China’s Smartphone Sales Plunged to Lowest in a Decade in 2022, Vivo Top-Selling Brand: Report
By Reuters | Updated: 30 January 2023
China’s smartphone sales endured a record fall in 2022, tumbling 13 percent to their lowest level in a decade as COVID controls and a slowing economy sapped consumer appetite, data from third-party research firms showed.
The total number of devices shipped was 286 million, down from 329 million in 2021. It was the lowest sales volume since 2013 and the first time since then that annual sales have dropped below 300 million, IDC said in a report.
Strict COVID-19 controls weighed heavily on the Chinese economy last year but Beijing started dismantling the restrictions in December, boosting consumption.
“The strict pandemic control policy has resulted in historically high household savings as consumer spending became conservative,” said Lucas Zhong, who tracks China’s smartphone sector for research firm Canalys.
Android handset maker Vivo was the top-selling brand in 2022, with a market share of 18.6 percent, according to IDC. Its total shipments fell 25.1 percent year-on-year.
Huawei Technologies spin-off Honor ranked as the second best-selling brand, with shipments growing more than 34 percent, albeit from a low base.
Apple was the third best-selling phone brand in 2022, tied with Oppo, moving up from fourth place in the previous year.
Apple’s overall sales fell 4.4 percent year-on-year, according to IDC, while all other rivals excluding Honor saw sales fall in the double digits.
Overall, the plunge in smartphone sales in China reflected the sector’s performance globally. In 2022, global smartphone shipments hit 1.2 billion, the lowest since 2013 and a year-on-year fall of more than 11 percent, according to IDC.
A separate report from Canalys published on Monday said that in the fourth quarter of 2022, Apple sold 16.4 million devices, down 24 percent year-on-year. This compared to a 37.3 percent shipments slump from Xiaomi and Honor’s 14.1 percent fall during the same quarter.
That marks the first time Apple shipments dropped year-on-year in China since early 2020, when the first wave of COVID-19 swept the country. The fall was caused by an earlier release of the latest iPhone series as well as by worker unrest at its major manufacturer Foxconn’s plant in the city of Zhengzhou that impacted its supply chain, Canalys said.
Still, Apple remained the top-selling phone maker in China in the quarter, hitting record-high market share, Canalys added.
Blackberry to Sell Patents for Mobile Devices in New $900 Million Deal After Sale to Catapult Collapses
By Reuters | Updated: 21 March 2023
BlackBerry said on Tuesday it would sell patents, primarily related to its mobile devices, for up to $900 million (roughly Rs. 7,441 crore) after the Canadian software company scrapped an earlier deal with Catapult IP Innovations.
Malikie Innovations will buy the patents and pay $170 (roughly Rs. 1,405 crore) million in cash on deal closing, and another $30 million (roughly Rs. 248 crore) three years later. BlackBerry will also get annual cash royalties from the profits generated from the patents, relating to its messaging and wireless networking among others.
Malikie is a newly formed unit of intellectual property monetization firm Key Patent Innovations.
Blackberry said last year it was exploring other options to sell its patents as the planned deal with Catapult IP Innovations Inc was taking longer than usual to close, leading to a loss in exclusivity.
“Catapult was unable to secure financing that would have enabled it to complete the previously announced transaction on amended terms that were acceptable to BlackBerry,” the Canadian company said in a statement.
Once known for its phones with a tiny QWERTY physical keyboard and the BBM instant messaging service, BlackBerry’s core businesses today are cybersecurity and software used by automakers.
Last year, the company pulled the plug on service for its smartphones, a culmination of years of market share loss to Apple’s iPhones and rival Android devices.
In February 2022, Blackberry had said it would sell its legacy patents primarily related to mobile devices, messaging and wireless networking for $600 million (roughly Rs. 4,490 crore) to a special purpose vehicle formed to acquire the company’s patent assets.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
Samsung Wins Lawsuit Over Galaxy ‘S10’ Trademark Rights: All Details
By Reuters | Updated: 21 March 2023
Samsung convinced a Los Angeles federal jury on Friday that its Galaxy S10 phones do not violate the trademark rights of a talent-management agency that also uses the “S10” name.
The jury found that S10 Entertainment & Media had not shown that Samsung’s popular smartphones were likely to cause consumer confusion and drown out its brand in the marketplace, according to a court document published Monday.
Representatives for Samsung and S10 did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
S10 Entertainment, which manages the pop singers Anitta and Normani, said it began using the S10 name in 2017. Samsung began selling its Galaxy S-series smartphones in 2010 and started offering Galaxy S10 phones in 2019.
S10 argued Samsung’s advertising would confuse customers into thinking the brands were affiliated, citing Samsung’s use of a similar font and color scheme as the talent agency for its S10 logo and its promotional partnerships with musicians.
The lawsuit said S10 had received social-media messages from people trying to buy Samsung’s phones. It also said Samsung was aware of the company before adopting the branding, and that Samsung and S10 had discussed a potential deal for Anitta to endorse the tech giant.
“As a result of confusion between Samsung’s S10 phone line and S10 Entertainment’s S10 mark, the value and goodwill of S10 Entertainment’s Instagram and social media footprint has been severely diminished,” the lawsuit said.
Samsung told the court that its use of “S10” would not cause confusion, that it had priority to the S10 name based on its earlier Galaxy S “family” of marks, and that S10 waited too long to bring the lawsuit.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
Samsung to Invest in Smart Manufacturing at Noida Mobile Phone Plant, Will Make Production More Competitive
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 20 March 2023
Korean electronics major Samsung will invest in setting up smart manufacturing capabilities at its largest mobile phone plant in Noida to make production more competitive, company’s global head for mobile business said here on Monday.
Samsung Electronics President and Head of Mobile eXperience Business TM Roh in response to a PTI query on company’s investment plan in India said that the company will continue to invest in research and development facility in the country.
“We will continue our investment to bring the optimised and or smart factory to the Noida facilities. We will continue our investment there. I believe this our investment for the smart factory will bring competitiveness in the production,” Roh said.
Samsung has its biggest manufacturing facility in Noida. The company this year started manufacturing its premium Galaxy S23 series in India.
“We have biggest research and development centre here. For the new innovation we will continue our investment in this area,” Roh said.
Samsung has around 10,000 employees at its R&D centres across India, out of which the largest base of close to 3,500 people is located at it Bengaluru centre.
Last week, it was reported that Samsung Electronics expects to invest $230 billion (roughly Rs. 18,97,500 crore) over the next 20 years to develop what the South Korean government called the world’s largest chip-making base, in line with efforts to boost the national chip industry.
Samsung’s manufacturing additions will include five chip factories and attract up to 150 materials, parts and equipment makers, fabless chipmakers and semiconductor research-and-development organisations near Seoul, the industry ministry said in a statement.
Huawei Replaced Over 13,000 Parts Hit by US Trade Sanctions, Says Founder
By Reuters | Updated: 18 March 2023
Huawei’s founder said that the company has replaced more than 13,000 parts in its products that were hit by US trade sanctions, according to a transcript of a speech posted on Friday by a Chinese university.
According to the transcript posted by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said Huawei had over the past three years replaced the 13,000 components with domestic Chinese substitutes and had redesigned 4,000 circuit boards for it products. He said production of circuit boards had “stabilized.”
The remarks, which Reuters could not independently verify, provided a window into Huawei’s efforts to bounce back from US trade restrictions. Since 2019, Huawei, a major supplier of equipment used in 5G telecommunications networks, has been the target of successive rounds of US export controls.
Those controls cut off both Huawei’s supply of chips from US companies and its access to US technology tools to design its own chips and have them manufactured by partners. The Biden administration last year also banned the sale of new Huawei equipment in the US.
Ren made the remarks in a talk to Chinese technology experts on February 24, the university said. The university posted the transcript on its website on Friday. A US-based Huawei representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Ren said Huawei invested $23.8 billion (roughly Rs. 1,96,425 crore) in R&D in 2022, and “as our profitability improves, we’ll continue to increase R&D spending.”
The reports come after analysts said that Huawei showed off 5G telecommunications equipment at an industry conference in Barcelona in which all of the chips on its circuit boards had their origins obscured.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
India Aims Rs. 24 Lakh Crore Electronics Manufacturing Capability by 2026: MoS IT
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 18 March 2023
The government aims to increase electronics manufacturing capability to Rs. 24 lakh crore by 2025-26, which will also help create over 10 lakh jobs, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Friday.
Speaking at a function in Bengaluru, the minister said the country is today at an inflection point — the most exciting period in its history — and the present generation of students is the luckiest generation in the independent India’s history.
“…target of the Narendra Modi Government is to increase electronics manufacturing capability to Rs. 24 lakh crore by 2025-26, which will also help create over 10 lakh jobs,” an official statement quoted him as saying.
He said that there are more than 90,000 startups, including 110 unicorns, in which young Indians are playing a big part.
The minister said that at least 15 lakh young Indians from Karnataka will be given training in industry relevant future-ready skills.
“Remembering ‘Appu’, (the popular Kannada actor Puneeth Rajkumar as he was commonly referred to) on his birthday, Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the day is observed as ‘Spoorti Dina’ or Inspiration Day, and that the occasion could not be more apt to discuss opportunities in IndiaTechade with students,” the statement said.
To a query about the Silicon Valley Bank crisis and the Indian government’s role to mitigate the woes of startups, Chandrasekhar said, “The Indian banking system is much more resilient and stronger in comparison to any other country’s banking system. Startups should therefore opt for Indian banks as their preferred banking partners.”
Baidu Unveils AI-Powered Ernie Bot to Rival OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google Bard: All Details
By Reuters | Updated: 16 March 2023
Chinese search engine giant Baidu on Thursday unveiled its much-anticipated artificial intelligence-powered chatbot known as Ernie Bot, giving the world a glimpse of what could be China’s strongest rival to US research lab OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
The popularity of ChatGPT, backed by Microsoft, has triggered a frenzied rush among Chinese tech giants and startups alike to develop a rival. Baidu jumped to the forefront of the race after saying early last month it was close to completing a chatbot using its AI-driven deep learning model, Ernie – short for “Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration”.
The Ernie Bot introduction, in a presentation at Baidu headquarters in Beijing, comes two days after Alphabet’s Google unveiled a flurry of AI tools for its email, collaboration and cloud software. Microsoft is expected to make a similar announcement to Google later on Thursday.
“For sure we cannot say that it’s perfect,” said Baidu CEO Robin Li, presenting Ernie Bot. “So why are we unveiling it today? Because the market demands it.”
But the limited presentation of Ernie Bot, restricted to brief, pre-recorded videos, failed to match market hopes and Baidu’s Hong Kong-listed shares in the firm tumbled as much as 10 percent before clawing back some ground.
During the presentation, Li showed five videos of Ernie Bot answering questions on popular Chinese science fiction novel “The Three Body Problem”, carrying out mathematical calculations, understanding Chinese dialects, and generating a video and image with text prompts.
“Today’s announcement is a natural continuation of the hard work we have put in over the past many years,” he said at the event, which was also live streamed across nine platforms, including Twitter, Youtube, and Weibo. Twitter and Youtube are blocked in China.
Starting Thursday, Ernie Bot will be open to an initial group of users with invitation codes, and companies can apply to embed the bot into their products via Baidu’s cloud platform.
Baidu has touted its many years of heavy R&D investment in artificial intelligence and deep learning as one reason it is best placed to lead the race to develop a Chinese answer to ChatGPT. Baidu’s research and development expenses in 2022 were CNY 21.4 billion (roughly Rs. 25,630 crore), accounting for 22 percent of revenue.
Baidu plans to use Ernie Bot to revolutionise its search engine, by far the most dominant in China, as well as use it to increase efficiency in cloud, smart cars, and household appliances, among other mainstream businesses.
Earlier this week, OpenAI on Tuesday said it is beginning to release a powerful artificial intelligence model known as GPT-4, describing it as “multimodel”, meaning images as well as text prompts can spur it to generate content.
Li nodded to GPT-4 during his speech, saying that its coming showed the threshold for this sort of technology was very high, and that it surprised him with its ability to summarise information.
But he also cautioned against seeing this through the lens of geopolitics. “Ernie Bot is not a tool of confrontation between China and the US,” he said.
To date, 650 companies have said they will join the Ernie ecosystem, he added. Chinese state media outlets and a Shaolin temple were among the first sign-ups to become Ernie Bot partners.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
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