July 18, 2018
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Google gets slapped $5BN by EU for Android antitrust abuse

in Advertising Tech/Android/antitrust/Apps/competition commission/Delhi/eu/Europe/fairsearch/Google/Government/India/Margrethe Vestager/mobile/Politics/TC by

Google has been fined a record breaking €4.34 billion (~$5BN) by European antitrust regulators for abusing the dominance of its Android mobile operating system.

Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has tweeted to confirm the penalty ahead of a press conference about to take place. Stay tuned for more details as we get them.

In a longer statement about the decision, Vestager said: “Today, mobile internet makes up more than half of global internet traffic. It has changed the lives of millions of Europeans. Our case is about three types of restrictions that Google has imposed on Android device manufacturers and network operators to ensure that traffic on Android devices goes to the Google search engine. In this way, Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits. They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.”

In particular, the EC has decided that Google:

  • has required manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and browser app (Chrome), as a condition for licensing Google’s app store (the Play Store);
  • made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators on condition that they exclusively pre-installed the Google Search app on their devices; and
  • has prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling even a single smart mobile device running on alternative versions of Android that were not approved by Google (so-called “Android forks”).

The decision also concludes that Google is dominant in the markets for general internet search services; licensable smart mobile operating systems; and app stores for the Android mobile operating system.

Google has tweeted an initial reaction to the decision, claiming Android has created “a vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices”.

A company spokesperson also confirmed to us it will appeal the Commission’s decision.

This story is developing… refresh for updates… 

The fine is the second major penalty for the ad tech giant for breaching EU competition rules in just over a year — and the highest ever issued by the Commission for abuse of a dominant market position.

In June 2017 Google was hit with a then-record €2.4BN (~$2.7BN) antitrust penalty related to another of its products, search comparison service, Google Shopping. The company has since made changes to how it displays search results for products in Europe.

According to the bloc’s rules, companies can be fined 10 per cent of their global revenue if they are deemed to have breached European competition law.

Google’s parent entity Alphabet reported full year revenue of $110.9 billion in 2017. So the $5BN fine is around half of what the company could have been on the hook for if EU regulators had levied the maximum penalty possible.

The Commission said the size of the fine takes into account “the duration and gravity of the infringement”. It also specified it had been calculated on the basis of the value of Google’s revenue from search advertising services on Android devices in the European Economic Area (per its own guidelines on fines).

Google will have three months to pay the fine but is likely to appeal — and legal wrangling could drag the process out for many years. (Although if it does not pay the fine within that timeframe penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of the company can be applied.)

Prior to the Commission’s record pair of fines for Google products, its next highest antitrust penalty is a €1.06BN antitrust fine for chipmaker Intel all the way back in 2009.

Yet only last year Europe’s top court ruled that the case against Intel — which focused on it offering rebates to high-volume buyers — should be sent back to a lower court to be re-examined, nearly a decade after the original antitrust decision. So Google’s lawyers are likely to have a spring in their step going into this next European antitrust battle.

The latest EU fine for Android has been on the cards for more than two years, given the Commission’s preliminary findings and consistently prescriptive remarks from Vestager during the course of what has been a multi-year investigation process.

And, indeed, given multiple EU antitrust investigations into Google businesses and business practices (the EU has also been probing Google’s AdSense advertising service).

The Commission’s prior finding that Google is a dominant company in Internet search — a judgement reached at the culmination of its Google Shopping investigation last year — is also important, making the final judgement in the Android case more likely because the status places the onus on Google not to abuse its dominant position in other markets, adjacent or otherwise.

Announcing the Google Shopping penality last summer, Vestager made a point of emphasizing that dominant companies “need to be more vigilant” — saying they have a “special responsibility” to ensure they are not in breach of antitrust rules, and also specifying this applies “in the market where it’s dominant” and “in any other market”. So that means — as here in the Android case — in mobile services too.

While a one-off financial penalty — even one that runs to so many billions of dollars — cannot cause lasting damage to a company as wealthy as Alphabet, of greater risk to its business are changes the regulators can require to how it operates Android which could have a sustained impact on Google if they end up reshaping the competitive landscape for mobile services.

At least that’s the Commission’s intention: To reset what has been judged an unfair competitive advantage for Google via Android, and foster competitive innovation because rival products get a fairer chance to impress consumers.

However the popularity and profile of Google services suggests that even if Android users are offered a choice as a result of an EU antirust remedy — such as of which search engine, maps service, mobile browser or even app store to use — most will likely pick the Google-branded offering they’re most familiar with.

That said, an antitrust remedy could have the chance to shift consumers’ habits over time — if, for instance, OEMs start offering Android devices that come preloaded with alternative mobile services, thereby raising the visibility of non-Google apps and services.

Interestingly, Google has been striking deals with Chinese OEMs in recent months — to brings its ARCore technology to markets where its core services are censored and its Play Store is restricted. And its strategy to workaround regional restrictions in China by working more closely with device makers may also be part of a plan to hedge against fresh regulatory restrictions being placed on Android elsewhere. 

Although complainants in the EU’s earlier Google Shopping antitrust case continue to express displeasure with the outcome on that front. And in a statement responding to news that another EU antitrust penalty was incoming for Android, Shivaun Raff, CEO of Foundem, the lead complainant in Google Shopping case, said: “Fines make headlines. Effective remedies make a difference.”

So the devil will be in the detail of the remedies.


Android as an antitrust ‘Trojan horse’

The European Commission announced its formal in-depth probe of Android in April 2015, saying then that it was investigating complaints Google was “requiring and incentivizing” OEMs to exclusively install its own services on devices on Android devices, and also examining whether Google was hindering the ability of smartphone and tablet makers to use and develop other OS versions of Android (i.e. by forking the open source platform).

Rivals — banding together under the banner ‘FairSearch‘ — complained Google was essentially using the platform as a ‘Trojan horse’ to unfairly dominate the mobile web. The lobby group’s listing on the EU’s transparency register describes its intent as promoting “innovation and choice across the Internet ecosystem by fostering and defending competition in online and mobile search within the European Union”, and names its member organizations as: Buscapé, Cepic, Foundem, Naspers, Nokia, Oracle, TripAdvisor and Yroo.

On average, Android has around a 70-75% smartphone marketshare across Europe. But in some European countries the OS accounts for an even higher proportion of usage. In Spain, for example, Android took an 86.1% marketshare as of March, according to market data collected by Kantar Worldpanel.

In recent years Android has carved an even greater market share in some European countries, while Google’s Internet search product also has around a 90% share of the European market, and competition concerns about its mobile OS have been sounded for years.

Last year Google reached a $7.8M settlement with Russian antitrust authorities over Android — which required the company to no longer demand exclusivity of its applications on Android devices in Russia; could not restrict the pre-installation of any competing search engines and apps, including on the home screen; could no longer require Google Search to be the only general search engine pre-installed.

Google also agreed with Russian antitrust authorities that it would no longer enforce its prior agreements where handset makers had agreed to any of these terms. Additionally, as part of the settlement, Google was required to allow third parties to include their own search engines into a choice window, and to allowing users to pick their preferred default search engine from a choice window displayed in Google’s Chrome browser. The company was also required to develop a new Chrome widget for Android devices already being used in Russia, to replace the standard Google search widget on the home screen so they would be offered a choice when it launched.

A year after Vestager’s public announcement of the EU’s antitrust probe of Android, she issued a formal Statement of Objections, saying the Commission believed Google has “implemented a strategy on mobile devices to preserve and strengthen its dominance in general Internet search”; and flagging as problematic the difficulty for Android users whose devices come pre-loaded with the Google Play store to use other app stores (which cannot be downloaded from Google Play).

She also raised concerns over Google providing financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile carriers on condition that Google search be pre-installed as the exclusive search provider. “In our opinion, as we see it right now, it is preventing competition from happening because of the strength of the financial incentive,” Vestager said in April 2016.

Google was given several months to respond officially to the antitrust charges against Android — which it finally did in November 2016, having been granted an extension to the Commission’s original deadline.

In its rebuttal then, Google argued that, contrary to antitrust complaints, Android had created a thriving and competitive mobile app ecosystem. It further claimed the EU was ignoring relevant competition in the form of Apple’s rival iOS platform — although iOS does not hold a dominant marketshare in Europe, nor Apple have a status as a dominant company in any EU markets.

Google also argued that its “voluntary compatibility agreements” for Android OEMs are a necessary mechanism for avoiding platform fragmentation — which it said would make life harder for app developers — as well as saying its requirement for Android OEMs to use Google search by default is effectively its payment for providing the suite for free to device makers (given there is no formal licensing fee for Android).

It also couched “free distribution is an efficient solution for everyone” — arguing it lowers prices for phone makers and consumers, while “still letting us sustain our substantial investment in Android and Play”.

In addition, Google sought to characterize open source platforms as “fragile” — arguing the Commission’s approach risked upsetting the “balance of needs” between users and developers, and suggesting their action could signal they favor “closed over open platforms”.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Sight Diagnostics starts selling an AI-based diagnostics device for faster blood tests

in AI/Artificial Intelligence/blood testing/Delhi/Europe/Fundings & Exits/Health/India/machine learning/machine vision/Politics/Sight Diagnostics/TC by

Sight Diagnostics, an Israeli medical devices startup that’s using computer vision and machine learning technology to speed up blood testing, is launching a point-of-care blood diagnostics system today.

It claims the compact, desktop machine — called OLO — which analyzes single-use cartridges manually loaded with drops of the patient’s blood, can deliver “lab-grade” complete blood count (CBC) tests from only a finger prick of blood.

The idea being for clinicians to use the device to perform the most prevalent medical blood diagnostics test directly in their office, rather than a patient having venous blood drawn and sent away to a lab for analysis — a process that can take a few days.

They’re also intending to offer a high tech alternative to carrying out manual microscopy on a blood smear — another technique that can be used to conduct an point-of-care CBC test, but which requires specialist personnel taking the time, care and attention to get it right.

The team hasn’t previously disclosed total funding but are now confirming they’ve raised $25 million in equity financing (Series A and B) from VC firms, including Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors — which they say they’re expecting to take them through their US clinical trials. They are also in the process of raising a Series C. 

Sight Diagnostics is touting OLO as the high tech alternative that healthcare providers have been waiting for — with AI-powered analysis performing a blood count right then and there, after a healthcare worker has pipetted a few drops of the patient’s blood into place.

Sight Diagnostics points out that CBC tests are used to diagnose a broad range of common medical conditions, as well as for the vast majority of baseline tests ordered during routine ‘well visits’, arguing that speeding up this type of routine blood test could support faster diagnostics of medical problems. Or, indeed, speedier reassurance that a person is okay. 

The OLO system uses a patented process for ‘digitizing’ patient blood into a set of specifically colored microscope images. It then applies proprietary machine vision algorithms to the images to identify and count different blood-cell types — with the company claiming its technology simplifies blood testing so that even non-professionals can perform the tests.

According to the company, new sample-preparation methods allow them to present a small amount of blood to OLO’s microscope in a way that is tolerant to inaccuracies in the preparation process — placing what they describe as “minimal burden” on the user — as well as being robust in the face of inaccuracies in any manufacturing processes, saying this means the cost of their testing kits can remain low.

“This novel way of digitizing blood is equally important to our approach as the artificial intelligence driving the analysis,” they add.

Of course any novel blood testing technology claiming a disruptive advantage must be able to prove it is as accurate and robust as traditional lab testing methods.

Very clearly, lives are at stake.

And, well, on the disruptive startup side, the shadow cast by Theranos’ implosion is a very long one.

But — to be clear — Theranos had claimed it could deliver a full battery of laboratory tests from a few drops of blood — not just a CBC count, which is at least the initial aim for OLO. And for CBC tests having only a small blood sample to work is actually not so unusual.

“CBC tests operate even today with low sample volumes,” it says. “For example, several central-lab instruments have been cleared for capillary samples (200-300uL of blood, of which less than 10uL is actually counted), and the older manual method for CBC analysis — the traditional blood smears on microscope slides — uses less than 10uL of blood in total. This is to say that in our domain the use of low sample-volumes stands on solid scientific ground.”

Sight Diagnostics has been working on the OLO system for more than eight years at this stage.

The co-founder duo — Yossi Pollak and Daniel Levner — combine machine vision and AI expertise on the one hand (Pollak worked on algorithms for automotive machine-vision giant Mobileye), with a medical background, via Levner’s postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School (and later a CTO role at a biotech company, called Emulate).

Their key claim is that OLO produces “lab-quality” CBCs.

More specifically, they say a recent clinical trial compared its CBC analysis against Sysmex XN (“a top-of-the-line lab-grade analyzer”) to determine equivalence.

Here’s what Levner — who’s also chairman of its scientific advisory board — told us on that:

The study included the 19 CBC parameters that make up the 5-differential (‘5-diff’) CBC, as well as a number of medical/diagnostic ‘flags’. The results were analyzed statistically, including an analysis of the correlation of each parameter between the two instruments, bias (whether there is a systematic shift between the two instruments), and slope (whether there is a systematic scaling factor between the two instruments’ results).

To ascertain what quality of results was necessary to declare OLO equivalent to the Sysmex XN, we relied on values that we discussed with the FDA in our three pre-submission meetings. We applied these quality targets to our recent clinical study despite the CE Mark not sharing the same stringent requirements as the FDA, and we found that we surpassed the targets. Accordingly, we believe that our data supports the claim that OLO is equivalent to standard central-lab tests, which is our goal: testing at the point-of-care without compromising accuracy or depth of information.

As Levner notes there, they have completed a 250-person clinical trial, which took place at Israel’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center — a testing process that led to them obtaining CE Mark registration for OLO; aka the health & safety certification that’s necessary for commercial sale within certain European countries. 

“For the CE Mark declaration, we have verified that OLO complies with the CE in vitro diagnostics directive (Directive 98/79/EC IVD). Accordingly, OLO meets the full list of harmonized standards that the directive requires, including ISO 13485 (quality management system), ISO 14971 (medical device risk management), CEN 13612 (medical device performance evaluation), and various safety, stability and labeling requirements,” he further says on that.

One important point to flag is that Sight Diagnostics has not yet published peer reviewed results of any of its clinical trials for OLO.

But Levner says the results of its most recent clinical trial (testing OLO as a CBC analyzer) are “currently in preparation” for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

“We strongly believe in the necessity of sharing our data this way, but unfortunately and as you know, the process of publishing in academic journals tends to take several months,” he says, offering to share the results under a confidentiality agreement “so as not to scoop our own publication”.

Nor is OLO the team’s first blood diagnostic test. Previously they developed a diagnostic test for malaria (called Parasight), using digital fluorescent microscopy and computer vision algorithms — and they have three published journal articles that describe clinical trials on their malaria test.

Parasight was first deployed in 2014, and they say more than 600,000 of the malaria tests have been sold to date — claiming they have “accurately and consistently” diagnosed malaria in 25 countries.

Levner says the malaria test used the same underlying technologies they are now redeploying for OLO — including “common sample-preparation methods, microscope design, and artificial-intelligence based algorithms”.

While malaria testing was their first focus, they’re looking to build a far more expansive point-of-care blood diagnostics business with OLO — beginning with CBC testing but envisaging the system as a platform that will, in time, be capable of running a portfolio of blood tests. 

Although on this Levner is careful to note that each additional test would be added individually — and after “independent clinical validation”.

“We see OLO eventually consolidating a number of tests that are important to the doctor’s office and becoming a diagnostics nerve-center for the clinic,” he tells TechCrunch, adding: “We will introduce these additional tests one-by-one, with each test undergoing independent clinical validation.”

Sight Diagnostics is starting by selling OLO in Europe, with both private doctors’ offices and national health services in its sights. Levner says they’re expecting the device to be in doctors’ offices in the EU in “around three months” — noting they’re in the process of finishing up a couple of initial distribution agreements now.

“Ultimately, we intend to distribute OLO in all of Europe and beyond. However, we are prioritizing European countries that are known for being early adopters — for example, countries without a single-payer system or ones with a well-developed private market,” he adds.

He also confirms OLO has been registered in the EU using a Netherlands-based CE Notified Body.

“We are also pursuing several more national registrations that don’t require additional testing, such as Switzerland and Israel, which otherwise accept the CE Mark.”

The team is also conducting a study as part of FDA testing in the US — with a trial ongoing at three US-based sites. They’re aiming to admit more than 500 participants, and are using eight different OLO instruments for testing.

The initial push is to obtain 510(k) approval from the FDA, which would allow OLO to be used in larger US-based clinics (CLIA certified facilities). Levner says they hope to gain that approval “midway through next year”.

The subsequence step would be to obtain a CLIA waiver from the FDA — which would permit it to place instruments in small clinics and doctor’s offices — necessary to the stated goal of “bringing blood diagnostics to the point-of-care”. And the hope is they obtain that waiver in 2020. Though clearly there’s a long way to go to pass all the necessary clinical regulatory hurdles.

In addition to the co-founders, Levner says the team includes a number of medical, diagnostics and regulatory experts — naming Dr Shai Izraeli (Hematology-Oncology) and Janice Hogan (who he says has previously developed regulatory strategy for hematology analyzers) — as well as several diagnostics-industry experts he says he’s not currently at liberty to disclose.

He also says they recruited “renowned hematology experts” to lead their CBC clinical trials — naming one: Dr Carlo Brugnara, the director of the Hematology Lab at the Boston Children’s Hospital, who they quote in their press release, talking up the challenges for physicians of having to wait for blood test results, and saying: “Previous blood analyzers aimed at in-office testing have involved clinical compromises and are difficult to operate or maintain. OLO has the potential to deliver on the promise of accurate, comprehensive blood testing at the doctor’s office, even with a finger prick sample.”

Nearly half a petabyte of blood image data — sourced from Sight Diagnostics’ own clinical studies over the past four years — has been used to train the AIs powering the OLO blood diagnostics system. (Levner specifies this data “has been anonymized and used in accordance with ethical review (IRB) approvals from their respective clinical institutions”.)

While most of the additional tests they’re envisaging bringing to OLO in future would use the same single-use consumable model as the CBC test, he mentions a subset of tests they’ve been considering which could benefit from sending information digitally to a different facility.

“As one example, imagine that OLO is used to run a CBC for a patient, and an important finding is identified. In the future, the physician could order a follow-on test and have the already digitized blood images streamed to an expert,” he suggests. “The expert (or even multiple experts) could then analyze images remotely, saving the patient additional blood draws or travel.”

So while the initial business model is a traditional sales model — with Sight Diagnostics selling the OLO system plus as many test kits as required, and CBC tests taking place fully onboard the system, with no need for the device to connect to its servers — down the line, should all go to plan, there could be scope to bolt on a SaaS platform element. Such as for enabling clinicians to order additional follow on analyses, and with OLO streaming digitized blood images to remote experts. 

So if their technology is as accurate and robust as they claim, a lot more could flow from just a few drops of digitized blood.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Olio, the app that lets you share unwanted food items with your neighbours, picks up £6M Series A

in Delhi/Europe/Fundings & Exits/India/olio/Politics/Startups/TC by

Olio, the hyperlocal food sharing app that wants to help tackle the world’s food waste epidemic, has picked up $6 million in Series A funding.

The U.K. startup offers a location-based app and website that lets you list and post a photo of unwanted food items to be shared with other people in the same neighbourhood. That is, food that you might otherwise throw away.

The company, Olio co-founder and CEO Tessa Clarke told me in a call earlier this week, was born out of the idea that a bottom-up, community approach — driven by individual behaviour — is the most scalable way to cut down on the amount of food households typically waste. She says about a third of food production is thrown away and/or allowed to perish, which mostly ends up in landfill, and that food in the home represents about half of this.

The startup helps businesses tackle the problem, too. Dubbed the “Food Waste Heroes Programme,” Olio is enabling companies, such as retailers or those operating events and corporate canteens, to utilise the Olio platform and community to become “zero food waste” organisations.

This sees companies charged a fee and in return Olio will dispatch its thousands of volunteers, who have been vetted and are trained in food hygiene, to come to their stores or outlets and collect unwanted food items. The volunteers then photograph and list the items on the app and offer themselves up as hyperlocal collection points. Most items are made available for sharing and picked up/distributed in just a few hours.

Clarke says the startup is also exploring the possibility of moving to a premium model, where the most active users of the platform pay for a subscription that gives them access to additional value-add features. The Holy Grail of hyperlocal advertising is an untapped opportunity, too, given that the app already boasts over half a million users.

What is most striking when hearing the Olio co-founder talk about the young company is how mission-driven she, her team and the app’s community are. That’s because not only is food waste an expensive problem — over $1 trillion per year, apparently — but the environmental dent food production and distribution makes is huge, while a growing population means that food shortages will realistically become an issue in the future. Factor in that Olio can and, to a certain extent, already is helping to alleviate food poverty, and it’s easy to understand why.

I also questioned Clarke on Olio’s reliance on volunteers and she said that the company currently receives far more volunteer applications than it can process. More broadly, since the time spent being active on the platform is unlikely to translate into a full-time job, since it only works by being very distributed and remaining steadfastly hyperlocal. Volunteers also get to keep up to 10 percent of the food they collect.

Meanwhile, Olio’s Series A round was led by Octopus Ventures, with existing investors including Accel, Quadia, and Quentin Griffiths (co-founder of ASOS & Achica) following on. Other new investors joining Octopus include Lord Waheed Alli’s Silvergate Investments 2, Bran Investments, Julien Codorniou (Facebook) and Jason Stockwood (Match.com, Simply Business).

News Source = techcrunch.com

N26 updates its web app

in Banking/Battlefield/Delhi/Europe/India/N26/Politics/Startups by

Fintech startup N26 wants to compete with traditional banks on all fronts. And it means providing a useful web interface to view your past transactions, transfer money and more. Most users likely interact with N26 through the mobile app. But it doesn’t mean web apps are useless.

Contrary to Revolut, N26 has had a web interface since day one. It lets you control most things in your account. For instance, you can add a new recipient and send money. You can configure notifications, get a PDF with your IBAN number and download banking statements.

You can also lock your card, reset the card pin, reorder one or block some features from the web. This way, if somebody steals your phone with a wallet case, you can still go to the website and disable your card.

With today’s update, N26 is mostly refining the design of the interface. The left column is gone, and you now get a feed of transactions front and center. When you press the download button, you can download bank statements, a CSV with all your past transactions in case you want to put them in Excel and the PDF with your IBAN number.

But the company seems to be really excited about one new feature in particular — dark mode. You can now switch the entire interface to black. This will be particularly useful when Apple introduces macOS Mojave with dark mode across the operating system.

You can now also tick a box when you log in to enable discreet mode. This feature hides your balance and transactions in case you don’t want your coffee shop neighbor to look at your bank account.

The new web app is responsive, which means that it works on computers with big screens as well as mobile phones. The information on your screen changes depending on the width of your browser window. The new N26 for web should be available now.

News Source = techcrunch.com

China’s Xiaomi makes underwhelming public debut in Hong Kong IPO

in Asia/Beijing/China/Delhi/earnings/Economy/Europe/India/Lei Jun/Politics/smartphone/smartphones/technology entrepreneurs/United States/Xiaomi by

China’s Xiaomi, the world’s fifth biggest seller of smartphones, made an underwhelming public debut after it hit the Hong Kong Stock Exchange amid concerns around an ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.

Media reports in the lead up to today’s bell ringing suggested that eight-year-old Xiaomi was shooting for a valuation of as much as $100 million. In the end, it had to settle for a more modest $54 million valuation as it raised $4.7 billion from the IPO.

CEO Lei Jun acknowledged that “global capital markets are in constant flux” thanks to tensions between Beijing and the White House, which has seen trade tariffs levied on each side. However, Lei — one of China’s most successful technology entrepreneurs — said that the situation doesn’t diminish his belief in his business.

“Although the macroeconomic conditions are far from ideal, we believe a great company can still rise to the challenge and distinguish itself,” he said in a speech at the listing ceremony.

Xiaomi enjoyed an understated debut. The stock opened at HK$16.60, below the list price of HK$17, and it quickly fell to HK$16 before later recovering. Its closing share price for the first day of trading was HK$16.78.

Data via Hong Kong Stock Exchange

Aside from global market concerns, investors are said to have been unsure of Xiaomi’s ecosystem story. The company pitches itself as going beyond devices to offer internet services, such as video streaming, although it has yet to see significant revenue in the services category.

Prior to listing, Xiaomi pledged to keep its gross margin to just five percent to ensure that its products are well priced for consumers, but that requires the company to find other ways to monetize and that’s where the services play is aimed. Xiaomi also offers a long-tail of products developed by third parties, such as tech like smart speakers and non-tech items that include bags and pens, which it sells directly to its consumer base using its e-commerce sites and ‘Mi’ brand.

Finally, another core push is its international expansion plan.

China continues to account for the bulk of its revenue, although that is dropping. For 2017 sales, China represented 72 percent, but it had been 94 percent and 87 percent in 2015 and 2016, respectively. One market it has made significant progress in is India, where it was recently ranked the top smartphone seller thanks to a strong brand.

However, it’s unclear how the firm has performed in other markets in Asia and whether it can succeed in Europe, where it has made a push in recent months. The U.S. market is another key challenge that Xiaomi has yet to find a solution for, despite Lei Jun and other executives claiming it’ll enter the country before the end of next year.

You can read more about the Xiaomi business and IPO plan in our review below:

News Source = techcrunch.com

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