EV Charging Stations Increased 60% Across UAE in 3 Years

UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail al-Mazrouei speaks at the second edition of the Electric Vehicles Innovation Summit (EVIS2023). (WAM)
UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail al-Mazrouei speaks at the second edition of the Electric Vehicles Innovation Summit (EVIS2023). (WAM)
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EV Charging Stations Increased 60% Across UAE in 3 Years

UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail al-Mazrouei speaks at the second edition of the Electric Vehicles Innovation Summit (EVIS2023). (WAM)
UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail al-Mazrouei speaks at the second edition of the Electric Vehicles Innovation Summit (EVIS2023). (WAM)

UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail al-Mazrouei revealed that the country's electric vehicle (EV) charging stations had risen nearly 60 percent over the past three years.

Mazrouei pointed to a noticeable increase in EV sales, which aligns with the ambitious plans, qualitative initiatives, and incentives provided by the government to encourage the conversion to electric vehicles.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Electric Vehicles Innovation Summit (EVIS2023), the minister said that the increase in the shift towards electric vehicles will contribute to reducing the carbon footprint, in line with the UAE's efforts to achieve climate neutral by 2050.

The government aims to increase the number of EVs on the roads by 2050, which would support the UAE's goals for climate neutrality, said the minister, noting that transportation is one of the sectors most concerned with reducing the carbon footprint.

He indicated that this requires everyone to take practical steps to reduce transportation emissions and help build appropriate infrastructure, frameworks, and policies to design a sustainable sector.

According to Statista, transportation accounts for 17 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions - behind only the power sector.

Public charging stations

Mazrouei announced that to fully realize the potential of electric mobility, the UAE is deploying a nationwide network of public and private charging stations equipped with the latest innovative technologies to reduce charging time.

"The stations follow a national guide that unifies their specifications across the emirates and aligns them with world-class standards," he added.

The minister stated that EVs "are set to be at the core of our shift to green mobility. The EV market looks promising and offers unique investment opportunities. We invite future-thinking businesses to capitalize on these opportunities."

EVIS2023 aims to promote the transition from dependence on fossil fuels to electric mobility, which saves the planet from the environmental consequences of CO2 and other emissions.

The summit's two-day conference will bring together delegates, experts, and representatives of the mobility industry from dozens of countries to discuss the current landscape and future challenges and opportunities.

It will feature more than 75 sessions, with keynote speakers, presentations, and panel discussions covering the EV industry's complete value chain.

It will be a valuable opportunity for attendants to network, share ideas and insights, and strike business deals.



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.


Apple Drops WhatsApp, Threads from China App Store on Official Order

China is a key market for Apple, which last year topped the country's smartphone market for the first time. Hector RETAMAL / AFP
China is a key market for Apple, which last year topped the country's smartphone market for the first time. Hector RETAMAL / AFP
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Apple Drops WhatsApp, Threads from China App Store on Official Order

China is a key market for Apple, which last year topped the country's smartphone market for the first time. Hector RETAMAL / AFP
China is a key market for Apple, which last year topped the country's smartphone market for the first time. Hector RETAMAL / AFP

Apple has removed the Meta-owned WhatsApp and Threads from its App Store in China following an order from the country's top internet regulator, Bloomberg reported Friday citing the tech giant.
Beijing engages in some of the world's most extensive internet censorship, with web users in mainland China unable to access everything from Google to many foreign apps without using a virtual private network, AFP said.
"We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree," said Apple in a statement, according to Bloomberg.
"The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) ordered the removal of these apps from the China storefront based on their national security concerns," said Apple, referring to China's internet regulator.
"These apps remain available for download on all other storefronts where they appear."
A Meta spokesperson referred AFP to Apple, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The CAC and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology -- another top Chinese internet regulatory body -- also did not immediately respond.
China is a key market for Apple, which last year topped the country's smartphone market for the first time.
But thorny issues of censorship and national security have long hounded the US-based firm's operations in China as Beijing and Washington engage in a fierce battle for technological supremacy.
In January, China said it had cracked Apple's encrypted AirDrop communication service, which had once given protesters a vital channel for sharing information during the major 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
State-backed experts said in January that they had devised a way to reveal an iPhone's encrypted device log, allowing them to then identify an AirDrop user's phone number and email accounts.
Many online platforms that are popular in much of the world -- including Google, Facebook, X, WhatsApp and TikTok -- are blocked in mainland China.
But savvy iPhone users in China have still been able to download banned platforms through Apple's app store, then use a VPN to get around the restrictions.
Removing WhatsApp and Threads from the Chinese app store will greatly complicate the ability of new iPhone users to access the apps.
The latest development comes a day before a scheduled vote in the US House of Representatives to force the wildly popular video app TikTok to sever all links with its Chinese parent ByteDance.
US officials have raised concerns in recent years over potential national security and privacy threats posed by TikTok, despite repeated assurances by the firm that it presents no risks to the American public.
Beijing has frequently lashed out against US restrictions on Chinese tech, claiming they are a pretext to contain the country's economic rise.


Huawei Starts Sales of New Pura 70 Smartphone to Crowds amid Chips Scrutiny

A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)
A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)
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Huawei Starts Sales of New Pura 70 Smartphone to Crowds amid Chips Scrutiny

A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)
A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)

Chinese technology giant Huawei started selling two models of its highly anticipated, high-end Pura 70 smartphone series on Thursday that many analysts expect to contain an advanced China-made chip like its Mate 60 handset.
The Pura series developed by the Shenzhen-headquartered company has advanced cameras and is known for its sleek design, while the Mate series emphasizes performance and business features.
The launch of Huawei's Mate 60 series last year was celebrated by Chinese state media as a triumph over US sanctions on the firm, as the handsets contain an advanced China-made chip that is considered only a few generations behind cutting-edge chips used by Western tech giants like Apple and Google in terms of computing power.
Eric Xu, Huawei's acting chairman, on Wednesday told a forum in Shenzhen that the company also plans to roll out a Mate 70 smartphone this year.
The Pro and Ultra versions of the Pura 70 were available on Thursday, while the Plus and base versions will begin sales on April 22. The phones were out of stock at Huawei's official online store just a minute after sales started, and hundreds of the brand's fans lined up at Huawei stores in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
One customer, Lucas Zhuang, tested the network speed of the Pura 70 and said it was at the level of 5G. Washington has banned the licensing of 5G chips to China but Huawei's Mate 60 phones were already able to achieve 5G speed in many cases despite Huawei not branding it as 5G.
"We didn't know what chip the Pura 70 has inside. We only found out after we bought it," Zhuang, who already owns the Mate 60, told Reuters after waiting in line at Huawei's flagship store in Shanghai.
"But we believe ... the chip it has will certainly meet people's needs."
Ivan Lam, a senior analyst at research firm Counterpoint, said he expected shipments of about 60 million units from Huawei this year, with the Pura 70 series being an important catalyst. Last year, Huawei sold about 32 million smartphones.
"There may be some shortage at various channels but supply will be much better compared to when the Mate 60 was launched. We don't expect any longlasting shortage," he said.
The Pura 70 series has four variants: the 70, the 70 Plus, the 70 Pro and the 70 Ultra. The starting price for the Pura 70 series is 5,499 yuan ($760.06).
CHIP CHALLENGE
The launch of the Mate 60 Pro last August sparked a spike in Huawei's smartphone sales. According to Counterpoint, in the first six weeks of 2024, Huawei saw unit sales rise by 64% year-on-year. Meanwhile, Apple's iPhone sales in China fell 24% during the same period.
Huawei’s Kirin 9000S chip was reportedly manufactured by China's Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) despite US export restrictions seeking to limit Beijing's chip-making capabilities.
It was seen as a symbol of China's technological resurgence despite Washington's ongoing efforts to cripple its capacity to produce advanced semiconductors.
The Biden administration began a review of the chip earlier this year and said last month that SMIC might have violated US export rules, while adding it was still evaluating the situation.
Besides targeting China's chip manufacturers, the US has imposed trade restrictions on Huawei since 2018, viewing the company and its products as a national security risk, which the company denies.
Elaborating on the pending Mate 70 smartphones on Tuesday, Xu said the goal is for it to use a "pure" version of its HarmonyOS operating system, developed in 2019 after US sanctions cut Huawei's access to US technologies such as Google's Android.
HarmonyOS had still been reliant on the Android application ecosystem but Huawei plans to cut that relationship and make HarmonyOS completely independent and able to compete with Apple's iOS and Android, he added.


Apple Plans to Invest More Than $250 Mln to Expand Singapore Campus

People shop at an Apple reseller store iBox at a mall in Jakarta on April 17, 2024. (Photo by Adek BERRY / AFP)
People shop at an Apple reseller store iBox at a mall in Jakarta on April 17, 2024. (Photo by Adek BERRY / AFP)
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Apple Plans to Invest More Than $250 Mln to Expand Singapore Campus

People shop at an Apple reseller store iBox at a mall in Jakarta on April 17, 2024. (Photo by Adek BERRY / AFP)
People shop at an Apple reseller store iBox at a mall in Jakarta on April 17, 2024. (Photo by Adek BERRY / AFP)

Apple Inc plans to invest more than $250 million to expand its regional campus or operations in Ang Mo Kio, Singapore, according to a company statement dated April 17.
Two buildings acquired in 2022, located across from Apple's existing offices, will undergo a major upgrade, the US technology giant said.
"Singapore is truly a one-of-a-kind place, and we are proud of the connection we've built with this dynamic community of creators, learners, and dreamers," Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said in a statement.
Apple opened its first facility in Singapore in 1981 with 72 employees focused on Apple II, its early personal computer.
It has since grown to house more than 3,600 employees in the city-state, which serves as an operations center for Apple in the region.
Cook will meet Singapore's prime minister-designate Lawrence Wong as well as the city-state's incumbent leader Lee Hsien Loong this week as part of his Southeast Asia tour, Bloomberg News reported earlier on Wednesday, citing a person familiar with the matter.


Saudi Arabia Earns Top Marks in Global AI Index for National Strategy 

Established in 2019, SDAIA serves as the national authority for all matters related to data (including big data) and AI, providing a centralized hub for its organization, development, and implementation. 
Established in 2019, SDAIA serves as the national authority for all matters related to data (including big data) and AI, providing a centralized hub for its organization, development, and implementation. 
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Saudi Arabia Earns Top Marks in Global AI Index for National Strategy 

Established in 2019, SDAIA serves as the national authority for all matters related to data (including big data) and AI, providing a centralized hub for its organization, development, and implementation. 
Established in 2019, SDAIA serves as the national authority for all matters related to data (including big data) and AI, providing a centralized hub for its organization, development, and implementation. 

The Stanford University International AI Index for 2024 ranked Saudi Arabia among the leading nations globally for developing a national strategy on Artificial Intelligence (AI). This comprehensive resource, valuable for policymakers, researchers, and industry specialists, provides insights into the current state and future trajectory of AI, reported the Saudi Press Agency on Wednesday.

This recognition reflects the Kingdom's commitment to leveraging data and AI technologies. Under the guidance and support of Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince, Prime Minister, and Chairman of the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) board of directors, the Kingdom is harnessing these powerful and transformative technologies for the betterment of humanity, while promoting a global framework for international cooperation in the field of AI.

Saudi Arabia's strong positioning in the AI and data domain underscores the success of Vision 2030, a national transformation plan where AI plays a pivotal role. Approximately 70% of the goals of Vision 2030 are directly or indirectly tied to AI, propelling the Kingdom toward a leading position in global AI rankings.

Established in 2019, SDAIA serves as the national authority for all matters related to data (including big data) and AI, providing a centralized hub for its organization, development, and implementation.

The latest accomplishment builds on Saudi Arabia's previous achievements in the AI realm. In 2023, the Kingdom secured the top spot in the Government Strategy Index for Artificial Intelligence, in the global AI classification issued by Tortoise Intelligence, which evaluates over 60 countries. Stanford University International AI Index 2023 ranked Saudi Arabia second globally in public awareness about AI.

These global accolades align with SDAIA's tireless efforts to solidify Saudi Arabia's position as a global leader in data and AI. Its multifaceted approach includes capacity building, policy development, fostering investment and innovation, strengthening technical infrastructure, and promoting the adoption of AI solutions in priority areas aligned with national objectives.

SDAIA is dedicated to achieving a set of strategic goals, including continuous modernization of the national data and AI agenda, and ensuring its successful implementation at the national level. Its steadfast commitment paves the way for Saudi Arabia to become a frontrunner in the information, data, and AI-driven economies of the future.


Apple CEO Says it is Considering a Manufacturing Facility in Indonesia

Apple CEO Tim Cook (C) speaks alongside Indonesian Minister of Communication and Information Budi Arie Setiadi (R) and Indonesian Minister of Industry Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita (L) during a press conference after meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on April 17, 2024. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO / AFP)
Apple CEO Tim Cook (C) speaks alongside Indonesian Minister of Communication and Information Budi Arie Setiadi (R) and Indonesian Minister of Industry Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita (L) during a press conference after meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on April 17, 2024. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO / AFP)
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Apple CEO Says it is Considering a Manufacturing Facility in Indonesia

Apple CEO Tim Cook (C) speaks alongside Indonesian Minister of Communication and Information Budi Arie Setiadi (R) and Indonesian Minister of Industry Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita (L) during a press conference after meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on April 17, 2024. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO / AFP)
Apple CEO Tim Cook (C) speaks alongside Indonesian Minister of Communication and Information Budi Arie Setiadi (R) and Indonesian Minister of Industry Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita (L) during a press conference after meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on April 17, 2024. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO / AFP)

Apple Inc will look into building a manufacturing facility in Indonesia, its CEO said on Wednesday after meeting President Joko Widodo, who hoped the tech giant would increase its local content by partnering with domestic firms.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook arrived in Jakarta on Tuesday after visiting Vietnam, Reuters reported. He met with Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, and will inaugurate its fourth developer academy on the island of Bali.
"We talked about the president's desire to see manufacturing in the country, and it is something that we will look at," Cook told reporters after the meeting.
Apple has no manufacturing facilities in Indonesia, but since 2018 it has been setting up app developer academies, which including the new academy have a total cost of 1.6 trillion rupiah ($99 million).
Indonesia's industry minister, Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, who also attended the meeting, told reporters that if Apple decided to build manufacturing facility in Indonesia, it would have the capacity to produce for export.
"We will discuss how Apple's facility in Indonesia could become a global supply chain," he said, adding that the government said that even if Apple didn't built a factory, it could partner with Indonesian companies to obtain components.
Apple has met Indonesia's 35% local content requirement to sell its products by investing in developer academies, Agus said, but the government hoped that number could be pushed higher with a manufacturing facility.
Apple has based much of its key manufacturing of iPads, AirPods and Apple Watches in Vietnam; suppliers for MacBooks are also investing in the country.
Indonesia has a huge, tech-savvy population, making the Southeast Asian nation a key target market for tech-related investment.


AMD Introduces AI Chips for Business Laptops and Desktops

A smartphone with a displayed AMD logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken March 6, 2023. (Reuters)
A smartphone with a displayed AMD logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken March 6, 2023. (Reuters)
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AMD Introduces AI Chips for Business Laptops and Desktops

A smartphone with a displayed AMD logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken March 6, 2023. (Reuters)
A smartphone with a displayed AMD logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken March 6, 2023. (Reuters)

Advanced Micro Devices unveiled a new series of semiconductors for artificial intelligence-enabled business laptops and desktops on Tuesday as the chip designer looks to expand its share of the lucrative "AI PC" market.

These chips are expected to be available in platforms from HP and Lenovo starting in the second quarter of 2024, AMD said in a press release.

AI-enabled PCs are capable of running large-language models and apps powered by the technology directly on the device, instead of the cloud.

AMD said its latest Ryzen PRO 8040 Series was built for "business laptops and mobile workstations" while its AMD Ryzen PRO 8000 Series was a desktop processor for business users.

Its shares were up more than 2% in early trading.

Experts have pinned a possible recovery in the PC market on the introduction of AI PCs, as consumers look to upgrade their systems with the new capabilities.

The advent of generative AI technology has led to towering demand for advanced semiconductors that can be used to develop and run complex AI programs.

In the market for AI PCs, AMD faces intense competition from Intel and AI chip front-runner Nvidia, hailed as a leader for graphics processing units (GPUs).

AMD introduced the Ryzen 8000G Series of desktop chips in January, targeted towards the heavy workloads that come along with AI-based tasks.

On the same day, Nvidia unveiled its own AI PC chips - the "GeForce RTX SUPER" desktop GPUs - saying Acer, ASUS, Dell Technologies, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung will release AI laptops featuring its technology.

Intel also said in January it expects to "ship approximately 40 million AI PCs in 2024 alone".


OpenAI Bids for Japan Business as It Opens Tokyo Office 

Journalists are silhouetted at OpenAI’s press conference about the opening of its first Asia office in Tokyo, Japan April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
Journalists are silhouetted at OpenAI’s press conference about the opening of its first Asia office in Tokyo, Japan April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
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OpenAI Bids for Japan Business as It Opens Tokyo Office 

Journalists are silhouetted at OpenAI’s press conference about the opening of its first Asia office in Tokyo, Japan April 15, 2024. (Reuters)
Journalists are silhouetted at OpenAI’s press conference about the opening of its first Asia office in Tokyo, Japan April 15, 2024. (Reuters)

Microsoft backed artificial intelligence startup OpenAI made a pitch for business in Japan on Monday as it opened its first Asia office in Tokyo.

"This is just the first step in what I hope will be a long-term partnership with the people of Japan, government leaders, businesses and research institutions," OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said in a video message.

The startup, which has caused excitement among consumers since the launch of its ChatGPT generative AI chatbot in late 2022, is looking to grow new sources of revenue globally.

Altman and Chief Operating Officer Brad Lightcap have hosted hundreds of Fortune 500 company executives in the United States and Britain this month to pitch for business, Reuters has reported.

Last year Altman said he was considering a Japan location after meeting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The startup has also opened offices in London and Dublin.

Japan hopes to take advantage of AI as it looks to compete with an increasingly assertive China, accelerate the shift to digital services and alleviate deepening labor shortages.

"We have a backlog of demand," Lightcap told reporters in Tokyo, adding that "we expect a meaningful contribution from Japan over time," without providing details.

OpenAI said it has a custom model optimized for the Japanese language and that Tadao Nagasaki, who was president of Amazon Web Services in Japan, is heading the Japan business.

While the country is seen as a laggard in the technology, local companies including telcos SoftBank and NTT are investing in large language models.

OpenAI's customers in Japan include automaker Toyota Motor, manufacturer Daikin Industries and local government.

Microsoft said last week it would invest $2.9 billion over two years in cloud and AI infrastructure in Japan, part of a wave of investment globally by US tech giants.


Apple Loses Top Phonemaker Spot to Samsung as iPhone Shipments Drop, IDC Says 

A worker waters a flower bed next to the logo of Samsung Electronics during a media tour at Samsung Electronics' headquarters in Suwon, South Korea, June 13, 2023. (Reuters)
A worker waters a flower bed next to the logo of Samsung Electronics during a media tour at Samsung Electronics' headquarters in Suwon, South Korea, June 13, 2023. (Reuters)
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Apple Loses Top Phonemaker Spot to Samsung as iPhone Shipments Drop, IDC Says 

A worker waters a flower bed next to the logo of Samsung Electronics during a media tour at Samsung Electronics' headquarters in Suwon, South Korea, June 13, 2023. (Reuters)
A worker waters a flower bed next to the logo of Samsung Electronics during a media tour at Samsung Electronics' headquarters in Suwon, South Korea, June 13, 2023. (Reuters)

Apple's smartphone shipments dropped about 10% in the first quarter of 2024, hurt by intensifying competition by Android smartphone makers aiming for the top spot, data from research firm IDC showed on Sunday.

Global smartphone shipments increased 7.8% to 289.4 million units during January-March, with Samsung, at 20.8% market share, clinching the top phonemaker spot from Apple.

The iPhone-maker's steep sales decline comes after its strong performance in the December quarter when it overtook Samsung as the world's No.1 phone maker. It's back to the second spot, with 17.3% market share, as Chinese brands such as Huawei gain market share.

Xiaomi, one of China's top smartphone makers, occupied the third position with a market share of 14.1% during the first quarter.

South Korea's Samsung, which launched its latest flagship smartphone lineup - Galaxy S24 series - in the beginning of the year, shipped more than 60 million phones during the period.

Global sales of Galaxy S24 smartphones jumped 8%, compared to last year's Galaxy S23 series during their first three weeks of availability, data provider Counterpoint previously said.

In the first quarter, Apple shipped 50.1 million iPhones, down from 55.4 million units it shipped same period last year, according to IDC.

Apple's smartphone shipments in China shrank 2.1% in the final quarter of 2023 from a year earlier.

The drop underscores the challenges facing the US firm in its third biggest market, as some Chinese companies and government agencies limit employees' use of Apple devices, a measure that mirrors US government restrictions on Chinese apps on security grounds.

The Cupertino, California-based company in June will hold its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), where it will highlight updates to the software powering iPhones, iPads, and other Apple devices.

Investors are closely watching for updates on artificial intelligence development at Apple, which has so far spoken little about incorporating the AI technology into its devices. The company earlier this year lost the crown as the world's most valuable company to Microsoft.


Race for AI Isn't Zero-sum, Says Amazon Cloud Boss

Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Adam Selipsky says there won't be one artificial intelligence platform to rule them all. Stephen Brashear / AFP
Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Adam Selipsky says there won't be one artificial intelligence platform to rule them all. Stephen Brashear / AFP
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Race for AI Isn't Zero-sum, Says Amazon Cloud Boss

Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Adam Selipsky says there won't be one artificial intelligence platform to rule them all. Stephen Brashear / AFP
Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Adam Selipsky says there won't be one artificial intelligence platform to rule them all. Stephen Brashear / AFP

As Google races with Microsoft and OpenAI to create world-changing generative artificial intelligence, some critics see Amazon as lagging behind.
"I respectfully disagree" with that viewpoint, said Adam Selipsky, Amazon's cloud chief, in an interview with AFP.
Tech giants like Microsoft, Google and Meta have made headlines talking about their own foundational models, or those of their close partners, that are key to AI and its ability to produce written works, images, videos or even computer code from simple user prompts.
But "there is simply not going to be one model to rule them all," argued Selipsky.
AWS, Amazon's industry-leading cloud branch, is already seeing customers "needing multiple models for multiple different use cases," he explained.
He cited the capabilities of various AI models available on the AWS Bedrock platform, such as Meta's Llama and Claude from Anthropic, as well as some from Mistral in France and Amazon's own Titan brand.
Generative AI is regarded in Silicon Valley as poised to revolutionize the way people get jobs done.
And cloud computing companies, which have massive computing power, troves of data and AI expertise, now host generative AI models. They are in a prime position to capitalize on the new technology -- but they have a lot to lose if they don't cough up the latest innovations.
25 years of AI
A pioneer of e-commerce, Amazon also dominates the cloud. AWS had 31 percent of the cloud computing market at the end of 2023, according to Stocklytics.
But rivals Microsoft and Google are gaining ground with their cloud businesses, with 24 percent and 11 percent market share respectively.
Thanks to a $13 billion investment in ChatGPT-maker OpenAI, Microsoft is "in the driver's seat" of an ongoing cloud revolution, according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.
Microsoft and Google compete with their in-house, AI-infused digital assistants to help with creating content -- emails, presentations, ads -- and applications (especially chatbots).
AWS is less known to the public and its digital assistant Alexa is not yet as conversational as ChatGPT.
But Amazon has been in the AI business for more than 25 years, said Selipsky. "If you go back to personalization on the retail website in 1998 -- we called it personalization, but it was AI."
The Seattle firm has long had thousands of people working on the technology and has pivoted some of them to the new frontier of generative AI, Selipsky said.
"We've moved rapidly on new generations of our (AI) chips like Trainium, and building Amazon Bedrock, and getting it adopted quickly and coming out with exciting applications on top of the models, like Amazon Q", an AI assistant, he said.
Selipsky, who took command of AWS in 2021, replacing Andy Jassy, who stepped into the chief executive role vacated by founder Jeff Bezos, was confident Amazon would remain a leader in cloud computing.
Clients eye AI programs
As proof, he points to AWS customers and partners, including Nvidia.
The high-profile chipmaker recently announced it is building a "supercomputer" on AWS using Nvidia's own high-performing processors, the ultra sophisticated and coveted GPUs.
Most notably, Amazon has invested $4 billion in Anthropic, an OpenAI rival that is also backed by Google. The start-up will use AWS and its Trainium chips to build AI models and help "improve our technology," said Selipsky,
When asked about exciting aspects of generative AI, Selipsky cited examples of ramped up productivity for its clients.
AWS user pharmaceutical giant Pfizer estimates that it will launch more powerful drugs faster, achieving as much as a billion dollars in annual savings due to AI, according to Selipsky.
Airlines and other industries are already using generative AI to power chatbots that interact with customers.
And while chatbots can make mistakes, companies reason that "human beings don't give 100 percent accuracy either," Selipsky said. "And in many cases, the models are actually outperforming the accuracy and the usefulness of live agents."
AWS cut hundreds of jobs this month, particularly in sales and marketing, to better focus on AI and other priorities.
But Selipsky was adamant that AI has not replaced any of the cloud platform workers.
"AWS has thousands of job postings online today, and yesterday, and the day before, and we will also have (them) tomorrow," he added.