Happy New Year!
Welcome to this week’s edition of “The Week in Tech,” where we recap some of the most interesting technology and mobile stories from the past week.
This week we highlight Xiaomi’s big fundraise, drone delivery in France, Microsoft’s new browser, and Tesla’s snake-like car charger.
Xiaomi raises $1.1 billion on a valuation of $45 billion
The largest smartphone maker you’ve never heard of just raised a ton of cash at an enormous valuation.
Chinese startup Xiaomi is now the third-largest phone manufacturer in the world, behind only Samsung and Apple, and continues to grow at a breakneck pace. The company has combined low-end prices with high-end features to lead smartphone sales in China, where it apparently sells tens of thousands phones per minute.
Xiaomi looks to expand globally into emerging markets like India, Malaysia and Indonesia with its increased war chest. Hugo Barra, a former Googler who worked on Android development, will lead the company’s international charge. There’s no timetable on when Xiaomi will expand into the U.S.
French Postal Service delivers a package by drone
It looks like the French, not Google nor Amazon, may win the race to deliver packages by drone. France’s postal service, La Poste, successfully ran a test where a drone dropped off a package and returned to home base. Check it out:
The test took place near the small town of Pourreires in the southern region of Provence and was executed by CEEMA, the Center for Autonomous Model Testing and Studies, which is part of the company that is building the drone. The drone carried a 4 kilogram (9 pound) package 20 kilometers (12 miles) away.
In the end, it’s not the technology that will determine when package delivery by drone will happen; we’ve already seen multiple instances of drone delivery at work. Rather, it will be up to the governments to pass bills that allow for drone package delivery to be legal and widespread.
Microsoft may be developing a brand new browser
Internet Explorer has been basically extinct everywhere but in the enterprise. Microsoft has finally realized this and is developing a new browser code-named “Spartan,” likely to be launched alongside Windows 10.
Spartan will be a lightweight browser similar to Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox that will include extensions and have separate desktop and mobile versions.
Spartan isn’t IE 12, and Microsoft doesn’t look to be abandoning IE completely, as the company is likely to release a backwards-compatible IE 11 with Windows 10.
Elon Musk says Tesla is working on a metal, snake-like automatic car charger
Uh, OK, Elon.
Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla is building a car charger that pops out of the wall and automatically snakes to your Tesla to recharge it.
Btw, we are actually working on a charger that automatically moves out from the wall & connects like a solid metal snake. For realz.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 31, 2014
It’s not clear when this charger will launch or which versions of the Tesla Model S with which it will be compatible. The only thing that’s clear is that Elon Musk is not of this planet.
What do you think of these stories? Have you read other interesting mobile and technology stories this week that are worth mentioning? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.