Samsung’s Quarterly Profit Plunges to 8-Year Low on Demand Slump 

Products on display at a Samsung Electronics shop inside the company's headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, 06 January, 2023. (EPA)
Products on display at a Samsung Electronics shop inside the company's headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, 06 January, 2023. (EPA)
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Samsung’s Quarterly Profit Plunges to 8-Year Low on Demand Slump 

Products on display at a Samsung Electronics shop inside the company's headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, 06 January, 2023. (EPA)
Products on display at a Samsung Electronics shop inside the company's headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, 06 January, 2023. (EPA)

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd flagged on Friday its quarterly profit tumbled by two-thirds to an eight-year low as a weakening global economy hammered memory chip prices and curbed demand for electronic devices. 

The dismal profit estimate by the world's largest memory chip, smartphone and TV maker - a bellwether for global consumer demand - sets a weak tone for other technology firms' quarterly results. 

Samsung's profits are expected to shrink again in the current quarter, analysts said, after the South Korean company announced its October-December operating profit likely fell 69% to 4.3 trillion won ($3.37 billion) from 13.87 trillion won a year earlier. 

It was Samsung's smallest quarterly profit since the third quarter of 2014 and fell short of a 5.9 trillion won Refinitiv SmartEstimate, which is weighted toward forecasts from analysts who are more consistently accurate. 

"All of Samsung's businesses had a hard time, but chips and mobile especially," said Lee Min-hee, analyst at BNK Investment & Securities. 

Quarterly revenue likely fell 9% from the same period a year earlier to 70 trillion won, Samsung said in a short preliminary earnings statement. Asia's fourth-biggest listed company by market value will release detailed earnings on Jan. 31. 

Rising global interest rates and cost of living have dampened demand for smartphones and other devices that Samsung makes and also for the semiconductors it supplies to rivals such as Apple Inc. 

"For the memory business, the decline in fourth-quarter demand was greater than expected as customers adjusted inventories in their effort to further tighten finances...," Samsung said in the statement. 

Its mobile business' profit declined in the fourth quarter as smartphone sales and revenue decreased due to weak demand resulting from prolonged macroeconomic issues, Samsung added. 

"Memory chip prices fell in the mid-20% during the quarter, and high-end phones such as foldable didn't sell as well," said BNK Investment's Lee, adding its display business was hurt due to client Apple's production delays at the world's biggest iPhone factory in China during the quarter. 

Three analysts said they expected Samsung's profits to dive again in the current quarter, with a likely operating loss for the chips business as a glut drives a further drop in memory chip prices. 

Samsung shares closed 1.4% higher on Friday, versus a 1.1% rise of the wider market. Shares of rival memory chip maker SK Hynix rose 2.1%. 

"The reason shares are rising despite the poor earnings result is... investors are hoping Samsung will need to reduce production, like Micron or SK Hynix said they would, which would help the memory industry overall," said Eo Kyu-jin, an analyst at DB Financial Investment. 

Samsung had said in October that it did not expect much change to its 2023 investments. Analysts said that Samsung has a history of not announcing memory chip production cuts, but could organically adjust investment by delaying bringing in equipment or in other ways. 



Apple Loses Top Spot in China Market with Shipments Down 6.6% in Q1

FILE PHOTO: People look at the new iPhone 15 Pro as Apple's new iPhone 15 officially goes on sale across China at an Apple store in Shanghai, China September 22, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: People look at the new iPhone 15 Pro as Apple's new iPhone 15 officially goes on sale across China at an Apple store in Shanghai, China September 22, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
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Apple Loses Top Spot in China Market with Shipments Down 6.6% in Q1

FILE PHOTO: People look at the new iPhone 15 Pro as Apple's new iPhone 15 officially goes on sale across China at an Apple store in Shanghai, China September 22, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: People look at the new iPhone 15 Pro as Apple's new iPhone 15 officially goes on sale across China at an Apple store in Shanghai, China September 22, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

Apple lost its crown as China's biggest smartphone seller in the first quarter of 2024 as its smartphone shipments fell 6.6% from a year ago amid intense competition, preliminary data from research firm IDC showed on Thursday.

Honor and Huawei were tied for the top spot, with Honor's market share rising to 17.1% and Huawei's share climbing to 17%, IDC said, while the iPhone maker's market share fell to 15.6%.

The IDC declares a statistical tie when the difference between the share of revenue or shipments between two or more vendors is 0.1% or less.

"Apple's price promotions in the quarter were unable to mitigate the impact of the intense competition from Android players," Arthur Guo, senior research analyst at IDC China said in the report.

Overall smartphone shipments in China rose 6.5% to 69.3 million units, according to IDC.

Earlier this week, data from research firm Counterpoint showed Apple's smartphone shipments in China tumbled 19% in the first quarter of the year, the worst performance since 2020.


Huawei Launches New Software Brand for Intelligent Driving

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is seen outside its headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is seen outside its headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo
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Huawei Launches New Software Brand for Intelligent Driving

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is seen outside its headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is seen outside its headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

Chinese tech company Huawei unveiled on Wednesday a new software brand for intelligent driving, marking its latest push to become a major player in the electric vehicle industry.
The new brand Qiankun, symbolizing a combination of heaven and the Kunlun Mountains, plans to provide self-driving systems involving the driving chassis, audio and driver's seat, Jin Yuzhi, CEO of Huawei's Intelligent Automotive Solution (IAS) business unit, said during an event ahead of the Beijing auto show.
"2024 will be the first year for mass commercialization of smart driving and the cumulative number of cars on road equipped with the Huawei self-driving system will top 500,000 by the year-end," Reuters quoted Jin as saying.
He also expected within a year more than 10 car models adopting Huawei’s Qiankun system would hit the market.
The Shenzhen-based tech conglomerate launched its smart car unit in 2019 with the aim that it could become the equivalent of German automotive supplier Bosch of the intelligent EV era and supply software and components to partners.
Huawei said in November that the unit would be spun off into a new company which would receive the unit's core technologies and resources and take investment from partners such as automaker Changan Auto.
It has also unveiled seven EV models in partnership with Chinese automakers so far and they are selling well, Jin said.
They include three Aito brand models under partnership with Seres, the Luxeed S7 sedan co-developed with Chery , two models with Changan Auto-backed Avatr and one with Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC)-owned Arcfox.
On Tuesday, Huawei also unveiled the S9 sedan, the first model under the premium Stelato brand it launched with BAIC.
Its diversification into EVs comes amid an intensifying price war in the world's largest auto market, which is grappling with slowing sales momentum and deepening overcapacity concerns as more than 40 brands vie for consumer attention.
Earlier this month, Huawei-backed Aito offered discounts of up to 20,000 yuan ($2,760) on its new M7 SUVs until the end of April.


Apple Announces Event on May 7 amid Reports of New iPad Model Launches

People stand outside a recently-opened Apple Store in Shanghai's Jing'an district on March 26, 2024. (AFP)
People stand outside a recently-opened Apple Store in Shanghai's Jing'an district on March 26, 2024. (AFP)
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Apple Announces Event on May 7 amid Reports of New iPad Model Launches

People stand outside a recently-opened Apple Store in Shanghai's Jing'an district on March 26, 2024. (AFP)
People stand outside a recently-opened Apple Store in Shanghai's Jing'an district on March 26, 2024. (AFP)

Apple will hold an event on May 7, the company said on Tuesday, amid reports that it would roll out the long-anticipated revamped versions of iPad Pro and iPad Air next month.

The Cupertino, California-based company did not disclose more details about the event that would start at 7 a.m. PT (2 p.m. GMT).

Bloomberg News reported in March that Apple's overseas suppliers had ramped up production of the new iPads and a launch was planned for early May.

The new models would represent Apple's first overhaul to that lineup since 2018.

The potential launch comes at a time as iPad sales have declined. The sales dropped 25% to $7.02 billion in the first quarter, while those of iPhone, its most popular product, have also been slowing.

The tablet market is under duress as economic uncertainty looms and consumers cut back on non-essential spending, but Apple expects to combat the slump in demand with new products.

Apple's iPad sales contributed just 5.9% to the company's total net sales of $119.58 billion in the first quarter ended Dec. 30.

Apple is also scheduled to hold its Worldwide Developers Conference from June 10 to June 14.


Microsoft Launches Lightweight AI Model

A Microsoft sign is pictured at a trade fair in Hannover Messe, in Hanover, Germany, April 22, 2024. (Reuters)
A Microsoft sign is pictured at a trade fair in Hannover Messe, in Hanover, Germany, April 22, 2024. (Reuters)
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Microsoft Launches Lightweight AI Model

A Microsoft sign is pictured at a trade fair in Hannover Messe, in Hanover, Germany, April 22, 2024. (Reuters)
A Microsoft sign is pictured at a trade fair in Hannover Messe, in Hanover, Germany, April 22, 2024. (Reuters)

Microsoft on Tuesday launched a lightweight artificial intelligence model, as it looks to attract a wider client base with cost-effective options.

The new version called Phi-3-mini is the first of the three small language models (SLM) to be released by the company, as it stakes its future on a technology that is expected to have a wide-ranging impact on the world and the way people work.

"Phi-3 is not slightly cheaper, it's dramatically cheaper, we're talking about a 10x cost difference compared to the other models out there with similar capabilities," said Sébastien Bubeck, Microsoft's vice president of GenAI research.

SLMs are designed to perform simpler tasks, making it easier for use by companies with limited resources, the company said.

Phi-3-mini will be available immediately on Microsoft cloud service platform Azure's AI model catalog, machine learning model platform Hugging Face, and Ollama, a framework for running models on a local machine, the company said.

Last week, Microsoft invested $1.5 billion in UAE-based AI firm G42. It has also previously partnered with French startup Mistral AI to make their models available through its Azure cloud computing platform.


Adobe to Bring Full AI Image Generation to Photoshop this Year

An AI (Artificial Intelligence) sign is seen at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, China July 6, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
An AI (Artificial Intelligence) sign is seen at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, China July 6, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
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Adobe to Bring Full AI Image Generation to Photoshop this Year

An AI (Artificial Intelligence) sign is seen at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, China July 6, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
An AI (Artificial Intelligence) sign is seen at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, China July 6, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

Adobe said on Tuesday it plans to place a tool for full artificial intelligence image generation in its Photoshop software later this year.
Adobe's image and video editing tools are widely used by creative professionals, but it faces rising competition from startups such as Microsoft-backed OpenAI, Midjourney and Stability AI, all of which offer services that can generate images from text prompts, Reuters said.
Adobe is developing its own image-generation AI system called Firefly, which is trained on data that Adobe has rights to, in order to avoid copyright infringement claims against users.
Adobe previously released image-generation tools in Photoshop that can fill in or expand parts an existing image. At a conference in London on Tuesday, the company said full image generation will come later this year, based on a new AI system called Firefly Image 3.
Much of Adobe's focus has been on speeding up the work of professionals who use its software. The new image-generation tool will have the ability to tap a user's uploaded image as a reference for the general composition of an image.
For example, a designer could make a quick sketch of a scene on a napkin, snap a photo of that napkin with a smartphone and then ask Photoshop to generate fully featured images in a variety of styles, said Ely Greenfield, chief technology officer for digital media at Adobe.
"Rather than having to very carefully describe exactly what goes where and try to make sure that I'm specifying the things I want things and that I don't, it's borrowing from the reference. So this is an amazingly powerful capability," Greenfield said.
Adobe said a test "beta" version of the software is available to some users on Tuesday but did not give a date for general availability.


Tencent to Release ‘Dungeon and Fighter’ Mobile Game in May 

A Tencent sign is seen at the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, October 20, 2019. (Reuters)
A Tencent sign is seen at the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, October 20, 2019. (Reuters)
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Tencent to Release ‘Dungeon and Fighter’ Mobile Game in May 

A Tencent sign is seen at the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, October 20, 2019. (Reuters)
A Tencent sign is seen at the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, October 20, 2019. (Reuters)

Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings said on Monday it will release its much-anticipated "Dungeon and Fighter" mobile game on May 21 after seven years of development.

Officially named "Dungeon and Fighter: Origin", the action game, developed by Korean firm Nexon, is a mobile adaptation of the "Dungeon and Fighter" computer game, one of the world's most profitable computer games.

Tencent's shares rose about 4.5% on Monday morning.

The game was already released in South Korea in 2022 and became an instant hit. But its China release was delayed after the government cracked down on the gaming industry between 2018 and 2022.

In a February note, investment bank Jefferies expected the game to "secure a top 5 spot in revenue rankings" in China and to potentially generate between $600 million to $1.1 billion in annualized revenues there over time. But the bank expects a "cautious approach to engagement and monetization" during its initial launch.

Last month, Tencent conducted a closed test with 300,000 players and had delivered strong results. In a note this month, HSBC wrote: "Testing for DnFm yielded solid performance in metrics like [daily active users], retention rate and user's paying propensity."


Tesla Cuts Price of Full Self-Driving Software by a Third

FILE - A Model X sports-utility vehicle sits outside a Tesla store in Littleton, Colo., on June 18, 2023. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - A Model X sports-utility vehicle sits outside a Tesla store in Littleton, Colo., on June 18, 2023. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
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Tesla Cuts Price of Full Self-Driving Software by a Third

FILE - A Model X sports-utility vehicle sits outside a Tesla store in Littleton, Colo., on June 18, 2023. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - A Model X sports-utility vehicle sits outside a Tesla store in Littleton, Colo., on June 18, 2023. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Tesla slashed the price of its Full Self-Driving (FSD) driver assistant software to $8,000 from $12,000 in the United States.

CEO Elon Musk is betting on the technology to become cash cow for the world's most valuable automaker. But he has for years failed to achieve the goal of self-driving capability, with the technology under growing regulatory and legal scrutiny.

Musk earlier this month said Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on Aug. 8, after Reuters reported Tesla had scrapped its inexpensive, mass-market car in favour of robotaxis.

According to the Tesla website, customers can now pay $8,000 for the FSD feature, or subscribe to use it for $99 a month.

Tesla recently cut the US monthly subscription price for the feature from $199, while giving every Tesla customer a month's free subscription to the software.

Tesla has also been cutting prices on its auto line-up in major markets. Grappling with falling sales and an intensifying price war for electric vehicles, Tesla cut prices by nearly $2,000 across its line-up in China, in line with its price cuts in the United States.


Saudi Food and Drug Authority CEO Visits Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore

The CEO of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) visited the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore. SPA
The CEO of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) visited the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore. SPA
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Saudi Food and Drug Authority CEO Visits Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore

The CEO of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) visited the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore. SPA
The CEO of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) visited the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore. SPA

The CEO of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA), Dr. Hisham bin Saad Al-Jadhey, visited the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore, and met with the Executive Director of the A*STAR Biomedical Research Council (BMRC), Dr. Azlinda Anwar, and A*STAR Executive Director of the Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI) Dr. Sze Tan.
Al-Jadhey was briefed on the work of the BMRC, the SIFBI, and the biotechnology ecosystem in Singapore.
A*STAR is an entity affiliated with the Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry which supports research and development in several areas, including human health and biomedicine in the public sector.
This visit came on the sidelines of the SFDA's participation in the 5th Annual Meeting of the International Heads of Food Agencies Forum (IHFAF), which took place in Singapore from April 16 to 20.


AI's Relentless Rise Gives Journalists Tough Choices

The arrival of ChatGPT sent shockwaves through the journalism industry. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP
The arrival of ChatGPT sent shockwaves through the journalism industry. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP
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AI's Relentless Rise Gives Journalists Tough Choices

The arrival of ChatGPT sent shockwaves through the journalism industry. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP
The arrival of ChatGPT sent shockwaves through the journalism industry. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

The rise of artificial intelligence has forced an increasing number of journalists to grapple with the ethical and editorial challenges posed by the rapidly expanding technology.
AI's role in assisting newsrooms or transforming them completely was among the questions raised at the International Journalism Festival in the Italian city of Perugia that closes on Sunday.
- What will happen to jobs? -
AI tools imitating human intelligence are widely used in newsrooms around the world to transcribe sound files, summarize texts and translate.
In early 2023, Germany's Axel Springer group announced it was cutting jobs at the Bild and Die Welt newspapers, saying AI could now "replace" some of its journalists.
Generative AI -- capable of producing text and images following a simple request in everyday language -- has been opening new frontiers as well as raising concerns for a year and a half, AFP reported.
One issue is that voices and faces can now be cloned to produce a podcast or present news on television. Last year, Filipino website Rappler created a brand aimed at young audiences by converting its long articles into comics, graphics and even videos.
Media professionals agree that their trade must now focus on tasks offering the greatest "added value".
"You're the one who is doing the real stuff" and "the tools that we produce will be an assistant to you," Google News general manager Shailesh Prakash told the festival in Perugia.
All about the money
The costs of generative AI have plummeted since ChatGPT burst onto the scene in late 2022, with the tool designed by US start-up OpenAI now accessible to smaller newsrooms.
Colombian investigative outlet Cuestion Publica has harnessed engineers to develop a tool that can delve into its archives and find relevant background information in the event of breaking news.
But many media organizations are not making their own language models, which are at the core of AI interfaces, said University of Amsterdam professor Natali Helberger. They are needed for "safe and trustworthy technology", he stressed.
The disinformation threat
According to one estimate last year by Everypixel Journal, AI has created as many images in one year as photography in 150 years.
That has raised serious questions about how news can be fished out of the tidal wave of content, including deepfakes.
Media and tech organizations are teaming up to tackle the threat, notably through the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity, which seeks to set common standards.
"The core of our job is news gathering, on-the-ground reporting," said Sophie Huet, recently appointed to become global news director for editorial innovation and artificial intelligence at Agence France-Presse.
"We'll rely for a while on human reporters," she added, although that might be with the help of artificial intelligence.
From Wild West to regulation
Media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which has expanded its media rights brief to defending trustworthy news, launched the Paris Charter on AI and journalism late last year.
"One of the things I really liked about the Paris Charter was the emphasis on transparency," said Anya Schiffrin, a lecturer on global media, innovation and human rights at Columbia University in the United States.
"To what extent will publishers have to disclose when they are using generative IA?"
Olle Zachrison, head of AI and news strategy at public broadcaster Swedish Radio, said there was "a serious debate going on: should you mark out AI content or should people trust your brand?"
Regulation remains in its infancy in the face of a constantly evolving technology.
In March, the European Parliament adopted a framework law aiming to regulate AI models without holding back innovation, while guidelines and charters are increasingly common in newsrooms.
AI editorial guidelines are updated every three months at India's Quintillion Media, said its boss Ritu Kapur.
None of the organization's articles can be written by AI and the images it generates cannot represent real life.
Resist or collaborate?
AI models feed off data, but their thirst for the vital commodity has raised hackles among providers.
In December, the New York Times sued OpenAI and its main investor Microsoft for violation of copyright.
In contrast, other media organizations have struck deals with OpenAI: Axel Springer, US news agency AP, French daily Le Monde and Spanish group Prisa Media whose titles include El Pais and AS newspapers.
With resources tight in the media industry, collaborating with the new technology is tempting, explained Emily Bell, a professor at Columbia University's journalism school.
She senses a growing external pressure to "Get on board, don't miss the train".


Google Combining Its Android Software and Pixel Hardware Divisions to More Broadly Integrate AI 

Google logos are displayed when searched for Google in New York, Sept. 11, 2023. (AP)
Google logos are displayed when searched for Google in New York, Sept. 11, 2023. (AP)
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Google Combining Its Android Software and Pixel Hardware Divisions to More Broadly Integrate AI 

Google logos are displayed when searched for Google in New York, Sept. 11, 2023. (AP)
Google logos are displayed when searched for Google in New York, Sept. 11, 2023. (AP)

Google will combine the software division responsible for Android mobile software and the Chrome browser with the hardware division known for Pixel smartphones and Fitbit wearables, the company said Thursday. It's part of a broader plan to integrate artificial intelligence more widely throughout the company.

In a letter to employees, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the changes will “turbocharge the Android and Chrome ecosystems” while helping to spur innovation.

The decision will place both operations under the oversight of Rick Osterloh, a Google executive who previously oversaw the company's hardware group. Not long ago, Google insulated Android development from the hardware division, saying it wanted to avoid giving its phone designers an unfair advantage over the other major smartphone makers who used Android — including Samsung and Motorola, as well as Chinese companies such as Oppo and Xiaomi.

Then a few years ago, Google started to position the Pixel as a flagship for demonstrating what AI could accomplish and leaned heavily into developing features that could demonstrate its potential. That meant more integration of AI hardware and software to power those features on mobile devices.

In an interview with The Verge, a tech publication, Osterloh noted that AI is the primary reason for bringing together Google's consumer hardware and software engineers. He argued that phone technology is already growing more dependent on AI, citing the development of the Pixel camera, which among other things uses the technology for features that enhance nighttime photos or automatically choose the best of several closely timed shots.

Combining the teams, Osterloh added, is a way for Google to move even faster on infusing AI into its features. Designing the Pixel camera several years ago, he said in the interview, required deep knowledge of not just the complex hardware and software systems involved, but also the then-early AI models used for image processing.

“That hardware-software-AI integration really showed how AI could totally transform a user experience,” Osterloh said. “That was important. And it’s even more true today.”

“What you’re now starting to see Google do is flex its core AI innovation engines,” said Chirag Dekate, an analyst with Gartner. “Google wants to dominate the AI, the commanding heights of the emerging AI economy, both on the consumer side as well as on the enterprise side, essentially by infusing AI everywhere and by connecting it.”

Meanwhile, the chief of Google's software division, Hiroshi Lockheimer, is left without a title and, according to Pichai's letter, will be starting some other unnamed projects. Lockheimer did join Osterloh for the Verge interview, though, and the two men insisted the changes weren't the result of a power struggle.

Google is also reorganizing its AI research and responsibility groups, although those changes mostly won’t directly affect consumer products — at least not for now.