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12-18: Tight supply of NAND Flash is expected to relax in 1Q18; Nomura thinks shipments from OPPO and vivo face downside risk in 4Q17~1H18; etc.

Chipsets

DIGITIMES Research analyzes the expansion strategy of 12” silicon wafer manufacturers. As silicon wafer manufacturers require at least 15 months building their new production capacity, thus their first choice would be to adopt a debottlenecking method. However, it is expected that the monthly demand for 12” silicon wafers will increase by 1.25M or more in 2017-2020. The gap is still big. (Digitimes, press)

Kim Ki-nam, chief executive officer of Samsung Electronics’ devices solutions business, is expected to discuss measures to find new profit sources, pivoting on non-memory and foundry businesses, for the company’s most lucrative unit at an upcoming strategy meeting. Kim is likely to demand measures to reinforce the company’s non-memory and foundry businesses that have been weaker than its memory business. (Korea Herald, Laoyaoba)

Touch Display

Lens Technology raises CNY4.8B from CB issue, which will be use for consumer electronics protective glass projects and window protective glass construction projects. (Laoyaoba, JRJ, Rednet, IFR Asia)

Camera

Smartphones accounted for 50% of the photos uploaded to Flickr, up from 48% in 2016. DSLR was 33%, up from 25% in 2016, and point and shoot was 12%, down from 21% in 2016. Mirrorless remained at 4% of total uploads for the third year in a row. (CN Beta, NDTV, Flickr, 9to5Mac, TechCrunch)

Memory

Tight supply of NAND Flash is expected to relax in 1Q18, Samsung and other manufacturers are actively making the move to 3D NAND Flash recently, but 3D NAND Flash production equipment cannot switch back to DRAM production, plus major DRAM vendors are still absurd to increase production forecast for DRAM, thus DRAM market in 2018 will still be in short supply. (UDN, Laoyaoba)

Battery

DIGITIMES Research observed that after Tesla entered the market of energy storage batteries and energy storage systems, after 1 year, 3 traditional gasoline car manufacturers also successively announced their efforts to enter the energy storage market, including Germany’s Daimler Group, Renault-Nissan alliance and Germany’s BMW. (Digitimes, press)

Sensory

University of Arizona’s College of Optical Sciences has built a prototype display that can arrange a digital teapot in front of some objects and behind others, controlling which pixels are occluded. (MIT Technology Review, Optics Express, Engadget)

Biometrics

A smartphone’s camera image sensor contains microscopic manufacturing flaws, which show up in its photos as tiny imperfections known as photo-response non-uniformity (PRNU). Because each phone has its own unique PRNU pattern, scientists from the University at Buffalo have proposed that it could be used as a form of personal identification. (My Drivers, New Atlas, University of Buffalo)

Connectivity

Blackberry and Denso that hold a considerable expertise in connected devices have jointly developed an integrated HMI platform that will optimally link and manage various other HMI products including sound and display inside the cabin of vehicle in considerably low price. The HMI platform will be fitted majorly in successive car models that are expected to be released post 2019. (CrackBerry, CN Beta, Sina, ZMR Blog)

Smartphones

Nomura thinks shipments from OPPO and vivo face downside risk in 4Q17~1H18, and both brands could see first-time declines in smartphones in 2018. Compared with OPPO and vivo, Huawei and Xiaomi are better off, owing to their overseas expansions. Further, Nomura sees rising cash flow risks for some tier 3 brands, as they are squeezed by rising component prices and weak end demand. In addition, a few smaller players are likely to be squeezed out of the market in 2018. (Nomura report)

Meizu has announced that it has shipped almost 20M smartphones in 2017. However, this performance is slightly lower than its 2016 performance as it shipped about 22M units. Meizu also stated that it got over CNY20B in revenue in 2017. (GizChina, My Drivers, iFeng, 163)

Tencent, recently became Asia’s first USD500B company, has agreed to buy USD604M in shares of Chinese online retailer Vipshop. The deal is being made with long-time partner JD.com, which will invest USD259M into Vipshop. That takes the total between the two to USD863M. (TechCrunch, Globe Newswire, FT Chinese, NBD)

Xiaomi has announced that it will be giving away rewards worth CNY150M (USD22.7M) during the upcoming shopping festival. The announcement comes at a time when the company is very close to achieving its yearly target. The company had earlier said that it aims to ship 90M smartphone units in 2017. (Gizmo China, China Power, Sohu, 52RD)

vivo Y75 is launched – 5.7” 1440×720 HD+ display, MediaTek MT6763 processor, rear 13MP + front 16MP cameras, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, Android 7.1, 3000mAh battery, CNY1598. (GSM Arena, vivo, My Drivers)

Internet of Things

In aggregate, the AI 100 companies have raised USD11.7B in equity funding across 367 deals. CB Insights lists 2017’s AI 100, of top companies that are involved in artificial intelligence (AI), including Drive.ai, Graphcore, etc. (Laoyaoba, CB Insights, report)

The World Inequality Report 2018 is based on an interactive collection of data compiled by an international team of researchers. Global income inequality has worsened over the past 40 years, with the wealthiest 1% of the world’s population capturing twice as much income growth as the bottom half. (World Inequality Lab, summary[cn], summary[en], CBS News, Money Control, TechNews)

A study of 12,000 people by French advertising firm Havas has revealed that human-robot relations could become ever more cozy in the years to come, with some 25% of people aged between 18-34 believing that it will be normal for humans and robots to develop deep friendships, or even fall in love. (RT, CN Beta, Havas, report)

Steve Clayton, the general manager in charge of artificial intelligence at Microsoft, says that after 5 decades of research into AI, it is only getting infused into everyday computing now that 3 stars have aligned: we have “almost infinite” computing power in the cloud; there are vast amounts of data that can be used by machine learning; and there have been major breakthroughs in the algorithms through which all that computing power learns from all that data. (Laoyaoba, Financial Review)

Key advances have the capacity to dazzle the public, policymakers, and investors into believing that human-level machine intelligence may be just around the corner. However, “AI Index” attests that this is far from true. The “AI Index” report uses several metrics to measure the current AI boom, including growth in job postings related to AI, the rise of AI-focused startups, and the number of contributors to major open-source AI projects.  (TechNews, Technology Review, NY Times, AI Index report)

A California-based startup Oben aims to create humanoid avatars. The startup specializes in what it calls ‘personalized artificial intelligence’ or PAI. ObEN is working with South Korean powerhouse SM Entertainment to create PAIs for its pantheon of K-pop superstars. In Jun 2017, the two companies announced a Hong Kong-based joint venture called AI Stars Limited. (CN Beta, Tech in Asia, Oben)

BMW will spend over EUR100M (GBP87.9M) on a test track for self-driving and electric cars in the Czech Republic, as it expands its foray into alternative driving technologies. The construction of BMW’s first vehicle testing project in eastern Europe will create several hundred jobs in the Czech Republic. (CN Beta, Digital Trends, Yahoo)

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