Alibaba hides 11.11 shopping festival sales figures for the first time

PLUS: US/Singapore CBDC trial; Digital Ocean down under; Boeing's Indonesian touchdown; and more

Chinese web giant Alibaba has declared this year's 11.11 "Singles Day" e-commerce frenzy a success, but for the first time has not revealed the value of product shifted on the day.

The company usually trumpets the financial aspect of the sale, because for years the amount spent on the day has soared.

In 2020, for example, the company published a press release revealing gross sales of RMB498.2 billion ($74.1 billion) – an increase of 26 percent compared to 2019.

In 2021 Alibaba's announcement pointed out gross sales of RMB540.3 billion ($84.54 billion) across the eleven-day shopping spree but didn't calculate growth (probably because it had slowed markedly compared to previous events).

This year's announcement mentions only that the festival "delivered results in line with last year's gross merchandise volume performance despite macro challenges and COVID-related impact."

Which certainly doesn't sound like growth.

Alibaba's tech operations have also gone silent on their contribution to 11.11 this year. In past years they've trumpeted the heights to which the company's infrastructure has scaled to satisfy shoppers. This year the company said 11.11 ran on serverless infrastructure and was more energy-efficient than had previously been the case.

– Simon Sharwood

Singtel allocates $103 million to cover cost of Optus cyber-attacks

Singapore’s Singtel has set aside S$142 million ($103m) to cover the cost of the attacks on its Australian subsidiary Optus.

The carrier’s half-year financial report [PDF] filed last week said the sum was allocated to cover “a programme of customer actions, including an external independent review, third-party credit monitoring services for impacted customers and the replacement of customer identification documents where needed.”

“The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Department of Home Affairs have commenced investigations into the Optus cyber attack,” the document, before warning the probes “could give rise to regulatory actions, penalties, potential claims and/or litigation.”

“At this stage, the Group is not able to estimate the financial effect, if any, of these investigations and matters, and is continuing to take legal advice on these matters,” investors were warned.

- Simon Sharwood

Big datacenter expansions in Australia, Japan, Indonesia

Last week saw three significant announcements of datacenter infrastructure across the region.

Junior cloud Digital Ocean has announced a launch event for November 16 at which it will reveal its first Sydney presence. The event invitation suggests Digital Ocean will be targeting the Australian startup ecosystem.

In Japan, Equinix has decided the time is right to build a 15th datacenter in Tokyo.

TY15 will be located one kilometer from the TY6/TY7/TY8 IBX datacenters and approximately 1.5 kilometers from the TY2 IBX datacenter.

Due to open in the first half of 2024 with capacity for 1,200 cabinets, TY15 will expand to 3,700 cabinet capacity when complete.

Equinix said the bit barn will "become the premier site in Tokyo for connectivity, unlocking a plethora of new interconnection opportunities for enterprises and cloud and network service providers alike."

Last but not least, BDx Indonesia announced its plan to develop a 100MW datacenter campus near the nation's capital, Jakarta.

Hyperscale customers are the target for the facility, which will be BDx's fifth in Indonesia.

– Simon Sharwood

New York Fed and Singapore team on CBDC tests

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Innovation Center (NYIC) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have announced a joint experiment to investigate how wholesale central bank digital currencies (wCBDCs) could improve the efficiency of cross-border wholesale payments involving multiple currencies.

"Project Cedar Phase II x Ubin+" will consider designs for settlement of cross-border cross-currency transactions, leveraging wCBDCs as a settlement asset.

"The effort, which entails establishing connectivity across multiple heterogeneous simulated currency ledgers, aims to significantly reduce settlement risk, a key pain point in cross-border cross-currency transactions," Singapore's MAS explained in a statement.

The experiment is just that: an experiment. The MAS stated it is "not intended to advance any specific policy outcome, nor is it intended to signal that the Federal Reserve will make any imminent decisions about the appropriateness of issuing a retail or wholesale CBDC, nor how one would necessarily be designed."

But Project Cedar is being undertaken "to develop a technical framework for a theoretical wholesale CBDC in the Federal Reserve context and aims to contribute to a broad and transparent public dialogue about CBDC from a technical perspective."

Phase I of Project Cedar found that using a wCBDC prototype to facilitate transactions supported by blockchain technology could improve the speed and safety of cross-border wholesale payments.

– Simon Sharwood

Amazon offers Prime Video for $7.30 a year in India

Amazon has launched a mobile-only single-user plan for its Prime Video streaming service in India, at ₹599 ($7.30) for one year of service.

Prime Video costs $8.99 a month in the developed world.

The Indian plan limits viewing to mobile devices and caps video resolution – rules that recognize the dominance of mobile devices in the Indian endpoint market.

Netflix introduced a similarly priced offer last year.

The plans demonstrate big tech is willing to do what it takes to target growth markets in pursuit of a larger customer base. In India, Amazon faces strong domestic competition across its portfolio of services, and a government that emphasizes buying from local players as a patriotic contribution to economic development.

Japan's cloud market jumps

Japan's domestic private cloud market increased by 32.4 percent year-on-year in 2021 to 8.76 billion yen, according to analyst firm IDC.

Increases in 2021 came thanks to upgrades and renewals delayed by COVID-19. But moving forward, private clouds deemed siloed for the purpose of optimizing individual systems will apparently be considered as a single deployment model constituting a multi-cloud.

"Furthermore, private clouds in multi-cloud environments are increasingly oriented toward hybrid clouds that achieve operational consistency," said IDC.

Migration from the cloud and data-driven business are expected to continue to contribute to the domestic private cloud market, and have a 20.4 percent CAGR, resulting in a predicted 22.3 billion yen by 2026.

India's censorship plan slammed

India's Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) has criticized the nation's amended IT rules that create a body with power to order social media content takedowns.

"Earlier things were bad," said the org, explaining that India's 2021 IT rules made private platforms the arbiters of permissible speech and led to an environment of increased censorship and reduced privacy.

The 2022 amendments, the IFF feels, represent a government-appointed censorship body that could incentivize suppression of speech, create legislative uncertainty, decrease transparency in the government's content moderation decisions process, and leave behind an intentional weaponizable vagueness in its accompanying rules.

Boeing links up with local Indonesian aircraft company as government mulls the F-15EX

Boeing signed an agreement with aircraft company PT Dirgantar Indonesia (PTDI) that will see the pair work together to manufacture, support and maintain defence products, plus associated training. The deal could come in handy if the Indonesian government selects the F-15EX – a fighter jet meant to replace the F-15 – as part of its modernization.

PTDI makes turboprop aircraft that it supplies to Indonesia's military, among other clients.

In other news

Our regional coverage from last week included coverage of Japanese telecom NTT's ambitious new headphone tech that promises to eliminate sound leakage.

Japan's Ministry of Defence (JMOD) formally joined NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) – an international military organization and cyber defence hub focusing on research, training and exercises.

Also in Japan, Fujitsu will trial a local 5G network as the sole connectivity option for a new datacenter inspection robot.

Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) secured orders for 300 of its home country's first domestically made single-aisle passenger jet, the C919.

South Korea's LG Display debuted a thin, lightweight, stretchable and twistable micro-LED screen that it says "expands the potential of the display in various industries including fashion, wearables, mobility and gaming" as it can adhere to a wide variety of surfaces, including curved ones.

Nvidia and TSMC are circumventing US export controls to China by providing downgraded chips.

US think tank the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) examined 6.8 million job postings from China and found almost a million required technical AI skills.

Microsoft asserted that China's offensive cyber capabilities have improved, likely thanks to stockpiling an arsenal of unreported software vulnerabilities.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) believes Russia is responsible for a breach of ten million records from local health insurer Medibank. Medibank refused to pay ransom to attackers for the hack.

Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant and Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision Co. Ltd – also known as Foxconn – reported strong Q4 growth but warned of Chinese operations affected by measures such as COVID-related shutdowns.

Speaking of Foxconn, Apple warned that its iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max assembly has been affected due to restrictions at a factory. Foxconn's recent struggles with COVID-19 include reports that Foxconn encouraged staff to remain on-site at a Zhengzhou China facility – and some were seen fleeing.

New Zealand-based private launch outfit, Rocket Lab, has failed at an attempt to catch one of its Electron launcher's first stages with a helicopter. ®

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