Welcome to the latest instalment of Last Week in Asia, our roundup of the key stories and developments from across Asia’s growing technology and Internet spaces.
Top story: Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi confirms new $216 million round of funding
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
Last week saw the confirmation of the rumour that Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi was close to closing a series C round of funding. Company CEO Lei Jun confirmed that new investment — worth $216 million — had been secured, but he neglected to reveal the identity of the new backers, or the valuation that the new funding had been raised at.
Early June, Chinese media suggested that Xiaomi — which produces iPhone-like $320 smartphones — was raising at a $4 billion valuation, but we’ll have to wait on further details to ascertain that figure.
China’s ‘affordable’ smartphone market is gathering pace. Alibaba released the $157 Zing, the latest device powered by its Yu platform, while Baidu has unveiled, and will soon release, the Changhong H5018, the first device built on its cloud-centric Android ‘fork’ operating system.
Canalys recently predicted that 40 percent of China’s smartphones will be sub-$200 devices by 2015, and Xiaomi is set to be a key supplier of mid- and low-end app-centric smartphones.
Also of note:
Yatra.com, which has raised dozens of millions of dollars in funding from firms like Intel Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Reliance Capital and Valiant Capital Management, says it will continue to operate Travelguru as a separate entity under its existing brand name.
The acquisition of Travelguru fits in nicely. Travelguru is said to be India’s largest hotel distribution network offering access to more than 6,500 hotels in India and 72,000 hotels worldwide.
No financial terms of the deal were disclosed, but speculation suggested that the acquisition was made for $20 million in cash.
Korean messaging app Kakao Talk got a hostile reception when it introduced a voice-calling function to its service, and last week we looked at evidence suggesting that Korean carriers are throttling the app.
Suspecting it would cause disruption, Kakao Talk initially introduced the feature to its near-10 million international user base, before rolling it out in Korea some 3 weeks later, with the inclusion of a tracker to keep an eye on performance.
Using that service it seems that a number of operators appear to have been meddling with the app, as traffic on the platform has suffered considerably since its introduction at the beginning of June.
The aim of the throttling may well to be lessen the load on operator networks while also deterring Kakao Talk users from making voice calls by negatively impacting the quality of the feature.
Also of note:
The writing was on the wall when the service’s entire development team was laid off as part of Yahoo restructuring in April, and now Yahoo has confirmed that the one-time Foursquare rival will ‘check-out’ for the last time on August 28.
This news is a sad moment for Indonesia’s startup community as Koprol was seen a shinning beacon that the region had the potential to compete with Western services, and gain the funding and backing needed from with inside Asia.
Also of note:
- Path broadens its global appeal with 7 new languages, including Traditional Chinese, Bahasa Indonesia