Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Korea's digital export decline

An article in the Korea Joongang Daily underscores the extent and nature of Korea's dependence on the manufacture and export of digital technologies.  The headline is "Export decline picks up speed in January."  As shown by the accompanying graphic (click for a full size version), the leading exports responsible for this overall decline are all digital (ICT sector) manufactured products.  (NOTE:  there is a typo in the black and white bar chart included in the graphic-- the bar for "January 2018" actually represents data for January 2019.  Also, in the bottom part of the graphic, red bars under the heading "Export growth of 13 major products" represent positive growth while the blue bars show declining growth.) However, the article strongly supports the main point of this post, that Korea's export-led economy, while ICT-driven, is heavily (perhaps too heavily) dependent on manufactured products rather than software and services.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Korea will lead the world in 5G

The GSMA Mobile Economy 2018 report, along with its regional report, The Mobile Economy Asia-Pacific 2018 contain some interesting projections.  Both reports analyze the time frame from 2017 to 2025.  Globally, the reports project likely trends.  One of these is that the Asia-Pacific Region will lead the transition to 4G and then 5G. 
The graphic (click for a full size version) reveals the report's finding of greatest interest to me.  It is from the Asia Pacific report and shows that South Korea is currently the world leader in 4G and smartphone adoption, and is projected to lead the way on adoption of 5G as well by 2025.  I've chosen to include data for Japan in this graphic because it is the country most closely positioned to compete with Korea.   For further detail, read the GSMA reports, linked above.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Deep Mind's Alpha Star defeats Starcraft Pros

It happened, and earlier than expected.  AlphaStar, the latest iteration of Alphabet's DeepMind last month defeated some of the world's best professional players of StarCraft.  As readers of this blog will know, (check out my earlier posts) this development holds particular significance in South Korea, where StarCraft became the world's first massively popular multiplayer online game and influenced the introduction of this nation's world-leading broadband networks.  Furthermore, the 2016 defeat of world champion Lee Se Dol by DeepMind's AlphaGo had sent shockwaves through Korea's public, industry and policymakers about the future of artificial intelligence (AI). 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Semiconductor shock?

Interesting article in the Korea Times on what it calls "semiconductor shock."  This has been more widely reported this week in the Korean press. To understand the percentages in the accompanying graphic, I recommend reading of the article.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Semiconductor super cycle to end in 2019

As reported in the Korea Joongang Daily, industry sources are reporting that the semiconductor super-cycle that sustained Korea's exports during 2017 and 2018 will likely come to an end this year (2019).  The article contains some interesting details, including the following. (click on graphic at left for a full size version)
  • "Last year, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix enjoyed-record breaking performances. The combined DRAM market share for the two companies as of end of the third quarter was 73.5 percent. Samsung Electronics currently holds the No. 1 spot in the global market with a share of 43.6 percent, while SK Hynix has 29.9 percent of the market. Micron Technology is in third with 21.6 percent."
  •  "The outlook for the three main markets for semiconductors - smartphones, computers and data centers - is negative.
    It is estimated that last year 1.44 billion smartphones were shipped. If that number holds and is not revised, 2018 would be the first year since 2007 - the year of the iPhone’s introduction - in which the market has contracted."