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Apple moving iCloud keys to China; Netflix adds 3 Indian originals

TOP NEWS

* Apple Inc. is moving iCloud cryptographic keys for Chinese users in China as it starts to host users' iCloud accounts in the country by the end of February to comply with local laws, raising human rights concerns, Reuters reports. The company will, for the first time, store the keys for the affected iCloud accounts in China instead of the U.S., which means Chinese authorities will no longer have to go through U.S. courts to obtain information on Chinese iCloud users.

* Netflix Inc. added three Indian original series to its slate. "Leila," "Ghoul" and "Crocodile" will exclusively debut to over 117 million Netflix users in 190 countries. Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, president and chairman of the board, said his company sees the potential to add 100 million customers in India, according to The Economic Times (India).

* As expected, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission formally released an issues paper that outlines the focus of its investigation on digital platforms like Facebook and Alphabet Inc. unit Google Inc., and is seeking feedback on issues that is relevant to the inquiry. The ACCC probe is focused on "assessing the market power of digital platforms," "implications of digital platforms for media content creators, advertisers and consumers" and the "effectiveness of existing regulation and proposals for change."

PAN-ASIAN NEWS

* East London-based video-on-demand service Alchemiya Media, dubbed the "Netflix of Islam," launched a £1 million investment round as it seeks to expand in Asia, Advanced Television reports, citing Alchemiya founder and CEO Navid Akhtar. The company is reportedly in talks with one of Southeast Asia's largest telcos to bundle Alchemiya to 90 million mobile subscribers in Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh, and is also on the lookout for partnerships in other regions.

JAPAN

* Dentsu Inc., Japan's biggest advertising agency, is putting aside up to ¥60 billion for mergers and acquisitions in the current calendar year, The Nikkei reports, citing unidentified sources. Dentsu, which had a similar M&A outlay last year, plans to acquire mainly foreign companies focused on online advertising and digital technology.

* Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and mobile portal DeNA Co. Ltd. will launch joint field tests of a self-driving taxi service on March 5. The tests, which come amid Uber Technologies Inc.'s Japanese expansion plans, will allow participants to ride in cars equipped with autonomous driving technologies along a set 4.5-kilometer route near Nissan's Yokohama headquarters.

* NEC Corp. announced the launch of 5G wireless trials with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. mobile arm NTT Docomo, testing coordinated control between distribution units using an Active Antenna System base station system.

SOUTH KOREA

* Samsung Group's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. unveiled its new smartphone series Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus at the Unpacked event, Yonhap News Agency reports. The new handsets offer upgraded camera functionality, including distinctive features such as super slow motion video with speeds of 960 frames per second and AR emoji that creates a personalized avatar from a selfie image. The new lineup will officially launch on March 16, following pre-orders in South Korea starting Feb. 28.

* LG Corp. unit LG Electronics Inc. is set to reveal at the Mobile World Congress 2018 its smartphone V30S ThinQ, the first smartphone equipped with the company's AI brand ThinkQ, The Korea Economic Daily reports. The new gadget has improved AI capabilities, among others.

* KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. joined the Carrier Blockchain Study Group, a global blockchain consortium of telcos that is designed to jointly develop blockchain technologies using telecommunications infrastructure, E Daily reports.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and the Chinese Academy of Sciences launched 11-qubit superconducting quantum cloud computing services. As the world's second company offering such services backed by a processor over 10 qubit, Alibaba aims to catch up with its rival International Business Machines Corp.

* Microsoft Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding with Xiaomi Inc., which expects to speed up its global sales by integrating Microsoft's technologies such as AI and cloud computing into Xiaomi devices.

* Xiaomi is set to enter the blockchain sector by hiring senior blockchain engineers, according to hiring ads at the job search app Lagou. The salary will be up to 60,000 Chinese yuan a month.

* Subsidiaries of Tencent Holdings Ltd. and JD.com Inc. will spend 886.9 million Chinese yuan for a 6% stake and 739.1 million yuan for a 5% stake, respectively, in Chinese retail chain Better Life Commercial Chain Share Co. Ltd., Reuters reports.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Idea Cellular Ltd. raised about 35 billion Indian rupees through a qualified institutions placement of equity shares with a face value of 10 rupees each to qualified institutional buyers for an issue price of 82.50 rupees per equity share, including a premium of 72.50 per equity share.

* Aircel Ltd.'s roughly 5,000 employees are preparing for potential layoffs as the debt-laden Indian mobile operator is set to apply for bankruptcy, The Economic Times (India) reports. Aircel CEO Kaizad Heerjee has warned staff via email to brace for "more difficult times ahead" as the company faces "serious funding issues" amid heightened competition.

* Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sees India as an important market and will continue to be so for at least the next five years, The Economic Times (India) reports, adding that the company will increase its investments for "Indian engineering talent" by quadrupling or quintupling the number of engineers in the country "this year and then further beyond."

* Tech Mahindra Ltd. will invest C$100 million in Canada over the next five years to build a new center of excellence in the country.

* Munish Seth stepped down as Asia-Pacific regional head of Facebook Inc.'s Connectivity Solutions division, people familiar with the matter told The Economic Times (India). Seth led the Express Wi-Fi program in India.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Axiata Group Bhd. is allocating 200 million Malaysian ringgit this year for potential acquisitions in fintech, the Internet of Things and advertising technology sectors, New Straits Times reports. According to President and group CEO Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, two-thirds of the amount would be used for its business in Malaysia, while the rest would be for its regional business, particularly in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

* South Korean conglomerate SK Group will set up a regional headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to expand its businesses in Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East, The Nikkei reports. The group has signed an MOU with the Malaysian government on exploring investment opportunities in, among others, 5G wireless communications and smart cities.

* Datuk Michael Yip Chin Hwee, founder and managing director of Malaysian digital branding and marketing agency Inno Mind Works Sdn. Bhd., confirmed that the company is the new owner of Malaysian business weekly Focus Malaysia and that the acquisition comes in the midst of a transition to the digital platform, Astro Awani reports.

* Thailand's state-owned CAT Telecom Public Co. Ltd. launched a new joint venture with Total Access Communication Public Co. Ltd., or Dtac, which will see the two companies jointly operate about 13,000 2G base towers, Prachachat reports. Dtac will control 51% of the JV's shares, and CAT will control the remaining 49%.

* Hitachi Ltd.'s Thailand unit said it will launch the Lumada Internet of Things platform locally this year, making Thailand the first country in Southeast Asia where Lumada is available, Manager reports. Hitachi also said it aims to be Thailand's leading IoT provider by the end of 2018, and Thailand will be the company's regional hub for IoT expansion.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Telstra Corp. Ltd. during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, unveiled its 5G rollout plan, announcing that it plans to offer 5G to major cities and regional areas in Australia by the end of 2019, ZDNet reports. Telstra's roadmap for 2018 includes deploying 1,000 small cells in metro areas, as well as 4G and 5G integration trials with Ericsson AB, Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc.

* Nine Entertainment Co. and News Corp Australia Pty. Ltd. are in talks for a joint bid for broadcast rights to Cricket Australia worth between A$130 million and A$150 million per year, sources told The Australian Financial Review.

* Vocus Group Ltd. CEO Geoff Horth is leaving the company and will be replaced by Michael Simmons, current chief executive of Vocus' wholesale and international division.

FEATURED NEWS

SoftBank's technology strength lures Swiss Re ahead of possible investment: Christian Mumenthaler drew parallels between SoftBank's focus on technology and high-growth markets and Swiss Re's own strategy on an earnings call with journalists.

As European TV pushes into virtual reality, monetization challenges lie ahead: Nearly half a decade after Facebook's $2 billion acquisition of Oculus — arguably the first major push in VR — headset sales have fallen short of earlier projections and monetization of VR platforms has been slow to materialize.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Wireless Investor: Potential new entrant aims to get a slice of Japan's mobile spectrum: Japan might go from three to four national operators as current MVNO Rakuten announced at the end of 2017 its intention to enter the Japanese mobile market by applying for a 4G spectrum license.

Joji Sakurai, Myungran Ha, Frances Wang, Ed Eduard and Patrick Tibke 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.