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Breakfast Briefing: Didi’s Valuation, Apple’s Apps & Kremlin Fears

Didi Gets a $56bn Valuation

The Chinese ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing completed a $4bn funding round.

Editor’s Remarks: China’s answer to Uber increased its valuation to around $56bn, some $6bn higher than previous valuation estimates, in its latest round of funding. The company now has more than $12bn in cash reserves and just received backing from Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala. Didi has managed to drive Uber out of the Chinese mainland in recent years and has also started making savvy investments in its competitors abroad, such as Estonia’s Taxify. The company aims to use the fresh funding to scale up its efforts in AI and technology development. While Didi appears to be operating smoothly, its biggest rival, Uber, is still being harangued by western governments.

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Apple to Make Combined Apps

The tech giant plans to allow people to use one set of apps across Macs, iPads and iPhones.

Editor’s Remarks: Although the iPhone heralded a new wave of user experience through the use of apps, Macs have not benefitted from the same advancements. Apple’s Mac app store is chock full of apps that rarely get updated and the overall selection is rather limited. Apple plans to tackle this by offering a single set of apps that work equally across its full range of devices. From early 2018, developers will be able to design apps that work seamlessly across touchscreen, mouse or trackpad devices. The move will be the first major change to Apple’s software platforms since iOS came about.

Read more on Apple:

Google Closes in on Amazon

Amazon is the top online shopping destination for US customers but Google is catching up.

Editor’s Remarks: According to the latest data, 49% of online shoppers visit Amazon first when searching for products, which is down from 55% in 2016. Google and other leading search engines increased their share of searches to 36% from 28% a year ago. Individual retailers, meanwhile, have been left in the dust once more, with just 15% of online shoppers visiting individual retailers’ websites first, down from 16% last year. Although countless people turning to Google for shopping will undoubtedly be searching for Amazon, these searches still generate advert revenue, which is expected to total $35bn this year.

Read more on Amazon:

UK Intelligence Fears Kremlin

The UK’s top intelligence services have called Moscow “formidable adversaries”.

Editor’s Remarks: In a report published on Wednesday, the UK’s MI6, MI5 and GCHQ highlighted their concerns over Russian spying activity. The report cited evidence that the Kremlin waged “information warfare on a massive scale” after the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines’ jet MH17 over Ukraine in 2014. Although Russia’s role in the deaths of the 298 passengers on board is widely suspected, the UK’s recent comments are part of a wider initiative to hold Moscow to account for its increasingly aggressive behaviour. Meanwhile, in the US, special counsel Robert Mueller continues his investigation into Russian involvement in last year’s election.

Read more on Russia:

North Korean Soldier Defects

The soldier walked across the Demilitarised Zone on Thursday morning.

Editor’s Remarks: He is believed to be just 19 years-old and it is yet unknown what his motives are. After he crossed, a group of North Korean soldiers approached the border, prompting South Korean soldiers to fire around 20 warning shots. This most recent defection is the fourth this year and comes after a dramatic encounter in November when a North Korean soldier was shot by his countrymen as he fled south. Although he survived, he was found to be riddled with parasitic worms, highlighting the dire quality of life in the rogue state.

Read more on North Korea:

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