Microsoft Makes Staffing Push Into China
Today in international tech news: Microsoft will add 1,000 employees in China, hoping to tap into a market fraught with cheap competition and endless piracy. Also: The U.K.'s years-long debate about online pornography could be nearing an end; a pair of Samsung's new-age OLED TVs go missing en route to a tech show; Starbucks Goes Grande on Social Media in China; Facebook's organ donation tool spreads to Asia.
Microsoft plans to hired an additional 1,000 employees in China over the next year, bringing the company's total in the country to 4,500, according to Reuters.
The move is designed to tap into what Microsoft sees as an integral market for future growth. The company has struggled to gain ground in China's IT market, which is flooded with cheap software -- much of which comes in the form of pirated products, a market that China dominates. To that end, Microsoft in January sued Gome Electrical Appliances, China's top homegrown electronics retailer, for installing pirated Microsoft software on its PCs.
Microsoft plans to boost spending on R&D in China by 15 percent over the next year. The current R&D budget is about US$500 million annually. The 1,000 new jobs will make Microsoft's Chinese workforce almost as large as the one it has in India, where it has 5,800 people in its business units.
U.K. Porn Debate Winding Down
A consultation on whether or not British Internet users should be forced to "opt-in" for access to adult content will wrap up on Thursday, according to the BBC.
The proposed opt-in feature, which would restrict pornographic content by default and require that Internet users specifically choose to have access to porn, is opposed by Internet rights groups and some Internet service providers (and, presumably, some teenagers).
It is, however, supported by various members of parliament, as well as 110,000 people who signed a petition urging for the "opt-in" proposal to be adopted.
Proponents of the "opt-in" point out that other media -- print, TV and radio -- are guarded against sexually explicit content, while opponents argue that such legislation would undermine dialogue between children and parents, according to the BBC.
MIA: OLED TVs
An official complaint was lodged with local police, but the company conceded they weren't exactly sure where the TVs disappeared -- in Berlin, or even in Germany.
OLED technology, which is used in some smartphones, is touted as the successor to LCD TVs. The technology, however, is expensive when scaled up for televisions: 55-inch OLED models from Samsung and LG are rumored to cost around $10,000 -- or 10 times the tab of a 55-inch LCD TV.
Starbucks Goes Grande on Social Media in China
Looking to capitalize on China's steadily growing coffee market, Starbucks is believed to be the first global brand to join China's wildly popular "WeChat" app to market its products, according to Tech In Asia.
Starbucks, which has opened some 570 stores in 48 Chinese cities, is promoting its WeChat presence on its Chinese homepage. The platform has an estimated 100 million users, so more companies figure to follow suit.
Facebook and Organ Donation
A Facebook tool promoting organ donation has expanded to Asia, according to The Next Web.
The tool, which was first launched in the U.S. and U.K. in May , was recently introduced in South Korea and Japan, where those nations' 22 million Facebook users will be able to register to donate organs through Facebook.
The addition of Japan and Korea brings the total to 13 countries, including the U.S., Denmark, Sweden, South Africa, Brazil, Australia and others.