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04-06: Apple may be working with PlayNitride for Micro LED; Xiaomi Mi 7 to feature under-display fingerprint scanner; Foxconn to manufacture Finney blockchain smartphone; etc.

Chipsets

The semiconductor industry closed out 2017 in blockbuster fashion, posting the highest year-over-year growth in 14 years. Global semiconductor revenue grew 21.7%, reaching USD429.1B in 2017, according to IHS Markit. Recording year-over-year growth of 53.6%, and its highest semiconductor revenue ever, Samsung replaced Intel as the new market leader of the semiconductor industry in 2017. (Laoyaoba, IHS Markit, press)

Touch Display

Apple may be preparing to add Taiwanese firm PlayNitride to its partners on what appears to be a growing MicroLED initiative for future devices. (CN Beta, Apple Insider, Digitimes, press)

Apple has reportedly decided to cut down on the rigid flexible printed circuit board for upcoming new OLED iPhones, replacing the part with cheaper and less advanced multi-flexible printed circuit boards. Currently, three Korean PCB makers — LG Innotek, Interflex and Youngpoong Electronics — are suppliers of RFPCBs. (Laoyaoba, The Investor)

LG’s patent is titled Mobile Terminal” features two screens, a pair of batteries and two headphone jacks. Both screens are curved allowing the side of the phone to display the date and time, temperature, and other notifications. (Phone Arena, LetsGoDigital, Android Headlines, IT Home)

RiTdisplay Corp CEO Wang Dingzhang indicates that in 2018 POLED will grow further that can bring the company both revenues and profit to have a new record high, i.e., 30% growth. End of 2017 a new production line is added, which is expected to enter full production in 2H18, with monthly production of 18,000 in end of 2017 increase to 25,000 units (40% growth). The company might add an additional line in 2H18. (Laoyaoba, UDN)

The market for organic materials used to manufacture organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display panels jumped during 2H17, according to IHS Markit. The market, as measured by revenue, was estimated to be USD355M in 2H17, up 20% from 1H17. Considering demand growth and current investment plans regarding OLED manufacturing capacities, the OLED materials market is expected to continue to grow until 2020, reaching USD824M by 2H20. (IHS Markit, press, iFeng)

Storage

Western Digital (WD) has announced a new solid state drive featuring its own SSD architecture and controller. The Western Digital Black 3D NVMe SSD is an M.2 (2280) PCIe Gen 3.0 x4 drive offered in capacities of 250GB, 500GB and 1TB. (CN Beta, Techspot, Western Digital)

According to Silicon Motion general manager Kou Jiazhang, NAND Flash supply is tight in 1H18, and in 2Q18 it will drop. However, with the main vendors launching new products in 2H18, the memory is increasing, and the cost will stop dropping, which helps with the growth. Kou Jiazhang emphasizes that with major international vendors like Samsung, SK Hynix, Toshiba and Western Digital, Intel and Micron increasing their production, by end of 2018 the 96-layer or QLC standard 3D NAND production capacity will be released. In 2019, with China Tsinghua Unigroup start releasing production, the supply will increase further. (Laoyaoba, UDN, China Times, UDN)

Biometrics

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun has revealed that upcoming Mi 7 will feature a display-based fingerprint sensor. (Ubergizmo, GSM Arena, NDTV, Sohu, IT Home)

Battery

Mophie has launched a new Qi wireless charger for Apple’s iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, the Mophie Charge Stream Pad+. Charge Stream Pad+ is its first universal high-speed wireless charging accessory, compatible with the fast charging capabilities of both Apple and Samsung devices.  (CN Beta, Mac Rumors, SlashGear)

Connectivity

Ofcom announces results of U.K.’s 5G spectrum bidding war. Vodafone wins largest share of 3.4GHz band, but O2 emerges on top with 5G and 4G gains. Telefónica-owned carrier jumps from 14% overall spectrum ownership to 20%, just ahead of Three. (Android Authority, The Guardian, Independent, Telegraph)

Phones

Huawei has opted to bring its now China-only AppGallery storefront to other countries. AppGallery will be available on all future Huawei phones, starting 2018, the company announced. It is expected to roll out for older models in 2Q18. (GizChina, Phone Arena, Huawei, Anzhuo, Baijiahao)

Ren Zhengfei, founder and president of Huawei, acted quickly to quash rumors that the company will move its headquarters, insisting it will always be based in Shenzhen. (My Drivers, China News, Zaobao, Asia Times, The Paper)

Xiaomi has announced a new program called Mi Crowdfunding in India. Under this program, Xiaomi will post a curated list of innovation driven products and the company will start selling these products only when a specified number of people support the product. (GizChina, TechRadar, First Post, BGR)

Swiss-Israeli technology firm Sirin Labs said that FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Foxconn, will manufacture its Finney blockchain smartphone, which is designed to securely store and use digital currencies such as bitcoin in fee-less transactions. (Ubergizmo, Bloomberg, Coin Desk, Reuters, BTC Box, Sina)

India is currently the largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world right now, second only to China. According to Indian Cellular Association (ICA), the annual production of mobile phones within the country has increased from 3M devices in 2014 to 11M devices in 2017. The Fast Track Task Force (FTTF), a body that falls under the Ministry of Electronics and IT, has set its sights on the target of 500M mobile phones produced locally by 2019, estimated to be valued at around USD46B. (Laoyaoba, Live Mint, Tech Radar, Times of India, Economic Times, Tencent, Sohu)

The Indian government imposed a 10% duty on imports of populated printed circuit boards (PCBs), camera modules and connectors, making the imports of the components expensive while giving a stimulus to local manufacturing under its Make in India program.  (Economic Times, Laoyaoba)

Wearables

Apple’s patent application for an “Adaptive vehicle augmented reality display using stereographic imagery” details an AR system that can use a pre-generated 3D model of the world in improving how it generates 3D content for its users.  (Apple Insider, USPTO, Huanqiu)

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