Xiaomi world’s most valuable tech startup
Move aside, Uber. The world’s most valuable tech startup entering 2015 is perhaps a surprising one: Xiaomi. Over the Christmas period, the Chinese smartphone maker completed a funding round of $1.1 billion to earn a valuation of $45 billion, dwarfing Uber’s $40 billion. Perhaps most impressive is that it was founded just four years ago.
In 2014, Xiaomi overtook smartphone mammoth Samsung in sales in China. With a strategy of producing cheap smartphones with small margins, the Beijing-based company is targeting 60 million phones sold this year, up from less than 20 million in 2013, according to the BBC.
Investors of the latest funding round include All-Stars Investment, DST Global, Hopu Investment Management, Yunfeng Capital, and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, co-founder and President Bin Lin said in a Facebook post.
“This is an affirmation of Xiaomi’s stellar results in four years, and heralds a new phase for the company,” Bin said.
Now one of the world’s biggest smartphone makers, behind only Samsung and Apple in sales, Xiaomi is set to explode onto the world stage. With a new flagship product expected in January 2015, there is much excitement surrounding the new smartphone giant.
The Interview grosses $15 million from online release
After pulling the plug on a full theatrical release for it’s controversial film The Interview following threats from a hacker group known as Guardians of Peace, Sony Pictures met with cries of disdain from those extolling America’s right to free speech and expression. The public outrage, including a message from President Obama, inspired a change of heart in the company’s management and by Christmas day, the movie went live online and in select cinemas across the U.S.
Now, The Interview has become Sony’s most downloaded title of all time. It made $15 million from its online release and $2.8 million from screenings in independent cinemas. As of December 27, the film had been downloaded more than 2 million times, according to the BBC. That grossed back about a third of the company’s $44 million budget.
This entire saga could spell new trends for the movie industry going forward into 2015. Live screenings in theatres and cinemas will still play a big role for movie producers, but perhaps The Interview’s success online could usher in a new era for the way movie enthusiasts get their big screen fill.
Microsoft’s new browser
The excitement surrounding Windows 10 is growing as the launch date nears. The intrigue could build further as reports suggest Microsoft is working on a completely new web browser as well.
The new browser is slated to look and function similarly to Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome and has the codename Spartan.
According to the BBC, Microsoft could be planning to showcase Spartan as early as January 21, during a Windows 10 presentation led by CEO Satya Nadella.
Data provided by StatCounter has shown that as of November 2014, Internet Explorer was the browser of choice for just under 20% of the world’s internet users, dwarfed by a market share of 52% for Google Chrome. Spartan could be an answer to Internet Explorer’s fall in popularity, and Windows 10 enthusiasts will be waiting with baited breath to see the new browser in action.