|Bid||5.010 x 0|
|Ask||5.020 x 0|
|Day's Range||4.990 - 5.070|
|52 Week Range||4.930 - 7.580|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||1.53|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||12.74|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||0.28 (5.60%)|
|1y Target Est||N/A|
While some investors are already well versed in financial metrics (hat tip), this article is for those who would like...
(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. When Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates tried to build an experimental nuclear reactor in China, his plan was thwarted by U.S. foreign investment restrictions. At Bloomberg’s New Economy Forum this week, Gates described the scuttled reactor project as “a five-year setback for technology.”A chorus of industry leaders, economists and researchers echoed Gates’ cautionary tale during the event in Beijing. Trade tensions between China and the U.S. have spilled into business and economics in tangible ways, they warned, including a slower pace of technological progress and scientific research. If relations between the two superpowers don’t get back on track soon, “we’re in danger of going back to the dark ages,” said Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang. “We need to reestablish some level of trust between initiatives that can really promote and benefit the people of two countries.”Open systems will inevitably win out over closed ones, Yang argued. He also cautioned U.S. companies that doing business in China may require some uncomfortable compromises.“The challenge with doing business across countries with different value systems is really starting to be more apparent,” he said. “Foreign companies that choose to operate in China have to face the fact that you have to comply with their rules.”Several Chinese tech company officials said they still wanted to work with American companies and that together, the two countries could further technological progress. “We’re in the 5G era, let’s not go back to the 2G or 3G era, where we had different standards,” said Lenovo Chief Executive Officer Yang Yuanqing.Cooling political relations between Washington D.C. and Beijing have slowed international collaboration. In May, the U.S. subjected Huawei Technologies Co. to a variety of sanctions, citing security concerns. The company and other Chinese tech sector boosters believe the move was motivated more by fear of China’s rising influence over fifth-generation networking gear and artificial intelligence.Huawei is Micron Technology Inc.’s largest customer, and on Thursday in Beijing, Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra told Bloomberg TV that the company has no plan to move U.S.-based manufacturing out of the country to facilitate supply to China.Mehrotra was one of more than a dozen top tech company executives to attend the two-day forum, which was organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. Most were cautiously optimistic that one way or another, tech companies would find a way to work across borders.It’s important to differentiate between the stance of the U.S. government and that of industry, said Parag Khanna, Managing Partner at FutureMap. “There’s always been a ‘silicon curtain’ when it comes to social media for U.S. companies,” he said, referring to the separate ecosystems that have developed in the U.S. and China. “But on hardware side, that’s the last thing they want.”He said the head of supply chain at a major U.S. semiconductor supplier told him recently that they “don’t have a plan B for international revenue and access to a large important market like China. We have to find a way to keep selling to China.”Zhu Min, chairman of the National Institute of Financial Research at Tsinghua University, put a finer point on it. Chinese imports accounted for about 65% of the $480 billion global chip market, he pointed out. “If trade friction stops chip exports to China, I think the whole global chip industry will break down,” Zhu said.While global business leaders may want to sidestep the political and trade tensions and simply get back to making money, that no longer seems possible, said Diana Choyleva, chief economist at Enodo Economics.“This is about a clash of ideology in terms of how the different systems view the internet, data, privacy and digital governance,” she said. “Whoever wins the technology race will be the global dominant power.”A growing digital divide threatens to be expensive, as companies spend more on their own technological independence and compensate for the limitations of their domestic markets, said Hong Chen, CEO of the Hina Group, a Beijing-based advisory and private equity firm.“But it also creates opportunities,” he said. Huawei, for example, might not have built its own mobile operating system if it knew it could rely on Google’s Android operating system. American sanctions were “a wake up call,” he said, spurring Huawei to create its own operating system that now attracts a whole new generation of app developers.For smaller companies without Huawei’s deep pockets, the opportunities are more constrained. Spencer Deng, a co-founder of robotics startup Dorabot, which is backed by Kai-Fu Lee’s Sinnovation Ventures, said he built his business on the premise of unrestricted, cross-border trade.“A separate supply chain will create a slower movement of goods,” he said. “That causes a slowdown for business and it’s not good for anyone.”\--With assistance from Colum Murphy and Gao Yuan.To contact the reporter on this story: Shelly Banjo in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at email@example.com, Janet Paskin, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Motorola is bracing for the future by returning to the past. The company is adapting its historical flip-phone design for a smartphone with a foldable screen.
(Bloomberg) -- Motorola is rebooting the iconic Razr flip phone as a 6.2-inch smartphone with a foldable display that gives the Lenovo-owned brand a unique selling point against Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.’s finest.The new device reprises the Motorola Razr name and looks like a modernized version of the original. It costs $1,499 and will be available for pre-order in December in Europe and as a Verizon exclusive in the U.S., ahead of its retail arrival in January. For Lenovo Group Ltd., which has a tiny fraction of the global smartphone market, it's an effort to build brand awareness in the U.S. via a halo device.Launched in late 2004, the first Razr became a cultural icon in the U.S., sold 130 million units and was the face of the phone industry before Apple launched the iPhone in 2007. Motorola’s new model has a shot at some fame as well, as it’s set to become the first true foldable phone on the market — every other device so far could more properly be described as a foldable tablet — and company executives have told Bloomberg they are confident that their design won’t succumb to the durability issues that pushed back Samsung’s Galaxy Fold launch.The 2019 Razr is no bargain, but compared to the $1,980 Galaxy Fold or Huawei Technologies Co.’s $2,600 Mate X, it’s the most affordable member of the most expensive modern phone category. The compromise that users will have to accept with the Razr is in some of its specifications: it has a small battery at 2,510mAh and runs the older Android 9 Pie operating system on Qualcomm’s sub-flagship Snapdragon 710 chip. It lacks the 5G option and bountiful memory of its rivals. Aside from the U.S. and Europe, it’ll also be on sale in Latin America, Asia and Australia.Motorola President Sergio Buniac said he doesn’t see the launch as a “silver bullet” for rocketing Motorola’s sales up to Apple and Samsung numbers. Over the past several quarters, Motorola has turned its mobile business from a flailing unit of China’s Lenovo to profitability in many markets, he said. The new Razr is intended to continue that even without strong sales. Buniac said he’s hoping for “a little bit more” demand than supply, while Lenovo Chief Operating Officer Gianfranco Lanci said “it will bring greater awareness to the brand, especially in key markets like North America.”Motorola’s take on foldable phone design is markedly different to the first batch of foldable devices. Instead of a vertical hinge that makes it open like a book, the new Razr opens and closes like a classic flip phone. Closed shut, the phone is a square that’s about half the size of an iPhone 11 Pro Max, and Motorola has used the foldable technology to make one of the most portable phones on the market. In the process, it’s brought back the action of flipping the phone shut to hang up calls, which is something most premium smartphone consumers haven’t done in at least a decade.Samsung is planning to introduce its own square-shaped foldable phone as its second Galaxy Fold device early next year. Until that time, Motorola looks set to be all alone in offering a regular smartphone capable of collapsing into a pocket-friendly clamshell.“We wouldn’t be bringing the product to market if we didn’t think it was ready,” said Buniac, underlining Motorola’s belief in the reliability of its particular hinge and fold design. Samsung’s Galaxy Fold had issues with air bubbles popping up beneath the display and tiny particles getting trapped under the screen. Touting a so-called zero-gap design, Buniac said “Our expectation is that we will have a reliable product, and as we launch you will see, but we are confident in what we achieved.”In a brief hands-on test with the Razr, the handset felt and looked impressive. Its screen felt fragile, but the device’s design chief Ruben Castano said “We feel like we’ve really developed a robust solution,” pointing to stainless steel structural plates between the bottom of the inner screen and the device’s internals. He says that layer will help prevent particles like sand from going into the device’s electronics and breaking the display. There’s also a 2.7-inch exterior touchscreen for quick access to commonly used functions and checking notifications.Similar to Samsung, Motorola will offer 24-hour turnaround replacements under a standard warranty for display failures, and it will charge $299 if the issue falls out of warranty in the U.S. The phone will be sold via Verizon Wireless as the exclusive launch carrier in the U.S. and will be available at Verizon and Walmart stores from January.The Razr’s inner display appeared impressive with a high-resolution panel whose crease was more subtle than the one on the Galaxy Fold. When unfolded, the Razr operates like most other Android phones, running a full touchscreen version of Google’s operating system. The external screen is designed for light interactions like answering calls and texts, but like the front screen on the Galaxy Fold, it’s not something most consumers are likely to use much. The new Razr is a flip phone at heart and that’s how most people will want to use it.Castano said that Motorola started working on a foldable design around 2015 and that its biggest challenge was being able to match the first Razr’s ability for the phone to be fully shut with no gap. Like the original Razr, the 2019 model has a chin at the bottom that houses electronics such as the LTE antenna. it also has a notch at the top of the main display, lacks a headphone jack, and will be available only in black and with 128GB of storage without further upgrade options. Its camera and battery specs are underwhelming, though Motorola promises “all-day battery life” without quoting an exact number of hours.Motorola’s other big task will be to prove itself at the super premium end of the market that’s long been dominated by Samsung and Apple. Since the first Razr, the Motorola brand has worn many hats, having served as a middling iPhone counter with the Verizon Droid, gone through a $12.5 billion Google acquisition and eventually ended up in the hands of Lenovo. It now needs to rebuild its own brand identity.But the Razr’s shortcomings may very well not matter. This device is designed to appeal to those nostalgic for the flip phone era, for whom specs may not be a priority, as well as the early adopters of new technology, who are more tolerant of first-generation imperfections. To contact the author of this story: Mark Gurman in Los Angeles at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Vlad Savov at email@example.comFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Lenovo Group Ltd.’s quarterly earnings surged 20% after the Chinese personal computer giant safeguarded its market share against American rivals HP Inc. and Dell Technologies Inc.Net income rose 20% to $202.2 million in the three months ended September. That compares with the $201 million average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue increased 1% to $13.52 billion, versus the $13.7 billion average of 10 analysts’ estimates.Lenovo expects the global demand to “remain volatile amid a complex macro environment,” the company said in a statement, adding that it’s “well positioned to manage complex and dynamic market conditions.”Lenovo was responsible for nearly a quarter of worldwide PC shipments last quarter, thanks to a strong push in Europe, the Middle East and Japan, according to IDC, an industry research firm. The 17.3 million units shipped helped the Chinese company claim top spot in the market, beating long-time competitors HP and Dell.But Chief Executive Officer Yang Yuanqing has warned about uncertainty from U.S.-China trade tensions, which could disrupt its global business as well as a supply chain that stretches from North Carolina to Wuhan, China.Also on Yang’s checklist are plans to revive the datacenter business, which is suffering from sluggish demand because clients tend to cut back on hardware expenses amid economic uncertainty. The smartphone unit could also use a face-lift, as a business that’s shown few signs of growth outside of North and Latin America.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Gao Yuan in Beijing at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at email@example.com, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Chinese personal computer maker Lenovo Group Ltd reported a 20% year-on-year jump in second-quarter profit on Thursday, slightly beating analysts' estimates, on the back of strengthening demand for its products. Lenovo's net profit in the quarter ended September rose to $202 million, compared with an average estimate of $199.59 million by eight analysts, according to Refinitiv data. China's Lenovo Group, the world's largest PC maker, warned in August that it would have to raise prices if U.S. tariffs increased, and that shifting manufacturing from China to avoid tariffs could further bump up costs.
(Bloomberg) -- Xerox Holdings Corp. is considering a cash-stock offer for the $27 billion PC giant HP Inc., the Wall Street Journal reported, a deal that could combine two of the biggest American names in office hardware.Xerox’s board met Tuesday to deliberate a deal that could result in $2 billion of annual cost savings, the newspaper cited unidentified people as saying. While there’s no guarantee the company will follow through, any offer would value HP at a premium to its market value, the Journal reported. Representatives for the companies weren’t immediately available for comment after regular business hours.Xerox, which a day before agreed to jettison a slice of a venture with Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp. for $2.3 billion, may be angling to take over the world’s largest maker of personal computers after China’s Lenovo Group Ltd. Any deal would buttress its share of the printing and copying market, which has been hard-hit by the global move toward cloud computing and other internet services.It’s unclear how Xerox -- a name synonymous with the copying industry -- intends to finance the acquisition of a company several times its market value. Xerox has already secured an informal funding commitment from a major bank, the Journal reported, on top of proceeds from the sale of its stake in Fuji Xerox.HP itself, once an icon of American technological innovation, is struggling in a plateauing PC market with the advent of smartphones. The company, which appointed a new chief executive officer just last month, aims to slash as much as 16% of its workforce as part of a restructuring meant to cut costs and boost sales growth amid its first change in top leadership in four years. HP’s printing business, a major source of profit, has seen falling sales and recently was dubbed a “melting ice cube” by analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein.HP’s shares were largely unchanged in low-volume extended trading.(Updates with more details from the Journal from the first paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Edwin Chan in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org;Nico Grant in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org, Fion Li, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Global PC shipments grow for a second quarter in a row, even as the industry struggled with supply issues, according to trade research data Thursday.
(Bloomberg) -- Worldwide shipments of personal computers increased 1.1% in the third quarter from a year earlier, fueled by companies upgrading to Microsoft Corp.’s latest Windows software.PC shipments climbed to 68 million units in the period that ended Sept. 30, researcher Gartner Inc. said Thursday in a report. Lenovo Group Ltd., the China-based owner of the ThinkPad lineup of professional devices, held almost 25% of the global market, widening its lead against U.S. rival HP Inc.Computer makers have been concerned by the U.S.-China trade war and Intel Corp.’s chip shortage, but Mikako Kitagawa, a Gartner analyst, said neither played a major role in the third-quarter shipments. “The Windows 10 refresh cycle continued to be the primary driver for growth across all regions,” she said in a statement.HP, the global No. 2, continues to be the largest PC vendor in the U.S. The company has sought customers seeking more expensive machines, such as gaming enthusiasts, to boost profit margins. Dell Technologies Inc., which focuses on selling corporate PCs, rounded out the global top three while Apple Inc. held the fourth spot with 7.5% of the worldwide market.To contact the reporter on this story: Nico Grant in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew Pollack, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. unveiled a dual-screen, foldable phone that will run on Google’s Android operating system, jumping back into the handset market after product failures and costly writedowns pushed it out three years ago. The phone, called the Surface Duo, has two 5.6-inch screens and will ship in time for the 2020 holiday season, Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay said at an event in New York Wednesday. With the Duo, Microsoft will seek to seize a share of a massive global market for mobile phones that’s on the cusp of transitioning to new technology with the arrival of 5G networks. Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella took Microsoft out of the phone business in 2016, three years after the purchase of Nokia Oyj’s handset unit for more than $7 billion failed to arrest Windows’ sliding share in the smartphone market.Since then, company executives have repeatedly said Microsoft wouldn’t re-enter that market unless it had something different to offer. A return to phones this time has Microsoft relying on software rival Google’s Android for the operating system. Android powers the large majority of smartphones around the world. “This is an aggressive move that was not expected by the Street,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives. “We view it as a smart strategic gamble by Nadella to jump back into the deep end of the pool on the smartphone front.’’ The new phone makes sense for Microsoft because any company that's serious about hardware needs to have a mobile play, said Ryan Reith, an analyst at research firm IDC. The most interesting thing about the announcement is the dual-screen form, Reith said. It's likely Microsoft made that choice because a regular phone wouldn't have stood out as much among the dozens of alternatives already out there, he said.The move also draws Microsoft further into a hardware business some investors still haven’t warmed to. Microsoft shares were down 2.2% to $134.01 at 12:31 p.m. in New York. Nadella has been quick to embrace rival products where it advances Microsoft’s goals, such as apps for Android and Apple Inc.’s iOS, and using the Linux operating system within Windows and Azure cloud products.The European Union’s antitrust ruling against Google last year over the way it puts search and web-browser apps onto Android devices also means Microsoft would be freer to merge its own apps with Android. Since the EU’s case, it's now possible for a phone maker to use Android and the Play app store and still preinstall all of its own services on the homescreen.Microsoft and Google make competing sets of productivity software, and it remains to be seen which company's apps will be preloaded on the phone. Still, it's unlikely the handset will become a major battleground for the two, Reith said.“Both risk their productivity suites competing with each other but there's more short-term opportunity for them collaborating,'” he said.Other announcements made at Microsoft’s annual hardware event include a new Surface Neo laptop with a 360-degree hinge and two 9-inch screens so it can open like a book or like a laptop. The device has a removable, flipable keyboard, which magnetically seals to the back of the device, along with a pen. It will run a new version of Windows 10 designed for dual screens called Windows 10X. The new foldable Surface products come as companies like Samsung Electronics Co. and Huawei Technologies Co. have also rolled out phones with similar features, albeit after some initial design difficulties, and PC makers like Lenovo Group Ltd. have shown computer prototypes with folding screens. Microsoft also introduced a completely redesigned version of its Surface Pro hybrid tablet-laptop that's thinner, lighter and faster than previous models and runs on a customized processor with Microsoft and Qualcomm Inc. technology. Called the Pro X, the device also has a custom artificial intelligence processor and better battery life. The device’s pen gets stowed in the tablet’s cover where it wirelessly charges. Microsoft also showed off white, circular Surface earbuds that have touch controls to enable the user to take calls and switch music. They will be available later this year starting at $249.Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft relies on its Surface devices to boost sales as well as show off its software and attract customers to its family of products. Many of the products have been well reviewed, though Microsoft lags behind Apple and other hardware vendors in popularity. Microsoft held a 3.6% share of the worldwide tablet market in the second quarter of this year, making it the No. 6 vendor with shipments of nearly 1.2 million units, according to IDC. That represents growth of 48% compared with a year earlier. Apple by comparison was No. 1 in with a 38% share.Microsoft also presented a new laptop and an update to the existing Surface Pro device.The new Surface Laptop 3 will have an aluminum exterior finish, “instant on” and a bigger trackpad. The device will be available with a 15-inch screen and fast charging. Panay said the product is three times more powerful than Apple’s Macbook Air. The devices can be pre-ordered starting Wednesday and will be available Oct. 22 at $999 for the 13-inch and $1,199 for the 15-inch. The Surface Pro 7 comes out the same day and starts at $749.Microsoft’s device revenue topped $6 billion in the year that ended June 30, including Surface units and PC accessories, according to its annual filing. The company uses the devices to attract corporate users to its hardware and programs, while Apple dominates the consumer part of the market, according to Wedbush’s Ives. “Surface represents the tip of the spear of the broader Microsoft ecosystem as Microsoft still needs a horse in the race on next generation consumer hardware and devices,” Ives said. “While some investors continue to question this investment as good money going after bad endeavors on Surface, we strongly disagree as this remains a mind and market share strategic gamble.”\--With assistance from Kiley Roache.To contact the authors of this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at email@example.comGerrit De Vynck in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Molly Schuetz at email@example.comFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
After watching Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) get a bump in its stock price following its annual hardware event, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) stock is aiming for the same result.Source: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com Both companies are chasing Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) in the race to be the richest of the "Cloud Czars." Apple's market cap is over $992 billion while Amazon's market cap is at $891.6 billion. Microsoft stock is king of the hill at just over $1 trillion.Amazon shares hit an all-time high over $2,000 in July but have since traded as low as $1,750. AMZN stock opened Sept. 16 at $1,824.02. Government antitrust efforts concerning its Marketplace have hurt the stock. But operating cash flow, which Amazon calls its key metric, has yet to slow. It came in during the June quarter at over $9 billion, up from $7.5 billion a year ago.InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading Tips What's in StoreLater this month, on Sept. 25, Amazon will host its second annual product-focused press event. Several outlets predict that once again, this event will focus on its Alexa voice interface. The Alexa interface is becoming as important to Amazon as the iPhone is to Apple, because its services tie people into Amazon's cloud and e-commerce store.The most anticipated improvement is better sound quality, which could lead customers to upgrade their devices. The interface could also feature connectivity to more Amazon products, expanding its reach throughout consumers' homes. * 7 Tech Stocks You Should Avoid Now Amazon has been seeking hardware partners for Alexa in companies like Anker, Toshiba (OTCMKTS:TOSBF), JVC Kenwood (OTCMKTS:JVCZY) and Grundig. The result should be more support for Fire TV, which is competing for market supremacy with Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU).One product that would be a surprise is an Amazon phone. The company's Fire Phone, launched in 2014, was a debacle. Amazon has since taken to selling phones from Lenovo (OTCMKTS:LNVGY) at a discounted price, loaded with Amazon shopping services and advertising.Another possibility could be improved Kindle e-book readers. Amazon has a virtual monopoly on both e-books and readers. The latest versions are distinguished from the Fire tablet, which also supports Kindle books, by their front-lit, high-resolution displays. Amazon Stock Needs Some CatalystsAmazon needs some new earnings catalysts as it faces a chorus of political push back.While Amazon remains just over half the size of Walmart (NYSE:WMT), the retail giant is successfully portraying itself before regulators as a poor underdog, even while it copies Amazon features like its marketplace and one-day delivery.This is getting results. In addition to a federal investigation of its marketplace, politicians are now questioning Amazon's treatment of delivery drivers. Many are classified as independent contractors, like Uber (NYSE:UBER) drivers. Others are employed by third-party contractors, meaning Amazon takes no responsibility for their treatment.Amazon is expanding employment in Boston, Chicago, Dallas and Nashville, as well as at its Seattle headquarters and "HQ2" operation near Washington DC. The company has spread its technology development to 18 different cities. The Bottom Line on AMZN StockAmazon's explosive growth has it competing with companies across the media, marketing, technology and retail landscapes, from FedEx (NYSE:FDX) to Walmart, and from Apple to Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL).It's not just competing in the marketplace with these companies. Increasingly it's competing in Washington, and in other nation's capitals, as companies threatened by its growth seek government protection.For investors, it means they can now get Amazon for just 75 times last year's earnings, and less than three times its expected 2019 revenue of $331 billion. Given that it's still growing at rate of 30% per year, and that profits are no longer a rounding error, that's looking cheaper by the day.As has been said about Apple, Amazon is a stock you hold for the long run. Ignore the noise.Dana Blankenhorn is a financial and technology journalist. He is the author of the environmental story, Bridget O'Flynn and the Bear, available at the Amazon Kindle store. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @danablankenhorn. As of this writing he owned shares in MSFT, AAPL and AMZN. More From InvestorPlace * 2 Toxic Pot Stocks You Should Avoid * 10 Recession-Resistant Services Stocks to Buy * 7 Hot Penny Stocks to Consider Now * 7 Tech Stocks You Should Avoid Now The post Amazon Stock Channels Apple's Magic Through Sept. 25 Event appeared first on InvestorPlace.
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it's going next.In Shenzhen’s glitzy financial district, a five-year-old outfit creates a 360-degree sports camera that goes on to win awards and draw comparisons to GoPro Inc. Elsewhere in the Pearl River Delta, a niche design house is competing with the world’s best headphone makers. And in the capital Beijing, a little-known startup becomes one of the biggest purveyors of smartwatches on the planet.Insta360, SIVGA and Huami join drone maker DJI Technology Co. among a wave of startups that are dismantling the decades-old image of China as a clone factory — and adding to Washington’s concerns about its fast-ascending international rival. Within the world’s No. 2 economy, Trump’s campaign to contain China’s rise is in fact spurring its burgeoning tech sector to accelerate design and invention.The threat they pose is one of unmatchable geography: by bringing design expertise and innovation to the place where devices are manufactured, these companies are able to develop products faster and more cheaply.“Ninety percent of the world’s headphones are produced in China, 90% of China’s headphones are produced in Guangdong, and 90% of Guangdong’s headphones are made in Dongguan,” explains SIVGA co-founder and product chief Zhou Jian, an 18-year audio industry veteran who has done work for global brands like Sennheiser Electronic GmbH & Co., Sony and Bose. His company is based in Dongguan because, he says, “Dongguan’s industrial chain is near perfect.” Zhou estimates there are hundreds of specialist factories in the area focusing on a particular component, such as screws, and his network of contacts among those suppliers has been invaluable. It was “support from these good friends” that got SIVGA, short for Sound Impression Via Genuine Artwork, off the ground.Now employing more than 30 people and offering a premium brand called Sendy Audio, SIVGA sells a luxury pair of $599 headphones called Aiva. Featuring handcrafted wooden ear cups and intricately detailed metal grilles, the Aiva have shipped more than 2,000 units into a niche, high-margin market that’s usually reserved for U.S. boutique outfits like Audeze and Campfire Audio. “As far as we know, we are the only company in Dongguan with a woodworking department,” Zhou says, while also pointing out that at SIVGA “the development time is short and many decisions can be made on the spot.” This instant design responsiveness is a signature feature of China’s new tech upstarts, and Zhou sums it up with an old Chinese proverb: “small boats change course easier than big boats.”DJI is the pioneer that proved Chinese tech companies could aspire to be more than just manufacturing contractors or fast copiers. “DJI leads the industry with features like automatically avoiding obstacles in flight, which it implemented first,” notes Techsponential lead analyst Avi Greengart. “Rivals in the U.S., France and Taiwan have not been able to catch up.” DJI’s lead is based on the same geographic synergies as SIVGA’s. When a U.S. rival suffers a manufacturing hitch or defect, its ability to identify and react to the problem is hampered by the distance between its designers and manufacturers. DJI doesn’t have that problem, which has helped propel it to being the top drone maker in the world.“These are Chinese companies that want to be industry leaders and innovators. DJI and Insta360 are perfect examples of that movement,” says Anshel Sag, mobile industry analyst for Moor Insights & Strategy. “A big part of it comes from the entrepreneurial spirit of Shenzhen.”Like Dongguan, which this year saw a large new Huawei Technologies Co. campus open, Shenzhen is a nexus of component makers and suppliers eager to find new customers for their wares. The cacophonous Huaqiangbei bazaar in the city exhibits a wild array of gadgets from smartphone-electric shaver hybrids to neon-lit unicycles with Bluetooth speakers. That commoditized fray offers inspiration but also an impetus to rise above it with genuine innovation. The successful companies are the ones who make the most of the rabid production and iteration around them.“In Shenzhen, there’s a well-established supply chain system,” says Insta360 founder Liu Jingkang. “From a research perspective, in-house R&D may only contribute 60% of a product, the rest needs to be finished in factories.” The CEO of OnePlus, another company based in the city, has expressed pride in its ability to prototype new devices at great speed because he’s just a 45-minute drive away from its assembly lines.Even without being Apple Inc., Chinese companies are now building world-class, premium products, though China’s signature feature of undercutting the established market remains. Whether or not a Chinese company is first to a technology, it makes sure to be first to a breakthrough price.Backed by Xiaomi Corp. in 2014, Huami is responsible for creating the massively popular Xiaomi Mi Band, which has flooded the China market at a $20 price. The Mi Band offers most of the features of a Fitbit fitness tracker — including step counting and heart-rate monitoring — at a fraction of the cost. After expanding to sales in the U.S. and launching its own Amazfit brand, Huami is now shipping in excess of 5 million devices per quarter, and its chief executive talks openly about “taking out” at least some of its larger rivals, including Apple and Samsung Electronics Co.“The operating models for Garmin and other European and U.S. smart device vendors are flawed. Their retail price is very high,” Huami CEO and founder Wang Huang says. “You will only be able to sell very expensive products to a very small group of customers because mainstream and lower-end markets will be eroded by companies like us.”Evidence for the Huami chief’s words abounds in the smartphone market, where the top group of manufacturers is increasingly dominated by Chinese names like Xiaomi, Oppo and Huawei. 2018 saw these brands make major inroads into the European market, relying on better pricing and faster feature introductions. Xiaomi “consistently produces budget flagship phones with first-to-market implementations,” says Techsponential’s Greengart. Along with SIVGA, Huami and Insta360, they’re following in the footsteps of companies like Lenovo Group Ltd., which was among China’s early breakout successes after buying IBM Corp.’s PC business in 2004. Their global ambitions and innovation pose a serious threat to the leadership of a plethora of U.S. tech products in areas from design to functionality, whether they be GoPro cameras, Apple iPhones or HP laptops.China’s rapidly rising tech creators are not without commercial savvy. Many of them are planning to seek capital on Shanghai’s new trading venue for startups, locally known as the Star board. Ninebot Inc., the Xiaomi-backed outfit that acquired Segway in 2015, aims to raise $300 million there. In unicorn territory, the Google-backed Mobvoi, which creates natural language translation algorithms for its Wear OS smartwatches, is also said to be seeking a high-value listing on the Star market.Royole, the startup that earned a measure of notoriety by beating Samsung to selling the world’s first foldable device in 2019, has managed to secure a deal with Louis Vuitton that will see the two companies putting flexible screens on handbags of the future. Like Huami initially leaning on the Xiaomi brand to build itself up, Royole stands a chance to be a luxury goods player with the help of a bigger company. The differences between California’s Silicon Valley startups, which have tended to do a better job of marketing and deal-making, and China’s new generation of homegrown businesses are gradually disappearing.How and Why the U.S. Says China Steals Technology: QuickTakeAmerican critics, such as President Donald Trump, commonly point to a track record of Chinese companies copying features from abroad, and one of their bits of evidence is the way Apple’s iPhone software and design seem to be habitually recreated by Huawei, Xiaomi and others. There’s not much that a Western company can do in such situations. When Segway filed a complaint against a number of Chinese brands for IP violations, it ended up conceding the fight and getting acquired by one of its defendants.The observable change now is that a new generation of innovative companies aren’t waiting for someone else to show them the blueprint. China’s rapid ascent in innovation goes beyond anecdotal evidence from startups like DJI and Huami, and the country’s corporations now rank among the world’s most prolific patent applicants.“The trend of China moving to high-end manufacturing, research and design is unstoppable,” said Jia Mo, a Shanghai-based analyst with consultancy Canalys.To contact the reporters on this story: Vlad Savov in Tokyo at email@example.com;Gao Yuan in Beijing at firstname.lastname@example.org;Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org, Vlad Savov, Edwin ChanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Before there was the Nest Home — heck, before there was even the Google Home Hub — there was the Lenovo Smart Display. The smart screen was far and away the nicest of the original Google Assistant screens, and the partnership between the two companies continues to be fruitful, including the recent Smart Clock, a purpose-built bedside alarm clock. With the Smart Display 7, announced today at IFA in Berlin, the company has slimmed down both the screen size and overall device footprint.
(Bloomberg) -- Globalfoundries Inc. sued larger rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. for using its patented chip technology and requested a U.S. trade agency impose import bans that could roil the market for crucial components of a huge swath of electronics, including the iPhone.The U.S.-headquartered chipmaker, which like TSMC manufactures semiconductors for other companies, on Monday filed patent-infringement complaints at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, as well as civil lawsuits at federal courts in the U.S. and Germany.The complaints cite TSMC and customers including Apple Inc., Broadcom Inc., Qualcomm Inc., Xilinx Inc., Nvidia Corp. and their device-maker customers including Cisco Systems Inc., Google and Lenovo Group Ltd. TSMC makes chips designed by companies like Qualcomm and Nvidia that are then used in devices including Apple iPhones, Lenovo laptops and Cisco routers.The broad-ranging legal assault threatens to disrupt the supply of everything from smartphones to personal computers to vital infrastructure like switches and routers that are the backbone of the internet. It highlights the importance of TSMC as a maker of the components that keep modern electronics running. It also comes at a time when the worldwide supply chain is being disrupted by a trade dispute between China and the U.S.TSMC spokeswoman Elizabeth Sun said her company hasn’t been served with any court papers and it isn’t familiar with the details of the suit."TSMC has always respected intellectual property and we have developed all our technologies by ourselves," Sun said.Globalfoundries is positioning the case as U.S. and European inventions being illegally used by an Asian company that has an increasing stranglehold on crucial parts of the technology industry.“Someone had to do something, the world needs a competitive semiconductor industry,” said Sam Azar, senior vice president of corporate development at Globalfoundries. “We’re using courts in the U.S. and Europe that care about protecting manufacturing.”Globalfoundries has factories in upstate New York and Dresden, Germany. Its headquarters is in Silicon Valley. The closely held company is owned by Mubadala, the investment arm of the government of Abu Dhabi.Globalfoundries, like other so-called contract chipmakers, has struggled to keep pace with TSMC whose factories are now rated the best in the industry. The U.S.-based company is seeking "substantial" damages from its Taiwanese rival which it alleges is using Globalfoundries’ technology to help it win tens of billions of dollars of sales, it said in a statement.German courts work quickly, and are known for ordering a halt of imports of products even before litigation is completed to protect patent owners. The ITC in Washington, which protects U.S. markets from unfair trade practices, also has a reputation for speed, with investigations completed in 15 to 18 months. It has the ability to block products entering the world’s largest economy. It has occasionally opted not to do that if it decides a ban would be counter to the public’s best interest. The American civil suits, filed in federal courts in Delaware and Texas, would take longer but could result in large damage awards.Throughout the complaint, Globalfoundries cited products including iPhones, AirPods, Apple TV and iPad models. It also mentioned Cisco’s switch boxes as using infringing chips and Lenovo computers that are based on Nvidia graphics chips.Globalfoundries argued that a ban would not hurt consumers because Samsung Electronics Co. is a licensee and other companies such as Sony Corp., LG Electronics Inc. and Vizio Inc. are not included in the litigation. That means there will be an adequate supply of smartphones and other consumer electronics, it said in the court filings. Samsung and Globalfoundries had a chipmaking technology partnership.The patents Globalfoundries is asserting cover the fundamentals of how semiconductors are manufactured. Some are U.S. patents and others are European covering esoteric but important areas like “structures of and methods and tools for forming in-situ metallic/dialectric caps for interconnects.” They involve the most advanced technique, called 7 nanometer, that TSMC is currently using.Meanwhile, GlobalFoundries announced a year ago that it would halt development of 7-nanometer chips and focus on more mature technology as the company struggles to match TSMC’s annual capital expenditure of some $11 billion.Globalfoundries’ Azar said his company wants TSMC to stop using the patented technology, which will be difficult to work around, or ask for a license and pay for the right to continue using the inventions.Companies like Apple, Cisco and Nvidia are named in the complaints because TSMC doesn’t import the chips or sell them to consumers; the only way to stop the chips from entering the U.S. and Germany is to block the products that use them.Trump Aides Say He Has Power to Force Companies From China (2)Global Foundries filed the complaint after U.S. President Donald Trump issued a tweet on Aug. 23 saying American companies “are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China.” His administration claims he has the authority to impose such an order though trade experts disagree.(Updates with Samsung and other companies not included in the litigation in 13th paragraph.)\--With assistance from Debby Wu.To contact the reporters on this story: Ian King in San Francisco at email@example.com;Susan Decker in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Alistair Barr, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Megvii Technology Ltd. for the first time revealed the stunning growth fueled by a nation’s obsession with security.The Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.-backed startup tripled revenue to 949 million yuan ($133 million) in the first half. It generated more than 73% of those sales from AI services for major clients like government agencies, hospitals and real estate developers, the company said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.Seven-year-old Megvii is said to be angling to raise as much as $1 billion in its initial public offering, becoming the first of China’s fast-rising AI stars to debut and beating Sensetime Group Ltd. to the punch. Its share sale however will run up against a host of uncertainties from violent pro-democracy protests that’ve gripped Hong Kong to the Trump administration’s increasingly aggressive campaign to contain China’s tech champions.Megvii is moving forward even as other companies pump the brakes on their Hong Kong listing ambitions, wary of the turmoil. Its fundraising will further Beijing’s effort to lead the sector by 2030. That’s in turn prompting the Trump administration to sound the alarm about investment into Chinese technology.Megvii generates the bulk of its revenue from products that combine software and sensors to help government agencies and other clients enhance public safety and optimize traffic management. Sales from that business, which it labeled “city IoT solutions,” jumped 270% to 694.8 million yuan in 2019’s first six months. Megvii said it served 112 cities in China, 38% of the country’s total, as of June. It posted 5.2 billion yuan in losses for the first half, while adjusted profit reached 32.7 million yuan.‘IPOs‘ have been pretty disappointing in the past few months, but since AI is a hot category at the moment it could gain more traction,” said Mark Tanner, founder of Shanghai-based research and marketing company China Skinny.Read more: China AI Startup Files for Hong Kong IPO Despite ProtestsThe filing kicked off the formal process for an IPO, though it could be months before Megvii’s actual debut. The offering faces particular challenges. Washington has upped its rhetoric about inspection of investment into Chinese technology, which may erode the interest of U.S. money managers in the country’s AI startups.In a list of risk factors, Megvii warned of possible economic and trade restrictions similar to curbs imposed on Huawei Technologies Co. Should that happen, it would prevent the company from procuring technology, and impair its ability to develop solutions. The company stressed that it’s made sure it’s compliant with relevant restrictions, while making contingency plans to minimize the negative impact of potential curbs.Read more: Trump Aides Say He Has Power to Force Companies From China (2)Megvii also warned that sanctions on sales of American technology to Huawei may roil industries from consumer electronics to telecommunications. “Prolonged restrictions against Huawei could cause a turmoil to all such industries, which may in turn materially and adversely affect our business,” it said.Megvii also sells face-scanning systems to companies from iPhone-maker Foxconn Technology Group to Lenovo Group Ltd. and Ant Financial, the payments affiliate that supports Alibaba’s e-commerce business. The company generated 207.2 million yuan from the segment it dubs “personal IoT solutions,” or 21.8% of its revenue. Its third major business line, solutions for logistics that deploy AI-empowered robots and sensors, made up some 5% of revenue.Megvii counts Alibaba and its financial affiliate Ant Financial, Lenovo Group Ltd. and China Mobile Ltd. as strategic investors. Alibaba indirectly held 14.3% of its shares, while Ant Financial indirectly held 15.1%.Read the IPO filing here.(Updates with analyst’s comment in the fifth paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at email@example.com, Edwin ChanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Chinese artificial intelligence startup Megvii is filing documents soon for a Hong Kong initial public offering that could raise as much as $1 billion, people familiar with the matter said, proceeding despite a market downturn spurred by pro-democracy protests across the financial hub.The owner of facial-recognition platform Face++ plans to submit an IPO filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange as soon as Friday, one of the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is private. Megvii declined to comment.Megvii is moving forward even as other companies pump the brakes on their Hong Kong listing ambitions, wary of months of protests that have gripped the city. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., a backer of Megvii’s, is among those that are gunning for a Hong Kong listing but have held back to gauge investors’ reception.Megvii’s offering may face particular challenges. It would be the first in a coterie of Chinese AI companies to go public, raising money that would help further China’s effort to lead the sector by 2030. Donald Trump’s administration has raised the alarm about China’s ambitions in technology, which may erode the interest of U.S. money managers in the country’s AI startups."It’s a bit political," said Mark Tanner, founder of Shanghai-based research and marketing company China Skinny. “Trump’s big concern is that China has the aspiration to be the leader in AI.”Megvii’s filing will kick off the formal process for an IPO, though it could be months before its actual debut. Megvii competes with SenseTime Group Ltd. -- also backed by Alibaba -- in facial and object recognition technology and Internet of Things software.The seven-year-old outfit now provides face-scanning systems to companies from iPhone-maker Foxconn Technology Group to Lenovo Group Ltd. and Ant Financial, the payments giant that supports Alibaba’s e-commerce business. Its facial recognition technology has provided verification services to more than 400 million people, Megvii said in a statement in January.Beyond commerce, the company is also building software for sensors and robots. And the Chinese government is a client: Megvii’s AI technology has been used by authorities in more than 260 cities and helped police arrest more than 10,000 people, it said in January. The company last raised $750 million in a Series D financing round in May from investors including China Group Investment, ICBC Asset Management (Global), Macquarie Group and a unit of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. Its other backers include Boyu Capital, Ant, SK Group, Foxconn, Qiming Venture Partners and Sinovation Ventures.Megvii could have a first mover’s advantage."IPOs have been pretty disappointing in the past few months, but since AI is a hot category at the moment it could gain more traction," said Tanner.(Adds analyst comment in the fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at email@example.com, Edwin Chan, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
With strong earnings as a ballast to its bold strategy, Lenovo is looking like a force to be reckoned with in the tech market.
It’s a pretty minimalist take on the smart screen designed for the very specific purpose of living next to your bed. Today, Google’s bringing a handful of new features, attempting to walk that line by adding functions without making the bedside product overly distracting. The addition of Google Photos is a no-brainer, using the app to double as a small-screen digital picture frame while it sits idle.
Nov.21 -- Lenovo Group Ltd. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Yang Yuanqing talks about the importance for companies across the world to cooperate in the technology industry, and the need for a uniform standard for fifth-generation mobile technology. He speaks at Bloomberg's New Economy Forum in Beijing.