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Why Samsung’s profits fell for the 7th consecutive quarter

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Between Apple and Xiaomi, the world’a largest smartphone manufacturer is feeling the squeeze.

Samsung missed again.

On Tuesday Korea’s largest manufacturer forecast operating profits of 6.9 trillion won ($6.1 billion), down 4% from the same quarter last year and well below the 7.23 trillion analysts were expecting.

Sales declined 8% to 48 trillion won, short of a 52.8 trillion won forecast.

It was Samsung’s seventh consecutive decline. And although the company didn’t break down the results by division, analysts were quick to put the blame on Samsung’s flagship smartphone series, the Galaxy S6.

Part of the problem was logistical. Samsung released two versions of the device, one with a flat screen and one with a screen that curved on the edges. The regular S6 didn’t sell as well as expected, and the S6 Edge proved hard to manufacture. Samsung couldn’t keep up with demand.

“The failure to manage the initial shipment for the Galaxy S6 series is the primary reason” for disappointing sales, Lee Ka-keun, an analyst at KB Securities, told the AP. Samsung is bringing on a third plant to boost production.

There’s a bigger problem, however, that is not so easily solved.

Samsung competes in two different handset markets: Low-end and high-end.

On the low end, it’s getting undercut by a gang of Chinese manufacturers—led by Xiaomi—that can thrive on profit margins even thinner than Samsung’s.

On the high end, where it competes with the iPhone, Samsung lost a key marketing advantage when Apple introduced a pair of iPhones with screens as big as Samsung’s. Sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are holding up better than expected, winning back some of the market share Apple lost to earlier Galaxy models.

Samsung Securities last month lowered S6 shipment estimate to 45 million units this year from 50 million previously. Full results for the second quarter are due later this month.

source:https://fortune.com/2015/07/07/samsung-apple-galaxy-s6/

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Business

AMAZON ERROR ALLOWED ALEXA USER TO EAVESDROP ON ANOTHER HOME

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A user of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in Germany got access to more than a thousand recordings from another user because of “a human error” by the company.

The customer had asked to listen back to recordings of his own activities made by Alexa but he was also able to access 1,700 audio files from a stranger when Amazon sent him a link, German trade publication c’t reported.

“This unfortunate case was the result of a human error and an isolated single case,” an Amazon spokesman said.

The first customer had initially got no reply when he told Amazon about the access to the other recordings, the report said. The files were then deleted from the link provided by Amazon but he had already downloaded them on to his computer, added the report from c’t, part of German tech publisher Heise.

 

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CRYPTOCURRENCY INDUSTRY FACES INSURANCE HURDLE TO MAINSTREAM AMBITIONS

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Cryptocurrency exchanges and traders in Asia are struggling to insure themselves against the risk of hacks and theft, a factor they claim is deterring large fund managers from investing in a nascent market yet to be embraced by regulators.

Getting the buy-in from insurers would mark an important step in crypto industry efforts to show that it has solved the problem of storing digital assets safely following the reputational damage of a series of thefts, and allow it to attract investment from mainstream asset managers.

“Most institutionally minded crypto firms want to buy proper insurance, and in many cases, getting adequate insurance coverage is a regulatory or legal requirement,” said Henri Arslanian, PwC fintech and crypto leader for Asia.

“However, getting such coverage is almost impossible despite their best efforts.”

Many asset managers are interested in digital assets. A Greenwich Associates survey, published in September, said 72% of institutional investors who responded to the research firm believe crypto has a place in the future.

Last month, Mohamed El-Erian, Allianz’s chief economic adviser said that cryptocurrencies would gain wider acceptance as institutions began to invest in the space.

Most have held off investing so far however, citing regulatory uncertainty and a lack of faith in existing market infrastructure for storing and trading digital assets following a series of hacks, as well the plunge in prices.

The total market capitalisation of crypto currencies is currently estimated at approximately US$120bil (RM502bil) compared to over US$800bil (RM3.3tril) at its peak in January.

“Institutional investors who are interested in investing in crypto will have various requirements, including reliable custody and risk management arrangements,” said Hoi Tak Leung, a senior lawyer in Ashurst’s digital economy practice.

“Insufficient insurance coverage, particularly in a volatile industry such as crypto, will be a significant impediment to greater ‘institutionalisation’ of crypto investments.”

Regulatory uncertainty is another problem for large asset managers. While crypto currencies raise a number of concerns for regulators, including money laundering risks, few have set out clear frameworks for how cryptocurrencies should be traded, and by whom.

Insurance might allay some of the regulators’ concerns around cyber security. Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission recently said it was exploring regulating crypto exchanges, and signalled that the vast majority of the virtual assets held by a regulated exchange would need insurance cover.

Custody challenge

Keeping crypto assets secure involves storing a 64 character alphanumeric private key. If the key is lost, the assets are effectively lost too.

Assets can be stored online, in so-called hot wallets, which are convenient to trade though vulnerable to being hacked, or in ‘cold’ offline storage solutions, safe from hacks, but often inconvenient to access frequently.

Over US$800mil worth of crypto currencies were stolen in the first half of this year according to data from Autonomous NEXT, a financial research firm.

Some institutions have started working to solve this problem, and may provide fierce competition to the incumbent players.

This year, Fidelity, and a group including Japanese investment bank Nomura have launched platforms that will offer custody services for digital assets.

Despite the industry’s complaints, insurers say that they do offer cover. Risk advisor Aon, received some two dozen inquiries this year from exchanges and crypto vaults seeking insurance, according to Thomas Cain, regional director, commercial risk solutions, at Aon’s Asian financial services and professions group.

“It is not difficult to insure companies that hold large amounts of crypto assets, but given the newness of the asset class and the publicity some of the crypto breaches have received, applicants need to make an effort to distinguish themselves,” Cain said.

The industry also says it is getting closer to solving the custody problem.

“This year there have been a number of developments, and some providers have developed custody solutions suitable for institutional clients’ needs,” said Tony Gravanis, managing director investments at blockchain investment firm Kenetic Capital.

“Players at the top end of the market have also been able to get insurance,” he said.

But this is not the case for all.

One cryptocurrency broker, declining to be named because of the subject’s sensitivity, said insurers struggled to understand the new technology and its implications, and that even those who were prepared to provide insurance would only offer limited cover. “We’ve not yet found an insurer who will offer coverage of a meaningful enough size to make it worthwhile,” he said. – Reuters

 

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CTECH’S THURSDAY ROUNDUP OF ISRAELI TECH NEWS

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WeWork strikes a delicate religious balance with Jerusalem site. Shared real estate company WeWork launched its first Jerusalem location just two weeks ago and had already managed to dodge a bullet in the form of wide-ranging protests from the city’s large community of ultra-Orthodox Jews.Read more

WeWork in Jerusalem. Photo: Eyal Marilus
WeWork in Jerusalem. Photo: Eyal Marilus
How the U.S. embassy attempts to boost Arab tech entrepreneurship in Israel. While Israeli Arabs make up roughly 21% of Israel’s population, they only hold 3% of the country’s tech jobs. Read more

Scrapped London Skyscraper set to dominate Tel Aviv skyline. A tower ditched mid-construction in London due to the economic downturn of 2008 is now being resurrected in Tel Aviv in the midst of the city’s unprecedented tech boom. Watch the video

Acquisition by Medtronic complete, Mazor delists. Medtronic paid $1.3 billion in cash for the Israeli surgical robotics company. Including Medtronic’s existing stake, the deal is valued at $1.7 billion. Read more

Israelis receive 8.5 spam calls a month, according to Truecaller. The country ranked last among the top 20 countries affected by spam calls in 2018, according to a new report released by the company. Read more

Innoviz expands globally, sets up a commercial manufacturing line in China.The Israel-based LiDAR maker has doubled its employee count in the past year and intends to recruit additional personnel for research and development, business and sales. Read more

Particle analyzer company PML sold following liquidation. The company developed electro-optical systems for monitoring and measuring fluid particle sizes and concentration.

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