Tencent’s positive Q4 results contrast with regulation fears
Chinese tech giant Tencent has announced bumper fourth quarter results.
With a 26% revenue boost in the fourth quarter totalling $20.5bn, its 2020 financial year as a whole saw the company climb 28% compared to 2019, reaching $73.9bn.
Tencent is, through its subsidiaries and associates, active in a wealth of industries with a focus on technology. Led by one of China’s most prominent business magnates in the form of “Pony” Ma Huateng, the company’s offerings range from instant messaging services to video game publishing and web portals.
Countering regulation fears
Its size and influence has drawn the eye of the Chinese Government, which last year flexed its muscles to halt fintech rival Ant Group’s IPO. Fears that Tencent would be forced to spin off financial elements of its business such as banking, insurance and payment services precipitated a in its value earlier this month.
Ma Huateng, Chairman and CEO of Tencent, : "While 2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges, solid results across all our businesses testify to our focus on user value, technology innovation and business sustainability. We extended our leading position in the consumer internet space with enriched content and innovations across our products, while making notable progress in international expansion, starting with games.
“We also further penetrated into industrial internet with our flagship SaaS products and upgraded cloud infrastructure. We will continue to implement Tech for Good and work with industry partners to bring value-enhancing products and services to users, enterprises and society as a whole."
The gaming boom
A leading light of the company’s results was its gaming business - taking $6bn in the final quarter, an increase of 29%. Furthermore, its international gaming revenue was up 43% to $1.5bn.
In a call with investors, Chief Strategy Officer James Mitchell “PUBG Mobile ranked as the most popular smartphone game by monthly active users for the second consecutive year. And its flagship tournament was the most viewed eSports competition among all mobile games. We're increasingly seeking to create games with global appeal. By collaborating with renowned console game and anime IPs, we can bring our new mobile games to wider global attention.”
Amazon test new technology to improve employee safety
At the Amazon Robotics and Advanced Technology labs in Boston, and Northern Italy, team members are testing and developing new technologies in order to help to make employees’ jobs safer, these include technologies that help move carts and packages through Amazon facilities.
Recently the safety of Amazon's warehouses has drawn scrutiny. On June 1, the Washington Post's Jay Greene and Chris Alcantara published findings from an analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration data showing Amazon's serious injury rates are nearly double those at other companies' facilities.
A spokesperson from Amazon said the company spent more than $1 billion last year on safety measures, and hired more than 6,200 employees to a group dedicated to workplace health and safety.
One innovation being tested by Amazon, which is in early development, is the use of motion-capture technology to assess the movement of volunteer employees in a lab setting. These employees perform tasks that are common in many Amazon facilities, such as the movement of totes, which carry products through robotic fulfillment centers.
The motion-capture software enables Amazon scientists and researchers to more accurately compare data captured in a lab environment to industry standards rather than other modelling tools traditionally used by ergonomists.
“With this data, visualisations, and employee feedback, we are looking to identify relatively simple changes that can make a big impact,” said Kevin Keck, worldwide director of Advanced Technology at Amazon. “Something as simple as changing the position of handles on totes may help lower the risk of injuries to our employees at a massive scale.”
Autonomous Robots creating new paths to safety
In order to reduce the need for employees to reach up or bend down when retrieving items, Amazon is testing a new workstation system called “Ernie.” According to the company Ernie takes totes off of a robotic shelf and uses a robotic arm to deliver it to employees, so they can remain in a more comfortable and stable position.
“We’re known for being passionate about innovating for customers, but being able to innovate with robotics for our employees is something that gives me an extra kick of motivation each day,” said Keck. “The innovation with a robot like Ernie is interesting because while it doesn’t make the process go any faster, we’re optimistic, based on our testing, it can make our facilities safer for employees.”
“Bert” is one of Amazon’s first Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), and is being tested to autonomously navigate through facilities with Amazon-developed advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology. In the future, it is thought that an employee would be able to summon Bert to carry items across a facility.
‘Scooter’ and ‘Kermit’ are two other robots that also operate autonomously, and are both transport cars. The carts are used to carry empty totes and packages through our facilities.
In a blog post the company said: ‘By having Autonomously Guided Carts (AGCs) like Scooter and Kermit perform physical tasks, we believe we can make our facilities safer and enable our employees to focus on jobs that require their critical thinking skills. In addition, using an AGC like Scooter to pull carts through our facilities reduces the risk of strains on our employees, or even collisions. We currently plan to deploy Scooter to at least one Amazon facility this year.’
Amazon began using robotics in its facilities in 2012, and since then they have added more than 1 million jobs worldwide while simultaneously deploying 350,000 mobile drive unit robots.
“The role robotics and advanced technology can play in not only innovating for customers, but helping make our facilities safer, is a massive motivation for me and my team,” said Keck. “The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority. By listening to them, innovating on their behalf, and driving new technologies into our facilities over the coming months and years, I’m confident we’ll make a big contribution to our goal of reducing recordable incidents by 50% by 2025.”