Tencent Scores Exclusive Deal To Stream HBO Content In China

Read original story on: Hollywood Reporter

HBO and Tencent have unveiled an exclusive content deal that will make the Chinese Internet giant’s streaming service the official online home of HBO films and series in the country. As Chinese officials continue the crack down on popular pirated-video websites, China’s major online video sites, including Sohu, Youku and Baidu Video, are reportedly locked in a billion-dollar battle for legally hosting foreign shows. Tencent might have gained a valuable head start with this deal, but it still remains to be seen how much censorship will be imposed on HBO’s mature content.

Global Watch: Secrets To Alibaba Record-Smashing Single’s Day Sale

 A new global e-retail record was set on November 11 when Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba finished its annual sale on Single’s Day—a new holiday in China popularized and trademarked by Alibaba to encourage splurging on oneself—with a smashing $9.3 billion (RMB 57.1 billion) in total transaction volume. This astronomical number surpassed the combined $3.7 billion online sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday made from desktops in the U.S. last year, according to comScore.

To achieve such an impressive number, Alibaba tried a couple of new tricks this year. First, it streamlined the purchase experience on smartphones, where 43% of this year’s sales reportedly came from. It also signed special logistics deals with delivery companies to facilitate faster movement of the 200 million orders generated on that day.

Alibaba also successfully connected Chinese consumers with international brands and online retailers: more than 200 merchants from over 20 countries participated with special discounts, including Muji, Desigual, and The North Face. Chinese shoppers bought overseas deals not just though Alibaba’s own retail sites, such as Taobao and Tmall, but also from overseas retailers’ official websites with Alipay, thanks to its newly-launched EPass program.

Considering the 60% increase from last year’s sales, Alibaba’s strategy of turning a silly, unofficial holiday into a national shopping frenzy provides a shining example for retailers worldwide.

Apple Pay Adds (Limited) Support For China’s UnionPay

Read original story on: WSJ.com

Almost one month after its official launch, Apple Pay has finally added support for UnionPay, China’s most popular payment card (and the only government-sanctioned payment and inter-bank clearinghouse in mainland China), with over 4.5 billion cards issued. Right now, payment is limited to purchasing digital goods on its regional App Store only. But given China’s booming ecommerce sector, which is projected to hit $409 billion this year, it seems safe to assume that Apple Pay will be expanding its functionality in China soon.

Alibaba Just Had The Biggest IPO In History

Alibaba, the leading company in China’s ecommerce industry, opened at $92.70 a share on the New York Stock Exchange today, making it the biggest public offering in U.S. history. This is hardly surprising to anyone who knows the company, as it is the most popular destination for online shopping in China, the fastest growing ecommerce market in the world. At more than $92.50 per share, Alibaba’s market cap is hovering around $228 billion, which makes it larger than Facebook, IBM, and its American counterpart Amazon.

What Is “Bullet Screen” And Why Is It So Popular In China?

“Bullet screen”, or “dan’mu” in Chinese, is an emerging new feature on online video sites in China and Japan, which allows real-time comments from viewers to fly across the screen like bullets. Mostly used for virtual nods and zingers, this “social viewing” feature is phenomenally popular with the younger crowd. In fact, it is so popular that several theaters in China have been incorporating this practice into special screenings that display streams of text messages sent in by the audience. It’s unclear whether this trend will spread to global markets, but it’s an excellent example of how media channels can adapt to user behavior.

Surprise! Lenovo Is Selling More Smartphones Than PCs

According to Lenovo’s latest earnings report, the world’s largest PC manufacturer is now selling more smartphones than PCs. The Chinese company reported selling 15.8 million smartphones in the recent quarter, compared to 14.5 million sales in PCs, further proving that the digital world is moving towards mobile. Despite this, Lenovo is still making more profit on its PCs, possibly due to the fact that most of its smartphone sales are low-end handsets popular in emerging markets.

The Big Ambitions Of Little Rice (XIaomi)

By now, you have probably heard about Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi. Heralded as either “the Apple of China” or “Blatant Copycat”, depending on whom you ask, Xiaomi’s meteoric rise in recent years has caught the eyes of western media, even if its target market has been almost exclusively domestic so far. Popular as their products are in mainland China, even outperforming iPhone in a recent study on leading smartphones’ app usage in China, it is not until recently that a few new developments from the company indicate the big ambition of Little Rice (a literal translation of Xiaomi).

Earlier last week, Xiaomi launched Mi 4, its newest offering in smartphones. Boosting a steel frame, IR blaster, top-tier specs and an affordable $320 pricetag, it is a dazzling product that once again raises the bar on “made-in-China” budget phones. More importantly, the “one more thing” that Xiaomi revealed along with Mi 4 is a $13 sleep and fitness tracking wristband named Mi Band. It also promises a battery that lasts up to 30 days and a proximity-based function that unlocks linked Xiaomi phones without password. By introducing such an aggressively priced, multi-functional smart wearable, Xiaomi is not only gaining an unchallenged head-start in the wearable market in China, but also potentially upending the upscale positioning that most wearables seem to employ in the global consumer tech market.

xiaomi-mi-band-enAnother indication of Xiaomi’s big ambition is its recent foray into the international market. By striking an exclusive partnership with India’s biggest e-commerce operator Flipkart, Xiaomi has launched its smartphones in the subcontinent, marking its first step in entering the Indian market where Samsung and native brands currently dominates. In addition, Xiaomi is starting sales in 10 new markets including Brazil and Russia, while also reaching out to local e-commerce operators for its expansion to the Philippines and Indonesia. Such an extensive roll-out has turned out fairly successful so far, with Xiaomi reportedly more than doubled its year-on-year sales since the international expansion began.

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Formidable as Xiaomi’s rapid growth might seem, the big tech players in the western world don’t need to start worrying about Xiaomi just yet, as the company is still very much focused on markets in the developing countries. Whether its products are quality enough to conquer the global market also remains to be seen. And the company’s long-standing habit of unabashed appropriation of Apple could hinder it from entering the western market where the tech giants are litigious and have deep pockets. Nevertheless, one thing is clear to see: the little rice is aiming big, as the company starts shouting “Xiaomi the money” at the global market.

70% Of Chinese First-Time Internet Users Use Mobile

According to the China Internet Network Information Center, the overall penetration rate of China’s Internet has grown steadily to 42.1% since the end of 2012, with the majority of growth coming from mobile devices. At the current rate, the total number of Internet users in China will reach 800 million by 2015. Presently, 591 million Internet users reside in China, and 464 million of them are categorized as mobile users, which means that 78.5% of Internet users use a smart device when online. With a lot of recent talk about shifting advertising to mobile, these numbers lend credence to the opinion that mobile is expanding rapidly, and that companies ought to keep a close eye on the category.

NFC-based Mobile Payments Ramp Up In China

Chinese giants China Mobile and UnionPay have joined forces to launch an NFC mobile payments solution in 14 of China’s biggest cities in coordination with eight leading Chinese banks.

The mechanism embeds payment information inside an NFC-enabled SIM card, in contrast to other platforms such as those in the US that tend to store payment information inside the mobile device itself.

The goal for this project is to roll out the NFC payment capability to 100 cities in China in the near future.

Augmented Reality Supermarkets

I disagree with the assertion in the article that this has larger implications. It seems to me to be a lot more difficult than just accessing the supermarket mobile website from anywhere, rather than having to go to an empty lot and wave your phone around just to get the same stuff. This project strikes me as an example of making something unnecessarily difficult.