It’s not yet dinner time, but Single’s Day shopping holiday in China has already broken records for cyber consumption.

Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce retailer with about 80 per cent of the total market, says it took only until 1:04pm today to sell Rmb19.1bn ($3.1bn) worth of goods, equivalent to everything it sold last year – and about twice what was sold last year on Cyber Monday in the US, the Monday after Thanksgiving.

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Thailand’s central bank has squashed plans to launch a local Bitcoin operator, making it the first state to ban trading in the virtual currency.

Bitcoin Co Ltd of Thailand said it had initially been given the go-ahead to set up operations without a money exchange licence on the grounds that the digital currency was not properly a currency. Read more

Football is apparently the only thing more popular than faith among Indonesian TV viewers.

The latest viewing stats show that a third of all Indonesian TVs were tuned in to matches that English clubs Arsenal and Liverpool played there this month. Other than that, Islamic soap operas are ruling the day – and the night – in this mostly Muslim nation of 240m people. That’s especially true with Ramadan upon us, which creates perhaps the world’s most unlikely coveted prime time slot: 2.30am to 4.30am. Read more

Anyone who has surfed the web in places like Marrakech or Jakarta knows that internet speed in many developing countries leaves much to be desired.

But a report published this week by internet company Akamai shows that a good number of those countries are catching up. Read more

On the plus side, Myanmar isn’t a mostly closed off military junta any more. On the minus side, its recent opening up means more international trade, a dramatically worsening trade deficit, and a kyat that has weakened against the dollar significantly since major FX reforms this year.

Should investors be worried? Not really. Just growing pains, say economists at Standard Chartered. Read more

Just a few weeks ago, Foxconn was apologising profusely for poor performance as rival contract manufacturer Pegatron was riding high on reports that it had won out over Foxconn, Apple’s main manufacturer, for a contract to make Apple’s upcoming cheaper version of its iPhone.

Things have changed. Now it’s Pegatron’s shares that are falling, battered by local reports that it is will not get as many orders as initially forecast, with Foxconn getting them instead. Read more

When Transparency International reported this week that a third of Taiwanese said they paid a bribe last year to get government services, it sparked some anger in Taipei.

Many question whether Taiwan is really that corrupt – equal on that measure to Indonesia, by TI’s count. But the report has hit just as the government is trying hard to spark its flagging economy by encouraging more foreign investment. This is the kind of PR it doesn’t want. Read more

And beyond that, you can see New Zealand

Taiwan has sealed an important free trade agreement with New Zealand – the two countries have no formal diplomatic relationship. It’s a big precedent for an island that almost no nation formally recognises.

New Zealand and Taiwan have agreed to start phasing out tariffs under the deal, signed on Wednesday. It will help boost Kiwi food exporters, but its greatest significance is the political boost it gives Taipei, which often finds its political interactions with other nations stifled by Chinese interference. Read more

Who's buying?

PC companies just can’t get a break.

Shipments from the Taiwanese manufactures that make most of the world’s desktop and laptop computers hit a three-year low last quarter as consumers waited for fixes to Windows and decided to buy tablets and smartphones in the meantime. For those Taiwanese companies, those disappointing stats are one more reminder of the need to diversify away from their core PC business. Read more

The stereotypical Foxconn worker is a low-paid Chinese labourer, coming from a rural Chinese province to work on one of the contract manufacturers’ assembly lines making iPhones.

But the Taiwanese company also employs thousands of mid-level and senior engineers and designers tasked with developing the processes needed to put together electronics. Competing for those workers, says founder and head Terry Gou, is increasingly difficult, as the US and, in particular, Chinese companies try to poach them. Read more

Pieces of HTC’s recent management shake-up seem to be falling in place with its announcement on Thursday of new leadership for its south Asia operations.

Most notably, the struggling Taiwanese smartphone maker says its new head of south and southeast Asia has come over from the key competitor HTC has been trying hard to emulate – Apple. Read more

Taiwanese consumers are a discerning lot when it comes to tech – it is the key industry in this island nation, after all – so it’s a bit surprising that a popular new brand on the market is a Chinese smartphone company, Xiaomi.

Strong sales meant Xiaomi nearly ran out of phones in its first foray in Taiwan, part (along with Hong Kong) of its first big push out of mainland China. But if the popularity of the launch showed the potential of the brand, some operational snags point to the trendy company’s inexperience in foreign markets. Read more

Rain washed out the inaugural anniversary celebration for Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou; forecasts for full-year economic growth are being cut; and two of the country’s fighter jets have crashed during training exercises in the last week.

But there could soon be at least one bright spot in the gloom for Taiwan. Legislators are trying to lighten an unpopular transaction tax that has weighed on the local market since it first passed last year. Read more

HTC, the bealguered Taiwanese phonemaker, expects sales to jump over 60 per cent between the first and second quarters. That’s quite an uplift, and certainly better than last quarter, when sales significantly missed expectations, driving down its first quarter profits to record lows.

What’s behind the change? Well, it helps to have a flagship phone to sell. Read more

Apple may be souring the market with its unimpressive forecasts, but not all the suppliers who rely on the US tech group for orders are suffering.

Shares in Largan Precision, a Taiwanese lens maker, gained 7 per cent on Friday after it reported stronger than anticipated earnings for the last quarter and, against expectations, forecast more growth ahead. Its secret? Growth of other brands has been strong enough to offset Apple. That’s a change from the days when Apple was component companies’ key driver of growth. Read more

Tech companies may be having a torrid time of it lately, with everyone from IBM to Apple disappointing investors recently.

Except for TSMC, that is. Booming demand for mobile gadgets, especially in China, helped the Taiwanese chipmaker beat expectations last week, and its stock has been rising ever since. Read more

Since 2009, state-owned telecom China Mobile had been trying to get regulatory approval to buy 12 per cent of Taiwan’s Far EasTone operator, in what was the first agreement by a Chinese group to invest in a Taiwanese one.

The problem: In 2009, Taiwan didn’t let Chinese groups invest in its core telcos. The two had hoped that might change, but it hasn’t. So, as of Thursday, the deal is officially dead – at least until Taiwan liberalises more, says China Mobile. Read more

China may be Taiwan’s historic enemy number one but recently it seems South Korea’s Samsung has made a bid for the title.

The smartphone to semiconductor chaebol competes against Taiwanese electronics groups in nearly every category. Now Samsung may find itself stung by Taiwan’s regulators investigating whether it broke the law by posting nasty comments about Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC in online discussion groups. Read more

A televised singing contest from China’s Hunan province is the latest front in the fight between China and Taiwan.

Many Taiwanese TV stations, including some news stations, devoted hours last Friday night to broadcasting the final round of Hunanese show “I Am a Singer”. That has prompted Taiwanese regulators to begin investigating whether any station broke laws covering the broadcast of Chinese programming. Read more

What makes HTC different from all the other struggling tech companies around these days?

Despite its falling sales, management at the Taiwanese smartphone maker has not been shaken up. The same chief executive has held the job for more than six years and the chairwoman has shot down local reports suggesting rifts in the leadership. That sets it apart from its peers, including Blackberry, Nokia — even Apple. So why have top management kept their jobs despite recent performance including a 98 per cent fall in profits in the first quarter? Read more