Technology Bulletin

    • Rivian Raises USD2.5 Billion as It Pushes to Bring...
    • Jul 14, 2020
    • EV start-up Rivian has raised USD2.5 billion, bringing its total funding to date to around USD6 billion, ahead of the launch of its all-electric pickup truck an... View More
      EV start-up Rivian has raised USD2.5 billion, bringing its total funding to date to around USD6 billion, ahead of the launch of its all-electric pickup truck and SUV in early 2021. As much as USD5.35 billion of that has come in the last year and a half alone, with Rivian scooping up big investments from Ford, Amazon and Cox Automotive in 2019. (The Verge) Vinay's key takeaways:  Rivian is setting up its factory at Normal, Illinois, in the US to assemble the R1T electric pickup truck and the R1S SUV, as well as to begin fulfilling its order from Amazon for electric vans. The huge influx of money will surely establish Rivian’s position as the best-capitalized EV start-up in the world, supporting its rapid growth. Rivian has six facilities in the US and abroad, and employs around 2,400 people. Rivian also has its challenges. Its collaboration with Ford has been put on hold while COVID-19 induced disruptions have delayed the RT1 and RS1 projects.
    • Honda Invests in CATL to Jointly Develop EV Batter...
    • Jul 14, 2020
    • Japan's Honda Motor has announced it will buy a 1% stake in Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) and the two will jointly develop EV... View More
      Japan's Honda Motor has announced it will buy a 1% stake in Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) and the two will jointly develop EV batteries for Honda's future EVs. (AutoNews) Vinay's key takeaways:  CATL, headquartered in Ningde, China, is a global leader in the development and manufacturing of Lithium-ion powered batteries. The first Honda model equipped with a CATL battery is scheduled to be launched in the Chinese market in 2022.  Through this strategic cooperation, CATL and Honda are looking to have a global partnership to deliver more competitive EV products and solutions. Honda has recently signed up new partnerships to make electric cars, including a Joint Venture with China's GAC under which it began selling its first fully-electric EV in China, the Everus VE-1 SUV crossover, last year. Most EV batteries come from just a few global suppliers, including CATL, Panasonic, LG Chem and BYD. These companies are signing lucrative supply deals with automakers as demand for batteries increases. Panasonic has been Tesla's sole battery partner since the Model S was introduced in 2012.  Prompted by the growing popularity of Tesla models, automakers around the world are scrambling to push ahead with the introduction of their own fully-electric models through such strategic alliances.
    • Robosense Enters Strategic Partnership With Gosunc...
    • Jul 14, 2020
    • One of the leading smart LiDAR sensor providers, Robosense entered a strategic partnership with IoT applications and service provider Gosuncn for the vehicle to... View More
      One of the leading smart LiDAR sensor providers, Robosense entered a strategic partnership with IoT applications and service provider Gosuncn for the vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) integration in a smart city project. (Robosense) Soumen's key takeaways:  Gosuncn’s expertise in smart city IoT technology will help Robosense develop a better fusion algorithm, V2I infrastructure and further research in 5G applications.  The collaboration of the two companies will help reduce the cost of LiDAR sensors and smart city application products. Both companies collaborated on a non-vehicle-based project during the Covid-19 outbreak, hence any further partnership will help use each other's platform and technology to get leverage on the scale of IoT products.
    • India Likely to Impose Import Tax on Lithium Cells...
    • Jul 14, 2020
    • The Indian government is planning to impose tariffs on import of Lithium-ion cells to boost local production. It also plans to introduce incentives for domestic... View More
      The Indian government is planning to impose tariffs on import of Lithium-ion cells to boost local production. It also plans to introduce incentives for domestic production, including 100% tax deduction on capital expenditure for the first year, easy financing options, giving companies infrastructure status, cash subsidies and waiving minimum alternative tax. In 2019, the Indian Space Research Organisation developed a Lithium-ion cell technology and shared it freely with indigenous companies. (Livemint) Aman's key takeaways:  Currently, India manufactures battery storage packs and imports Lithium-ion cells from China due to low sales of EVs in the country. The import tax will encourage indigenous manufacturing of cells, helping India to develop its own EV battery infrastructure.  Lithium cells are of strategic importance as they are used in many emerging sectors, like EVs, renewables, energy storage and consumer durables. India does not want to repeat the story of solar (panel) and mobile sectors where Chinese companies have taken over most sales. Growing tensions between the two countries can accelerate the ‘Make in India’ programme.
    • Google Buys AR Glasses Company North
    • Jul 14, 2020
    • Google has bought North, a company focused on building augmented reality glasses. The companies announced the news earlier today, saying that North’s &ldq... View More
      Google has bought North, a company focused on building augmented reality glasses. The companies announced the news earlier today, saying that North’s “technical expertise” will help Google invest in its “hardware efforts and ambient computing future.” The details of the deal, including how much Google paid, weren’t revealed. With the acquisition, North says it’ll wind down its Focals smart glasses functionality, meaning wearers who spent up to $1,000 on a first-gen pair last year will soon be unable to use them…Google says it’ll continue to work on ambient computing or building a world in which tech “fades into the background.” (The Verge, June 30) Key takeaways: There is no mention of how this will impact the Google Glass product, which has been continuing with an enterprise and developer focus.  Rather than a strategic, this could be a smart, tactical buy considering the struggles North recently faced.  Indeed, with the acquisition, North announced it would no longer be releasing a planned second version of its nixed originals.
    • Samsung and Microsoft Patent Heart-Friendly Smartw...
    • Jul 14, 2020
    • For the past five years, Apple has been dominating the global market, prompting its competitors to develop smartwatch technologies. Samsung has now patented an... View More
      For the past five years, Apple has been dominating the global market, prompting its competitors to develop smartwatch technologies. Samsung has now patented an accessory device that could be used to provide very detailed heart-related health information. Microsoft is also back on track, patenting a smartwatch featuring a high-end pulse-pressure-sensing wearable device. (Tech Nadu, July 6) Key takeaways: Clearly Samsung trying to stay one step ahead of Apple in health. At the moment, this patent requires a separate device serving as a clip, which is a clunky solution for increased monitoring precision. It’s still at patent stages, but we can see some of the things Samsung is focusing on in the overall health game. 
    • Chipmaker SMIC Eyes China’s Biggest Share Sale in ...
    • Jul 14, 2020
    • Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. is preparing to raise as much as $7.5 billion via mainland China’s largest stock sale in a decade, a big c... View More
      Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. is preparing to raise as much as $7.5 billion via mainland China’s largest stock sale in a decade, a big cash infusion for a chipmaker Beijing’s counting on to reduce reliance on American technology…China’s biggest contract manufacturer of chipsets represents a major piece of Beijing’s vision to create a self-reliant and world-class semiconductor industry, particularly as Washington tightens restrictions on sales of silicon and software to the nation. SMIC plans to use the stock-sale proceeds to develop next-generation chipmaking to try and compete with Intel Corp. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (Bloomberg News, July 5) Key takeaways: SMIC is clearly benefiting from trade war fallout and China’s push for self-reliance is a long term growth driver.  The main risk is R&D costs, which continues to rise in China and is expected to be “the biggest drag” on profit growth.  Huawei currently contracts with SMIC to manufacture the 710A for the Honor Play 4T, but the chipmaker is years away from being able to compete directly with the likes of TSMC or Intel.  Nevertheless, growing the domestic ecosystem will remain a government priority and the capital raising has already received a nod from the market – the initial institutional offer for the shares were 165 times oversubscribed. 
    • T-Mobile Home Internet Offers 50 Mbps Speed
    • Jul 14, 2020
    • T-Mobile Home Internet – priced at $50 per month — provides home broadband on the Un-carrier’s LTE network. With additional capacity unlocked... View More
      T-Mobile Home Internet – priced at $50 per month — provides home broadband on the Un-carrier’s LTE network. With additional capacity unlocked by the merger with Sprint, T-Mobile is preparing to launch 5G Home Internet commercially nationwide, covering more than 50 percent of U.S. households within six years and providing a desperately needed alternative to incumbent cable and telco ISPs…T-Mobile Home Internet expects to deliver average download speeds around 50 Mbps or more through fixed unlimited wireless service – with no data caps. (Telecom Lead, July 8) Jeff Fieldhack's Key takeaways: To sway US regulators to approve the T-Mobile / Sprint merger, the new T-Mobile promised to cover underserved rural America (90% of US POPs) with affordable fixed wireless broadband. Is the carrier using all that newly combined 600MHz, 2.5GHz, and mmWave 5G spectrum? No! Whereas Verizon and AT&T are focused on covering major metros with FWA using 5G mmWave, T-Mobile is starting with rural America and their LTE network. Good idea? Yes! Speeds will not be heroic -- T-Mobile is marketing speeds of at least 25Mpbs and 50Mpbs. The price is competitive at $50 per month and no data caps.  For rural America, this will be a welcomed broadband option.
    • Foxconn Investing $1 Billion in India Following Ap...
    • Jul 14, 2020
    • Apple has some ambitious plans in India, as the company has already confirmed that it will open the first Apple Store there by 2021. And now Foxconn is allegedl... View More
      Apple has some ambitious plans in India, as the company has already confirmed that it will open the first Apple Store there by 2021. And now Foxconn is allegedly investing $1 billion in its India facility, where the Taiwanese factory already assembles some iPhone models. According to a Reuters report, Apple is gradually moving its production line from China to other countries, and scaling up the manufacturing process in India is part of the plans. Apple would have requested Foxconn to expand its facilities located in Sriperumbudur, where the two companies are already assembling the iPhone XR.(9to5Mac, Jul 10) Key takeaways: This is not a surprise and makes strategic sense, considering the high cost base in China. The expansion is considerable and will allow other models to be made. In large part, this is an India story – considering Apple’s under-penetration and confirmed Apple Store opening there next year, this signals redoubling of efforts to grow in the world’s fifth largest economy and second-largest market by population.
    • Garmin® Acquires Firstbeat Analytics, a Leading Pr...
    • Jul 7, 2020
    • Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ:GRMN), today announced it has acquired Firstbeat Analytics Oy, a privately-held provider of physiological analytics and metrics for consumer... View More
      Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ:GRMN), today announced it has acquired Firstbeat Analytics Oy, a privately-held provider of physiological analytics and metrics for consumer devices in the health, wellness, fitness and performance markets. Firstbeat Analytics is the consumer licensing business formerly a part of Firstbeat Technologies. Firstbeat Technologies will continue operating its Wellness and Professional Sports businesses. (Garmin Press Release, June 30)  Jeff Fieldhack's key takeaways: Garmin acquired Firstbeat Analytics after licensing the technology for years on almost all of their fitness tracking devices.  Firstbeat Analytics is used by virtually all sports/fitness wearables outside of Polar, which does its own in-house analytics.  It is not yet clear how this evolves medium and long-term, but it appears Garmin will continue to license its technology to Suunto, Casio, Huawei, Xiaomi and others.  This is a positive for Garmin which can now get advance look at analytics software to integrate into its devices.

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