07-23: Baidu and JD.com to jointly invest about USD12B in China Unicom; The NB-IoT module integrates with China Mobile’s eSIM card and supports OneNET, China Mobile’s IoT open platform; etc.

Chipsets

Samsung Electronics, Dongbu HiTek and SK Hynix have stepped up their foundry business expansions, which will as a group pose a threat to the existing major dedicated foundry houses. (Digitimes, press, Laoyaoba)

Qualcomm has announced revenues of around USD5.4B, which is down 11% YoY from USD6B. Operating income was USD800M for F3Q17, 51% decrease YoY, but a slight increase of 6% on quarter. Net income sits at USD900M, down from USD1.4B a year ago. Qualcomm blames Apple’s lawsuit with the company for its lower-than-expected numbers for the quarter. (Android Headlines, TechNews, Qualcomm)

MediaTek has unveiled its first narrow band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) System-on-Chip (SoC), the MT2625, and announced a collaboration with China Mobile to build the world’s smallest NB-IoT module (16mm X 18mm) around the chipset. The NB-IoT module integrates with China Mobile’s eSIM card and supports OneNET, China Mobile’s IoT open platform, which makes it easy for device makers to quickly develop and bring to market innovative NB-IoT devices. (Laoyaoba, EE World, EET-China, China Times, Sohu, Sina, PR Newswire)

Touch Display

Samsung Electronics will procure liquid crystal display panels from LG Display (LGD). LGD will allegedly soon begin supplying panels 40” and larger to Samsung. LGD is expected to provide panels for about 700,000 LCD televisions by end 2017. Samsung appears to have procured 2M~3M panels from Sakai Display in 2016. (Asia Nikkei, Laoyaoba)

Shipments of bezel-free or alternative aspect ratio smartphones will exceed 120M units in 2017, and will more than triple in 2018, according to Counterpoint Research. This demand will more than 3× in 2018 as supply issues ease and more OEMs will be able to offer bezel-free flagship models in their portfolio in 2H18. (Counterpoint Research, press, Digitimes)

Camera

Sony reportedly plans to increase its CMOS image sensor (CIS) production by end Mar 2018 for smartphones and digital camera applications. Using 12” wafer as a base, the monthly production will increase from current 88,000 pcs to 100,000 pcs, which represents a 14% increase. (Laoyaoba, TechNews, 52RD, Money DJ)

As dual-lens cameras are being increasingly adopted in high-end smartphones, the proportion of smartphones with dual-lens cameras is expected to rise from 16% in 2017 to 30% in 2018 and possibly to 50% in 2019, according to Digitimes Research. Due to technological difficulty, prices for dual-lens models are much higher than for a single-lens, standing at about USD20 versus USD8. (Digitimes, Saluzi, Digitimes, press)

Memory

Vishal Kara, Head of Product at Piriform (the makers of CCleaner for Android) indicates that there is no right or wrong to how much RAM a smartphone requires, although RAM plays a big part in how fluid and seamless our smartphone experience is. John Poole of Primate Labs (makers of benchmarking software Geekbench 4 for iOS and Android) explains for smartphones, 4GB is plenty right now. (My Drivers, Sina, Digital Trends)

Samsung Electronics has increased the production volume of its 8GB high bandwidth memory-2 (HBM2) to meet growing market needs across a wide range of applications including AI, high-performance computing (HPC), advanced graphics, network systems and enterprise servers. (Digitimes, AnandTech, CN Beta)

While today’ mobile devices use either UFS (Universal Flash Storage) or eMMC (embedded multi-media card)-based NAND flash solutions to store information, eMMC5.1 chips are becoming progressively unable to meet the data transmission speed demands of high-end mobile devices, according to Digitimes Research. (Digitimes, press, Digitimes, press)

Sensory

Lately a number of phones are selling HiFi audio quality: vivo X9s Plus with ES9318 DAC+ 2-in-1 audio chipset, Huawei Honor 9 with AKM HiFi chipset, OnePlus 5 supporting Bluetooth aptX & aptX HD high quality music transfer, etc., proving that sound audio quality has become another selling point of a smartphone. (My Drivers, ZOL, article)

Connectivity

Baidu and JD.com will join other big Chinese technology firms to jointly invest about USD12B in the Shanghai-listed unit of China Unicom. (VentureBeat, The Street, Reuters, Sohu, Reuters)

According to MIIT, in Jun 2017, mobile phone users have reached 1.36B, in particular Jan~Jun 2017 net addition is 42.74M. Mobile network (3G / 4G) users have reached 1.04B, in which Jan~Jun net addition is 96.05M users. 2G and 3G users are shifting to 4G, thus 4G growth is steady, reaching total 888M users, which is 65.1% of total mobile phone users. (MIIT, press, Laoyaoba)

Smartphones

IDC points out that in 1Q17 Samsung leads the Indian smartphone market with 28.1% market share, follows by Xiaomi (14.2%), vivo (10.5%), Lenovo (9.5%) and OPPO (9.3%). Micromax, Intex, Reliance Jio and other Indian domestic brands are kicked out of top 5 rank. (UDN, Laoyaoba)

In Fortune magazine’s 63rd composition of the list of Fortune 500 companies, Apple has seized the 3rd spot in revenue, behind Walmart and Berkshire Hathaway. Ranked by profitability, the company reaps USD45.7B in profit and handily dispatching 2nd place J.P. Morgan Chase with USD24.7B. Walmart is far behind the pair, at 11th place with USD13.6B in profit. (CN Beta, Fortune, Mac Rumors, Apple Insider)

Reliance has unveiled 4G / VoLTE feature phone JioPhone – 2.4” QVGA display, 512MB RAM, 4GB ROM, 2000mAh battery, free but requires a deposit of INR1,500 (USD25) for 3 years. Indians are now consuming 1.2B GB of cellular data per month, with Jio serving 85% of that traffic, with 500MB traffic data. (Android Central, India Times, First Post, NDTV, CN Beta, Indian Express)

Wearables

Lenovo has announced its AI segment development, including SmartVest, SmartCast+, daystAR, and other smart devices. (Laoyaoba, Lenovo, Engadget, Android Headlines)

Wearable players originally had high expectations about emerging IT applications, but several have started changing their strategies as most are seeing weak sales from the product line, according to Digitimes citing sources from the upstream supply chain. Since demand for wearable devices is weaker than expected and competition between first-tier vendors including Fitbit, Xiaomi, Apple, Garmin and Samsung, has been fierce, latecomers and smaller players are seeing trouble surviving in the market.  (Digitimes, press, Laoyaoba)

Internet of Things

China produced 72,400 industrial robots in 2016 and 35,073 units in Jan-Apr 2017, increasing 34.3% and 51.7% on year respectively, Forward Business and Intelligence said, adding 34,000 locally produced industrial robots were sold in the China market in 2016 and the sales volume in 2017 is expected to increase to 43,000 units. (Digitimes, press, Qianzhan, OfWeek, Sohu)

Economy

China’s gross domestic product (GPD) grew 6.9% in 2Q17, according to government data, the same figure as the previous quarter and marginally higher than most forecasts. In 1H17, the growth rate was also 6.9%, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement. (Barron’s, CNN, China Daily, Reuters, NBS, NY Times, Sina)

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