Samsung vs Xiaomi offline store fight: Retailers get hurt as Samsung-Xiaomi war intensifies

KOLKATA: Samsung is said to be unhappy with two leading retail chains for promoting rival Xiaomi’s smartphones with store-front signage and in-store branding as its battle with the Chinese company for control of the retail channel intensifies.

The two companies have been trying to dominate the retail space since July when Xiaomi, till then focussed only on e-commerce, stepped up efforts to rope in leading offline stores as preferred retail partners.

Officials of the two retail chains refused to comment due to the sensitivity of the matter.

An email sent to Xiaomi India did not elicit any response. Samsung India, too, did not respond to an email.

“Samsung is trying to sort out the issue with the two retailers ahead of the festive season,” an industry executive said without wanting to be named.

This comes at a time when several neighbourhood cell phone stores are teaming up to take Samsung to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for not supplying handsets for almost two months after they tied up with Xiaomi, three industry executives said. They will approach the CCI arguing that Samsung and its distributors are not allowing them to do business with other brands, impacting their business, the executives said. About 300 retailers in Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Haryana, Indore, Lucknow, Kanpur, Gujarat and Kolkata have been affected after they signed up with Xiaomi as its preferred retail partner, they said.

The owner of a cellphone store in Delhi said the retailers took legal opinion and decided to approach CCI after Samsung and its distributors categorically told them there will be no supplies till they stopped selling Xiaomi smartphones, which already account for 35-40 per cent of their business.

Retailers get hurt as Samsung-Xiaomi war intensifies

“In fact, Xiaomi is helping the affected retailers with advice and additional business support. This is a good opportunity for Xiaomi to get retailers’ confidence, now that it is betting big on brick-and-mortar retailers to grow in India,” one of the executives quoted above said.

The CEO of a retail chain said Xiaomi has informed retailers that it will support them by changing its business strategy. The Chinese smartphone maker is introducing its new models like Mi A1 and Mi Max 2 in offline stores along with their online launch, as compared to its earlier strategy of launching them online first.

Xiaomi India managing director Manu Jain had recently tweeted that the company’s offline sales have grown 10 times since January after it roped in retailers as preferred partners, and around 20 per cent of the sales now are offline. He also tweeted that all those offline retailers who have joined hands with the company have reported massive jump in traffic and sales.

As per Hong Kong-based market tracker Counterpoint Research, Samsung is the smartphone market leader in India with 24.1 per cent share for the April-June period, followed by Xiaomi at 15.5 per cent.

NASA Satellites Watch as Hurricane Harvey Intensifies Off Texas Coast (Video)

Tropical storm Harvey has been gaining strength and will likely make landfall as a major hurricane, NASA satellite images revealed. 

What started out as the remnants of a tropical storm could become the worst hurricane to hit Texas in nearly 50 years and the first Category 3 hurricane to hit the United States in almost 12 years, the Weather Channel reports. 

On Wednesday (Aug. 23), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) upgraded the scattered storm remnants to a tropical depression, and by Thursday (Aug. 24) it started to shape up as a large “tropical cyclone” over the Gulf of Mexico. As always, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are monitoring the weather event from space with Earth-observing satellites. [See amazing photos of Hurricane Harvey from space]

NOAA's GOES-East satellite captured this view of Hurricane Harvey in the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 24 at 1:07 p.m. EDT (1707 GMT).

NOAA’s GOES-East satellite captured this view of Hurricane Harvey in the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 24 at 1:07 p.m. EDT (1707 GMT).

Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement mission (GPM) satellite flew over the area on Wednesday morning and detected areas of heavy rainfall in the clouds of Tropical Storm Harvey, with some regions experiencing more than 1.96 inches (50 millimeters) of rain per hour — a number that will likely climb, NASA officials said in a statement. “The heavy rainfall that the GPM core satellite observed continued to build, and on Aug. 24, the NHC noted that rainfall totals are expected to be tremendous.” In a public weather advisory, the NHC said that parts of Texas could accumulate up to 30 inches (76 centimeters) of rainfall. 

On Wednesday (Aug. 23), the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) core satellite saw thunderstorms spiraling in from the southern side of Harvey, where rainfall rates exceeded 1.96 inches (50 mm) per hour.

On Wednesday (Aug. 23), the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) core satellite saw thunderstorms spiraling in from the southern side of Harvey, where rainfall rates exceeded 1.96 inches (50 mm) per hour.

Credit: Hal Pierce, JAXA/NASA

Another NASA satellite, GOES East (formerly GOES-13), has been keeping an eye on the storm from its geosynchronous orbit over the U.S. East Coast. Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, created an animation of the storm’s development from Tuesday (Aug. 22) to Thursday (Aug. 24). 

“The animation showed the movement of Harvey as a remnant low pressure area moving off the Yucatan Peninsula, re-forming into a tropical depression and now into a hurricane in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico,” NASA officials said. The storm is now moving northwest toward Texas and is expected to make landfall either Friday night (Aug. 25) or early Saturday (Aug. 26). 

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

Cleveland Murder Intensifies Scrutiny of Facebook Live | Social Networks

Video footage of a senseless murder in Cleveland, posted after the fact on Facebook Live, has attracted national attention to the role of the platform in criminals’ minds.

Cleveland Murder Intensifies Scrutiny of Facebook Live

Authorities Tuesday morning announced that Steve Stephens — the 37-year-old suspect wanted for the cold-blooded shooting of Robert Godwin Sr. — shot himself to death after a short pursuit by Pennsylvania State Police. Officials had responded to a tip about a sighting of Stephens’ white Ford Fusion in a McDonald’s parking lot in Erie, Pennsylvania.

“We are grateful this has ended,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams. “We would prefer that it had not ended this way, because there are a lot of questions I’m sure that not only family, but the city in general would have had for Steve, as to why this transpired.”

Stephens had been on the run after allegedly killing 74-year-old Godwin shortly after he left an Easter Sunday dinner with family. Stephens apparently chose his victim at random and shot him at point blank range before taking off in a white Ford Fusion.

Stephens uploaded the shooting to Facebook Live later on Sunday. He claimed that he had shot 15 other people as well, but officials said that claim thus far appears unfounded.

Philadelphia police officials confirmed via Twitter that several schools in the city were put on lockdown Monday afternoon, amid reports that Stephens was in the area of the Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. Police later said that the lockdown was lifted, and they found no information indicating the suspect was in the city.

Cleveland P. D.’s Williams confirmed that a cellphone ping from Erie had been noted earlier during the manhunt, but he was not aware why the suspect was in the Erie area.

Platform for Violence?

The video of the shooting, which went viral across social media over the weekend, has put Facebook on the defensive, raising new questions about the suspect’s use of the live-streaming feature to commit a cold-blooded murder against an innocent man that he didn’t even know.

The suspect posted a video to Facebook announcing his intent to commit a murder, and then two minutes later posted another video of himself shooting an elderly man, who turned out to be Godwin, Facebook VP of Global Operations Justin Osofsky said Monday. A few minutes later, Stephens went live, confessing to the killing.

Facebook is reviewing its reporting flows to be sure people can report videos and other material that violates Facebook standards as easily and quickly as possible, Osofsky said, noting that the report about the shooting video did not come into Facebook until an hour and 45 minutes after it was posted.

The suspect’s account was closed 23 minutes after Facebook received the report about the murder video and two hours after it received a report of any kind, he noted.

Artificial intelligence plays a major part in preventing unacceptable videos from being reshared, Osofsky said, adding that the company was working on improving its review process.

Thousands of people around the world review millions of items that are reported to the company every week, he pointed out, and Facebook prioritizes items that have serious safety implications.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at the company’s F8 developer conference on Tuesday, expressed his condolences to Godwin’s family and friends.

“We have a lot more to do here … and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening,” he said.

Law enforcement authorities have cautioned before that “people not live their lives” on social media, Cleveland P. D.’s Williams said in response to a reporter’s question.

The shooting “was not something that should have been shared around the world,” he added.

Facebook Live drew attention last summer, following its use to document the immediate aftermath of the
police shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota.

St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez is facing a charge of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon in that case.

Castile’s fiancee, who was sitting next to him during the traffic stop that led to the shooting, filmed the aftermath while he was in the car bleeding to death.

Other violent events have been live-streamed on Facebook in the past, including a triple shooting in Norfolk, Virginia, in 2016.

Criminals’ Thought Processes

Certain types of personalities may be prone to using social media as a platform for promoting their crimes.

“Like any social media, it depends on the person behind the screen,” observed Tina Meier, executive director of the
Megan Meier Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on cyberbullying and harassment.

“I do think that live feeds allow [the type of people] who want to commit crimes or certain actions to feel powerful, knowing that it can be seen by hundreds, thousands or even millions of people in an instant,” she told the E-Commerce Times.

Social media companies may need to take further steps to restrict live video feeds to prevent violent actions from being broadcast.

If a pattern of copycat incidents should follow this latest tragedy, it could justify a case for additional regulation of the platform, said Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst at Poynter.

However, Facebook cannot be held responsible for any wrongdoing in this case, he suggested.

“As commentators have noted, there are precedents — mercifully infrequent,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

There have been “two on-air suicides, and the shooting of the young morning show film crew in Virginia, a few years back,” Edmonds recalled, but “no one is talking about closing down TV live shots as a precaution.”


David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.

Samsung Heir’s Arrest in South Korea Intensifies Calls for Cleanup

The arrest was “just the beginning,” said Sim Sang-jeung, an opposition lawmaker who has campaigned for transparency at the largest companies. She warned against a tendency among the law enforcement agencies to treat major corporate chiefs with kid gloves.

“We needed to see whether prosecutors ask for a sentence befitting his crimes and whether he is convicted with such a penalty,” Ms. Sim said. “Only when he finishes serving such a lengthy sentence will people believe that the law is alive in their country.”

It also raises questions about the fate of Samsung, a huge company whose electronics arm alone accounts for one-fifth of South Korea’s exports.

Wearing a well-tailored suit, Mr. Lee emerged through the metal detectors of a court in Seoul, the capital, on Thursday and past a news media gantlet to his car, which drove him to a detention center to await a decision. Early Friday morning, he learned that he would be staying at the detention center through his trial.

South Korea faces a tenuous balancing act. For decades, its growth has been fueled by companies like Samsung, one of a group of family-controlled conglomerates called chaebol. Chaebol are now firmly embedded in the country’s economy, with the 10 largest generating annual revenue exceeding 80 percent of South Korea’s gross domestic product. Business groups warn that disrupting the chaebol could hurt the broader economy.

“We are shocked and deeply worried,” the Korea Employers Federation, a pro-business lobby, said in a statement about the arrest.

“Samsung is the global company that represents South Korea, and we fear that the vacuum in its management will weigh heavily on the economy by increasing uncertainty and hurt international credibility.”

But the power of the chaebol is coming up against rising public anger over the perception of corruption and favoritism. Among those 10 biggest chaebol, six of their leaders have been convicted of white-collar crimes. Many have been pardoned or had their sentences suspended or reduced. Chaebol leaders face broader questions as well about whether their economic dominance squelches small business and innovation, accusations that their lobbyist denies.

Reflecting the public mood, the governing — and usually pro-business — Liberty Korea Party said it respected the court’s decision to arrest Mr. Lee and expressed “regrets that the people have been again disappointed by the deep-rooted collusion between politics and business.”

Mr. Lee is accused of bribery, embezzlement and perjury as part of an investigation into a confidante of the country’s president, Park Geun-hye. Ms. Park now faces impeachment. Samsung has said Mr. Lee will work to clear his name in court.

The police arrested Mr. Lee and took him into custody, an unprecedented move for a major Samsung official. But in terms of accusations of wrongdoing against a top executive, Samsung has been there before. Mr. Lee’s father, Lee Kun-hee, Samsung’s chairman, has twice been convicted of bribery and tax evasion.

Still, the elder Mr. Lee never spent time in prison. The fate of the young Mr. Lee, critics of the chaebol say, will be a test of the country’s young democracy and judicial system.

It will also be a test for Samsung. For the first time in its 79-year history, the company has been left leaderless. With Mr. Lee gone, there is no top executive to make long-term plans and strategic decisions.

Samsung has an army of professional executives that manage day-to-day operations of its 58 subsidiaries. But analysts say that without a family-appointed leader, decision making will slow.

In chaebol culture, often likened to an imperial monarchy within South Korea, the chairman must endorse or make corporate decisions. So the removal of Mr. Lee, who has been the de facto leader since his father was incapacitated by a heart attack in 2014, is far more serious than the loss of a senior executive at a conventional company.

Choi Gee-sung, the No. 2 lieutenant in the Samsung hierarchy and longtime right-hand man for Mr. Lee, will be the closest substitute to a top manager at the company while Mr. Lee is gone. But Mr. Choi is not a member of the Lee family and is expected to serve largely as a “vassal” caretaker who lacks the kind of sweeping authority and responsibility that Mr. Lee and his father have wielded in placing multibillion-dollar bets on investments or new technology.

In one sign of disruption, Samsung delayed its annual reshuffle of senior managers, which it usually announces in December. Compounding concerns, Mr. Choi and his deputies are also being investigated by prosecutors in connection with the bribery scandal.

The arrest comes at a difficult time for Samsung’s electronics arm. The company has faced stiff competition from Apple and cheaper Chinese smartphone makers alike. It is also still recovering from the discontinuation of its Galaxy Note 7, after flaws led some of the phones to overheat and burst into flames.

Still, few believe Mr. Lee’s arrest will challenge the family’s ultimate control of the company. In 2008, facing corruption charges, Mr. Lee’s father resigned from management, leaving the company to be run by loyal deputies, who served the family for decades and whose responsibilities were to ensure the father-to-son transfer of power.

For Samsung, one test will be whether the argument that its fate is important to the South Korean economy carries the same weight. When huge crowds took to the streets on recent weekends to call for the impeachment of Ms. Park, they also called for the arrest of chaebol chairmen accused of playing a crucial role in the presidential scandal.

On Friday, Moon Jae-in, the opposition leader who tops surveys of potential candidates to replace Ms. Park, called the arrest “proof that justice is still alive in South Korea.”

Continue reading the main story

Toyota, Suzuki courtship intensifies as partnership talks begin | Reuters

TOKYO Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and Suzuki Motor Corp (7269.T) on Monday said they have agreed to begin formal talks aimed at forging a partnership in shared procurement, green vehicles, IT and safety technologies.

The agreement takes the two Japanese automakers a step closer to a tie-up that could give Suzuki, a maker of affordable minivehicles and compact cars, access to Toyota’s technology. The world’s second-biggest car maker in return would benefit from Suzuki’s strong market position in India.

“Toyota and Suzuki have agreed to work toward the early realization of a business partnership,” they said in a joint press release.

The companies in October said they were exploring a partnership, citing technological challenges facing automakers and the need to keep up with consolidation in the global auto industry.

Suzuki, Japan’s fourth-largest automaker, has said it has been struggling to keep pace with the speed of research and development (R&D) in the industry, a technology race that Toyota, with its greater financial clout, is better able to cope with.

Toyota invests heavily in R&D in areas including automated driving, artificial intelligence and lower-emission cars.

Suzuki has long sought a bigger partner. A tie-up with Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) ended on a sour note in 2015, after the German carmaker accused Suzuki of violating their pact by agreeing a diesel engine deal with Fiat.

For Toyota, access to Suzuki’s tightly knit supply chain network in India, which the automaker has cultivated since the 1980s, could help it develop and sell more mainstream cars tailored for the local market.

“We would be happy to share lessons we learned from our experience in India and emerging markets with Toyota if they wish, to make this a win-win partnership for both parties,” Suzuki Vice Chairman Yasuhito Harayama told reporters at a briefing in Tokyo after Suzuki released its earnings results for the three months through Dec. 31.

Suzuki dominates the Indian market through its majority stake in Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MRTI.NS), which sells roughly half of all cars sold in the country, whereas Toyota, despite years of trying, is still struggling to gain significant share in a country expected to be the world’s third-largest car market by 2020.

Toyota aims to double its share of India’s passenger vehicle market to 10 percent by 2025 and entry-level, no-frills cars built by small car affiliate Daihatsu will be key to achieving this goal, a company executive told Reuters earlier. Toyota last year decided to buy the remaining stake in its small car affiliate Daihatsu.

Fujio Ando, an adviser at Chibagin Securities, noted before Monday’s announcement that except for compact cars, the two automakers had little overlap in their production line-up, adding that Suzuki was already buying hybrid technology from Toyota.

“One question will be how much Toyota will open up to Suzuki given its relations with Daihatsu,” he added, referring to Toyota’s own minivehicle specialist firm.

Shares in Toyota closed up 0.7 percent in Tokyo while Suzuki stock ended up 0.4 percent. The benchmark Nikkei index .N225 closed up 0.3 percent.

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Writing by Tim Kelly; Editing by Chris Cushing)

Food and Beverage Startups Stand to Gain as Unleashed Software Intensifies Investment in UK | VentureBeat | Business

LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–December 15, 2016–

Unleashed Software, the innovative inventory management developer, has intensified its commitment to helping UK-based food and beverage startups succeed in an increasingly crowded and competitive market space.

Having recently sponsored the first Bread and Butter event – UK’s first food founders’ festival geared toward giving food entrepreneurs the tools and communal support structure required to start and grow their businesses successfully – Unleashed Software has gleaned a number of key insights into how it can more effectively serve its growing client base here in the UK.

“Ease of use coupled with increasing the value and not the cost of the software solutions we provide is of key importance to business owners who need to be able to scale rapidly whilst remaining lean.” said Stephen Jones, UK Head of Operations for Unleashed, “Founders are simply too busy growing their businesses and striving to increase productivity and profitability for complicated setups.” Jones added.

Paul Delamere, co-founder of Shindigger Brewing Co. echoed the important role powerful inventory management software like Unleashed plays in allowing a business to go from grassroots start-up to rapidly expanding beverage manufacturer. “Unleashed frees up a lot of time to focus on the parts of the business that are really key to our growth.” Delamere said.

With an over 90% attrition rate for food and beverage manufacturing startups, Unleashed is investing heavily in the UK to help the industry grow and better equip start-ups to successfully overcome the gauntlet of challenges most new businesses face. Drawing upon the latest statistics published in the Mintel GMPD report [gpmd.com, 2015] which stated 11,273 new food products were launched in the last year; Jones likened the scenario food manufacturers now face to a true David vs. Goliath situation.

“With over 2,000 new food and beverage businesses entering the market in 2016, in order for the smaller food manufacturers – the Davids – to perform in a market dominated by the industry giants – the Goliaths – a lean approach driven by seamless online system integration is vital in order to allow them to maximise efficiency and simultaneously invest in high growth areas. We are committed to investing in building easy to use online tools to simplify and streamline inventory management in the UK food and beverage sector.” Jones affirmed.

From improving traceability through batch tracking, cost tracking and visibility of inventory in real time to full integration with key cloud-based accounting software like Xero and Quickbooks, Unleashed provides a unique software toolkit that helps businesses optimally manage their supply chains, production and purchasing.

“Our business has grown roughly 100% since we implemented Unleashed, and I would definitely recommend it to any start-ups” says Phil Kirby, co-founder of Brew Tea Co. “With Unleashed smoothly handling our purchasing, stock visibility, manufacturing processes and sales, we can continue to scale our business for the future.”

Visit http://www.unleashedsoftware.com to learn more about Unleashed Software.

Unleashed Software
Stephen Jones, +44 20 3670 1771
UK Head of Operations