Amazon has reached out to Extremetech with the following statement:  “Amazon has zero tolerance for the sale of counterfeits on our site. We work closely with manufacturers and brands, and pursue wrongdoers aggressively.”

Amazon has a reputation for delivering quality goods at low prices, but a new lawsuit filed by Apple sheds unwelcome light on just how good some of those products actually are. It’s common to see Apple-compatible chargers and hardware for sale on Amazon and advertised as genuine Apple products — but according to Apple, the vast majority of these products are fake and built to terrible quality standards.

According to Patently Apple, Apple has filed suit against one such manufacturer, Mobile Star, whose products are available directly from Amazon and advertised as being genuine hardware, as shown below:


Image by Patently Apple

Underwriters Laboratories Inc (the testing facility responsible for certifying a great many products) recently conducted a series of tests on 400 counterfeit Apple adapters. Here’s how they describe the outcome:

The results of UL’s testing of counterfeit phone adapters were literally shocking. Part of the test equipment was damaged by energizing some of the counterfeit adapters. Twenty-two samples were immediately damaged during the process of energizing or during the leakage current test with 12 samples having a very high leakage current with a capacity for electrocution.

With regard to the electric strength test, only three of the four hundred samples passed, which corresponds to a 99 percent failure rate. Selected construction reviews found issues with the isolation transformer design. The internal components are vastly different when compared with a genuine UL Listed Apple adapter. Post testing analysis of the tested samples revealed a complete lack of triple isolation wire used for the secondary windings; neither the primary or secondary windings were separated properly, which is the major reason for the dramatic failure rate on the electric strength test.

When only three out of 400 samples can pass a test, you’ve clearly got a problem — and Apple is acting to isolate and reduce the possibility of product damage by suing one manufacturer directly. On the one hand, this is not surprising. Counterfeit and cheap generic power supplies from no-name vendors are a known point of failure. Generic power supplies tend to use cheap components and often aren’t designed for anything like the load ratings they advertise.

We’ve also seen a number of problems with USB-C in the past year, thanks to the efforts of Benson Leung, who took on the challenge of testing whether myriad cables advertising USB Type-C compatibility were actually built to spec and up to code (the answer has been no, in many cases, particularly when dealing with cheap Chinese manufacturers). Goods and services in China are often built with a mindset of “Chabuduo,” or close enough — this essay over at Aeon explores the problems and root causes of the philosophy and how the tech industry, in particular, has pushed to adopt manufacturing philosophies more in line with what Western customers expect.

When you don’t get what you pay for

The problem with counterfeit devices these days is that many of the counterfeits are good — so good, you need to literally read the fine print or examine the UL and Apple logos extremely closely to determine whether the hardware is actually legitimate. That’s not something you can plausibly do from an Amazon order page, not when stock photos are easily available and can be substituted for the product you’re actually buying. The fact that this hardware was sold directly by Amazon is another problem, though Amazon appears to have cooperated with Apple in removing the offending listings.

The problem here is that consumers tend to assume that a product is genuine if it is sold by Amazon and advertised as an official Apple product. There’s an unconscious assumption that someone — either Amazon or Apple — has already verified that products being advertised as genuine actually are genuine. Situations like this drive home the point that this is not the case. But the consumer has no practical way of validating the authenticity of the product without purchasing it and doing a close examination of its external markings and/or internal structure.

The simplest way to avoid the problem is to buy directly from the manufacturer. Don’t try to cut corners when it comes to power adapters and supplies — you may save a few bucks up front, but it could cost you significantly more later on.

Source : extremetech.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

Credit where credit is due: Apple’s A-series chipsets are pretty impressive. Despite only recently stepping up to the quad-core table, Apple’s processors have traditionally stood their ground very well against the likes of hexa-core and octa-core SoCs from the likes of Qualcomm, Samsung and MediaTek. So how does Apple do it?

The Linley Group set out to find out just that. The chip research group tasked teardown experts Chipworks with disassembling the A10 Fusion chip and explaining the secret sauce that makes Apple processors so formidable.

The iPhone 7 outscores even some low-end PCs.

According to Linley Gwennap, the director of The Linley Group, “Apple’s investment in custom CPU design continues to pay off, as the new iPhone 7 delivers better performance than any other flagship smartphone and outscores even some low-end PCs.”

According to Gwennap’s research, the Apple A10 used in the iPhone 7 is notably faster than the Samsung Exynos 8890, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and the Huawei Kirin 955.

The A10 delivers “nearly identical performance” to Intel’s Skylake processors.

Furthermore, Gwennap notes, “Apple’s new CPU actually compares better against Intel’s mainstream x86 cores,” claiming that the A10 delivers “nearly identical performance” to Intel’s Skylake processors, primarily due to its high performance Hurricane architecture.

Gwennap even forecasts an ominous future for Intel: “Apple’s CPU prowess is beginning to rival Intel’s. In fact, the new Hurricane could easily support products such as the MacBook Air that today use lower-speed Intel chips.”


The A10’s Hurricane cores do all the heavy lifting while the Zephyr (which translates to “light breeze”) cores perform energy efficient tasks, following ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture. Hurricane reportedly delivers 35% better performance over the Twister cores found in the A9, “boosting both the clock speed and the per-clock performance”. Meanwhile, the Zephyr cores reduce battery consumption.

It might be easy to ignore all this as typical Apple-focused grandiloquence, but Gwennap has data to back up the claims. Chipworks pulled apart the A10 chip, exposing its dual Hurricane and dual Zephyr cores and found some interesting things that set the A10 apart from the competition.

The A10's Hurricane cores are about twice the size of other high-end mobile CPUs.

The biggest revelation was just how huge the Hurricane cores are. At 4.18 mm2 they’re “about twice the size of other high-end mobile CPUs”. Even the smaller Zephyr cores are much larger than their low-power counterparts – “nearly twice as large as Cortex-A53”. But does size really matter?


In this case, it does. According to Gwennap’s research, “die size is an important metric, since it drives both cost and power”. And herein lies the crux of the argument. Despite their gargantuan size, Apple cores are not necessarily more powerful than other chipsets per square meter. But Apple chips “make up for it in efficiency per clock cycle, thanks to a better “instruction per clock” rate”.

Apple’s advantage is its ability to spend money.

There’s a lot of technical stuff going on in the analysis I won’t bore you with, but Gwennap essentially boils it all down to something we all already know:

“Apple’s advantage is its ability to spend money. Die area is expensive for a processor built in leading-edge 16nm FinFET technology….Because Apple sells phones, not chips, adding a few dollars of die cost is of little importance if the resulting high performance enables it to sell more $600 products.”

Whether you believe throwing money at performance is the right move compared to keeping costs down and optimizing everything instead (remember, Apple chipsets don’t always have the best performance per square meter), Apple has at least demonstrated its approach makes a lot of money in the end.

Who do you think makes the best chipsets? Is speed or stability more important to you?

Source : tabtimes.com

Investors don't have much confidence in Apple Inc.'s AAPL future, at least according to UBS' Steven Milunovich.

In a report published Wednesday, Milunovich stated that "little optionality" is priced into Apple's stock. Specifically, his residual income model found that only 11 percent of Apple's market cap is attributable to profits beyond three years. In addition, Apple's current market cap implies "slight annual declines" in the size of the installed base and how much customers spent on Apple's product.

"If there is little beyond the iPhone, this cautious view should prove correct," the analyst wrote. "However, we believe Apple is preparing for the next era of personal technology - the Ambient Paradigm."

Milunovich said ambience requires hardware, software and orchestration. As such, the analyst expects Apple Watch, AirPods and possibly other future wearables to evolve beyond current functionality and impact industries such as healthcare and education. In addition, Siri could also "play traffic cop," invoking services enabled by Apple opening up APIs and provide a "seamless user experience" across devices regardless if the consumer is sitting, walking, shopping or driving.

The analyst believes this "trusted, connected ecosystem could be the next scarcity."

Bottom line, Milunovich stated that Apple's future is difficult to predict and investors should think of Apple's evolution in paradigms. For instance, the "Computer Paradigm" (Mac) yielded to the Mobile Paradigm and the Apple Watch and AirPods can be viewed similarly.

"We call it the the Ambient (present on all sides) Paradigm," the analyst further stated. "It is Tim Cook's 'iOS everywhere.'"

Source : benzinga.com

Ads go live October 5 -- Apple is offering $100 credit toward the first campaign.

After a beta period that began in June, Apple is now opening up Search Ads for the App Store to all publishers and developers. It’s currently available for the iPhone and iPad only in the US.

While Apple will certainly make money from this program, the main rationale appears to be app discovery. Google has had search ads in the Play store for well over a year.

Search Ads will be delineated with a blue background. Apple will generate the ad images and copy from the app metadata supplied by the publisher or developer, so there’s no ad copy per se. It appears there will only be one ad per search.


Developers set a max daily budget and an overall campaign budget. Apple’s Search Ads use the familiar “second price auction” to set winning bid prices. Apple says that relevance and bid price will determine which ads show. (Developers will pay on a “cost per tap” basis.)

Search Ads allow for bidding on the iPhone or iPad individually. There’s a keyword suggestion tool, with popularity indicators and negative keyword capabilities. There are audience targeting features, including customer type (e.g., has not downloaded) gender, age and location. And of course there are analytics.

search ads

App store search is the dominant way that apps are discovered. However, other discovery channels are now growing in relative importance, according to comScore.

Beyond this, comScore says that roughly 50 percent of smartphone owners don’t download any new apps in a given month, while the average user downloads two apps per month.

app store

Search Ads will go live in the App Store on October 5. Developers also receive a $100 credit for the first campaign.


Source : Search Engine Land

Categorized in Science & Tech

TechCrunch reports that a week or so ago, Apple updated their App Store search algorithm, and the rankings of many apps for many keywords have changed.

Sarah Perez said, “[A]round a week ago, it appears that Apple yet again tweaked the way its rankings worked, but this time around, the changes have only impacted a subset of iPad app developers in the US App Store.”

My company has several apps, and I noticed ranking changes, some positive and some negative, for our key apps in both iPhone and iPad App Store searches.

The TechCrunch story shared several charts and examples of tools showing ranking changes across apps as large as Facebook, and also to other smaller apps.

Here is one example from the story:

Facebook’s iPad app offers a good example of the change, as its app moved from a #2 position in “Social Networking” and a #7 ranking “Overall” the day before, down to #4 and #24, respectively, on Friday, and then it crashed to #38 in “Social Networking” and a practically invisible #858 “Overall” by Monday.

The app’s download ranking has since begun climbing back up, reaching again #2 in “Social Networking” and #9 “Overall” by mid-week.


You can see other examples and more details at TechCrunch.


Source : http://searchengineland.com/

Categorized in Science & Tech

THERE COMES A time in everyone’s life when they consider, for better or for worse, downloading Pokémon Go. Now it seems scammers are ready for that impulsive moment to arrive, and they’re just waiting to redirect unsuspecting players to an app store where they may catch more than Pikachus.

New research from the security firm Trend Micro indicates that bogus third-party stores—a long-running problem for Android—have now been surprisingly successful in targeting iPhone users, tricking them into installing ad-laced impostor apps on their devices. TrendMicro highlights two third-party app services: Haima, which is based in China, and the Vietnam-based HiStore. Both have achieved millions of downloads of their counterfeit Pokémon Go apps for iOS (an impressive and concerning 10 million in the case of HiStore) as well as other fake versions of popular apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Haima’s fake Minecraft app, by Trend Micro’s count, has been downloaded more than 68 million times. The companies promote their phony apps heavily on social media, luring people into clicking on them instead of searching in Apple’s App Store. And it’s working.

The Hack

In the new scheme, the adware distributors set up their app stores through Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program. The service is meant for companies that want to build and distribute proprietary internal apps to their employees. When a company tricks someone into downloading a repackaged version of an app, the software contains adware that starts evaluating information about the victim’s device and mobile network to serve more targeted ads. Then, as the victim uses the app, ad firms deliver ads to the phone, paying fees to the scammers for the privilege.

Apple has always been aggressive about policing its apps. The company just announced a massive cleanup of its App Store at the beginning of September. And the Developer Enterprise Program gets similar scrutiny. When an app is approved it receives a certificate that Apple can revoke at any time, rendering the app unusable wherever it has been downloaded. But making a new Developer Enterprise account and getting a new certificate costs only $299. So when Apple pulls the plug on one certificate, scammers just start using a new one. While investigating Haima, Trend Micro found that the service used five different certificates over just 15 days. Apple didn’t respond to WIRED’s request for comment.

The scheme is relatively simple. But the scammers still put serious effort into ensuring that their apps actually work, so customers will keep using them for as long as the fraudulently obtained certificates remain valid. When Pokémon Go was first released and limited to functioning in certain geographic areas, Trend Micro notes that Haima had a version of its fake app that spoofed location data to get around the legitimate app’s restrictions, allowing people who had unknowingly downloaded the scam version to continue using it from anywhere. As Pokémon Go eased these restrictions, Haima updated the app accordingly.

Who’s Affected?

If you’re sure that you always download your apps from the Apple AppStore or Google Play Store your apps are secure. On the rare occasion that a malicious app actually gets approved and is available for download from these legitimate app stores, Apple and Google are generally swift about removing it, revoking its certificate and notifying customers. If you don’t pay attention to where you get your apps or you’re prone to clicking on random links without considering their origin you could be at increased risk. The best way to protect yourself against downloading fake apps loaded with adware is to navigate to authentic app stores and search for the app you want within them, instead of using an outside search engine or social media.

Fake apps can put your phone’s data and even its hardware like its GPS or its microphone in the hands of bad actors. Christopher Budd, a global threat communications manager at Trend Micro notes that the latest research focused on adware, but scam apps downloaded from unaffiliated app stores put users at risk of being exposed to all sorts of malware. “The biggest thing is the importance of going only to the official app stores,” Budd says. “The mobile malware problem that we’ve seen is almost exclusively a problem with third-party locations.”

How Serious is This?

While repackaged, scammy apps are an old problem, Trend Micro’s research is a reminder that they remain pervasive, and reach Apple devices, too. “As far as iOS this is a fairly unusual and new thing,” Budd says, noting that the sheer number of the downloads—reaching tens of millions—is unprecedented for fake iOS apps. “It’s all about scale,” he says. The research didn’t reveal any evidence that scammers are using truly malicious malware that steals data or other cybercriminal behavior—at least for now. But Trend Micro notes that developers should still take steps to make their apps more difficult to hijack, like obfuscating code so it’s harder for bad actors to access.

The crucial takeaway for consumers, though, is simpler: Use official app stores exclusively for finding and downloading apps. When it comes to mysterious software from untrusted Chinese purveyors, “gotta catch’ em all” is an ill-advised strategy.

Source : https://www.wired.com/2016/09/hack-brief-beware-spammy-pokemon-go-apps-pushed-millions-iphones/

Categorized in Others

Apple's next iPhones will come without the analog headphone jack that's been standard on iPhones and most other electronic devices for years.

Instead, the company is making iPhone owners listen with wireless Bluetooth headsets or with earphones that can plug into the phone's digital "Lightning" port, which has been used primarily for charging.

The new phones will ship Sept. 16, with orders to start Friday.

Another change is that phone is getting more storage — the starter model will have 32 gigabytes rather than 16, which is what it had before. 

The main iPhone is still priced at $650 US. The larger Plus model is increasing to $770 US, instead of $750 US.

Apple is doubling storage in higher-priced models, too — to 128 and 256 gigabytes.

Wireless earbuds to cost $160 US

The long-rumoured decision to ditch the 3.5-millimetre headphone jack could cause an outcry from consumers. Critics have already complained that their old headphones won't fit in the charging port without an adapter. There's also the dilemma of where to plug in a set of headphones if the charging port is already being used to plug in a power cord.

Apple will include a "dongle" or wireless adapter with the iPhone 7 to allow those with older headphones to attach them to the Lightning port.


The new phone will come with a free adapter for those who prefer analog headphones over the new wireless ones. (Beck Diefenbach/Reuters)

Apple marketing chief Philip W. Schiller says it comes down to "courage to move on to something new."

He said removing the port frees up space in the phone for a second speaker. He also said the Lightning port was designed years ago with digital audio in mind.

The new earbuds, called AirPods, will cost $160 US and will ship in late October.

Apple isn't the first to ditch the headphone jack. Motorola quietly did so a month ago with some models of the Moto Z.

'Some people are going to be upset'

"I'm a little bit more toward the side that it's a mistake," Bob O'Donnell, chief analyst at Technalysis Research, told CBC.

"People have invested a lot of money in headphones … and now to use them you're going to have to plug them into that little dongle that everybody's going to lose." 

"You do have the option of these wireless ear buds, but $160? And, oh by the way, they're tiny, so people are going to lose them. I'm not sure they look that great, but that's a judgment call that some other people might make, and it's not clear that they work with anything else," O'Donnell said.

"The bottom line is I have concerns, and I think some people are going to be upset about this lack of headphone issue," he said.


Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the new iPhone and Apple Smartwatch today in San Francisco. Among the biggest changes are that the devices will be water resistant and dust-proof. (Beck Diefenbach/Reuters)

Waterproof, dust protection

The iPhone is also getting an updated home button that will be more responsive to the touch and will come with water and dust protection.

Camera improvements include a new flash with four rather than two shades of colour to match ambient light.

The 7 and 7 Plus models have 12-megapixel shooting in the back, just like the iPhone 6s. But the new models have been upgraded to seven megapixels in the front, up from five megapixels on the iPhone 6s.

Plus, the larger iPhone 7 has a dual-lens system on the back, giving it optical zoom technology a little more like that found in stand-alone digital cameras.

A free software update later this year on the more expensive model will add a portrait mode that gives the image a reduced depth-of-field effect, with the background out of focus.

"The changes are incremental," said O'Donnell. "And the innovations are not that dramatic." He said people who already have smartphones may not say, "Oh, I've got to have this device now."


The iPhone 7 Plus features wide-angle and telephoto cameras in in the back. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

Also announced today at the Apple event in San Francisco is that the company's newest smartwatch will come with GPS tracking for more accurate workouts. Although the first Apple Watch can tap the GPS on a companion phone, that means carrying the phone with you as you hike or run. GPS isn't common in smartwatches, though the upcomingSamsung Gear S3 will also get GPS.

The previous Apple Watch model is resistant to splashes, but not extensive use in water.Apple says one of the engineering challenges has been sealing the speaker port, which needs air to work. The company said it designed the speaker to eject water after workouts. Fitbit has one swim-proof model and Garmin has a few, but the capability isn't common.

The original model is getting a price cut, to $269 US from $300 US, and will get a faster processor. The Series 2 Apple Watch will start at $369 US. The updates are coming Sept. 16. Existing watches can get new software on Sept. 13.


The popular game Pokemon Go, as well as GPS, will be available for the latest version of the company's smartwatch. (Beck Diefenbach/Reuters)

Upgrades to operating system

Those who aren't getting a new iPhone will still see improvements with a new mobile operating system called iOS 10. The software will add more intelligence to Apple services like Maps, Photos, the iPhone keyboard and Siri, the voice-activated digital assistant. There's a new Home app to control appliances.

In a big change for Apple, the company is also opening Siri and its iMessage service to work with apps created by independent developers. Siri will be able to send a message to a contact on LinkedIn, the professional social network being bought by Microsoft, or to a friend on WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service. Siri can also send money with the Square Cash service or search for pictures on Pinterest.

Apple is also allowing developers to build apps for iMessage, although the options so far appear to be mostly sending payments or ordering food. It's also adding bigger emoji and other visual effects for iMessage, including what it calls "Invisible Ink," which blurs an image in a message until a recipient swipes a finger across the screen.

Super Mario coming to iPhone

Earlier, CEO Tim Cook said the video game character Mario is coming to iPhones. Cook said the popular Japanese game had been missing until now.

Shigeru Miyamoto, described as the "Father of Mario" from Nintendo, said through a translator that Super Mario Run is designed to be played one-handed — while holding a handle on the subway, eating a hamburger or eating an apple.

Nintendo has long resisted bringing Mario to mobile phones, instead relying on the character to bolster demand for its own hand-held gaming systems.


Nintendo Creative Fellow Shigeru Miyamoto, known as the 'Father of Mario,' announced that the game Super Mario Run would be available on the new iPhone. (Beck Diefenbach/Reuters)

Apple also announced that the popular Pokemon Go game would be available on the latest version of the Apple Watch. 

Unlike Pokemon GoSuper Mario Run will not be a free-to-play app, though it will also include in-app purchases. It will be available on the App Store this holiday.

The event started with video showing TV host James Corden driving to the event and bantering with Cook about how he ought to wear a suit made of apples.​

Attempts at being inclusive

Apple made sure to include women and underrepresented minorities on stage — something that many tech companies, including Apple, have been criticized for missing at past events.

Sony, famously, held a PlayStation event in 2013 that did not have any women on stage. While the company was widely derided for this, others were quick to point out that other companies did the same, and that without many women and minorities in the companies' executive ranks, it can be difficult to represent them during big events.

For those keeping count, there were three women and four non-white people on stage at Apple's extravaganza on Wednesday. These included Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto from Japan, who works for Nintendo and Trevor Edwards, the president of the Nike Brand, who also does not work for Apple. Many of the photos illustrating the iPhone 7's new souped-up camera featured minorities as well.

When it comes to workforce diversity, Apple is similar to other Silicon Valley companies. Thirty-two per cent of its employees are women and 22 per cent of U.S. employees are underrepresented minorities (this means black, Hispanic, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islanders — groups that are traditionally underrepresented in tech).

Source : http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/new-apple-iphone-1.3751354

Categorized in Science & Tech

People have often referred to Google, Facebook and Twitter as cases where foreign tech companies are blocked in China. In reality, while Facebook and Twitter were indeed blocked, Google chose to withdraw because they didn’t want to comply with Chinese censorship regulations.

It’s important to note that most foreign tech companies were not blocked, and companies like eBay, Amazon, Viadeo and, of course, Apple and Samsung all entered and competed in China.

EBay was beaten by Alibaba more than a decade ago. Amazon entered China through the acquisition of a local company, Joyo, in 2004, but was never able to build a commanding position in China the way they did in the U.S. Viadeo withdrew in 2015 due to a lack of market traction mostly because of the entry of LinkedIn.

On the other hand, Apple and Samsung have done well in China, despite increasing competition from the Chinese who are chipping off pieces of their pies. More recently, Uber China and Didi Chuxing reached a mutually beneficial deal, though some see it as Uber essentially surrendering the China market to Didi Chuxing.

This all seems to beg the question: Can foreign tech companies win in China?

Clearly, China’s regulatory regime regarding the internet, in particular social media, is far more restrictive than that of the U.S. and many other western countries in general. The “Great Firewall” has proven itself repeatedly to be a thorn in the side of foreign companies, and not all have been able to overcome this hurdle. Most have tried, but with varying degrees of success.

It all comes down to the company’s mindset and willingness to adapt. Some firms decided they didn’t want to play in such a context, like Google, and withdrew their operations. Some want to play but got blocked, like Facebook, yet continue to lobby the government for access. Some were allowed to play but couldn’t quite get their act together (for whatever reason), like Amazon, Viadeo and perhaps even Airbnb. There was also Yihaodian, which was Walmart’s online business, but eventually Walmart sold it to JD.com in exchange for some of JD’s shares.

China is not easy. It’s tough for everyone, no matter if one is foreign or not.

But there are some who seem to “get it,” like LinkedIn (at least for now). They entered the China market in 2014 with a dedicated Chinese site, Lingying, and within two years grew their user base to 20 million subscribers and counting. How did they manage such a feat where several others failed? They adapted to the China context. Not only did they localize by conforming to restrictions on content, they partnered with local firms Sequoia China and China Broadband Capital to further understand the China market.

LinkedIn also created local leadership by hiring a president for LinkedIn China, giving the team more autonomy to integrate and cater to local needs. Examples include collaborating with Tencent’s WeChat so users could link profiles, launching a Chinese business social networking app “Chitu” and planning to release a Chinese version of its Pulse news reader app.

Another such example is Evernote. They, too, found success through a focus on meaningful localization. Not only did they hire locally, they employed localized marketing strategies by leveraging local social media like Weibo and WeChat, and had localized customer service, which supports real-time customer support on the mentioned platforms. They did thorough market research before entering in 2012, and looked to solve the “pain points” of the Chinese consumer, mainly security and privacy. Lastly, they had an easy-to-recall Chinese name (Yinxiang Biji) with a memorable pun. This strategy paid off; within the first year after launch they had 4 million users in China, and by 2015 their user base reached 17 million.

The notion that lower-quality clones sprung up because of foreign tech companies being blocked is only partially right. One could argue that the major Chinese social websites of Baidu, Ren Ren, Sina Weibo and Youku Toudu are clones of Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, respectively. While the likes of Ren Ren weren’t able to replicate Facebook-like success in China, others have evolved beyond being clones to having their own unique, innovative ecosystems.

One such example is WeChat. Though it was originally inspired by Kik, and had similar features to WhatsApp, it evolved from mere messaging to becoming an integral part of the Chinese connected lifestyle. WeChat users can now link their bank cards to WeChat Pay, make in-store payments, transfer money to peers, buy movie tickets, hail taxis, pay for utility bills and so on. In fact, the list is practically endless, and shows how WeChat’s business model has become so powerful, and has grown from being a simple messaging app like WhatsApp (which, incidentally is also not blocked in China, but cannot hope to compete on WeChat’s scale).

Foreign tech players tend not to be as extensive in ecosystem building.

Importantly, Chinese innovators are developing new intellectual capital. They are crafting innovative business models and reaching new frontiers of business strategy and organization. Prime examples include Alibaba and LeEco. Jack Ma has built Alibaba into a sprawling internet business through “multiple jumping” from one business area to another, while building its capabilities along the way through a combination of self-built and collaborative partnerships. This disrupted the conventional “core competence” approach that has ruled modern business for the past 30-odd years.

LeEco is, broadly speaking, a “lifestyle” company, with a diverse ecosystem of infotainment content, smart devices and internet-connected mobility. Many commentators by now have pointed out that Chinese innovators are fast, agile and adaptive. However, these are merely phenomenological observations. At heart, the best and brightest of these innovators are deeply reflective on what the new frontiers of business are, focusing on “how can we get it right and do it well?”

Of course, China’s market for tech companies has evolved significantly for over a decade and a half. When Alibaba was competing with eBay more than a decade ago, China’s tech market was pretty primitive. Alibaba merely used guerrilla warfare tactics based on its grit to defeat a major foreign player. Today, both the market and the players are much more sophisticated and their business approaches are much more refined. The leading Chinese innovators are digital ecosystem players building scale and creating customer stickiness through their entire ecosystem. Foreign tech players tend not to be as extensive in ecosystem building.

To “win,” foreign tech companies need to adapt to the China context and deeply understand the key factors of success. Local leadership is critical and appropriate empowerment by the global headquarters to the local leadership to do the right things is essential. While for some, the market is not open or they are not welcome, for many, the opportunities are right there. China is not easy, but why should it be? It’s tough for everyone, no matter if one is foreign or not. And no one can be sustainably successful if they don’t observe, learn and adapt.

LinkedIn China’s Chitu, for instance, is struggling to get market traction. Evernote, while achieving early success in China, seems to be facing some challenges for sustainable growth, mainly due to lack of premium paid users and growing competition from Chinese startups. In fact, drawing a line on “who’s Chinese and who’s not” is also somewhat artificial, given that Alibaba’s and Tencent’s largest respective shareholders are not Chinese, and some of LinkedIn China’s and Uber China’s key shareholders are Chinese. (Sequoia China, whose parent is a Silicon Valley-headquartered VC fund, has its operations led by Chinese venture capitalist Neil Shen, who has a deep understanding of the China context.)

As China’s digital business grows, it’s going to provide more opportunities for many players. Who “gets it” and who doesn’t will certainly not only be a function of “being blocked or not,” but equally (or even more importantly) those who have the right mindset and approach to the China context (and for that matter, China for the world). To this end, it’s a real test of the leadership and capabilities of the companies, as well as the capital behind them.

Source : https://techcrunch.com/2016/08/28/can-foreign-tech-companies-win-in-china/

Categorized in Others

Apple is getting picked on by two of its biggest competitors.

Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFTTech30) used some of Apple (AAPLTech30)'s well-known user pain points to promote their own services in two separate TV and YouTube ads this month.

On Tuesday, Microsoft went after Apple by pitting its new Surface Pro 4 tablet and Cortana smart assistant against the iPad Pro and Siri.

Microsoft's new ad shows the iPad and Siri throwing a party for "getting a keyboard."

"I'm a computer now, like you," Siri says to Cortana.

"So you have more power, like an Intel Core processor?" Cortana responds.

"Like I said, I just got a keyboard," says Siri.

makes Cortana list out several other features of the Surface Pro 4, which leads Siri to concede, "Maybe this party wasn't such a good idea."

Microsoft and Apple have a history of going after each other through marketing campaigns: For years, Apple ran a series of anti-PC commercials starring Justin Long and John Hodgman. And this year, Microsoft has been pushing its "PCs can do more than Macs" message in commercials.

Source : http://money.cnn.com/2016/08/17/technology/apple-ads-google-microsoft/index.html 

Categorized in Search Engine

More than 30 major technology companies are joining the U.S. government to crack down on automated, prerecorded telephone calls that regulators have labelled a “scourge.”

AT&T Inc, Google parent Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Comcast Corp are among the members of the “Robocall Strike Force,” which will work with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. The group was holding its first meeting with the FCC on Friday.

The strike force will report to the commission by Oct. 19 on “concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions,” said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, who is chairing the group.

The group hopes to put in place Caller ID verification standards that would help block calls from spoofed phone numbers and to consider a “Do Not Originate” list that would block spoofers from impersonating specific phone numbers from governments, banks or others.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in July urged major companies to take new action to block robocalls, which often come from telemarketers or scam artists.

“This scourge must stop,” Wheeler said on Friday, calling robocalls the No. 1 complaint from consumers.

Wheeler has said robocalls continue “due in large part to industry inaction.”

“The bad guys are beating the good guys with technology,” Wheeler said.

Stephenson emphasized “the breadth and complexity” of the robocall problem.

“This is going to require more than individual company initiatives and one-off blocking apps,” Stephenson said. “Robocallers are a formidable adversary, notoriously hard to stop.”

The FCC does not require phone providers to offer robocall blocking and filtering but has strongly encouraged providers to offer those services at no charge to consumers.

The strike force brings together carriers, device makers, operating system developers, network designers and the government.

“We have to come out of this with a comprehensive play book for all of us to go execute,” Stephenson said. “We have calls that are perfectly legal, but unwanted, like telemarketers and public opinion surveyors. At the other end of the spectrum, we have millions of calls that are blatantly illegal.”

Stephenson said technical experts representing the companies have had “preliminary conversations about short– and longer-term initiatives.”

Other companies taking part include Blackberry Ltd, British Telecommunications Plc, Charter Communications Inc, Frontier Communications, LG Electronics Inc, Microsoft Corp, Nokia Corp, Qualcomm Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Sirius XM Holdings Inc, T-Mobile US Inc and U.S. Cellular Corp.

Source  : http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/us-business/att-apple-google-to-work-on-robocall-crackdown/article31463869/

Categorized in Science & Tech

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