Africa’s mobile phone industry has in recent times been by Transsion, a Shenzhen-based company that is little known outside the African continent and is gearing up for an . Now, its Chinese peer Vivo is following its shadow to this burgeoning part of the world with low-cost offerings. the world’s , this week that it’s bringing its budget-friendly smartphones into Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt; the line of products is already available in Morocco. It’s obvious that Vivo wants in on an expanding market as its home country China experiences . Despite a global slowdown, Africa posted annual growth in smartphone shipments last year thanks in part to the abundance of entry-level products, according to market research firm IDC. Affordability is the key driver for any smartphone brands that want to grab a slice of the African market. That’s what vaulted Transsion into a top dog on the continent where it sells feature phones for less than $20. Vivo’s Y series smartphones, which are priced as little as $170, are vying for a place with Transsion, Samsung and Huawei that have respective unit shares of 34.3%, 22.6% and 9.9% in Africa last year. The Middle East is also part of Vivo’s latest expansion plan despite the region’s recent . The Y series, which comes in several models sporting features like the 89% screen-to-body ratio or the artificial intelligence-powered triple camera, is currently for sale in the United Arab Emirates and will launch in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in the coming months. Vivo’s new international push came months after its sister company, also owned by BBK, made into the Middle East and Africa by opening a new regional hub in Dubai. “Since our first entry into international markets in 2014, we have been dedicated to understanding the needs of consumers through in-depth research in an effort to bring innovative products and services to meet changing lifestyle needs,” said Vivo’s senior vice president Spark Ni in a statement. “The Middle East and Africa markets are important to us, and we will tailor our approach with consumers’ needs in mind. The launch of Y series is just the beginning. We look forward to bringing our other widely popular products beyond Y series to consumers in the Middle East and Africa very soon,” the executive added.
BigStock Photo China wants to become the world leader in artificial intelligence by 2030 — but by Seattle’s , or AI2, suggests that Chinese researchers are on track to take the lead well before that. The analysis is based on a tally of the most impactful research papers in the AI field, as measured by AI2’s academic search engine. “If current trends continue, within five years, China will surpass us in terms of the top, highest-impact papers,” the institute’s CEO, Oren Etzioni, told GeekWire. “The other thing to realize is that citations are what you might call a lagging indicator, because the paper has to be published, people have to read it, and they have to write their own paper and cite it.” Thus, the analysis is likely to understate China’s current influence in AI research, Etzioni said. “The bottom line is, Chinese AI research is startling in quantity and quality,” he said. AI2’s findings are consistent with what tech analysts have been saying over the past year or two. Last year, found that 48 percent of the $15.2 billion invested in AI startups globally in 2017 went to China, with just 38 percent going to U.S. startups. Oren Etzioni is the CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle) That’s just the start: China’s State Council has by 2030 — and put that expertise in the service of what’s becoming a . Etzioni said the AI2 analysis shows that research in artificial intelligence has grown dramatically over the past three decades, from 5,000 published papers in 1985 to 140,000 in 2018. Over that time, there have been many studies tracking the progress of AI research, but Etzioni said Semantic Scholar provides new perspective. “First of all, this is the most up-to-date result, because we’ve analyzed papers through 2018,” he said. “Secondly, what’s unique is we looked at this notion of most-cited papers, because we’re after impact.” The analysis shows that, in terms of sheer volume of research papers, China surpassed the U.S. back in 2006. Since then, China’s trend line has gone through ups and downs (and ups), but never fell below the U.S. totals. Semantic Scholar told a different story when it came to the top 50 percent, the 10 percent and the top 1 percent of academic studies, as measured by citation counts. Those charts show a gradual decline in the percentage of papers attributed primarily to U.S. authors, and an accelerating rise in the Chinese percentage. The Chinese Academy of Sciences led the list of China’s research institutions when it came to citations, followed by Nanyang Technological University, Tsinghua University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. If the trend lines are extended, China should surpass the United States this year for the top 50 percent, next year for the top 10 percent, and by 2025 for the top 1 percent. This chart shows the market share for the top 1 percent of AI papers, as determined by citation impact. Extending the trend lines suggests that Chinese researchers will produce more of the “cream of the crop” in AI research by 2025. (AI2 Graphic / Field Cady / Oren Etzioni) China’s AI rise has already sparked concerns in Washington, D.C., leading to the establishment of a as well as a at the Pentagon. The White House budget proposal for fiscal year 2020, , would set aside $208 million for the AI center. Etzioni argued that the federal government’s AI strategy should put more emphasis on basic research. “We need to stop what the Trump administration has been doing, which is using various ways to discourage immigration of students and scholars into this country,” he said. “We need more of those talented people, like we always have. AI2 is highly international, and that’s been a huge boon for us.” Setting aside more money for basic research in AI will also be essential, Etzioni said. Last month, President Donald Trump , and this week’s budget proposal made . But those documents didn’t provide specifics. “We need those specifics,” Etzioni said. “And we need them even sooner than we had thought.” Authors of the AI2 analysis, ” are Field Cady and Oren Etzioni. The researchers used to classify AI papers for the purpose of the study. Check the full analysis for details about the methodology.