It’s the final days of August and SHIFTers are digging up their passports and heading everywhere from Cabo to Paris, which has us thinking outside of the U.S. Here are some of the international stories that got SHIFTers talking this week:

All about India

Many U.S. businesses have recently turned their eyes towards India. With over a billion people, many of which are some of the brightest minds in tech, and an economy growing at twice the rate of the U.S., it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

It was nearly a year ago when Walmart forked out $16 billion for a controlling stake in Flipkart, an Indian e-commerce company whose own payments subsidiary recently said it plans to raise capital at a valuation of around $10 billion, which Bloomberg called a nice “surprise benefit.”

Late last week Amazon deepened its roots in India through its acquisition of Future Retail, one of India’s largest brick-and-mortar retail chains. The deal gives Amazon an option to take a much larger stake after three years, “underlining its interest in expanding its operations in Asia’s third-largest economy.”

And Fortune this week wrote about the emergence of Reliance Jio, “new king of telecom in India” that has 331 million subscribers (more than Vodaphone) and that, according to analysts, “could become the foundation of an online and e-commerce platform in India that rivals Alibaba in China and Amazon in the U.S.”

We’d all do well to follow the signs and keep our eyes on India moving forward

Baidu rises to No. 2

The smart speaker market got a shakeup this week when Beijing-based Baidu overtook Google for the No. 2 spot in terms of worldwide smart speaker sales. The ranking, issued by technology research firm Canalys, puts the Baidu Xiaodu speaker at 17.3 percent of what is described as a $1.8 billion global market in Q2 of 2019. (Amazon remains the leader with its devices, garnering 25 percent of all global sales.)

With sales largely in China, the Baidu device – and its success – is part of the country’s “Made in China 2025.” Established in 2015, the strategic plan lays out a roadmap to transition China from being regarded as a source of inexpensive, low quality goods toward a reputation as a source for premium higher value products and services. That Baidu was able to overtake Google, “is a result of the company’s sole and aggressive focus on the fast growing China market,” Canalys analyst Jason Low tole The Washington Post. It’s unclear how the trade war between the United States and China will impact the smart speaker market, and Low commented that the rankings are likely to remain fluid.

Europe’s plan to take on tech’s giants

The Financial Times reported on an internal document circulating around the European Commission detailing plans to launch the “European Future Fund,” designed to invest in strategic markets and sectors where Europe trails global rivals. The proposal says that non-European companies potentially have the ability to eradicate the industrial position of European industries in some sectors.

It specifically calls out four U.S. firms (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, collectively called GAFA) and three Chinese companies (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, aka BAT), citing that these entities have bought up rival technologies and “now manage the global digital agenda.” “Europe has no such companies,” the FT quotes from the document, adding “This presents a risk to growth, jobs and to Europe’s influence in key strategic sectors.”

Related pro tip

The world may have changed since 2016, but developing integrated communications plan that is relevant globally hasn’t. Check out this vintage post to learn more about SHIFT’s approach to global comms programs.

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