Compared to Apple’s growth, Samsung fell 30 percent, Huawei 5 percent, Xiaomi 10 percent, OPPO 16 percent, and others 23 percent in terms of smartphone shipments.
Last Updated: August 1, 2020, 11:24 AM IST
As the global smartphone market plummeted 14 per cent in the June quarter, Apple was the only vendor to grow as it shipped 45.1 million iPhones globally, a growth of 25 per cent compared to the previous year, according to a new report. Samsung fell 30 per cent, Huawei 5 per cent, Xiaomi 10 per cent, OPPO 16 per cent and others 23 per cent in terms of shipments in the second quarter, reported market research firm Canalys.
“Apple defied expectations in Q2. Its new iPhone SE was critical in the quarter, accounting for around 28 per cent of its global volume, while iPhone 11 remained a strong best-seller at nearly 40 per cent,” analyst Vincent Thielke on Friday. According to him, iPhone SE will remain crucial to prop up the volume this year, amid delays to Apple’s next flagship release. “In China, it had blockbuster results, growing 35 per cent to reach 7.7 million units. It is unusual for Apple’s Q2 shipments to increase sequentially,” said Thielke. The smartphone market worldwide fell to 285 million units, a second consecutive quarter of freefall, as lockdown orders caused by the Covid-19 pandemic persisted through April and May.
Huawei toppled Samsung with shipping 55.8 million units, compared to Samsung’s 53.7 million in Q2 2020. Apple was third with 45.1 million units. Xiaomi came fourth, shipping 28.8 million units, which was down 10 per cent, and OPPO reclaimed fifth place from Vivo, shipping 25.8 million units with a 16 per cent decline. “As well as the new iPhone SE, Apple is also demonstrating skills in new user acquisition. It adapted quickly to the pandemic, doubling down on the digital customer experience as stay-at-home measures drive more customers to online channels,” said the report.
Facing ad boycott over its inaction to remove hate speech, Facebook shares surged over 7 per cent after the social network reported net income of $5.18 billion as revenue jumped 11 per cent to $18.69 billion from $16.89 billion a year ago. “We’re glad to be able to provide small businesses the tools they need to grow and be successful online during these challenging times,” said Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“We’re proud that people can rely on our services to stay connected when they can’t always be together in person”. The monthly active users (MAUs) hit 2.7 billion while daily active users (DAUs) rose 12 per cent to 1.79 billion (as of June 30). Facebook said it counts 3.14 billion monthly users across its family of apps (Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp), compared to 2.99 billion in the first quarter. “Our business has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and, like all companies, we are facing a period of unprecedented uncertainty in our business outlook,” Facebook said in a statement.
“We expect our business performance will be impacted by issues beyond our control, including the duration and efficacy of shelter-in-place orders, the effectiveness of economic stimuli around the world, and the fluctuations of currencies relative to the U.S. dollar”. Looking forward, said the company, as shelter-in-place restrictions continue to ease, “we expect the number of Facebook DAUs and MAUs to be flat or slightly down in most regions in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the second quarter of 2020”.
Facebook expects total expenses in 2020 to be in the range of $52-55 billion, narrowed slightly from the prior range of $52-56 billion. “We do not profit from misinformation or hate,” Zuckerberg said on the conference call. Earlier on Wednesday, four big tech CEOs — Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai of Google and Tim Cook of Apple — pushed back against accusations during a US Congress panel hearing capping a yearlong investigation into these companies’ market domination online.
As India gears up for unlock 2,0, e-commerce platform Flipkart on Saturday said it has enabled more than 90 per cent of its sellers to resume operations on the marketplace. Flipkart has also seen a 125 per cent rise in new seller signing-up on the platform, in comparison to its existing seller base, in the April-June period, the company said in a statement.
Local MSMEs from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi and Tamil Nadu have shown maximum interest in taking their businesses online. These sellers operate in various categories, ranging from women’s clothing, personal care, food and nutrition, home improvement tools and baby-care products, said the company.
“By allowing MSMEs, artisans and smaller traders in India to bring greater efficiencies in their operations with a strong market reach, e-commerce is further empowering these businesses to generate livelihood opportunities,” said Flipkart. The most important need of the seller community, in these times, is that of working capital.
To address this, Flipkart launched a special loans initiative known as ‘Growth Capital’ financing which was designed specifically to enable independence for MSMEs who operate online. “Through the programme, most of the transacting sellers can avail credit at competitive interest rates with an approval time of one day and disbursal within 48 hours. A 3-month moratorium period has been implemented on existing loans,” informed the company.
Further, any additional amount on sellers’ existing loans sanctioned during this period will have an extended financial limit with a 6-month moratorium period. Flipkart also extended certain ongoing premium services availed by sellers to include the lockdown period in their subscription terms so that their investment is not hampered for a stipulated period of time. Under the ‘Flipkart Samarth’ programme, it has supported the livelihood of over 500,000 artisans, weavers and micro-enterprises across the country.
The EU commission said that foreign actors and certain third countries, in particular, “Russia and China” are flooding Europe with disinformation campaigns.
Last Updated: June 11, 2020, 11:15 AM IST
A senior European Union official warned online platforms like Google and Facebook on Wednesday to step up the fight against fake news coming notably from countries like China and Russia, but she praised the approach of Twitter for fact-checking a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump. Unveiling a plan to fight disinformation linked to the coronavirus, European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said she wants online tech companies to provide far more detailed reports each month than currently on the action they are taking to prevent a fake news “infodemic.”
The EU commission said that “foreign actors and certain third countries, in particular, Russia and China” are flooding Europe with “targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns.” It cited dangerous misinformation like claims that drinking bleach can cure the disease and that washing hands do not help prevent its spread. “I’m afraid the disinformation flow will continue,” Jourova said, adding that vaccination seems to be the next big topic subject to misinformation. She cited a study showing “that the willingness in Germany to take up vaccination decreased by almost 20 percentage points in less than two months.”
The virus has infected 7.2 million people worldwide and killed nearly 412,000, about 180,000 of them in Europe, according to official figures tallied by Johns Hopkins University. The true toll is believed to be much higher because many people died without being tested. Jourova praised those U.S. digital giants that agreed to extra scrutiny under a voluntary code of practice aimed at halting the spread of disinformation linked to the virus, but she told reporters that this is just a first step and that “there is room for improvement.”
“They have to open up and offer more evidence that the measures they have taken are working well. They also have to enable the public to identify new threats independently. We invite them now to provide monthly reports with more granular information than ever before,” Jourova said. She noted that short-video app TikTok would soon sign up to the disinformation code of practice, launched in 2018. While the commission praised platforms for removing millions of misleading ads, some of which duped consumers into buying expensive or potentially dangerous products, Jourova called on the companies “to provide monthly reports with more granular information than ever before.”
The reports should include what they’re doing to promote reliable and authoritative content, data on how they’re highlighting information from national and international health agencies, steps they’re taking to improve user awareness, and details about any social media manipulation the companies might find.
Jourova played down concerns that the EU commission, which proposes laws in the 27-nation bloc and ensures that they are enforced, plans to regulate misinformation itself, saying: “I don’t want to create a ministry of truth.” But she praised the approach of Twitter last month when it placed fact-check warnings on two tweets from Trump’s own account that called mail-in election ballots “fraudulent” and predicted problems with the November U.S. elections.
Under the tweets, there is now a link reading “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” that guides users to a Twitter “moments” page with fact checks and news stories about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims. “I support the Twitter reaction to tweets of President Trump,” Jourova told reporters. “They did not delete it. We all can see it. They provided fact-checked the information and promoted facts.”
The big U.S. tech companies, which have been filing monthly reports since February 2019 on progress eradicating fake news in general from their platforms, said they supported the EU’s new request for more detailed data on their work to limit virus-related disinformation and advertising.
“We share the European Commission’s goal of reducing misinformation about COVID-19,” Facebook said in a statement. The company noted its efforts on fact-checking, labelling content and “removing hundreds of thousands of pieces of misinformation about the virus that could lead to imminent physical harm.”
Twitter has been “engaging with the European Commission, as well as industry partners, civil society and the research community, since February specifically on COVID-19,” said Sinead McSweeney, its vice president of public policy. The social media company said it was strengthening how it tackles misinformation, including promoting better media literacy across the EU. Google said it’s cooperating with Jourova and national authorities and is committed to finding “new and creative ways to continue the fight against disinformation.”
Zoom Video Communications Inc nearly doubled its expectations for annual sales on Tuesday, driven by a surge in users as more people work from home and connect with friends online during coronavirus lockdown. But Zoom’s costs also rose sharply, and executives said gross margins would likely remain below Zoom’s historical norms in the coming quarters, sending shares of the San Jose, California-based down 3.5% to $200.75 in after-market trading.
The company has transformed itself into a global video hangout from a business-oriented teleconferencing tool. It came under fire over privacy and security issues, prompting it to roll out major upgrades. The company raised its full-year revenue forecast to a range of $1.78 billion (1.4 billion pounds) to $1.80 billion from $905 million to $915 million. Analysts on average expected revenue of $935.2 million for the fiscal year ending January 2021.
The latest quarterly report shows the company now has about 265,400 customers with more than 10 employees, nearly fourfold increase from a year earlier. But there were also possible signs the Zoom boom may be slowing as economies reopen. Chief Financial Officer Kelly Steckelberg said the April peak usage of 300 million daily meeting participants declined slightly in May.
Zoom company competes with Cisco Systems Inc’s Webex, Microsoft Corp Teams and Google’s Meet platform for paying customers, particularly enterprises while offering a free version to consumers. Zoom reported fiscal first-quarter revenue of $328.2 million, beating analysts’ estimates of $202.7 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
While Zoom’s revenue increased sharply, its costs rose even more steeply. The company’s cost of revenue was up 330% to $103.7 million, which lowered its gross margin to 68.4% from 80.2% a year earlier.
One of Zoom’s biggest costs is data centres and bandwidth to host calls. The company runs some of its own data centres, but also pays for cloud computing services from Amazon.com Inc’s Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, and in April added Oracle Corp as a vendor. On a Zoom call with investors, Chief Executive Eric Yuan said Amazon provided the “majority” of new capacity that Zoom needed to meet demand.
Steckelberg said on the call that the company planned to expand its own data centres to become more efficient, which should boost margins to the mid-70% range in the next several quarters. Analysts had expected gross margins to hover between 79% and 81% over the coming year, according to Refinitiv data. Excluding items, the company earned 20 cents per share in the latest quarter, beating analysts’ estimate of 9 cents. Zoom’s shares have more than tripled this year.
This comes at a time when Reliance Jio has secured more than $10 billion in investment from Facebook as well as private equity groups KKR, General Atlantic, Vista Equity Partners and Silver Lake.
Last Updated: May 28, 2020, 6:39 PM IST
At a time when investment by tech companies and tech-focused investment funds in telecom companies seems to be in vogue, it is believed that Google may be considering investing in Vodafone Idea. If this investment was to go through, it would suit both parties quite well. Google will be able to battle rival Facebook on an equal platform, and it would give Vodafone’s struggling India arm a much needed boost.
Google is considering buying stake of about 5 per cent in Vodafone Idea, a partnership between the UK telecoms company and India’s Aditya Birla Group that has been under severe financial strain, reports the Financial Times. It is being reported that the process is at a very early stage. This comes at a time when Reliance Jio has secured more than $10 billion in investment from Facebook as well as private equity groups KKR, General Atlantic, Vista Equity Partners and Silver Lake.
There is an even greater emphasis on mobile services in India over the past few months as the country has been under multiple phases of lockdown due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Users are paying more than ever before for mobile data, and the situation has also given another push to digital transactions such as online shopping and digital payments. Important to note that Google also has the Google Pay digital payments app in India, competing with the likes of Paytm and PhonePe.
Vodafone Idea has not had the best of times recently, and is under serious financial strain in the uber-competitive Indian telecom space which has the world’s lowest tariffs. Vodafone Idea also has to pay the retrospective fees, as mandated by the Supreme Court.
In India, Vodafone Idea is competing with Reliance Jio and Airtel in the telecom space.
Samsung, the world’s largest memory chip maker, produced 277.4 billion units of semiconductors in the January-March period, up from 176.2 billion units in 2019.
Last Updated: May 18, 2020, 3:38 PM IST
Samsung Electronics’ chip production in the first quarter of the year increased 57.4 per cent from a year earlier despite the spread of the novel coronavirus, the company’s quarterly business report showed on Monday. Samsung, the world’s largest memory chip maker, produced 277.4 billion units of semiconductors in the January-March period, up from 176.2 billion units a year earlier, according to the report. Its chip factory operation rate was 100 per cent.
Industry insiders said Samsung’s increased production was aimed at meeting the rising demand for server chips as the coronavirus pandemic boosted non-face-to-face activities. In contrast, Samsung’s mobile phone and display production plunged in the first quarter, the report showed, due to factory shutdowns from the virus outbreak.
Samsung produced 58.7 million handsets and 1.45 million units of display products in the first three months of 2020, down 34.4 percent and 35.5 percent from a year earlier, respectively. The operation rate for Samsung’s mobile manufacturing business was only 73.3 percent in the first quarter, according to the report, down 16.2 percentage points from a year earlier, reports Yonhup news agency.
Industry observers expected that Samsung’s operation rate for its mobile and TV plants in the second quarter is likely to be worse than the first quarter, as more manufacturing bases have suffered shutdowns. In the current quarter, Samsung had to temporarily close its plants in countries including India, Brazil and Mexico due to the pandemic.
Microsoft is said to be working on a non-Cortana voice assistant for Windows 10X. According to a job advertisement, Microsoft is looking for a software engineer in India to work with the accessibility development team to create a “superior voice control experience”. Windows 10X is Microsoft’s planned mobile operating system, aimed to offer a refined Windows experience on foldable devices. The new voice assistant for Windows 10X makes sense as Cortana voice assistant has shifted its focus away from consumer goods and become much more of a business and enterprise-focused tool.
Besides, Microsoft has already stopped extending support for the Cortana app for Android and iOS everywhere except the US. The company is integrating Cortana voice assistant into business and productivity apps as a part of Office 365. The voice control feature for Windows 10X will most likely be offered as an accessibility tool for people with disabilities. It is expected that some other voice assistant will take the place of Cortana in Microsoft’s future consumer products.
Cortana was introduced as a voice-controlled virtual assistant for Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1 and it was comparable to Apple’s Siri. Cortana used the Bing search engine and data stored on a user’s smartphone to offer personalised recommendations. Cortana is now being integrating into business and productivity apps as a part of Office 365. The place of voice in Microsoft’s future consumer products will be filled by others, except perhaps when it comes to helping those with disabilities use Windows 10X.
The logo of Foxconn, the trading name of Hon Hai Precision Industry, is seen on top of the company’s building in Taipei. (Photo: Reuters)
Foxconn Industrial Internet (Fii) has succeeded in its trial production of masks and is currently applying for product certification amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Last Updated: February 14, 2020, 1:23 PM IST
iPhone maker Foxconn has rejected reports that suggested it was mulling to reopen a significant portion of its Chinese production force this month even as China continues to reel under the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus. Reacting to a report, Foxconn made the claims in a statement to the Taipei stock exchange, Apple Insider reported on Wednesday.
The contract manufacturer did not correct the publication, nor did it provide additional information on the current status of its production capabilities, the report added. Foxconn would keep its factories shut for at least another week in the wake of the deadly coronavirus outbreak in the country, the media reported in the first week of this month. This comes at a time when smartphone giants like Apple and Samsung have shut their offices and stores in the country following the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak.
Meanwhile, Foxconn Industrial Internet (Fii) has succeeded in its trial production of masks and is currently applying for product certification amid the coronavirus outbreak. Fii made an announcement last week that the masks will be first used to protect some 1 million Foxconn employees from infection before being provided to others outside the company, the Xinhua news agency had reported.
The company has built production lines to make masks in Shenzhen’s Hualong plant and expects to reach a daily capacity of 2 million by the end of February. It is pertinent to note that the sales of smartphones in China may decline 20 percent in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020, according to a report by Counterpoint Research.
While companies like Huawei, OPPO and Vivo could suffer the most due to this decline, the impact may be limited on smartphone makers like Xiaomi, OnePlus and Realme “as they are more online-centric and overseas-focused”. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which originated in China’s Wuhan area in December 2019 has impacted social and production activities in the country. China’s National Health Commission said that it received reports of 5,090 new confirmed cases and 121 deaths on Thursday from 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, the Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.
The Facebook-owned social media network Instagram has announced a bunch of new features to improve transparency and make the platform safer. Instagram says that one of the newly added features is called Support Requests, which show users the status of their submitted reports on other content and users, as well as the history of the same. It also allows the user to mute, block, restrict or unfollow the profiles whose content they have reported. In case a user is not satisfied by the kind of action the the social media platform has taken, they can call for a further “Request a Review” appeal for a second look at the issue.
The other big change is that Instagram will now allow users, whose accounts may have been disabled for some perceived policy and guideline violation, to appeal the ban. There have been instances where accounts have been banned but they didn’t really post anything against the guidelines or something that could be classified as offensive. Instagram confirms that an option will soon be available for these disabled accounts to appeal the ban from within the app. This is expected to be rolled out in the coming days. Users will be able to “Request a Review”, and hope they can access their Instagram account again.