China Risks Another State-Run Search Engine Faceplant
Today in international tech news: Having already failed rather spectacularly (twice), Beijing is nonetheless launching a new state-run search engine. Also: Apple is on a hiring spree in China and Taiwan; a Japanese smartphone screen manufacturer preps for a multibillion-dollar IPO; and Mt. Gox finally says it was theft that caused the bitcoin exchange's meltdown.
The Chinese government is taking another stab at the domestic search market with a new service called "ChinaSo."
ChinaSo was formed by merging two already-failed search engines: Jike, launched three years ago by state-run newspaper/propaganda pusher The People's Daily; and Panguso, launched by fellow state-run media outlet Xinhua. Neither of those sites is believed to have ever garnered more than a 0.4 percent market share... so, yeah.
People trying to access Jike and Panguso are being rerouted to a beta version of ChinaSo. The home page has multicolored lettering and looks more than a little like Google.
China's search market currently is controlled by Baidu, which boasts a 60 percent share, followed by Qihoo 360 (25 percent).
Early predictions suggest that The People's Daily deputy editor-in-chief will be the search engine's president, and that Xinhua's VP will act as CEO.
Apple on Hiring Spree in China, Taiwan
Apple is bolstering its workforce -- and draining others' -- by hiring hundreds of new engineers and supply chain managers in China and Taiwan.
The engineers reportedly are being plucked from rival smartphone maker HTC and other Taiwan-based tech firms in an effort to speed up product development and launch a broader range of devices.
Apple already has added several hundred engineers and operations staff in the Middle Kingdom since mid-2013, pushing the total number of engineers and operations staff north of 600, according to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal. (Apple itself declined to comment.)
Apple took to LinkedIn in August to lure engineers from HTC and fellow Taiwanese outfits such as Inventec and Quanta Computer.
Greater China, a region that includes Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau, was Apple's fastest-growing market last quarter. The company got a boost when China Mobile, China's (and the world's) biggest mobile operator, began peddling iPhones in January.
[Source: The Wall Street Journal]
Japanese Smartphone Screen Manufacturer Preps for Multibillion IPO
Japan Display, which has quickly ascended to lofty heights in the world of smartphone screen manufacturers, plans to raise about US$3.8 in an initial public offers in Tokyo later this month.
The company got off the ground thanks to a $1.96 billion infusion in 2012 from the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, a state-run institution designed to bolster the domestic industry. Japan Display was formed from the small-screen units of Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi.
After the March 19 IPO, in which Japan Display plans to sell 140 million new shares and 213.9 existing shares, the INCJ's stake in the company will dip from 87 percent to roughly 36 percent.
Japan Display was the world's fourth-largest smartphone screen provider last year with an 18 percent market share, according to Nomura, a Japanese financial holdings company. South Korea's Samsung was No. 1 (24 percent), followed by Sharp and Taiwan's Chimei Innolux.
[Source: Financial Times]
Mt. Gox: Theft Caused Implosion
Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox blamed theft for its recent declaration of bankruptcy.
The exchange and its CEO, Mark Karpeles, had been coy about what exactly lay at the root of the recent meltdown, in which an estimated $400 million-plus worth of bitcoins up and disappeared. Now, however, Karpeles says on Mt. Gox's website there was a "high probability" that theft caused the bitcoins' disappearance.
[Source: The Associated Press]