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China & other markets trail the US – TechCrunch

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Chinese startups rule the roost when it comes to total reported venture dollars raised so far in 2018. That is, mostly. In one key category at least — software-as-a-service, better known as SaaS — they do not.

Ant Financial raised the largest-ever VC round in June, a mind-boggling $14 billion in Series C funding. And nearly a dozen privately held Chinese companies, including SenseTime, Du Xiaoman Financial, JD Finance and ELEME, raised $1 billion (yes, with a “b”) or more in single venture rounds thus far in 2018.

But if there’s one thing to note from that shortlist of 2018’s largest China venture rounds, it’s this: almost all of them involve consumer apps and services. Despite being one of the largest economies in the world and currently holding the top spot in the national venture dollar ranks, China doesn’t seem to have too much in the way of enterprise-focused software funding.

But why trust your gut when the trend is borne out in the numbers? In the chart below, we show the top five global markets for SaaS investment (plus the rest of the world). We compare each market’s share of SaaS-earmarked funding against their share of total venture dollars raised in 2018 so far.

As of mid-October (when we pulled the data for the above chart), Chinese companies accounted for about 39.3 percent of venture funding raised in 2018. Compare that to 38.4 percent for U.S.-based companies, overall. In this respect, the venture markets in the U.S. and China are running neck-and-neck.

Yet for SaaS funding, the China-U.S. gap is about as wide as the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. — top ranked by this measure — accounted for approximately 70.1 percent of known SaaS startup funding. China, by contrast, accounted for just 11.7 percent. No even matchup here. It’s not even close.

This asymmetry goes beyond just aggregate dollar figures. The contrast is starker when we use a slightly more exotic measure for the market.

One of our favorite (if somewhat arbitrary) metrics at Crunchbase News is the count of supergiant venture rounds. These VC deals weigh in at $100 million or more, and they’re reshaping both sides of the venture market for founders and funders alike.

Whereas the United States played host to at least 15 supergiant SaaS VC rounds so far this year, just four rounds raised by three different Chinese SaaS companies crossed the nine-figure mark:

Keep in mind that, in general, U.S. and Chinese markets are fairly even in their output of supergiant venture rounds. However, that’s not the case when we look specifically at SaaS rounds, where the counts and dollar volumes involved are so different.

These disparities suggest a structural difference, not just between the U.S. and Chinese markets, but between the U.S. and the rest of the world when it comes to building and backing SaaS businesses.

At this point it’s unclear, apart from funding metrics, what differentiates the U.S. SaaS market from the rest of the world’s. What conditions exist in this market that don’t exist elsewhere? And are those conditions replicable in a local market with a still-nascent SaaS ecosystem? These are questions meriting a follow-up. Even though its cause might be unclear, for now, it’s nonetheless important to mind the gap. 🚇

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New Mobvoi TicWatches won’t run Wear OS 3 at launch, upgrade in 2022

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Google turned the excitement around its next major update to its Wear OS platform and doused it with the cold water of uncertainty. After teasing the improvements that Wear OS 3 would bring to the table, Google left people hanging on whether existing smartwatches, especially those released within the past year and a half, would even get the upgrade. Mobvoi is one of the few that has publicly committed to Wear OS 3, but it seems that there’s a small catch to its promise.

There’s still some confusion and plenty of questions about Google’s plans for the Wear OS 3 rollout. Few smartwatch manufacturers have ever committed to upgrading existing models to the upcoming Wear OS release. There has been speculation that Google raised the minimum hardware requirements for Wear OS 3 that made those older smartwatches incompatible.

Even that, however, isn’t completely clear. The only new smartwatch launching this year with Wear OS 3 that we know so far is Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Watch 4. Mobvoi, the only one so far to use the new Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform, just launched a new smartwatch, but that didn’t run the new Wear OS. Now it seems that this will be the same story for the next TicWatch devices for the rest of the year until 2022.

In a statement to 9to5Google, the company reveals that its TicWatch Pro 3 (GPS and LTE models) and the new TicWatch E3 will be eligible for a Wear OS 3 upgrade coming in the mid to second half of 2022. It also notes that future TicWatches will be the same, implying that these, too, will launch with the current version of Wear OS, not Wear OS 3.

The good news there is that Mobvoi will upgrade those future smartwatches, but it does leave some doubt whether it will be able to make good on that promise. After all, there’s still more than a year before it rolls out the promised update, and a lot can happen before then. It also still leaves the situation for other smartwatches unclear, leaving consumers uncertain how to move forward with Wear OS 3 just around the corner.

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Windows Your Phone Apps feature could be expanding to more phones

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After giving up on its own attempts at creating its own mobile platform, Microsoft switched to integrating Windows better with Android and iOS. Not all phones or mobile platforms are created equal, of course, and Microsoft has struck a sweet deal with Samsung for even deeper integration that’s exclusive to a select number of Galaxy phones. One of those features includes the ability to run an Android app from the phone in its own window, a feature that might soon be expanding to other phones or at least other Samsung phones.

In addition to a poor choice in naming, Windows’ Your Phone has a confusing number of features that depend on what phone you have. The most basic is Link to Windows, which lets you seamlessly transfer files between an Android phone and a Windows device. Phone Screen, on the other hand, mirrors the entire phone’s screen on the desktop, allowing you to interact with it while keeping your phone away.

And then there’s Apps, which lets you run those Android apps in their own windows. Like the other three features, however, these are mostly exclusive to Samsung’s phones. More recent premium flagships even get extra perks, like the ability to run multiple apps at once.

@ALumia_italia now reveals that the list of supported phones for Your Phone’s “Apps” feature could be expanding. A screenshot reveals a Galaxy A52 having access to a list of Apps, ready for launching any time. The Galaxy A52 supports Phone Screen, also shown in the screenshot, but not Apps.

Just like the Your Phone itself, there is still some confusion over what this means. Microsoft might simply be expanding the compatibility list to more Galaxy phones, or Microsoft could finally be bringing the feature to phones outside of Samsung’s line. The latter, however, requires that Microsoft open up Your Phone itself to other manufacturers’ devices, and one can only hope that will be the case soon.

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Chromebooks and tablets growth in Q2 2021 beat global chip shortage

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Just when things were starting to look up for consumer computing devices last year, 2021 brought its own big problem that’s shaking up more than just the tech industry. PCs, tablets, and Chromebooks enjoyed a surge in interest and sales in 2020 because of new work from home and remote schooling arrangements, but this year’s ongoing component shortage threatens to upset those gains. Despite that bleak scenario, tablet shipments managed to grow in Q2 this year, with Chromebooks showing the biggest wins.

According to IDC’s numbers, Chromebooks grew by 68.6% in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year. The 12.3 million units that the market shipped may not be as large as the previous two quarters but still comes close to those. HP has the highest growth at 115.7% year-over-year and also has the lion’s share of that market.

The rapid growth of the Chromebook market has been attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, for better or worse, as Google’s Chrome OS continues to spread to new markets. The market analysis company shares that there is a noted uptick in Chromebook sales in Europe, while some countries in Asia are starting to look into the devices for use in schools.

Compared to Chromebooks, tablets had a more modest growth of 4.2%, with 40.5 million units sold. Considering how close tablets were to obsolescence, that’s still a significant improvement. Apple still leads the market with a 31.9% share, while Samsung is at a far second at 19.6%.

Nothing lasts forever, of course, and there are already concerns that this positive status for Chromebooks and tablets could start deteriorating soon. Due to supply concerns, some manufacturers seem to be focusing on more profitable Windows laptops instead. Demand for tablets, on the other hand, is expected to slow down sooner in comparison.

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