Micron warns China's ban could cost it $4 billion annual revenue

PLUS: Crypto just isn't cricket in India; China's budget smartphone surge; Jack Ma is back, again; and more

Asia In Brief US-based memory-maker Micron on Friday informed investors it's still unsure how China intends to act after warning its products had failed a security review.

Micron previously complained Beijing had offered it little insight into nature of its supposed security problems.

In a regulatory filing posted on Friday, Micron stated "The impact of the May 21, 2023, conclusion by the Cybersecurity Administration of China on the business of Micron Technology, Inc. continues to remain uncertain and fluid."

But something's afoot, because the filing also states "Several Micron customers, including mobile OEMs, are being contacted by certain Critical Information Infrastructure operators or representatives of the government in China concerning the future use of Micron products."

The filing also gets close to enumerating the impact of the ban, repeating the estimate that Micron revenue derived from China represents "approximately a quarter of Micron's worldwide revenue" – which landed at $30.8 billion for FY2022. The filing adds "We now believe that approximately half of that China HQ customer revenue, which equates to a low-double-digit percentage of Micron's worldwide revenue, is now at risk of being impacted.”

Do the math: a quarter of $30.8 billion is $7.7 billion, and half of that is $3.85 billion.

"Micron is working to mitigate this impact over time and expects increased quarter-to-quarter revenue variability," the filing adds, concluding: "Micron's long-term goal is to retain its worldwide DRAM and NAND share."

– Simon Sharwood

Indian cricket bans crypto sponsors

Cryptocurrency companies have been deemed unacceptable sponsors for India's national cricket team.

Cricket is India's national sport and attracts massive global television audiences, making sponsorship of the national team one of the best ways to boost a brand in India and beyond.

Last week the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced a tender for lead sponsor rights, along with an annexure that barred companies practising the following activities from bidding:

  • Athleisure and Sportswear Manufacturer;
  • Alcohol Products;
  • Betting;
  • Cryptocurrency;
  • Real Money Gaming (Except Fantasy Sports Gaming);
  • Tobacco; and
  • One which is likely to offend public morals such as, including but not limited to, pornography.

The decision to bar crypto companies aligns with the Indian government's anti-crypto stance.

The team's current sponsor, online education outfit Byju's, seems unlikely to renew its sponsorship after defaulting on some of its loans and suing its lender.

– Simon Sharwood

China is hot for entry level smartphones

As the global smartphone market continues to sink, China's appetite for entry level smartphones continues to grow, according to analyst outfit Counterpoint Research.

The firm tracked total smartphone sales in China as having fallen five percent year on year in Q1 2023 – but devices priced below $150 rose 22 percent.

Trendforce said that due to falling manufacturing costs, OEMs are packing features like 5G into budget phones. Since smartphones have become essential for work, Chinese consumers are willing to make a purchase of a sub-$150 phone.

Indian government asks Chinese smartphone makers to appoint local execs

India's government has reportedly ordered Chinese smartphone makers – including Xiaomi – to appoint Indian nationals to its local C-suite roles.

Manufacturing will also reportedly need to sway more toward in-country businesses.

The order was also allegedly communicated to Oppo, RealMe and Vivo, and the lobby group India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA).

Xiaomi told The Economic Times of India that all local senior roles are already held by Indians.

The Chinese smartphone maker has had some trouble with the Indian government over the past year. In October $683 million assets were frozen when authorities opened an investigation into money laundering. Xiaomi allegedly gave illegal remittances to three foreign entities that did not actually provide services to the business.

Vivo also had its offices raided in July over alleged tax evasion. India's Directorate of Enforcement believed the gadget maker shifted about $8 million to China as part of a plan to avoid paying taxes in the subcontinent. The department seized 119 bank accounts, cash, and two kilograms of gold bars. You know – the usual stuff you have in the office.

Korea and EU seek digital trade pact

Korea's Ministry of Trade and Industry said last Tuesday it is seeking a digital trade pact with the European Union.

While Korea has bilateral digital trade agreements with Singapore – and joined Chile, New Zealand and Singapore in the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) – its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU makes scant mention of digital trade.

The ministry held a public hearing to solicit feedback on the deal last Thursday.

Baidu receives license for commercial operation of driverless cabs in Shenzhen

Chinese web giant Baidu announced on Friday that it had received a license for commercial operation of driverless ride-hailing services in Shenzhen.

With the license, Baidu robotaxis are authorized to provide ride-hailing service with no safety operator present in the car across a predetermined 188 square kilometers in the city from 7am until 10pm.

Shenzhen is the fourth city in which Baidu has received permission to run automated taxis, following Wuhan, Chongqing and Beijing.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma re-appears, again

Jack Ma appeared publicly for the second time after over a year spent missing. The entrepreneur and local celebrity has laid low since a regulatory crackdown saw Alibaba's browser yanked from app stores, the corporation fined and the IPO of its financial services arm Ant Group quashed. Beijing's tough actions and Ma's subsequent disappearance occurred after Ma made critical comments about the Chinese Communist Party.

The billionaire was finally spotted in March at a school he cofounded, where he steered clear of controversial topics.

According to Damo Academy – the research arm of Alibaba, and reported by state-sponsored media – Ma appeared at a mathematics competition he started five years ago in Hangzhou to speak to finalists.

In other news …

Our regional coverage from last week included news that China's cyber attacks on US targets are increasingly focused on infrastructure.

North Korean naughties created a fake version of South Korea's biggest search engine to harvest data.

South Korean regulators are not happy with Broadcom.

Singapore is expanding its rolling army of robocops.

If India's big four outsourcers were hoping for good times, JP Morgan has bad news.

Despite Uncle Sam's best efforts (or maybe because of them) China is buying more chip-making equipment than any other nation.

Even Micron is investing in building chips in China, despite being banned there. 

New Zealand slammed the door on some of the key players in the Megaupload copyright saga. ®

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