

Xiaomi declined to comment for this story. Qualcomm has not replied to our request for comment, but we’ll update you if we hear back.

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