Xiaomi opens online U.S. store
After completing a $1.1 billion round of funding last Christmas, Xiaomi became the world’s most valuable technology startup. It’s $40 billion valuation eclipses even that of Uber. Now, the Chinese smartphone maker is looking to expand its dominance in China to the global stage, launching an online store in the U.S.
The four-year old company announced its plans for its Mi.com online store in the U.S. at a press event in San Francisco on February 12th. The move is an attempt to strengthen the Xiaomi brand in markets other than China, a feat the growing smartphone maker has struggled with.
The hype surrounding the launch is tempered, as the online store will not feature Xiaomi’s flagship products like the Mi 4 and Mi Note phablet. Instead, the store will sell lesser known products like headsets and Mi fitness bands.
The company attributed its limited product range in the U.S. to problems of hardware certification and other logistical challenges, while Xiaomi’s VP of International made it clear that a phone launch in the U.S. is not on the near horizon.
Obama calls for companies to share data in cybersecurity fight
U.S. President Barack Obama and Apple’s CEO Tim Cook were among the speakers presenting at a cybersecurity summit at Stanford University on Friday. The U.S. government is looking to coordinate with the tech industry’s top players to strengthen defensive measures against an increasingly vulnerable cyber world.
“Just as we’re all connected like never before, we have to work together like never before, both to seize opportunities but also meet the challenges of this information age,” President Obama said during his speech at the conference. “Government cannot do this alone. But the fact is that the private sector can’t do it alone either because it’s government that often has the latest information on new threats.”
Digital security firm Gemalto released a report stating that 1 billion data records were stolen in 2014. That represents a 78% increase in the approximate 575 million records compromised in 2013, the Dutch company said.
Some of the most recent breaches include the hack on U.S. health insurance firm Anthem that saw 80 million social security numbers stolen and the large-scale invasion of Sony Pictures that compromised its release of the movie “The Interview” and saw its employees receive violent threat messages.
In light of this recent cyber vulnerability, Obama’s focus on cybersecurity is timely, and he was joined at the event by other top U.S. security officials.
However, the U.S. government and the tech giants could lock heads over privacy concerns about how much personal user information tech companies must release to federal officials. Still, the discourse is necessary to stem the flow of cyberattacks that has compromised some of the world’s biggest companies.
Other speakers at the event included Google vice-president Eric Grosse, Facebook chief information security officer Joe Sullivan, and Yahoo chief information security officer Alex Stamos.
Samsung’s Voice Recognition issue
Samsung TVs are listening to consumers’ conversation. The Korean firm issued a warning on its website to customers using its Voice Recognition technology on its line of Samsung Smart TVs.
“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition,” the company writes.
The issue prompted an activist from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to circulate Samsung’s policy statement around Twitter and likened the listening TV set to those in the dystopian world depicted in George Orwell’s novel 1984.
Since the policy statement has received more hype, Samsung has clarified that users have full control over the voice recognition function and that the third party entity is Nuance, a firm that translates speech to text, the company told the BBC.
In 1984, the fantasy world created by Orwell featured a higher power that controlled the freedom and actions of every living person, effectively eliminating privacy altogether. So it can’t spell good news for the South Korean tech giant that its products have any connection with the classic novel in a climate of growing privacy concerns.
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