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03-14: BOE is building manufacturing lines to roll out flexible touch screen-integrated OLED displays; CPT has announced plans to slash as many as 2,500 jobs; etc.

Chipsets

The silicon wafer market will likely become oversupplied later in 1Q19, and the situation may worsen in the following quarter. A leading IC foundry has reached an agreement with its wafer suppliers about fulfilling only two-thirds of the amounts specified in the long-term deals for the supply of 12” wafers during 1Q19. (CNA, Digitimes, press)

Flexible PCB manufacturer Fuyang Technology, a joint venture between Pegatron and Kinsus Interconnect Technology, has reportedly entered the supply chain of Apple. Zhen Ding Tech, Flexium Interconnect and Career Technology are other Taiwan-based providers of FPCBs engaged in Apple’s supply chain. (Digitimes, press, UDN, HQEW, CNYES)

The declining market for semiconductors used in mobile handsets and enterprise servers led to a realignment in the company market-share ranking for semiconductor manufacturers. While Samsung led semiconductor sales for the past 5 quarters, Intel outpaced Samsung in 4Q18. Intel’s semiconductor sales revenue reached USD18.4B in 4Q18, compared to USD15.8B for Samsung. (IHS Markit, press, SiS, 199IT)

Samsung is allegedly considering the acquisition of NXP. They are not stopping there. The word is that they want to acquire Infenion and Xilinx too. They too are influential companies in the semiconductor market. (GizChina, Tencent)

Touch Display

BOE is building manufacturing lines to roll out flexible touch screen-integrated OLED displays, named Y-Octa. BOE will refurbish some of the lines at its B11 plant in Mianyang, Sichuan province. The B11 is the second Gen-6 OLED plant the firm operates in the region. BOE, which ran what is called a L6 project to become a supplier for Apple in 2018, is now proceeding with its L7 project to provide displays for the US firm. (Apple Insider, The Investor, OfWeek)

Huawei’s patent illustrates a phone with dual-display design. At the back, the phone has triple cams with a slight module bump, and at the bottom there is a roughly 3” display that can be used to take picture and show notification information. At the front, the display is using notch design with a ToF 3D sensor for 3D face recognition. (CN Beta, LetsGoDigital, GizChina)

The president of Xiaomi, Lin Bin, has said that the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE may be the last small screen flagship smartphone that the company will ever make. (GizChina, Gizmo China, My Drivers)

Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT) has announced plans to slash as many as 2,500 jobs or nearly 70% of its total workforce, as it struggles to survive from its restructuring efforts. CPT said it has filed an appeal against a court ruling that rejected its restructuring plans submitted earlier. (Digitimes, press, DW News, EET China, Epoch Times)

Camera

The new Insta360 Evo is a dual-mode camera that captures 360º content when folded into a cube, as well as 180º 3D content when unfolded. It is priced at USD420. (CN Beta, Engadget, Insta360)

Memory

 

NAND flash prices are expected to fall at a slower pace in 2Q19 than in previous quarters. Samsung has aggressively cut its NAND flash quotes in 1Q19 aiming to accelerate inventory digestion in the supply chain. As a result of Samsung’s price-cutting strategy, the industry inventory correction is about to come to an end between the end of Mar and early Apr 2019. (Money Link, Digitimes, press, Digitimes)

Toshiba Memory has announced the availability of its XD5-series NVMe SSD platform in a 2.5”, 7mm low-profile form factor that is optimized for low-latency and performance consistency in read-intensive workloads. Developed for both data center and cloud environments, the new 2.5” form factor XD5 Series is ideal for NoSQL databases, large-scale-out data mining and analysis, and streaming applications. (Digitimes, press, Business Wire, XFastest)

DRAM memory contract prices have fallen further in Mar 2019, and are expected to continue their downward trend through 2Q19 indicating PC OEMs and other chip buyers continue to gain bargaining chips when negotiating prices. The average contract prices for mainstream 4GB modules are likely to come to USD17~18 in 2Q19, with some buyers looking to negotiate for as low as USD15. (Digitimes, press)

Connectivity

Chicago and Minneapolis are Verizon’s first 5G Ultra Wideband mobility cities, launching 11 Apr 2019, with more than 30 markets set to launch in 2019. Verizon will offer “unlimited” service in Chicago and Minneapolis for between USD85 and USD105 per month, a premium of USD10 over prior 4G/LTE prices. Verizon will begin preorders for the 5G Moto Mod attachment. (VentureBeat, Verizon, CN Beta)

Phone

OPPO has revealed that it has managed to sell more than 210K units of the Realme 3 smartphone in India, since it is launched in few weeks ago, priced from INR8,999. (Gizmo China, Twitter)

The war for smartphone market leadership is going to peak in the next 2 quarters, with Samsung, desperate to regain the top slot, locking horns with Xiaomi in one of the biggest fights in the Indian marketplace. Samsung has 3 handset models under the M series and relaunched the A series earlier this month in a move to refresh its portfolio. Xiaomi has increased its promotional spending, and for the first time, doled out incentives to retailers to push sales by 80-100%. (CN Beta, Economic Times)

Samsung has just opened its largest Galaxy showcase store in Tokyo and called it Galaxy Harajuku. It is an eight-story building with the front facade featuring 1,000 rotating Galaxy smartphones that illuminate the structure. (GSM Arena, Design Boom, Sina)

Google has released the first beta of Android Q, its next feature update for Android. The initial builds will be available for all generations of the Pixel phones. (Android Authority, Neowin, VentureBeat, Google, CN Beta, iFeng)

Check Point Research focuses on a new strain of adware called SimBad that was found in 206 apps in the Google Play Store. These apps collectively had been installed over 150M times, and Google has since removed the titles from the Play Store. The apps, once installed, would flood a user’s phone with ads playing in the background, even if the app is not open. (Phone Arena, Check Point, Ars Technica, PC Pop)

PC / Tablet

Google appears to be trimming the size of its laptop and tablet hardware group, telling dozens of engineers and program managers to find other roles with the Alphabet parent company. (Android Central, Business Insider, CCIDNet, CN Beta)

Augmented / Virtual Reality

Google is reportedly shutting down its Emmy Award-winning VR film division, Spotlight Stories, after 6 years of building out content. (TechCrunch, Variety, CN Beta)

Automotive

General Motors (GM) self-driving car subsidiary, Cruise, has said it plans to hire 1,000 more people over the next 9 months, as the No.1 U.S. carmaker aims to launch a robotaxi service by the end of 2019. (Digital Trends, Reuters, HKEJ)

Ford has already set out its ambitious plan to launch taxi and delivery services using autonomous vehicles by 2021. Ford is planning to invest USD4B by 2023 in its recently created autonomous driving subsidiary, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC., with a further USD1B going to autonomous-vehicle software company Argo AI to help it develop its technology. (Digital Trends, Gasgoo, TechCrunch, CNFOL)

According to its parent company Meituan Dianping, Mobike will shut its operations in “some Asian countries”. The changes are intended to improve the business’ overall efficiency as Meituan and Mobike continue to evaluate bike-sharing markets in other regions. (TechCrunch, SCMP, Asia Nikkei, Caixing Global, CN Gold)

Artificial Intelligence

Apple has acquired Laserlike, a small Silicon Valley-based machine learning startup, which could help strengthen the company’s artificial intelligence efforts, including its Siri virtual assistant. (Apple Insider, The Information, CN Beta)

Xiaomi ranking in AI research has improved a lot, as it moved from 85th place to 11th within a year, confirms Cui Baoqiu, Xiaomi’s chairman of the Technical Committee. It applied for 684 patents in the AI field within past 1 year. (CN Beta, Gizmo China)

Glia (formerly SaleMove), a New York startup, aims to capitalize on the trend with an omni-channel customer service platform that supports text, phone calls, video chat, and more. The company has announced that it has raised USD20M in series B funding. (VentureBeat, PR Newswire)

Toshiba has announced that it has developed a technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to instantly convert the speech during a conference into easy-to-read text and display it through subtitles. The technology can distinguish and delete the meaningless words that are included in the pauses such as “Hmm” and “That” and convert them into concise articles. This technology is designed to make it easier for people with hearing disabilities to understand the information. (CN Beta, Kyodo News)

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