D-Link Launches McAfee-Secured AC2600 Router (DIR-2680) in Singapore

By 2020, Gartner estimates there will be 20 billion connected things, and their role and influence is set to dramatically increase over the next 10 years. They’ve also raised a new crop of security issues, as Internet of Things (IoT) devices are subject to attacks just like any other connected device like a PC or smartphone. The new D-Link AC2600 Wi-Fi Router Powered by McAfee helps secure all connected devices at the network level in a home, including non-display IoT devices, providing an additional layer of protection from potential hackers and for members of the home using devices and accessing online content.

D-Link Dir-2680 Security Router

As the number of connected devices in homes continues to grow, consumers are increasingly concerned about online security threats. D-Link teamed up with McAfee and Intel to address these concerns with a powerful, easy to manage, all-in-one solution.

The D-Link AC2600 Wi-Fi Security Router Powered by McAfee (DIR-2680) automatically increases security for devices on the home network and delivers on both companies’ vision to address the pressing need for online security as people’s lives become increasingly connected. The comprehensive solution includes D-Link’s high-performance dual-band 802.11ac router with MU-MIMO technology that enhances network capacity and efficiency for users, McAfee Secure Home Platform that automatically protects all devices connected to the network, and the Intel® Home Wi-Fi Chipset WAV500 Series to deliver robust Wi-Fi connectivity to numerous connected devices at the same time, running a range of high-bandwidth applications.

McAfee’s Global Threat Intelligence features adaptable machine learning that protects by preventing, detecting, and correcting malicious malware and attacks, which enables a safer internet browsing experience for consumers. Designed for families and smart home owners looking for the ultimate home networking without sacrificing privacy and security, the DIR-2680 keeps connected devices safer from unwanted intrusions and thefts. Additionally, comprehensive parental control features provide customized protection for children in the household. The DIR-2680 is easily set up with the D-Link Wi-Fi app and can be managed from anywhere with D-fend app. DIR-2680 comes with a FREE 2-year bundle of unlimited licences for McAfee LiveSafe, providing on-the-go protection when the users are away from home.

DIR-2680 Additional Features and Benefits:

  • Comprehensive Security Made Simple
  • Easy set up and instant protection for all devices with full control from anywhere
  • End-to-end protection designed to help prevent, detect and correct potential threats
  • HD video streaming and lightning-fast downloads with dual-band 802.11ac with MU-MIMO performance
  • Intel Home Wi-Fi Chipset supports for up to 128 simultaneously connected devices
  • Connected Home Protection
  • Real-time monitoring for a safer browsing experience and powerful security for IoT device protection
  • Comprehensive Parental Controls
  • Customized protection for every child, including personalized content filters and screen time controls
  • Cloud Based Machine Learning
  • McAfee’s Global Threat Intelligence provides an adaptable solution that blocks malware, and malicious websites
  • Serious Protection Needs Serious Power
  • The wireless traffic is fully offloaded to the Intel Home Wi-Fi Chipset, so that the Intel® AnyWAN™ SoC – the primary computing engine in the router – is freed up for software and security functions.

D-Link International has yet to announce the official price and the availability of the product for Singapore market. Based on other sources, the product could be selling from USD 250 (approx. SGD 338) onwards.

Don’t Wait for The OnePlus 5G, OnePlus 6T is The Phone

We all know that 5G is coming soon and I am sure every OnePlus fan is as excited as I am. OnePlus has already announced their next phone that is 5G-Ready and all the OnePlus fans can’t wait to own the phone. Wait a second, are we saying that 5G is going to happen soon? Personally, I don’t see the full roll-out of 5G infrastructure happening in 2019 (at the very least, not in Singapore). Even it does roll out this year, I foresee the price of the 5G service is going to be expensive. The switching cost from 4G to a better-latency and faster 5G may not be worthwhile. Then, what’s the point of waiting for OnePlus 5G?

Back of OnePlus 6T

Those who have read our article on the OnePlus 6 knows we have very good impression of the phone. OnePlus 6 has almost all the ticks in our checklists but not quite there yet. Now, the OnePlus 6T is even better than its predecessors.

Better Battery Life

OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T are run on the latest Android Pie version. (Note: The OnePlus 6 does not ship with the latest Android ver. 9 installed but OnePlus has been known for keeping up with the OS update much faster than other brands. The phone got updated shortly after the OnePlus 6T was launched). User interface and graphic performance are similar on both phones given that they are running on the same OS version and Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor.

The notable improvement is the battery life. OnePlus 6T is shipped with 3700 mAh battery capacity giving 10% more battery life than OnePlus 6. After a month of heavy usage, I have observed that the phone could last slightly more than a day. I have never once used a power bank to charge the OnePlus 6T while I am on the move.

Better OTG/USB Type C Experience

Given that the OnePlus 6T has no 3.5mm audio port, the OTG will automatically activated once a Type C device is inserted. This is another improvement from the OnePlus 6 where you need to manually activate the OTG each time you inserted.

OnePlus has removed the 3.5mm audio port.

When you insert the Type C port for the first time, the OnePlus 6T will automatically activated the “Earphone mode”, a popular feature among OnePlus fans. In this mode, you could activate a “Speak Caller ID” feature when connected with the headphones. This feature will read out to you the incoming call number and if the incoming call happens to be in your phonebook, it will read out the contact name.

Other customization such as “Auto Play” to resume music playback and “Smart Answer for Bluetooth” to connect to Bluetooth audio to answer incoming call are also found in the “Earphone mode”.

In-display Fingerprint Sensor

OnePlus 6T has shifted the finger print sensor from the back to the front and replace it with a in-screen one. To some of you out there, the technology may seem redundant but if you think deeper, this could give us a quick glimpse on how we could better secure the phone in future. Imagine the technology gets better in years to come, the fingerprint sensor may not be at fixed location and it could be anywhere on the screen or at the back of the phone. Instead of single fingerprint, the phone could be equipped with multiple fingerprints or a palm-print sensor just like the Judge Dredd’s “Lawgiver”. How cool is that?!

Currently, OnePlus 6T is one of the few Android phones in the market equipped with this feature. I can see that more phones maker will follow suit to add this technology as part of their product offerings. Sidetrack – It is rumored that Apple will not add in-display fingerprint sensors in their phones. So, that is something OnePlus 6T owners could brag about to their iPhone friends.  

Top Price vs Value

You have read many reviews about the many similarities of OnePlus 6T against OnePlus 6. From the hardware perspectives, I agree (at least most of them). Both the OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T use the same chip and camera sensors. But I am not agreeing to the fact that you should buy the cheaper OnePlus 6 over the OnePlus 6T.

Don’t get me wrong. Both OnePlus 6 and 6T offer top specifications in the market and they are selling at very reasonable price. A quick check across the key e commerce sites in Singapore – OnePlus 6 (8GB Ram/128GB ROM) is selling at SGD 699 and the OnePlus 6T (8GB RAM/128GB ROM) is SGD738. Note that the OnePlus 6T is selling at only about 5% more expensive than the OnePlus 6 in the Singapore market.

First, the battery life of OnePlus 6T is more than 10% of OnePlus 6’s. That itself justified the 5% premium over the OnePlus 6.

Second, the display of OnePlus 6T is made up of Gorilla Glass 6, an upgrade from the OnePlus 6’s Gorilla Glass 5. In terms of scratch resistance, both Glass 5 and Glass 6 are equivalent. The main difference is that Glass 6 is designed to withstand multiply drops from greater heights. In other words, the OnePlus 6T is supposedly tougher than OnePlus 6. That’s a plus point for clumsy phone users (like me).

Third, there are several software enhancements that may or may not relevant to phone users. Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning if you are considering buying the OnePlus 6 or the OnePlus 6T. For instance, OnePlus claims that they use new algorithm in the 6T to better optimize photo setting even though it is using the same camera sensors as the OnePlus 6’s.  

Conclusion

If you are one of those who are still holding to your old OnePlus 5T or older, you should consider upgrading to the OnePlus 6T. No doubt the OnePlus 6 is cheaper and gives similar performance. The small price premium justified the added features against the OnePlus 6 based on the latest price comparison.  

Singapore Fund Raiser Shares Business Tips

I was once invited to Singapore Polytechnic to address a business class and talk about Corporate Finance. It was a talk that was supposed to show or demonstrate how companies raise money through public listings. I did sense that the topic was going dry and it was really a bunch of students who already knew what I was talking about. As such, I stopped the talk midway and asked if the students would prefer a Q and A and not see the rest of my slides. To my surprise, they all raised their hands and agreed to my suggestion. And the number one question on everyone’s lips – “How do you find deals?” And “How do you close them?”

It was a question I was a little unprepared for because I had no slides to support this question.

Indeed, I was caught a little flat footed but as I summoned my confidence to speak and it came out quite naturally.

I said it all boiled down to one word – Luck. Before someone accuses me of copying Doug Leonie from Sequoia Partners in his talk to the Stanford Business School graduating class, I made my talk more than 5 years ago. While I may not be able to hold a candle to Doug on his deal closing and fund-raising, I could hold my head and say the world is big enough for opportunities to come and in all shapes and sizes. But in an old cliché – luck favors the prepared and the ready. Ronaldo always knew that when he should stick his leg out, where the ball will go to better positioned himself to strike a goal. Be at the right place at the right time.

Getting prepared means you had to know your facts, your domain knowledge or at least know where and how to get it. Being widely read and widely connected were also components of being ready. Being a genius helps but if you’re not a genius (I certainly wasn’t) then it helps to know who the geniuses are and where they usually hang out. Go and connect with them. Nurturing your circle and practicing top EQ techniques in that circle will certainly give you an edge.

Looking for deals is about fishing in the right ocean. If you are looking for a Great White, then you’d probably want to be somewhere near the Great Barrier Reef. If you are looking for small fish and plenty of them then the Straits of Malacca will do but look out for pirates. Having identified your fishing spot, all you need is to equip yourself with knowledge and tools to do your fishing. (You can’t catch tuna without a proper fishing rod, right?) Hang out in the right places and be ready.

I am hard pressed to name the deals I have struck due to privacy and confidentiality concerns, but I have closed my fair share of deals. Debt or equity. PE or VC. Project or Specifics. Demand and Supply. Derivative or Structures. It’s a rich gamut.

Luck is all about being ready and sticking out your foot at the right time. Be thankful for education especially one that teaches you to read well and speak well and ultimately relate well.

To conclude, you only need to take home one thing and that will make your day or your deal – “Right place, right time, right words and right people”

About The Article Contributor 

Mr. Chiang Kwok Shong has a life-time experience in banking, private equity, FMCG and fund management. A coach certified by Marshall Goldsmith SCC, Kwok Shong brings a new skill to his people-centred and humorous style of supporting CEOs and corporate leaders to perform at their best. Kwok Shong is now an Executive Director for CYC Company, a famous tailor in Singapore. He received his Bachelor of Commerce from The University of Alberta in 1984 and recently received his certification with the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching in 2014.

SINGAPORE NAMED AS HOT INVESTMENT DESTINATIONS; MORE CONSOLIDATION AMONG REITS

Singapore CBD

Singapore is ranked as second top real estate investment city in Asia Pacific right behind Melbourne according to the Emerging Trends in Real Estate Asia Pacific® 2019, a real estate forecast jointly published by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and PwC.

The cyclical rebound for Singapore is mainly driven by the revival of office rental market. This year, co-working or shared office space operators is the major contributor for the Singapore real estate sectors.

The revival of the Singapore office is observed in the number of deals for the past 12 months. One notable deal is the sales of OUE Downtown office components for SGD 908 million. However, during the survey done by ULI, one fund manager active in the market notes, “It is possible the market is overly bullish towards the office sector, as 2019 could be a challenging year for the Singapore economy and new supply is expected in 2020 and 2021”

The report also shows that the residential market in Singapore continues to be resilient, despite cooling measures in place for several years. Meanwhile, solid economic growth and high visitor numbers have supported rents and yields for prime retail space in 2018, following years of poor performance as Singapore landlords struggle to adapt to new models of retailing. Meanwhile, the logistics market remains plagued by oversupply. This has suppressed rents, although there are signs excess space is now being taken up, with rents are predicted to improve slightly in 2019.

The Singapore REIT market, on the other hand, has exhibited relatively weaker performance in 2018. In the first 9 months, S&P REITS lost 1.2% in local currency terms. Although annual returns were still positive at approx. 6%, it is relatively lower when benchmarked to the broader Singapore’s STI index which returned 10% in the same period.

Smaller REITs in Singapore have been trading at substantial discounts to net asset value (NAV). Market observer has started to foresee more consolidation amongst the smaller REITS which what investors could be looking for – fewer sponsors equal to stronger sponsors.

The Emerging Trends report, which is being released at a series of events across Asia over the next several weeks, provides an outlook on Asia Pacific real estate investment and development trends, real estate finance and capital markets, and trends by property sector and metropolitan area. It is based on the opinions of 350 real estate professionals, including investors, developers, property company representatives, lenders, brokers and consultants.

 


The top five markets for investment and development in 2019:

• Melbourne (first in investment, first in development) – Melbourne has just managed to best Sydney this year. It offers a constrained office supply pipeline, a good yield spread over the cost of debt and sovereign bonds, a deep, liquid, core market and good prospects for rental growth.

• Singapore (second in investment, eighth in development) – An improvement in Singapore’s office market has caused the city to take second spot in investment rankings, as it continues to rebound from cyclical lows.

• Sydney (Third in investment, third in development) – Sydney remains near the top of the rankings for the same reasons as Melbourne. The city is a favourite of global investors due to relatively high returns and as a safe-haven play. Competition for assets has helped sustain pricing, while low vacancies and growing demand for space suggest rents will continue to rise.

• Tokyo (fourth in investment, fourth in development) – Tokyo’s move to fourth this year is somewhat surprising after last year’s drop, but probably reflects what has always made it a favourite for institutional buyers: cheap finance, attractive leverage, a good spread over interest rates, and a large stock of investment-grade assets.

• Osaka (fifth in investment, sixth in development) – The lack of reasonably priced core assets in Tokyo continues to push investors into regional Japan, where local economies are now increasingly mature and stable. With supply tight in both residential and office sectors, the city is now probably the top market outside the capital.

Leading buy/hold/sell ratings for the various asset classes are as follows:
• Office — buy Ho Chi Minh City and Tokyo, sell Taipei and Auckland.
• Residential — buy Ho Chi Minh City and Bangalore, sell Kuala Lumpur and Auckland.
• Retail — buy Ho Chi Min City and Mumbai, sell Taipei and Kuala Lumpur.
• Industrial/distribution — buy Bangalore and Mumbai, sell Taipei and Kuala Lumpur.
• Hotels – buy Tokyo and Ho Chi Minh City, sell Taipei and Beijing.

The full report is available here.

Singapore ISP – SpaceRoam Partners 7-Eleven To Offer 59 Collection Points For Pocket Wi-Fi Rental Island Wide

Wednesday, 21 November 2018 – Internet service provider Spaceroam Pte Ltd (“Spaceroam”) and 7-Eleven, the leading convenience store in Singapore, will be partnering to make travel more convenient for all travellers residing in Singapore. With Pocket Wi-Fi devices becoming an essential to stay connected 24/7 anywhere and anytime when travelling, convenient travel starts when the Wi-Fi devices can be picked up and dropped off conveniently.

SpaceRoam Pocket Wi-Fi is packed in a water-proofed bag that contains the charger and instruction

 

 

This will be made possible by the end of the year when Spaceroam partners 7-Eleven to place Wi-Fi devices in 59 7-Eleven outlets. This partnership marks the widest distribution network and largest number of collection and return points for rented pocket Wi-Fi devices in Singapore.

 

Aside from the 7-Eleven partnership, Spaceroam has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with telecommunications operator M1 Limited today, the latest in a string of partnerships in Spaceroam’s bid to bring better Wi-Fi services to Singaporeans. This partnership will see M1 Limited becoming the preferred local data provider for all of Spaceroam’s Wi-Fi rental devices. This means that majority of the users of Spaceroam’s Wi-Fi devices or services in Singapore will be connected via the M1 local data network.

About Spaceroam Pte Ltd

Spaceroam Pte Ltd was established in 2010 to provide internet services and telecommunication support to local events and concerts. Since then, Spaceroam Pte Ltd has expanded its range of services to include providing corporate internet services and launching an international mobile Wi-Fi rental service.

 

Spaceroam has provided its IT services to over 20 events in Singapore, and has also worked with MNCs and Government Organizations and help install the infrastructure for Wi-Fi at factories and worker dormitories.

 

Previously known as Simply Unique Pte Ltd, Spaceroam’s Wi-Fi rental arm, Y5Buddy Singapore, started out with 15 Wi-Fi devices that served internet connectivity for seven Asian countries. To date, Spaceroam’s devices now provide travellers with Wi-Fi coverage at over 130 countries around the world. Today, Spaceroam’s Wi-Fi rental serves over 50,000 customers and over 80 companies, and the company seeks to expand and become the top global data and application company in Singapore.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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).

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.

Samsonite’s Study Found That Despite The Stresses of Business Travel, Most Singapore Travellers Still Enjoy It.

Singapore, 12 September 2018: Business travellers in Singapore have rated Tokyo and Bangkok as their top business and leisure travel destinations, in an exclusive study conducted by YouGov for premium luggage brand Samsonite.

 

The survey found that Hong Kong is Singapore’s third-favourite business destination, while London ranked third for leisure travel. Mumbai, Bangalore and Jakarta were the least popular, according to more than 500 respondents who participated in the Smoother Journeys Survey. London and Tokyo tied for the top spot among business travellers below 34, while Tokyo was the top choice for those between 35 and 44, and those over 45 preferred Bangkok.

 

No. Favourite Business

Destinations

Least Favourite Business

Destinations

Favourite Leisure Destination
1 Tokyo 16% Mumbai 19% Tokyo 20%
2 Bangkok 14% Bangalore 14% Bangkok 18%
3 Hong Kong 12% Jakarta 13% London 10%
4 London 8% Hong Kong 7% Hong Kong 8%
5 New York City /

Shanghai

8% Shanghai 6% Melbourne 7%

 

 

The Smoother Journeys study was undertaken to find out what drives Singapore business travellers, as well as some of the things they liked – and didn’t like. Overall, Samsonite found that one in five (22 percent) of Singaporeans enjoy overseas business travel a lot, 30 percent like it a little, and 37 percent are ambivalent.

 

“The Smoother Journeys survey revealed some surprising insights,” said Satish Peerubandi, General Manager – Samsonite Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines & IndoChina. “For starters, we were surprised to see how strongly Asian cities did. We were also happy to see that a majority enjoyed business travel, even as it has a reputation for being tough for those who travel often. Only 11% of respondents said they did not enjoy business travel, with the majority liking it for the opportunities it brings.”

 

The Advantages of Business Travel

 

The study found that many Singapore business travellers enjoy the opportunity to visit new places (94%), leave Singapore for a short while (91%), and work in new environments (88%).

 

While 60 percent said they believe they travel “just the right amount”, many still crave for their home comforts. Being apart from family and the fear of missing out on what is happening at home topped the reasons for people disliking business travel, at 57 percent and 41 percent respectively.

 

How Business Travellers Manage Stress

 

Business travellers identified traffic jams, flight delays and airport transfers as the most significant stress creators. When it comes to things they have control over, factoring in downtime and more effective packing and luggage are essential, they said. The study found that those who enjoy business travel are also those who are more likely to undertake activities that will help alleviate stress.

 

Many also allow for time to go to the gym or to shop, while close to half said they like to plan time for meals with colleagues or friends.

 

For a significant majority, efficient and effective packing was seen as a critical method to help ease stress, while many said that having a proper bag with easy access to laptops and toiletries when passing through airport security would improve their experience.

 

Other Key Findings

 

  • Younger women are more likely to travel then younger men (46% vs 26%).
  • About half (52%) of business travellers spend an average of 3 to 4 days on business trips.
  • Four in five admitted to working on the plane for some part of the flight, while 35% of business travellers put their time in the skies to productive use by working either 50% of the time or more.
  • Looking professional while travelling for work is essential for Singapore’s business travellers. Fifty-three percent of travellers said they wore business attire while flying either half of the time or more, of which 75% said this was because they would go straight from the airport to work meetings.
  • The desire for style also extended to luggage, with 90% insisting that having professional products reflected positively on their appearance as businesspeople.
  • Sixty-four percent of business travellers said that professional and well-designed luggage can help make their business trips smoother, and 68% are willing to invest in this.