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Last Week in Asia: Rakuten leads Pinterest round, Baidu gets mobile, Web blocking in India and more

Last Week in Asia: Rakuten leads Pinterest round, Baidu gets mobile, Web blocking in India and more
Jon Russell
Story by

Jon Russell

Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.

Welcome to the latest Last Week in Asia round-up, our selection of the key stories and developments from across Asia’s growing technology and Internet spaces.

This week we are testing a new streamlined format aimed at making the round-up more succinct and useful for our readers.  Feel free to let us know what you think of the new format in the comment section below.


Top Story: Baidu aims to rival iOS, Android with own smartphone, OS and app store

After teasing details of its upcoming new smartphone strategy a week previous, last week saw Chinese search giant Baidu finally unveil a new smartphone operating system (OS), app store and device.

The company is targeting the sub 1,000 RMB ($150) market with its new Baidu Cloud OS, and the first device powered by the platform will be the Foxconn-built Changhong H5018.

The device, and others built upon Baidu Cloud — its Android variant — will be tightly integrated with Baidu’s cloud services (as the name suggests), which includes a generous 100GB on its Netdrive (aka Wangpan) storage service.

Interestingly, as TechCrunch points out, Baidu is exploring the possibility of ‘forking’ its own operating system from Windows Phone 7 and iOS platforms. The company’s bold move is aimed at making it the layer of choice for smartphone makers targeting the Chinese market.

Also of note:


Top story: Second Indian ISP reportedly blocks video and torrent sites, citing a “court order”

Concerns over Indian ISP Reliance’s move to block Vimeo, other video services and certain torrent sites was heightened last week, as Airtel followed suit.

The rival ISP was found to be blocking access to the online video service, DailyMotion, The Pirate Bay,, Pastebin, Xmarks and others.

The company cited a court order as the reason for the block, which suggests that a further crackdown on the selected sites could be forthcoming in India.

The incident prompted a large scale backlash from Indians, bitterly upset at having authorities rule over which sites they can use. Indeed, the news prompted members of Anonymous to take down government websites in response.

Also of note:

  • [PluggdIn] Anonymous Takes Down Congress And Supreme Court Website, Gets It All Wrong: Indian startup and tech blog Pluggdin explains why Anonymous took the wrong course of action in response to the site blockades.
  • [The HinduIndia’s proposal for government control of Internet to be discussed in Geneva: In light of recent issues with content control in India, the country is proposing that the Internet should be globally regulated at government level.

Japan and Korea

Top story: Confirmed: Pinterest raises $100 million from Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, previous backers

We broke news of Pinterest’s latest round of funding the day before it was announced, but the big surprise of the $100 million funding was that it was led by Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten.

Certain details of the round remain undisclosed — but it is thought to value the site in excess of $1 billion, our source revealed — and it was completed by existing investors.

The participation of Rakuten suggests that Pinterest is looking into the possibility of monetising its red-hot pinning service in the near future.

Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani said that he sees “tremendous synergies between Pinterest’s vision and Rakuten’s model for ecommerce”, and the Japanese giant will help launch the social media site in Japan and the 17 other markets where it operates.

Also of note:

Southeast Asia

Top story: Facebook co-founder Saverin: Renouncing US citizenship “nothing to do with taxes”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg rang the bell on Friday as the company listed on the Nasdaq, completing the largest Internet IPO ever.

In the run up to the move, that values the social network, the world’s media also cast its eye on one resident of Singapore: Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

News that Brazilian-born Saverin had renounced his US citizenship dominated much of the press last week. In response, the billionaire spoke out in a rare media interview in which he denied that the move had anything to do with avoiding US federal taxes.

“This had nothing to do with taxes. I was born in Brazil, I was an American citizen for about 10 years. I thought of myself as a global citizen,” he told The New York Times.

Also of note:

  • [Coconuts BangkokBangkok is top town for Facebookers in the world, as Asia fuels growth: Thailand’s capital city Bangkok is now the world’s ‘Facebook capital’ after its total of 8.68 million Facebookers took it past previous top dog Jakarta (Indonesia).
  • [SG EntrepreneursSingapore’s m-commerce market jumps seven-fold to US$259M in one year: PayPal’s Online and Mobile Shopping Insights 2011 study shows that mobile-based buying has grown massively on the island state.

Startup of the week

Streaming service Spuul brings Bollywood to the iPhone and iPad with new iOS app

Indian video streaming service Spuul launched its iOS app last week, bringing Bollywood and other movies from the Asian country to the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Spuul includes a number of free films, and its paid catalogue can be accessed via a monthly unlimited fee while its blockbusters are sold independently for a one off $0.99 payment.

You can get the full scoop by reading our write up, or go straight to the App Store.

That’s all for this week until next Sunday – you can keep up with all of our Last Week in Asia round-ups here or follow @TheNextWebAsia on Twitter for news as it happens.

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