Permalink 11:01:35 am, by dacare, 407 words, 69 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China

Baidu may divest global assets, shift focus to AI

Internet giant Baidu Inc is considering spinning off its international division, as it focuses more on prioritizing artificial intelligence as a growth driver, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Following the closure of its mobile healthcare segment and the sale of its takeout delivery unit earlier this year, analysts said the Beijing-based company is aiming to reposition itself as a leader in artificial intelligence.

"Baidu wants to spin off those businesses that have less relevance to its AI strategy. As for the international unit, the company's executives have been in negotiations about detailed issues, such as the price and shareholding structure," said the person on condition of anonymity.

"When it is divested from Baidu, the international unit is very likely to be renamed," the source added.

He said many issues need to be discussed, so the results may still be pending by the end of this year.

Baidu's international unit has seven offices around the globe. Its products include the mobile ad platform DU Ad Platform, as well as several other mobile applications such as DU Speed Booster and Battery Saver. These international apps have more than 2 billion users in 200 countries and regions worldwide.

"The idea behind this spinning off is to gear up efforts to develop AI, since Baidu lost its luster in the age of mobile internet," said Wang Huie, a senior analyst at Beijing-based internet consultancy Analysys.

Baidu did not confirm this information on Thursday.

The tech giant has been consolidating its core resources on AI-enabled business, in order to keep pace with its faster-growing rivals.

On Thursday, it announced it would roll out driverless buses next year. In addition, it has expanded its business into voice-assisted products and video-streaming entertainment.

Analysts spoke highly of Baidu's strategy to refocus on AI.

"It's a wise move. Baidu would stay ahead of the curve in the AI era, because it boasts massive data acquired from its search engine and rich funds." said Wang, adding that Baidu might axe unprofitable non-core segments in the future.

But she was skeptical about Baidu's plan to realize the mass production of driverless vehicles by next year.

Li Zhi, an analyst with Prestige Securities, said Baidu's concentration on AI would help to shore up its profit margins.

The search engine company's profit in the third quarter more than doubled, compared to a year earlier. In the same period, its total revenue rose to 23.49 billion yuan ($3.6 billion) from 18.25 billion yuan.

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Permalink 02:37:59 pm, by dacare, 240 words, 73 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China

Shanghai’s AI sector set to flourish

Shanghai's artificial intelligence industry revenue will hit 100 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) by 2020, and likely become the city's new growth engine, top government officials said yesterday.

It will be a big market because AI is set to integrate with many sectors, including finance, transport, agriculture, healthcare and medical and automotive industries.

Shanghai plans to incubate AI "unicorns," which are private firms with market value of over US$1 billion each, Chen Mingbo, chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology, said.

The city will build six industrial zones focusing on AI applications, establish a government-backed fund and open up data from government and telecommunications carriers. By 2020, Shanghai will be home to 10 global AI giants, according to a new government AI blueprint released yesterday.

"Shanghai doesn't have BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) now but I am confident we will own world-class AI unicorns in the future," Chen said during a city government-held conference.

Open data, high-end talent and eco-systems covering finance and information infrastructure are Shanghai's unique advantages, Chen added.

So far, Shanghai has opened up 17,000 categories of government data containing 260,000 projects, covering e-government and telecom data — more than other Chinese cities have released.

Shanghai firms have invested heavily in intelligent connection, robotics, smart devices and industrial-use sensors based on advanced smart manufacture and chip industries.

Meanwhile, Shanghai is drafting plans to attract overseas AI giants to set up facilities in the city as AI is a "globalization industry," Chen added.

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Permalink 04:13:04 pm, by dacare, 241 words, 62 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China

China's online retail sales near $1t mark in 2017

China's 2017 online retail sales is approaching $1 trillion that will buttress the country's position as the largest e-commerce market in the world, S&P Global Ratings said on Monday.

The rating agency said the estimation is based on record online spending during the country's Singles Day shopping carnival last Saturday. Driven by that, China's online retail industry's annual growth will be 20-25 percent in next 12-24 months.

According to Syntun, a Beijing-based e-commerce data provider, the online sales totaled 254 billion yuan ($38.26 billion) at this year's event.

The huge number of transactions last Saturday indicated that Chinese online retailers still have enough space to grow, financial news portal stcn.com said quoting Shalynn Teo, an analyst at S&P.

More product categories will go online, and the increasing mobile penetration will promote the online sale momentum, Teo said.

In addition, purchasing online will become more popular in China's third- and fourth- tier cities and rural areas, the analyst added.

China's online retail sales surged 34 percent year-on-year to 5.54 trillion yuan in the first 10 months of this year, surpassing the 10.3 percent increase in overall sales of consumer goods, official data showed on Tuesday.

In next 12-24 months, the intense competition will put pressures on the Chinese online retailers, Teo warned, adding that the pricing power in addition to rising marketing and delivery expenses will lead the industry's margins to slip.

"But higher growth and improving operating leverage will ease the risks," Teo said.

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Permalink 12:15:21 pm, by dacare, 457 words, 43 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China

Labor boom prompts call for additional vocational training

A technician of CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co Ltd, a high-speed train manufacturer, gives instructions to students at a vocational school in Shandong Province.

The labor market needs more vocational education to lift the number of skilled workers in China, experts said at a recent seminar.

According to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the working population in China will face a sharp drop to 700 million by 2050 from 911 million in 2015.

Such a drop is sparking the demand for vocational education and creating a profound market. At the seminar held by JP Morgan, experts addressed on the importance of vocational education.

"The speed of industrial upgrading is going beyond expectation," said Hao Jianbin, director of the Entrepreneurship and Employment Research Center at the Ali Research Institute. "It raised the salary for low-end labor and pushed the manufacturing factories (that) required less skills moving abroad."

He said it is not very likely the quantity of labor can increase in the short run. Hence the market needs to see more investment in human resources to train more skilled workers to make up for the shortfall.

According to Qianzhan Industry Research Institute's report, the market for vocational education in 2015 was 453.5 billion yuan ($68.3 billion), and the number is expected to double by 2020, creating a trillion-yuan market.

To promote people's employability in the fierce job market, some vocational education has already seen a growing volume of students. Emerald Group, an education institution focusing on inter-net technology and digital entertainment, is one example.

"We have seen a rising demand for internet engineers in the domestic job market every year since it is a very prospective occupation," said Chen Shengdong, chief executive officer of the group. "More and more graduates come here to enhance their competitive edge in the labor market."

Chen said the institution will constantly change their course syllabi according to what is hot in the labor market, thereby serving the companies that are upgrading but struggling to find suitable employees.

From January to August this year, net profit of the group has reached 50.25 million yuan. The group is expected to bring in an annual 90 million yuan in net profit and predicts a stable 30 percent growth rate during the next two years.

Education in the high-end financial sector is also booming. Earlier this year, PricewaterhouseCoopers, or PwC, started its You Plus Special Training Program in Shanghai's Lujiazui Financial City.

According to PwC's report, more than 80 percent of senior executives in Chinese corporations said it is hard to find talent with practical problem-solving skills.

The full-time PwC program lasts for 12 months and can cost up to 300,000 yuan.

Cai Xiaoying, general manager of You Plus, said such training will help solve the imbalance between the supply and demand in human resources for Chinese corporations.

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Permalink 01:40:27 pm, by dacare, 206 words, 151 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China

China's Internet of Things output reaches 930 bln yuan in 2016

China's industrial output in the Internet of Things exceeded 930 billion yuan (140 billion U.S. dollars) in 2016, a Ministry of Industry and Information Technology official said Thursday.

The value was almost six-times the level in 2009, when the sector saw 170 billion yuan of output, said Zhu Wan, deputy head of informatization and software service at the ministry, at the opening of a China Internet of Things conference in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province.

"Industrial chains have been formed in chips, sensors, terminal devices, application software, system integration and communication networks, with over 100 million machine-to-machine terminals set up via the mobile communication network," Zhu said.

In June, the ministry announced faster development of the Internet of Things infrastructure, and innovation in Internet of Things pilot zones. The zones aim to promote the Internet of Things in public safety, health care, urban management and well-being services.

"Accomplishment has been primarily achieved at the pilot zones, such as Fuzhou economic and technical development zone, with the Internet of Things integrated in fields of retail, transport, environmental protection, medical care and power grids," she said.

Zhu said the ministry would help companies that were influential and industry leaders, as well as encourage the creation of small and medium-sized Internet of Things startups.

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Permalink 02:46:29 pm, by dacare, 230 words, 64 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China

Over 1,000 new products to debut at China hi-tech fair

More than 1,000 new products will be released at the China Hi-tech Fair 2017 next week in the city of Shenzhen in Guangdong Province, authorities said Wednesday.

Scheduled for Nov. 16 to 21, the fair is themed "Innovation-driven development and supply quality upgrade," said Gao Yuyue, deputy secretary-general of Shenzhen city government, at a press conference.

More than 50 roadshows have been arranged for the fair to introduce new products, including an Intel robot 3D sorting system and a flexible rechargeable battery developed by the Chinese Academy of Science Institute of Advanced Technology.

The fair will have 12 exhibition zones, covering a total area of 120,000 square meters, said Gao, also deputy secretary-general of the fair's organizing committee

He said hi-tech products in environmental protection, biological sciences, new energy, new material, military and civil integration, and sensor technology would feature in the zones.

Around 100 technical meetings have also been scheduled on topics such as artificial intelligence, energy saving, aeronautics and astronautics, the Internet of Things, new material and smart cities.

The fair will be attended by more than 3,000 registered exhibitors from over 30 countries, including 27 Belt and Road countries.

The annual China Hi-tech Fair was inaugurated in 1999, and is the largest and the most influential state-level international fair in science and technology in China.

The Chinese ministries of commerce, science and technology, industry and information technology, agriculture, and the National Development and Reform Commission are among the co-organizers.

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