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Staff picks: 8 top news stories this week on Tech in Asia

NOTW - Asia tech news this week

We’re mostly mobile this week in our selection of stand-out stories from the week’s tech developments.

Minghao’s pick: Line hits two new highs – 400 million registered users, 10 billion messages sent per day

This is impressive. Eight months after Line reached 200 million registered users, the messaging app has doubled its tally. That’s nearly one million users acquired per day. Another amazing trait is Line’s ability to monetize. In 2013, with about 200 to 300 million users, it managed to make $338 million in revenue. At its rate of grow and with it rolling out more paid-for services, Line can easily surpass a $1 billion in revenue this year.


Paul’s pick: Unblockable? Unstoppable? FireChat messaging app unites China and Taiwan in free speech

Protestors in Taiwan have adapted the anonymous, hyperlocal messaging app FireChat for their rallies against loosening trade restrictions with China. I have a feeling either FireChat or a similar app will become commonplace at demonstrations around the world in the coming months.


Daniel’s pick: China’s mobile commerce spending to surpass $50 billion in 2014, nearly double last year’s total (INFOGRAPHIC)

We all know that there has been phenomenal growth in the mobile sector over the past year, and that there will certainly be far more to come. China’s m-commerce growth, though, is still an awesome sight to behold.


Saiyai’s pick: LivingSocial quits Southeast Asia with $18.5 million sale of regional business to iBuy Group

What a bummer! But I kinda saw this coming. I used to use LivingSocial religiously when I was back in the US and I haven’t used it once since I moved home to Thailand. That speaks volumes for someone who shops online a lot. Something must have gone wrong – either LivingSocial’s marketing or the product selection, or the company’s strategy as a whole.


Josh’s pick: Chinese taxi-hailing app Didi Dache now books 5 million rides a day, and it spent $225 million to get there

Lots of growth and money is being spent on China’s top two taxi apps, Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache. But there’s no need to get caught up in flashy numbers just yet. The real question is – when will these startups monetize, and what will happen when they do? Will municipal governments with vested interests in the incumbent taxi industry begin to crack down on them? Since Didi and Kuaidi don’t necessarily disrupt the taxi industry but work within it, it’s possible this tension won’t surface for some time.


Nathan’s and Vanessa’s pick: Xiaomi rips off a Kickstarter project to give your smartphone an extra, configurable button

Nathan: A highly favored and fast growing company that openly steals the idea of not one but two crowdfunding projects – that’s not healthy for the startup ecosystem. Xiaomi – a tiny startup itself just two or three years ago – should know better the hardships and obstacles that startups and entrepreneurs face. Yet it chose to clone others’ new ideas instead of collaborating with the inventors. The latter choice would have been a wiser choice for the industry, for the tech ecosystem, and for Xiaomi’s reputation.

Vanessa: As much as I hate to say this, it’s very much about Darwinism’s “survival of the fittest” rule. Xiaomi’s main market is in China, where most of its citizens can’t possibly afford the pricing set by Kickstarter projects like Pressy. Xiaomi can make its Pressy-esque gadget for considerably less, can get its productions lines rolling a lot faster, and can get it on sale before the original gizmo.


Steven’s pick: Xiaomi wants to sell 100 million phones in 2015, has a tall task to equal Lenovo

Speaking of Xiaomi… The upstart phone-maker this week revealed sales targets for 2014 and 2015. After selling just under 20 million phones in 2013, they’re certainly ambitious goals.


Phoebe’s pick: Broken sea cables cause web speed woes in Philippines – and the misery isn’t going to end soon

PLDT subscribers are battling terribly slow internet this week. Tthe telco has explained that it is a major issue with Asia’s underwater internet cables, a problem that may not just affect people in the Philippines but other neighboring countries as well.


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