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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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Chromebooks will soon support noise cancellation for external mics

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Google is positioning Chrome OS and Chromebooks as the ultimate productivity weapons, especially in this day and age of remote work and schooling. Ironically, they are also one of the last to jump on one of the most important bandwagons in this day and age of remote work and schooling, video chats and conferences. Many of the apps and services for these require Windows or macOS or even Linux, and those that do run in Web browsers sometimes don’t even work well compared to those other operating systems. Case in point is the rather complicated case of noise cancellation, something that may be soon to Chrome OS at long last.

Most of the video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet offer fancy and creative ways to cut out the visual noise or embarrassing background behind you. They often leave the handling of actual audio noise to each platform’s or device’s noise cancellation support. Unfortunately for Chrome OS users, Chromebooks have neither.

That might be changing soon as a change in Chromium source code reveals a new flag that will toggle whether Chrome OS will display input noise cancellation UI or not. This, of course, presumes that the hardware actually supports noise cancellation, which it detects from headsets.

Unfortunately, this also implies that the feature only activates for external headsets that support the feature. Android Police notes that it doesn’t include support for the internal microphones of Chromebooks themselves, implying that the hardware doesn’t support noise cancellation either. Hopefully, Google will come up with a software solution like it always does.

Chrome OS is definitely shaping up to become an even more powerful productivity device, receiving features that most computer users may have taken for granted on other platforms. That includes even just the ability to scan documents which, while rarer these days, can still be a pain when the need does arise. Google has also been optimizing its own Google Meet to work better on Chromebooks, many of which have less powerful hardware compared to Windows laptops.

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Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids don’t need a prescription

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As always, it seems that technological innovations are coming full circle. The quality and conveniences of wireless audio made their way from earphones to hearing aids a few years back and now advancements in ear care are coming to consumer audio accessories. Bose, a name renowned for its audio technology, is taking advantage of that cycle and is launching the SoundControl Hearing Aid, its first stab at such a product but one that doesn’t need a doctor’s appointment to acquire.

There have been a handful of new devices that have come up in the past two or so years that aim to revolutionize the hearing aid market. Many of these seem to have taken cues from modern wireless earbuds in terms of the conveniences offered by smartphones, Bluetooth audio, and the like. One thing that these hearing aids have over your consumer wireless earbuds is the accuracy and personalization of settings to each person’s unique hearing profiles, something that Bose is now trying to address.

These hearing aids are, of course, considered medical devices more than consumer products and their precision and advanced features come at more than the cost of the device itself. They often need a doctor’s prescription or at least a checkup, something that is more than just inconvenient these days. Some hearing aid companies have started to adopt remote or virtual doctor’s appointments but Bose does away with even that.

That’s what makes the Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids special because they have been FDA-approved to be sold directly to consumers, no need for professional advice. That said, Bose’s Hear app, designed especially for this device, does offer the opportunity to have a one-on-one appointment with product experts for free. Given the price tag of this thing, it’s not exactly too generous an offer.

The Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids are lightweight and practically invisible, with the main electronics hiding behind your ears, out of sight. In just 30 minutes, you can set up your personal settings in the Bose Hear app without fiddling with confusing controls or even asking a doctor. Users will also be able to choose between Focusing on certain voices or letting sound in from Everywhere. A pair does cost a hefty $850, though, but it might still be a fraction of the total expenses for a formal hearing aid, not to mention a doctor’s fee.

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OnePlus 7 and 7T Android 11 update is reportedly very buggy

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OnePlus has been making great strides and making big promises regarding its Android updates but it might need a bit more work when it comes to the quality of those updates. Though fortunately not the norm, OnePlus has been known to have pushed updates with rather notable issues, some of them worse than others. That is the unfortunate experience that OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7T owners are reportedly having after the Android 11 and OxygenOS 11 upgrade brought not only new features but also bugs that remain unfixed more than a month later.

OnePlus has had rather problematic upgrades but it seems that the OxygenOS 11 update, which also brings Android 11, is taking the cake. There have been reports about problems with the latest update across many of OnePlus’ phones, including the OnePlus Nord, but owners of the company’s 2019 models are the ones that seem to have gotten the short end of the stick.

A growing number of complaints on Reddit as well as OnePlus’s own forums reveal the rather unfavorable situation regarding the update. Those complaints are all over the place, from greater battery drain to dropped frames that could affect mobile gaming. There are also worrying reports of overheating, at least more than usual, which could raise red flags when it comes to safety.

Given the wide range of issues, there is no single known source of the problem other than the Android 11 update. Of course, other phones on Android 11 don’t report such problems and OnePlus users are quick to blame OxygenOS 11 as the real culprit. It doesn’t help that this version of OnePlus’s custom Android experience isn’t exactly that popular because of the heavy changes that the company made.

OnePlus already pushed a minor update to these phones but it doesn’t seem to have addressed the problems to users’ satisfaction. Unfortunately, the only way to get around the problem is to downgrade back to Android 10, which is also impractical for many OnePlus 7 and 7T owners.

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