Friday, October 14, 2016

ICT hardware exports: the ups and downs

Observers of Korea's ICT-driven economy have long noted a fundamental problem:  the nation's over reliance on the manufacture and export of hardware, rather than software and services.   For a year now, growth in Korea's ICT exports has been falling, and as reported today by The Korea Joongang Daily, the problems with Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 phone have only exacerbated the problem.  As reported in the article,"Exports of information and communications technology (ICT) fell for the 12th consecutive month as cellphones and televisions remained weak in foreign markets. ICT exports declined 8.5 percent year-on-year in September to $14.5 billion, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Thursday. After posting a year-on-year decline of 1.6 percent last October, exports have continued a downward slide. Exports of cellphones fell 33.9 percent year-on-year to $1.87 billion, and those of semiconductor products fell 2.6 percent.
The ministry cited mid-priced smartphones produced by Chinese manufacturers, as well as the failure of the Galaxy Note7, as the biggest factors in the collapse of cellphone exports."

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

More on the Galaxy Note 7 problems

The announcement that Samsung will stop production of the Galaxy Note 7, only a few months after its introduction, has many observers speculating on how this will affect the company's overall reputation and business.   Statista has published two charts that help put the matter in context.   The first (click on the graphic for a full-size version) depicts the size and scope of Samsung Electronics business.
The second chart provides a timeline of how the problem unfolded.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Samsung halts production of Note 7

The New York Times and no doubt most other international media have just reported that Samsung has halted production of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone due to battery-related problems that persist even after the company had recalled and replaced those devices that were prone to smoke or catch fire.  The good news is that Samsung has acted appropriately in response to a consumer-safety issue.  However, there are many more questions raised by this episode in its competition with Apple and Chinese manufacturers of smartphones for leadership and a share of the global market for smart handheld computing devices.  More on this topic in future posts.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Are smartphones killing digital cameras?

The accompanying chart published by Statista asks an interesting question.  To answer it, ask two other questions.  When was the iPhone introduced? Answer: 2007  When was were Android Phones introduced?  Answer 2008  Given a year or two for their penetration to take effect in relation to camera sales, this chart shows at least a likely correlation between increasing smart phone sales and declining camera sales.  (click on graphic for a full size version)

Monday, September 5, 2016

More on Korea's speedy digital networks

As a quick perusal of prior posts on this blog will show (you can read them at this link), I've long been concerned with the speed of digital networks in general and how fast Korea's networks are in comparison with other countries around the world.  Given the multiple organizations that measure internet speed and the many different methods they use, placing Korea in context compared with other countries can sometimes be very confusing.   The purpose of this post is not to solve that problem, but rather to call attention to OpenSignal,  a relatively new (founded in 2010) company that specializes in mapping wireless coverage and speeds.   One strength of their measure is that it comes from users of their app all around the world and therefore reflects internet download speeds in actual usage situations.
Open Signal as shown in the world map above and the bar chart at the left, measures "overall speed," which is a combined measure of speed versus availability of 3G and LTE mobile services. (click on the graphics to see a full size version.  Open Signal defines ".. overall speed as the average mobile data connection a user experiences based on both the speeds and availability of a country’s 3G and 4G networks. Overall speed measurements vary considerably from country to country depending on their particular stage of 3G and 4G development. For instance a country with fast LTE speeds but low 4G availability might have a much lower overall speed than a country with moderate LTE speeds but a very high level of 4G availability."  Obviously, South Korea's world leadership in LTE introduction and current penetration (availability) boosts its standing on this measure, relative to Singapore and a few other countries that have fast speeds, but lag behind Korea in availability.
Another was of effectively visualizing this is to see where Korea fits in the chart showing speed versus availability.  Click on the final graphic to see a full-size version of the screen capture.  Better yet, go to the online Open Signal report and see data for each of the countries in the chart by hovering over the dots.