Archive for ‘Technology’


Xiaomi’s Big Bet on Indian Internet Revolution Starts to Pay Off – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The sales are a significant rise compared with the three million phones the company said it sold in its first year of business in India.

Xiaomi aims to sell 80 to 100 million smartphones this year and has been valued by investors at $46 billion. But increasing competition at home, from companies who mimic Xiaomi’s business model of selling high-end phones at low prices, will make it tough to meet its sales target. So the five-year-old startup is setting its hopes on growth in India. Xiaomi found success in China by combining razor-thin profit margins on hardware with glitzy product launches that helped build its fanbase.

The closely-held company needs to prove that it can export its business model to other countries to continue to justify its high valuation.

Xiaomi introduced its first model, the Mi 4i, outside China, at a launch in New Delhi in April. In August, it said it would begin assembling its entry-level Redmi 2 Prime in India.

Xiaomi’s recent success in India shows that its model can work there, said the company’s Vice President Hugo Barra. Since January, sales in the South Asian country increased 45% quarter-over-quarter, on average.

The firm’s Indian office is tweaking Xiaomi’s model of Internet flash sales, designed to boost demand and cut costs. During the company’s sale for the Hindu holiday Diwali, items were sold for as little as a rupee. “Some people bought a Mi TV for one rupee,” Mr. Barra said. One rupee is equal to $0.02. The heavily discounted deals meant that Xiaomi spent nothing on marketing. “This is an idea the India team came up with that you will see reused in other markets,” he said. The company still faces challenges in India.

While Xiaomi says it sold three million phones in its first year in India, market leader Micromax Informatics Ltd. says it sells three million phones a month. While the Chinese company relies mostly on online sales to cut costs, the majority of Micromax’s sales are in brick-and-mortar retail outlets, where most Indians still shop.

It remains unclear how much India can help bolster Xiaomi’s balance sheet. While smartphone sales are booming in India, the market is still tiny.

Xiaomi’s Mr. Barra says the company will slowly add to its catalogue of products in India, which currently includes phones and a handful of accessories like headphones and a fitness tracker. In China, Xiaomi sells everything from water purifiers to power strips.

Next up could be the company’s line of Internet routers, Mr. Barra said, which includes a model with six terabytes of storage.

“We are looking at bringing the router family to India,” he said. But don’t expect the smart bathroom scale to show up in India right away, or even the company’s newest gadget: a cut-price Segway-like device. “We carefully select things that will sell in India in good volumes. We have to be thoughtful and plan carefully.”

Source: Xiaomi’s Big Bet on Indian Internet Revolution Starts to Pay Off – China Real Time Report – WSJ


Gauging the strength of Chinese innovation | McKinsey & Company

The events of 2015 have shown that China is passing through a challenging transition: the labor-force expansion and surging investment that propelled three decades of growth are now weakening.

Gauging the strength of Chinese innovation

This is a natural stage in the country’s economic development. Yet it raises questions such as how drastically the expansion of GDP will slow down and whether the country can tap new sources of growth.

New research1 by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) suggests that to realize consensus growth forecasts—5.5 to 6.5 percent a year—during the coming decade, China must generate two to three percentage points of annual GDP growth through innovation, broadly defined. If it does, innovation could contribute much of the $3 trillion to $5 trillion a year to GDP by 2025.2 China will have evolved from an “innovation sponge,” absorbing and adapting existing technology and knowledge from around the world, into a global innovation leader. Our analysis suggests that this transformation is possible, though far from inevitable.

To date, when we have evaluated how well Chinese companies commercialize new ideas and use them to raise market share and profits and to compete around the world, the picture has been decidedly mixed. China has become a strong innovator in areas such as consumer electronics and construction equipment. Yet in others—creating new drugs or designing automobile engines, for example—the country still isn’t globally competitive. That’s true even though every year it spends more than $200 billion on research (second only to the United States), turns out close to 30,000 PhDs in science and engineering, and leads the world in patent applications (more than 820,000 in 2013). Video   McKinsey director Kevin Sneader discusses global innovation trends at a recent World Economic Forum event.

When we look ahead, though, we see broad swaths of opportunity. Our analysis suggests that by 2025, such new innovation opportunities could contribute $1.0 trillion to $2.2 trillion a year to the Chinese economy—or equivalent to up to 24 percent of total GDP growth. To achieve this goal, China must continue to transform the manufacturing sector, particularly through digitization, and the service sector, through rising connectivity and Internet enablement. Additional productivity gains would come from progress in science- and engineering-based innovation and improvements in the operations of companies as they adopt modern business methods.

To develop a clearer view of this potential, we identified four innovation archetypes: customer focused, efficiency driven, engineering based, and science based. We then compared the actual global revenues of individual industries with what we would expect them to generate given China’s share of global GDP (12 percent in 2013). As the exhibit shows, Chinese companies that rely on customer-focused and efficiency-driven innovation—in industries such as household appliances, Internet software and services, solar panels, and construction machinery—perform relatively well. Exhibit Enlarge However, Chinese companies are not yet global leaders in any of the science-based industries (such as branded pharmaceuticals) that we analyzed. In engineering-based industries, the results are inconsistent: China excels in high-speed trains but gets less than its GDP-based share from auto manufacturing. In this article, we’ll describe the state of play and the outlook in these four categories, starting with the two outperformers.

Source: Gauging the strength of Chinese innovation | McKinsey & Company


Indian Startup Seclore Gains Traction Amid High Profile Hacks – India Real Time – WSJ


Bad news for corporate hacking victims can be good news for information security firms. Just ask Vishal Gupta, founder and chief executive of Mumbai, India-based Seclore.

Amid a string of high profile breaches like those that have hit Sony Pictures, health insurer Anthem  and infidelity website Ashley Madison, Mr. Gupta’s firm has been quietly gaining clients in the U.S. and elsewhere.  Among them  are U.K.-based drug maker AstraZeneca PLC, Japanese electronics giant Panasonic Corp., German automotive company Daimler AG and U.S. cable firm Comcast Corp.

The company, while not as prominent as cybersecurity firms like FireEye Inc. or Palo Alto Networks Inc., targets an important but sometimes overlooked niche: locking down sensitive documents even when they are emailed outside clients’ networks. Seclore’s tools ensure that sensitive information like financial statements and  payroll information cannot be altered or printed if they are shared with unauthorized users via email.

Seclore, which has about 200 staff and was founded in 2009,  still has a small annual revenue base of around $10 million but Mr. Gupta said his startup has become profitable in the last three quarters, helped by a growing number of clients in the U.S.. Seclore has received some $7 million of investments from the likes of India-focused venture capital firms Helion Venture Partners and Ventureast.

Mr. Gupta said that while companies like Microsoft Corp. offer competing products, he considers his biggest challenge to be finding and keeping top talent in order to keep up with rising demand.

“Information security has truly become a boardroom topic,” Mr. Gupta said.

Source: Indian Startup Seclore Gains Traction Amid High Profile Hacks – India Real Time – WSJ


Cisco joins flurry of U.S.-China tech partnerships | Reuters

Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) said Thursday it would form a joint-venture with Chinese server maker Inspur to sell networking and cloud computing products in China, where the Silicon Valley firm faces political pressure and declining sales.

Chuck Robbins, incoming CEO of Cisco, listens a question from media during a news conference in New Delhi, India, June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Cisco and Inspur said they would invest $100 million in the project, although they offered few other details.

The partnership is one of a growing number of tie-ups between Chinese and U.S. technology firms announced during or ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States this week.

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) said on Thursday it would partner with Baidu Inc (BIDU.O) and Chinese state-owned private investment firm Tsinghua Unigroup on cloud technology, while Dell Inc announced last week it would invest $125 billion over five years in China.

Earlier this year, IBM (IBM.N) pledged to help develop China’s advanced chip industry with a “Made with China” strategy, while chipmakers Intel Corp (INTC.O) and Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) are developing chips with smaller Chinese companies.

Similar to its dealings with the foreign auto industry in decades past, Chinese officials have made clear to foreign technology firms that market access depends on their sharing technology and cooperating with Chinese industry.

Like many of its peers, Cisco’s market share has retreated in recent quarters in China, where its products have been labeled a cybersecurity threat by state media and government-affiliated experts.

U.S. business lobbies have said the Chinese allegations amount to protectionism, while China has pointed to the experience of Cisco’s Shenzhen-based rival Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], which faced similar accusations from Capitol Hill when it sought to enter the United States.

Source: Cisco joins flurry of U.S.-China tech partnerships | Reuters


From ‘Made in China’ to ‘Innovate in China’ – International Finance Magazine

In the West, people often opine that Chinese are not innovators but just copiers who can make a product at a cheaper rate. If somebody mentions inventions, like gunpowder and printing press which were invented by the Chinese, the argument often ends up with ‘they have not really followed through with their innovations and have since then made little progress in this department’.

From ‘Made in China’ to ‘Innovate in China’But the Chinese are ready to transform themselves from the factory of the world to the generator of innovation. Companies like Alibaba Group and Xiaomi among others are making a mark in the world.

“I understand that the China market is characterised by some significant weaknesses when compared to a highly mature Silicon Valley, but the investment power and determination of the Chinese government, along with its appetite to transition away from ‘Made in China’ to ‘Innovated in China’ leaves no doubt in my mind that China will become a leader when it comes to building ecosystems for growth of startups and other innovative organisations,” says Lars Lin Villebaek, co-founder of, a platform for startups. He has 10 years of personal entrepreneurship experience in China.

Last year, China gave birth to a massive 1.9 million new businesses (across all sectors) and saw some record breaking IPOs in the global market.

And unlike the US, which has Silicon Valley and the area around Boston which are known for their startup ecosystems, China has several dozen ‘Silicon Valleys’. “Most of these are in the embryonic stage. Silicon Valley has a long history of success while the Chinese ones are new. The oldest — Zhongquancun in Beijing district — dates back to the ’80s,” says Zhang Chia Hou, China & India analyst and a board member of and author of

According to Wan Gang, China’s minister of science and technology, the district last year birthed 49 startups daily. As of March 2015, 129 high-tech zones had been approved by the State Council. These are designated areas in different cities where entrepreneurs are supported by different policies and benefits, such as fast Internet connections, government assistance in funding, and access to talented and educated human resources from nearby universities.

“Zhongquancun is also home to several universities like the prestigious Tsinghua University which churns out PhDs and computer scientists by the thousands. So there is no shortage of people who understand technology and the investment tap is flowing quite readily,” says Erik Roth, an entrepreneur, lecturer, serial innovator and lead for McKinsey & Company’s Global Innovation & Growth Practice.

Apart from Zhongquancun, Shanghai and Chengdu are also home to several startups.

According to Villebaek, there are several other factors which will help China achieve the ‘startup capital of the world’ status. There is ample access to funding even for high-risk projects. As long as projects replicate proven business models and products, the financing is usually done very quickly.

Additionally, successful companies like Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu have taken upon themselves to nurture the startup system in the country.

Says Alibaba Group spokeswoman: “Our founders started Alibaba Group to champion small businesses, in the belief that the Internet would level the playing field by enabling smallenterprises to leverage innovation and technology to grow and compete more effectively in the domestic and global economies. Alibaba supports innovative entrepreneurs who are able to create products and services that benefit the end user and society as a whole.”

Also, some Chinese are going for international exposure. “Most of the emerging class of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, including Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma, studied at leading US universities, and worked for great corporations and investment firms. Most Chinese who can afford it (foreign education) decide to have an experience abroad,” says Christoph Tutsch, founder and CEO of ONPEX, a company which provides white-label cloud-based payment technology.

Tutsch adds that China is going in the right direction and people are educating themselves to achieve their goals. “They are trying to think out of the box for solutions that will help the local problems. Even now, they are many successful tech companies in China that no one has heard of because they are kept in the local market, which is good for self-improvement. In the next few years, we will start hearing of more Alibabas who venture West,” says Tutsch.

Where they need to improve

Historically, the Chinese do not have a culture of risk taking. “In a long time, I have not noticed any disruptive business model from China,” remarks Roth. The educational system in the country will have to focus on research and offer education in entrepreneurship to address the needs of entrepreneurs.

“The young in general are following the old path of secure jobs in government or established industry. But with 1.3 billion people, there are enough youngsters interested in innovation and entrepreneurship for them to be a real force,” says Zhang.

Source: From ‘Made in China’ to ‘Innovate in China’-International Finance Magazine


The Successful Indian Tech Companies You’ve Probably Never Heard Of – India Real Time – WSJ

The lofty valuations of India’s consumer-focused startups like Flipkart and Snapdeal have gotten a lot of limelight lately, but the country’s up and coming software product technology firms are also growing rapidly, says iSpirit Foundation, a Bangalore-based technology lobby group.

An index capturing the 30 most-valuable Indian software product-makers has risen by 28% in eight months since Oct. 30, a report released by iSpirit, which puts together the index, said Thursday. These companies, as estimated by iSpirit, were worth a total of $10 billion at the end of June. “There has been an acceleration since 2010 in the pace of creation of B2B (business-to-business) companies,” the report said.

More In Technology The Successful Indian Tech Companies You’ve Probably Never Heard Of Are You Addicted to the Internet? Take the Test Internet Addiction: How to Help Protect Your Children 5 Things to Know about Foxconn’s Ambitions in India Uber to Invest $1 Billion in India Indian techies and venture capitalists often rue that though Indians occupy top positions in global tech companies like Microsoft Corp.MSFT +3.55% and Oracle ORCL +2.05% Corp, the country hasn’t produced a major software firm up to the caliber of these multinationals.

In December, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneurship trade body, the Indus Entrepreneurs, launched a program to help grow a select number of Indian product companies to become worth a billion dollars or more each. To help garner attention for software-product makers, iSpirit created its index last year. For this, it considered more than 300 Indian companies that make and sell software or provide applications that support other businesses. The index doesn’t include technology outsourcing firms like Infosys Ltd.500209.BY +3.56% and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.532540.BY -0.08%, or consumer-oriented technology companies, like Flipkart and ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd.-owned Ola, a taxi-hailing application, which use technology to sell products to individuals. Companies included are firms like Bangalore-based InMobi Technology Services Pvt. Ltd., which competes with Google Inc.GOOGL +2.69% and Facebook Inc.FB +2.96% globally to provide a mobile advertising platform, and Delhi-based Wingify Software Pvt. Ltd, which analyses web-user data to enable companies to create more effective webpages.

Other companies are Capillary Technologies, which creates software that helps retailers manage customer data and counts shoemaker Nike NKE +1.91% and Pizza Hut among its customers, and Druva Software Pvt. Ltd., which provides data backup and other services to companies like Dell Inc. The index also has a few companies which have been around for more than two decades, such as Delhi-based Newgen Software Technologies Ltd, and accounting software-maker Tally Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

These software companies have also caught the eye of international investors in recent years. “There’s a consistent amount of capital going in…I wouldn’t say it’s a flood,” said Dev Khare, managing director of Lightspeed India Partners Advisors LLP, a venture-capital firm. Mr. Khare volunteers with iSpirit and helped put together the report on technology firms. In rupee terms, the 30 most-valuable companies as estimated by iSpirit were worth 655 billion rupees ($10 billion) at the end of June, versus 375 billion rupees at the end of October. The composition of the index has changed, to include some companies whose valuations have grown rapidly since the fall. To be sure, these valuations pale in comparison to that of Indian consumer companies. Flipkart alone was valued at $15 billion in May following a round of capital raising, up from $10 billion in December. Mr. Khare said that though consumer-focused tech companies have gotten a larger share of investor capital in recent years, historically, both consumer and software-product companies have provided good returns to investors. Many of the new Indian software companies are creating products for the tech consumer companies, such as software to manage customers who buy online, or software to manage logistics. Two-thirds of the 30 companies in the iSpirit index are based in India, while others are domiciled in Singapore and Silicon Valley. Most of the companies sell their products to clients globally. “As the conditions become more favorable, more capital will flow into these companies as well,” said Mr. Khare.

Source: The Successful Indian Tech Companies You’ve Probably Never Heard Of – India Real Time – WSJ


Are the Best Days Over for China Tech Startups? – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Over the past year, China has seen a boom in its startup scene, thanks to plenty of capital flowing into the sector.

But some investors and entrepreneurs say that could be changing as Beijing struggles to restore confidence in its economy and faltering stock market.

In Shenzhen, hundreds of entrepreneurs and investors gathered on Sunday at an event called Big Salad, where local startups talked about their business ideas, including high-tech underwear and affordable smart glasses. Everyone was full of enthusiasm and the mood was upbeat throughout, but some of them were also bracing for tougher times.

“Raising new money is difficult now,” said Mosso Lau, vice president of Shenzhen-based Firebird Institution, which runs funds that invest in early-stage startups while also serving as an incubator that helps startups develop their business ideas.

Firebird set up its last investment fund two years ago by collecting 12 million yuan ($1.9 million) from local businesses and wealthy individuals. It invested that money in tech startups such as mobile apps for food delivery and massage services.

As Firebird is now preparing to set up a new fund for next year, Mr. Lau expects it will be a lot harder to collect money this time, because potential investors have been hit by the recent stock market turmoil. “From last year until this June, there was so much money in venture investment. It was unusual,” he said.

Last year, venture-capital investments in China’s tech sector more than doubled to $6 billion from $2.8 billion in 2013, according to Hong Kong-based AVCJ Research, with both foreign and domestic funds putting in more money than the prior year. Total early-stage funding for Chinese tech startups surged to nearly $2 billion last year from $313 million in 2012 as deals increased to 299 from 172, according to AVCJ.

In January, when Jerry Dai founded a startup in Shenzhen that operates a crowdfunding platform similar to Kickstarter, there was nothing but optimism.

Entrepreneurs around him who had already raised capital told Mr. Dai that fundraising for his new venture wouldn’t be a problem because angel investors — individuals or funds that provide capital for early-stage startups before formal investment rounds — were financing just about any business idea.

But now, just as his startup is trying to find an angel investor, things are looking tougher.

“There are still many angel investors, but they are getting more selective,” he said. “Some investors think there is a bubble in China that may break in one or two years.”

Mr. Dai said he expects the process of securing funds to take longer than it would have several months ago.

“Last year was crazy. There was so much money in China,” said Heatherm Huang, a cofounder of MailTime, which makes emails easier to use on smartphones. Even though his startup is based in San Francisco, it raised much of its early funds from Chinese investors. “In some ways, things are going back to normal now.”

via Are the Best Days Over for China Tech Startups? – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


Spectacular Images of Mars From India’s Most-Ambitious Space Mission – India Real Time – WSJ

Next month, India’s mission to Mars is expected to complete a year in orbit around the red planet and its photo album so far is out of this world.

The spacecraft, named Mangalyaan, Hindi for Mars craft, has already completed more than 100 orbits since it arrived at the planet on Sept. 24, 2014.

At a cost of $74 million, the Indian Space Research Organization’s mission to Mars was the cheapest of recent missions to Mars mounted by other space agencies.

The satellite is healthy and continues to “glean data,” Debiprasad Karnik, a spokesman for ISRO, said Friday.

Apart from a few days in June when it lost touch with Earth after moving behind the Sun in a phenomenon called “solar conjuncture,” Mangalyaan has remained in contact and been sending photographs taken by the Mars Color Camera back to scientists in India.

The photo above, taken in July, is of the Ophir Chasma, part of what the National Aeronautics and Space Administration describes as the largest canyon system in the solar system, known as the Valles Marineris.

NASA calls the geographical feature the Grand Canyon of Mars. At a length of more than 1,800 miles, it is almost 3.5 times the length of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The walls of the chasma, that is described by the International Astronomical Union as “an elongate steepsided depression,” are multi-layered, the floor too contains large deposits of layered materials.

via Spectacular Images of Mars From India’s Most-Ambitious Space Mission – India Real Time – WSJ.


What Stands in the Way of Modi’s Digital India – The Numbers – WSJ

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has grand plans to expand the reach of the Internet to his country’s most far-flung citizens.  But some big numbers stand in his way.

1.06 billion

The number of Indians who currently don’t have access to the Internet. India’s offline population is greater than that of China and Indonesia–home to the next two largest unconnected groups–combined.

1 million

The number of miles of fiber optic cable needed to connect 250,000 village clusters in India to the Internet, according to a committee set up to get the project into gear. The original plan estimated that 370,000 miles of cable would do the job.


The proportion of clusters of villages that up to June 30 were fully connected to Internet services in community centers, hospitals and schools under the National Fiber Optic Network that was launched in 2011.


The original deadline for completion of the network. The date has since been shunted back twice and now stands at 2019.

$11.2 billion

The revised budget for the fiber optic network. Almost four times what was originally planned.

via What Stands in the Way of Modi’s Digital India – The Numbers – WSJ.


‘Car suit’ keeps vehicles high and dry during floods, Chinese inventor says | South China Morning Post

A man in eastern China has invented a “suit” for cars he claims protects them from water damage during the floods that regularly inundate the mainland’s coastal cities, an online newspaper reports.

The cover consists of a copolymer thermoplastic material and waterproof zippers. Photo: SCMP Pictures

More than 3,000 vehicles were flooded when Typhoon Soudelor hit Taizhou in Zhejiang province on August 8, reports. One photo of the storm that has drawn particular interest online shows a car wrapped in a heavy, water-proof material.

The man behind the idea is Huang Enfu, a businessman who deals in car parts. “News about damaged cars during urban floods regularly appears. Our costal city often sees such floods. That’s why I invented the suit,” Huang was quoted as saying.

The cover consists of a copolymer thermoplastic material and waterproof zippers. A car owner puts the suit down in an empty space, parks the vehicle over top, pulls the sides up and zips it closed.

Huang said he spent more than 1.6 million yuan (HK$1.93 million) and two years coming up with the idea. He has patented the design and sells them for between 1,500 yuan and 2,500 yuan

Residents in mainland cities have long complained urban sewage systems cannot cope with heavy rainfall during the wet season. Drains easily become overloaded and the water levels on flooded main streets can quickly rise past people’s waists.

Huang says his invention will even allow a properly zipped-up car to float if the water levels become too high. Owners can secure the car suit by tying the four attached ropes to a stationary object.

via ‘Car suit’ keeps vehicles high and dry during floods, Chinese inventor says | South China Morning Post.


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