Lazada Pledges to Cultivate Eight Million eCommerce Entrepreneurs and SMEs by 2030

“Our vision is to help small businesses globally.”

Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba

Lazada Group, an South-East Asia based e-commerce company that Alibaba acquired, has pledged to support eight million eCommerce entrepreneurs and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Southeast Asia to grow and thrive by 2030. The company also announced its commitment to create an inclusive and sustainable eCommerce ecosystem in the region and champion opportunities in technology and logistics infrastructure to benefit its ecosystem of sellers, consumers and local communities.


At the opening speech of a panel discussion hosted by Lazada on the state of eCommerce in Southeast Asia, Lucy Peng, Executive Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer, Lazada Group, said: “Having overcome the early challenges of building up the business and industry in a nascent landscape, we now want to lead our ecosystem through the era of robust digital transformation. Our focus is on creating a trusted platform connecting sellers to the Southeast Asian consumers. By enabling sellers with our technology and logistics capabilities, we want to help sellers flourish, to become sustainable businesses that will contribute to Southeast Asia economic growth in the long run.”

 

Building entrepreneurs into thriving businesses in the digital economy 

 

As the region’s leading online shopping and selling platform, Lazada is committed to establishing eCommerce as a prolific facet of the evolving digital economy. Healthy and flourishing SMEs are key components of a thriving eCommerce ecosystem – their existence helps unlock the full potential of Southeast Asian nations, allowing the region to digitize.

 

An area that came under spotlight during the panel discussion was SMEs’ eCommerce knowhow and access to local consumers. To help sellers reach more customers, Lazada has developed various initiatives, comprehensive tools and dedicated trainings that enable sellers of all sizes to attract, engage and convert more consumers into sales.

 

That being said, Lazada continues to aspire to do more. “New generation of sellers no longer view eCommerce as a good-to-have, but a necessity in order to drive success. And eCommerce players like Lazada can be strategic partners to sellers who are committed to their professional and business growth.

 

 

On cross-border trade, another common challenge faced by SMEs raised at the panel, Simon Baptist, Global Chief Economist and Managing Director, Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) in Asia, said, “Singapore has led the way in actively pursuing an agenda for open trade borders. However, there are still challenges for SMEs, especially in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, due to a lack of access to financial and support services, as well as a need to develop capacity in e-payments and eCommerce.”

 

Supporting digital consumer growth with improved infrastructure

 

Faced with limited fulfilment players, a small and fragmented transportation sector, as well as vastly different infrastructure landscapes, logistics remains a huge challenge for eCommerce players big and small across Southeast Asia.

 

“Our research showed that logistics is a challenge, particularly in archipelagos like Indonesia and the Philippines. Road networks, as well as the retail and distribution network, came up as higher-risk areas for eCommerce firms,” said Baptist.

 

On customer experience, data and technology are the two key factors that will dynamically evolve the experience for online shoppers, due to Southeast Asia’s heterogeneity.

 

eCommerce businesses that can leverage data to navigate specific local consumer tastes and direct consumers to take desired actions are well-poised to succeed.

 

 

Singtel Brings Razer Phone 2 To Singapore

Singapore, 30 October 2018 – Singtel today announced that it is the exclusive carrier partner of the Razer Phone 2 in Singapore. Singtel customers will be among the first in Asia to enjoy the gaming lifestyle brand’s new flagship phone when it is released on 3 November. Prices for the Razer Phone 2 start from S$98.

 

Ms Gan Siok Hoon, Vice President for Mobile Marketing and Sales at Singtel, said, “We are delighted to bring the new Razer Phone 2 exclusively to our customers. We observed that many of our Razer Phone customers use two times more data than the average customer, so we are offering them free six months of DATA X 4. Now, they will have the huge data allowance and super-fast connectivity critical for mobile gaming. We will continue to expand our suite of e-gaming products and services to provide the ultimate gaming experience at home and on the go.”

 

At Singtel’s exclusive Razer Phone 2 launch event this Saturday, customers will get a first look at the Razer Phone 2 and also get to experience it on Singtel’s superior network by taking part in Arena of Valor (AOV) and Contra mobile gaming competitions. The first 100 customers who purchase the phone will receive a limited edition #TEAMRAZER Gaming Pack.

 

Singapore-based Speedoc Wants To Disrupt House Call Services

A House Call is a visit to the patient’s home by a doctor and this practice used to be very popular in the early 20th century. However, betterment in transportation and more availability of medical services have led to a decline for the needs of such service in recent years. Ironically, this has not deterred a Singapore-based startup to bring this practice back.

 

Prided itself as a health-tech company, Speedoc aims to build a complete end-to-end system for doctors and patients, so that house call doctor services can be provided with ease and minimal burden to people in the community.

How it works

The Speedoc mobile app brings a house call doctor directly to the location of

A standard medical tool kit issued by Speedoc which GP will bring along during a house call.

your choice, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Doctors can be requested via the app, or by calling the patient support line. Speedoc offers a full suite of affiliated patient care services, including fast access to Farrer Park Hospital’s (FPH) Emergency Clinic and immediate consult with their specialists. Users can benefit from online, synced patient medical records for all visits, trustworthy home medical care when it is inconvenient to visit a GP clinic or hospital, and priority access to partner clinics.

 

During a patient call, patients are matched with a Speedoc doctor, an SMC registered medical practitioner, whose name and picture will appear on the app. Patients can contact the doctor through in-app messaging and calls, to communicate questions, concerns and relevant medical information. During a Speedoc house call, the doctor will diagnose a patient’s condition, and prescribe medication on the spot or provide a prescription to pick up at a pharmacy of choice.

 

Speedoc services are available island-wide in Singapore. Consultation fees are $150 from 8am-8pm, $200 from 8pm-12am, and $250 from 12am-8am. These prices exclude the cost of prescribed medication. There is also a $30 surcharge for house calls to locations like Jurong Island, Sentosa and Changi Airport.

 

Ever since its soft launch on1 Jan, 2018, the startup has seen 3,490 downloads, with 3,051 users, 671 consultations, and 524 unique patients, and sees an average of 8 patients per day.

The future of Speedoc

On September 11, Speedoc announced that it is now part of the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) regulatory sandbox – Licensing Experimentation and Adaptation Programme (LEAP). As one of the first mobile medicine providers to participate in the regulatory sandbox, Speedoc will work closely with MOH to review workflows, understand service models, and work through risk identification and mitigation strategies in healthcare, while promoting innovation in Singapore’s healthcare landscape.

 

Under the regulatory sandbox, Speedoc patients and caregivers will benefit from early access to new healthcare models consistent with the regulatory ethos of MOH. Speedoc will also be able to introduce new healthcare models or evolve its current models in a safe manner, with early visibility over the eventual regulatory environment. This will also help them to meet patient safety and welfare requirements, and transition more seamlessly into the eventual regulatory framework.

 

“In the future, we want to make Speedoc into a medical super-app; besides being a platform for booking house calls, we are working to implement in-app follow ups, and have plans to open up a chat and video-call module by early 2019,” says Dr Shravan Verma, MD & Founder of Speedoc. “For now, our main priority is to grow our customer base through hospital and insurance partnerships, and to prepare to scale up our business when more customers come on board, as we plan to grow by two or three times by the middle of next year.”

SG Smartphone Tech Updates – Highly-Secured Google Pixel 3, 4-camera Samsung Galaxy A9 & Blockchain-powered XPhone

Singaporean love gadgets. In this small island-state with no more than 6 million people, we have one mega electronic fair in every 2 months approximately. It is also not surprising to know that we have one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world. On average, one Singaporean is carrying 1.5 smartphones; no wonder many international brands choose to launch their smartphones in this tiny red dot.

 

There were so many smartphones launches recently in Singapore last week and the consumers have been spoiled for choices. If you have yet to find time to read out all the press releases, this article serves as a summary to make sure you are in the know.

 

Google Pixel 3/Pixel 3 XL

The Google Pixel 3 is probably the most high-profile launches recently. The Pixel UI has won praises in the market and a handful of tech reviewers has commented that the UI used in the Google Pixel line of phones are better than the “stock” android.

 

Besides improvements in the hardware from the earlier pixel phones, the biggest highlight of the Google Pixel 3 is the use of a new security chip called the Titan M. This is the same chip that Google used in their data centre which means that Google is bringing enterprise-level security technology to smartphones.

 

Google has also ditched 3.5mm port joining the likes of Apple to push for adopting new cable standard for our audio devices. For those who are still using the conventional headphones with the standard 3.5mm audio jack, the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL are shipped with USB-C 3.5mm audio jack adaptor. You could still use your old expensive headphones with Google Pixel 3.

 

iPhone users, listen up! Before you feel like converting, you may wish to look on the CNET video below for comparison.

Samsung Galaxy A9

The rise of budget phones in recent years has prompted Samsung to launch mid-range Galaxy A series. Consumers has certainly benefited from the intense competition among the smartphone brands. At a lower price-point, the Galaxy A9 is offering specifications that are very comparable to those so-called “flagship phones” are offering.

 

The Galaxy A9 has caught attention from the media of being the first smartphone in the world that has not 2, not 3 but 4 rear cameras! Every camera sensor has its own purpose – ability for better optical zoom (2x to be exact), able to take wider images, better depth of field and better image qualities under low-light conditions.

The rationale of having 4 camera sensors is to give flexibility to the users who could toggle across different camera sensors to suit the users’ requirement – for instance long shots or wide shots.

 

Blockchain-powered XPhone

Pundi X, a Singapore-based blockchain start-up, has announced their very own smartphone called XPhone that runs on their own Function X OS based off Android OS 9.0. Essentially, it is still an Android phone powered by their own Function X blockchain; that means the data transmitted via your phone i.e. apps, pictures, video, messages, calls or any types of file are being stored or distributed through a network of decentralized nodes.

 

Traditionally, phone users go through the centralized mobile carrier to make a call via a number that is unique to every phone user. With Pundi X’s proprietary FXTP, users could by-pass the conventional internet protocol (http) completely to transmit data to another device. To put it simply, X Phone could potentially work independently at places without mobile signal. You should look at their product demo here.

The idea of X Phone is revolutionary. However, Pundi X comments the viability of its blockchain infrastructure depends largely on the spread of nodes (in this case, number of XPhone users).

Singapore Company goGame Collaborates With The Walt Disney Company; Developed Mobile Game Disney Epic Quest

 

At GameStart Asia 2018, goGame and The Walt Disney Company (Stock Quote: NYSE.DIS) Southeast Asia revealed a first look at the gameplay of Disney Epic Quest, an original mobile title that brings Disney and Pixar characters into one action-packed digital experience for all ages. Developed and published by the Singapore-headquartered goGame, Disney Epic Quest is the first Disney mobile game to debut in Southeast Asia. The free-to-play game will be available on both Android and iOS devices and will launch across the region in 2019.

David Ng, Founder and CEO, goGame

David Ng, founder and CEO of goGame, said “As a mobile game company with a strong Asian presence, it’s a great honour to work on a Disney game that’s developed by, hosted in and published for our fastgrowing Southeast Asia region. And as fans of Disney and Pixar, we’re proud to be able to bring the magic of their characters from the movie screens to mobile screens and ultimately, to the heart of our players.”

 

Dan Dossa, VP & GM, Consumer Products Commercialisation The Walt Disney Company South Asia

“At the heart of everything we do at Disney is great storytelling, and we draw upon the most beloved stories and characters from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars to create high-quality interactive game experiences for fans of all ages,” said Dan Dossa, Vice President & General Manager, Consumer Products Commercialization, The Walt Disney Company South Asia. “Our collaboration with goGame underpins our commitment to our Southeast Asian fans to deliver games unique to local tastes and preferences”.

 

Disney Epic Quest is an action role-playing mobile game that brings together Disney and Pixar characters in a digital universe. Players will assemble a squad of three Disney and Pixar characters who embark on a journey to save their digital realm from a menacing virus that has infected the land.

 

The game will launch in 2019 in Southeast Asia, and will be available in English, Bahasa Indonesia, Simplified Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese.

 

Starting today, fans from around the world can pre-register their interest on the official website at www.playdisneyepicquest.com to be notified when Disney Epic Quest is available in their region. Those who are eager to try the demo for themselves may also visit the Disney booth at GameStart Asia 2018, Suntec Convention Centre from 13–14 October 2018.

Super X-Fi is cool! But What’s Next For Creative?

This is the follow-up post on the article I have written in March (If you have yet to read the article, you could access it from here). The Creative stock (stock quote: C71.SI) has sky-rocketed since then. In Oct 2018, the first Super X-Fi Amp launches exclusively in Singapore. The market response is overwhelming. 600 units sold within the first 20 minutes. This is a huge success for Creative considering this is only the sales number from the small Singapore market. Given the amount of press coverage on this product, I believe this product could also sell well in the region. Now, the next multi-billion-dollar question is,” How is Creative going to unlock the value of Super X-Fi technology?”

 

Super X-Fi AMP – A Good Head Start

3D immersive sound is not something new in the headphones market. In fact, a lot of brands has jumped into the bandwagon but after so many years, we didn’t see a clear market leader in this space. Creative manages to rejuvenate the market interest with their Super X-Fi technology. Tapping on the success of the Super X-Fi Amp, I believe the upcoming Super X-Fi Air wireless headphone which is targeting at the Apple users will be doing well too. In the short term, I am rather confident to see a minor positive impact on the Creative’s financial.

 

 

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I was not entirely correct when I said Super X-Fi Amp works only with Android Device. If your computer supports USB Type C, it should work as well! Once plugged in, your PC will recognize it as speakers automatically. For early adopters, you could get Super X-Fi certified #Aurvana SE Headphones worth SGD99 for free!! While stock lasts…. Access through my referral link, you will get $20 off from the purchase price! Now you only need to pay SGD199!!! My referral link http://sxfi.refr.cc/weewun Upon check out, you should see promocode FRIEND-RH6L72K applied. If not, you could apply manually. #instagadget #Singapore #instatech #sgtech #creativetechnology #promocode #audiophile #instamusic #instaaudio #headphones🎧 #headphones #sgx

A post shared by Neo Wee Wu 梁威武 (@weewu) on

That’s the juicy business story of Creative in the short term. On the flip side, the big boys are not going to sit there and do nothing. They are going to response as well. Selling a Super X-Fi branded headphones is the way to go? Personally, I don’t think so.

 

Audio is not a product. It is an experience!

Most consumers won’t have any idea of what a good sound is, and they are largely dependent on what has been marketed to them by the brands. That’s the reality of mass production. What sets Super X-Fi apart from others? It is giving control to user to do personalization for their headphones. At present, none in the market could personalize sound profile like Creative. The Super X-Fi App maps the structure of the user’s ears and head and the information is then transmitted to the Super X-Fi Chip that is embedded in the product (Headphone or Amp). In another words, the product is personalized to you and to you only. That’s the kind of experience other brands cannot offer but on the flip side, how does Creative going to stay ahead in the market before other brands do the same?

Mapping on Super X-Fi App

Focus A Specific Group of Users and Build a Community

Super X-Fi has aroused the market and the media coverage has brought Creative stock back into the radar of the investors. It is a good start but here comes the real challenge for Creative. Once the product is out, it is as good as opening door to your competitors to see what’s inside your house. This is unavoidable and now, the best thing Creative could do is to place focus on specific group of customers – the early adopters.

 

The early adopters are usually the one who are technically inclined and to some extent, they are what the market called “audiophile”. These are also advance users who demanded the most and because of that very reason, they are also very willing to provide feedbacks on how the product could be further improved. Engaging these users and keeping them interested in the community will help to build a strong brand attachment towards Super X-Fi. These are also influencers that could help to sell the products. It may not come as the surprise that the most powerful salesperson comes from this community.

 

I am pretty sure Creative has thought of this before. The launch of Super X-Fi Amp is well-planned with meeting sessions to educate the consumers who have just bought the product. That level of engagement should continue.

 

Super X-Fi App is More Than Just An App

The core of Super X-Fi lies on the data and that’s the only barrier Creative has against their competitors. The strategy that Creative has adopted is to make the Super X-Fi App available to all; that helps Creative gather a wider spectrum of database which could further enhance Super X-Fi experience in the future update. Unfortunately, I have yet to see any benefits of keeping the app installed in my phone after I have set up my Super X-Fi Amp.

 

It is a pity. I believe the Super X-Fi App could do much more than just setting up my device. First, it could be a way for community to discuss about their experience with the products. Second, the app could equip with advance features that targets specifically at audiophile. Back to the earlier part of the article, I have mentioned that those early adopters are probably audiophile. They would love to explore more about the product and Super X-Fi App could be the channel for them to do so. For instance, Super X-Fi app could also be a tool to fine-tune their sound profile after the mapping process. It may sound counter-intuitive but giving the control back to user may not be necessary a bad thing. These data could be valuable and form an important customers’ insights that could further be used in future product development.

 

Build a Brand Around Super X-Fi

During my interview with Nikkei Asian Review, I said, “Creative as a brand is not selling very well. It is seen as value for money rather than a name for high tech equipment”. Although the Super X-Fi Amp is selling well, my view on Creative’s branding strategy remains unchanged since then. I believe it is important to run SXFI Pte Ltd like a startup and dissociate it from any Creative’s branding strategies.

 

Things look positive for Super X-Fi. There is no need to tag along Creative’s brand and worse, it might backfire Super X-Fi’s branding strategies in the future.

 

Making Frienemy is the Way to Go

The goal is to make Super X-Fi a standard in the headphone market. In general, consumers switch brands because they just love to have choices. Keeping Super X-Fi proprietary to only Creative’s products won’t stop consumers from switching; instead, forming partnership with other headphone makers to bring Super X-Fi’s experience to the mass makes make more commercial sense for Creative.

 

The idea is to establish new standard in the audio product market. Once that is established, Creative can spread its tentacles to even wider spectrum of industries be it music, movie or gaming.

 

Key Takeaway – Users’ Experience and Data

Data is the only way for Creative to fend off competition in the headphone market. Imagine a use case of an XXX brand headphone that is Super X-Fi certified and it must be activated by Super X-Fi app on the phone.

 

Community-based marketing builds brand value through interaction with the users. This interaction provides data of what customer wants. Engage, Entice & Empower users in the community is the only long-term branding strategies for Super X-Fi.

 

 

 

OPPO Singapore Launches R17 Series

Teardrop Front Camera of OPPO R17 Series

OPPO Singapore announced the launch of two new R series products – OPPO R17 and R17 Pro in Singapore. Singapore is the first market globally to launch the R17 series following the Shanghai launch earlier this year.

 

The R17 series adopts Corning® Gorilla® Glass 6 for the first time, with a 91.5% screen-to-body ratio and Hidden Fingerprint Unlock for the R17 Pro. The Corning® Gorilla® Glass 6 is able to withstand a drop from a one-meter height to a rough surface for an average 15 times, doubled that of the Gorilla Glass 5 performance.

Although OPPO R17 Pro Sports 12MP f/1.5-f/2.4) +20MP (f/2.6) + TOF 3D Camera, no finger print sensor at the back of the phone

The R17 Pro also carries SuperVOOC flash charging technology, allowing users to enjoy the safest and most efficient charging technology in the industry. The R17 Pro also support NFC wireless payment, making the transition to mobile payments easy and convenient.

 

The R17 is equipped with a 6GB DDR4 RAM, with octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 mobile platform. It can perform multiple tasks seamlessly such as HD video playing or online mobile games. With 128GB storage space, users have ample space to store all their files.

 

The TOF Camera of OPPO R17 Pro is capable of capturing face image in 3D

The R17 comes with a 25MP front camera and a Sony IMX576 sensor with f/2.0 aperture equipped with real-time HDR support. The R17 series is able to provide up to 8 million different beautification schemes to intelligently match different users across the globe. Additionally, the customised beauty mode can now identify up to four people in the frame and enables users to adjust the facial features and preview the effects in real time. The rear cameras of the R17 series can intelligently recognise 23 photography modes and as many as 864 scenario combinations to ensure every shot taken is the best shot possible.

 

 

The R17 Pro is equipped with a variable smart aperture of f1.5/f2.4 which can automatically adjust to the lighting conditions making images sharper and clearer in both bright and low light situations. The R17 Pro has OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation), which can stabilise images and guarantee a longer exposure time to brighten night-time photography, especially with a 7P lens module. The combination of these two features further heightens precision in night-time photography.

 

Furthermore, with regards to sensors, the R17 Pro uses a Sony IMX362 as its main camera, which has 12 MP with dual-pixel for quick and accurate focusing, and 1.4micron pixels size and 1/2.55 sensor size, for brighter night shots and lower noise level. Overall, the whole hardware system of the OPPO R17 Pro is designed for night photography.

 

The R17 Pro also features TOF 3D camera, upgrading the camera from 2D to 3D and featuring users’ functions like 3D photos, somatosensory games, AR ruler and more.

The OPPO R17 6GB+128GB will be available in Singapore on 6th October at $699.

The R17 Pro 8GB+128GB with SuperVOOC is priced at $999. Pre-order will begin on 3rd November 2018 and it will be available from 10th November 2018.

PwC Marks 21 Years of Uninterrupted Revenue Growth; Hits More Than USD $40B For the First Time

Singapore, 2 October 2018–  For the year ending 30 June 2018, PwC firms around the world earned total gross revenues of US$41.3 billion. Topping US$40 billion for the first time – and marking 21 years of uninterrupted revenue growth. In local currency revenues grew by 7% and in US dollars by 10%.

Sustainable Growth

For the 12 months ending 30 June 2018, PwC’s revenues were US$41.3 billion – up 7% – while investing and repositioning our portfolio – marking 21 years of growth. Revenues were up across all PwC’s operations, boosted by continued significant investments in quality, new technologies, services and talent.

In the Americas, revenues grew by 4% with a particularly strong performance from operations in the United States. Growth in Western Europe was stronger than the previous year, up by over 6% in FY18, and remained very buoyant in Central and Eastern Europe where revenues were up 10%. Revenue growth from the Middle East and Africa was impressive at 12%.

Across Australasia and the Pacific, revenue growth was 7% while PwC’s strongest growth was in Asia where revenues were up 15%.

 

Assurance: PwC’s Assurance operations have continued to grow; up 4% to US$17.1 billion which is very impressive given the intensely competitive nature of the assurance market around the world.

Our audit business has grown in all our major markets including those impacted by mandatory audit firm rotation. The market has been attracted to our market-leading audit technology.

The increasing complexity of business, the emergence of new technologies, the regulatory environment and increasing stakeholder interest have driven demand for our broader assurance services, particularly in areas such as cyber security and privacy, advanced data analytics, as well as enterprise systems solutions. Companies are seeking broader digital solutions and insights to address governance, risk and compliance.

With 107,000 people in our practice, PwC is the largest audit and accounting network in the world.

Advisory: PwC’s Advisory business grew 10% to US$13.8 billion in FY18; a very strong result on the back of high growth in FY17. We saw particularly strong growth across our Deals businesses and our Strategy, Management and Technology consulting practices which demonstrates our success in providing value to clients across strategy-through-execution.

Building on our traditional strengths across business and technology, digital services in Advisory were accelerated in the past year with a focus on creating an engaging customer experience to drive innovative solutions and outcomes. We’re embedding this new Business, eXperience & Technology (BXT) methodology across our Advisory operations to help clients solve the needs of tomorrow’s customers. And the market is paying attention. Advertising Age now ranks PwC Digital Services as one of the largest digital networks in the world and the analyst community that reviews professional services has awarded 40 new ‘Leader’ ratings to PwC Advisory in the past year alone.

While PwC works across all sectors, we experienced particularly strong demand for our Advisory services in financial services, consumer markets, private equity, technology, media and telecoms.

Tax & Legal: PwC’s Tax & Legal revenues grew by 8% to US$10.4billion, driven by the scale and complexity of change in many domestic and international tax systems, including the impact of US tax reform.

This change and complexity has driven demand across the whole range of our services from domestic compliance advice to international tax and transfer pricing. We have experienced particularly strong demand for indirect tax advice such as value added tax and customs, underpinned by our new suite of cutting edge technologies in this area. In addition, our deals tax business experienced very strong growth, driven by our market leading position for M&A advice around the world.

Revenues from our global Legal Services business continue to grow as our reach and capabilities in this area expand. We now have over 3,500lawyers serving clients in over 90 countries. In the last few weeks we have also announced an alliance with leading immigration lawyers, which will augment the breadth and depth of our capabilities.

Demand for our services on HR transformation and labour mobility also grew strongly across the world with over 10,000 people now working in our People and Organisation network.

With over 50,000 professionals – who are enabled with the latest technologies – PwC has the largest tax and legal network in the world, focused on advising our clients in line with our Global Tax Code of Conduct and contributing to the dialogues about much needed change to tax systems locally and globally.

 

Source: https://press.pwc.com/News-releases/pwc-revenues-rise-to-record-us-41.3-billion/s/830ebd88-ab4a-49bc-aa93-ae3c60a358cc

 

Are We Seeing X-Mini’s Turnaround?

Poor financial management & failure to adapt to market dynamics are by-far the most serious mistakes that we learn to avoid in Business 101. However, we still heard established companies making these mistakes. Few years back, X-Mini committed all these mistakes.

 

Now, they are making a comeback with their latest range of products. In September 2018, XMI, the company that shocked the world in 2007 with their ionic capsule speakers X-Mini, made a global debut of their first earbuds series. This is their latest product development after XMI’s parent company Insonotech took over listing status of Technics Oil & Gas (stock quote: 5CQ.SI) . The latest round of SGD 5m funding also sees the reshuffling of the key management in XMI – Mr Hoong He Hin takes over from co-founder and former CEO, Ryan Lee, who now serves as the brand’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO).  Mr. Keith Wong is appointed as the new Chief Operations Officer. The share (5CQ.SI) is still suspended pending for the Exchange’s approval at the point of writing.

 

Formerly, the Group CEO of Onwards Media Group Pte. Ltd., Mr. Hoong brings with him 16 years of business development experience in content distribution signaling a change in X-mini’s business direction away from a pure audio speaker maker to an audio specialist in consumer space.

 

“X-mini became a success story for Singapore consumer technology and innovation when it launched its groundbreaking capsule speaker in 2007,” says Mr. Hoong He Hin. “We look forward to taking X-mini to new heights by expanding into new product categories, as well as providing more digital content to our customers in the future. We also plan to double total staff strength from 20 to 40 to build our engineering, product management and sales and marketing teams, in order to meet market demand for new product offerings.”

 

Change For Better

Few years ago, XMI was struggling financially and mostly, it was the management’s fault. In the interview with Straits Times in 2017, one of their co-founders Mr. Ryan Lee admitted that they have overspent and didn’t save enough during the good days. In 2010, they started their own factory in China and revenues has been good averaging SGD 30M a year from 2011 to 2014. However, they got arrogant – overpaying their executives, over-expansion of offices and manufacturing facilities and overproduction. These are some of the oversight from the management.

 

No doubt, Mr. Ryan Lee is a visionary leader but afterall, he is a tech guy who might be more suitable in developing new products. Placing Mr. Ryan as the CTO is the right move, at least in my opinion. His role as CTO will see him continue the core DNA of how the brand first made their name – innovation – across X-mini’s range of products. The brand’s founder says, “We are excited about exploring new technologies for X-mini: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) provide a treasure trove opportunities for the brand, as we continue to innovate by leveraging on our expertise in audio engineering and delivering great sound to consumers moving forward.”

 

Diversity is Good but Lacks Focus

XMI is taking steps to rebuild the business and expand its product range, with new staff and management to drive the business forward. Since the fund injection in 2017, the company has turned a corner in terms of getting a whole new product range on the market and made significant inroads in re-establishing a market presence in this region.

 

This time, XMI launches 8 different earbuds; each of them selling at different price positioning themselves as a brand-for-all. You could get a good-quality, entry-level earphones slightly less than USD 15 (I am referring to the newly launched X-Mini Nova). The better model, the X-Mini Xtlas which supports Hi Res audio, is selling not more than USD 100. Marketers who are reading this part may have noticed this – the price difference between the high and the low-quality is a mere USD 85. In terms of pricing strategies, X-Mini is trying to sell different models to different market segments within this narrow price band of USD 85 and that could “confuse” the market value of the brand. Think of this scenario – the 15-dollar earbuds may sell well in developing economies, but the market will label “X-Mini” as a cheap brand and when that happens, how is the market going to response when XMI is also selling high-quality X-Mini earbuds but comparatively cheaper than similar products of different brands?  On top of that, how about the profit margin when you are selling below market price?

 

Market has changed even in our neighboring countries. The rise of middle-class presents an opportunity as they are demanding more and have the capacity to spend. Streamlining your product ranges and consolidating your resources to create one or two killer products to capture this market segment may be a better bet than trying to capture all. I have my doubts on the feasibility of their current strategies.

 

Being a tech writer, I am lucky enough to get first-hand information of the latest gadget in town. I know how to sniff out good product. Standing as a consumer’s point of view, X-Mini sells good products at attractive price-point. Unfortunately, most consumers don’t have the level of knowledge and usually make buying decision based on what they see, hear and feel about the brand. To put it in another words, X-Mini as a brand has yet to stand out against competition from the big boys. From a marketing prospective, I can’t identify the positioning of X-Mini.

 

Looking At The Bright Side

On the positive note, there are people in the market still believe in X-Mini. In

X-Mini Debuts Their First Earphones Series

2015, Polaris Ltd (Stock Quote: SGX:5BI) is one of the early investors who extended their help to XMI by investing 30% of equity interest through an unsecured loan of USD 1.5M. During the same period, XMI’s founders also sought help from 3Fs (the common term used in the business world to describe the kind of investors of a startup – 3Fs namely Friends, Family & Fools). In 2016, they managed to raise USD 8M. In the same year, they parted way with Polaris.  This year, they received a further SGD 5M.

 

If the funding round continues, XMI should be able to overcome their financial woes and even further entrench their business footholds in the region. Judging from their corporate action with the SGX-listed Technics Oil & Gas, I believe potential investors in Singapore or perhaps South East Asia will be interested in the company. I am expecting more fund-raising activities from XMI which I think it is by far, the most important factor to determine whether the company could be turned around.

Singtel launches iPhone Xs and Apple Watch Series 4

Singapore, 21 September 2018 – Singtel this morning launched the iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max and Apple Watch Series 4 at its Singtel Comcentre Shop.

A long queue of Singtel customers formed around the Singtel flagship store hours before the shop opened. First in line was Mr K. A. Ng, 37, who had queued since 5.30am to get his hands on the new iPhone before heading off to work.

 

 

“Singtel has provided top notch service to me over the years and the booking process for the iPhone this time round has been really smooth,” said Mr Ng, who has been a Singtel customer for more than 20 years. “I’m excited to be the first to purchase the new iPhone Xs Max and I love its gorgeous new Gold colour and advanced camera capabilities.”

 

Singtel is offering customers who buy the iPhones an exclusive Apple bundle that includes a new DataX4 add-on, MobileSwop Unlimited service and Apple Music, at a promotional price of S$26.90 per month, a 32 percent discount from the usual price of S$39.78. Customers who subscribe to this bundle will also enjoy S$100 off their new iPhone.

 

Singtel is the only provider in Singapore that enables cellular connectivity on the new Apple Watch. Customers can activate their cellular connectivity with a free 6-month subscription of Singtel’s NumberShare service (usual price S$6.90/mth).

 


Although Singtel is offering cellular services to the new Apple Watch 4, nothing has been confirmed with Apple to roll up cellular services through the new iPhone Xs’ embedded eSim. Singtel spokesperson’s reply, “We are getting more information from Apple to review the offering of digital eSim on iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max and iPhone Xr.”