Verizon’s 5G in 30 US cities by end of 2019

Verizon’s 5G in 30 US cities by end of 2019

As we enter Mobile World Congress 2019, arguably the mobile event of the year, 5G network and device launch details are coming into greater focus. Verizon is taking the early lead in the US staking out 5G to 30 cities in the US by the end of 2019. Of course, 30 cities is hardly national coverage, which means a continued deployment for this aspect of our Digital Infrastructure investing theme well into 2020 at least for the US if not into 2021. Factor in the competitive response from AT&T and the soon to be combined T-Mobile USA and Sprint, and it means the likely tipping point for 5G is looking increasingly like the second half of 2020. From an iPhone perspective, even though Samsung and Motorola have announced they will have devices ready by mid-2019,  this 5G network timetable means we should not be expecting any 5G news from Apple this year, but rather its annual iPhone event in September-October of 2020.

Verizon on Thursday said it’s working on deploying 5G to some extent in 30 U.S. cities by the end of 2019, another hint that the technology won’t appear in iPhones until 2020.

The first parts of Verizon’s 5G network should be up by mid-2019 though, since the carrier is the exclusive launch partner for the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.

AT&T and T-Mobile are also working on 5G deployments. Neither carrier is expected to get very far by the end of 2019 however, owing to partly to lags in equipment. There are also relatively few 5G-ready devices on the market, offering little incentive to speed up.

Multiple reports have pointed to Apple waiting until 2020 to ship 5G-capable iPhones. The company’s preferred modem maker, Intel, is unlikely to have a 5G chip ready until that timeframe.

Source: Verizon says 5G coming to 30 US cities by end of 2019

Samsung ditching plastic packaging with environmentally sustainable materials, but who will pay for it?

Samsung ditching plastic packaging with environmentally sustainable materials, but who will pay for it?

One of the central aspects of our investment themes is the ensuing change in consumer behavior that can lead to a company changing its strategy or how it operates in order to attract that cohort of consumers. While it may not appear to be a big deal, Samsung changing the packaging on its products from smartphones to home appliances is at a minimum an attempt for it to get inline with the growing trend that is Environmental, Social and Governance.

While it may not be enough to say Samsung is riding our Clean Living investment theme, it does add to its switch in recent years to light emitting diode (LED) lit products and other environmentally friendly solutions.

Samsung Electronics said Sunday it will replace plastic packaging used for its bevy of products from mobile phones and tablets to home appliances and wearables with paper and other environmentally sustainable materials like recycled/bio-based plastics.

Samsung will start making the switch in the first half of the year. The company aims to only use paper packaging materials certified by forestry initiatives by next year. By 2030, Samsung says it plans to use 500,000 tons of recycled plastics and collect 7.5 million tons of discarded products (both cumulative from 2009).

For instance, the plastic trays used to hold mobile phones and tablets will be replaced with ones made from pulp. Samsung said it will also alter the phone charger design, swapping the glossy exterior with a matte finish and eliminating plastic protection films, reducing the use of plastics.

Plastic bags used to protect the surface of home appliances such as TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines as well as other kitchen appliances will also be replaced with bags containing recycled materials and bioplastics. Bioplastics are made from plastic wastes and non-fossil fuel materials like starch or sugar cane.

In my view, the below is perhaps the most telling statement in this switch at Samsung, but the question is how will it respond in terms of pricing its products? Will Samsung seek to pass this incremental cost on or let it nibble into its profits?

The company will adopt more environmentally sustainable materials even if it means an increase in cost,” Gyeong-bin Jeon, head of Samsung’s Global Customer Satisfaction Center, said in a statement.

Source: Samsung is ditching plastic packaging | TechCrunch

New touch-integrated OLED screens could make 2019 iPhones thinner, lighter and cheaper

New touch-integrated OLED screens could make 2019 iPhones thinner, lighter and cheaper

We’ve long said that pain points tend to give way to solutions and that is potentially proving out in the smartphone market that has been grappling with the transition to organic light emitting diode displays, which has popped smartphone average selling prices. Given price-demand concerns for new iPhones and other smartphone models utilizing OLED displays, we’re hearing about another innovation being developed that should reduce the cost burden as well as enable thinner and lighter models in the coming quarters. Disrupting the disruptor as it were.

For Apple, this could be a very welcome solution that jumpstarts its iPhone business either ahead of or in tandem with the debut of 5G iPhone models. The question we’re pondering is how Apple, Samsung, and others will balance ASPs for smartphones using this potentially cheaper solution vs. margins on those devices?


A supply-chain report says that Apple will be using a new form of screen technology to make at least one of its 2019 iPhone models thinner and lighter — a trend Apple has bucked with recent flagship versions.

The report says that Apple has decided to use touch-integrated flexible OLED panels, which have a different construction to current iPhone screens …

Current screens use a separate touch-sensitive layer sitting on top of the display itself. By integrating touch-sensitivity into the OLED screen, it will allow devices to be somewhat thinner and lighter.

The report claims that the technology should be ready for use next year, but says that initial supplies will be constrained, suggesting that the new screens might be used only in next year’s highest-end model. However, as the tech is expected to be cheaper than a separate touch-sensitive layer, it is likely to be rolled out into all models as capacity increases in future years.

Source: Apple reported to use new touch-integrated OLED screens to make 2019 iPhone thinner and lighter – 9to5Mac

New identification solutions being worked on for mobile payments

New identification solutions being worked on for mobile payments

We have long said one of the dark sides of our Digital Lifestyle investing theme is a tailwind for our Safety & Security theme, and a new report makes the case for the not only the reverse, but it also invokes our Disruptive Innovators one as well. I’m talking about mobile payments. With debit and credit card transactions, the security layer was a signature or a pin code, but those have been replaced with fingerprint recognition and with Apple’s iPhone X, face recognition dubbed by Apple as FaceID. This new report suggests we are poised to see new forms of security ranging from eye-based identification to blood pressure, especially as new forms of two-factor identification are launched by the likes of Samsung and others.

While we applaud the focus on greater, and potentially smarter, smartphone security, in part because a greater comfort level is likely to boost mobile payment usage, as users we would suggest solutions that do not add multiple steps that make the experience secure but cumbersome. We don’t think anyone wants to be the “the person” that leads to a back up in the line to get on the Tube in London, the subway in New York’s five boroughs or in the self-checkout line at your local grocery store.


A recent report by Juniper Research predicts that the biggest shift coming in the mobile payment security industry is a movement toward software-based methods for verification that rely on standard smartphone components.

“Mobile payment security will broaden hugely thanks to the implementation of pure software solutions,” remarked report author James Moar. “The key battle now will be to convince users, particularly those in Europe and North America, that these methods are just as secure as traditional hardware-based security.”

The company added that with the iPhone X, and other smartphones offering facial and eye-based identification, fingerprint sensors will decline as a proportion of smartphone biometrics hardware, from just over 95 percent in 2018 to below 90 percent by 2023.

Samsung, in particular, is working toward other areas of authentication, including a method that detects users’ blood pressure. According to a patent filed by the company, “the arterial conduction paths of different users are almost never identical.”  Samsung is reportedly looking into replacing static and hackable PINs and passwords, with a one-two authentication combo by pairing users’ blood pressure with their unique fingerprints.

Source: Fingerprint Scanner Tech To Grow 500 Percent |

With new antennas, Qualcomm signals 5G smartphones are coming “soon”

With new antennas, Qualcomm signals 5G smartphones are coming “soon”

We’re also looking for confirming data points for our investment themes, especially those that are poised to disrupt existing business models. In the case of 5G mobile technology, one of the meaningful questions is when we will see commercial deployments of both 5G networks and 5G devices. After all, a 5G network is pretty hard for AT&T or Verizon to monetize unless it has a service offering and that hinges on having 5G devices to deploy on its 5G network.

Today’s news that Qualcomm is shipping 5G antennas to its customers for testing and stands ready for “large-scale commercialization” likely means 5G devices are just quarters away instead of years away. As we move through 2Q 2018 earnings season, we’ll look for more timing signals for the launch of commercial 5G networks and devices.


Qualcomm today unveiled what it says is the world’s “first fully-integrated 5G NR mmWave and sub-6 GHz RF modules for smartphones and other mobile devices.” These are the QTM052 mmWave antenna module family and the QPM56xx sub-6 GHz radio frequency (RF) module, and they’ll pair with the company’s previously announced Snapdragon X50 5G modem — making next-gen phone networks a reality very soon.

If you recall, a bunch of major smartphone makers, including Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC and Xiaomi already said they’ll be working with Qualcomm, and most of them commited to delivering X50-powered phones by the first half of 2019. Those devices will likely use the new antenna and RF modules announced today. Qualcomm told Engadget it has already shipped samples out to its device partners, and will be working with them to figure out the best placement to minimize signal interference due to hand blocking.

According to the company’s statement, “a working mobile mmWave solution … was previously thought unattainable.” Now, however, Qualcomm said it is “ready for large scale commercialization,” which means we are that much closer to seeing 5G devices in the real world soon.

Source: Qualcomm’s 5G antennas are primed for next year’s phones

A new digital key standard could finally put your car key inside your iPhone

A new digital key standard could finally put your car key inside your iPhone

We as a people have been carrying many things in our pockets when we leave the house – first keys and wallet then keys, wallet and phone. As part of our Cashless Consumption investment theme we have seen mobile wallets begin to proliferate as well as apps like Apple Pay and PayPal that likely mean at some point we won’t have to carry our physical wallets – if only someone can figure out a digital driver’s license.

Before too long it seems we may be able to ditch the car keys as well, which will naturally be incorporated into our smartphones. We’ve already seen smartphone apps that unlock and lock doors as well as garage doors, which to us means car doors are inevitable. Of course, as this happens it also means another avenue of potential theft that will be a part of our Safety & Security investing theme.

The Car Connectivity Consortium, which counts Apple among its charter members, on Wednesday announced the publication of new “digital key” standard that allows drivers to actuate vehicle systems like door locks and the engine via an NFC-enabled smartphone.

With its technology, aptly dubbed the Digital Key Release 1.0 specification, the CCC aims to bringautomotive manufacturers and mobile device makers together to create an interoperable digital key standard.

The system operates in much the same way as first-party digital keys currently available from a handful of vehicle OEMs. Users with authenticated smart devices are able to lock, unlock, start the engine of and share access to a specific car. Unlike some remote control solutions that leverage Wi-Fi or Bluetooth communications, however, Release 1.0 appears intrinsically tied to short-range technology like NFC.

Relying on existing Trusted Service Manager (TSM) infrastructure, Release 1.0 allows carmakers to securely transfer digital key information to a smart device like a smartphone, perfect for car-sharing or fleet deployments. Specialized hardware like near-field communications chips and internal secure elements provide a high level of user protection.

According to a white paper outlining the technology’s architecture, Release 1.0 looks to create standardized interfaces between a car, a smart device’s NFC and Bluetooth Low Energy stack, secure element, first-party app, TSM, OEM backend and SE provider. OEMs are responsible for proprietary interfaces between their respective backends and the car.

As noted by the group, which focuses on developing mobile device-to-vehicle connectivity solutions, a number of carmakers already field proprietary digital key solutions, though the market is fragmented. A single unifying standard would not only enhance the customer experience, but provide manufacturers access to the latest security protocols and technological advancements, the CCC argues.

CCC charter member Audi is already using digital key technology in its vehicles, while Volkswagen, another charter member, said it plans to integrate the technology soon. Alongside Audi and Volkswagen, Apple, BMW, General Motors, Hyundai, LG Electronics, Panasonic and Samsung are listed charter members of the organization, while core members include ALPS, Continental Automotive, DENSO, Gemalto, NXP and Qualcomm.

The CCC says it is already working on a Digital Key Release 2.0 that should be completed by the first quarter of 2019. The second-generation technology will provide a standardized authentication protocol between the vehicle and a paired smart device, and will be fully with interoperability between difference smartphones and cars.

Source: Apple wants to replace your car keys with an iPhone

What does Vietnam’s growing middle class want? Air conditioning and electricity 

What does Vietnam’s growing middle class want? Air conditioning and electricity 

In the developed economies we tend to take a number of things for granted including ready access to food, water, infrastructure, and technology to name just a few. We can add another item to the list – air conditioning, and its one that is seeing growing demand in Vietnam in particular and Asia overall due to our Rising of the New Middle Class investing theme. While not quite a hard economic data point, refrigerators and washing machines are usually the first white goods to catch on in a developing market

This growth is also causing for a sharp increase in electricity demand, which is expected to double by 2040 – a clear sign the region will need to address is infrastructure as well.

Are some companies looking to capitalize on this demand shift that reflects Vietnam being the fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia? In a word, yes. With a population of 93 million, among the highest in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Vietnam is seen as having a more promising air conditioner market than Malaysia and Thailand, whose markets are reaching maturity. With only about 17% of Vietnamese households owning an air conditioner last year, according to British research firm Euromonitor International, the market is expected to grow further.



Air conditioner manufacturers around the world are locking horns in Vietnam, whose market has become the second largest in Southeast Asia as rapid economic growth supports a burgeoning middle class.

Vietnam’s market for the cooling systems ranked as Asia’s eighth largest in 2011, excluding Japan and China, with about 660,000 units sold. But the country surpassed Thailand in 2015, and sales of 1.98 million units in 2016 lifted the nation into third behind India and Indonesia.

The Japan Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry Association reported that the global market grew 2.5% from 2011 to 2016, but surged 34.3% in Asia over that span, with Vietnamese sales tripling to 150 billion yen ($1.35 billion at current rates).

Rising wealth in Vietnam has fueled steep expansion in the air conditioner market. The country’s economy has been growing at the fastest clip in Southeast Asia, around 7% a year. Refrigerators and washing machines are usually the first white goods to catch on in a developing market, with a sharp increase in demand for air conditioners once gross domestic product per capita hits $3,000.

South Korea’s LG Electronics has invested $1.5 billion to raise production by 2028 at a factory in the northern city of Haiphong that makes displays and air conditioners. Japan’s Panasonicis increasing output at its Malaysian factory to expand supply to Vietnam.

Daikin and Panasonic each control about 25% of Vietnam’s air conditioner market, followed by LG, Samsung Electronics of South Korea and Sweden’s Electrolux. The popularity of Japanese brands is rising in Vietnam as consumers increasingly value energy efficiency and performance over low prices.

Source: Air conditioner makers battle for Vietnam’s red-hot market – Nikkei Asian Review