Here are some of the biggest tech stories to come out of Singapore in 2015.
Tiny Singapore has its fair share of big tech stories. This shouldn’t be surprising as the country is fashioning itself as a tech oasis. Here’s a rundown of the most read and discussed Tech in Asia articles about the country in 2015.
1. GrabTaxi launches GrabCar in Singapore to compete head-on with Uber
Uber became famous for turning anyone into a taxi driver. Meanwhile, GrabTaxi gave cab companies fits by building a taxi booking app Uber could only dream of.
The two worlds collided when GrabTaxi launched GrabCar, a direct competitor to UberX, in Singapore. UberX is Uber’s most affordable option in the country, offering rates that are on par with cabs.
So far, the two worlds aren’t seeing much overlap. GrabTaxi is still dominant with cabs, and Uber is the best option if you’d like a private ride in Singapore.
2. Economist destroys arguments for regulating Uber
Still in the realm of transportation tech, governments the world over are crossing swords with Uber, a swashbuckling pirate who has snubbed local laws until it realized that’s not a sustainable way forward.
Then, a Singapore minister publicly mulled tighter regulations on Uber and its ilk after hearing complaints from taxi drivers.
This drew a response from Donald Low, an economist and public intellectual who opines frequently on Facebook. He wrote a sharply argued piece demolishing arguments for regulating Uber in the country.
3. Singapore restaurant shows off autonomous drone waiters
No Singaporean really wants to be a waiter as it’s considered a low-class job. Then the government stepped in and tightened the pipe on foreign labor, squeezing manpower-strapped restaurants even drier.
Drones are coming to the rescue. Local startup Infinium Robotics has collaborated with popular bar establishment Timbre on trials to use aerial drones to augment human servers.
Full deployment was supposed to happen by now, but manufacturing delays have pushed that back to February or March 2016.
4. The dark side of tech development in Singapore
There isn’t just a shortage of low-skilled workers in Singapore. Startups have been combing the fields to look for talented engineers, only to return empty-handed. This article stirred a lively discussion, even drawing reactions from engineers who lament there aren’t enough interesting startups in Singapore to interest them in the first place. Shots fired.
5. Facebook co-founder and Sequoia invest in Singapore property site 99.co
Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin is surely Singapore’s most famous angel investor. Add top-tier venture capital firm Sequoia to the mix, and you’ve got a monster funding round that sent 99.co’s hype to the stratosphere.
99.co is a property search engine founded by Darius Cheung, who made his money after starting and selling mobile security startup WaveSecure.
6. Cosmetics startup Luxola acquired by Sephora parent company LVMH
Acquisitions are to founders what platinum rap albums are to rappers: it’s a sign that you’ve made it. While official data on the deal was scant, sources place it as a definite win for the company, and a baby step forward for Singapore’s startup ecosystem.
7. Pirate3D hits major cashflow issue, delivered just 40% of orders
It’s an expensive lesson. 3D printing company Pirate3D raised US$1.5 million on Kickstarter, but ran into problems and failed to deliver on the majority of its pre-orders.
It’s now angling for a fresh start with a skeleton crew, but it’ll need to prove it can get the capital and goodwill to do so. Meanwhile, one of its founders, Roger Chang, has moved on to start a robotics company called SwarmX.
8. IDA wants to make Singapore a Smart Nation. Here’s what you need to know
The Singapore government loves their jargons, and “Smart Nation” must surely top the list. It’s basically the state’s attempt to improve the lives of citizens using groundbreaking technology, involving a collaboration between various government agencies, government-linked companies, and technology firms.
9. Apple’s location for its official Singapore store confirmed?
Apple fans rejoiced when news leaked that the phone maker will be bringing its minimalist Apple stores to Singapore shores. The news escaped in the most unconventional way: a gym sent an email to members saying it has been vacated to make way for an Apple store. How passive-aggressive.
10. Here’s what to expect when Netflix arrives in Singapore
Netflix’s arrival in Singapore must surely be driving fear into the hearts of the country’s traditional broadcasters and cable television providers. Its low monthly fee and award-winning original content is hard to beat, proving that innovation obliterates boundaries. Truly, no one is safe.
Photo credit: Tech in Asia
This piece originally published on Tech in Asia