Archive for ‘Technology’

20/01/2015

China’s rising Internet wave: Wired companies | McKinsey & Company

Until recently, China’s Internet economy was consumer driven. The country leads the world in the number of Internet users, and Chinese enterprises deploy sophisticated e-commerce strategies. The same companies, though, have lagged behind the United States and other developed nations in using the Internet to run key aspects of their businesses (Exhibit 1).

That’s changing. China’s companies are quickly climbing the adoption curve. Their increased digital engagement will not only give the economy a new burst of momentum but also change the nature of growth. China sorely needs a new leg of expansion because the industrial growth of recent years—driven by heavy capital expenditures in manufacturing—will be difficult to sustain. The Internet, by contrast, should foster new economic activity rooted in productivity, innovation, and higher consumption.

For global companies counting on China for continued growth, the new Internet wave will change the nature of competition: it will enable the most efficient Chinese companies to grow more quickly, shine more transparency on business and consumer markets, and create conditions for a better allocation of capital.

A new McKinsey Global Institute report looks broadly at the coming transformation.1 Our research shows that Chinese companies are investing heavily in the building blocks of the Internet economy: cloud computing, wireless communications, new digital platforms, big data analytics, and more. Across six sectors (Exhibit 2), which accounted for 25 percent of Chinese economic activity in 2013, we find that increased Internet adoption could add 60 billion to 1.2 trillion renminbi (about $10 billion to $190 billion) in GDP to individual sectors by 2025. About one-third of these gains will come from the creation of entirely new markets, the remainder from productivity gains across the value chain. When we scale up this level of growth across all sectors of the economy, we find that Internet adoption could add 4 trillion to 14 trillion renminbi to GDP by 2025. The Internet is also expected to contribute 7 to 22 percent of total GDP growth from 2013 to 2025.2

via China’s rising Internet wave: Wired companies | McKinsey & Company.

17/01/2015

Alibaba in major initiative to court China consumer for U.S. retailers | Reuters

China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) plans a major move to win U.S. business this year, by offering American retailers new ways to sell to China’s vast and growing middle class.

The logo of Alibaba Group is seen inside the company's headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province early November 11, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song

Anchored by Alipay, the dominant Chinese electronic payments system that works closely with Alibaba and is controlled by its executives, the world’s largest Internet retailer is using the calling card of China’s consumers to attract U.S. partners, two sources close to the company told Reuters.

Long seen as the most potent threat to Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) with $300 billion in global sales, the moves add up to a conservative approach to expanding in the United States, contrary to industry speculation that the company may be plotting a direct assault on U.S. soil.

That considered strategy, outlined to Reuters for the first time by the sources and executives who work directly with the Chinese company, is intended to heighten awareness in the United States of what Alibaba does, gain goodwill in an important Western market, and lay the groundwork for a longer-term play.

At the heart of its push are Alibaba’s and Alipay’s trial deals to handle Chinese sales, payment and shipping for some of the biggest names in U.S. retail from Neiman Marcus Group [NMRCUS.UL] to Saks Inc. Both confirmed the agreement but would not talk about how the pilots are faring.

The Chinese companies will also work with U.S. startup Shoprunner, an online mall for U.S. retailers in which it owns a stake, and retail services provider Borderfree Inc (BRDR.O) to court Chinese consumers.

And Alibaba is preparing a marketing campaign to raise awareness among U.S. businesses of its global business-to-business wholesale platform, Alibaba.com, so they can buy and sell to and from global suppliers.

via Alibaba in major initiative to court China consumer for U.S. retailers | Reuters.

16/01/2015

China accepts more invention patent applications – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China accepted about 928,000 invention patent applications in 2014, some 103,000 more than in 2013, the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) said on Thursday.

SIPO director Shen Changyu said invention patent applications accounted for 39.3 percent of all patent applications last year, compared with a 34.7 percent in 2013.

China grants patents for three major categories: invention, utility model and design.

Invention patent application growth slowed from 26.3 percent in 2013 to 12.5 percent in 2014, according to Shen.

Growth in invention patent applications is moderating, but its share in total patent applications is rising, said Shen.

The director said the SIPO will step up law enforcement in 2015 and put more efforts in intellectual property protection.

via China accepts more invention patent applications – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

15/01/2015

China to create $6.5 billion venture capital fund to support start-ups | Reuters

(Reuters) – China will set up a government venture capital fund worth 40 billion yuan (4 billion pounds) to support start-ups in emerging industries, in its latest move to support the private sector and foster innovation.

“The establishment of the state venture capital investment guidance fund, with the focus to support fledging start-ups in emerging industries, is a significant step for the combination of technology and the market, innovations and manufacturing,” China’s State Council, the cabinet, said in a statement.

“It will also help breed and foster sunrise industries for the future and promote (China’s) economy to evolve towards the medium and high ends,” it said in the statement published in the government’s website, http://www.gov.cn, referring to sectors which the government is promoting such as technology and green energy.

The government issued the statement after a meeting on Wednesday. It did not give a timetable, but past experience has shown that such a fund could be established within a few weeks after an announcement.

China’s venture capital market remains small, the legacy of the country’s decades of the planned economy in which private sector’s development is largely subject to a great variety of restrictions.

via China to create $6.5 billion venture capital fund to support start-ups | Reuters.

18/12/2014

India’s tech opportunity: Transforming work, empowering people | McKinsey & Company

Millions of Indians hope for a better future, with well-paying jobs and a decent standard of living. To meet these aspirations, the country needs broad-based economic growth and more effective public services. Technology can play an important role in enabling the growth India needs. The spread of digital technologies, as well as advances in energy and genomics, can raise the productivity of business and agriculture, redefine how services such as healthcare and education are delivered, and contribute to higher living standards for millions of Indians by raising education levels and improving healthcare outcomes.

India’s tech opportunity: Transforming work, empowering people

Empowering technologies in India

McKinsey’s Noshir Kaka and Anu Madgavkar discuss how India could transform its economy by employing 12 technologies.

A dozen empowering technologies

A new McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report identifies a dozen technologies, ranging from the mobile Internet to cloud computing to advanced genomics, which could have a combined economic impact of $550 billion to $1 trillion a year in 2025. The selection of the 12 technologies for India was based on a similar process established by MGI’s earlier work on disruptive technologies.1 For India, we used additional criteria to identify the technologies that would have a direct impact on the country’s economic and social challenges in the coming decade. As a result, we include technologies such as electronic payments, which are well established in other parts of the world but not well developed in India. By 2025, however, electronic payments could help 300 million Indians join the country’s financial system.

We group the 12 technologies into three areas: digitizing life and work, smart physical systems, and energy technologies:

digitizing life and work—the mobile Internet, the cloud, the automation of knowledge work, digital payments, and verifiable digital identity

smart physical systems—the Internet of Things, intelligent transportation and distribution systems, advanced geographic information systems (GIS), and next-generation genomics

energy—unconventional oil and gas (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing), renewable energy, and advanced energy storage

Each of these technologies has the potential for rapid adoption in India between now and 2025 (exhibit) …

via India’s tech opportunity: Transforming work, empowering people | McKinsey & Company.

16/12/2014

Logistics Hold India’s E-Commerce Companies Back – Businessweek

Laxminarayan Krishnamurthy figured a Samsung (005930:KS) Galaxy Core 2 smartphone would make a perfect gift for his wife. So he ordered one from New Delhi-based e-retailer Snapdeal.com. When the package arrived, it contained a brick and a bar of soap but no phone. When he contacted the company, Krishnamurthy was told the phone was stolen by unscrupulous middlemen transporting the package. So he took his complaints to Facebook (FB).

Logistics Are Holding India’s E-Commerce Companies Back

“Had ordered a samsung mobile through snapdeal and we got a soap bar!!!” Krishnamurthy wrote. “The worst customer service ever received!!! Beware of snapdeal guys!!”

Anjana Swaminathan, a Snapdeal spokeswoman, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

via Logistics Hold India’s E-Commerce Companies Back – Businessweek.

11/12/2014

Alibaba Tries to Make a Visit to the Doctor Easier – Businessweek

China’s overburdened healthcare system is ripe for reform, and leading technology companies see opportunities in becoming part of the solution.

A Chinese nurse adjusts the infusion rate for a patient at a hospital in Xiangyang city, central China's Hubei province on Jan. 20, 2014.

Take the current system of booking time to see a physician, which is both inefficient and abusive. In order to see a doctor at a leading hospital in Beijing or another major Chinese city, a patient must queue up starting at around 5am and wait in line for several hours just to book an appointment for later that day. Sometimes the patient has the option of buying a hospital slot, typically at an exorbitant fee, from a professional scalper.

In July, Alipay, the popular e-payment system launched by Alibaba Group, began a pilot project to allow patients to book appointments at select hospitals through a smartphone app. A handful of hospitals in Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Kunming, Wenzhou, and Nanchang now participate. It sounds like a simple and intuitive step that should have been tried long ago; notably it’s a technology company, not a medical institution, that’s leading the change.

via Alibaba Tries to Make a Visit to the Doctor Easier – Businessweek.

04/12/2014

Intel to invest $1.6 billion in China factory | Reuters

Intel Corp (INTC.O) will invest $1.6 billion (1 billion pounds) to upgrade its factory in the city of Chengdu in western China, the latest sign of how the chipmaker is deepening ties in a market that is proving increasingly troublesome for some U.S. technology peers.

Indonesian youth walk past an Intel sign during Digital Imaging expo in Jakarta March 5, 2014. REUTERS/Beawiharta

As part of the upgrade, Intel said in a statement on Thursday it would bring its most advanced chip-testing technology to China. In exchange it will receive local and regional government support for construction.

“Deploying our newest advanced testing technology in China shows our commitment to innovating jointly with China,” Intel executive vice president William Holt said in the statement. “The fully upgraded Chengdu plant will help the Chinese semiconductor industry and boost regional economic growth.”

The announcement comes three months after Intel purchased a minority stake in a government-controlled semiconductor company to jointly design and distribute mobile chips, an industry that China considers to be of strategic importance.

Intel’s fortunes in China contrast with the travails of its rival, Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O), which is expected to announce in the coming days a potentially record-breaking settlement with Chinese antitrust regulators.

China’s investigation into San Diego-based Qualcomm, as well as a spate of recent probes against firms including Microsoft Corp, have prompted an outcry from foreign business lobbies. They say the Chinese government is increasingly adopting strong-arm tactics to yield technology-sharing or other arrangements beneficial to domestic industry.

The government, meanwhile, has defended its regulatory scrutiny as even-handed. It has pointed to a history of Qualcomm and Microsoft facing similar antitrust probes in Western countries.

Analysts say there is a broad recognition that foreign companies must do more to stay in China’s good graces.

via Intel to invest $1.6 billion in China factory | Reuters.

03/12/2014

Under Pressure: The 10-Story Machine China Hopes Will Boost Its Aviation Industry. – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The engineers started closing the rollerdoor the moment they saw a foreigner walking toward them.

Standing around laughing in blue overalls and yellow hard hats, they went quiet the moment I started walking up the drive. I asked if I could take a peek behind the door. They said it was a secret.

Still, I managed to catch a glimpse of two floors’ worth of the 10-story-tall machine Beijing hopes will play a major role in driving China’s aviation and aerospace industries: an 80,000-ton closed-die hydraulic press forge.

Repeated requests for a tour of the forge were declined. Both Zhang Jian, the head of propaganda at Erzhong Group, the company that built and operates the forge, and Wang Yu, the secretary of the board of directors of Erzhong’s Shanghai-listed unit, said that the forge is “confidential.”

It’s not immediately clear what about the machine – which is painted green with Erzhong Group printed across it in red Chinese characters – is so secret.

The machine is the biggest of its kind in the world. The biggest forge in the U.S. can exert only 50,000 tons of pressure, and is operated by Alcoa AA +0.93% in Ohio. France has a 65,000-ton machine, and Russia has a machine capable of exerting 75,000 tons of pressure.

But the technology China is using is nothing new. It is based on modifications of Russian designs from the 80s, according to a person involved in the development process.

More sensitive is was China can potentially do with it.

Press forging involves shaping a piece of metal under high pressure by squeezing it into a mold. That alters the flow of the metal’s grain – its internal structure – allowing engineers to create stronger and lighter components than would be possible by just beating them into shape or welding them together. Greater pressure results in stronger components.

The Erzhong forge can exert up to 80,000 tons of downward pressure using five columns. Flipped upside down, it could lift China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier, with room to spare for a handful of submarines. Airbus is using the Russian forge to make landing gear components for the A380, the world’s biggest passenger plane. Having the world’s biggest forge should allow China to produce large components of higher strength than possible elsewhere.

The technology was pioneered during WWII by Germany, which didn’t have a sufficient supply of steel and so had to mold its air force out of more brittle, but lighter metals, according to Tim Heffernan, a writer who has researched the U.S. forge program. The end of the war brought the start of the jet age, and the U.S. government provided support for the building of forges around the country, so that the country was able to produce light planes that were sufficiently strong to withstand supersonic speeds.

Alcoa’s forge has been producing parts for Boeing and Airbus for decades. The company says it supplies almost all forged wheel and brake components for U.S. military aircraft and helicopters, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the U.S. military’s newest fighter jet.

Erzhong hasn’t explicitly said what the forge will be used for, but academics involved in its development process said there are potential military applications.

The first component produced by the forge at its official launch in April last year was the landing gear for the C919,  China’s long-awaited and much behind schedule narrow-bodied passenger aircraft being built by the Commercial Aircraft Company of China.

via Under Pressure: The 10-Story Machine China Hopes Will Boost Its Aviation Industry. – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

20/11/2014

Fossil-hunting: Bone China | The Economist

A GIANT, pinkish femur juts out of the ground, longer than a person is tall. The area is littered with the fossilised vertebrae, leg and arm bones and skull of this Hadrosaurus. For 70m years it and other dinosaurs have lain buried here. Now the site in Zhucheng, in Shandong province in eastern China, is known as “dinosaur valley” for its more than 10,000 fossils found to date. The hunt for dinosaurs only properly began in China in recent decades. Already more species have been identified there than in any other country.

The bonanza is explained by China’s great expanses of rock from the Mesozoic era, when “fearful dragons”, as they are called in Chinese, roamed. In many areas rivers, floods, sandstorms and earthquakes buried the animals soon after they died, so preserving them. An unusually large amount of the rock from this era is now close to the surface, so the troves of bones, eggs and footprints have been uncovered comparatively easily. A recent discovery in Liaoning province, the Changyuraptor yangi, is the largest known four-winged flying reptile and marks another vital step on the evolutionary path from dinosaurs to birds.

A rise in science funding also lies behind China’s dinosaur bounty: rather like the Chinese economy, Chinese palaeontology is in its rapidly emerging stage, says Xu Xing of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who himself has found more than 40 new species. Fossils are frequently uncovered at the country’s many construction sites, along the routes of new railways, for example.

Selling fossils is illegal in China. But many farmers now make far more money flogging fossils (including fake ones) on the black market than they do from their crops. Attempts to build a tourist industry around dinosaurs have been less lucrative. Farmers will have to be better compensated for their fossil discoveries if scientists are to win the battle of the bones.

via Fossil-hunting: Bone China | The Economist.

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