Bottom line: Huawei’s latest big financial commitment to the UK is mostly for show, but Britain could still emerge as a winner over the longer term if Huawei conducts more R&D work in its British labs.
After getting the cold shoulder from the US for its smartphones, telecoms superstar Huaweiis turning increasingly to Europe, and specifically to Britain, for consolation. That’s the key takeaway from the latest reports that say Huawei has told British Prime Minister Theresa May that it will spend a further 3 billion pounds ($4.2 billion) on procurement from the UK on top of its other commitments to the country. (English article)
This particular move seems mostly political, and also it’s questionable how significant it is. Huawei made its commitment last week during a trip by Theresa May to China, and this kind of mega-commitment is quite common during these meetings between Chinese and global leaders. The fact of the matter is that Huawei posted 600 billion yuan ($97 billion) in sales last year, meaning it had to spend perhaps half of that amount, or around $50 billion, on procurement of various components for its core networking equipment and smartphones. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Xiaomi’s growing comeback is giving it confidence to launch an IPO plan, as its loss of a trademark case in Europe highlights renewed obstacles it will face in its global expansion.
Comeback kid smartphone maker Xiaomi is in a couple of headlines as we reach the middle of the week, including one that highlights its return to growth and another that shows the obstacles it will face as it continues with its global expansion. The first headline has media reporting that Xiaomi is planning an IPO as early as next year, as its sagging valuation finally returns to a growth track. The second has the company suffering a setback in Europe related to a trademark dispute with industry colossus Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), highlighting the perils it is likely to face as its global expansion moves into more developed western markets.
It’s still a bit early to say whether Xiaomi’s comeback story has legs, though growing signals are certainly pointing in that direction. I know at least one person who is a Xiaomi fan and goes out of his way to buy their phones, which means that at least some people are coming back to the brand. That’s a shift from a couple of years ago, when the company’s legions of early fans abandoned the brand after it lost its early trendy image and became more known for product problems and other glitches. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Whatsapp has likely been permanently blocked in China, while Satya Nadella’s visit to Xiaomi underscores Microsoft’s growing ties with the company, and Google’s China AI push is mostly PR.
A couple of the big high-tech multinationals are in the headlines as we head into the next-to-last month of the year, which seems like a good opportunity to review where these companies stand heading into the second term of President Xi Jinping and also as Donald Trump gets set to make his first China visit. One of those headlines involves Google(Nasdaq: GOOG), and comes in a soft-ish report pointing out the company is actively pushing its artificial intelligence (AI) development software in China.
Next there is Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella, who is in China this week where he paid a visit on recovering smartphone maker Xiaomi. I’m not a huge fan of Microsoft’s strategy in general. But its growing ties with Xiaomi do look like an interesting new approach that could ultimately pay off nice dividends under Nadella’s 3-year-old leadership at the software giant. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Huawei could overtake Apple as the world’s second largest smartphone seller in the next 1-2 years, while it could also pose a challenge in global cloud services over the next 5 years.
We’ll begin the new week with a couple of items from Huaweithat show how the company that began as a telecoms network builder looks set to unseat fading PC giant Lenovo (HKEx: 992) as China’s global leader in consumer tech. The first of those has one research house releasing data that show Huawei’s smartphones surpassed Apple(Nasdaq: AAPL) for two consecutive months in June and July to become the world’s second largest brand. The second has a Huawei executive discussing his plans for the company’s cloud computing services, saying he wants to become a global top 5 player.
The first headline shows that Huawei is not a company to be taken lightly, which means that people should pay close attention to the second headline. In my years of covering Huawei, the company has proven to be quite focused and determined, and pours large amounts of money into product development to make sure it can meet its goals. It focused its early efforts on building traditional telecoms networks, but more recently has moved to enterprise networks and consumer devices like smartphones and notebook computer. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: China’s apparent partial blockage of some Whatsapp functions for brief periods is unlikely to end with a total blockage, mostly because the service is used almost exclusively by foreigners.
Foreign media are buzzing about what appears to be the blockage of some functions on Whatsapp, with the obvious implication that a full blockage of the the popular instant messaging app could be next. This particular story has a few interesting angles, led by the fact that Whatsapp isn’t used by very many Chinese and also that it’s owned by social networking giant Facebook (Nasdaq: FB).
There are a also a number of precedents to go by, none of which looks too positive for the future of Whatsapp. Just about every other major global social networking app has been blocked in China by now, including Facebook itself, as well as Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) and Japan-listed Line (Tokyo: 3938). But there are a few notable exceptions that have been allowed to keep operating in China, one of which is Whatsapp and two others being the Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) owned Skype and LinkedIn. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Tencent’s soaring market value reflects its leading position as a developer of social networking products, and its concurrent ability to monetize those products.
It seems that Internet titan Tencent (HKEx: 700) can do no wrong these days, at least based on a recent run-up in its share price. Just a couple of weeks after China’s Internet wunderkind passed US banking giant Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) to become the world’s 10th most valuable company, Tencent has just passed another milestone to become officially become worth more than $300 billion. (English article)
Of course all of this is just movement based on investor belief that the company’s prospects look rosy. In this case I would have to agree, though I might also argue the 10 percent rise in its share price over the last month may look a little too aggressive. At the same time, Tencent has also just announced its opening of an artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Seattle, joining Internet rival Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) in the race to see who can delve the fastest into an area that’s become a daily buzz word for Chinese media. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Baidu’s opening of a new artificial intelligence lab in Silicon Valley is the latest move in its AI obsession, which is likely to end in failure and a quiet pullback in around two years due to mediocre execution.
I’m officially dubbing Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) chief executive Robin Li the “two-year attention span man”, with word that the company is setting up a new Silicon Valley office in the rush to build up its artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. If any one of China’s “big three” Internet chiefs deserves the title of “short attention span” man, it’s most definitely Robin Li. As far as I can remember, Li has been a “flavor of the moment” guy who fixates on the latest daily hot trend, most often to jettison the idea around 2 years later when it falls out of fashion. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: A new PR campaign by Huawei and Microsoft to ease Washington and Beijing cybersecurity concerns that are hurting their cross-border business will have limited impact, and what’s really needed is better technology to prevent against hacking.
The growing paranoia in Beijing and Washington over cybersecurity threats is creating odd bedfellows of two of the world’s leading tech companies on opposite sides of the Great Firewall of China. That pairing is bringing together software giant Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), one of the biggest China boosters among US tech firms, with Huawei, a globally ambitious Chinese company that would desperately like to enter the lucrative US market for telecoms networking equipment. Read Full Post…
The following press releases and news reports about China companies were carried on September 14. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
China Postal Savings Bank $8.1 Bln IPO Mostly Covered by Cornerstone Investors (English article)
Bottom line: Microsoft’s spin off of its MSN China portal to a management-led group looks similar to the sale of its cellphone patent portfolio to Xiaomi, and is aimed at handing off underperforming assets to strategic partners.
Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) chief executive Satya Nadella is making one of his biggest strategic moves in China two years after taking over as head of the company, with word that the software giant is spinning off its local MSN web portal to a management-led group. This particular development actually first surfaced back in May, when reports emerged that Microsoft planned to closed down the Chinese version of its MSN portal that is a central part of its global Internet strategy. Apparently those reports were premature, and the company instead will continue to operate this meager part of its China Internet presence through a third-party partner. Read Full Post…
The following press releases and news reports about China companies were carried on August 30. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) MSN China Portal in Management-Led Buyout (Chinese article)
Russo Bros in Talks With Huayi Bros (Shenzhen: 300027) for Partnership (English article)
Baoneng (Shenzhen: 000690) Pays 882 Mln Yuan for 26.4 Pct of Dating Site Baihe (Chinese article)