Archive for ‘Technology’


Indian online retailer Flipkart raises $1 billion – Businessweek

India’s largest online e-commerce company, Flipkart, says it has raised $1 billion in new capital as the company gears up for competition with Amazon‘s push into the Indian market.

Flipkart Flipkart Flipkart!!

Flipkart Flipkart Flipkart!! (Photo credit: samratm)

The company says the funds will be used to invest in expansion, especially in mobile technology.

Flipkart is sometimes called the Amazon of India. It was founded by two Indian brothers who left Amazon and came home to found their own online retailer.

Flipkart says it has 22 million registered users and handles 5 million shipments per month.

Amazon’s India division has been making a big push in the country’s small but fast-growing online retail market. It has been running front-page advertisements in newspapers and touting one-day delivery.

Flipkart itself recently acquired Indian online fashion retailer Myntra to strengthen market share.

via Indian online retailer Flipkart raises $1 billion – Businessweek.


Consumers Drive Chinese Internet But Enterprise Use Lags – China Real Time Report – WSJ

By some measures, China’s Internet dwarfs that of the United States.

China has the world’s largest Internet population with 618 million users, well over twice as many as in the U.S. China also has the world’s largest online retailing industry, with e-commerce giants like Alibaba that sprawl far larger than the likes of eBay EBAY +1.08%.

But a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute argues that enterprise use of the Internet is still lagging in China and that the country’s businesses will need to catch up in this area to unlock economic gains.

“The Web is just beginning to penetrate many Chinese businesses – and the most sweeping changes are yet to come,” said the report, which was published this week.

MGI estimates that increased adoption of Web technologies like cloud computing and big data by China’s enterprises can add 0.3 to 1.0 percentage points to China’s GDP growth rate. By 2025, it could translate to annual economic gains of between 4 trillion yuan ($645.5 billion) and 14 trillion yuan, the research firm said.

China’s Internet has outpaced the U.S. among consumers. Alibaba’s online shopping platforms Taobao and Tmall have nearly twice as many active buyers than the U.S. site eBay. Jonathan Woetzel, one of the MGI study’s authors and a partner of the firm, told The Wall Street Journal that Chinese consumers spend more time shopping online and make more purchases than their American counterparts.

“China’s consumer generation has shown up at the same time as the Internet,” he said. “They have the money, but the offline shopping platforms like malls haven’t been built up fast enough to accommodate their expectations and needs. So more of them shop online.”

But when it comes to China’s businesses, they still lag in use of Web technologies, he says. The typical Chinese company spends 2% of revenue on IT, half of the international average, according to an MGI survey of CIOs. The enterprise cloud adoption rate in China is 21% compared to 55%-63% in the U.S.

Some sectors that stand the most to benefit in China include the financial services, health care and automotive industries, MGI says. Big data can help financial firms manage risks and reduce non-performing loans, while remote monitoring of chronic diseases can save costs for the health care industry.

via Consumers Drive Chinese Internet But Enterprise Use Lags – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


Software products bring hot career choices as India looks beyond IT services | India Insight

When Zomato was setting up shop six years ago, the online restaurant search service had to woo engineers, but many weren’t interested in working for an unknown company. Instead, they wanted to work for larger and prestigious names. Slowly, that is changing.

Indian companies such as Zomato and Flipkart, which make their own technology products rather than provide services are becoming more attractive to the country’s engineering school graduates, and are hiring more people as they alter technology industry hiring patterns.

“We had to convince parents to let their kids work with us. Most people had no idea of what a products startup can offer,” said Gunjan Patidar, Zomato’s chief technology officer, talking about the company’s early days. “They know about Infosys and TCS because that’s where their cousins and friends have worked.”

Backed by Silicon Valley-based venture capitalists, these homegrown companies are not afraid to match salary packages offered by established foreign companies, and offer perks such as employee stock options.

Not everyone is born to be an engineer, but in India, many parents are determined to make it so for their children. India produces about 80,000 engineering graduates every year, according to Sandhya Chintala, vice president of the National Association of Software and Services Companies.

Engineering is considered a prestigious profession. In India’s close-knit family system, jobs can be associated with upward mobility, and can make a son or daughter a better marriage prospect. Children often have no say in the decision.

Working in information technology services with hundreds of thousands of employees, such as Tata Consultancy Services or Infosys, which handle other companies’ technology needs, has long been the easiest way for graduates to go abroad on job assignments, adding to their perceived social worth.

“I often say in India people first become engineers and then they decide what to do with their lives,” said Girish Mathrubootham, founder and chief executive of online customer support platform Freshdesk, which recently raised $31 million in funding from private equity firms Tiger Global, Accel Partners and Google Capital.

Freshdesk lost a potential employee in the early days to TCS because the employee’s parents wanted him to work for a well known company, Mathrubootham said. “Now we have an employee who went to work with Honeywell, but she came back within six months.”

via Software products bring hot career choices as India looks beyond IT services | India Insight.


Flipkart Fights to Keep India E-Commerce Lead Over Amazon – Businessweek

In 2007, when Indian software engineers Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal were starting their online bookstore out of a two-bedroom apartment, they faced a challenge (AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos never had: how to collect payment. At first the two, who aren’t related, accepted credit cards, but because few Indians use them, they needed a way to conduct e-commerce in cash. Payment-on-delivery was the obvious solution, but Flipkart didn’t want third-party couriers to carry large quantities of its money. So in 2010 the company decided to remake itself as a version of both Amazon and United Parcel Service (UPS).

A courier for Flipkart finishes loading his backpack as he prepares to deliver packages at a distribution hub in Bangalore

Becoming a delivery service brought a slew of infrastructure problems. India has no standardized street address system, and road conditions are rough. Often a building name, street, and series of landmarks are needed to locate a house. And customers have to be home to receive a package. “You cannot leave anything outside the door, because it will just disappear,” says Ashok Banerjee, Flipkart’s former vice president for logistics, now chief technology officer for e-business at Symantec (SYMC) in California.

The entrepreneurs looked at distribution as a technology problem. “The advantage we had was we were not a logistics company trying to do e-commerce,” says Mekin Maheshwari, head of human resources. “Because we were creating the systems completely in-house, we could actually solve it.” With venture funding from Tiger Global Management, Flipkart’s engineers developed systems to determine the best warehouse locations; it has six across the country. It alerts customers by text several hours before a scheduled delivery and has a lab dedicated to improving the final stage of deliveries, from local warehouses to buyers.

via Flipkart Fights to Keep India E-Commerce Lead Over Amazon – Businessweek.


Indian Rocket Launches Five Foreign Satellites Into Space – India Real Time – WSJ

The Indian Space Research Organization launched five foreign satellites into space on Monday morning. The shot’s main cargo was Spot-7, a high-resolution earth-observation satellite belonging to Airbus Defence & Space Co. of Europe. It also carried four other smaller satellites: AISAT from the German Aerospace Center; NLS7.1 and NLS7.2 from Canada’s University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies’ Space Flight Laboratory; and VELOX-1 from Nangyang Technological University, Singapore.

It follows the November launch of a spacecraft to Mars, the first such attempt at interplanetary exploration by an Asian country.

The cost of launching the five satellites wasn’t revealed. India’s Mars satellite, dubbed Mangalyaan, or Mars craft, in Hindi, cost $73 million. Speaking at Monday’s launch, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted that amount is less than what it took to produce “Gravity,” the blockbuster Hollywood movie about space. “Gravity” cost about $100 million to make.

via Watch: Indian Rocket Launches Five Foreign Satellites Into Space – India Real Time – WSJ.


Meme Manufacturing: China Taking Orders for Suarez Bite Bottle Openers – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Well known for his dives, Uruguay striker Luis Suarez is deft at selling fouls that didn’t happen.

Now he’s become a business opportunity for online vendors in China skilled at selling products that don’t exist.

With the hope of cashing in on Mr. Suarez’s infamous biting of Italian player Girogio Chiellini during Uruguay’s World Cup win over Italy last week, almost 200 merchants on Taobao, the e-commerce site run by China’s Alibaba, are selling Suarez bottle openers.

A screenshot shows an advertisement on Taobao for a Luis Suarez can opener. “One bite and its open, it says. Taobao

Using a Photoshopped image that went viral after the game of Mr. Suarez’s mid-bite visage grafted onto a plastic figurine and preparing to chomp down on a bottle lid, the vendors are selling the openers for as little as 15 yuan ($2.50).

“One mouth, one opener….one bite and it’s open,” read one advertisement.

Given the social media storm that followed the bite, the openers could sell briskly. The problem is, like part of Brazil’s World Cup infrastructure just weeks before the tournament, it doesn’t exist yet.

As cunning in the cut-throat world of Chinese e-commerce as Mr. Suarez is on the field, Taobao vendors contacted by China Real Time gave different motivations for putting up advertisements for the products.

One vendor, who was advertising the openers for an outrageously expensive 9,999 yuan, admitted he didn’t actually expect to sell the product. Instead, he said, he was using Mr. Suarez’s outburst as a marketing opportunity.

“Honestly, I won’t really sell it at that high price even if I have it on hand. It’s just for pleasure,” said the vendor selling under the name Drinchlee. “I was just doing it for entertainment around the World Cup, and you can take a look other stuff that I am selling, such as football teams T-shirts!”

Others were more serious about turning the meme into cash. One vendor with the screen name Lin Mumu0393 said he had received 108 orders and that he was still working with manufacturers to make the product. He said he would have limited supplies in two weeks.

via Meme Manufacturing: China Taking Orders for Suarez Bite Bottle Openers – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


China’s Maker Movement Gets Government Support for DIY Workshops – Businessweek

On a Wednesday night in late May, about 60 people assembled in a warehouse in downtown Shanghai for a presentation on how to make mini sports cameras like the popular GoPro (GPRO). The meeting was organized by XinCheJian, one of China’s first hackerspaces, which offers workshops for participants interested in design and technology to create everything from robots to smartphone apps.

A 3D printer makes a miniature chair during the China International Technology Fair in Shanghai on May 8, 2013

The weekly gatherings attract 30 to 150 people and offer them a way to share ideas, skills, and inspiration. After attending a meeting in 2012, Rockets Xia, an environmental advocate with a Chinese nongovernmental organization, was so impressed by a 3D printing demonstration that he quit his job and went to work for DFRobot, a Shanghai-based company that makes robotics kits and other hardware for hobbyists.

The popularity of XinCheJian, which means “new factory,” is a sign of China’s joining the growing maker movement—what former Wired editor Chris Anderson in his 2012 book Makers described as the “third industrial revolution,” in which entrepreneurs use open-source design, 3D printing, and crowdfunding to manufacture goods on their own. In China, 30 independent hackerspaces, including XinCheJian, have opened across the country.

via China’s Maker Movement Gets Government Support for DIY Workshops – Businessweek.


China’s Government Admits Chinese Patents Are Pretty Bad – Businessweek

For years, China’s leaders have exhorted the country’s businesses to become innovative. After all, a glorious country like China that is reasserting its role as a global superpower should be known for more than just its copycat and me-too companies. So while Chinese presidents come and go, the message is the same: Whether it’s Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, or the current boss, Xi Jinping, the country’s leaders have consistently talked about the importance of local innovation. Paraphrasing Xi’s remarks at a speech earlier this month at the Chinese Academy of Science and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the Xinhua news agency reported that the government’s goal is to “push forward the fusion of science and [the] economy, so that science and technology strength can be transformed into industrial and economic power.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Chinese Academy of Science and the Chinese Academy of Engineering in Beijing on June 9

By China’s own scorekeeping, though, the country’s innovators still have a way to go before they can meet the Communist Party’s expectations. While the number of patent applications inside China is “booming,” according to a report today by Xinhua, “the quality of patents is still poor.” Writing about a report to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, Xinhua added, “China owns very few patents featuring originality and high or core technology.” Fewer than 1,000 Chinese patents have won recognition from counterparts in the U.S., Europe, or Japan, added Xinhua.

China is making progress. The gold standard in international patents remains the U.S., and Chinese from the People’s Republic applied for almost 6,600 patents in the U.S. last year, according to data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  That’s just ahead of France and more than double the number from India. China had the sixth-largest number of patents granted by USPTO. Still, China’s innovators are hardly leaders in the U.S. The Chinese total of 6,597 U.S. patents puts it far behind Japan’s 54,170 applications. Even more embarrassing, Taiwan, the island that Beijing considers a province of China, had 12,118 patent applications granted.

via China’s Government Admits Chinese Patents Are Pretty Bad – Businessweek.


China’s Gray-Haired Set Could Boost Digital Shopping – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Online shopping in China isn’t just for the young, according to a new survey. That could be good news for an already quickly growing e-commerce industry that largely caters to the young.

While the bulk of online shoppers are still in their 20s and 30s, a survey published Tuesday by data provider Nielsen said the number of online consumers aged 55 or older grew 72% between 2012 and 2013. It cited data from Taobao, one of China’s largest shopping websites, which is owned by Alibaba Group, though it didn’t release the underlying figures.

“China could become the world’s most aged society by 2030,” said Tao Libao, a Nielsen official with responsibility for e-commerce, in a prepared statement. “The elderly online consumers deserve more attention from both current online retailers and brick-and-mortar retailers who are going to venture online.” People aged over 60 could be 30% of China’s population by 2030, Mr. Tao said.

They survey said they tend to be more careful shoppers, attracted by easy price comparisons and special discounts given that they often have less income than younger people.

“It’s cheaper to buy online,” said Zhang Jinnian, a Beijing shopper in her fifties who has been using the internet to shop for the past year. In that time she has bought clothes, shoes and a bicycle online. “It’s always more expensive in a store,” said Ms. Zhang, who declined to give her exact age.

via China’s Gray-Haired Set Could Boost Digital Shopping – China Real Time Report – WSJ.


Mozilla to Sell $25 Smartphones in India and Indonesia – India Real Time – WSJ

Smartphones as cheap as $25 powered by Mozilla Corp.’s software will be available in India and Indonesia later this year, an executive said.

Mozilla has been pitching its Firefox mobile operating system for low-cost smartphones in emerging markets as an alternative to Google Inc.’s Android and iOS from Apple Inc. through partnerships with major handset vendors, carriers and assemblers since July.

The U. S-based company has collaborated with four handset makers such as ZTE Corp.000063.SZ +1.32% , LG Electronics Co. 066570.SE +0.13% and five wireless carriers including Telefonica SA, TEF.MC -0.16% Deutsche Telekom AG DTE.XE -0.59% ,America Movil SAB AMX.MX -0.30% to launch five Firefox-powered smartphones in Europe and Latin America so far.

But the price for these smartphones are above US$60 and are still too expensive for most consumers in India and other Southeast Asian countries, Mozilla Chief Operating Officer Gong Li said in an interview on the sidelines of the Mobile Asia Expo.

“One U.S. dollar means a lot of things to consumers in emerging countries. It’s difficult to sell smartphones that cost more than US$50 in those markets,” he said.

To tap the next billion first-time smartphone users, Mozilla is collaborating with Chinese chip maker Spreadtrum Communications Inc. to unveil a low-cost chipset that enables smartphones to be priced at $25 this year.

“With a $25 price tag, there is no price gap between a smartphone and a feature phone. This attractive price point would help motivate feature phone users to switch to smartphones,” said Mr. Gong.

via Mozilla to Sell $25 Smartphones in India and Indonesia – India Real Time – WSJ.


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