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Samsung’s Quarterly Profits Down 95 Percent From Last Year; Company Blames Slow Consumer Spending, Chip Glut




The company said that "overall consumer spending slowed amid the uncertain global macroeconomic environment."

By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 27 April 2023

Samsung Electronics on Thursday reported its worst quarterly profits in 14 years, blaming slowing consumer spending on electronics and a global microchip glut that hit its core memory business.

The South Korean company — one of the world’s largest makers of memory chips and smartphones — said in a statement that operating profit fell to KRW 640 billion (roughly Rs. 3,900 crore) — down 95 percent from a year earlier.

Its first-quarter net income fell 86.1 percent to KRW 1.57 trillion (roughly Rs. 9,575 crore), and sales dropped 18 percent to KRW 63.75 trillion (roughly Rs. 3,88,800 crore).

The company said that “overall consumer spending slowed amid the uncertain global macroeconomic environment”.

Samsung also blamed weakening demand for memory chips — which usually generate about half of its profits — and falling chip prices.

The firm’s chip division reported 4.58 trillion won in losses, its first operating loss since 2009 — when the world was emerging from the 2008 financial crisis.

It said this was due to “continued price declines and an increased valuation loss… amid weakening sentiment and continued impacts of inventory adjustments by customers caused by prolonged external uncertainties”.

Demand for memory was “expected to gradually recover” in the second half of 2023, it added, “amid projections that customer inventory levels will have declined.”

The firm is the flagship subsidiary of the giant Samsung Group, by far the largest of the family-controlled conglomerates that dominate business in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

The first-quarter drop is the third consecutive margin squeeze for Samsung, which saw a 70 percent fall in operating profits in the fourth quarter on-year.

Samsung shares were down 0.3 percent Thursday morning.

Scaling back production

Korean chipmakers — led by Samsung — enjoyed record profits in recent years as prices for their products soared, but the global economic slowdown has dealt a blow to memory sales.

Demand swelled during the pandemic as consumers bought new computers and smartphones during lockdowns, prompting chip makers to ramp up production.

But demand quickly diminished as lockdowns lifted and weakened further in the face of soaring inflation and rising interest rates.

Samsung said this month it will scale back memory chip production to a “meaningful” level to address the oversupply, an unusual move by the firm, which previously said it would make only small adjustments.

South Korean chip maker SK Hynix and Micron Technology of the United States have also reduced production.

Samsung’s “active” efforts to get out of the inventory rut were “positively evaluated” considering its effect on market sentiment and demand for memory chips, said a report released by Eugene Investment & Futures.

“Even if the pace of recovery for demand remains slow, the semiconductor industry is highly likely to recover in the second half if cooperation among the chip makers on production cuts goes well,” it added.

While solid sales of its new flagship Galaxy 23 smartphones helped offset deficits in the chip sector in the first quarter, analysts expect conditions in the April to July period to worsen and even lead to Samsung’s first profit loss since 2008.

The recent drop in profits has not deterred Samsung from making bold investments — in March, it unveiled plans to contribute $227 billion (roughly Rs. 18,53,900 crore) over the next two decades to building the world’s largest chip centre in Yongin, south of Seoul.


iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max Sales Expected to Increase Apple’s Smartphone Share in India: Report




Apple has been touting India as its next big growth driver amid declining sales of its flagship device.
By Reuters | Updated: 22 September 2023

Apple is expected to gain a larger share of India’s smartphone sales, with the high-end iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models accounting for more of its shipments. The company is projected to account for 7 percent of all smartphone sales in the country from July to December, up from 5 percent in the first half of 2023, according to data from market researcher Counterpoint shared exclusively with Reuters.

The tech giant has been touting India as its next big growth driver amid declining sales of its flagship device. Its suppliers have also been ramping up manufacturing operations in the region amid weakening demand and regulatory pressure in China.

Wait times in India for Apple’s latest 15 Pro and Pro Max models, which go on sale Friday, are stretching up to late October, mirroring trends seen in China and the US. Counterpoint estimated the models will account for 25 percent of overall iPhone 15 shipments in India in the fourth quarter, a 4 percent increase from what the previous generation top-range models accounted for a year earlier.

“The premium smartphone market in India has climbed tremendously from 0.8 percent of the total market in 2019 to 6.1 percent in the first half of 2023 and this is largely attributed to Apple’s success,” Nabila Popal, a research director at market intelligence firm IDC, said.

Apple is the largest player in the segment for smartphones priced over $800 (roughly Rs. 66,300) in India, with a 67 percent share in the first half, according to IDC data. Samsung accounted for 31 percent of the segment. Apple opened two flagship stores in the country earlier this year and CEO Tim Cook said in August that the company hit “record” revenue in India in the June quarter.

Still, Apple has a long way to go before the country could bring in sales seen in the company’s major markets. Morgan Stanley, in a note earlier this month, estimated that Apple’s revenue from India is about half that of China.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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Apple Supplier Foxconn Aims to Double Jobs, Investment in India Over Next 12 Months




Foxconn already has an iPhone factory in the state of Tamil Nadu, which employs 40,000 people.
By Reuters | Updated: 18 September 2023

Apple supplier Foxconn aims to double its workforce and investment in India by next year, a company executive said on Sunday.

Taiwan-based Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronics, has rapidly expanded its presence in India by investing in manufacturing facilities in the south of the country as the company seeks to move away from China.

V Lee, Foxconn’s representative in India, in a LinkedIn post to mark Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 73rd birthday, said the company was “aiming for another doubling of employment, FDI (foreign direct investment), and business size in India” by this time next year.

He did not give more details.

Foxconn already has an iPhone factory in the state of Tamil Nadu, which employs 40,000 people.

In August, the state of Karnataka said Foxconn will invest $600 million for two projects in the state to make casing components for iPhones and chip-making equipment.

Some $350 million (roughly Rs. 2,890 crore) will go towards setting up the iPhone component unit which will generate 12,000 jobs, while Foxconn will tie up with Applied Materials in a $250 million (roughly Rs. 2,064 crore) project to make chip-making tools, the government had said last month.

The company also plans to invest Rs. 1,600 crore ($194.45 million) to build a campus in Kancheepuram district, near the Tamil Nadu’s capital of Chennai.

The company’s Chairman Liu Young-way said in an earnings briefing last month that he sees a lot of potential in India, adding: “several billion dollars in investment is only a beginning”.

Foxconn reported a 1 percent drop in second-quarter net profit, as global economic woes hurt demand for smart consumer electronics. The Taiwanese company said net profit for the April-June quarter slipped to TWD 33 billion (roughly Rs. 8,578 crore) from a revised TWD 33.29 billion (roughly Rs. 8,654 crore) in the same period the previous year.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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Apple to Update Software on iPhone 12s in France to Settle Radiation Dispute




Apple contested the findings, saying the iPhone 12 was certified by multiple international bodies as compliant with global standards.
By Reuters | Updated: 16 September 2023

Apple pledged on Friday to update software on iPhone 12s in France to settle a dispute over radiation levels, but concerns in other European countries signalled it may have to take similar action elsewhere.

France this week suspended sales of iPhone 12 handsets after tests which it said found breaches of radiation exposure limits.

Apple contested the findings, saying the iPhone 12 was certified by multiple international bodies as compliant with global standards, but said on Friday it would issue a software update to accommodate the testing methods used in France.

Researchers have conducted a vast number of studies over the last two decades to assess the health risks of mobile phones. According to the World Health Organisation, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by them.

But the radiation warning in France, based on results of tests that differ from those carried out in other countries, has prompted concerns across Europe.

Belgium’s state secretary for digitalisation said he had asked Apple to upgrade the iPhone 12 software across EU countries, even though he said that based on the Belgian regulator’s own preliminary review the handset presents no danger to users.

Germany said it was in touch with French authorities to find a European Union-wide solution, while Italy was set to ask Apple to upgrade the software on iPhone 12s there, according to a government source in Rome.

However, any request to Apple or separate decisions by Italian authorities will only come after the end of the French investigation, a second Italian government source said.

The Dutch Authority for Digital Infrastructure said it was also conducting its own investigation, due in two weeks, and was in contact with Apple as well as German and French authorities. The agency said it had received calls from concerned consumers.

The French government welcomed Apple’s software update, saying it would be swiftly tested and should allow for sales of the relatively old iPhone 12 model, launched in 2020, to resume.

“We will issue a software update for users in France to accommodate the protocol used by French regulators. We look forward to iPhone 12 continuing to be available in France,” Apple said in a statement.

“This is related to a specific testing protocol used by French regulators and not a safety concern,” it said.

Apple routinely provides software updates for its phones and computers, mostly to fix a security issue. They can be focused on a particular model or a region, and sometimes Apple issues such updates several times in a month.

Limb tests

France’s Agence Nationale des Frequences (ANFR) said on Tuesday the iPhone 12’s Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) — a measure of the rate of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the body from a piece of equipment — was higher than legally allowed, which prompted the sale suspension.

A change in French regulations in 2020 allowed for testing SAR for limbs — holding a phone in hand — as well as for the head and body, used elsewhere. In the French limb SAR tests, which the iPhone 12 failed, it is measured at a distance of 0 mm compared with a distance of 5mm for body tests.

The Belgian minister for digitalisation, Mathieu Michel, said in a statement on Friday that while a review of the phone by the country’s IBPT regulator was still underway, the first results were “reassuring” and there was no need for a recall of the phone in Belgium.

Even so, he said he had contacted Apple and asked it to “review its software updates in an identical manner within the whole of Europe.”

Denmark too moved to reassure owners of the phone, saying its Safety Authority would not take action following France’s findings and that it was not concerned about radiation levels from using the iPhone 12.

“Based on the available information, the Danish Health Authority’s assessment is that you can continue to use your iPhone 12 without concern,” it said in an emailed statement.

Industry experts said there were no safety risks as regulatory limits, based on the risk of burns or heatstroke from the phone’s radiation, were set well below levels where scientists have found evidence of harm.

“Ultimately I suspect the whole incident will be quickly forgotten,” said Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, highlighting that the iPhone 12 is an old model.

Apple launched the iPhone 15 on Tuesday and the iPhone 12 is not available to buy from Apple directly. It can, however, be bought from third parties that have inventory or trade old phones.

A bigger issue would have been a potential recall, which France had threatened if Apple had refused to do a software update.

Apple’s revenues totalled about $95 billion (nearly Rs. 7,89,600 crore) in Europe last year, making the region its second biggest behind the Americas. Some estimates say it sold more than 50 million iPhones last year in Europe.

The US company does not break out its sales by country or model.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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France Halts iPhone 12 Sales Over High Radiation Levels, Threatens Recall




The European Union has set safety limits for SAR values linked to exposure to mobile phones.
By Reuters | Updated: 13 September 2023

Apple must stop selling its iPhone 12 model in France due to above-threshold radiation levels, France’s junior minister for the digital economy told newspaper Le Parisien in an interview published on Tuesday.

France’s radiation watchdog ANFR notified Apple of its decision to ban iPhone 12 sales after it had carried out tests which showed the smartphone’s Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) was slightly higher than legally allowed, Jean-Noel Barrot told the paper.

Apple did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Barrot said a software update would be sufficient to fix the radiation issues linked to the phone which the U.S. company has been selling since 2020.

“Apple is expected to respond within two weeks”, he said, adding: “If they fail to do so, I am prepared to order a recall of all iPhones 12 in circulation. The rule is the same for everyone, including the digital giants.”

The European Union has set safety limits for SAR values linked to exposure to mobile phones, which could increase the risk of some forms of cancer according to scientific studies.

The French watchdog will now pass on its findings to regulators in other EU member states. “In practical terms, this decision could have a snowball effect”, said Barrot.

In 2020, France widened regulations requiring retailers to display the radiation value of products on packaging beyond cell phones, including tablets and other electronic devices.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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Apple Introduces Key AI Features With New iPhone, Apple Watch Models: All Details




The AI components of the watch chip make Siri, Apple's voice assistant, 25 percent more accurate.
By Reuters | Updated: 13 September 2023

In contrast, Microsoft and Alphabet’s Google set ambitious goals for the level of transformation with their AI efforts. Industry leaders have warned about the potential harms of the unchecked development of new tools such as generative AI.

Apple built the Series 9 Watch with a new chip that includes improved data crunching capabilities, notably adding a four-core “Neural Engine” that can process machine learning tasks up to twice as quickly. The Neural Engine is what Apple calls the building blocks for its chips that accelerate AI functions.

The AI components of the watch chip make Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, 25 percent more accurate.

But including the machine learning chip components also enabled Apple to launch a new way to interact with the device: people can “double tap” by finger-pinching with their watch hand to do things like answer or end phone calls, pause music, or launch other information like the weather.

The idea is to give people a way to control the Apple Watch when their non-watch hand is busy holding a cup of coffee or walking a dog. The feature works by using the new chip and machine learning to detect subtle movements and changes in blood flow when users tap their fingers together.

The iPhone maker also showed off improved image capture for its lineup of phones. The company has long offered a “portrait mode” that can blur the backgrounds using computing power to simulate a large camera lens. But users had to remember to turn the feature on. Now, the camera automatically recognizes when a person is in the frame and gathers the data needed to blur the background later.

Apple is far from the only smartphone maker to add AI to its hardware. Google’s Pixel phones, for example, allow users to erase unwanted people or objects from images.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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iOS 16.6.1 Released With Security Fixes; Vulnerability Used to Infect iPhone with Pegasus Spyware: Researchers




Citizen Lab discovered a flaw used to infect an employee of a US civil society group with NSO Group's nefarious Pegasus spyware.
By Reuters | Updated: 8 September 2023

Researchers at digital watchdog group Citizen Lab said on Thursday they found spyware they linked to Israeli firm NSO that exploited a newly discovered flaw in Apple devices. While inspecting the Apple device of an employee of a Washington-based civil society group last week, Citizen Lab said it found the flaw had been used to infect the device with NSO’s Pegasus spyware, it said in a statement.

“This shows that civil society is once again serving as the early warning system about really sophisticated attacks,” said John Scott-Railton, senior researcher at Citizen Lab, which is based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.

Citizen Lab did not provide further details on the affected individual or the organization.

The flaw allowed the compromise of iPhones running the latest version of iOS (16.6) without any interaction from the victim, the digital watchdog said.

Apple issued new updates on its devices after investigating the flaws reported by Citizen Lab. An Apple spokesperson said it had no further comment, while Citizen Lab urged consumers to update their devices.

An NSO spokesperson said it did not have any immediate comment on the Citizen Lab research.

The Israeli firm has been blacklisted by the US government since 2021 for alleged abuses, including surveillance of government officials and journalists.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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