Eighteen online map providers have won the nod from China's State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM), and are now officially authorized to ply their trade in the world's most populous country (and internet market) – a new regulation requires that all surveying and mapping services obtain official sanction by the end of this year. According to the China Daily, all the mapping services on the list are domestically owned, even though foreign companies were among about 30 companies that have applied for a license.
"According to China's Surveying and Mapping Law, foreign firms are not allowed to provide surveying and mapping services. Their activities in China must be under joint ventures or in partnership with domestic firms," the SBSM said.
However, all is not lost for the foreign companies as the SSBM is still considering applications from those eligible to apply under Chinese law. A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google has already applied for a license for its Google Maps service. But Google China did not return the China Daily's request for a comment.
Unlike its search operations, which it shifted to Hong Kong in March, Google's mapping service continues to be operated from mainland China. Even Baidu has yet to get the nod for its own mapping service.
Acer is well on course to overtake Hewlett-Packard as the world's leading laptop vendor by the end of this year, according to Chairman J.T. Wang. He said that better-than-expected performance in some countries should see revenues jump 10-15 percent sequentially in the third quarter. He made the comments while addressing shareholders at a meeting.
However, Acer may have already pipped HP to the top spot in the netbook market. Gartner's research shows that the Taiwanese PC vendor finished the first quarter as the world's leading notebook seller ahead of HP, though the gap between the two was marginal – 9.49 million notebooks to HP's 9.47 million.
Wang said that the company has managed to grow even in the face of the ongoing debt crisis in Europe. More importantly, Acer hasn't resorted to price hikes to offset the recent wage increases in China. Moving forward, the world's number two PC vendor hopes to make a dent in the smartphone market aided by Google Android.
According to the latest list of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers, China is home to two of the top ten machines, including Nebulae, the second fastest supercomputer on the planet.
"China's ambitions to enter the supercomputing arena have become obvious," said the compilers of the list.
In terms of theoretical peak performance, Nebulae leads the pack with 2.98 petaflops, the highest ever on the Top 500 list. Nebulae hasn't actually achieved that level of performance, however, so far topping out at 1.271 PFlop/s. Jaguar, the world's fastest supercomputer, resides in Tennessee and holds the record with 1.75 PFlop/s, though its theoretical peak performance is 2.3 PFlop/s.
China is now home to 24 of the top 500 supercomputers in the world.
Location-based social network Foursquare has run into the Great Firewall of China. The censors in China blocked access to the popular geosocial networking service after users began using it to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
China is not only vying for the top economy crown but also breathing down America's neck in a panoply of key industries. Take for example the global PC market, where it is currently ranked second - just behind the US - with somewhere between 15 to 20 percent of all PC sales. Its rise to the top of the PC market is most likely to happen sometime this year.
So the soon-to-be world's biggest computer market must have the undivided attention of Microsoft then? Not really. Not until China respects intellectual property rights and clamps down on software piracy. Microsoft after all only owes 1 percent of its total revenue to the Chinese market. According to Steve Ballmer, the company sees greater promise in countries like India and Indonesia.
The Microsoft CEO told media persons in Singapore that intellectual property protection in these two countries is far better than China. He also shared his concern over the ongoing debt crisis in Europe. Ballmer fears a possible global fallout from Europe's debt crisis.
This should come as a suprise to absolutely no one, but underground merchants in China are cashing in on weak Wi-Fi encryption by selling network key cracking kits. What is a little surprising, however, is how brazen the sellers have become. Available both online and at China's electronics bazaars, the kits consist of a Wi-Fi USB adapter with a Linux OS, key-breaking software, and an easy-to-follow user manual. The whole shebang is being marketed as free Internet.
It doesn't take a whole of tech savvy to use one of these kits, nor do they require a hefty investment. Some merchants are selling Wi-Fi cracking kits for as little as US$24, and sellers offer free setup from an associate on the opposite end of the building.
Both WEP and WPA keys are vulnerable, the former by exploiting a long-known weakness in the protocol and the latter by way of a brute-force attack.
"Depending on many factors, WEP keys can be extracted in a matter of minutes," said one of the kit's developers who goes by the name Muts. "I believe the record is around 20 seconds."
Google’s face-off with Chinese authorities and subsequent exit from that country left local search provider Baidu with virtually no competition. In fact, Google’s exit couldn’t have come at a better time for China’s top online search provider, which was beginning to face some stiff resistance Google.
Baidu just posted its first quarter results and they seem to suggest that it is doing a good job of devouring around 40 percent of the market that had Google written all over it until not a long ago. Compared to the same period last year, its net income shot up by 165% to $70.4 million during the first quarter. Revenues also witnessed a year-over-year increase of 59.6 percent to reach $189.6 million.
While Apple has had to push back the iPad’s global launch, citing huge demand in the US, it is business as usual for Chinese bootleggers. In fact, they are wallowing in the iPad’s absence as this gives them more time to lure some potential iPad customers towards cheap knockoffs. iPad clones have just begun hitting the Chinese market.
A brace of journalists, working for the news agency Reuters, discovered one such clone in the Southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. Based on their account, the clone appears to be a corpulent version of the original. Also, unlike the original, the fake iPad runs Windows 7 and costs only 2,800 yuan ($410). A myriad of similar knockoffs can also be found on some of the most popular online marketplaces in China.
In a blog post this morning, Google made note of a startling fact regarding censorship. By The Big G's count, out of the 100 countries they offer services in, 25 are blocking at least some part of those services. Google calls the problem of net censorship a "growing problem" and references the Open Net initiative's list of countries that censor online content.
According to Google, the increase in censorship is due to the unprecedented number of people meeting to share ideas online. This means the traditional methods of controlling a few print and television sources no longer work. The example of YouTube is used - the video sharing site sees 24 hours of new content every minute. As a result governments simply clamp down on the internet, blocking large sections of the internet that may contain content they do not approve of.
By way of examples, Google singles out China and Vietnam for political censorship. But Google points out that it complies with democratically elected governments that have specific restrictions - like a ban on pro-Nazi material in Germany and France. But Google sums it's position up as such, " We are driven by a belief that more information means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual."
Do you take Google at its word, or is this just business?
Last week, when Google effectively stopped censoring its search results in China by redirecting all Chinese visitors to its uncensored Hong Kong site, it also set up a page to update users on the status of its services in China. The page was last updated yesterday to reflect the current status of its mobile services. Their status has changed from normal to “Partially Blocked.”
It marks the first time the status of any Google service has changed since Google started maintaining the page. While it may appear to be an open-and-shut case in most eyes, Google is not willing to jump the gun and blame the Chinese authorities. Google told the Los Angeles Times that it is too early for it to pin down the exact reason for the unavailability of its mobile services in China.
It admitted that the status of its services does fluctuate and outages are not uncommon. It could also be the handiwork of obsequious telecom carriers trying their best to appear on the same page as the government.