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Baidu Enters the Global Race for Driverless Car Domination

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Wang Jing bought his first car, a Dodge Shadow, with $3,000 he scratched together working three part-time jobs in the U.S. as a postgraduate student in Florida. These days, the senior vice president in charge of Baidu Inc.’s autonomous driving efforts is far better paid. He’s also a man on a mission: To push China to the forefront of the coming driverless-car era.

Baidu joins a crowded field. Google Inc., which started developing autonomous cars in 2009, has tested self-driving vehicles for more than 2 million miles and is considering making its self-driving car unit a stand-alone business under the Alphabet Inc. corporate umbrella later this year. Tesla Motors Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has said his customers will be able to summon an electric car to drive autonomously from Los Angeles to New York within two years. General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. are also in hot pursuit of this emerging market.

Undeterred, Wang, 51, sees a level playing field in the coming era of intelligent, autonomous cars–and one that China is capable of dominating.

“Chinese carmakers started making cars 100 years after others and a lot of the core technology aren’t in Chinese hands, such as engines” said Wang. “With electric cars, with intelligent cars, the core technology shifts from the engine and gearbox to artificial intelligence and that’s an area where China is very close to the U.S., giving China the chance to catch up and seize leadership.”

Robotic Brain

Robin Li, Baidu’s co-founder and chief executive officer, has invested heavily into a subfield of artificial intelligence known as deep learning, which aims to improve search results and computing tasks by training computers to work more like the human brain. The company hired Andrew Ng, a renowned computer scientist and expert in robotics and machine learning as Baidu’s chief scientist in May 2014.

Wang thinks the company can leverage its expertise in artificial intelligence, data mapping and Internet connectivity to excel in autonomous driving technology. Getting China into that game is a priority for Chinese President Xi Jinping, who sees digital technology as an opportunity for Chinese manufactures to become more innovative. At a global Internet forum last month, Xi made the point of visiting Baidu’s stand, where he listened to Baidu CEO Li discuss autonomous car development.

It may take time for Chinese companies to scale up in this business, according to Cao He, an analyst with Minzu Securities in Beijing. “There is a long way ahead for Baidu and other companies trying to mass produce and sell autonomous driving cars,” said Cao. “Given the wide diversity of road conditions from one place to another, it is unlikely for any company to come up with a sizable industry operation within five years.”

That said, there could be a lot of money at state. Baidu estimates that the Chinese market for car sales, buses, taxis and related transportation services is potentially worth more than $1.5 trillion a year in revenue. Getting a sliver of that could be a huge new revenue source for China’s biggest search engine company.

Bloomberg

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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E-commerce Black Friday Sales Estimated to Surge by 40% to 10.2 Billion

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The 2020 holiday shopping season will be unique, as the pandemic shifted consumer behavior from retail stores to online shopping. In response, many retailers moved their services online to not miss out on this year’s profits. Atlas VPN team decided to look into how e-commerce sales are set to perform in the upcoming long weekend.

Researchers predict that the US e-commerce revenue will exceed last year’s earnings by 49.5% on Thanksgiving day, totaling $6.18 billion in revenue. Black Friday is calculated to reach $10.2 billion in sales, exceeding last years numbers by 39.4%

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her tips on how to stay safe when shopping online during the holiday season:

“Watch out for too-good-to-be-true deals from unknown sellers, as cybercriminals will also expect to turn a profit during the holiday season, even though they are not selling anything, except maybe a bag full of disappointment.”

 Finally, analysis shows that on the last day of the long and full of special offers Thanksgiving weekend, consumers will go all out to bring record sales for e-commerce businesses, adding up to $12.89 billion.

To look at these five days from a wider perspective, e-commerce companies can expect to earn around 39.72% more than they did last year.

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Alibaba Merchants Sell $40B in First Half Hour of Singles Day 2020, More than 2019 Event Full Sales

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Singles Day 2020 was a roaring success, cementing its position as the world’s biggest shopping holiday. Sales across Alibaba’s platforms during the event totaled $74.1 billion, up from $38 billion in 2019.

According to the research data analyzed and published by Stock Apps, within the first 30 minutes of the event, the gross merchandise volume (GMV) surpassed 2019’s full-event sales, reaching $40.87 billion.

Moreover, instead of live events, Alibaba had 400 company executives and 30 celebrities hosting livestreams. Based on a study by Coresight, the Chinese livestream market is set to rack in sales worth $125 billion in 2020, compared to $63 billion in 2019. The US livestream market is a small fraction of that, valued at $5 billion.

China’s Tech Heavyweights Lose $280 Billion in Market Cap

Alibaba Singles Day 2020 dwarfed other major shopping holidays as has been the trend in previous years.

According to Practical eCommerce, Amazon Prime Day 2020 sales totaled $10.4 billion up from $7.16 billion in 2019. Cyber Monday sales in the US amounted to $7.9 billion in 2020 according to Statista. Black Friday and Thanksgiving added $9.7 billion to the figure to make $17.6 billion for the weekend.

Similarly, in 2018, Singles Day sold $30.8 billion while Prime Day sold $4.19 billion and Thanksgiving weekend got $14.2 billion.

However, the 2020 Singles Day event came in the wake of Ant Group’s suspension of a $37 billion listing. The suspension resulted in a $76 billion drop in Alibaba’s market cap, as the tech giant owns a two-thirds stake in Ant Group. Moreover, China’s regulators released anti-trust draft rules prior to the event, aimed at controlling monopolistic behavior.

Following the release, Alibaba shares plunged by 9.8%, as JD.com shed off 9.2%. Tencent similarly saw a 7.39% drop and Xiaomi fell by 8.18%. For the five companies, there was a combined loss of $280 billion in market capitalization.

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Top Three PC Vendors Shipped 121.5 Million Units in 2020, Lenovo Leads with 47.1 Million Shipments

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Remote working and distance learning amid the coronavirus outbreak continue increasing global demand for PCs and laptops. After a sharp fall in the first quarter of 2020, global PC shipments have grown in the last six months, despite the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

According to data presented by Stock App, Lenovo, HP, and Dell, as the world’s three largest PC manufacturers, shipped 121.5 million units in the nine months of 2020. With 47.1 million shipments in this period, Lenovo tops the global PC vendor ranking.

More than 187 Million PCs Shipped Between January and September, a 1.6% Drop YoY

The rise in smartphone usage and the global shift from hardware to cloud solutions had been driving a downturn in global PC shipment for seven years in a row. In 2011, 365.3 million units were shipped worldwide, revealed the Gartner data. By the end of 2017, this figure dropped by almost 30% to 262.7 million.

The 2018 shortage in Intel central processing units brought a new hit for merchants’ supply chains and cut global shipments to 259.7 million that year, under 2007 levels.

In 2019, 261.2 million PCs were shipped worldwide, which was a slight increase from 2018 figures. However, the COVID-19 outbreak triggered the biggest fall in shipment since 2013, as pandemic affected supply chains.

The Gartner data showed 51.6 million PC units were shipped in the first quarter of 2020, down 12.3% from the previous year. Between April and June, the market started showing signs of recovery, with global PC shipment rising by 2.8% YoY to 64.8 million.

Consumer demand for PCs due to remote working, home entertainment, and distance learning amid an ongoing pandemic, along with the strongest US PC market growth in a decade, drove the global market momentum in the third quarter of the year. Between July and September, 71.4 million PCs were shipped worldwide, a 3.6% jump year-over-year.

Statistics show that 187.8 million PCs were shipped worldwide in the nine months of 2020, a 1.6% drop YoY.

Lenovo`s Sales Rose in 2020, HP`s Market Share Dropped Down

The Gartner data also revealed that Lenovo, as the market leader, increased its market share in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the Chinese tech giant had a 24.8% market share, with 17.5 million shipments worldwide.

In the third quarter of 2020, the number of shipped units jumped by 8.3% YoY to 18.3 million, while its market share rose to 25.7%.

As the second-largest PC vendor globally, HP hit a 21.6% market share in the third quarter of 2020, down from 22.8% in December last year.

The Gartner data indicate that Dell’s market share, as the third-largest PC vendor globally, dropped from 17.2% in Q4 2019 to 15.2% in Q3 2020. The US computer technology company also witnessed the most significant drop in PC shipments among the top three vendors, with the figure falling from 12.1 million in December to 10.8 million in September.

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