China iPhone curbs reportedly extend to local government and state-owned businesses

ALSO: Alibaba Cloud succession plan overturned; Fujtisu’s Thai takeaway; Australia takes on PayPal

Asia In Brief The ban on using iPhones in some central Chinese government agencies is reportedly more extensive than first chronicled by Tthe Wall Street Journal. Japan's Nikkei last Friday reported that local governments and state-owned companies also frown upon their staff using iThings in the office.

The Japanese outlet's report claims that an employee of a state-owned business received a confidential notice in early September advising that departments within the org that can access trade secrets will not be allowed to use Apple devices from October 1. The same rules will apply to all employees from March 1, 2024.

The updated rule also covers the Apple Watch and AirPod wireless headphones.

The rule may not stop Chinese citizens from using and owning iPhones – the story suggests many will acquire a locally made phone to use at work and keep using their Apple devices.

Apple's share price dipped from almost $190 to just over $178 as news of China's rules became known.

Nikkei reports around 56 million employees of Chinese government agencies and state-owned businesses could be covered by the bans.

Alibaba boss quits cloud CEO gig

Outgoing Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang will not, as planned, become CEO of the Chinese giant's cloud business.

Alibaba has planned a six-way split and a possible spin-out of its cloud business. Zhang, who had helmed the entire Alibaba Group, planned to serve as CEO of Alibaba Cloud, signaling its growth potential and need for senior leadership.

But Alibaba has subsequently told Reuters that Zhang won't become its cloudy commander and the business will be bossed, for now, by Eddie Yongming Wu.

"The board of our company expresses its deepest appreciation to Mr Zhang for his contributions to Alibaba Group over the past 16 years," according to a statement seen by Reuters.

It is unclear what, if anything, the change means in terms of Alibaba’s plans for its cloud biz.

74 percent of Indian enterprises infected by ransomware in 2022 alone

Analyst firm IDC has claimed that the majority of Indian enterprises were "hit by ransomware" in 2022.

Citing data from its April 2023 Future Enterprise Resiliency & Spending Survey, the firm last Friday claimed a staggering 74 percent of Indian enterprises experienced ransomware attacks in 2022. More than half (53 percent) of those orgs made ransom payments up to $500,000, while enduring disruptions ranging from a day to week

IDC backed up its findings by citing data from India's Computer Emergency Response Team that found 1.4 million cyber incidents in the country during 2022.

Across the region, excluding Japan, 59 percent of orgs experienced a ransomware "hit," the analyst firm stated.

The Register has asked IDC to clarify its definition of an enterprise.

India is yet to compile results from its 2019 Economic Census, but the previous edition found the nation is home to just 800,000 "establishments" that employ more than ten people. These ransomware numbers may therefore need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Australia seeks to void PayPal's "unfair" contract

Australia's Securities and Investment Commission has taken legal action against PayPal for forcing unfair terms on small businesses.

"The case involves a contract term that gives PayPal business account holders 60 days to notify PayPal of any errors or discrepancies in fees that PayPal has charged them, or else accept those fees as accurate," the regulator explained, adding that it wants the relevant sections of PayPal's legalese voided.

"We allege this term is unfair because it allows PayPal to escape the consequences of its own errors in overcharging small businesses, and places additional burdens on small businesses to detect and correct charging errors," said ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court.

Zoho celebrates 100 million users

Indian SaaS shop Zoho has celebrated acquiring its 100 millionth user.

"This is an impressive milestone for any organization, but it's particularly sweet for us as a bootstrapped company that's never raised external capital," co-founder and CEO Sridhar Vembu is quoted as saying in a company statement.

Vembu declared "We are not done yet."

We have an impressive innovation pipeline covering the next ten years, investing in deep technologies to serve billions of users around the world."

Zoho offers SaaS-y CRM, marketing automation software, social media management tools, and online productivity tools that compete with Microsoft, and much more besides. Its wares are often keenly priced compared to rivals.

Fujitsu Thais up SAP consultancy

Fujitsu last week announced the acquisition of Thailand-based SAP consultancy Innovation Consulting Services (ICS).

The 21-year-old ICS already operates in Singapore and other ASEAN nations, so gives Fujitsu more SAP muscle across the region.

In other news …

Our APAC coverage last week kicked off with word that the ASEAN trading bloc has started work on a Digital Economy Framework which, if it succeeds, would rival India or China.

Microsoft admitted that it might have been partly at fault for Chinese miscreants getting hold of a security key that gave them access to US government email accounts. Oops.

That didn't stop the software giant presenting itself as an expert on the dirty cyber tricks of China and North Korea, among others – including using AI to create engagement-bait on social media.

Another prominent American, US commerce secretary Gina Raimondo, was also the target of China-based mischief as merry pranksters manipulated photos to make it look like she was endorsing Huawei's latest smartphone.

Speaking of which, after it was found that the Huawei Mate 60 Pro evidently contains chips made by SK hynix (which would be a sanctions no-no) the South Korean chip shop was at pains to prove it had not supplied them – maybe they're old chips, or even fakes.

Taiwanese chip giant TSMC, meanwhile, warned that the rush for chips to fuel AI research is going to exceed supply for the next 18 months, so expect high prices at least until the end of next year.

The Indian government has worked with ecommerce giants like Amazon, Google and Meta to develop guidelines aimed at wiping out "dark patterns" – tricks that shady operators use to trick customers into parting with money.

In lighter news, Indian point-of-sale provider Paytm has added the ability to pump music via Bluetooth to its payment terminals – because why not?

Finally, India's Chandrayaan-3 Moon mission bedded down for the long lunar night to conserve power. Sleep well, rover. ®

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