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Facebook secretly launches app in China; U.S. may probe China's trade violations

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Facebook secretly launches app in China; U.S. may probe China's trade violations


* President Donald Trump is expected to consider on Aug. 14 an investigation into possible trade violations by China. The investigation will seek to determine whether China is harming intellectual property, innovation, and technology, The Washington Post reports. Bloomberg News, however, cautioned that Trump's memo will not direct a full-blown investigation under Section 301, but will examine whether to start one.

* Facebook Inc. covertly rolled out a photo-sharing app called Colorful Balloons in China in May, a person with knowledge of the company's plans told The New York Times. The app, which shares similar attributes to that of the social networking giant's Moments app, was reportedly released through a separate company and without any indication that it is connected to Facebook.

* The Cyberspace Administration of China said it is probing Baidu Inc.'s forum site Tieba, Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s WeChat and SINA Corp. unit Weibo Corp. for allegedly violating the country's cybersecurity laws. The watchdog said users of the three social media sites are "spreading violence, terror, false rumors, pornography and other hazards to national security, public safety, social order," Reuters reports.

* Nintendo Co. Ltd. is being sued by Gamevice, a U.S. mobile gaming accessory company, over claims that Nintendo Switch controllers violate one of its patents, CNBC reports. The suit in a California court demands damages and cessation of Switch console sales.


* Live Nation Entertainment Inc. is setting up a new electronic music division in Asia. Called Live Nation Electronic Asia, the new venture will offer event production and promotion services to meet an increased demand for electronic dance music in the region, the company said Aug. 10. The company named Hong Kong-based independent promoter Jim Wong as managing director of the new division.


* Sharp Corp. president Tai Jeng-wu told Jiji Press in an interview that he is willing to support Japan Display Inc., a troubled LCD joint venture between Sony Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. Tai said "there are many ways" to help Japan Display that avoid a merger or direct investment violating anti-monopoly laws. Japan's Sharp was acquired last year by Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., widely known as Foxconn Technology Group.

* Japanese fintech startup Money Forward Inc. may launch an IPO by September, potentially bringing its market capitalization to up to ¥20 billion, The Nikkei reports. The online household account and asset management platform has gained more than 5 million users since launching in 2012.


* LG Electronics Mobilecomm U.S.A. Inc. joined hands with TagStation LLC, owner of the NextRadio app, to enable FM radio transmission on its upcoming flagship smartphone, the LG V30, in the U.S., Canada, and Latin American countries. LG Corp.'s LG Electronics Inc. unit is planning to add the function to more models going forward.

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s Galaxy Note FE, a limited edition smartphone made with the parts of discontinued Galaxy Note 7, is about to be sold out in the South Korean market, with major telcos saying on their websites that the online purchase is now unavailable, ET News reports. The Samsung Group unit has no plan to produce more handsets in addition to the initial volume of 400,000 units.

* South Korean telco KT Corp. opened a 5G promotional spot in Haeundae beach, Busan, where visitors can get hands-on experiences of 360-degree virtual reality technologies, augmented reality game HADO, and drone racing based on its 5G network, ZDNet Korea reports. The company reportedly plans to expand the so-called 5G Land in university campuses and music festivals to raise consumer awareness.


* Chinese news aggregator Toutiao is raising at least US$2 billion at a valuation of over US$20 billion in its latest funding round, Reuters reports, citing people with knowledge of the matter. U.S.-based private equity firm General Atlantic joins Sequoia Capital and CCB International as an investor and could be leading the funding round, one of the sources said.

* Tencent sued Netease Music in Shenzhen for copyright infringement, Yicai reports. NetEase, Inc. is Tencent's largest rival in China's online music streaming sector, but Netease relies heavily on Tencent in terms of copyright as Tencent is the exclusive China partner of major international record companies, including Sony Music Entertainment Inc., Warner Music Group Corp. and Universal Music Group.

* In its latest effort to battle counterfeit goods, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. upgraded its intellectual property protection platform to facilitate the removal of fake product listings in its online marketplaces.

* Personal holdings in Alibaba's money market fund Yuebao is now limited to 100,000 Chinese yuan, according to Tianhong Fund, which manages Yuebao. China's security regulatory commission in March issued a draft policy aiming to regulate the fast-growing size of money funds in the country, and Tianhong responded by cutting the maximum personal holdings in Yuebao from 1 million yuan to 250,000 yuan.

* Tencent's mobile payment tool Wechat Pay is available at all 7-Eleven stores in Hong Kong, reports Xinhua. The partnership is intended to attract more tourists from mainland China.


* Spotify Ltd officially confirmed that it will launch its music streaming service in Thailand on Aug. 22, The Nation reports. Spotify's entry into the Thai market has been anticipated since June, when the company began advertising online for a Thailand music editor based at its Asia HQ in Singapore.

* Malaysian telco operator Telekom Malaysia has launched its digital mobile service, webe, in Negeri Sembilan state in Malaysia, news site Free Malaysia Today reports. According to Telekom Malaysia State General Manager Ir Ramlan Omar, webe offers flexibility to customers by making domestic calls, sending text messages and using data without any contract.

* Singtel reported a year-over-year decline in its net profit of 5.6% to S$892 million in the quarter ended June 30. One of the main reasons was the heavy competition faced by the Singapore-based telco's India-based associate Airtel.

* Thailand's Ministry of Digital Economy and Society will create 300 e-village centers to help train local entrepreneurs to generate revenue through e-commerce platforms, Thai Rath reports. The ministry expects the nationwide training program to produce 4,500 online stores with a purchasing value of 200 million baht by June 2018.


* The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings against Domain Name Corp. Pty Ltd. and Domain Name Agency Pty Ltd for "engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct" and for providing misleading representations of the domain name services that they are offering.

* Digital terrestrial TV platform Freeview said that 6.9 million Australians have been streaming over 1.5 billion minutes of catch-up and live streaming content over the past month, citing a report by OzTAM, the official source of TV ratings data for all metropolitan TVs in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, as well as subscription services in the entire country. The figure reportedly indicates a 25% increase in TV streaming over the past four months.

* Singtel Optus Pty. Ltd reported a 4.8% year-over-year increase in operating revenue, amounting to A$2.10 billion, with a net profit of A$171 million.


* The Indian government has dismissed the controversy-ridden Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification Pahlaj Nihalani, Times News Network reports. Lyricist and adman Prasoon Joshi will take over the vacated role for a three-year term.

* Reliance Communications Ltd. reported a total revenue of 35.91 billion Indian rupees for the quarter ended June 30, which is down by 33% year over year. It reported a net loss of 12.21 billion rupees for the quarter ended June 30, compared to a net profit of 540 million rupees for the quarter ended June 30, 2016, citing the "competitive intensity" of India's telecom sector for the grim earnings results.

* Amazon India Ltd.'s Prime remains the Inc. unit's top selling product, particularly during the Great Indian Sale that started on Aug. 9 and lasted until Aug. 12, The Economic Times (India) reports, citing a statement from Manish Tiwary, vice president, category management, at Amazon India.

* Hike Messenger, an Indian messaging and social technology company backed by Tencent and Hon Hai, has acquired Creo, a Bangalore-based startup.

* Times Internet-backed Haptik, Inc., a chatbot platform company that powers the Haptik virtual assistant app, has teamed up with Amazon Pay to power transactions for its 5 million user base, The Economic Times (India) reports.

* SoftBank-backed cab aggregator Ola has raised 2.31 billion Indian rupees, through the issue of 171,173 preference shares, from hedge fund Tekne Private Ventures in its latest funding round, The Economic Times (India) reports.


Data Dispatch: A horror to kill a horrible summer at the box office: "Annabelle: Creation" will likely deliver profits for Warner Bros., but it won't deliver growth at the box office as summer 2017 goes down as one of the worst seasons in recent memory.

Ad outlook: Tough Q3 ahead for media conglomerates: Early returns, continued entertainment audience erosion and scheduling factors project a decline in advertising revenues.


Global Multichannel: Global markets update – Vietnam and Honduras: Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence, has recently updated Global Multichannel & Broadband analysis for two markets.

Economics of Networks: OTT, skinny bundles here to stay; cablenets look to cut out middlemen: There has been a flurry of announcements recently from cable network owners looking to cut out the middlemen for OTT and skinny bundles.

Economics of Networks: Disney turns to optionality in face of uncertain future of media ecosystem: Walt Disney's fiscal third-quarter earnings showed cable networks revenue fell 3% to $4.09 billion while segment operating income dropped 23% to $1.46 billion.

Joji Sakurai, Myungran Ha, Frances Wang, Patrick Tibke and Ed Eduard contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. Hong Kong time. Some external links may require a subscription.