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Apple, Xiaomi trade smartphone barbs in China
by Staff Writers
Wuzhen, China (AFP) Nov 20, 2014

US glassmaker Corning toughens Gorilla Glass for smartphone screens
Washington (AFP) Nov 20, 2014 - US manufacturer Corning said Thursday it was introducing a new, tougher version of its Gorilla Glass used by major smartphone makers in a bid to maintain dominance in the sector.

The new material, called Gorilla Glass 4, is "up to two times tougher than any competitive cover glass design now in the market," and aims to prevent screen breakage from everyday drops, said the company, which specializes in glass, ceramics and related materials.

"We're always innovating to push the limits of what glass can do," said James Steiner, Corning's senior vice president.

"With Gorilla Glass 4, we have focused on significantly improving protection against sharp contact damage, which is the primary reason that mobile devices break. Dropping and breaking a phone is a common problem, and one that our customers have asked us to help address."

The company gained notoriety when Apple's late chief Steve Jobs persuaded Corning to set up a new manufacturing facility to ensure enough capacity for the iPhone launch in 2007.

Corning now supplies most of the smartphone makers and is also featured on many tablets, including the iPad. It has been used on some three billion devices, according to the company.

But talk has been circulating about new materials such as sapphire glass being adapted for smartphones.

Top executives from US technology giant Apple and Chinese smartphone upstart Xiaomi traded light-hearted barbs on Thursday at a Chinese Internet conference, acknowledging the fierce competition between the rivals.

Apple's iPhones and iPads are wildly popular in China, encouraging smuggling and crowds at the company's stores as consumers try to lay their hands on the latest products.

Yet Apple stood in sixth place in China's fractured smartphone market with only a 6.9 percent share in the March-June period according to consultancy Analysys International, while Xiaomi -- which was only established four years ago -- ranked second with 13.5 percent.

Bruce Sewell, Apple's general counsel and senior vice president of legal and government affairs, told a panel discussion at the World Internet Conference that there are "many good competitive phones in China" in a nod to Xiaomi founder Lei Jun, sitting alongside him.

But when asked about Lei's previous claims that Xiaomi will become the world's market leader in smartphones, he said: "It is easy to say, it is more difficult to do," to laughter and applause from the audience in Wuzhen.

Lei shot back: "In this magic land, we produced not only a company like Alibaba, but a small miracle like Xiaomi."

Alibaba founder Jack Ma was also onstage, fresh from the listing of his company on the New York Stock Exchange, the world's biggest initial public offering to date.

Xiaomi phones boast processors that use Google's Android software and sleek designs which some say mimic top Apple models.

But they compete at a different price point, selling at a fraction of the cost of a Galaxy S5 from market leader Samsung, or the latest iPhones.

Apple supplier Hon Hai plans new display facility in Taiwan
Taipei (AFP) Nov 20, 2014 - Taiwan's tech giant Hon Hai said Thursday it plans to invest around Tw$80 billion ($2.6 billion) for a new smartphone display facility on the island, reportedly to manufacture mainly Apple products.

Hon Hai founder Terry Gou said the company and its unit, flat-panel maker Innolux Corp., will jointly invest in the facility in southern Kaohsiung city which will produce displays used in smartphones.

"We hope to make mobile phones here. Innolux is lacking in the area of small and medium-sized panels ... The total amount is around Tw$80 billion but could go up to Tw$100 billion," Gou said in comments aired by local television.

The Taipei-based China Times and Economic Daily News reported that the facility will mainly manufacture Apple products such as iPhones.

Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn, is the world's largest computer components manufacturer and assembles products for Apple -- including the iPhone series -- as well as Sony and Nokia.

The company reported last week that net profit in the third quarter rose 11 percent year-on-year to Tw$34.09 billion, while revenue was up 3.4 percent on-year to Tw$950.49 billion.

Nearly half of Hon Hai's revenue is generated by orders from Apple, which said last month it sold 39.3 million iPhones in the three months ending September 27, up 16 percent from the same period a year earlier.


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