Xiaomi is about to take on the world: Best of the Web

Xiaomi is about to take on the world: Best of the Web

One of the new consumer electronics vendors to emerge in China is a company called Xiaomi. Having conquered China, the company is gearing up to take on the world.

Brad Stone at BusinessWeektakes a look at this rapidly emerging tech giant:

On May 15, behind the curving, imperial facade of the China National Convention Center in Beijing, a veteran technology executive named Lei Jun walks onstage before a thousand raucous fans and members of the media. It’s a familiar scene everywhere now, and like many technology chiefs, Lei peppers his talk by ticking off some of the recent successes enjoyed by his company, the mobile device maker Xiaomi. Sales have been higher than expected; more than 50 million people use the company’s MIUI operating system. Then he gets to the new products, which today are a smart TV that can be controlled with an app and an Android-powered tablet computer, called Mi Pad, that comes in five colors and is priced to undercut the iPad mini. “I hope through our endeavor we can make Apple (AAPL) feel some pressure,” Lei says.

Xiaomi (pronounced she-yow-mee) is one of the fastest-growing tech companies in the world. It’s the sixth-largest handset maker on earth and No. 3 in China, behind Samsung Electronics and Lenovo Group, according to research firm Canalys. Xiaomi’s recent growth is impressive, and its potential is even greater. In 2013, the company says, it sold 18.7 million smartphones almost entirely from its own website, bringing in $5 billion in revenue. Earlier this year, Lei set an internal goal of selling 40 million smartphones in 2014, then raised it to 60 million.

Boosting productivity using multiple screens

More than ever before, we are being bombarded with information. Many assume that having a number of devices competing for our attention – be they smartphones, tablets or desktops – helps to make us even more distracted.

Over at Wired, Clive Thompson takes a look at how tech users are using multiple devices – and screens – to give their productivity a boost.

In her role at MaRS Discovery District, a startup incubator in Toronto, Karen Schulman Dupuis reads 10,000 to 15,000 words a day onscreen. But she finds that impossible on her laptop, with all the email barking for her attention. “I need to put myself in a situation where I can really focus,” she says. So when she gets to a long article, she uses a browser shortcut to send it to her iPad. All day long, she’ll switch back and forth from one screen to another, shifting between reading and communicating.

She’s not the first to hit on this strategy. Now that people have several devices at work—a laptop, a phone, a tablet—they’re finding their way to a similar trick, where they use each piece of hardware for a different purpose. Consider it a new way to manage all the digital demands on our attention: Instead of putting different tasks in different windows, people are starting to put them on different devices.

The EU’s war on the US tech giant

A growing number of European leaders fear the growing economic power of Silicon Valley.

Over at The Guardian, Juliette Garside looks at the various actions Europe is taking against the likes of Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft in a bid to curb their power:

Within the salons of the Elysée Palace, along the corridors of the European parliament and under the glass dome of the Reichstag, Old Europe is preparing for a new war. This is not a battle over religion or politics, over land or natural resources. The raw material that Paris, Brussels and Berlin are mobilising to defend is the digital environment of Europe’s inhabitants; their enemies are the Silicon Valley corporations that seek to dominate it.

Coal, gas and oil powered the industrial revolution, but in the digital era, data is replacing fossil fuels as the most valuable resource on Earth, and the ability to collect and interrogate it has created organisations with a power that can at times seem beyond the control of nation states. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google represent, in the words of Germany’s economy minister Sigmar Gabriel, “brutal information capitalism”, and Europe must act now to protect itself.

A year since Google Reader closed

Finally, it’s been a year since the popular Google Read RSS feed/newsreader service closed. So what has changed in that time?

Nate Hoffelder from The Digital Reader looks back at what has changed since the ‘Readerpocalypse’:

Almost 15 months have passed since Google announced that they were shuttering Google Reader, and yesterday marked the one year anniversary of its demise… In the months following the March announcement, dozens of existing feed readers came out of the woodwork or were launched in response to the news. Everyone from Digg to AOL launched a feed reader (and even Zite and Flipboard made plays for former Google Reader users). Some of the news readers were good, others were bad, but of the multitude only one managed to end up on top.

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