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Technology Bulletin

    • Google Cloud, Nokia Partner to Accelerate Cloud-Na...
    • Jan 25, 2021
    • Google Cloud and Nokia today announced a global, strategic partnership to bring new solutions for communications service providers (CSPs) that modernize their n... View More
      Google Cloud and Nokia today announced a global, strategic partnership to bring new solutions for communications service providers (CSPs) that modernize their network infrastructures, build on a cloud-native 5G Core, and develop the network edge as a business services platform for enterprises. Under this partnership, Google Cloud and Nokia will work closely to validate, optimize and evolve cloud-native network functions, and the two companies will also co-innovate new solutions that will help CSPs deliver 5G connectivity and services at scale.  (Nokia Press Release, Jan 14) Gareth Owen:  With mobile network architecture evolving to a model defined by cloud companies, it seems Nokia has come to a similar conclusion as Ericsson did last year with the shuttering of its Edge Gravity platform – it cannot compete against the cloud providers and the best strategy is to partner with them. Very few MNOs at the present time seem content to entrust their core telecom network software to the cloud operators.
    • S.Korea's LG Electronics Says All Options Open for...
    • Jan 25, 2021
    • South Korea's LG Electronics Inc 066570.KS said on Wednesday it needed to decide what to do with its loss-making mobile business and was considering all opt... View More
      South Korea's LG Electronics Inc 066570.KS said on Wednesday it needed to decide what to do with its loss-making mobile business and was considering all options. The business had generated losses for 23 consecutive quarters amounting to about 5 trillion won ($4.5 billion) amid "fierce" competition, the company said in a statement.  (Reuters, Jan 20) Jeff Fieldhack:  LG Electronics has long been strong partner for global operators because LG was always early with tech changes – most recently with 5G, VoNR, 5G CA testing and other network integration work.  There will be a void left if LG exits as it was a quality and trusted partner. 
    • Galaxy S21 Passes 100,000 in Pre-Orders During Fir...
    • Jan 25, 2021
    • Samsung Electronics' new flagship smartphone 'Galaxy S21' series has secured more than 100,000 pre-orders with the countries three main mobile opera... View More
      Samsung Electronics' new flagship smartphone 'Galaxy S21' series has secured more than 100,000 pre-orders with the countries three main mobile operators.  According to an industry insider speaking on the 18th, the number of pre-booked Galaxy S21 series through three mobile carriers such as SK Telecom, KT, and LG U+ from the 15th to the 17th was estimated at 110,000 to 120,000 units. (Dailian, Jan 18) Angela Cheon: Combined with pre-orders from online channels, this is a strong start for Samsung’s Galaxy S21 series.  Subsidies have been a boon, but the lower intro pricing is also providing a strong boost.   Our retail visits over the first weekend saw strong turnout as well as interest in peripherals (in particular, the Galaxy Buds Pro with new ‘Anycall’ classic case). 
    • HONOR Secures Access to Chip Supplies After Huawei...
    • Jan 25, 2021
    • Honor, the former budget smartphone arm of Huawei Technologies, says it has secured access to vital chip supplies after it was spun off from its parent last yea... View More
      Honor, the former budget smartphone arm of Huawei Technologies, says it has secured access to vital chip supplies after it was spun off from its parent last year in a move to shield it from Washington’s crackdown on the Chinese tech giant.  (Nikkei Asia, Jan 22) Harshit Rastogi: The clean break and fresh start is good for HONOR – especially with Google Play likely to be enabled for international markets. However, it has significant hurdles to overcome including breaking into new overseas markets and competing at premium.  And on the production side, there’s still supply uncertainty – both in terms of access and bargaining power.  
    • Samsung Confirms 'More Accessible' Foldables Are i...
    • Dec 22, 2020
    • …[Samsung’s smartphone chief] Roh also confirmed Samsung's plans to expand its portfolio of foldable devices, which only makes sense considerin... View More
      …[Samsung’s smartphone chief] Roh also confirmed Samsung's plans to expand its portfolio of foldable devices, which only makes sense considering the company's momentum in 2020…Going into 2021, the company is reportedly planning as many as four new foldables — two Z Folds and two Z Flips, naturally — signaling an even more pronounced push to establish these devices as the future of the smartphone. (Engadget, Dec 15) Angela Cheon:  The rumoured four model lineup is ambitious. Moving from niche to mainstream will require big price reductions.  We’ll be keeping an eye on costs, which looks further challenged based on continuing newsflow highlighting components shortages. 
    • Apple to Suspend New Orders to Wistron After India...
    • Dec 22, 2020
    • Apple Inc. said it’s placing a supplier in India on probation after lapses in labor practices led to rioting, and will hold off giving new orders to Wistr... View More
      Apple Inc. said it’s placing a supplier in India on probation after lapses in labor practices led to rioting, and will hold off giving new orders to Wistron Corp. until the problems are fixed. Preliminary investigations showed the Taiwanese company, the first Apple supplier to produce iPhones in India, failed to implement proper working hour management processes which led to payment delays for some workers in October and November, Apple said in a statement on Saturday. (Bloomberg, Dec 19) Arushi Chawla:  Disruptions at this SE 2020 assembler unlikely to be material as it works through growing pains and address issues.  Apple’s experience in China will make it wary regarding any labor law violations. 
    • 200mm Demand Surges
    • Dec 22, 2020
    • A surge in demand for various chips is causing shortages for select 200mm foundry capacity as well as 200mm fab equipment, and it shows no signs of abating in 2... View More
      A surge in demand for various chips is causing shortages for select 200mm foundry capacity as well as 200mm fab equipment, and it shows no signs of abating in 2021. Foundry customers will face a shortfall of 200mm capacity at select foundries at least in the first half of 2021, and perhaps beyond. Those customers will need to plan ahead to ensure they obtain enough 200mm capacity in 2021. Otherwise they could get locked out of the market altogether, or may need to pay a premium for that capacity. (Semiconductor Engineering, Dec 17) Dale Gai: Shortages have been caused by late response from equipment suppliers and reluctance of new capacity adds from vendors.  This is going to impact CE products most, exacerbating current issues with shortages in components like PMICs.
    • US Blacklists About 60 More Chinese Firms Includin...
    • Dec 22, 2020
    • The United States added China’s top chip maker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp among dozens of other Chinese companies to a trade blacklist... View More
      The United States added China’s top chip maker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp among dozens of other Chinese companies to a trade blacklist on Friday, restricting American firms from selling products to these companies on national security grounds…Adding SMIC, the Shanghai-based state-owned chip maker, to the list limits the company’s ability to buy key components from US suppliers that are crucial to build advanced chipsets. [Commerce Secretary] Ross said the government would presumptively deny licenses to prevent SMIC from accessing technology to produce semiconductors at advanced technology levels – 10 nanometres or below. (SCMP, Dec 18) Brady Wang:  This was just a matter of time. The government was likely slow to implement to ensure business continuity for domestic firms.  Obviously this will constrain the supply of 8-inch capacity further, impacting not only CE but also automotive.  However, I see limited impact for IoT and storage.
    • Apple Aims to Make 30% More iPhones in First Half ...
    • Dec 22, 2020
    • Apple Inc plans to raise iPhone manufacturing by nearly 30% to up to 96 million units in the first half of 2021, Japanese financial daily Nikkei reported&n... View More
      Apple Inc plans to raise iPhone manufacturing by nearly 30% to up to 96 million units in the first half of 2021, Japanese financial daily Nikkei reported on Tuesday, prompting another jump in the shares of the California-based tech giant. Citing unnamed sources, Nikkei said the company had asked suppliers to produce around 95 million to 96 million iPhones. That target would include the latest iPhone 12 as well as older iPhone 11 and SE models, but could be undermined by an industry shortage of key components, it said. (Reuters, Dec 15) Glen Cardoza:  Not surprising and we’re forecasting all time highs for FY first quarter and 2021 for overall iPhone sales.  Drivers: 5G demand, strong SE performance, attractive pricing (and promotions in key markets), expectations for iPhone 12 longevity. Risks include lead times (dropping significantly), PMIC shortage (Apple likely first in line at suppliers), Wistron controversy (not material).  
    • EVBox to Go Public via SPAC Deal
    • Dec 15, 2020
    • Electric vehicle (EV) charging solution provider EVBox will go public via a $1.4-billion special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) deal with TPGPace.  (E... View More
      Electric vehicle (EV) charging solution provider EVBox will go public via a $1.4-billion special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) deal with TPGPace.  (EVBox) Soumen's key takeaways:  EVBox was trying to expand globally and needed high amount of fresh capital for this. Hence it preferred TPG Pace for its experience in managing finance and guiding numerous startups in expanding business. EVBox is already spread over 70 countries and has installed more than 190,000 charging ports. The potential of EVBox attracted TPG Pace to invest in the firm. With the fresh infusion of capital, EVBox will be able to widen its presence across Europe and North America in the short term.

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