04-18: Huawei has said it will release its first 5G-enabled smartphone in 3Q19; ZTE is allegedly evaluating its mobile operating system options as its lawyers meet with Google; etc.

Chipsets

IT168 is studying current smartphone AI technologies, and classify them into true or “fake” based on 3 categories: chipsets, OS and mobile computing platform. (Laoyaoba, IT168, Sina)

Camera

OPPO has signed a strategic licensing agreement with Corephotonics, the leading licensor of dual camera technologies. Under the agreement, both companies will be developing its smartphone camera roadmap – supporting high optical zoom factors, accurate depth mapping, ultra-fast digital bokeh and other advanced features, all involving innovations in optics, mechanics, computational photography, deep learning and other fields. (Laoyaoba, HQEW, CTimes, CIE)

Connectivity

Analysys Mason’s findings show China, South Korea, the United States and Japan as the lead competitors in that order. China holds a narrow lead in overall 5G readiness ahead of South Korea and the United States, according to Analysys Mason. (Android Headlines, Analysys Mason, report, CN Beta)

According to Counterpoint Research, 5G smartphone shipments are expected to grow 255% by 2021, almost reaching 110M units. While we expect growth to be slow during the initial commercialization phase in 2019, there will be an uptick in sales, once countries shift from non-standalone to standalone 5G infrastructure. (Counterpoint Research, Laoyaoba)

Phones

Huawei has said it will release its first 5G-enabled smartphone in 3Q19. The company also focused on enhanced mobile broadband services (eMBB in the jargon of the Next Generation Mobile Networks Initiative group), which are intended to bring 5G up to fixed-line broadband speeds.  (Android Headlines, The Register, Telecoms, The Inquirer, Sohu, My Drivers, Sina)

Huawei has laid off 5 American employees, including William B. Plummer, the executive who was the face of its Sisyphean efforts to win over Washington. Huawei has also been dialing back its political outreach in the United States. Huawei has indicated that any layoffs simply reflected an effort to better align resources with “business strategy and objectives”. (CN Beta, WCFTech, NY Times)

Huawei consumer business CEO Richard Yu has indicated that gaming phone is only a hyped concept, just like the water-proof phone back then. Nowadays, all the flagship phones have certain extent of water-resistance. Similarly, all the phones will support gaming functionalities. In the future, Huawei phones gaming functionalities will be drastically increased, making every Huawei phone a gaming phone. (Laoyaoba, 36Kr, Sina)

ASUS and Flipkart have announced their exclusive long-term partnership to sell ASUS phones in India. This will start on 23 Apr 2018 with the unveiling of the Zenfone Max Pro M1. Flipkart aims to own 40% of smartphone sales in India by 2020. (Android Headlines, NDTV, GSM Arena, Hindustan Times, Baijiahao)

According to Counterpoint Research, global handset profits declined 1% YoY in 4Q17 as the premium smartphone market did not grow as expected. Apple iPhone X alone generated 21% of total industry revenue and 35% of total industry profits during the quarter. Apple remained the most profitable brand, capturing 86% of the total handset market profits. The top 10 models captured 90% of the total handset profits. (Apple Insider, Counterpoint Research, press, Sohu, Sina)

ZTE is allegedly evaluating its mobile operating system options as its lawyers meet with Google, after the U.S. Department of Commerce has announced a 7-year export restriction on goods sporting U.S. components. (TechCrunch, Bloomberg, Sohu)

Ben Schachter of Macquarie Capital believes that Apple Music margin is around 15%, mostly because of the rates it pays artists. Spotify claims 24%, but is still facing lawsuits about compensation, so this may drop in the same time period.  Ben Schachter estimates that Apple Music will average 40% annual growth over the next 3 years, making it the fastest-growing part of the company’s services segment. Apple is expected to report total service revenue of USD8.3B for the fiscal 2Q18 being reported on May 1—up 18% on year. (Apple Insider, 9to5Mac, WSJ, Business Insider)

Wearables

Based on TECHnalysis’ online survey conducted in Mar 2018 of 1,000 US consumers who identify themselves as gamers (and therefore are more likely to have experience with AR and VR), the study provides key insights into the behavior and preferences of current users of many types of mixed reality headsets. One of the more surprising findings from the study was that consumers showed a strong preference for VR over AR (73% vs. 27%).  (TECHanalysis, press, China Times, Laoyaoba)

Snap Inc has opened Lens Studio to face filters, expanding on earlier options that allowed artists and developers to build their own World Lenses. The platform now also supports adding GIFs to the custom lenses through a Giphy integration. (Engadget, Digital Trends, Lens Studio)

Google has developed a Machine Learning (ML) and Augmented Reality (AR)-powered microscope. Google described a prototype Augmented Reality Microscope (ARM) platform that can help accelerate and democratise the adoption of deep learning tools for pathologists around the world. The platform consists of a modified light microscope that enables real-time image analysis and presentation of the results of ML algorithms directly into the field of view.  (CN Beta, Economic Times, Android Police, 9to5Google, Google)

China Unicom has announced that it will launch cellular mobile service specifically for Huawei Watch 2 Pro that equips with eSIM. Huawei Watch 2 Pro supports eSIM independent phone number business, and can make call or go online without the phone. (CN Beta, XDA Developers)

Chinese virtual reality headset maker AntVR will debut Mix, its first augmented reality headset, through a Kickstarter campaign in May 2018. With the price tag of USD500, the Mix AR headset is said to boast a 96º field of view, two 1200×1200 displays with a 90Hz refresh rate. Inside-out head tracking offers 6 degrees of freedom. (VentureBeat, AntVR, Road to VR, Kickstarter)

HTC has announced a new set of tools allowing developers to build applications, which take advantage of the Vive Pro’s stereo front-facing cameras, effectively turning the device into an AR headset dev kit. The new tools allow the cameras to capture depth, spatial mapping data, hand input, and seamlessly shift between VR and AR worlds. With the Vive Pro, the company is offering the VIVE SRWorks SDK. (Road to VR, Digital Trends, Vive, Sohu, Baijiahao)

Internet of Things

Facebook, Microsoft, and 32 other technology companies have pledged to protect their customers from cyberattacks and committed to not help governments advance their cyber warfare efforts. The Cybersecurity Tech Accord is touted as a “watershed agreement” by the signatories and comes after a wave of high-profile cyberattacks over 2017. (VentureBeat, Cybersecurity Tech Accord, JSTV)

Commerce

Alibaba Group and Fivestar Holdings have announced strategic collaboration. Alibaba will invest CNY4.5B in Fivestar’s subsidy Huitongda (HTD), and from there to explore new agriculture samples, organization and development. (CN Beta, Caijing, Sina, East Money)

Pornhub has announced that it has started accepting cryptocurrency as a payment option. The site now accepts Verge cryptocurrency, a rebranded version of Dogecoindark, which split off from the original meme coin, Dogecoin, in 2014. (The Verge, Pornhub, Wired, Coin Telegraph, CN Beta)

The New York state’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, has sent letters to 13 virtual currency exchanges that request specific disclosures about how each company manages its business. Schneiderman’s office has also launched the Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative, which it describes as “a fact-finding inquiry into the policies and practices of platforms used by consumers to trade virtual or ‘crypto’ currencies like bitcoin and ether”. (Engadget, NY Gov, Sina, Sohu)

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