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Chinese customs officers have arrested smugglers who attempted to drop millions of dollars worth of iPhones from drones into China.
Twenty-six suspects were arrested in China recently after they tried to use drones to fly two 660-foot cables from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, according to Reuters. Those cables were going to be used to lift iPhones worth 500 million yuan ($ 79.6 million) to the mainland, where they could be sold via the black market for a hefty profit, according to the report. A local Chinese report from the Legal Daily said it was the first time drones were employed to smuggle phones.
The operation was set to go off at night, where smugglers would pack small bags with approximately 10 iPhones and attach them to the drones. Those drones would then fly from Hong Kong to the mainland in just a matter of seconds. According to Reuters, the smugglers had the ability to transport up to 15,000 iPhones each night.
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Smuggling of high-value products—like iPhones, jewelry, and luxury products—is nothing new in China. In fact, the government has been working hard to crackdown on the practice and do a better job of breaking up what has become an increasingly powerful black market.
Smuggling gangs often steal devices or buy them at a deeply reduced rate and sell them for a higher price in China. They’re careful, however, to keep their prices below the going rate for those who purchase products legitimately. The result is a profitable business for smugglers and an opportunity for Chinese consumers to get authentic goods at a cheaper price.
Despite breaking up the drone attempt, Shenzhen officials warned that smuggling would continue. According to Reuters, the customs officers are planning to use several types of equipment to thwart other attempts by the smugglers.
BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Apple Inc will accept Chinese mobile payment app Alipay in its local stores, boosting its ties with giant e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd amid a push by the iPhone maker to revive growth in the world’s No.2 economy.
The tie-up will make Alipay, run by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, the first third-party mobile payment system to be accepted at any physical Apple store worldwide, Ant Financial said in a statement on Wednesday. Apple’s own payment system has had a lukewarm reception in China.
The Cupertino-based firm will accept Alipay payment across its 41 brick-and-mortar retail stores in China, said Ant Financial, which was valued at $ 60 billion in 2016.
Apple, whose China website, iTunes store and App Store have been accepting Alipay for more than a year, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The deal comes as Apple is doubling down on the market and looking to strengthen ties with local Chinese partners and government bodies. The firm’s CEO Tim Cook has made regular recent visits to the country.
Apple is also shifting user data to China-based servers later this month to meet local rules and last year removed dozens of local and foreign VPN apps from its Chinese app store.
Alipay is China’s top mobile payment platform, but faces stiff competition from rival internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd’s payment system that is embedded within its hugely-popular chat app WeChat.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said late on Tuesday that Apple would build its second data center in China in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region after it set up a data center in the southern province of Guizhou last year.
Reporting by Pei Li in BEIJNG and Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI; Editing by Himani Sarkar
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google introduced audiobooks to its online store on Tuesday, making its smart speakers and virtual assistant more competitive with Amazon.com Inc’s Echo devices and Alexa voice assistant.
Listening to audiobooks is among the most popular nighttime uses for smart speakers, a burgeoning type of home appliance that provides audio streams of music, news and other data based on user commands to an embedded virtual assistant.
But Google’s Home speakers have lagged Amazon Echo in terms of audiobook features. Amazon-owned Audible, the top provider of audiobooks, has not been supported on Home and other speakers with Google Assistant.
Google launching an audiobooks store widens the battle, which has also seen Google’s YouTube unit stop supporting an Amazon product.
Greg Hartrell, head of product management for Google Play Books, listed subscription-less buying as the top selling point for the new audiobooks store.
“You can buy a single audiobook at an affordable price, with no commitments,” he said in a blog post on Tuesday.
Audible offers one-off purchases, but promotes a $ 14.95 monthly subscription that includes one free download and 30 percent off further purchases. Amazon and Audible did not respond to requests to comment.
Google began selling ebooks in 2010. Hartrell told Reuters in a statement that audiobooks are being added because “our users are asking for them.”
About 16 percent of U.S. adults own a smart speaker, according to an Edison Research survey conducted in late 2017. The firm in conjunction with Triton Digital also found last spring that 30 percent of frequent audiobook listeners had used a smart speaker to take in an audiobook in the previous 12 months.
Audiobook sales surged nearly 20 percent annually for three consecutive years, reaching $ 2.1 billion in 2016, according to the latest Audio Publishers Assn. data.
Thad McIlroy, an online book industry consultant, said audiobooks represent the only publishing category with “strong growth” so it makes sense for Google to challenge Amazon despite having a weak ebooks business.
Google-purchased audiobooks can be accessed through Google Play Books on the web, apps for Android and iOS devices or through Google Assistant in speakers, Android smartphones and “soon” cars with Android Auto, Hartrell wrote.
Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Susan Thomas
ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s antitrust has opened a probe into allegations that Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd used software updates deliberately to speed up the ageing process of their products.
The antitrust body said in a statement it would investigate whether the two firms made their products obsolete to stimulate new purchases.
Apple acknowledged last month that iPhone software had the effect of slowing down some phones with battery problems, but denied that it had ever done anything to intentionally shorten the life of a product. [nL1N1OK282]
Reporting by Crispian Balmer
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese online retailer Rakuten Inc plans to join a government auction for wireless spectrum to be held in January, potentially becoming the country’s fourth major wireless carrier, a source briefed on the matter said on Thursday.
The source declined to be identified because the talks are private.
Japan’s mobile carrier market is currently dominated by NTT Docomo Inc, KDDI Corp and SoftBank Group.
The Nikkei business daily, which reported on the plan on Thursday, said Rakuten would raise 600 billion yen ($ 5.3 billion) by 2025 to invest in base stations and other infrastructure.
Rakuten said in a statement that while it was true it is weighing entry into the mobile carrier market, media reports on the matter were not something announced by the company.
Rakuten shares were down 1.7 percent in early trade. The benchmark Nikkei average was flat.
($ 1 = 112.6300 yen)
Reporting by Yoshiyasu Shida and Thomas Wilson; Writing by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Stephen Coates
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The Gray Lady is embarking on an ambitious plan, inspired by the strategies of Netflix, Spotify, and HBO, to make a subscription to the <em>Times</em> indispensable. The post How The New York Times Is Clawing Its Way Into the Future appeared first on WIRED.
TWB_ announced the opening of its US HQ in Houston, TX and that industry veteran Cameron Forch will be the CEO of TWB_ USA. For the worldwide pioneer in creating technology content offshore, this will…
(PRWeb December 26, 2016)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/12/prweb13939852.htm