We present a very tiny snapshot of the comprehensive daily global Bloomberg TMT briefs from Chris Lowe, the company’s global technology, media and telco specialist. His daily brief covers highlights from Bloomberg and across the TMT industry across Europe, Asia and the USA, plus looking at companies (including start-ups), markets and tech trends. These are just some excerpts which are relevant to our own focus on innovation, ecosystems, technology trends, and economic development.
INTELLIGENT ENERGY: The leading hydrogen fuel cell developer signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with a major drone manufacturer to develop hydrogen fuel cell powered drones. The two will companies work together in the first quarter of 2016 to develop technological solutions to increase drone flight time. The goal is to lead to a formal commercial arrangement for the solutions’ rollout. The pain points for drones, particularly for commercial use, are known to be short flight times and long periods of downtime due to battery limitations and recharging. Powering a drone with a hydrogen fuel cell could enable it to fly for hours, as opposed to minutes.
VODACOM: Whatsapp, Skype, other over the top services, or OTTs (over the top services), should be regulated the same way as TELCO’s Vodacom CEO Joosub tells the Sunday Times. Voice communication OTT services don’t face requirements such as interception, call monitoring for state’s securities agencies, don’t pay tax on ad revenue. “Operators need to be able to get a certain level of return to be able to invest,” Joosub says.
SONY: Blowout numbers, driven by PlayStation numbers offsetting weak chip sales. Sony shifts focus from consumer electronics to chips, video games and movies. Movies did well: the film division was its fastest-growing in the quarter. Sony had the fourth-biggest hit at the American box office in the quarter with “Spectre,” the latest installment in the James Bond franchise. But it’s all about the game: Sony is sharpening its focus on streaming and online game services by bringing its PlayStation hardware, software and network operations under one roof. Sony Interactive Entertainment will begin operations from April 1, based in San Mateo, California. About 7m VR headsets will be sold by the end of 2016, according to market researcher IHS Technology. By 2020, the market is expected to reach $2.6bn with 37 million headsets sold.
DIDI KUAIDI: Uber’s Chinese nemesis is partnering with China Merchants Bank Co. to provide automobile financing and help its 14m drivers with car payments – so they can buy their vehicles. Merchants Bank, which is making a strategic investment in Didi, will provide loans and payment plans to qualified drivers. They are also working together on bank cards and in-app credit card payments, Didi President Jean Liu told reporters.
IBM: Always the subject of much debate, this story highlights the logic behind their recent purchase of the Weather Channel and how the tech behind this, combined with Watson, could constitute a powerful offering for IBM in the world of IoT (internet of Things).
PAYPAL: The purchase of Venmo, the peer-to-peer money transfer app, may go down as one of the shrewdest acquisitions of the current tech boom, according to Forbes.
HYPERLOOP: teams from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Delft University in the Netherlands and the University of Wisconsin at Madison were among those winning a chance to build and test their pod designs for the “Hyperloop” transportation system proposed by billionaire Elon Musk. Hyperloop is a transportation system in which capsules hurtling on a cushion of air would whisk people at 700 miles (1,130 kilometers) per hour, traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in half an hour. Musk sees the Hyperloop as a ‘fifth mode’ of transport, commenting, “I’m starting to think that this is really going to happen.”
MICROSOFT: Bill Gates revealed on a BBC Radio 4 program how he was ‘disruptive’ as a teenager, forcing his parents to send him to a psychologist. Gates said his parents taught him the value of ‘giving back’ to society, a lesson developed into a philanthropic philosophy culminating in he and his wife Melinda setting aside much of their vast fortune to help the world’s poor. Explaining why they sent him to see a child psychologist when he was 12, he said: “I was a bit disruptive. I started early on questioning were their rules logical and always to be followed, so there was kind of a bit of tension there as I was pushing back.” Computing became an obsession and he would spend five hours a day learning programming, skipping gym classes to further his knowledge.
APPLE: In its quest for innovation, APPLE is apparently trying to develop new wireless charging technology that could be deployed on its mobile devices in early 2017. Apple is exploring cutting-edge technologies that would allow iPhones and iPads to be powered from further away than the charging mats used with current smartphones. This is good news for the foodchain: semiconductor makers Broadcom and Qualcomm are among those who have developed or are developing technology and standards for wireless charging. Don’t forget the Nordic semi and NFC in this ecosystem as well.
Additionally, the whole focus on the APPLE hitting the wall on INNOVATION is driven by a one-sided report from The Guardian newspaper in the UK claiming Apple’s secretive, rigid culture, compounded by a failure to introduce ground-breaking products, is shifting sentiment in Silicon Valley, supposedly prompting developers and engineers to look elsewhere when applying for jobs.
Trends in focus
UNICORNS, DONKEYS, and now… RABBITS
According to Business Insider, ‘dead unicorns are on the horizon’, with venture capitalists questioning the valuations being achieved by many of today’s technology startups. It suggests 2016 will be the year of the RABBITs: Real Actual Business Building Interesting Technology.
HONG KONG STARTUP SCENE
The Hong Kong startup scene is on fire, according to this Forbes article, the populous place is seeing an explosion in growth and startup cool, reminiscent of Shoreditch in London, UK 2-3 years ago.
Justifying the hall purely dedicated to drones at CES in Las Vegas, several whom I spoke to said they were highly profitable just selling into their local US marketplaces. Business Insider states that nearly 300,000 civilian drones have been registered in the US in 30 days. The Federal Aviation Administration is requiring all civilian drone owners to register their devices.
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