Asia

As New York braces itself for Samsung’s heavily hyped launch of its latest Galaxy smartphone, complete with coverage on giant screens in Times Square, the choice of venue reflects the company’s conviction that it has gained the upper hand in its battle with Apple, writes Simon Mundy.

In 2010, with Apple still dominant in the smartphone market, the first Galaxy handset was launched at a modest event in Singapore. A year later, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Samsung unveiled the second in the series; by May 2012, it was confident enough to launch the Galaxy SIII at a high-profile standalone event in London. Now, as Thursday’s New York launch demonstrates, Samsung is going all out to attack Apple’s grip on its home US market. Read more

India may be the world’s second largest mobile phone market by users but so far it hasn’t been a major focus for Apple. In the absence of the iPhone, Samsung and BlackBerry have led the way in the country.

More recently, however, that has begun to change. Just as BlackBerry launches its first smartphone in India under the BlackBerry 10 operating system, Apple is joining the fray with a big push in the developing market.

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A web games company is about to test the appetite for Chinese floats in the US in one of the first such deals since the accounting scandals that rocked many Chinese companies in 2011.

7Road.com is the games subsidiary of Changyou.com, a Chinese online game developer that in turn is majority-owned by Nasdaq-listed Sohu.com.

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Sarah Mishkin

Smartphone-maker HTC spent relatively little time at its launch event today bragging about the technical specs of its new flagship phone, the HTC One.

Instead, the Taiwanese company focused in on the phone’s redesigned user interface and new offerings — including a homescreen with live
content feeds, a camera app that automatically creates montages of a user’s pictures and video clips, and stereo speakers sounding halfway decent — that company designers say reflect how they see people using their phones to consume, create and share increasing quantities of content. Read more

HTC, the Taiwanese smartphone maker, is the latest foreign investor lured to Myanmar and the potential of its growing consumer base, writes Sarah Mishkin and Gwen Robinson

What edge does HTC think it has against Samsung, its much larger competitor that already has big operations in the country? Perhaps the fact that, as it has done most notably in China, HTC’s phones are designed specifically for the local market, with an operating system capable of handling Myanmar’s alphabet, not something supported by most software.

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Surging mobile sales drove earnings at Samsung Electronics to another record, despite competition from Apple’s iPhone 5. The FT’s Simon Mundy reports from Seoul on how Samsung beat analysts’ forecasts and how the company is positioned.

When the biggest beast in the jungle decides not to fight you any more, your survival chances go up a lot. That’s the message from HTC shares on Monday.

After the company and Apple announced a global settlement that includes the dismissal of all current lawsuits and a ten-year license agreement, shares in the Taiwanese phonemaker leapt up 6.86 per cent – its daily limit. But is this the turning point for HTC, which saw profits fall 80 per cent in the third quarter?

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Sarah Mishkin

When Apple filed suit against HTC for patent violations in 2010, it was the first time the California-based company had turned its legal arsenal on an Android phone-maker.

Two years, and many more lawsuits later, Apple and HTC’s decision to settle those disputes is likewise the first time that Apple has agreed a settlement with an Android-based rival. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

Asus sales rise to $3.8bn

Asustek’s latest results confirm that the Taiwan-based company has some reason to feel as optimistic as it does. Its tablet sales, both of the Nexus 7 and its other convertible tabs, are already doing well, and, looking forward, reviewers and analysts have been relative positive on the new Windows 8 devices it launched this week.

A few weeks ago, its competitor Acer reported an 11 per cent fall in revenue, and global PC shipments are down more than 8 per cent this quarter. For the third-quarter, however, Taiwan-based Asus said its sales were up 9.2 per cent year-on-year to NT$111bn ($3.8bn), slightly more than analysts had been expecting. Read more

Tech has had a rough week, between the worries surfacing about Microsoft’s Windows 8 and doubts about Apple’s newly unveiled iPad mini and disappointing second quarter results.

Those worries have taken their toll on supply chain companies and computer makers in Taiwan, for whom the fourth quarter is not shaping up to be the holiday-led recovery many hoped for.

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There wasn’t much in Apple’s Q4 results about China. But what few snippets there were to be found were revealing.

In an earnings season that has already seen a number US companies, including Dow Chemical, DuPont, 3M, FedEx, Caterpillar and Alcoa, blame faltering demand in China for their weak earnings, Apple has managed to buck the trend.

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The HTC skydivers ad really was a bad idea. The Taiwanese phonemaker is falling to earth pretty quickly, posting third-quarter revenues that are slightly more than half what they were in the same period in 2011. Third-quarter profits fell nearly 80 percent – from T$18.7bn in 2011 to T$3.9bn ($133m) this year.

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Common wisdom has it that when it comes to the web, China goes its own way. For big western sites there are China equivalents: for Google, there’s Baidu. For Facebook there’s Renren. For eBay, there’s Alibaba. And for Twitter, there’s Sina Weibo. Isn’t there?

In terms of numbers, yes. China has over 300m users on the Sina Weibo service – Twitter is banned in China. But hang on. According to a recent report, the most active users of Twitter worldwide are in… China. Not the US. How come?

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Sarah Mishkin

It’s been the season of high-profile phone launches. Except, sadly, for Acer and Alibaba. Their planned launch of a co-branded phone for Chinese consumers got cancelled at the last minute when Google objected to the version of Android on the phone.

What the last-minute cancellation – and some continued sniping between the companies – shows is how tricky it is to manage China’s booming mobile market. That’s true, apparently, even for Google, whose Android platform dominates in a big way.

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Sarah Mishkin

At least one Android maker is optimistic right now.

Asus, the Taiwan based company behind Google’s Nexus 7 tab, announced some very ambitious sales goals on Wednesday, predicting that the company will grow leaps and bounds ahead of the overall flat PC market – and could even beat Samsung to become the number one manufacturer of Android tablets.

With the rest of the industry predicting far more modest growth, can Asus really deliver?

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These are not happy days for Apple in China. The iconic American brand, outpaced by Samsung in its appeal among Chinese consumers since last year, is now also losing out to other smartphone competitors.

According to IDC, Apple’s share of the Chinese smartphone market by shipments fell by nearly half to 10 per cent in the second quarter from three months earlier. The company came fourth in a ranking topped by Samsung and Lenovo, the Chinese company that is also the world’s second-largest PC vendor.

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Sarah Mishkin

Apple fan can sleep a bit easier while they’re waiting on line this autumn to upgrade to the iPhone5.

The independent auditor of  Foxconn, the Apple supplier, says that the Chinese group that made headlines with a slew of worker suicides has cleaned up its act substantially, at least in some of its factories.

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Some good news for Acer — the PC-maker narrowly edged out Lenovo and HP as the largest notebook PC seller globally last quarter, writes Sarah Mishkin in Taipei.

Narrow here means narrow. Acer now has 15.4 per cent of the market. Tied for second place are Lenovo and HP, which each have 15.3 per cent, according to new research from Gartner.  Read more

PC-maker Acerhad said that it could post as low as zero per cent annual growth in the number of computers it ships this year.The announcement sent its shares tumbling 3 per cent, even though news that PC sales are freezing should hardly be surprising given the global economic slow down.Acer, the world’s third-largest computer vendor, had previously forecast 10 per cent annual growth in the number of computers it ships. That has now been trimmed to zero to 5 per cent growth, according to a company source.

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Chris Nuttall

The video game industry looked to the razzle-dazzle of its annual trade show in Los Angeles this week to lift it out of depression and E3, in part, delivered.

Sales have been suffering as interest has waned in the current generation of consoles, now seven years old, but Nintendo showed more than 20 games that would feature on its innovative Wii U console, due to launch later this year. Read more