About this weblog

What you need to know: This weblog captures key data points about the global telecoms industry. I use it as an electronic notebook to support my work for Pringle Media.

Friday, July 19, 2024

Netflix Talks Up Growth Opportunities

Netflix increased its forecast for revenue growth for 2024 slightly from 13% to 15% to 14% to 15%, after reporting revenue growth of 22% on a currency neutral basis for the second quarter to almost 9.6 billion US dollars. Streaming paid memberships rose 17% to almost 278 million worldwide. 

Citing figures from Nielsen, Netflix claimed that, together with YouTube, it accounts for 50% of all streaming to the TV in the US. However, it also stressed it has plenty of scope to grow: "Across streaming, pay TV, film, games and branded advertising, it’s a 600 billion dollar + market, and today Netflix accounts for just ~6% of that revenue." 

Having launched more than 100 games so far, Netflix says it has 80-plus games in development. It is particularly excited about "interactive narrative games", based on its own intellectual property. Source: Netflix collateral

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Slump in India Drags Down Ericsson


Ericsson reported a 7% decline in sales year on year for the second quarter of 2024 on an organic basis to 59.8 billion Swedish krona (5.6 billion US dollars). B√∂rje Ekholm, CEO, said: “We expect market conditions to remain challenging this year, as the pace of India investments slow, however our sales will benefit during the second half from contract deliveries in North America.”  Source: Ericsson report

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Baidu Hails Improving Self Driving Economics

Baidu reported that its self-driving taxi service Apollo Go provided about 826,000 rides to the public in the first quarter of 2024, marking a 25% year-over-year increase. In the first quarter, the rides provided by fully driverless vehicles accounted for over 55% of total rides in Wuhan, which is up from 45% in the fourth quarter of 2023. "This figure continues to rise, exceeding 70% in April, with expectations of sustained rapid growth ahead and reaching 100% in the coming quarters," added Robin Li,  CEO of Baidu.

Baidu claimed that in Wuhan "Apollo Go is gradually becoming an integral part of the city's transportation network." In the past year, Apollo Go's fully driverless fleet in Wuhan has grown threefold, reaching about 300 vehicles today. It plans to increase that number to 1,000 vehicles by the end of 2024.

As it has won the trust of local government, Apollo Go has more than doubled its operational area in Wuhan from a quarter ago, and is now serving a population of over seven million in the city. Its vehicles started to operate 24/7 in Wuhan in early March.

To significantly reduce hardware depreciation costs, Baidu plans to deploy RT6, its sixth generation robotaxi, in its Wuhan Apollo Go operation this year. Adopting a battery swapping solution, the mass production price for RT6 excluding battery is below 30,000 US dollars, according to Baidu. "With the scaling of driverless operations and continuous improvement of cost structure, we believe Apollo Go will achieve operational unit economics breakeven in Wuhan in the near future," added Li.

Baidu is also making its autonomous driving solution, which is solely reliant on vision, available to other automakers.  "This allows us to make advanced autonomous driving attainable across a broad spectrum of passenger vehicles from high-end to economy models priced as low as 150,000 yuan, and it serves as another proof of our technology leadership," Li explained. Baidu said that its ASD technology can now effectively navigate complex, urban environments across more than 100 cities in China and it has plans to expand in to hundreds of cities in the coming months.  Source: Baidu earnings call

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

IDC Predicts Slowdown in Global Telecoms Market

Worldwide spending on telecom and pay TV services reached 1.5 trillion US dollars in 2023, an increase of 2.1% over 2022, according to International Data Corporation, which expects the market to grow by 1.4% in 2024. Source: IDC press release

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Autonomous Driving Start-Up Raises One Billion Dollars

Artificial intelligence start-up Wayve, which is working with various vehicle makers on autonomous driving, said it has raised 1.05 billion US dollars in a series C funding round led by SoftBank Group with contributions from new investor NVIDIA and existing investor Microsoft. The London-based company has now raised 1.3 billion dollars across three rounds. 

Wayve's immediate plans include launching its first product featuring L2+ ADAS (level 2 advanced driver assistance systems).  Its automated driving technology is built with "end-to-end deep learning" and doesn't require high-definition maps, potentially making it more cost-effective and scalable than rival solutions. The start-up believes the ADAS market will be worth more than 100 billion dollars even before full autonomy is reached.

Wayve claims its "technology excels where others have struggled: mastering driving in complex urban environments with camera-only navigation and adapting to cities unseen during training just like how you and I drive."

In a blog post, CEO Alex Kendall wrote: "Since our inception, we have held a core belief that end-to-end AI (see AV2.0 graphic below) will make autonomy possible. This has been a deeply contrarian approach against the rest of the market, and we are excited to see our progress and this funding as a massive endorsement of our vision." The AV1.0 graphic below shows Wayve's view of how other companies are developing autonomous vehicle technologies, although Kendall noted that Tesla has pivoted to end-to-end AI with v12 of its full self driving system.

Comparing "embodied AI" with generative AI, Kendall said that the data collected from vehicles' video, radar and LiDAR systems already amount to several times the petabytes of all the language data in the world. "Every year, millions of vehicles are built with the necessary sensing and compute for training and deploying embodied AI," he added. "These vehicles are already being driven today doing useful work, meaning that data collection can be achieved with low operational cost, unlike with other robotics applications. These vehicles are being operated around the world and experience open-set, unconstrained environments, rich with the long tail of edge cases." Source: Wayve blog post

Friday, May 3, 2024

AT&T Opens Up 5G Priority Lane

AT&T has launched a new product - called AT&T Turbo - which enables customers to pay to prioritise their data traffic (over that of non-Turbo customers) during busy times on the network. Costing seven US dollar a month, Turbo can be activated (and cancelled) at any time by AT&T customers with a 5G-capable smartphone.

However, AT&T cautions that the "performance, experience, and speed [are] not guaranteed and may be affected by other factors such as network congestion, coverage, your device, and third-party limitations." AT&T hasn't said how significant the performance boost provided by Turbo might be.  Source: AT&T web site

Apple Heralds Enterprise Demand for Vision Pro

With iPhone sales in decline, Apple tried to talk up the prospects of its spatial computing hardware - the Vision Pro. CEO Tim Cook said that "more than half of the Fortune 100 companies have already bought Apple Vision Pro units and are exploring innovative ways to use it to do things that weren't possible before, and this is just the beginning." He elaborated to say that the headset is being employed "for many different things in enterprise, and that varies from field service to training to healthcare related things like preparing a doctor for pre-op surgery or advanced imaging..... our focus is on -- is growing that ecosystem and getting more apps and more and more enterprises engaged. And the event that we had recently, I can't overstate the enthusiasm in the room. It was extraordinary. And so we're off to a good start, I think, with the enterprise." Source: Transcript of Apple earnings call

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Euro Telcos' Top Lines Under Pressure


Despite inflation, the revenues of the big five telcos in Europe has been flatlining for much of this decade. Even Deutsche Telekom, the out performer of the group, is no longer growing reported revenues. In 2023, its revenues from the US (DT's primary growth engine for the past 10 years) declined by 4%, partly due to exchange rate effects and partly because of a decline in device revenue.