Counterpoint Snap Tech || 15th December, 2015

Tuesday, 15th December, 2015

Welcome to Counterpoint Research’s Snap Tech.

Snap Tech is a round-up of recent news events with our analysts’ expert insight summarised in a concise and digestible format. It is designed so you can absorb the key events and what they mean, quickly and painlessly.

We are experimenting with the format and timing. If you have feedback or suggestions, please let us know.   The first edition includes the latest news as well as some items from late last week. Going forward we will confine the analysis to the most recent news events.


Tech

Apple slashing prices of older flagships in some markets (Source: Times of India)

After the success of iPhone 4S in markets like India, Apple is now again replicating similar a strategy of using aggressive price cuts and broader channel availability to position its earlier flagships as affordable and attainable. This will help strengthen Apple’s presence in mid-range smartphone segment in emerging markets. Given the highly aspirational nature of the brand it will likely entice new users, thereby driving more share to the Apple ecosystem. —Tarun Pathak


Apple’s secret next generation display development lab (Source: Bloomberg)

Apple is hiring talent from the Taiwanese display industry. Its likely aim is to do in display what it has done in the application processor arena – to bring the display design in house so it can control even more of the consumer experience. Its initial aim is likely to make thinner, lighter more power efficient display technology. If Apple succeeds it can have a negative impact on its current component suppliers. Companies including Japan Display (JDI), LG Display or Samsung Display that are key suppliers to Apple may find they’re out competed by their customer. It is unclear whether Apple is also developing OLED technology. —Neil Shah


Samsung to Develop Components for Self-Driving Cars (Source:Wall Street Journal)

Samsung’s interest is natural given the potential for autonomous cars to revolutionize personal transport. However the automotive value chain is complex and margins slim. This is natural extension of Samsung’s components business but likely not a silver bullet to offset falling smartphone revenue, profit. —Tom Kang


Microsoft’s Cortana officially lands on iOS and Android (Source: Mashable)

Gives Cortana a new home to scale up cross-platform though the lack of deep integration means the experience won’t be as good as on MSFT platform. However Cyanogen offers core integration meaning devices built using the OS can be more lucrative in terms of usage and big data for MSFT. We believe AI remains the killer technology enabler for next generation experiences – recommendation engines, to virtual assistants to powering NUIs (*Natural User Interface). Scale is super important. Going cross-platform potentially gives Cortana a lead from scale perspective against Apple Siri & Amazon Alexa and taking Google’s Now head on.–Neil Shah


LG G5 Release Rumors (Source: Pocket-Lint)

LG’s G4 flagship has been performing well. Rumors point to an evolutionary follow-up for the G5 – likely launching in early Spring 2016. We expect Snapdragon 820, Quad HD display – unclear if OLED or LCD. The 16MP f1.8 camera on the G4 set a high bar. G5 could move that on. Pricing is likely to be $750+ —Tarun Pathak


Baidu’s Self-Driving Car Project Reaches Test Milestone (Source:Bloomberg)

Baidu’s AutoBrain project is relatively advanced. The Chinese search company is seeing the move to autonomous driving as an opportunity to leap frog US and European rivals. We continue to believe widespread adoption of fully autonomous cars is ten years away. However application of the technology to create, first crash resistant and second, crash proof cars, is nearer to hand.–Tom Kang


Ford CEO: Electrification will play an important role in our future (Source: CNBC)

Ford explicitly talking about electric cars now, new entrants like Tesla, Google, Apple, Samsung contribute more by pushing the incumbents to move forward more quickly. This will be a chain reaction as others will try to position themselves as a leader. More money will be poured into this revolution and it will accelerate. —Tom Kang


New 3D video tech for virtual reality (Source: VentureBeat)

One of the likely use cases of VR is virtual presence, however video rendering has not provided full 3D representations of people. New Zealand company 8i has released video showing that it has captured subjects in full volumetric 3D, meaning you can walk around them. As with any technology, VR is a combination of hardware, software and services (applications and content). While hardware and software is progressing, content remains challenging. Technology like 8i’s is set to change this.–Peter Richardson 


Walmart launching its own mobile payment service (Source: Reuters)

Walmart has resisted introducing Apple Pay in its core US market. It’s now going live with its independently developed Walmart Pay, though it continues to be involved with a retail consortium that is developing another Apple Pay rival, CurrentC. Walmart Pay is rolling out this week across its US stores. It links to its own iOS and Android mobile app and enables consumers to pay with any credit, debit or prepaid card as well as Walmart gift vouchers. Payments will be a massive battle ground in 2016. —Pavel Naiya


Verizon potentially interested in Yahoo web business (Source: MVNO Blog)

It raises stakes for the other key operators forcing a rethink in their strategies to compete with the ‘next-generation’ operators like – Softbank, Verizon and Telefonica —Neil Shah


CEO Of Angry Birds Maker Rovio To Step Down After Just One Year (Source: Techcrunch)

Business strategy is part science, part art. However most strategic marketing gurus insist that successful companies are those that focus. The corollary is that rapid diversification leads to a lack of focus on the core drivers of value. Rovio’s diversification into movie-making, education and even, potentially, theme parks, felt like it was too much too soon. After a round of restructuring and a change at the top, we expect to see deeper focus on what Rovio does best. —Peter Richardson 


Macro

The US Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates. Janet Yellen, who heads the reserve, perceives increased inflationary risks due to low unemployment and fading deflationary pressure. If it occurs it likely makes the US Dollar stronger, but it could also trigger slower growth and even a return to recession. Any decisions will be made gradually and be subject to reverse.


Forex

Forex


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