Technology Bulletin

    • WhatsApp to Launch Payments Service in India After...
    • Jun 30, 2020
    • After Brazil suspended newly launched WhatsApp’s payments service to “preserve competitive environment” just after a week of its launch, the F... View More
      After Brazil suspended newly launched WhatsApp’s payments service to “preserve competitive environment” just after a week of its launch, the Facebook-owned messaging platform said it is committed to launching the digital payment service in India, a process that has been in the works since over two years now. (India TV, June 25)  Arushi Chawla's key takeaways: Facebook seems to have been blindsided by the Brazilian regulator.  We think the risk of this happening in India is far lower as:  FB has been working closely with the regulator to resolve issues around data localization, which FB says has been done. This has been a drawn out and extended process taking two years to now.  The Competition Commission of India’s clearing of Facebook’s $5.7bn investment in Reliance Jio Platform is a positive.  There is already a robust ecosystem of players and competitors on the national Unified Payments Interface including Google Pay, PhonePe, Paytm and Amazon Pay. 
    • Kuo: Apple Will Ship iPhone 12 Without Chargers, E...
    • Jun 30, 2020
    • Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple is considering removing the included earbuds from the iPhone 12 retail package back in May. Analysts at Barclays said t... View More
      Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple is considering removing the included earbuds from the iPhone 12 retail package back in May. Analysts at Barclays said the same a few days ago and hinted that even the power brick may be dropped, Kuo agrees in his latest research note. (GSM Arena, Jun 29) Key takeaways: The EarPods news has been circulating since May, but talk of power brick removal is new. This will give the 12 some eco-friendly cred, but importantly, it enables better margins, allowing Apple to toggle even more with pricing. The rumoured $649 pricing for the base model seems to be getting more traction. Here’s the latest in terms of release date, price, specs and other leaks.
    • Apple’s App Store Ecosystem Facilitated Over Half ...
    • Jun 23, 2020
    • Apple today announced the App Store ecosystem supported $519 billion in billings and sales globally in 2019 alone. The new study, conducted by independent econo... View More
      Apple today announced the App Store ecosystem supported $519 billion in billings and sales globally in 2019 alone. The new study, conducted by independent economists at Analysis Group, found that the highest value categories were mobile commerce (m-commerce) apps, digital goods and services apps, and in-app advertising. (Apple Press Release, June 15) Ankit Malhotra's key takeaways: There is a lot here but it offers a lot of insight into patterns of consumption by consumers.  General Retail, Travel and Ride Hailing apps are the major sources of revenue from apps. In digital services, gaming is the big trend. Almost 40% of the transactions come from China where the ecosystem of Online system is very mature and the bulk of transactions are in general retail.
    • The Economy Seems to Be Turning a Corner, but Jobl...
    • Jun 23, 2020
    • The May jobs report was far better than expected and retail sales also roared back this month. The data indicates that things are improving as states are reopen... View More
      The May jobs report was far better than expected and retail sales also roared back this month. The data indicates that things are improving as states are reopening and people are recovering from the initial shock of the lockdown and the public health crisis.  That not withstanding, millions of people remain unemployed. More than 20 million jobs vanished at the height of the lockdown and it will take time to rebuild the labor market. Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 infections is rising in some states, putting the reopening in jeopardy. (CNN Business, June 18)  Maurice Klaehne's key takeaways: The 17.7% MoM retail sales number in May is good news (though we’re still down 6.1% YoY). However, some people are getting an extra $600 in unemployment per week, which combined with stimulus checks are raising purchasing power for many households. The extra unemployment money will soon end and it has been another week of 1.5m, Americans filing for unemployment, with still over 20m collecting unemployment overall. We also have seen a rebound in the smartphone market due to these factors. We must now watch and see how new COVID-19 spikes will impact re-openings as well as how the economy will react to more limited unemployment benefits. This could again hurt prepaid and national retail the most if the economy starts shrinking again.
    • Qualcomm Announces First 5G Snapdragon 6-Series Mo...
    • Jun 23, 2020
    • Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. announced its first 5G mobile platform in the 6-series, the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 690 5G Mobile Platform. This new platfor... View More
      Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. announced its first 5G mobile platform in the 6-series, the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 690 5G Mobile Platform. This new platform is designed to make 5G user experiences even more broadly available around the world. (Qualcomm Press Release, June 16) Jeff Fieldhack's key takeaways: Qualcomm brings 5G to about $300 with this new platform.  HMD, LG, Moto, Sharp, and TCL early OEM adopters.  Built on 8nm process with an integrated Sub6GHz modem, the 690 supports both NA, NSA.  Powerful AI, camera, and video story. Many features dropping to the 6-series which will aid 5G adoption.  Powerful at a competitive price.   Qualcomm now needs the US govt to come to economic terms with China. Otherwise, look for China to retaliate by targeting Qualcomm.
    • Major Restructuring Might See the Alpine Brand of ...
    • Jun 16, 2020
    • Part of the restructuring includes a review of the small Dieppe plant in France responsible for the Alpine A110. The lightweight, mid-engine spor... View More
      Part of the restructuring includes a review of the small Dieppe plant in France responsible for the Alpine A110. The lightweight, mid-engine sports car is the sole offering in the Alpine lineup and has production numbering less than 5,000 units per year. (Motor Authority) Fahad's key takeaways:  Renault has been facing huge losses during the pandemic and is scaling back on its operations which will see about 15,000 job cuts worldwide. As part of the major restructuring, six plants are under review out of which one is the Alpine plant. Since the start of its production in 2017, it has had low sales numbers and hasn't added much value to the group. There's a possibility that the Alpine brand might be turned into a performance EV brand, though the final decision will fall to Volkswagen Group executive, Luca de Meo, who takes over as CEO of Renault on July 1. Turning it into a high performance EV brand could prove beneficial as Renault moves to all electric drivetrains. BMW created a strong halo with its i8 hybrid supercar. Moreso, the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi alliance could strengthen its future vehicle development, by sharing EV technologies (in-car connectivity, electric powertrain, etc) with the future Alpine models.
    • Leading Auto OEMs Considering LiDAR for Their Auto...
    • Jun 16, 2020
    • Many first-tier international automotive components makers have been keen on collaborating with LiDAR developers trying to increase economies of scale for LiDAR... View More
      Many first-tier international automotive components makers have been keen on collaborating with LiDAR developers trying to increase economies of scale for LiDAR devices, but high unit prices and slow revisions of laws governing autonomous driving remain major obstacles (Digitimes)   Vinay's key takeaways:  Auto OEMs, General Motors, Ford, Hyundai and Volkswagen are looking to introduce level 4-5 autonomous robotaxis with LiDAR devices in 2020-2022. Honda, Lexus, BMW and Volvo too are considering LiDAR for their level 3 autonomous vehicles (AVs) While these plans could indicate that LiDAR is being considered a standard spec for level 3 and above AVs, the challenge of LiDAR’s high costs and lack of development of AV regulations around the world remain hurdles. It’s estimated that LiDAR devices need to be under US$200 per unit to achieve mass volumes. Recently, AV companies in the US and China that use LiDAR gained significant public awareness and acceptance during the COVID epidemic, providing ride-hailing and grocery delivery services that minimize human contact.  With leading OEMs now focused on LiDAR-based autonomous strategies, there will likely be technical and economies of scale breakthroughs that will accelerate development.  With the COVID crisis having put tremendous financial pressures, strategic collaboration, and alliances between these automakers could also help in sharing investments and reducing costs further.
    • CATL Announces Its New Super Battery Ready for Mas...
    • Jun 16, 2020
    • The battery can power an EV for 2 million kms and last for 16 years. According to CATL, the new technology slows down the capacity decay rate enabling batteries... View More
      The battery can power an EV for 2 million kms and last for 16 years. According to CATL, the new technology slows down the capacity decay rate enabling batteries to store more energy for longer periods. (China Daily) Aman's key takeaways:  Current EV batteries can manage to power EVs for around 250,000 kms and last up to eight years, before significantly losing performance. If CATL’s technology works as promised, it will be transformational for the company and EV industry as a whole.  CATL supplies batteries to many major automakers including Tesla, Daimler, BMW, and GM, helping in faster penetration of the battery if it is successful. Other battery suppliers are working on similar developments.  Consumer reservations about buying EVs include concerns about battery life and the cost of replacing them. Tesla has previously promised a one million mile battery.  If realized, it will remove consumer concern on this point and potentially open a secondary market for used batteries for reuse in cars.  The batteries use less cobalt, which is the most expensive component in EV batteries; there is a limited global supply of cobalt.
    • You Can Now Play Google Stadia on Practically Any ...
    • Jun 16, 2020
    • Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service is still riddled with limitations, but one of the biggest hurdles to adoption may have just disappeared: you no ... View More
      Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service is still riddled with limitations, but one of the biggest hurdles to adoption may have just disappeared: you no longer need a specific Android phone to give it a try. Google is experimentally opening up support to any Android phone that can install the Stadia app, which means most devices with Android 6.0 or later should fit the bill. (The Verge, June 11)  Maurice Klaehne's key takeaways: Google is trying to drive scale by pivoting the service offering to be more broadly attractive. Although this shifts the service away from an overall “hardcore” gaming experience, this may be the right move based on mobile consumption patterns and the success we’ve seen with Fortnight and PUBG. If we see adoption ticking up, look for Stadia to explore similar offerings through different game partnerships. 
    • Online Used-Car Retailer Vroom Raises $468 Million...
    • Jun 16, 2020
    • Used-car online retailer Vroom Inc. expanded its U.S. initial public offering and priced it above the marketed range to raise $468 million, based on a valuation... View More
      Used-car online retailer Vroom Inc. expanded its U.S. initial public offering and priced it above the marketed range to raise $468 million, based on a valuation of more than $2.5 billion. Its shares surged in value immediately after the offering went live. (Autonews) Vinay's key takeaways:    Vroom, is looking to ride on the growing consumer preference for online shopping, accelerated by the pandemic. And investors are placing a higher value on next-generation companies that can thrive in a post-COVID economy. Tech-focused used car platforms, like Vroom, can be more agile than traditional dealers. Consumers are becoming more willing to buy cars online, the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated that trend. Vroom’s main competitor, Carvana has rebounded since March, at a time when most of the U.S. went under shelter-in-place orders. Shares of Carvana, are trading more than 600% above the company’s 2017 IPO price.

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