Thursday, February 28, 2013

Technology Insider: from Bloomberg BusinessWeek

The Firefox OS mobile operating system launches in Barcelona
Mobile & Telecom

The Firefox OS mobile operating system launches in Barcelona

The 3 Most-Important Things at Mobile World Congress

By on February 26, 2013

Gadget fans walked away this week from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the annual geek fest for connected devices, grumbling about a glaring lack of breakthrough products. There were no successors to last year’s wide-screen, HD wonder Samsung (005930) Galaxy Note 10.1, nor did anybody dare push beyond the 41-megapixel barrier broken a year ago by Nokia’s PureView 808 camera phone. And with Apple (AAPL) a no-show (as usual) and Google (GOOG) suspiciously scarce at this year’s event, tablet news was decidedly understated.
Instead the automotive industry, energy sector, and city planning experts attracted some of the biggest crowds on the trade show floors, showing off how mobile technologies could transform creaking energy grids, save inefficient healthcare systems billions, and improve disaster response capabilities in big cities. Dull perhaps, but important.
Here are the three most important things that emerged from Mobile World Congress:
1) Infrastructure tech. Deutsche Telekom (DTE) introduced a new machine-to-machine (or M2M) telematics marketplace. It is asking developers to build out managed software solutions that it can then sell to, say, port operators and power companies. Among the new apps in its marketplace are remote pipeline-monitoring and cargo-tracking software bundles, said Jurgen Hase, vice president of Deutsche Telekom’s M2M Competence Center.
2) Automaker apps. French carmaker Renault (RNO) demonstrated the R-Link app store where its customers can buy apps for the road (think maps, weather updates, and streaming music) for its new in-dash tablet display for select car models to launch later this year. Renault is trying to catch up to higher-end rivals BMW (BMW), Audi (NSU), and Toyota (TM), which have introduced their own proprietary app marketplaces.
3) Handset austerity. The biggest buzz came courtesy of Mozilla, which introduced yet another mobile operating system in an already crowded market. Firefox OS mobiles will run on HTML5, the Web-based language that has yet to catch fire in the development community. The selling point is that Firefox OS phones will be targeted squarely at consumers that cannot afford iPhones or high-end Android phones. The handsets, to be made by China’s ZTE (763) and Huawei, as well as LG (066570) and Alcatel Airtouch (ALU), will launch later this summer in Eastern Europe, South America, and just one EU country, Spain, whose official youth unemployment rate is 55 percent.
Nokia (NOK) also caught the thrift bug—news that won’t cheer shareholders. Among the four handsets Nokia Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop unveiled in Barcelona are the “105,” carrying a suggested retail price of €15 ($19.60), and the “301,” at $85. Even its smartphone line, Lumia, is priced to move. Two new intros, the Lumia 520 and the Lumia 720, will carry suggested retail prices of about $180 and $325, respectively.
Warner writes about innovation for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow him on Twitter @bernhardwarner.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Tecnología Esta Semana

Mind Turns Into Matter With 3D Printing Pen
Personal Technology

Mind Turns Into Matter With 3D Printing Pen

 By on February 20, 2013

For years, the star of the arts and crafts scene has been the hot-glue gun. What child hasn’t cheered after plugging the gun in and watching plastic ooze out the nozzle? By-the-book types could neatly fuse appropriate things together, while the more abstract individuals among us could create wonderful mounds of goop.
It would appear, though, that the venerable hot-glue gun has been bested by a new, more audacious smoking-hot tool. Meet the 3Doodler, a pen that lets people draw three-dimensional objects. (Let that sink in for a moment.) It is, in essence, a novel play on 3D printing technology.
Current consumer 3D printers have a movable nozzle that hangs over a platform. The machines receive an image file from a computer and set to work building physical replicas of the images. A spool of plastic is fed into the 3D printer and melted by the nozzle, which then builds up the object one thin layer at a time.
The 3Doodler does away with the whole precision printing idea. It’s a bulky pen that takes a thread of plastic in one end, melts it, and squirts a stream of plastic out the other end. Instead of drawing on paper, people more or less draw in thin air and have the objects in their head appear in real life. It’s magical stuff.
For the moment, the 3Doodler is a Kickstarter project, with the first production units promised to arrive around September. The company behind the product is WobbleWorks, and it has already raised $700,000. On the Kickstarter page, you can see creations that range from Eiffel Tower replicas to animals and jewelry.
Children everywhere should rejoice at this addition to the arts and crafts arsenal.
Vance is a technology writer for Bloomberg Businessweek in Palo Alto, Calif. Follow him on Twitter @valleyhack.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Prince Alwaleed Bets Another Chip on Chinese E-Commerce

Prince Alwaleed Bets Another Chip on Chinese E-Commerce
(From )

China E-Commerce Prince Alwaleed Bets Another Chip on Chinese E-Commerce

Prince Alwaleed, Saudi Arabia’s most high-profile investor, shouldn’t need to make a new investment to capitalize on China’s rapidly growing Internet population. After all, the prince already is a major shareholder in Twitter, having put $300 million into the company in 2011. But China’s censors block Twitter (along with Facebook (FB), YouTube, and others), so the Saudi billionaire needs another vehicle if he wants to take part.
Hence the news from over the weekend that Kingdom Holding, the company controlled by His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, is one of several investors putting about $400 million into 360buy Jingdong, an Amazon-like online shopping mall based in Beijing that is one of China’s leading e-commerce players. Kingdom is investing $125 million, according to the Feb. 16 statement on its website. Combined with a recent investment by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and other investors, the Kingdom-led deal gives 360buy an extra $700 million.

No doubt the Saudi billionaire and other 360buy investors are attracted by the big potential of Chinese e-commerce, which is still in its fast-growth phase. The official Xinhua news agency reported Monday that 247 million Chinese shopped online in 2012, a year-on-year increase of 21.7 percent, and the value of online retail transactions increased 64.7 percent last year, with China’s E-Commerce Research Center putting the total at 1.32 trillion yuan ($211.5 billion). That total should continue growing, Xinhua added, hitting 1.81 trillion yuan this year. (By comparison, U.S. online retail sales grew 15.8 percent last year, to $225.5 billion, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.)
Still, investors looking to profit from this growth have not had much luck. Last year was grim for many Chinese e-commerce plays, as 360buy and its rivals engaged in a brutal price war that included 360buy Chairman Liu Qiangdong announcing via his microblog his willingness to suffer three years without profits on electric appliances it sold online. The price war took its toll on the stock prices of 360buy competitors Suning Appliance (002024) (its Shenzhen-listed shares fell 20 percent over the past 12 months) and Gome Electrical Appliances (493) (its Hong Kong-listed shares were down 56 percent). The ADRs of Beijing’s E-Commerce China Dangdang (DANG), a 360buy competitor that got its start as a bookseller and now also sells clothing, cosmetics, and other products, fell 41 percent .

It’s not just the retailers. Other Chinese online companies have suffered, too. Social networking company Renren (RENN) (which benefits from Facebook’s absence) was also down 41 percent over the past 12 months. Chinese search leader Baidu (BIDU) didn’t fare much better, with its shares declining 31 percent.
This isn’t the first time 360buy has made headlines with a supersize investment round. In 2011, the company raised $1.5 billion from investors, prompting speculation about a speedy move to an initial public offering. The IPO never happened, though, as allegations of accounting irregularities at some listed Chinese companies soured investors on new IPOs from China.