Tencent, Meta, alliance reportedly strains over differing VR visions

PLUS: Singapore union tackles Google, Alibaba, layoffs; Thai digital cash plan stalls; AI to consume bulk of APAC IT budgets

Asia In Brief The alliance struck by Tencent and Meta to bring the latter's Quest VR hardware to China is reportedly faltering.

Chinese media claim the alliance between the two giants – which was forged to bring low-cost versions of Meta's VR goggles to the Middle Kingdom – has been suspended.

Meta courted Tencent as a channel to sell a version of its VR devices that had some features cut down to make the price suitable for the Chinese market. Tencent believed it could make money by selling content to view in the goggles.

Now the deal appears to be off. Whether it's a sign of further US/China tensions, or just a commercial dispute, is uncertain.

– Simon Sharwood

AI to consume more than half of APAC IT budgets: IDC

Analyst firm IDC last week predicted that over half of Asia-based organizations will spend more than half their IT budget on AI initiatives by 2025. The investments are expected to lead to a "double-digit increase in the rate of product and process innovations," claimed the firm last Tuesday.

IDC did not specify what it classifies as an AI initiative, making it hard to understand if this prediction means acquiring products that add an AI element, or investment in dedicated capacity.

The firm found Asia is more AI-forward than North America. A previous report from the analysts found 70 percent of Asian survey respondents were "already investing or exploring potential Generative AI use cases" compared to only 40 percent in North America.

By 2028, the firm expects the overall economic impact of AI to "neutralize" among Asia's top 1,000 organizations as initial enthusiasm fades and the focus turns onwards innovation and new business. That same year, ten percent are expected to experiment with artificial general intelligence.

Indian software CEO dies after conference entrance goes wrong

The CEO of software vendor Vistex, Sanjay Shah, has died after his entrance to a company conference in India went disastrously wrong.

Vistex, a vendor of revenue management software, was celebrating its 25th year of operations at an event in Hyderabad, India. During the event, Shah was lowered onto stage, but cables supporting the iron cage in which he rode broke. Shah fell several meters and was killed.

The president of Vistex, Vishwanath Raju Datla, was also in the cage at the time and is reported to be in critical condition.

– Simon Sharwood

Singapore union steps in after Google, Alibaba, layoffs

Singapore's only national trade union center, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), is reportedly contacting fired workers from tech giants Google and Lazada after recent layoffs.

Both orgs have made significant layoffs in the city state, and typically claim they make generous redundancy settlements and provide job placement services.

According to Singapore's Business Times, NTUC felt its involvement might be needed after recent redundancies at Google Singapore.

Earlier this month, NTUC supported an affiliated union that questioned the actions of Alibaba e-commerce arm Lazada after it made sudden and unexpected layoffs. The union – the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU) – escalated the matter to the government.

NTUC said the Alibaba subsidiary issued an apology that it accepted – however, it found Lazada's retrenchment compensation of two weeks' salary for every year of service unsatisfactory. "The Ministry of Manpower will continue to facilitate these negotiations," declared the labor org.

Thailand delays free digital money giveaway

Thailand has delayed a planned $14.3 billion digital cash handout until at least mid-year, but prime minister Srettha Thavisin on Friday told reporters the program will proceed.

The scheme, an economic stimulus effort, would see 50 million Thais receive around $285 worth of Thai Baht apiece through a mobile app.

In Other News…

Other stories The Register reported from across Asia in the last week include AWS pledging several new datacenters for Japan. Also in the Land of the Rising Sun, the nation's space agency successfully landed its SLIM probe on the Moon, but celebrations were curbed when it struggled to generate power from its solar panels.

Japanese giant Fujitsu admitted moral responsibility to pay compensation to victims of the Horizon application it oversaw for the UK post office. It also announced it will not bid for government work while it waits for the outcome of an inquiry into the matter, which has already kicked a billion-dollar hole in its market capitalization.

China was accused of attacking a VMware vulnerability. The Middle Kingdom also saw its chip imports sink, and its drone-makers accused of being intelligence conduits by US authorities.

India's Unified Payment Interface found a powerful new ally in the form of Google, which has signaled interest in taking the platform global. Foxconn and India's HCL, meanwhile, have teamed on a chip packaging venture.

Also in India, the nation's four biggest IT services giants recently reported strong quarterly results that sent their share prices soaring. The founder of one of the big four – Infosys's Narayana Murthy – doubled down on his controversial call for the nation's youth to work 70-hour weeks. ®

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