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Bob’s Byte

China Comes to USA

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China Comes to USA

Earlier this year, $1.6 billion Chinese electronics and content services giant LeEco bought American TV consumer electronics leader Vizio, (#2 market share in TVs and Smart TVs and #1 in Sound Bars).

Both these companies remain relatively unknown in Europe and LeEco's $2 billion cash purchase of Vizio makes you wonder why they spend the money on a North American brand when plenty of global brands Continue reading...

German High Tech Company Fights Philippine Customs Corruption-- For More Than 30 Years

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German High Tech Company Fights Philippine Customs Corruption-- For More Than 30 Years

In the age of internet, every company is urged to "tell its story." Recently at IFA Berlin, the German consumer electronics company, Unimex, told us its story fighting theft and corruption, a story that spans three decades and several regimes in the Philippines.

The moment Stephan Finta hit the bottom of the stairs, he knew what he had to do.

He looked up at the two bulky guards from the Customs Office in Manila who had just thrown him down the stairs. Both had guns drawn and one said, "Never come back here, Finta."

When Finta finally had his chance to tell this story in court, no one was surprised. In the Philippines, violence and corruption were the norm at that time.

Usually a consumer electronics manufacturer (video computers, cartridges, game accessories) from Germany was not a target. And certainly this was not the message the Philippines wanted to send abroad to the international business community.

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Sinking Shipping Firm Causes 2016's Biggest Price Disruption

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Sinking Shipping Firm Causes 2016's Biggest Price Disruption

Korea's Hanjin, container shipping giant, drowns in financial waves and the consumer electronics industry will get swamped.

With too many container ships and freight rates at historical lows, Hanjin files for receivership-- and much of the industry will only now learn how dependent the electronics industry is on container ships.

For example, Daniel Yoo at Kiwoom Securities told CNBC Hanjin handles more than 50% of Samsung Electronics' device shipments from South Korea to the Americas-- as well as 23% of LG Electronics.

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Acer is Now in Pet Care. Really.

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Acer is Now in Pet Care. Really.

The world’s first notebook with a curved screen and the world’s first eye-tracking gaming desktop monitor took a back seat to newer product categories at Acer's IFA press conference.

With PC sales declines, Acer used IFA, the consumer electronics show, to announce the widening its business targets. Acer opened its press conference with an announcement of a new acquisition-- Pawbo-- and its entry into the market of pet technology. Or more specifically, social media devices for pet owners.

This may be an unexpected step into new territory for Acer, but it is well documented as a $100 billion market. President and CEO Jason Chen was able to get more than a few chuckles by pointing out the USA population is adding pets at twice the rate of human babies. And Acer wasn't the only pet technology at IFA...

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"Pokémon Go" Opens Up Mass Market for AR

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It's only been a week since its release, but even New York City is rocked by a new and "wildly popular augmented reality game."

For CE dealers, this marks two trends: it will accelerate interest in other AR and VR products, so it's a good time to increase familiarity with the category. And it marks a big shift for a CE giant as its success means the penny has dropped for Nintendo: they will now aggressively enter the mobile gaming industry with all their resources(probably even developing their own brand of mobile device accessories).

Nintendo's Pokémon Go is so popular it will soon overtake Twitter and other famous social media in numbers of daily active users (according to Android statistics).

It's so popular in just a week that NYC police have felt compelled to issue warnings, some tongue-in-cheek, but nonetheless urging Pokémon Go players "to be aware of their surroundings at all times, particularly when using any hand-held electronic device.”  The 19th Precinct of Manhattan added a Twitter message: “Don’t let us catch you catching #Pokemon while driving, you can’t do both!”

According to The New York Times, "Pokémon Go" is "on nearly every New York City sidewalk"as an increasing number of New Yorkers have been chasing virtual creatures since Pokémon Go came out last week.

Nintendo’s AR game sends players out into the real world to catch about 250 virtual Pokémon via a smartphone "grab" (when Pokémons appears on the screen, the user flicks Pokéballs--collected earlier from blue Pokéstops on route-- to capture them.)

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Suning Takes Control at Inter Milan

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Suning Takes Control at Inter Milan

Retail giant Suning of China takes 70% of Italian football giant Inter Milan for 270 million euro. The "Best Buy of China" is the first Chinese investor to control a top European soccer team.

Inter Milan won 18 Italian Serie A league titles and three UEFA Champions League trophies, but has been struggling after winning the European Champions League in 2010. The team finished 4th in Serie A this s Continue reading...

Sharp Agrees But Foxconn Freezes

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Sharp Agrees But Foxconn Freezes

Almost. The single terrible word that's left on the table after a deal falls through.

Despite all odds, the Board of Sharp managed to approve the sale to Foxconn. For a whopping $5.5 billion.

And now, only a day later, in a written statement, Foxconn says it needs to delay completing the deal.

Foxconn wants to study “new material information” released by Sharp that (according to WSJ) includes Continue reading...

Chinese Transport Company Buys Ingram Micro

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Chinese Transport Company Buys Ingram Micro

Out of the blue sea, Tianjin Tianhai from China announced it will buy Ingram Micro, the world's largest technology distributor for $6 billion.

Just $6 billion for a $46 billion company tells you a lot about the business of high tech distribution. But this story is not about the HOW MUCH- it's more about the WHO and the WHY.

Tianjin Tianhai began as a humble marine shipping company and turned itself Continue reading...

Amazon Opens First Bookstore

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Amazon Opens First Bookstore

James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones in the UK, told the BBC he hopes Amazon’s push into physical retailing “falls flat on its face.” Daunt has also removed Amazon's Kindle from most of Waterstones’ 280 stores.

You can hardly blame him.  It seems ironic the webstore that enrichened itself shuttering so many bookstores-- while crowing about the inefficiency of brick-built stores-- now turns to a physical presence as if it were an Amazon innovation.

More than 20 years ago, Amazon first rocked the book industry with its online sales, a digital disruption--specialized in books--that battered both bookstores and book publishing. In a short time Amazon captured about 25% of all books sold in the U.S. market.

Not just books. In 2007, Amazon unveiled the Kindle, an eReader that makes book reading a completely digital experience. And then the Fire Phone, the Fire TV, the Fire TV Stick, and Echo...

Today about 19.5% of all books sold in the U.S. are Kindle titles. E-books now make up around 30% of all book sales, and Amazon has a 65% share within that category (Apple has in books +1.65% and Barnes & Noble +7.14%).

But Amazon also sells a broad range of products: art, lawnmowers, iPods, toys, 3D printers, diapers, shoes, gun safes, 3D printers. According to industry estimate, US book sales make up no more than 7% of the company’s roughly $75 billion dollars in annual revenue.

And now Amazon opens its first-ever brick-and-mortar retail store: Amazon Books. And the Amazon VP in charge, Jennifer Cast, says it is their first store but “We hope this is not our only one.”

While Amazon has experimented with pop-up stores over the years to sell its Kindle devices (and replaced some bookstores on college campuses with pickup locations), this first store opened its doors in a shopping mall in Seattle. The company chose Seattle for its first physical bookstore because it’s close to Amazon’s headquarters and because Seattle is a top market for readers...

 

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China’s Currency Grows Up

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China’s Currency Grows Up

Maybe you ignored the news that the International Monetary Fund added the Chinese currency (renminbi) to its basket of international reserve currencies, to begin in October 2016.

This is the world’s hardest fiscal club to join. The Chinese renminbi now joins the once-mighty U.S. dollar, the disappointing Euro, the legacy pound sterling and the humbled Japanese yen.

The renminbi is the official Continue reading...

Product of the Year 2015: The Drone

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Product of the Year 2015: The Drone

The consumer DRONE is the CE Product of the Year.

What product category captured the most attention in 2014 and will further explode in 2015? You may have your favorite, but we'd like to nominate the consumer DRONE for Product of the Year 2015.

The aviation industry calls it generically a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) and the EU prefers RPAS (remotely piloted aircraft system). The public know Continue reading...

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