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Nokia Partners With Google to Build Cloud-Based 5G Network

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By Reuters | Updated: 15 January 2021

Nokia on Thursday partnered with Alphabet’s Google Cloud unit to build 5G core network infrastructure and allow business customers to offer services such as smart retail and automated manufacturing.

Cloud computing units of big technology companies such as Microsoft and Amazon are also tying up with telecoms vendors ahead of deployment of 5G infrastructure to corner a share in new businesses the new technology might enable.

While Nokia will bring its 5G expertise, Google Cloud will serve as the platform for launching applications and assist customers in building an ecosystem of services.

“We will start to see some of these things to get in the live environment by end of this year,” Amol Phadke, Managing Director at Google Cloud told Reuters.

He added that the timeline for the availability of the services would depend on telecom operators.

In October last year, Nokia chief executive Pekka Lundmark overhauled the Finnish company’s 5G strategy. Announcing a new strategy under which the company will have four business groups, Lundmark said Nokia would “do whatever it takes” to take the lead in 5G where it lags Swedish rival Ericsson and Chinese group Huawei.

“We expect to stabilise our financial performance in 2021 and deliver progressive improvement towards our long-term goal after that,” Lundmark said in a statement.

The company also cut its 2020 operating margin forecast to 9 percent from 9.5 percent and for 2021 expects operating margin of 7-10 percent.

JP Morgan analysts said higher research and development spending was likely to drive the margins lower than the consensus expectations of 10.9 percent for 2021. “Nokia is likely to find raising operating margins challenging due to its relatively low market share, Liberum analysts said in a note.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Amazon May Face Cap on Online Smartphone Sales as Indian Mobile Retailers Call for Probe on Business Practices

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By Reuters | Updated: 1 March 2021

An Indian trade group representing 150,000 mobile phone stores on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to investigate Amazon’s business practices in the country and impose a daily cap on a single seller’s online smartphone sales.

In a letter sent to Modi, the group cited a special report published last month that revealed Amazon has for years given preferential treatment to a small group of sellers on its Indian platform, using them to circumvent the country’s strict foreign investment regulations.

The report was based on internal Amazon documents dated between 2012 and 2019.

“We were already aware of Amazon’s thought process and strategy,” the All India Mobile Retailers Association (AIMRA) wrote in the letter. The documents, the letter said, “have revealed that Amazon is doing business in India with the strategy of deftly dodging the regulators and politicians”.

AIMRA urged the government to “suspend all Amazon activities in India” until there is an investigation into the company’s practices.

Amazon says it doesn’t give preferential treatment to any seller on its marketplace and has always complied with Indian law.

Amazon and Modi’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Indian retailers, a crucial part of Modi’s support base, have long alleged that Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart flout federal regulations and that their business practices hurt small traders. The companies, which run the two biggest e-commerce platforms in India, deny the allegations.

The Amazon documents reviewed by Reuters showed the company helped a small number of sellers prosper on its website, discounted their fees and helped one cut special deals with big tech manufacturers such as Apple.

Some 35 of Amazon’s more than 400,000 sellers in India in early 2019 accounted for around two-thirds of its online sales, the documents also showed.

AIMRA said in its letter the government should cap a single seller’s daily smartphone sales on Amazon and Flipkart at Rs. 5 lakhs.

The group also alleges the US firms promoted sales on their platforms through preferred sellers, asking the government to investigate tie-ups between smartphone brands and these sellers.

Flipkart did not respond to a request for comment. In the special report published last month, Amazon said in a statement that it was helping small businesses in India and that it “treats all sellers in a fair, transparent, and non-discriminatory manner”.

Brick-and-mortar retailers have said they’re struggling to compete with the tech giants as online smartphone sales boom. By 2019, 44 percent of smartphones in India were being sold online, with Amazon and Flipkart dominating the sales, according to Forrester Research.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Apple Supplier Foxconn Says ‘Limited Impact’ Expected from Chip Shortage

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By Reuters | Updated: 20 February 2021

The chairman of Apple supplier Foxconn said on Saturday that he expects his company and its clients will face only “limited impact” from a chip shortage that has rattled the global automotive and semiconductor industries. “Since most of the customers we serve are large customers, they all have proper precautionary planning,” said Liu Young-way, chairman of the manufacturing conglomerate formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd. “Therefore, the impact on these large customers is there, but limited,” he told reporters.

Liu said he expected the company to do well in the first half of 2021, “especially as the pandemic is easing and demand is still being sustained.”

The global spread of COVID-19 has increased demand for laptops, gaming consoles, and other electronics. This caused chip manufacturers to reallocate capacity away from the automotive sector, which was expecting a steep downturn.

Now, car manufacturers such as Volkswagen AG, General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co have cut output as chip capacity has shrunk.

Counterpoint Research says the shortage has extended to the smartphone sector, with application processors, display driver chips, and power management chips all facing a crunch.

However, the research firm predicts Apple will face a minimal impact, due to its large size and its suppliers’ tendency to prioritise it. Apple is Foxconn’s largest customer.

Foxconn is looking at other areas for growth, including in electric vehicles (EVs), and Liu said their EV development platform MIH now had 736 partner companies participating.

He expected it would have two or three models to show by the fourth quarter, though did not expect EVs to make an obvious contribution to company earnings until 2023.

Liu also said the company was still looking for semiconductor fab purchase opportunities in Southeast Asia after not winning a bid to take over a stake in Malaysia-based 8-inch foundry house Silterra.

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Apple Privacy Changes: Mobile Advertising Companies Form Alliance to Help App Developers for Update

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By Reuters | Updated: 18 February 2021

Six mobile advertising companies said Wednesday they have formed a partnership to help marketers and app developers adjust to upcoming Apple changes that will affect how advertising works on iPhone models.

Apple will soon begin to prompt iPhone users to allow apps to use their data for personalised advertising, a move that has drawn backlash from tech rival Facebook, which argues the changes will hurt the social media company’s advertisement business.

The Post-IDFA Alliance will provide tips and best practices to help advertisers and developers ensure advertisements are placed in front of relevant consumers and the effectiveness of those advertisements can still be measured after the Apple changes are rolled out, said Mark Ellis, chief executive of mobile marketing company Liftoff, which is part of the alliance.

That will include videos, webinars, and other materials on topics such as understanding what data can be used in an “Apple-friendly manner,” Ellis said.

The new partnership also includes Fyber, Chartboost, Singular, InMobi, and Vungle, which are companies that specialise in mobile advertising.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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5G Phones May Interfere With Aircraft Altitude Instruments, French Regulator Says

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 17 February 2021

The latest generation of smartphones, 5G, can interfere with aircraft altitude instruments, the French Civil Aviation Authority warned Tuesday as it recommended they should be turned off during flight.

“The utilisation of 5G devices onboard aircraft could lead to risks of interference that could potentially result in errors in altitude readings,” a spokesman for the agency told AFP.

The potential phenomenon is due to “signal interference from a close frequency source of a strength that is similar or even superior to that of altimeters.”

This interference can cause errors “in instruments that are extremely critical during landing,” said the agency, known by its French acronym DGAC.

It sent a bulletin on the issue to airlines last week, recommending that 5G phones should either be turned off completely or put in “airplane mode” during flight

Most countries have long required that mobile phones be turned off or placed in airplane mode due to concerns that previous generations of mobile telecommunications networks can interfere with a plane’s navigation and communication equipment.

The DGAC also recommended that in cases of disruption to an aircraft’s equipment that the flight crew immediately notify air traffic controllers who can then alert authorities at the airport.

DGAC also noted that it had laid out conditions for the positioning of 5G base stations in order to limit the risks of interference during landing at French airports.

The strength of signals from 5G base stations placed near France’s main airports has been restricted, said the DGAC, which has been conducting additional testing since November when French telecommunications operators were given the green light to begin rolling out 5G services.

It is continuing to monitor 5G base stations around all French airports in cooperation with the agency responsible for radio frequencies.

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Apple iPhone 12 mini Sales Slow as Smaller Smartphones Lose Appeal: Counterpoint

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By Reuters | Updated: 10 February 2021

Apple’s iPhone 12 mini US sales were just five percent of overall sales of its new phones during the first half of January, industry data provider Counterpoint said on Tuesday, adding to signs of muted demand for the new smaller version of its flagship device.

Smartphone users have switched to larger devices in recent years as they devour more video content on-the-go and binge on visually rich social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat.

JP Morgan analyst William Yang said in a note last week that weak demand for the smaller iPhone 12 and 12 mini Rs. 65,900 might lead Apple to stop production of the mini in the second quarter.

“The product mix adjustment is well expected by investors and should not be a negative surprise,” Yang added.

Apple was not immediately available for comment.

The company launched a smaller variant of the iPhone 12 model last year, but demand for the smaller smartphones seems to be weaker, compared to the high-end iPhone 12 Pro models and the older iPhone 11 models.

“This is in line with what we’re seeing in the broader global market, where screens under 6.0″ now account for around 10 percent share of all smartphones sold,” Counterpoint analyst Tom Kang said.

Apple shipped its iPhone 12 lineup several weeks later than usual last year, but an expanded number of models and new look tapped pent-up demand for upgrades, especially in China.

Last month, the Cupertino, California-based company reported $6 (roughly Rs. 430) percent.60 billion in quarterly revenue from its iPhone models business, beating a record it had set three years ago.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Xiaomi Says Legal Complaint Against US to Protect Company’s Interests

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By Reuters | Updated: 1 February 2021

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi said on Sunday that its legal complaint against the US Department of Defense and the Treasury Department was to protect the company’s interests, in a notice on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The company filed a complaint in a Washington district court on Friday against the US Defense and Treasury Departments, seeking to remove the Chinese smartphone maker from an official list of companies with ties to China’s military.

Xiaomi said the US decision to include the company as a “communist Chinese military company” was “factually incorrect” and said it had asked the courts to declare the decision illegal.

The Defense Department, under the Trump administration in mid-January, added Xiaomi and eight other companies to the list, which requires American investors to divest their holdings in the firms by a set deadline.

Xiaomi has said that 75 percent of the company’s voting rights, under a weighted structure, were held by co-founders Lin Bin and Lei Jun, with no ownership or control from an individual or entity affiliated with the military.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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