Tag Archives: 2013

The Dream Defenders (2013) … FSView’s top 5 news moments of 2013 (Dec. 11, 2013) …item 2.. Be The Change… Live The Dream In 2014 (Jan 09, 2014) …

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The Dream Defenders (2013) … FSView’s top 5 news moments of 2013 (Dec. 11, 2013) …item 2.. Be The Change… Live The Dream In 2014 (Jan 09, 2014) …
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For nearly a month, the protestors occupied Gov. Scott’s office and surrounding area. Their goals: to bring an end to Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, the school-to-prison pipeline and institutionalized racism.
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… marsmet526 photo … WE SHALL … FDLE Pitches ‘Dream Defenders’ Rule (Sat 12:09 AM, Sep 21, 2013) — "Dream Defender rule" …

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… marsmet474 photo … American Flag … FSU — LETTER TO THE EDITOR (Sep. 8, 2013 7:42 PM) …item 2b.. James Brown – Living In America …item 4.. FDLE proposes new ‘Dream Defender law’ (Sep. 24, 2013) …

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… marsmet472 photo … Race In America (July, 2013) …item 4a7.. Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton – Careless Love …item 5.. Harry Belafonte stands with Dream Defenders at Capitol — At 1 p.m. on Tuesday, the “People’s Session” (Jul. 29, 2013) …

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… marsmet531 photo … Sputnik Monroe – Memphis, Tennessee … He Was in Negro Cafe (January, 1960) …item 2c.. Chris Rock – That Train Is Never Late (niggaz and jews are next) …

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… marsmet471 photo … RACISM FREE ZONE (Don Lemon) … ‘Let’s call it what it is’: Whoopi Goldberg agrees that news anchors should use the ‘n-word’ (10 April 2012) …item 3.. Do the Right Thing (1/10) Movie CLIP – Today’s Forecast (1989) HD ..

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…..item 1)…. FSView’s top 5 news moments of 2013 …

… FSU News … www.fsunews.com/
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Dream Defenders’ protest at the Florida State Capitol / FSView File Photo

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Dec. 11, 2013 9:52 PM |

Written by
FSView staff

FILED UNDER
FSU News

www.fsunews.com/article/20131212/FSVIEW/131211022/FSView-…
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— Boston Marathon Tragedy

Then-Managing Editor Eric Todoroff burst through the door, a panicked look on his face, interrupting our conference call. “There was just a terrorist attack on America,” he said, referring to the Boston Marathon Bombings.

I was just announced next year’s Editor-in-Chief and we were supposed to determine the rest of the staff for the new school year. It was the biggest break in my career; excitement was an understatement. Hearing the news fives minutes before our meeting, it didn’t seem important all the sudden. Nothing did.

The rest of the day was spent refreshing Twitter feeds and watching Internet streams of TV broadcasts. Nobody knew what was happening; nobody pretended otherwise. National tragedies have a weird way of uniting America. The bullshit we spew and the dumb posturing we do disappears, revealing the humans underneath it all—the acting stops.

Time stumbled the whole day, speeding and slowing randomly as fresh news bombarded us. Three or four of us remained in the FSView office the rest of the day, not really talking but not wanting to be alone either. We listened in silence to the police scanner as cops surrounded Dhokar Tsarnaev who had found refuge in the backyard. They caught him and for the first time all day, we exhaled.

I went home then, picking up some Samuel Adams’ Boston Lager along the way; it felt appropriate. I drank my beer, put on my Boston Red Sox hat and thought. America had more work to do. [ – Brendan Bures]
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— Edward Snowden

While there may be many different opinions on what to call Edward Snowden one thing is for sure, he’ll go down in history as the face of one the most significant information leaks in U.S. history.

A former CIA employee and contractor for the National Security Agency, Snowden leaked some 200,000 classified documents to the press. The leak exposed many invasions of privacy of individuals through previously unknown government surveillance programs like PRISM, XKeyscore and Tempora.

This is the dilemma that supposedly didn’t sit right with the previous government employee, questioning mass surveillance, government secrecy and information privacy. After leaking this information, Snowden became a fugitive in the United States on charges of espionage and theft of government property and was forced to flee the country if he hoped to remain free.

Residing in Hong Kong before boarding a privately chartered jet to Moscow provided by WikiLeaks. Currently, there are still debates in regard to Snowden being justified in releasing this information and questions of the NSA going too far in terms of invading the privacy of individuals. [ – Carleigh Walter]
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— Government Shutdown

In October, the third longest government shutdown in U.S. history occurred, lasting 16 days and leaving the finances of millions of American citizens in question.

The reason for 800,000 federal employees being furloughed and 1.3 more working without knowing when they’d be compensated for it was due to the inability of the Republican-led House of Representatives and the Democrat-led Senate to enact legislation appropriating funds for the fiscal year of 2014.

A major deal breaker that led to these difficulties was the disagreements in regard to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare. The House hoped to delay or defund the program in their proposed resolutions whereas the Senate amended the bills to where it would not affect the course of Obamacare, leading the House to reinstate the previously striped measures and pass it on to the senate again.

On Oct. 16 Congress successfully passed the legislation that would end the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis, formally known as the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014. [ – Carleigh Walter]
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— The Dream Defenders Protest

George Zimmerman’s acquittal was the verdict that launched a thousand protests.
In July, after a high-profile trial, the former neighborhood watch volunteer was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. Within less than two hours of the announcement, the Dream Defenders, a civil rights group consisting mainly of college students, organized a march from Tallahassee’s Donald L. Tucker Center to the steps of the old Florida Capitol.

For the Dream Defenders, this was only the beginning of a campaign that would gain national media attention and warrant a meeting between Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the protestors. Days after the verdict was read in Zimmerman’s trial, the Dream Defenders launched a sit-in the Florida Capitol Building.

For nearly a month, the protestors occupied Gov. Scott’s office and surrounding area. Their goals: to bring an end to Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, the school-to-prison pipeline and institutionalized racism.

The sit-in ended in mid-August, and, despite a group of protestors meeting with Gov. Scott, the Dream Defenders’ left the Capitol without accomplishing what they had set out to accomplish.

Since then, the group has had a much more low-profile presence on Florida State University’s campus and in Tallahassee. But for a time, the Dream Defenders became the face of the discontent surrounding Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s acquittal. [ – K. Maxwell Greenwood]
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— Nelson Mandela dies

Just as a tumultuous year for media was coming to an end, the world was met with the news of former South African President Nelson Mandela’s passing on Dec. 5 at the age of 95.

Together, people from around the world mourned the death of the anti-apartheid leader who, for decades, had served as a role model for tolerance, civil rights, peaceful resolutions and equality.

Mandela had a long history in social and political activism, addressing issues such as colonialism and apartheid and institutionalized racism in South Africa. During his life, the activist served over 27 years in prison before being elected as South Africa’s first black president in 1994. Mandela held the office until 1999.

Mandela’s health had been deteriorating long before his passing earlier this month. For months his health had been a topic of speculation for admirers, politicians and reporters. Despite the media storm surrounding Mandela’s final months, he died of a respiratory infection in his home in Houghton, Johannesburg. His death was announced by current South African President Jacob Zuma at a press conference that same day.

While Mandela may be gone, his life remains a legacy of passion and social change.
[ – K. Maxwell Greenwood]
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…..item 2)…. Be The Change… Live The Dream In 2014 …

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By: City of Tallahassee Email
Posted: Thu 9:30 PM, Jan 09, 2014

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News Release: City of Tallahassee

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. committed his life to bringing about his dream of racial justice and equality. To commemorate Dr. King and all that he stood for, the City of Tallahassee will proudly host the 17th annual Day of Dialogue in Kleman Plaza on Monday, Jan. 20, from noon to 2 p.m.

“Dr. King was a remarkable man whose vision of a beloved community continues to be meaningful today,” Mayor John Marks said. “This event provides our citizens with the opportunity to share in his wisdom through dialogue about how better communications can make us stronger as individuals and a community.”
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The Day of Dialogue is held under the auspices of the Mayor’s Initiative on Race, Culture and Human Relations. It provides a forum to experience the diverse views and cultures of others.

Robbie Stokes Jr., founder of the social movement “I Talk to Strangers,” returns as this year’s guest speaker. Stokes will share his inspirational story about why he decided to challenge the theory of not talking to strangers and how he’s been able to make these strangers into lifelong friends and esteemed business contacts. His message focuses on how to bridge the gaps of prejudice, racism, sexism and indifference by bringing people together one new relationship at a time. This presentation is designed to engage and motivate participants on the power of communication and relationships.
Participants attending the Day of Dialogue will receive a voucher for free parking in Kleman Plaza. In the event of inclement weather, the Day of Dialogue will be held in the City Commission Chambers, located on the second floor of City Hall, 300 S. Adams St.

This year, the Day of Dialogue is part of the 2nd annual MLK “Dare to Dream” festival, which will be held the same day in Kleman Plaza from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The theme for this year’s festival is Be the Change…Live the Dream in 2014.

Presented by the Martin Luther King Jr. Dare to Dream Association, the MLK “Dare to Dream” festival will feature live music, a variety of specialty item and food vendors, historical exhibits and a “MLK Birthday Bash” for kids, complete with bounce houses, games and face painting. Live music will be provided by five-time Grammy nominated musician and Tallahassee-native Ashanti Floyd, also known as the “Mad Violinist.”

The festival is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy the festivities.

For more information about the festival, visit MLKDare2Dream.com. For more information about Stokes and the “I Talk to Strangers” movement, please visit italktostrangers.com.

The Day of Dialogue is presented by the City of Tallahassee’s Equity and Workforce Development department (EWD). The mission of EWD is to help create a culturally and ethnically diverse community through a variety of programs that are focused on managing diversity and creating a climate that values the differences among individuals. For more information about programs offered by EWD, visit Talgov.com.
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House GOP #WhatUsGovern
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About the fight to shut the government down or gut the ACA (Obama Care) #GOPShutdown

This image is adapted from a image captured from a video on the House Speakers’ website.

2012-06-29 Hank with my sign on Florida NBC Affiliate’s News
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EC ‘sweeps’ revealed only 31% of travel booking websites complied with EU rules in 2013, now at 62%

AUSTRIA-THEME-SYMBOLS
The European Commission (EC) has announced today that around two-thirds of the travel booking websites it checked in 2013 did not comply with European consumer law; a potentially worrying situation with consumers booking more travel online than ever before. During the year, it carried out ‘sweeps’ on 552 websites, and found that 382 of those “did not respect consumer law” based on a number of factors, such as whether information on the key characteristics of the service was easily accessible; whether the price was indicated at an early stage and inclusive of optional supplements; whether the websites provided email addresses for submitting…

This story continues at The Next Web


The Next Web

How big are mobile payments in China? Nearly $1.6 trillion in transactions were made in 2013.

181281525 520x245 How big are mobile payments in China? Nearly $ 1.6 trillion in transactions were made in 2013.

There’s been a lot of talk about how mobile payments are on the rise in China – and now statistics from the People’s Bank of China have shed some light on how huge the industry is (hat/tip TechNode).

In 2013, the central bank handled a total of 16.74 million mobile payment transactions worth a whopping CNY9.64 trillion ($ 1.6 trillion), according to the latest statistics. In an indication of the skyrocketing popularity of mobile payments in China, the number of transactions soared 213 percent year-on-year while the transaction value leaped by 317 percent.

Mobile payments grew the fastest among all the e-payment methods recorded by the central bank last year — which include online payments via computers, as well as telephone payments.

Compared to mobile payments, the value of e-payment transactions in total increased by only 29.46 percent — to reach CNY1,075 trillion ($ 177 trillion) in 2013. 

Mobile payments have been thrust into the limelight especially after Chinese Internet giant Tencent rolled out an update to its mobile messaging app Weixin (known as WeChat outside of China) that incorporated payments. Subsequently, early this year, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba integrated its payments service with ‘China’s Twitter’ Sina Weibo, so users can connect their Alipay accounts with their Weibo accounts and buy items without having to log in.

Throughout 2013, there has been plenty of evidence that mobile payments in China were gaining importance among Chinese shoppers — just take a look at the statistics provided by Alibaba. In October 2013, Alibaba said that about 25,000 Alipay mobile transactions took place every minute, resulting in a daily transaction value of more than CNY20 billion ($ 3.3 billion) on Alipay. During its 11.11 shopping festival, Alibaba also revealed that about 21 percent of orders were being placed via mobile devices — up from a mere 5 percent a year earlier.

China ended last year with 618 million Internet users and 500 million mobile Internet users, according to a report published by state-affiliated research organization China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). With the sheer volume of mobile Internet users, this will no doubt aid the mobile payments industry, which is only set to grow rapidly given that e-commerce is shaping up to be the future for chat apps.

Headline image via Lintao Zhang/Getty Images


The Next Web

Better Business Bureau Names BBB Top Ten Scams of 2013


Arlington, VA (PRWEB) February 11, 2014

Every year, Better Business Bureau receives thousands of calls and emails from consumers who have been scammed… or from the lucky ones who have dodged scams by being wary. Some scams are widespread, getting a lot of people for small amounts. Others are more narrowly focused, but take people for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Data Book estimates that Americans lost $ 1.4 billion to scams in 2012.

The Council of Better Business Bureaus, the umbrella organization for the 113 local BBBs across the U.S. and Canada, culls its annual “Top Ten Scams” list from a variety of sources, including reports from consumers, some of whom have been victims of scams; from federal agencies; and from other reliable information sources.

“These are not necessarily the scams with the biggest losses, or those with the most victims, as many people don’t report scams or even know they’ve been victimized,” said Katherine Hutt, CBBB spokesperson. “These are the scams that seemed to be the most widespread, aimed at the most vulnerable, growing in popularity, or just plain audacious. Scams are every-changing, but we want to help people recognize them and be prepared the next time they get a suspicious call, email, text or solicitation.”

BBB Top Ten Scams of 2013

Medical Alert Scam – A new twist to the telemarketing scam hit 2013 hard. With promises of a “free” medical alert system, the scam targeted seniors and caretakers and claimed to be offering the system free of charge because a family member or friend had already paid for it. In many cases, seniors were asked to provide their bank account or credit information to “verify” their identity and, as a result, were charged the monthly $ 35 service fee. The system, of course, never arrived and the seniors were left with a charge they had trouble getting refunded. Easy rule of thumb – be wary of “free” offers that require your personal information upfront and always verify with the supposed friend or family member that the caller says paid for the service.

Auction Reseller Scam – Many people turn to Ebay and other online auctions sites to sell used items they no longer need, and relatively new electronics seem to do especially well. But scammers have figured out a way to fool sellers into shipping goods without receiving payment. Usually the buyer claims it’s an “emergency” of some sort – a child’s birthday, a member of the military shipping out – and asks the seller to ship the same day. The seller receives an email that looks like it’s from PayPal confirming the payment, but emails are easy to fake. Always confirm payment in your Ebay and PayPal accounts before shipping, especially to an overseas address.

Arrest Warrant Scam – This one seemed to really take off last autumn. In this scam, con artists are taking advantage of technology that can change what is visible on Caller ID, and allowing them to pose as the office of the local sheriff or other law enforcement agency. They call to say there is a warrant out for your arrest, but that you can pay a fine in order to avoid criminal charges. Of course, these “police” don’t take credit cards; only a wire transfer or pre-paid debit card will do. Sometimes these scams seem very personal; the scammer may refer to a loan or other financial matter. It may just be a lucky guess, but don’t be fooled into thinking you are about to be arrested.

Invisible Home Improvements – Home improvement scams vary little from year to year, and most involve some type of shoddy workmanship from unlicensed or untrained workers. The hardest for homeowners to detect, and therefore the easiest for scammers to pull off, are repairs or improvements to the areas of your home that you can’t see: roofs, chimneys, air ducts, crawl spaces, etc. Scammers may simply knock at your door offering a great deal because they were “in the neighborhood,” but more and more they are using telemarketing, email and even social media to reach homeowners. Helpful videos on YouTube can add legitimacy to a contractor, but consumers have no way of knowing if the video is real or “borrowed” from a legitimate contractor. Check out home contractors at bbb.org before saying yes.

Casting Call Scam – This is not as widespread as some other scams, but it seems to have really been on the increase in recent years, thanks to the popularity of television talent shows like “American Idol” and “Project Runway.” Scammers pose as agents or talent scouts looking for actors, singers, models, reality show contestants, etc., and use phony audition notices to fool aspiring performers into paying to try out for parts that don’t exist. There are several ways this plays out. It can simply be an unscrupulous way to sell acting lessons, photography services, etc., or it can be an outright scam for things like fees for online “applications” or upcoming “casting calls.” Even worse, the information provided on an online application could be everything a scammer needs for identity theft.

Foreign Currency Scam – Investments in foreign currency can sound like a great idea, and scammers frequently use real current events and news stories to make their pitches even more appealing. They advertise an easy investment with high return and low risk when you purchase Iraqi Dinar, Vietnamese Dong or, most recently, the Egyptian Pound. The plan is that, when those governments revalue their currencies, increasing their worth against the dollar, you just sell and cash in. Unlike previous hoaxes, you may even take possession of real currency. The problem is that they will be very difficult to sell, and it’s extremely unlikely they will ever significantly increase in value.

Scam Texts – With online and mobile banking skyrocketing, it’s not a surprise that scams quickly follow. One major tactic recently is the use of scam texts, known as “smishing,” to steal personal information. They look like a text alert from your bank, asking you to confirm information or “reactivate your debit card” by following a link on your smart phone. Banks of all sizes have been targeted, and details of the scam vary, but the outcome is the same: scammers get your banking information, maybe even your ATM number and PIN. You may even inadvertently download malicious software that gives the scammer access to anything on your phone.

Do Not Call Scams – The National Do Not Call Registry (U.S.) or the National Do Not Call List (Canada) offer consumers a free way to reduce telemarketing calls. Scammers call anyway, of course, and they’ve even found a way to scam consumers by pretending to be a government official calling to sign you up or confirming your previous participation on the Dot Not call list! In one variation, scammers ask for personal information, such as your name, address and Social Security/Social Insurance number. In another, scammers try to charge a fee to join the registry. Either way, just hang up. These services are free, but sharing personal information with a scammer could cost you a lot.

Fake Friend Scam – Did you ever get a Friend Request on Facebook from someone you already thought was your Friend? If you hit Accept, you may have just friended a scammer. A popular recent scam has been the theft of people’s online identities to create fake profiles, which can be used in a variety of ways. A new Friend can learn a lot about you to scam you later, “recommend” sketchy websites that download malware, use your account to scrap information on your other Friends, even impersonate a military officer or other trustworthy person to perpetrate a romance scam. Be careful on social media, keep your privacy settings high, and don’t share confidential information. You can’t always be sure that your Friends are really your friends.

Scam of the Year: Affordable Care Act Scam

Scammers had a field day with the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), using it as a way to fool Americans into sharing their personal information. Scammers would call claiming to be from the federal government and saying the would-be victim needed a new insurance card or Medicare card. However, before they can mail the card, they need to collect personal information. Scammers do a lot to make their requests seem credible. For example, they may have your bank’s routing number and ask you to provide your account number. Or, they may ask for your credit card or Social Security number, Medicare ID, or other personal information. But sharing personal information with a scammer puts you at risk for identity theft.

For infographic, click here.

More information for consumers:

    For more information on these and other scams, go to BBB Scamstopper. Sign up for our Scam Alerts and learn about new scams as soon as we do.
    For more information on investment scams, go to BBB Smart Investing, a partnership with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.
    To search for a business in the U.S. or Canada, or to find your local BBB, go to BBB.org.
    For information on charities, go to Give.org.
    For information on U.S. government services, go to: USA.gov.
    For information on Canadian government services, go to Service Canada.

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ABOUT BBB:

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

For more information, journalists should contact Katherine Hutt at 703-247-9345 or khutt(at)council(dot)bbb(dot)org or Kelsey Owen at 703-247-9376 or kowen(at)council(dot)bbb(dot)org. After hours, use the BBB Media Hotline at 571-422-3584.







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7 key trends from China’s tech scene in 2013

china flag 520x245 7 key trends from Chinas tech scene in 2013

2013 was a year that saw exciting things happen in China’s tech scene — and there have been certain key trends that stood out in particular.

As the world’s largest smartphone market continues to grow, mobile devices probably took pole position among the top trends of this year — and as Chinese firms reach saturation point in their home market, they are starting to take over smaller firms, enter alliances, and even move overseas.

Here’s a look at the seven key trends (or events) that took place in China this year.

1. The Xiaomi craze

Xiaomi Hugo 7 key trends from Chinas tech scene in 2013

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi has been on a tear this year, becoming one of the hottest phone-makers in the country. The young company was founded three years ago and released its first device in 2011, but 2013 was when it shot to recognition across the world, firstly by nabbing Hugo Barra, previously Google VP for Android.

Barra was only one facet of Xiaomi’s steamroller year though. One of the greatest milestones for the company was when it notched up an impressive valuation of $ 10 billion in its latest funding round. Its revenue for the first half of 2013 reached $ 2.15 billion after it sold 7.03 million devices — just shy of the 7.19 million units it sold during the whole of 2012 — and it has likely already hit its target of shifting 15 million devices for the whole of this year.

Xiaomi released four smartphones in total this year. In April, it launched the variants of its then-flagship smartphone, the Mi-2S and Mi-2A. Subsequently, it unveiled its lowest-priced phone yet in July — the $ 130 Hongmi. Following that, it launched its latest flagship device Mi-3 in September, along with a smart TV, in the process displaying its immense popularity in the world’s largest smartphone market. Further proof of its popularity in China came when it overtook Apple on market share in the second quarter this year, according to figures from Canalys, an independent analyst firm.

In 2013, Xiaomi also took its first foray into the international realm, launching its mobile phones in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The new year will only herald in even more milestones for Xiaomi. After hiring Barra, it is a natural step for the company to head overseas — and it seems like Singapore may be its next stop. After all, Xiaomi recently revealed that users of its Android-based MIUI firmware span 58 countries, with the second-largest group of users after China coming from the US.

2. The iPhone comes to China Mobile

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It’s been a long time coming — years, in fact. In 2013, Apple’s iPhones finally made it to the world’s largest carrier with over 740 million subscribers: China Mobile.

This came as China also claimed another milestone in 2013, after Chinese authorities issued 4G licenses to the three major telecommunication operators, heralding in the super-fast network. Earlier this year, Apple gained regulatory approval for its iPhones to run on the TD-LTE standard used by China Mobile for its 4G networks.

There has been a lot of hype over the China Mobile-iPhone deal. It seems like for Apple, being present on the carrier would significantly widen its reach and sales efforts in China’s mobile market — but whether or not that turns out to be true remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Apple has had a pretty impressive run in the world’s largest smartphone market in 2013 — after it turned things around in China in Q4 FY2013. CEO Tim Cook said that the company was able to grow its relationships with the government and carriers in China, resulting in the greater China region generating $ 27 billion in revenue for Apple in the full fiscal year of 2013, a 14 percent increase.

3. Chinese firms eye the US

73063308 730x486 7 key trends from Chinas tech scene in 2013

As Chinese firms settle comfortably into their domestic market, the next step for them as they seek to spread their influence globally and capture more opportunities is the US — and at no point has this been clearer than in 2013.

Chinese Internet giant Tencent is a prime example of a local firm taking big strides this year, as it seeks to conquer overseas markets. It was rumored to be leading a financing round into Snapchat, after it led a $ 150 million investment in design-focused e-commerce service Fab in June.

E-commerce giant Alibaba has also made a play for the US. In August this year, Alibaba was said to have paid $ 75 million for a minority stake in two-day shipping service ShopRunner, and subsequently it also led a $ 206 million round in the same service. ShopRunner represents a strategic investment for Alibaba, as it offers a viable competitor to Amazon Prime and can help familiarize Alibaba with the US market.

In June, Alibaba made another investment, also in the US market, by backing sports apparel vendor Fanatics.

Alibaba has also been making its way overseas to other English-speaking markets. It made a subtle-but-significant play for Western companies in October by launching an English-language microsite for Tmall, its B2C shopping site for brands — and earlier in September launched its Taobao marketplace in Singapore incorporating a dual-language registration page, seeking to make its mark in Southeast Asia.

4. A string of investments, mergers and acquisitions

103029726 730x469 7 key trends from Chinas tech scene in 2013

China’s tech industry witnessed a string of mergers and acquisitions in 2013, as Internet giants prepared for battle.

The biggest one in particular was a huge buy by Chinese search giant Baidu in July — the acquisition of third-party app distribution platform 91 Wireless for a whopping $ 1.9 billion.

Earlier this year, Baidu also announced it would buy PPS Video for $ 370 million, becoming China’s biggest video provider as it already owns iQiyi after buying a majority stake last November. In August, Baidu also purchased a majority stake in e-commerce website operator Nuomi for about $ 160 million and, to round off the year, it acquired e-bookstore Zongheng for about $ 31 million.

Other than Baidu, Alibaba has also been on a buying spree throughout 2013, as it pursued more alliances to beef up its presence.

The most notable one for Alibaba was in May when it purchased an 18 percent stake in Sina Weibo, arguably the nation’s most important social networking platform. This marked Alibaba’s strategy of collaborating with established players in the social space to enrich its shopping experience — leading to the launch of a “Weibo-Taobao” platform to make it easier for customers on the Twitter-like microblogging platform to shop on e-commerce site Taobao.

At the start of this year, Alibaba confirmed that it was acquiring Xiami, a popular social music-streaming service — and in April its Taobao Marketplace rolled out functionality for Xiami, apparently to help transform the retail site from merely a shopping platform to a lifestyle and media platform.

In May, Alibaba also confirmed that it made a $ 294 million investment for a 28 percent stake in China’s top mapping platform Autonavi, while in July it confirmed that it inked a strategic investment in outbound travel site Qyer.com for an undisclosed amount, to boost its travel offerings on marketplace site Taobao.

In November, Chinese analytics provider Umeng confirmed that it was acquired by Alibaba too, and in December Alibaba invested $ 364 million in electronics manufacturer Haier Group as it looks to expand its logistics and delivery capacity.

Tencent has not been resting on its laurels in 2013 either. Other than making investments in the US, in September Tencent announced that it invested $ 448 million in Sogou for a 36.5 percent stake, and merged its Soso search-related business with Sogou, stepping up its presence in the search market as it sought to become a credible rival to Baidu.

5. The Bitcoin rollercoaster in China

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Crypto-currency Bitcoin made waves in China in 2013 — consisting of highs and lows, essentially going through a rollercoaster in the later part of the year.

In November, it was revealed that BTC China had overtaken Japan-based Mt. Gox as the trading system processing the largest volume of Bitcoins, while it announced a $ 5 million Series A round. Back then, it was noted that BTC China handles 80,000 transactions per day — over $ 50 million worth of the currency.

The demand in China and among investors has been high throughout 2013 despite one Chinese platform disappearing with $ 4.1 million in customer money.

However, in early December, China’s central bank finally spoke up in response to the hype around Bitcoin, saying that banks and other financial institutions are not allowed to handle transactions made with the digital currency. It says it doesn’t recognize Bitcoin as a legal currency, but gave the green light for individuals to use Bitcoin online — at their own risk.

Subsequently, a series of incidents in the country culminated in BTC China stopping deposits in Renminbi, China’s currency – following reports that the Bank of China (BoC) had outlawed transactions between Bitcoin exchanges and third-party payment systems. This sent Bitcoin’s price crashing.

It remains to be seen how Bitcoin will adapt to the changes in the Chinese system during the new year, but the unfriendly environment is making it difficult to operate in — and challenges are aplenty.

6. WeChat becomes a platform

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2013 was the year when wildly popular Chinese messaging service WeChat (users in China get a version known as Weixin) expanded its services and progressed toward becoming a platform.

In August, Chinese Internet giant Tencent rolled out an update to its mobile messaging app Weixin, incorporating payment services, a game center and a sticker store, in a bid to monetize the free app. The availability of mobile payments on Weixin lets users simply link an online bank account to pay for items, while Tencent’s payments solution Tenpay does the necessary backend work. In the meantime, the five mobile games it released have passed 570 million cumulative downloads, as revealed in November.

As Tencent deepened Weixin’s online-offline commerce link this year, in September it announced that users in China can pay via the chat app when they get a drink from its dedicated vending machines located across Beijing. The Internet giant has also reportedly been finalizing its online-to-offline collaboration with merchants through the year, which would see large chain restaurants get on board to let Weixin users pay with the app.

7. Smart TVs become mainstream

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Chinese Internet companies flocked into the smart TV space throughout 2013 as they strived to conquer the living room.

Many new smart TVs arrived in China in recent months, as companies hoped to draw in consumers with impressive large screens to form the centerpiece of households, and includes a range of Internet entertainment services.

In early September, popular Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi announced its move beyond handsets as it launched a 47-inch 3D smart TV which is retailing for CNY2,999 ($ 490).

In July, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba announced that it had developed a smart TV operating system and was working with a number of partners, including Cisco and Chinese manufacturers, to develop smart TVs, set-top boxes and services to run inside them. The culmination of those efforts resulted in a total of three smart TVs unveiled in September, manufactured in collaboration with Skyworth.

A little over a month after Alibaba announced its smart TV OS, fierce rival Baidu also jumped into the space as it partnered with electronics maker TCL Multimedia to sell smart TVs, which include content and branding from its video platform iQiyi.

To round off the year, Tencent launched an Internet TV in December, which features integration with the Chinese version of WeChat — in terms of program controls and even payment solutions.

What to expect for 2014

In 2014, China’s mobile presence is likely to grow even stronger — as this year’s trends already indicate. Mobile devices are being used increasingly for leisure and entertainment, which will lead to mobile video and games becoming increasingly appealing, and companies will strive to get that right. Mobile is also extending its influence into payments, which will be played out in e-commerce. Most importantly of all, social communication is what ties mobile interaction together — and Chinese firms are likely to take steps to cement their presence in that area.

Perhaps, with wearable devices being produced by so many companies all over the world as well, it may be that China could see its domestic firms breaking into the market as well.

Headline image via Shutterstock, images via Xiaomi’s blog, Getty Images, Getty Images, Getty Images, Getty Images, Bryanlyt and Xiaomi


The Next Web

20 social apps that got us talking in 2013

snapchat 520x245 20 social apps that got us talking in 2013

As we wind down the year, The Next Web compiled a list of some of the social apps that have made some significant moves in 2013. How did we qualify what a social app was? In our mind, it was a service that had a core functionality that enabled users to interact and engage with other people, either online or offline.

If you’re curious about last year’s list of social apps, you can find it here. Below is a list of the 20 apps that were big headliners in 2013 (in no particular order). Click here to view them all on one page.

Snapchat

Perhaps one of the apps that made the most headlines this year, Snapchat ends this year with a rather large valuation, coming off reports that the company entertained acquisition talks with Facebook. It was said that the social networking company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg had sought to purchase the ephemeral messaging service for north of $ 3 billion.

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Snapchat functions as a messaging service, but in an “ephemeral” way. Messages can be sent to friends, but will only be stored momentarily — up to 10 seconds, in fact. Afterwards, they disappears from existence.

In February, Snapchat launched video messaging for its Android app. It then unveiled a new service specifically aimed at kids on iOS to help it expand its user base. The company has certainly been busy trying to justify its growing valuation. This summer, it said that 350 million messages were sent through the service each day.

Of course, let’s not forget that Snapchat recently hired away Instagram’s head of business to be its Chief Operating Officer, a sign that the startup is looking to stay independent and may help it to begin monetize its service. Will the new ‘replay’ feature play a role here?

Snapchat for iOS | Android

WhatsApp

WhatsApp recently announced that it has more than 400 million monthly active users, giving it an extra leg up in the mobile messaging battle. Available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone, and Nokia Symbian devices, the service has certainly been active both in the US and around the world. It ended 2012 saying that it processed 18 billion messages on the last day of the year alone, but found itself on the wrong side of the law when Canadian and Dutch authorities claimed WhatsApp violated international privacy laws.

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In 2013, more activity took place on the mobile messaging service — in June, it hit a new milestone when it processed 27 billion messages in just one day.

WhatsApp for iOS | Android | BlackBerry | Windows Phone | Nokia

Line

Another messaging app that has made news in 2013, Line has been expanding rapidly around the world, but hasn’t quite made it to the United States. In November, it passed 300 million registered users and is known for its stickers, another popular thing of 2013.

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Line’s stickers feature has become so popular that it has generated $ 188 million in gross revenue in Q3 2013, alongside other in-app purchases with its ‘connected’ games. In August, the company said that it makes over $ 10 million per month just from stickers.

With such a booming business, there are even reports that suggest Line is preparing for a US or Japanese IPO soon that could be worth up to $ 28 billion.

This week, the company revealed that it would be introducing video ads into its product, but would pay users to watch them through its Line Coins payment system.

In a fit of philanthropy, the mobile messaging service announced this week that it had raised $ 500,000 to help benefit victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines through the sale of ‘charitable’ stickers.

Line for iOS | Android | BlackBerry | Windows Phone | Nokia

Google+

Social networks have also been busy this year. Google+ has remained active, now with 540 million active users worldwide. It has also become a hub for photos, something that Google has exploited with new services such as releasing an improved, Snapseed-powered editing tools, the release of Auto Awesome, and more.

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Other updates to Google+’s iOS and Android app include photo sharing, auto ‘Locations’ updates, unified search, and other features.

As Google+ has become a haven for photographers, the company has been making significant changes, including new filters, better profiles, improved user flows, and more.

➤ Google+ for iOS | Android

Foursquare

Yes, people still do use Foursquare and its seen a bit of a resurgence in 2013. In fact, just this week it raised $ 35 million in a Series D round. Although still fundamentally a location-based service, Foursquare has evolved its product so that it’s not about the check-in, but more about local recommendations and proactive learning.

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Years ago, users were obsessed with checking into a location in order to earn badges or become the “mayor”. Now the app gives you smart recommendations based on friends’ data, and in 2013, the company began giving relevant, location-based information and tips to users, using push notifications (even for users who rarely – or never – actually open the app itself).

This year, the company also opened up its self-service ad platform to small businesses. With this feature, any company can pay to have a personalized promotion appear in a user’s feed in an attempt to garner more business. App users can also parse through 43 million menu items from more than 500,000 restaurants now with an improved Explore option.

In August, Foursquare released a new app to bring the location service to Windows Phone 8 devices.

Foursquare for iOS | Android | Windows Phone

Thanksgiving 2013 mobile shopping: PayPal sees 91% increase, eBay Enterprise sees orders rise 127%

243145 4559 520x245 Thanksgiving 2013 mobile shopping: PayPal sees 91% increase, eBay Enterprise sees orders rise 127%

PayPal and eBay Enterprise today revealed some statistics for yesterday’s holiday craze. Between 2012 and 2013, both companies saw big jumps, although not as large as between 2011 and 2012.

Compared to Thanksgiving 2012, the eBay-owned company saw a 91 percent increase in consumers shopping through PayPal mobile around the world. eBay Enterprise meanwhile saw usage and orders grow nearly 130 percent 127 percent, respectively.

Last year, PayPal saw a 173 percent increase and eBay Enterprise (formerly GSI) saw a 170% percent jump. While eBay’s numbers seem only slightly lower, PayPal’s growth has definitely slowed for Thanksgiving 2013, although the company did say mobile third-party verification (TPV) increased by 114.7 percent compared to Thanksgiving 2012.

PayPal also revealed consumers in the US mainly took to their mobile devices to shop throughout the day. That being said, the busiest time was between 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM PST (10:00 PM EST and 11:00 PM EST), presumably after dinner was well-settled in consumers’ stomachs.

eBay Enterprise meanwhile revealed free shipping appeared to be the promotion of choice for consumers shopping at eBay Enterprise retailers on Thanksgiving Day 2013. 72 percent of orders included free shipping, an increase of 48 percent compared to Thanksgiving Day 2012.

For those who don’t know, eBay Enterprise manages ecommerce for leading retailers and brands, including Toys “R” Us, Levi’s, Sports Authority, Polo Ralph Lauren, and GNC. It was previously called GSI Commerce, but eBay rebranded it two years after the acquisition.

Unlike last year, eBay is not providing numbers for itself: only PayPal and eBay Enterprise data is available. This is disappointing; while PayPal and eBay Enterprise numbers are important, the whole picture isn’t clear without figures for the main commerce site.

See also – eBay Exact launches on iOS, lets you buy 3D-printed products from MakerBot, Sculpteo, and Hot Pop Factory and eBay launches “My Gadgets”, an easy way to catalog, value and one day sell your gadgets

Top Image Credit: flippnjj


The Next Web