Displaying items by tag: Alibaba

China Unicom’s mixed-ownership reform has leapt forward in business cooperation with Chinese internet company Tencent and e-commerce platform Alibaba Group. This represents the first major business cooperation with strategic investors after China Unicom’s mixed-ownership reform plan was approved.

China Unicom & Tencent

China Unicom and Tencent recently jointly announced to leverage their respective rich resources and capabilities in communications, cloud computing and network security, and mutually open up these resources in order to accelerate and deepen integrated innovation in this powerful alliance to build a brand-new “cloud, pipe, terminal” Internet industry ecosystem platform.

China Unicom and Tencent will deepen cooperation in cloud computing and other business areas, mainly focusing on three aspects. Firstly, to fully carry out in-depth business cooperation in “public cloud”, China Unicom and Tencent will co-build cloud data centers to offer value-chain-wide cloud computing-based products, services and solutions to the market. Tencent will leverage its expertise to provide public cloud technology support to “WO Cloud” of China Unicom.

Secondly, the companies will fully carry out in-depth business cooperation in “dedicated cloud” and “hybrid cloud”. With emphasis in Tencent’s high quality online services, together with China Unicom’s highly intelligent and flexible DCI high-speed core network (SDN/NFV), it is aimed to achieve “customized on demand with flexible delivery” service capability in traditional telecommunication service (dedicated line + cabinet), along with the operator’s comprehensive offline service network, and riding on benefits such as mutual synergies, mutual diversion, mutual commitment in this resources-sharing cooperation.

An open and worldwide coverage full-chain cloud computing industry ecosystem is aimed to be formed and well positioned to provide a one-stop comprehensive solution to enterprise customers.

Thirdly, the companies will fully carry out in-depth business cooperation in network security services. China Unicom and Tencent signed a cooperative agreement on network security operation and enhancement and will co-build a network security platform, committing to building a more secure and reliable Internet ecosystem and to providing strong network security technical assurance for the healthy and orderly development of the Internet industry.

China Unicom & Alibaba

On October 20, China Unicom and Alibaba Group announced to mutually open up cloud computing resources and deepen cooperation in cloud business. Alibaba Cloud will comprehensively open the public cloud service capability to China Unicom, while both companies will continue to expand collaboration in e-government cloud and dedicated cloud (Apsara stack) areas including vertical markets, as well as further deepen cooperation in the hybrid cloud business.

China Unicom and Alibaba Cloud will deepen cooperation in three areas including public cloud, dedicated cloud and hybrid cloud. For public cloud, Alibaba Cloud will comprehensively open public cloud services capabilities to China Unicom, including computing, storage, security, big data and artificial intelligence.

Together with China Unicom’s expertise in customer services and network operation, both companies will leverage the branding of WO Cloud computing to provide customers with powerful, general and inclusive public cloud computing services. Meanwhile, both companies will continue to build synergy between cloud and network, and further strengthen the cooperation in cloud computing service enhancement and talent development.

For dedicated cloud, both companies will combine the strengths in cloud computing and big data platform in order to offer strong support for product innovation and business growth acceleration to enterprise customers.

China Unicom, together with Alibaba Cloud, will collaboratively build a joint development team and supporting system targeting the e-government cloud, vertical markets, etc., pushing forward digital transformation and promoting IT capability enhancement for enterprise customers.

For hybrid cloud, China Unicom will open up key data centers nationwide and form hybrid cloud computing one-stop solution combined with current Alibaba Cloud’s public cloud sites. This will meet users’ seamless on and off cloud connectivity demand, thus helping enterprise consumers to further realize business values and enhance business flexibility.

On the basis of seamless interconnection at the data center, both companies will jointly and deeply collaborate in research and development on the cloud computing-based SDN network structure, further enhancing China Unicom’s network utilization efficiency, which allows users to open up nationwide interoperable hybrid cloud in real-time.

Meanwhile, China Unicom and Alibaba will have deep cooperation in network security operation and capability enhancement, in which both companies will co-build a network security platform, committing to building a more secure and reliable Internet ecosystem and to providing strong technology support in network security assurance for the healthy and orderly development of the Internet industry.

Chinese state-owned telecom company China Unicom, formally known as China United Network Communications Group, is to receive about $12 billion investment from Chinese tech firms Baidu and JD.com in a move to boost the telco lagging behind its rivals China Mobile and China Telecom, a source told Business Insider.

The Chinese government is reportedly attempting to drive investment in state-owned giants through private capital. The government selected China Unicom among other state-owned enterprises last year, the report says, to see “mixed-ownership reform”.

From an outside perspective, China Unicom appears strong, as one of the world’s largest carriers by user numbers, but the company’s earnings don’t measure up to its fierce competition. The carrier, according to the report, is perceived as slow, often lagging behind its competition in terms of developing new technologies and services, including cloud and big data services, and mobile software.

Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent would be among new investors contributing a total of about $10 billion into China United Network Communications, China Unicom’s Shanghai-listed unit, Reuters reported last month. With Baidu’s 10 billion yuan investment ($1.48 billion) and JD.com’s 5 billion yuan, the total investment in China Unicom is about 80 billion yuan ($11.8 billion).

The source told Business Insider that 15 billion yuan is likely to be raised from Tencent and invested into China Unicom, while Alibaba is likely to raise about 7 billion yuan. The biggest investor, however, would be China Life Investment, which would commit about 20 billion yuan.

The unnamed sources claim majority of the capital would be raised through new shares, while China Unicom would sell off its stake in the Shanghai unit. Thomson Reuters data suggests that it would be the most significant capital raising in Asia Pacific since insurer AIA Group’s initial public offering in 2010.

Published in Finance

Chinese e-commerce colossus Alibaba has taken its first venture into developing artificial intelligence home devices by launching its voice assistant speaker, which has drawn comparisons to Amazon’s ‘Echo’.

Alibaba’s voice assistant which will be a low-cost device has been named ‘The T-mall Genie’ after its e-commerce platform T-mall. It will retail at $73.42 which is significantly less than that of its US competitors Amazon and Google’s Alphabet which range between $120-$180 dollars. 

The ‘smart home’ voice assistants are activated by voice commands to perform daily tasks such as searching for weather reports, changing music, using AI to control other ‘smart home’ devices. China’s top technology firms have all expressed their ambitions to become global leaders in relation to AI – which has been evidenced by companies like Amazon and Alibaba increasingly competing in the same markets.

China’s search engine colossus Baidu, has also invested heavily in emerging technologies, and recently announced its investment with the Chinese government for an artificial intelligence lab, whilst it recently launched its own device which was based on its own Siri-like ‘Duer OS system’.

Alibaba’s ‘T-mall Genie has been specifically programmed to use Mandarin as its language and will only be available in China. It is activated when a user recognized by the system utters the words ‘T-mall Genie’ in Chinese. In a demonstration which was streamed live, engineers ordered the device to perform a series of tasks such as order some Coco-Cola, play music, add credit to a phone and activate a smart humidifier and TV.

In addition to its foray into AI devices, Alibaba has continued to invest heavily in offline stores and big data capabilities in an effort to capitalize on the entire supply chain as part of its retail strategy. Analysts have claimed it has striking similarities to strategies already adopted by Amazon.

Published in Internet of Things

Gartner, Inc. unveiled its top global 100 vendors in IT in 2016 list based on their revenue across IT (excluding communication services) and component market segments. In the Gartner Global Top 100: IT vendor, Apple was the largest vendor with more than $218 billion in IT revenue — approximately $79 billion larger than the No. 2 vendor, Samsung.

For the first time, Gartner published a ranking of the top 100 largest tech companies in the world based on estimates for their revenue across IT (excluding communication services) and component market segments. Technology business leaders can use the Gartner Global Top 100: IT to benchmark competitive performance against a shift from the Nexus of Forces (the convergence of social, mobility, cloud and information that drive new business scenarios) to digital business as the driver of IT purchasing.

"The needs of IT buyers are shifting. CEOs are focused on growth and are more focused on realizing business outcomes from their IT spend," said John-David Lovelock, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "The Nexus of Forces has been the focus of attention for many years; however, the impact of digital business is giving rise to new categories."

The top three vendors (Apple, Samsung and Google) can attribute much of their size to their solid alignment with the Nexus of Forces, according to Gartner. Microsoft was a large and influential company when the Nexus of Forces began, having grown to market leadership during the web and e-business phase, and has managed to pivot to remain relevant.

IBM gained its size and market dominance in the very earliest IT markets when servers, storage and consulting services dominated, according to Gartner. The need for these devices and services, along with mobile phones and PCs will remain — cloud will underpin all digital business initiatives — but they will become more commoditized and less of a driver for new projects and spending.

As enterprises increasingly digitalize their products and services, digital giants (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) can become involved in, or even take over, the digital experience. Gartner predicts that by 2021, 20 percent of all activities an individual engages in will involve at least one of the top seven digital giants.

"Digital giants effectively become gatekeepers for any business that delivers digital content and services to consumers," said Mr. Lovelock. "Any company that wants to engage consumers in, or through, their digital world will have to consider engaging with one or more of these digital giants."

The focus of the digital giants has mainly been in the consumer, citizen and employee world. Because the digital giants have not yet been as focused on business to business (B2B), there is an opportunity for other companies to take the lead.

"In the B2B world of selling technology solutions to large enterprises, some of the digital giants have already had significant impact," said Mr. Lovelock. "For example, Amazon Web Services' cloud is disrupting enterprise hardware and software businesses dramatically. Apple's iOS devices are dominant within enterprise mobility, and Google's presence beyond search into browsers, cloud office and more is growing."

Published in Telecom Vendors

Chinese e-commerce platform Alibaba reported strong revenue growth on Tuesday, 24 January, as demand for online shopping in China grows. The company said its revenues leapt 54 percent year-on-year for the quarter ended in December last year. Alibaba’s revenue reached 53.25 billion yuan ($7.7 billion) in the quarter, the company said in a statement.

Alibaba’s revenue is seen as a benchmark for China’s increasingly important consumer sector. The company’s net income attributable to ordinary shareholders was 17.9 billion yuan ($2.57 billion) in the quarter, up 43 percent over the same period the previous year, AFP reported.

Alibaba Group’s chief executive, Daniel Zhang, said the result “demonstrates the strength of the Chinese consumer and Alibaba’s ability to create value across our vast ecosystem.”

Alibaba dominates the Chinese online commerce sector, with its Taobao platform estimated to hold more than 90 percent of the consumer-to-consumer market. In addition, Alibaba’s Tmall platform is said to handle over half of business-to-business consumer transaction.

However, the e-commerce giant has been on the defensive recently since the office of the US Trade Representative put Taobao on its annual blacklist, insisting it wasn’t doing enough to stop the spread of fake and pirated goods. It was a blow to Alibaba’s efforts to improve its international image and boost sales, even though inclusion on the black list doesn’t come with any direct penalties.

Alibaba’s billionaire founder, Jack Ma, met with Donald Trump in January and boldly pledged to create one million jobs in the United States, a move which some analysts said was intended to win goodwill against political risks.

Alibaba, often compared to eBay and Amazon, has moved beyond its core e-commerce platform and into sectors ranging from sports to entertainment. Revenue from digital media and entertainment soared 273 percent to $585 million due to increasing earnings from mobile services such as news feeds and game publishing and consolidating its management team, Alibaba said.

Another big move by the company in October saw Alibaba Pictures take a minority shareholding in director Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, a film creation company that includes Dreamworks Studios.

Sales in Alibaba's core commerce unit rose 45 percent year-on-year to $6.7 billion. The number of mobile users grew 25 percent year-on-year to 493 million. The company’s cloud computing segment doubled in revenue over last year, with paying customers growing by more than 100,000 since the previous quarter, according to a statement.

Alibaba’s chief financial officer, Maggie Wu, said the company raised its revenue guidance for the 2017 fiscal year to growth of 53 percent year-on-year, from 48 percent. With $4.9 billion in cash flow the company will "continue investing in growth areas globally, including cloud computing, digital media and entertainment and innovation initiatives,” Wu said.

Published in Finance

Yahoo confirmed on January 10 that its current CEO, Marissa Meyer, will step down once it mergers with US telecoms giant Verizon. Yahoo’s core business, which is being purchased by Verizon, is where Meyer will remain, according to reports. Yahoo is selling its internet operations as a way to separate that from its more valuable stake in Chinese internet giant Alibaba.

A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission says the share-tending entity, to be re-branded as Altaba, Inc., will act as an investment company with its board reduced to five members. Among those resigning from Yahoo’s board will include the company’s co-founder, David Filo, and Marissa Meyer.

AFP approached Verizon to inquire about what role Meyer will take on once Verizon has completed its merger with Yahoo’s internet operations, and Verizon referred AFP to a Tumblr post from July by Meyer which she posted after the merger deal was announced. In the post, Meyer says, “For me personally, I’m planning to stay. It’s important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter.”

Yahoo came under intense scrutiny at the end of 2016 after two major hacks were revealed. The company announced in December 2016 that personal data from over a billion users was breached in a hack dating back to 2013 – twice as big as another hack that was disclosed just three months prior by Yahoo. It remains unclear as to whether the revelations will affect Yahoo’s deal with Verizon.

In a recent statement, Verizon said it will wait for further news of the investigation into Yahoo before making any decisions regarding the merger deal. In the statement Verizon said, “As we’ve said all along, we will evaluate the situation as Yahoo continues its investigation.” Verizon had said the prior breach was likely "material," meaning it could allow the telecom giant to scrap the deal or lower its offer, according to AFP.

The breaches are yet another embarrassment for Yahoo, once one of the biggest names of the internet, which has failed to maintain its status against rising stars like Facebook and Google. Yahoo's valuation hit $125 billion during the dot-com boom, but it has been losing ground since then despite several efforts to reboot.

Now, after a series of reorganizations, Yahoo decided late last year to sell its main operating business as a way to separate that from its more valuable stake in Chinese internet giant Alibaba.

Yahoo's plan would place its main operating business within Verizon, which has already acquired another faded internet star, AOL. The remaining portion would be a holding company with stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan.


Published in Telecom Operators
Saturday, 10 December 2016 06:24

Alibaba to help Thailand build a digital economy

The Thai government is to cooperate with Alibaba on a range of initiatives to develop e-commerce in Thailand by providing training to SMEs and individuals and exploring ways to enhance the country’s logistics capabilities to support Thailand 4.0 and Digital Economy strategies.

A letter of intent covering the cooperation was signed by Thailand’s permanent secretary, Wiboonlasana Ruamraksathe, and Alibaba group president, Michael Evans during a visit to Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China by a delegation led by Thailand’s deputy prime minister, Somkid Jatusripitak, and comprising senior government officials and representative of the private sector.

Jatusripitak said the visit represented a continuation of the bilateral talks between the Thai Prime Minister and Ma. “In order to strengthen the competitiveness of Thailand’s SMEs and help them succeed in an increasingly digital era, the prime minister had earlier assigned responsibilities to a taskforce made up of government agencies and private enterprises to work with Alibaba in a joint effort to lift the export capabilities of Thai businesses, starting from the grassroots and community level and extending to mid-tier businesses operating locally and SMEs hoping to engage in export trade,” he said.

The agreement covers four key areas, the first of which involves offering e-commerce training to 30,000 Thai SMEs to aid their access to both domestic and international e-commerce platforms. Alibaba and its majority owned e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia, Lazada Group, will help provide the training. They will also share their experience and expertise with the Thai government to help build Thailand’s own National E-Commerce Platform.

Secondly, Thailand and Alibaba will collaborate on the creation of a nationwide People and Talent Development Program, which aims to train around 10,000 individuals so they can be proficient in digital technology.

The two sides will also work together to nurture software developers who will be given access to the China market via Alibaba Cloud’s marketplace for their software apps creations. Also, senior government officials will receive training at the Thailand Digital Government Academy, initially on big data and artificial intelligence technologies. Alibaba and Lazada will jointly run a train-the-trainer program to groom e-commerce business coordinators who will in turn help SMEs establish their own online export capabilities.

Thirdly, Alibaba and Lazada will contribute to the development of the country’s supply chain and logistics systems by sharing their experience and expertise with Thailand Post, in a bid to expand the coverage of domestic delivery services to all provinces across Thailand in 2017. Studies on Alibaba’s inventory management systems and international e-commerce fulfillment services will also be undertaken by Thailand Post to gain insight into the establishment of bonded warehouses and fulfillment centers.

Lastly, Alibaba and the Thai government will explore cooperation opportunities under the Eastern Economic Corridor Development project and help establish Thailand as a hub of digital technology and regional data centers in Southeast Asia.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016 10:02

Alibaba expanding into Australia and New Zealand

Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce platform based in China, founded by billionaire Jack Ma, is expanding its presence in Australia and New Zealand, with a planned office opening in Melbourne, Victoria, by the end of 2016. The expansion will add to the company’s goal of serving two billion consumers.

The management team has already been lined up, including Maggie Zhou as MD, supported by John O’Loghlen as business development director, and James Hudson who will be running corporate affairs and marketing. Business Insider reported that Michael Evans, group president of Alibaba which is valued at more than US$200 billion, is visiting Australia to kick-start the business, which is targeting a customer base of two billion.

Launching in Australia makes sense for Alibaba, since the company’s Tmall and Tmall Global sites are already used by around 1,300 Australian and New Zealand brands, distributing products such as wine, cosmetics, baby formula, vitamins and dairy products. Australian and New Zealand brands using the platform include Blackmores, Jurlique, Fonterra and Penfolds. Woolworths also sells its home brand products via Tmall and also Australia Port wine via the Mandarin-only, B2B site 1688.com.

E-commerce isn’t the only aspect of Alibaba that Evans is trying to push in the Australian and New Zealand market. The platform also offers a range of services including digital entertainment and travel logistics. “ANZ is one of our key markets and a stronger presence here will advance our global goal of serving two billion consumers,” said Evans. 

Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba and SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) partnered to launch what has been called the ‘Internet Car’ in China. The term ‘Internet Car’ refers to the Internet of Things (IoT) where all electronic devices are connected enabling efficient interactive capabilities.

The ‘Internet Car’ is a Roewe RX5 – a compact SUV. A Forbes report says the price of the vehicle ranges from 99,800 to 186,000 yuan ($115,000 – 28,000), which makes it one of the most competitive SUV models on the “hyper competitive Chinese market.” The design of the RX5 is fairly simple, with a sporty feel to it.

The Internet Car was designed and developed by SAIC and marketed under SAIC’s Roewe brand and then sold via Roewe’s existing dealer network. SAIC is one of China’s largest vehicle manufacturers via its joint venture with General Motors and with Volkswagen. Roewe was founded in 2006 and is very small in comparison.

Alibaba’s contribution to the vehicle is in its operating system for the RX5’s infotainment system called YunOS for Car. The system is based on the YunOS smartphone operating system. Forbes says Alibaba aims to use various YunOS systems to operate a range of devices to create their Internet of Things network which would include devices such as televisions, air-conditioning systems, refrigerators, microwave ovens, game consoles, smart watches and even smart vacuum cleaners.

Dr. Wang Jian, chairman of Alibaba’s Technology Steering Committee, says the difference between a traditional vehicle and an ‘Internet Car’ is that connected smart operating systems like YunOS will improve the consumer experience beyond just driving. In a statement he said: “Smart operating systems become the second engine of cars, while data is the new fuel.” Wang believes that cars are a new smart platform through which Alibaba can offer internet-based services to create a better driving experience for consumers.

Drivers of the Internet Car will reportedly be able to book and pay for parking spaces, gas stations and coffee shops through Alipay, a third-party online payment platform. Alibaba will also continue to leverage consumer data to tailor those features to each individual driver. Each driver will have an ‘Internet ID’ allowing the OS to not only recognize different users, but also to make recommendations for music, air temperature or nearby restaurants based on past trips.

What’s more, the Internet Car will have navigation and voice control features, as well as three LED screens for interfacing with the OS and 360-degree detachable cameras for recording trips.

“Our vision is to enable Internet-connected cars to become the largest open platform capable of incorporating all kind of services, both from YunOS or third-party developers,” said Zhang Chunhui, president of YunOS. “In the future, we hope internet-connected cars to be a solid foundation for the development of smarter transportation and smarter cities.”

Published in Internet of Things

According to Deloitte, China hosts the largest number of fast-growing companies in Asia-Pacific. The number of smartphone-based mobile Internet users in the vast state of China reportedly reached 780 million in 2015, representing 57 percent of the entire population. Even though massive social media website Facebook, along with other websites, is banned in China, social networking and e-commerce websites were among the most frequently visited by Chinese people.

The popular Renren social network (formerly Xiaonei) has many features similar to Facebook, and complies with PRC Government regulations regarding content filtering in China. As of 20 August 2013, there have been reports of Facebook being partially unblocked in China, however it remains officially blocked.

GSMA Intelligence reports that China had around 1.3 billion mobile connections in 2015. Its mobile Internet user-base (3G and 4G users) reportedly expanded 32 percent year-on-year in 2015, accounting for 62 percent of total mobile connections, 80 percent of which were pre-paid mobile connections. A report by Internet Society of China and the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination of China, released the information.

DigiTimes reports that when broken down by brand, Apple had the biggest share of active smartphone users in 2015 in China with 16.7 percent share, followed by Samsung (15.8 percent), Huawei (15.6 percent, Xiaomi (14.2 percent), Vivo (8.66 percent), Oppo (8.66 percent), Lenovo (6.9 percent), Coolpad (4.3 percent), HTC (3 percent) and LG (1 percent). The report adds that around 1.5 million malicious software applications were found in 2015 in China, 99.6 percent of which were based on the Android OS.

What’s more, as a result of China’s increased Internet usage, the country’s online shopping market reportedly expanded 36 percent in 2015 to CNY3.8 trillion ($586 billion) accounting for 12.6 percent of total retail sales of consumer goods. Mobile revenue of China’s top two online retailers accounted for a staggering 72 percent of total online turnover.

According to Beijing-based iResearch, B2C (Business-to-Consumer) spending in 2015 represented about 52 percent of the total online gross merchandising volume (GMV), which was up from 45.2 percent in 2014. This represents the first time B2C spending had a large share of online shopping than C2C. Overall, the B2C market in China grew 56.6 percent in 2015, while the C2C market grew by only 19.5 percent.

iResearch further predicts that as the Chinese market matures, growth could fall to 25 percent in 2017 and 20 percent in 2018 when GMV approaches a whopping CNY7.5 trillion. Furthermore, in 2017, B2C is expected to account for 64 percent of total online retail shopping in China.

Alibaba, founded by Jack Ma, maintained its leading role in the B2C market in 2015 with its Tmall, giving it a 58 percent share of the market, followed by JD.com with 23 percent share, and Suning with almost 4 percent share. Alibaba is by some measures considered to be the biggest online e-commerce company in the world. Its retail marketplace revenue grew by 42 percent in Q1 2016, to CNY18.3 billion, while mobile revenue surged 149 percent to CNY13.1 billion, encompassing almost 72 percent of total retail turnover, according to China Internet Watch.

Published in Finance