Staff Picks: 12 Top News Stories this Week in Tech in Asia

C. Custer
11:00 am on Jul 21, 2013

Asia tech news this week

This was a totally crazy week in tech; we saw everything from a huge acquisition to huge product announcements and even huge temperatures (although admittedly those don’t have as much to do with the tech industry). So what were our top picks? Read on, fearless technology enthusiast:

Charlie’s pick: Baidu to Buy Mobile Platform Operator 91 Wireless for $1.9 Billion

Baidu makes a nearly $2b investment and I’m the only one who picks it as the week’s top news? That’s how you know things were crazy this week. But this acquisition could be even bigger for Baidu than that sum suggests with so much of China’s mobile market still up for grabs.

Steven’s pick: Inspired by Paypal, Sina Gets Into Online Banking

Is China ready for an online bank? That’s what Chinese web giant Sina looks to be ready to launch with ‘Weibank’ (our unofficial name for it, for the time being). It’ll not only cover e-payments but also investment management, bank transfers, and more. Sina is still riding a wave with Sina Weibo having over half a billion users, so now’s the right time to try something bold.

Willis’ pick: Line Launches News App

Facebook could be the social graph for the web, but on mobile it appears chat apps like Line may have the upper hand. Just as with games, news content is likely to resonate well with Line users. Besides Line, the mobile space is dominated largely by Asian applications which include WeChat and KakaoTalk.

Roy’s pick: 5 Reasons Why There Is No Southeast Asia Kool Aid

I love controversy and opinion. Different parties have different views on how to tackle South East Asia, and this article shines a light on things start-ups and MNCs can learn from.

Lucas’s pick: Singapore’s RedMart Bags Huge Series A Funding to Expand Online Grocery Business

Garena’s Series A investment into RedMart was a surprise to me, I believe this is the first time Garena has participated in investing in other startups. Perhaps Garena is trying to diversify their portfolio away from gaming and start investing in startups with a clear exit strategy. It will be interesting to see which startups Garena will be investing in over the next few months.

Xairylle’s pick: 3 Gaming Studios Come Together to Launch a Very Quirky New iOS Game

Games that are results of collaborations are things I often look forward to. It’s always interesting to see what happens when different creative minds come together for a single purpose.

Minh’s, Phoebe’s, and Dewi’s pick: Struggling Nokia Sells Only 4.1M Phones in China in Q2, 20.2M Across Asia-Pacific

Minh: Gone are the days when Nokia was ruling the roost of the world and Asia. For comparison, Samsung sold over 12.5 million smartphones in just Q1 in China. To put it in even more perspective, China’s own Xiaomi sold over 7 million smarpthones in the first half of 2013 in the country. In other words, even local Chinese companies are crushing Nokia. Despite claims from Nokia’s CEO that Windows Phone was a good choice, I don’t see how Nokia can pull out of this one without a miracle.

Phoebe: I think there is no better way to start a story like this. Just as Minh said, “gone are the days” for Nokia. And I start to recall that years ago, Nokia was so huge that its competitors did not even stand a chance. Then the smartphones entering the scene just took them by surprise…

Dewi: Years ago, I really adored most of Nokia’s feature-phones. Now that the scene has changed considerably since then, Nokia’s very different Lumia and Asha series phones aren’t the phone leaders in the way that Nokia was used to. Android and iOS phones are preferred even though some of them are more expensive. I wonder how Nokia can survive in the future.

Hengky’s and Enricko’s pick: 10 Actions Vietnamese People Need To Take To Save Their Startup Scene Today

Hengky: It’s a very great insight into what is happening inside Vietnam. I can also tell that some of Minh’s points relates very well to what’s happening in Indonesia.

Enricko: I agree with Hengky. Minh wrote another awesome article that is relevant to a lot of startup communities across the region. I guess anyone who cares enough to read his post up until the end do care about what’s happening in their community. It’s time to take action.

Saiyai’s pick: In Anticipation of Next Year’s Election, Indonesian Government Launches Online Voter Database

I always have a soft spot for politics. It’s interesting to read about what Thailand’s neighbor countries are up to in term of politics and technology, while Thailand is still a decade behind with paper and pen voting system – not to mention corruption. Unlike Indonesia, our voter database is printed out and posted on boards at city hall. The Thai government has been talking about e-government for years now, so hopefully, we can do something like this one day.

Youshen’s pick: So It Begins: One Chinese Telco Confirms WeChat Subscription Plan to Launch August 8

Hang on a sec! Are you saying that telcos, who have been grumbling in past months, are now working with mobile messaging apps? By putting on its innovation cap and adapting with WeChat’s growing popularity, China Unicom is focusing on revenue from 3G services instead of SMS. A special data subscription plan is now offered to WeChat power users. Could this be a sustainable model for telcos in China and worldwide?

Minghao’s pick: Alibaba Sees Profits Hit $680 Million, Revenue $1.38 Billion in Latest Financials

Alibaba has always been an exciting Asia company to look out for. Its recent Q2 growth in revenue by 71 percent and profits by 189 percent show that this Chinese e-commerce giant isn’t slowing down. With its recent investments in online maps and social network, it is interesting to see how Alibaba is going to disrupt the Chinese market in the near future.

Andrew’s pick: KakaoTalk Games Platform Sees Massive Growth in Sales and User Counts

30 million users, 300 million accumulated subscriptions and 194% increase in accumulated sales, it’s indeed not bad for a platform that only offered 10 games just one year ago. Personally, I have always been pessimistic about the idea of launching games on chat apps. However, I might have judged too early and it seems like this business model can actually work. With KakaoTalk’s proven success on its gaming platform, now it’s WeChat’s turn.

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