From Buffett’s Scott Fetzer to Asia, Are Oddballs Odious or Opportunities? Bamboo Innovator is featured in BeyondProxy.com, where value investing lives

Bamboo Innovator is featured in BeyondProxy.com, where value investing lives:

  • From Buffett’s Scott Fetzer to Asia, Are Oddballs Odious or Opportunities? July 24, 2013 (BeyondProxy)

Oddballs

 

Starbucks and Danone team up to take on growing $7 billion US yogurt market

Starbucks and Danone team up to take on growing US yogurt market

Wednesday, Jul 24, 2013

Reuters

Starbucks Corp and Danone SA said on Tuesday they will sell a co-branded yogurt through Starbucks cafes and in grocery stores as yogurt makers and food companies battle for market share in the US$7 billion (S$.8.8 billion) US market. The partnership comes as Starbucks pushes into the “health and wellness” category and as Danone, owner of the Dannon brand, and other yogurt makers seek to conquer the US market, where yogurt consumption per capita lags Europe. Financial terms were not disclosed. Their first product will be ready-to-eat Greek yogurt parfaits, to be sold in US Starbucks stores in spring 2014. Read more of this post

Charlie Munger Triples Publisher’s Value With Panic-Era Wager on Stocks

Munger Triples Publisher’s Value With Panic-Era Wager on Stocks

Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger

Daily Journal Corp. (DJCO), the California publisher that counts Charles Munger as its chairman, more than tripled in value since 2008 after the company jumped into stocks during the financial crisis.

Best known as Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner, Munger began accumulating equities in early 2009 at the Daily Journal. The portfolio was worth $112.3 million as of March 31, or about 65 percent of the Los Angeles-based publisher’s current market value. Investors who attend the company’s annual meetings said he signaled that Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) was among the bets.

“Here’s a guy in his mid-80s at the time, sitting around with cash at the Daily Journal for a decade, and all of a sudden hits the bottom perfect,” said Steve Check, a Costa Mesa, California-based investment manager who has attended the publisher’s meetings since 2004. Read more of this post

Chinese Not Impressed by World’s Future Tallest Building

Chinese Not Impressed by World’s Future Tallest Building

As recently as July 1, cattle apparently grazed in the fields intended for the world’s tallest skyscraper in the rural outskirts of Changsha, in China’s Hunan province. That wasn’t the original plan: Sky City, as the concept is known, was scheduled for completion earlier this year after a mere 90 days of construction.

Understandably, few people inside or outside China believed such a deadline was possible. It wasn’t. Work never even started on the project, which was delayed in part by the government-approval process. Read more of this post

Watch revenue when parsing western vs emerging bonds

Watch revenue when parsing western vs emerging bonds

1:53am EDT

By Mike Dolan

LONDON (Reuters) – Watch governments’ revenues, and not just how much their economies produce, to see if they can support their debt piles. For investors choosing between bonds of heavily-indebted governments of recessionary European nations and those of the seemingly tidier national accounts in the fast-growing developing world, the point is increasingly poignant. For over three years at least, the decision was simple. But after months of shocks to emerging markets and their previously buoyant bond universe in particular, lots of that recently assumed wisdom has come into question. Read more of this post

The Most Counterintuitive Advice From Famous Entrepreneurs

The Most Counterintuitive Advice From Famous Entrepreneurs

BELLE BETH COOPERBUFFER JUL. 23, 2013, 5:11 PM 1,476 1

We all love to take advice from people who’ve previously been through the same situations as us or who are further along a similar path to us. For entrepreneurs this is particularly useful, since it’s such a difficult, unknown path to tread sometimes. Funnily enough, some of the advice I’ve come across through reading interviews and articles from famous entrepreneurs is often counterintuitive to what I would expect them to say. I thought it would be interesting to gather some of this advice into one place, so here are ten of the most counterintuitive pieces of advice I’ve come across from famous entrepreneur. Read more of this post

Innovation Isn’t an Idea Problem

Innovation Isn’t an Idea Problem

by David Burkus  |   8:00 AM July 23, 2013

When most organizations try to increase their innovation efforts, they always seem to start from the same assumption: “we need more ideas.” They’ll start talking about the need to “think outside the box” or “blue sky” thinking in order to find a few ideas that can turn into viable new products or systems. However, in most organizations, innovation isn’t hampered by a lack of ideas, but rather a lack of noticing the good ideas already there.

It’s not an idea problem; it’s a recognition problem. Read more of this post

Grandma on Feeding Tube Without Consent Symbolizes Japan

Grandma on Feeding Tube Without Consent Symbolizes Japan

A quarter of a million bedbound elderly people are kept alive in Japan, often for years, by a feeding tube surgically inserted into their stomach. A few months ago, my 96-year-old grandmother became one of them.

Feeding tubes are so common in Japan that my family wasn’t initially consulted about the procedure, which is effectively irreversible. When my mother walked into Grandma’s room the next morning and saw a tube, she dropped to her knees by the bedside and stayed there for hours, crying. Read more of this post

How Story Platforms Help Global Brands Go Local

How Story Platforms Help Global Brands Go Local

by Kirk Cheyfitz  |  11:00 AM July 23, 2013

While the current turmoil in Cairo may obscure the post-revolutionary optimism that pervaded the city last winter, that mood was powerful at the time. Despite the chaos in the virtual absence of government, the metropolitan region of some 14 million was taken over in January by an Arabic pop music video urging people to “go crazy” by committing acts of kindness to spread happiness. The film, produced by Coca Cola, features street scenes of people being kind and happy in well-known Cairo locations. Locals say it perfectly reflected the hopefulness and optimism of Egypt’s people as they embarked on the difficult path of building a new democracy. Read more of this post

Antiori sisters to lead wine empire Super Tuscans

Sisters to lead wine empire

by Rebecca Lynne Tan, The Straits Times|24 July 2013

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For the first time since the Antinori family began making wines more than 600 years ago, the world-renowned Italian wine company will continue into the future with an all-women team at its helm. The 26th generation is made up of three sisters – Albiera, 47; Allegra, 42; and Alessia, 38, daughters of famed winemaker Marchese Piero Antinori, 74. He is widely known as one of the founders of Super Tuscans, a category of thoroughbred Chianti wines that are commonly made with a blend of local grape varietals such as sangiovese and foreign grape varietals such as cabernet. Eldest daughter Albiera, the company’s vice-president, says: “When Dad saw that the third child was also a girl, he must have been a bit disappointed. But he’s over it, he couldn’t do much about it.” Read more of this post

Investing When Opportunities Are Limited; Ben Inker, an associate of famed investor Jeremy Grantham, argues that both stocks and bonds are overvalued. So what’s an investor to do?

TUESDAY, JULY 23, 2013

Investing When Opportunities Are Limited

By BEN INKER | MORE ARTICLES BY AUTHOR

Ben Inker, an associate of famed investor Jeremy Grantham, argues that both stocks and bonds are overvalued. So what’s an investor to do?

Editor’s Note: Jeremy Grantham has decided to take a break from his scheduled summer quarterly missive to investors. But we’re happy to share the latest commentary of Ben Inker, who works alongside Grantham at GMO, the Boston-based money management firm. A longer version of this commentary, along with charts, is available on the GMO Website.

To investors focused on U.S. equities, it may be easy to forget the investing excitement of this spring, but for others, particularly anyone running a portfolio predicated on asset class correlations being low, this has been a pretty shocking couple of months. From May 22 to June 24, the S&P 500 lost 5.6%, MSCI EAFE lost 10.1%, MSCI Emerging Markets fell 15.3%, the Dow Jones/UBS Commodity index fell 4.5%, the U.S. 10-year T-Note fell 4.4%, and the Barclays U.S. TIPS index fell 7.1%. For good measure, the J.P. Morgan Emerging Debt Global index fell 10.8%, the German 10-year Bund fell 5.2%, the UK 10-year Gilt fell 3.4%, and the Australian 10-year bond fell 6.5%. Equity markets have made a fairly sharp recovery since then, with the S&P 500 actually hitting new highs, but lots of other asset classes are still licking their wounds. In light of the generally negative correlations between stocks and bonds of the last decade, the universality of the declines looks pretty weird. For those schooled in thinking that the only “risks” that matter for investors are growth shocks and inflation shocks, it’s significantly more than just weird. To anyone of that mind, it’s a bit of a soul-searching moment, and it forces you to either treat the episode as a one-off event that will hopefully not happen again anytime soon or as a challenge that requires you to rethink your risk model. Not surprisingly, at GMO we believe it to be the latter, and that most investor risk models are missing an important piece of the puzzle. Read more of this post

Should Cities Specialize? When each city focuses on one industry, does that make the nation more productive, or hurt workers who can’t afford to relocate?

UPDATED JULY 23, 2013 9:21 PM

Should Cities Specialize?

DEBATERS

People Don’t Just Follow the Money

SPENCER CREW, AUTHOR, “FIELD TO FACTORY”

The New Yorkers who move South might be on to something: A low-paying job in Atlanta can buy a better life than a higher-paying one in New York.

Local Economies Are Only Part of the Story

ISABEL V. SAWHILL, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION

Educational resources and the stability of families have far more effect on how well young people do later in life.

Resources and Services Define a City

SUKKOO KIM, ECONOMIST, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY

The loss of diversity caused by the convergence in local institutions and cultures may signal a move toward a more cohesive nation in time.

INTRODUCTION

The economies of American regions havebecome more alike, but economic mobility stillvaries widely among cities.

Is it fruitful for cities to specialize in one major industry – biotech in Boston, manufacturing in Detroit, media in New York? Or does that hurt workers who can’t afford to relocate, locking many out of the middle class? Read more of this post

Angry Birds Soda May Arrive In China Soon With Four Flavors

Angry Birds Soda May Arrive In China Soon

By Emma Lee on July 23, 2013

Roivo, developer of Angry Bird, reportedly plans to introduce Angry Birds soft drink to the Mainland China market in addition to its full product lineup ranging from t-shirts to posters (in Chinese). Angry Birds claims the soda, which currently comes in four flavors (see below), is already a hit in Finland, even outselling Coke and Pepsi. Rovio launched this product last year and then expanded it to several countries including Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and the U.K. Angry Birds, which logged more than 1 billion downloads in 2012, targets to become an industry giant like Disney.

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Khaitan’s Radico Khaitan is now the largest local player in the spirits business. But he has to watch his patch as foreign competition looms

Radico Khaitan is on a High

by Prince Mathews Thomas | Jul 24, 2013

topimg_22097_lalit_khaitan_abhshek_khaitan_600x400 Radico.indd

Lalit Khaitan (L), chairman, with Abhishek Khaitan, MD of Radico Khaitan

Abhishek Khaitan’s Radico Khaitan is now the largest local player in the spirits business. But he has to watch his patch as foreign competition looms

In business, it helps to keep your ears to the ground. For Abhishek Khaitan, that meant doing the rounds of pubs. He had his first ‘eureka’ moment while pub-hopping in Bangalore. Even as he was studying for an engineering degree in the garden city, the family’s distilling and bottling business was at the back of his mind.
His discovery: “Indian drinkers were becoming more conscious of what they were consuming. Brands had become very important.” This insight led Abhishek and his father Lalit Khaitan, chairman of Radico Khaitan, to launch the company’s first whisky brand—8PM—some years later. It went on to sell a record one million cases in its very first year—a historic first in the Indian spirits industry. Read more of this post

Banyan Tree’s Ho Kwon Ping: “Asia is going to be a primary engine of growth, but that growth can come to a sputtering stop if our business models are not sustainable”

Experts call for Asia-based models

Achara Deboonme,
Annika Bhasavanich
The Nation July 24, 2013 1:00 am

Fresh approach needed for sustainability, added strength in view of long-lasting global uncertainties

Asian companies need to invent their own business models for long-term sustainability, models that address social and environmental costs, highlight brand building, and capitalise on the diversity of Asian culture, said panellists at an international conference. 
New models are a must as Asia has to strengthen its resilience to global uncertainties, which are not likely to end soon as long as most global trade is denominated in US dollars, agreed participants in a panel discussion on “Asia: Sustainable Business Models” at The Nation International Conference last Friday (July 19, 2013).
“Asia is going to be a primary engine of growth, but that growth can come to a sputtering stop if our business models are not sustainable,” said Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings.  Read more of this post

Bribery serves as life-support for Chinese hospitals

Bribery serves as life-support for Chinese hospitals

5:14pm EDT

By Kazunori Takada

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Bribery is the lubricant that helps keep China’s public hospitals running, and the health system would struggle to function without illegal payments to poorly paid doctors and administrators, say medical practitioners and industry experts.

They say government policies are partly to blame for a system in which doctors and other staff expect to be paid extra fees to perform operations and take kickbacks from pharmaceutical firms and medical-equipment suppliers. Read more of this post

Stratfor’s founder George Friedman: The End Of The Chinese Economic Miracle

7/23/2013 @ 8:24AM |1,543 views

The End Of The Chinese Economic Miracle

By George Friedman, Founder and Chairman of Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence firm

Major shifts underway in the Chinese economy that Stratfor has forecast and discussed for years have now drawn the attention of the mainstream media. Many have asked when China would find itself in an economic crisis, to which we have answered that China has been there for awhile — something not widely recognized outside China, and particularly not in the United States. A crisis can exist before it is recognized. The admission that a crisis exists is a critical moment, because this is when most others start to change their behavior in reaction to the crisis. The question we had been asking was when the Chinese economic crisis would finally become an accepted fact, thus changing the global dynamic. Read more of this post

Mobile app car service Uber is starting to look like a lifestyle brand

Uber is starting to look like a lifestyle brand

By JP Mangalindan, Writer July 23, 2013: 6:37 PM ET

The rapidly expanding car service is trying to expand its mission.

FORTUNE — Ask Travis Kalanick about the future of Uber, and he’ll tell you that it has become a brand that transcends its original mission. “Today, we’re in the business of delivering cars,” Kalanick said onstage at this year’s Brainstorm Tech conference. In the year-and-a-half sinceFortune profiled Kalanick, Uber has rapidly expanded into new markets, despite regulatory hiccups in cities like Washington D.C. and New York. But the serial entrepreneur, who previously cut his teeth on startups like the file-sharing service Red Swoosh in the early 2000s, also pointed out Uber has dabbled — and continues to do dabble — in other services. Last Friday, Uber worked with ice cream trucks and served up on-demand dessert in 33 cities; this Valentine’s Day, it delivered rose bouquets. And at previous South by Southwest conferences, the startup served up barbecue in a similar fashion. (The latter wasn’t much of hit however, something Kalanick told Fortune that had more to do with cold weather.) Read more of this post

Commodity warehousing, the interest rate connection

Commodity warehousing, the interest rate connection

Izabella Kaminska

| Jul 23 19:29 | 10 comments | Share

There are three things that must be remembered when it comes to banks, trading houses and warehousing plays.

  • One is that banks and trading houses would not have an incentive to store commodities if the forward market did not compensate them for doing so — meaning speculators are as much to blame as anyone for the hoarding problems, because they are basically the ones donating money to ensure stocks of commodities are built up during times of plenty on the assumption that seven years of scarcity will follow, making it all worthwhile.
  • Second, there would be no incentive to hold commodities as stock, even during a contango, if regular risk-free financial investments offered a better return. Contango is meaningless unless the yield that can be extracted from the forward markets more than compensates for your financing and warehousing costs. During high interest rate periods, chances are that it pays commodity players much more to sell stock as soon as they produce it, and to reinvest in yield-bearing instruments. During low interest rate periods, when safe returns are lacking elsewhere, the incentive to extract yield from storing commodities and futures rises.
  • None of this is necessarily the product of a sinister plot. If there is manipulation, it is the result of collective responses to market dynamics that present exploitable arbitrage opportunities to intelligent agents. It is unwitting manipulation at worst. The question we should be asking is whether banks (who have fiduciary duties, unlike traders) consciously exploit or mislead institutional clients and investors in the process. It is entirely possible, however, that they not only believe in their own scarcity projections, but that they feel they are fulfilling an economic duty in bridging today’s oversupply with tomorrow’s undersupply. Read more of this post

Prices Fuel Outrage in Brazil, Home of the $30 Cheese Pizza

July 22, 2013

Prices Fuel Outrage in Brazil, Home of the $30 Cheese Pizza

By SIMON ROMERO

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Shoppers here with a notion of what items cost abroad need to brace themselves when buying a Samsung Galaxy S4 phone: the same model that costs $615 in the United States is nearly double that in Brazil. An even bigger shock awaits parents needing a crib: the cheapest one at Tok & Stok costs over $440, more than six times the price of a similarly made item at Ikea in the United States. For Brazilians seething with resentment over wasteful spending by the country’s political elite, the high prices they must pay for just about everything — a large cheese pizza can cost almost $30 — only fuel their ire. Read more of this post

Investor alarm as India flashes amber; RBI’s unexpected steps renew focus on Delhi’s troubled finances

July 23, 2013 3:22 pm

Investor alarm as India flashes amber

By James Crabtree in Mumbai

The rains fall fast during India’s annual monsoon season. Unfortunately for the country’s government, the rupee has fallen just as quickly. The Reserve Bank of India responded last week with a slate of measures to trim liquidity, aiming to stop further tumbles in a currency that has dipped around 10 per cent since May, hitting repeated all-time lows. The moves are also designed to win back badly needed foreign capital, which has flowed out of many emerging markets, including India, in the aftermath of remarks by US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke last month about scaling back the central bank’s asset-buying programme. Read more of this post

China to Punish Hospital Staff for Kickbacks as Crackdown Widens

China to Punish Hospital Staff for Kickbacks as Crackdown Widens

China will punish 39 hospital employees for taking illegal kickbacks from drugmakers, reflecting widening efforts to root out medical corruption that includes an investigation of GlaxoSmithKline Plc. (GSK)

The hospital staff received inducements totaling 2.82 million yuan ($460,000) from two pharmaceutical companies between January 2010 and December 2012, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported yesterday, citing the National Health and Family Planning Commission. Read more of this post

In Paris, Chinese Shopping-Tour Buses Go Out of Fashion; Retailers Rethink Strategies as Fewer High-Spending Visitors Arrive en Masse

July 23, 2013, 5:01 p.m. ET

In Paris, Chinese Shopping-Tour Buses Go Out of Fashion

Retailers Rethink Strategies as Fewer High-Spending Visitors Arrive en Masse

NADYA MASIDLOVER in Paris and LAURIE BURKITT in Beijing

For her recent vacation in Switzerland, Wu Mengbei shunned the whirlwind bus tour of luxury stores many Chinese tourists take in Europe.

The Shanghai resident booked her trip independently and chose to spend more on other activities, such as sightseeing and dining. “On my first couple of trips to Europe I did a lot of shopping, but it’s not so much a priority now,” says Ms. Wu, a bank marketing manager in her thirties. Read more of this post

China’s NDRC Probes Old Veteran Jewellery Stores in Shanghai; Lao Fengxiang may have to uncouple some 250 million- 2.5 billion yuan from its profits for fines

China’s NDRC Probes Old Veteran Jewellery Stores in Shanghai

07-23 16:19 Caijing

Lao Fengxiang may have to uncouple some 250 million- 2.5 billion yuan from its profits for fines.

Following a sweep on baby formula makers and parametrical giants, the powerful National Development and Reform Commission accused gold jewellery association, Lao Fengxiang (600612.SH) and other famous jeweler stores in Shanghai of fixing prices in the latest antitrust probe. The companies under investigation could face a large sum of fine, if proves to be true, analysts say, at risk of eroding profits that have accumulated in years. Companies fixing prices in the market can be delivered a penalty equivalent to 1 percent of one year sales at the least, and 10 percent of one year sales at the most, under Chinese laws. Read more of this post

Presenting The World’s Tallest Skyscraper, Whose Construction Was Just Halted

Presenting The World’s Tallest Skyscraper, Whose Construction Was Just Halted

Tyler Durden on 07/23/2013 13:55 -0400

It appears reality is hitting home in the property bubble capital of the world. The so-called “Skyscraper Index” continues to show an unhealthy correlation between construction of the world’s tallest building and an impending financial crisis – for example, New York 1930; Chicago 1974; Kuala Lumpur 1997, and Dubai 2010. As The Dubai Chronicle reports, the record-breaking Sky Tower in Changsha, China, has seen its budget surge from $625 million to $855 million and completion dates pushed back to April 2014, after originally being scheduled for completion at the start of 2013. and here’s the dreamy video of what it will look like and how fast they were planning on building it… As Barclays notes, often the world’s tallest buildings are simply the edifice of a broader skyscraper building boom, reflecting a widespread misallocation of capital and in impending economic correction. Investors should therefore pay particular attention to China – today’s biggest bubble builder with 53% of all the world’s skycrapers under construction – and India – which with just two completed skyscrapers, now has 14 skyscrapers under construction.

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For Tech Start-Ups, Sublets Upon Sublets in Manhattan

July 23, 2013

For Tech Start-Ups, Sublets Upon Sublets in Manhattan

By C. J. HUGHES

To understand how the current office market for technology companies can resemble a Russian nesting doll, with layer upon layer of increasingly smaller subleases, it might help to consider the upper stories of 568 Broadway in SoHo. In the cast-iron former sewing factory, Scholastic, the publisher, is subletting two floors of space to Foursquare, a social media company. In turn, Foursquare is subletting one of those floors to a handful of other tech firms, including Fueled, which designs apps for phones. And Fueled has divided its column-lined room as a co-working space, where $650 a month gets a renter a seat and unlimited snacks from jars along a wall. Read more of this post

Scores of Korean startups are wooing local consumers with a new business model: receive a new set of cosmetics or other products for the cost of a prepaid subscription fee

2013-07-23

ShoeDazzle-like firms spring up

By Choi Kyong-ae

Scores of Korean startups are wooing local consumers with a new business model, monthly online subscription services. The business model offers a simple message to consumers: sign up, and once a month you’ll be able to receive a new set of cosmetics or other products for the cost of a prepaid subscription fee. The concept began in the U.S. where companies such as Butch Box, ShoeDazzle and Wittlebee deliver cosmetics, shoes and clothes for children, respectively, each month via mail to the doorstep of their subscribed members.  In Korea, GLOSSYBOX was the first subscription service provider when it entered the “most dynamic” market among Asian countries in June 2011. The German company made inroads into Japan and China later. Read more of this post

Marubeni announced plans to launch services that will make it possible for people in Asia to purchase Japanese fruit and vegetables with just one click

Food looms large as trading houses plot overseas forays under new pact

BY HIROKO NAKATA

STAFF WRITER

JUL 23, 2013

When Marubeni Corp. announced in May it plans to launch services that will make it possible for people in Asia to purchase Japanese fruit and vegetables with just one click, it received dozens of phone calls from potential domestic partners, including prefectures keen to sell their local produce. Japan lacks solid channels to export fresh food, the firm realized. Under the plan, people in southern China, Taiwan and Macau will be able to order Japanese farm produce and other types of food online or through TV shopping programs next year. Marubeni wants to eventually expand the service to Southeast Asia. Read more of this post

Singapore’s foray into the $300 billion-a-year space industry may seem like a lucrative venture, but the path is lined with risks, especially in satellite manufacturing where Western firms have long dominated and entry barriers are high

Singapore plots economic lift-off with satellites, spacecraft

10:11pm EDT

By Kevin Lim

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s foray into the $300 billion-a-year space industry may seem like a lucrative venture, but the path is lined with risks, especially in satellite manufacturing where Western firms have long dominated and entry barriers are high.

The push into space technology, announced earlier this year, will initially focus on satellites to meet growing demand for top-speed Internet connections as well as high-resolution images commonly used in surveillance, forestry and energy exploration. Read more of this post

Taobao Shopping Is What Makes Alibaba’s Smart TV Business Different

Taobao Shopping Is What Makes Alibaba’s Smart TV Business Different

By Tracey Xiang on July 23, 2013

AlibabaTV

Alibaba announced the long-rumored custom Android system for TV and a set-top box, Wasu Rainbow, today, with the latter going on sale in two to three months. It partners with Wasu Media, one of the several state-authorized content providers, to stream online videos onto Smart TV screens. As to the Smart TV sets, manufacturers including Skyworth and Changhong have been on board to make TVs with the system. Alipay, Alibaba’s payments service, has been integrated into it that users currently can make orders from Juhuasuan, its group-buying service, from such an Alibaba TV. But Taobao and Tmall haven’t been available yet. Just like all other Android-powered Smart TVs, Alibaba’s includes an app market and allows displaying content from smartphones.

Read more of this post

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