Wednesday Tech Briefing: Over 10 Million Users Are Now Demanding Refunds From Ofo
1.Baidu to Focus on AI and Cloud Computing with Restructuring
China’s biggest search engine Baidu has confirmed plans to restructure, in order to solidify its foundation in AI and raise its shares in cloud computing, according to an internal letter written by its chief executive Robin Li.
The new restructuring will focus on the development of AI, Big Data and Cloud Computing, and includes plans to upgrade the company’s former AI and cloud computing unit into a business group under the same name. The vice president and general leader of Baidu’s cloud computing business, Yin Shiming, is expected to lead the newly-formed department.
Baidu was a relative latecomer to the Cloud computing market. Archrivals Alibaba and Tencent have been providing corporate services for many years leaving Baidu to play catch-up. (China Knowledge, Caixin)
2.Huawei Blasts U.S. Fear-Mongering as Security Concerns Sharpen
Huawei Technologies rotating chairman Ken Hu Houkun, speaking publicly for the first time since the shock arrest of the company’s chief financial officer in Canada, warned that blacklisting the Chinese company without proof would only hurt the industry and slow the advent of future wireless technologies worldwide.
Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, was detained in Vancouver on Dec. 1 over claims she defrauded banks to violate Iranian sanctions. She now faces extradition in a case that’s sparked a diplomatic row.
That arrest comes at a critical moment for the telecom company. 2019 is expected to be the year fifth generation (5G) wireless is popularized. (Bloomberg)
3.Qualcomm Says Apple Needs to Take China iPhone Ban Seriously
Qualcomm Inc. General Counsel Don Rosenberg said Apple Inc. needs to take seriously a Chinese court’s ban on the sale of some iPhone models, Bloomberg reports. The order “should be taking a bite out of Apple’s sales right now,” Don Rosenberg said.
The court order is in force and cannot be circumvented automatically by a software or operating system update as the iPhone-maker has claimed, according to Rosenberg. He told Bloomberg that Qualcomm is seeking an extension of the ban to cover the latest models of the phone.
The two U.S. companies are locked in a global dispute over licensing fees. Apple has argued its former supplier unfairly leverages its position as the biggest provider of chips for smartphones to force payment. Qualcomm has countered that Apple is using its intellectual property without paying for it, and legal cases are aimed at forcing it to lower licensing charges. (Bloomberg)
4.Coffee Upstart Luckin Taps Meituan for Deliveries
Startup Luckin will partner with Meituan Dianping in coffee delivery, the South China Morning Post reported Tuesday.
If the partnership goes forward, users will be able to order Luckin Coffee’s products on Meituan’s app, according to SCMP’s unnamed source. Luckin already delivers coffees via Chinese courier SF Express, but Meituan’s food delivery infrastructure is more advanced — and is a major Ele.me rival.
Competition between coffee chains heated up in May after Luckin vowed to sue Starbucks over allegations of unfair competition. In August, Starbucks announced a partnership with Ele.me, the delivery giant owned by Alibaba. (SCMP)
5.Ofo Faces Deposit Crisis As More Than 10 Million Users Demand Refunds
Shared-bike app Ofo is facing a crisis with millions of users now demanding their deposits back. According to Ofo’s refund registration system, more than 10 million users have applied for refunds.
Deposits amount to 99 yuan ($14.36) or 199 yuan each, depending when the user signed up, putting the total amount to be refunded somewhere between about 1 billion yuan and 1.5 billion yuan.
The once-highflying Alibaba-backed startup has gone more than nine months with no fresh funds. Since September Ofo has faced a flood of requests for refunds alongside supplier lawsuits over unpaid bills. (Caixin)
6.Researcher Dodged Questions on Ethics of Gene-Editing Experiment
China’s Clinical Trial Register rejected the gene-edited baby experiment’s application due to holes in the informed consent process and research design, as well as questions over trial implementation and funding.
On Nov. 26, researcher He Jiankui announced that he had removed genes from two human embryos before implanting them in their biological mother’s uterus in an attempt to make them HIV-resistant.
After the experiment became publicly known, the university and hospital both denied knowledge and involvement. Since Nov. 30, the trial’s status has been listed as “suspended or paused.” (Caixin)
Compiled by Qian Tong and Hou Qijiang
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