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ByteDance said to take VR hardware maker Pico private

Aug 27, 2021
Tiktok owner ByteDance mulls an acquisition of  Pico, a Chinese maker of virtual reality hardware, Bloomberg reported Thursday citing people familiar with the matter. Pico designs and sells VR products to clients mainly in Asia, Europe and US. The startup is also China’s largest VR gear maker in terms of market share in 2020, according to IDC. The investment deal is valued at RMB 5 billion ($771 million), various Chinese media reported. ByteDance’s spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to request for comments when contacted by TechNode. If true, ByteDance will follow other global tech titans including Facebook, Apple and Huawei to make a foray into the emerging sector. [Bloomberg]

China removes 67 apps from app store for privacy violations

Aug 27, 2021
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on Wednesday ordered app stores to remove 67 apps, including podcast platform Qingting FM, for infringing users’ rights. The regulator said in a statement that these apps failed to fix issues previously raised, such as asking too many device permissions and sending excessive pop-up notifications. The action is part of the state’s regular review of non-compliant practices in cyberspace, which has affected hundreds of mobile apps. [MIIT press release]

Baidu’s AI assistant raises B round at $5.1 billion valuation

Aug 25, 2021
Baidu’s AI-enabled consumer hardware arm Xiaodu Technology has secured an undisclosed amount in a B round, at a valuation of $5.1 billion. An Alexa counterpart, Xiaodu’s AI voice assistant has been applied in a variety of smart speakers, smartphones, smartwatches, cars, and robots developed by Baidu and its partners. Incomes from services including membership to advertising surpassed 10% of Xiaodu revenues in the most recent quarter, supplementing revenue from hardware, according to Herman Yu, chief strategy officer and chief financial officer of Baidu. [Baidu press release]

Huawei suppliers win US licenses to sell company auto chips

Aug 25, 2021
US authorities have granted multiple US semiconductor makers licenses to supply chips to Huawei for car components such as video screens and sensors, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The approvals come as the Chinese telecommunication giant is making a foray into the growing sector of intelligent and connected vehicles. On Tuesday, the company and its auto partner Chang’an confirmed plans to release their first co-built electric vehicle model under a new brand by year-end. [Reuters]

UnionPay app recognizes WeChat QR code in latest interoperability push

Aug 25, 2021
UnionPay app users are now able to scan WeChat QR codes to make payments. WeChat does not currently make payments to UnionPay QR codes, instead suggesting the user download another app in a TechNode test Wednesday. Different payments providers have previously required customers to scan different codes. This integration is the latest step toward interoperability for Chinese mobile payments, which fintech regulators have encouraged in recent years. [Beijing News, in Chinese]
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