Enterprise

Alibaba buys into Asia’s ecommerce boom with controlling stake in Lazada

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Chinese Internet titan Alibaba made the headlines recently after announcing its biggest overseas acquisition yet. The deal will see it take control of Lazada, one of the most popular names in ecommerce in Southeast Asia, earning the reputation as the region’s Alibaba or Amazon.

Despite online shopping accounting for only 1 percent of retail sales in the region today, Southeast Asia has seen a rapid climb in ecommerce sales in recent years, and is expected to maintain double-digit growth rates for the next several years.

The agreement comes in the wake of earlier acquisitions that gave Alibaba control of the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s biggest English-language newspaper, and Chinese video-streaming service Youku Tuduo.

Alibaba also invested $500 million in Indian ecommerce startup Snapdeal. There are others, but listing them might make you less inclined to read the rest of this post. Suffice to say, the Chinese firm has been on a spending spree for quite a while now, and its latest purchase no doubt makes sense financially and strategically.

Lazada, which sells everything from diapers to sofa to smartphones and operates in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, will essentially allow Alibaba to buy into markets where it has limited traction rather than expand its Taobao and Tmall sites outside of its home market of China. Why risk billions in expansion dollars to build an ecommerce empire from the ground up when you can buy one?

In a statement, Alibaba said it was investing $500 million in newly issued shares, plus an additional $500 million to acquire equity from current shareholders, for a total of $1 billion. Alibaba also said it has the right to buy out the remaining shares from investors after a 12- to 18-month period for an all-out acquisition. Lazada currently has a $1.5 billion valuation, according to its founder, Rocket Internet.

Speaking of the landmark deal, Alibaba president Michael Evans said: “With the investment in Lazada, Alibaba gains access to a platform with a large and growing consumer base outside China, a proven management team and a solid foundation for future growth in one of the most promising regions for ecommerce globally.”

Hopefully for online shoppers in Southeast Asia, Alibaba’s billions will translate into a marketplace that rivals what the Chinese have been enjoying for years now, something Lazada has so far failed to achieve since its founding in 2011.

TechCrunch previously wrote that Lazada generated $191 million in sales over the first nine months of 2015, but shelled out $233 million in operating costs for the said period.

Source: TechCrunch

Computers

Microsoft Surface Hub 2 is like a digital whiteboard from the future

We’ll have one for our office, please

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Are you familiar with the Microsoft Surface Hub? Well, we can’t blame if you’re not because that huge piece of touchscreen computer didn’t make its way to homes, but rather to offices. Unlike other Surface products, the Surface Hub was meant for workplace collaboration to practically replace the good old whiteboard.

Despite being a crazy expensive digital whiteboard, here we are now with its second version. The Microsoft Surface Hub 2 is a much improved gigantic touchscreen designed to be placed on a wall or on wheels.

Compared to the first version, the Surface Hub 2 has drastically reduced bezels. It basically looks like a 50.5-inch 4K+ modern TV in 3:2 aspect ratio that can be rotated with a slight push. Surprisingly, the video camera is now gone from the main device and you’ll need to plug a webcam above or beside (depending on the orientation) the display for video conferences. As for the stylus, it magnetically attaches to the sides of the panel.

It’s quite hard to put our awe into words, so we’ll show you the concept video of what you can do with the new Surface Hub 2:

You can see that the device is so fluid in the office. You can hook it up to a wall, put it on a rolling case, or create a wall of Surface Hubs and transform it into an art piece when not in use.

Since the device is designed to be used by multiple people, users can easily log in using the side fingerprint reader and pull up their account. They’ll be able to find all their documents, data, and accept calls through the Surface Hub 2.

Microsoft Surface Hub 2 used for video conference | Image credit: Microsoft

Microsoft Surface Hub 2 used for collaboration in workspaces | Image credit: Microsoft

Microsoft will start testing the Surface Hub 2 with partners later this year. You can expect to see these in corporate offices and maybe commercial spaces in 2019. Pricing details were not announced, but it’ll not come cheap just like its predecessor which goes for US$ 9,000.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft introduces more powerful Surface Book 2 in two sizes

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Enterprise

Airtel and Huawei conduct India’s first 5G network trial

This is a huge step for the country as its 4G service is ranked world’s slowest

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Indian telecom major Bharti Airtel and Chinese equipment maker Huawei said that they have conducted India’s first 5G network trial achieving over 3 gigabits per second data speed. Huawei said in a statement that both the companies “have successfully conducted India’s first 5G network trial under a test setup.”

The trial was conducted at Airtel’s network experience center in Gurgaon, which is just an arm’s length away from the nation’s capital. “This is a small but a very significant step in our journey towards 5G,” Bharti Airtel Director of Network, Abhay Savargaonkar said. “The promise of 5G is endless. It will be a game changer and will change the way we live, work, and engage.”

During the test trial, a user throughput of more than 3Gbps was achieved using the setup. This is the highest measured throughput for a mobile network in the 3.5GHz band with a 100MHz bandwidth and end-to-end network latency of approximately 1msec.

 

The coming of 5G services in India is likely to open up gates for diversified services enjoyed by developed countries like augmented reality (AR), Internet of Things (IoT), 4K streaming, and more. India plans to roll out the services for consumers by 2020 and for this purpose, the government even set up a high-level forum to evaluate and approve roadmaps and action plans for the same.

“We have been focusing on developing the 5G ecosystem,” Huawei Director of Wireless Marketing Emmanuel Coelho Alves said. “The show with Bharti Airtel impressively demonstrates the performance capability of 5G in the 3.5GHz band.”

Mobile industry analytics firm OpenSignal notes that India only experienced an “explosion” in 4G use last year, thanks largely to a free calling and cheap data price war sparked by entrant Jio.

OpenSignal’s February 2018 global LTE report ranked India dead last in 4G speeds, despite the great availability of 4G signals around the country. Indian customers could expect an average 4G speed of only 6.07Mbps — 10Mbps lower than the global average of 16.9Mbps.

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Enterprise

Microsoft now supports email addresses in 15 Indian languages

More than a billion people in India do not speak English

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Microsoft has announced support for email addresses in 15 Indian languages across its apps and services, including Office 365, Outlook 2016, Outlook.com, Exchange Online, and Exchange Online Protection (EOP).

The initiative by Microsoft comes on the occasion of International Mother Language Day, which is celebrated on February 21 every year. The company is also making efforts to support Email Address Internationalization (EAI), which makes technology accessible in local languages.

The 15 Indian languages supported for email addresses include Hindi, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Konkani, Maithili, Marathi, Manipuri, Nepali, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. These languages are a part of the IN Registry that keeps a record of languages in which IDNs can be stored.

An Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) is an Internet domain name that contains a language-specific script or alphabet — such as Devanagari, Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Tamil, Hebrew, or Latin Alphabets. They also support Unicode, an international standard that encodes languages and scripts so that it’s accessible on practically any modern computer out there.

Speaking on the addition of support for these languages, Microsoft India COO Meetul Patel said that the move represents a step forward in eliminating language as a barrier to the adoption of technology and communication tools. “Currently, Indian languages are under-represented online. Of the 447 different languages spoken in India, none make it to the list of top 50 digital languages,” Microsoft said in a blog post.

Starting with Project Basha in 1998, Microsoft has been working to provide local language computing in Indian languages. Microsoft currently supports 22 constitutionally recognized Indian languages — including 11 Indian language scripts for Office and Windows.

As a member of the Universal Acceptance Steering Group, the company says it will continue to extend support to languages and scripts, including right-to-left languages like Urdu and Arabic.

Google, too, had a launch on International Mother Language Day, and introduced Tamil language support for its advertising products Google AdWords and Google AdSense.

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