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  1. People know Tencent for its enormous gaming and social empire, but what you may not know is it also has a line of hardware. You probably don’t know about it because nobody’s buying Tencent’s hardware. An online entertainment giant in China, Tencent operates the hugely popular all-purpose app WeChat and the hit game Arena of Valor. It also owns the companies behind Clash of Clans and League of Legends. Tencent’s digital photo frame, its first homemade hardware, was long awaited when it launched in 2015. Built for displaying pictures and making video calls, it allows users to receive photos sent from multiple WeChat accounts and react and send back comments on the pictures displayed on the screen. Of the few who used it, some said it’s great for keeping in touch with the elderly in their homes. But others pointed out that it has a very limited user experience. It doesn’t do much albeit costing between 699 yuan (US$101) and 1,699 yuan (US$246). Unlike a tablet, it needs to be plugged to a power outlet all the time and doesn’t have much storage. It doesn’t also let users export photos. Many people say they’d rather buy a tablet for over US$200. / Photo credit: Tencent The funny thing is that Tencent’s latest stab at hardware bears a pretty decent resemblance to that frame. Smart displays are hot, with Google, Amazon, and Facebook all evolving to smart speakers this year. Tencent’s answer is the Dingdang smart display, which has an eight-inch screen and provides access to the company’s content, including Tencent Video and QQ. It costs 699 yuan (US$101), same as Baidu’s smart display Xiaodu Zaijia. The Dingdang smart display measures eight inches. / Photo credit: Tencent But those sort of features are pretty standard among smart displays, which have yet to prove themselves as a new category of devices. Dingdang comes after Tencent’s smart speaker flopped. Launched in April, the Tingting speaker boasts the ability to let users operate WeChat with voice command, which some users said is not very useful because it is essentially similar to leaving a voicemail. It also doesn’t appear to have sold very well based on reactions on ecommerce sites. It only received around 18,000 reviews, which may be due to its US$101 price. That might not seem too expensive, but Baidu’s new US$11 speaker received more than 260,000 reviews. One of China’s three tech titans (it’s the B in BAT), Baidu is effectively the country’s Google. It’s China’s biggest search engine and is now investing heavily in AI and self-driving cars. If Dingdang fails to catch on, it won’t be the only piece of hardware from Tencent to be ignored. Back in 2015, Tencent also made a wearable camera that looks like the Narrative Clip “life-logging” camera, which was a brief hit at SXSW for one year. But nobody really talks about Tencent’s camera anymore. The US$86 Qlippie camera lets you share pictures and videos directly on WeChat. / Photo credit: Tencent. Tencent also made a pair of glasses that looks a lot like Snapchat Spectacles. The glasses were launched only last month, so it’s hard to say if it will take off one day or sell as poorly as the product they’re based on, because Snapchat Spectacles didn’t do very well either. Still, if the whole hardware thing doesn’t work out for Tencent, they can console themselves with their software strength: WeChat has over a billion users, after all. source
  2. Tencent, the $500-billion Chinese internet giant, is increasing its focus on open source after it became a platinum member of the Linux Foundation. The company has long been associated with the foundation and Linux generally, it is a founding member of the Linux Foundation’s deep learning program that launched earlier this year, and now as a platinum member (the highest tier) it will take a board of directors seat and work more closely with the organization. That works two ways, with Tencent pledging to offer “further support and resources” to foundation projects and communities, while the Chinese firm itself will also tap into the foundation’s expertise and experience. Along those lines, the company said it will contribute its open source microservices project called TARS and an open source name service project (Tseer) to The Linux Foundation. It added that an open source AI project — Angel — will be contributed to the deep learning foundation. “We are honored to be a Platinum member of The Linux Foundation. Open source is core Tencent’s technical strategy,” Liu Xin, general manager of Tencent’s Mobile Internet Group said in a statement. Other platinum members include Cisco, Huawei, Microsoft, AT&T, Samsung and IBM. Earlier this year, Tencent joined another open source industry body — the Open Compute Project (OCP) community — as part of a push for open source in the hardware space. Tencent’s chief rival Alibaba also maintains a large presence in the open source community. Alibaba is a gold member since last year, but more than that it has invested resources into projects directly as part of a push for its cloud computing service Alicloud. The Chinese firm led a $27 million investment in MariaDB, which became its first cloud investment outside of China. At home, its Alicloud-focused deals have included investments in cloud storage provider Qiniu and big data firm Dt Dream. Source
  3. When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) and Chinese tech companies, thoughts often begin and end with Baidu. But Tencent, Asia’s second highest-valued tech company behind Alibaba, has reminded the world that it too is investing in the field. Search giant Baidu was one of the first to make a major commitment to deep learning. It spent over $2.9 billion on R&D over a 2.5 year period, according to Bloomberg, and currently has more than 1,300 specialists working on a variety of technologies that include AI and augmented reality. Baidu, however, suffered a blow when its chief scientist Andrew Ng, who heads up its U.S.-based research team, announced his departure last week. There’s one more exit to add to that list after Tencent announced today that it poached machine learning researcher Tong Zhang, who heads up Baidu’s Big Data Lab, to lead its own AI Lab. The Shenzhen-based lab is focused on computer vision, speech recognition, and natural language processing. Tencent, best known for WeChat, China’s top messaging app, announced the lab last April. It said today that it has 50 AI specialists housed there. Aside from that development facility, Zhang — who received a PhD in Computer Science from Stanford and has worked at IBM and Yahoo — will lead a team of 200 product engineers that’s tasked with converting AI advances into tangible features and updates for Tencent’s apps and services. “Tencent is looking at four areas for AI application: content, social, online games and cloud services. At present, over a hundred Tencent products, including Weixin/WeChat, QQ and Tian Tian Kuai Bao, a Tencent news app, use AI technology,” the company added. That’s a similar goal to Baidu, which got serious on deep learning when it hired Ng, a co-founder of online learning startup Coursera, in 2014. A world-renowned AI expert, Ng previously made his name when it helped found Google’s deep learning team, Google Brain. Ng said in his departure note that Baidu’s AI efforts had been felt across its “existing businesses in search, advertising, maps, take-out delivery, voice search, security, consumer finance and many more” areas. “The team is stacked up and down with talent; I am confident AI at Baidu will continue to flourish,” he added. For now, Tencent is talking up its AI prowess in the field of Go, the strategic game that Google made its mark on when its AI (AlphaGo) triumphed over world champion Lee Seedol last year. Tencent said its ‘Fine Art’ AI, which was developed by 13 Tencent engineers, defeated high-ranking Japanese Go player Ryo Ichiriki last week. All in all, the firm said the AI has taken on 100 “renowned human players,” winning 406 of over 500 rounds that it has competed in. Source
  4. Chinese tech giant Tencent is facing massive backlash after footage of a lewd party game at one of its annual events was leaked online showing female employees simulating oral sex on stage. The event in question was reportedly an end of year celebration organized by the company’s instant messaging/microblogging service called Weibo. The footage shows two female employees on their knees attempting to remove a plastic cap from a bottle wedged between the thighs of two male coworkers. The video has been heavily criticized online, with many highlighting ongoing gender discrimination in corporate China. The company, which has subsidiaries in social media, gaming, online media, and entertainment, has recently launched a competitor to Apple’s AppStore called WeChat, but the negative PR from this incident will likely overshadow the online launch in the media. Article source
  5. Mozilla: The Internet Is Unhealthy And Urgently Needs Your Help Mozilla argues that the internet's decentralized design is under threat by a few key players, including Google, Facebook, Apple, Tencent, Alibaba and Amazon, monopolizing messaging, commerce, and search. Can the internet as we know it survive the many efforts to dominate and control it, asks Firefox maker Mozilla. Much of the internet is in a perilous state, and we, its citizens, all need to help save it, says Mark Surman, executive director of Firefox maker the Mozilla Foundation. We may be in awe of the web's rise over the past 30 years, but Surman highlights numerous signs that the internet is dangerously unhealthy, from last year's Mirai botnet attacks, to market concentration, government surveillance and censorship, data breaches, and policies that smother innovation. "I wonder whether this precious public resource can remain safe, secure and dependable. Can it survive?" Surman asks. "These questions are even more critical now that we move into an age where the internet starts to wrap around us, quite literally," he adds, pointing to the Internet of Things, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence. In this world, we don't use a computer, "we live inside it", he adds. "How [the internet] works -- and whether it's healthy -- has a direct impact on our happiness, our privacy, our pocketbooks, our economies and democracies." Surman's call to action coincides with nonprofit Mozilla's first 'prototype' of the Internet Health Report, which looks at healthy and unhealthy trends that are shaping the internet. Its five key areas include open innovation, digital inclusion, decentralization, privacy and security, and web literacy. Mozilla will launch the first report after October, once it has incorporated feedback on the prototype. That there are over 1.1 billion websites today, running on mostly open-source software, is a positive sign for open innovation. However, Mozilla says the internet is "constantly dodging bullets" from bad policy, such as outdated copyright laws, secretly negotiated trade agreements, and restrictive digital-rights management. Similarly, while mobile has helped put more than three billion people online today, there were 56 internet shutdowns last year, up from 15 shutdowns in 2015, it notes. Mozilla fears the internet's decentralized design, while flourishing and protected by laws, is under threat by a few key players, including Facebook, Google, Apple, Tencent, Alibaba and Amazon, monopolizing messaging, commerce and search. "While these companies provide hugely valuable services to billions of people, they are also consolidating control over human communication and wealth at a level never before seen in history," it says. Mozilla approves of the wider adoption of encryption today on the web and in communications but highlights the emergence of new surveillance laws, such as the UK's so-called Snooper's Charter. It also cites as a concern the Mirai malware behind last year's DDoS attacks, which abused unsecured webcams and other IoT devices, and is calling for safety standards, rules and accountability measures. The report also draws attention to the policy focus on web literacy in the context of learning how to code or use a computer, which ignores other literacy skills, such as the ability to spot fake news, and separate ads from search results. Source Alternate Source - 1: Mozilla’s First Internet Health Report Tackles Security, Privacy Alternate Source - 2: Mozilla Wants Infosec Activism To Be The Next Green Movement
  6. Chinese Citizens Can Be Tracked In Real Time A group of researchers have revealed that the Chinese government is collecting data on its citizens to an extent where their movements can even be tracked in real-time using their mobile devices. This discovery was made by The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs who specialize in studying the ways in which information technology affects both personal and human rights worldwide. It has been known for some time that the Chinese government employs a number of invasive tactics to be fully aware of the lives of its citizens. Though Citizen Lab was able to discover that the government has begun to monitor its populace using apps and services designed and run by the private sector. The discovery was made when the researchers began exploring Tencent's popular chat app WeChat that is installed on the devices of almost every Chinese citizen with 800 million active users each month. Citizen Lab found that not only does the app help the government censor chats between users but that it is also being used as a state surveillance tool. WeChat's restrictions even remain active for Chinese students studying abroad. Ronald Deibert, a researcher at Citizen Lab, offered further insight on the team's discovery, saying: "What the government has managed to do, I think quite successfully, is download the controls to the private sector, to make it incumbent upon them to police their own networks". To make matters worse, the data collected by WeChat and other Chinese apps and services is currently being sold online. The Guangzhou Southern Metropolis Daily led an investigation that found that large amounts of personal data on nearly anyone could be purchased online for a little over a hundred US dollars. The newspaper also found another service that offered the ability to track users in real-time via their mobile devices. Users traveling to China anytime soon should be extra cautious as to their activities online and should think twice before installing WeChat during their stay. Published under license from ITProPortal.com, a Future plc Publication. All rights reserved. Source
  7. Chinese Internet giant Tencent is looking to dole out a jaw-dropping 10TB worth of free cloud storage to its international users soon, as it seeks to roll out an English version of its cloud storage product next year, PandoDaily reports. Peter Zheng, the Shenzhen-based vice president of Tencent’s social network group, tells PandoDaily that the company will bring its cloud storage offering to the US in early 2014. It is also launching an English version of Story Camera, an Instagram-like watermark-based photo app already popular in China, in the next two to three weeks. In August, Tencent started courting Chinese users with its very generous gift of space — as it sought to out-do its rivals Baidu and Qihoo, which started giving away 1TB worth of free storage. As Tencent gets into the game with an English version of its cloud storage service though, it looks set to attract way more users around the world who want to get their hands on this colossal amount of space — which, to be honest, seems almost impossible to finish using. The whopping 10TB puts the free space given by Dropbox, Box and Microsoft to shame. At their maximum amounts, Dropbox has offered free space amounts ranging from 25-50GB as part of promotional deals with Samsung and HTC, Box has offered 50GB of free storage with file-size limitations before, and Microsoft upped the storage space for its SkyDrive Pro offering from 7GB to 25GB. However, just as with the Chinese rollout, Tencent will likely kick in the same caveat for its cloud storage offering — that is, you won’t get the whole 10TB worth of space at one go. Instead, Tencent will top up your storage space as you deplete it. To put privacy concerns at ease, Zheng tells Pandodaily that the international data will probably be stored on servers outside of China — in the same way that Tencent’s messaging service WeChat uses servers in the US and Southeast Asia. As Tencent is taking big strides to conquer overseas markets — early this month it was said to be vying to lead an investment round into Snapchat, after it led a $150 million investment in design-focused e-commerce service Fab in June — offering cloud storage like this could be a great trojan horse for promoting its services in the US. Source
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