Catch up on the latest rumors about Samsung's upcoming products and latest plans.
SEOUL, Jan 28 (Reuters) - South Korea's Samsung Life Insurance Co Ltd said on Thursday it will buy Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's 37.5 percent stake in sister firm Samsung Card Co Ltd for 1.54 trillion won ($1.3 billion).
* Move would streamline Samsung Group ownership structure (Adds Samsung Electronics reaction, background)
SEOUL, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Samsung Life Insurance Co Ltd will buy sister company Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's entire stake in affiliate Samsung Card Co Ltd , South Korean online publication Money Today reported on Thursday.
* Says selling stake in Samsung Card for $1.3 bln (Updates with Samsung Electronics' planned $1.3 bln sale of stake in credit card affiliate)
Researchers demonstrate how one payment card can transfer funds to another card by leveraging the existing wireless signals around them. RF signals are both the power source and the communication medium. Wearable technology seems to be a hot topic these days. Most of the major technology players have some form of wearable device in works. Samsung is calling its product line, Galaxy Gear, which they say will encourage “a smarter life.” The hope is that Internet technology will move from being something that is some-what independent of us to something that is literally woven into our daily existence. From your shoes to your shirt, stove to your toilet, the future may be found in connecting every part of our lives. This is sometimes referred to as the "Internet of Things." Yet a fundamental problem still remains. How to power all these things?
In less than a year, the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics will be history. I am getting a jump on the news memes about these Olympics, based on what I learned about digital media and the London 2012 Games at Adobe’s Strategic Advisory Council on Digital Video. What I learned there was remarkable. The audience is clearly shifting to digital viewing. In recapping the digital Olympics, BBC and NBC shared with us some amazing things. As recently as the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010, the iPad did not exist as an option. For the 2012 Summer Games in London, nearly 25% of digital traffic came from tablet computers. Digital video is getting advertisers’ attention. Unlike past years where digital marketing was a component of a larger media buy, marketers were clamoring for digital inventory against the video that were playing online during the summer Olympic games. While the numbers were small compared to overall sponsorships, that they were bought, not sold, represents a major mind shift by marketers. And the revenue would have been higher if there were more inventory available, but the video streams were sold out across the board. TV Everywhere authentication highlights which screen matters most. According to Adobe, there were 88 million authentications of Adobe Pass to view the London Olympics. Beyond the Games, an amazing 97% of authenticated streams for a programmer whose apps target children under the age of 18 come through iOS. Forrester has been tracking the changes in all industries, not just media, caused by digital disruption of traditional business models. My colleague James McQuivey, Ph. D. just wrote a book call Digital Disruption which will be out later this month, which reads like a handbook of what TV executives and their marketing partners should be thinking about in the next 2 years. “Two years!?!” you say? Yes, two years. The fundamentals of disruption will happen faster than many have predicted, as: Marketers value digital video as a part of their TV budget. Witnessed by the Olympic demand, digital is a more important to marketers every year. Nielsen’s growing ability to measure value audiences across platforms, coupled with the networks’ desire to get closer to a census-level measurement capability for broadcast, will accelerate the growth of digital and linear ad spend. From Starcom to Group M, the media researchers are sharpening their pencils to make sense of the variety of data to support video beyond the linear model. TV bypass options expand and multiply. Beyond Hulu and Apple TV, new sources of over-the-top video are coming on strong, like Aereo. Aereo delivers broadcast over IP bypassing the QAM-based distributors. Just one more way in which the tightly controlled TV market is creating new access points that entertain consumers on their own terms. Creative new content will come on the scene. Webisodes were one an afterthought, but production quality and star power have made this medium grow. Couple that with no-season launches of shows like House of Cards that launch as a bundle rather than a serial series on a primetime schedule, and you drive the power of consumption and high-demand content right into the hands of consumers. The remaining thing that is left is adoption of app-laden smart TVs from Samsung and supposedly from Apple, and the broader adoption of TV Everywhere, allowing consumers to use their pay TV subscription on computers and tablets. Note that LG just bought WebOS from HP for use in their TV sets - another pointer to investment in a disruptive TV experience.
One of the more forward thinking additions to Apple’s iOS has been the company’s Passbook app, which allows consumers to have their coupons, boarding passes, event tickets and store cards and some credit card functionality all in one place on an iPhone.
Samsung's Galaxy S IV will support NFC payments for Visa (V) credit and debit accounts, courtesy of Visa's PayWave app. The tie-up is part of a broader partnership the companies estimate will cover 100M NFC-enabled Samsung devices over the next 12 months. Separately, MasterCard (MA) is unveiling MasterPass, a multi-card mobile payments platform that supports both NFC and other contactless technologies. NFC chip leader NXP ([[NXPI]] +1%) might be receiving a slight boost from the news.
Samsung's Galaxy S IV will support NFC payments for Visa (V) credit and debit accounts, courtesy of Visa's PayWave app. The tie-up is part of a broader partnership the companies estimate will cover 100M NFC-enabled Samsung devices over the next 12 months. Separately, MasterCard (MA) is unveiling MasterPass, a multi-card mobile payments platform that supports both NFC and other contactless technologies. NFC chip leader NXP (NXPI +1%) might be receiving a slight boost from the news. 2 comments!
More on Silicon Motion: The chipmaker expects Q1 revenue to fall 15%-25% Q/Q, worse than a consensus for a 4% drop. 2013 revenue is still expected to grow 10%-20% (consensus is for 13%), but investors appear skeptical. SIMO claims Q4 sales were hurt by "accelerated" Q3 shipments of 4G transceivers to Samsung, and declining retail memory card controller sales. A further decline in Samsung transceiver sales, along with a "rebalancing" of sales at an OEM customer, is expected in Q1. [[SIMO]] -11% AH. CC at 8AM ET tomorrow (webcast). (PR)
More on Silicon Motion: The chipmaker expects Q1 revenue to fall 15%-25% Q/Q, worse than a consensus for a 4% drop. 2013 revenue is still expected to grow 10%-20% (consensus is for 13%), but investors appear skeptical. SIMO claims Q4 sales were hurt by "accelerated" Q3 shipments of 4G transceivers to Samsung, and declining retail memory card controller sales. A further decline in Samsung transceiver sales, along with a "rebalancing" of sales at an OEM customer, is expected in Q1. SIMO -11% AH. CC at 8AM ET tomorrow (webcast). (PR) 1 comment!
"When did you hit your goal?" In Las Vegas for a conference last week, I heard that question more times than I could count. They were talking about their NikeFuel goals, of course. It seems like people everywhere have traded in their Livestrong yellow wristbands for Nike's latest innovation, the Nike+ FuelBand. Much has already been written about the technology and gamification of an active lifestyle that Nike delivers with this hybrid of a watch, accelerometer, online social network, and digital physical activity drill sergeant. What I find even more fascinating is how there, on your wrist, each and every waking (and sleeping) moment lives the Nike brand. It becomes even more a part of you then when you slip on your swoosh-emblazoned sneakers for your daily jog. The brand is permanently there, jolting you into action, applauding your accomplishments — and branding you. When you study the art of branding, any good book on the subject will — at some point early on — turn to the etymology of the word "branding" in terms of marketing and communications. Inevitably, there is some quaint reference to cows being branded with a hot iron stick as an identifier. Because branding is all about leaving a mark (emotional, physical, you name it). An impression. A feeling. A sentiment. We live in a day and age when people not only tattoo their bodies with brands (everything from corporate logos like Harley Davidson and Budweiser to Apple and the rock band KISS), but have what Kevin Roberts (CEO Worldwide of the advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi) dubbed a "Lovemark" (a brand that delivers, "loyalty beyond reason"). If you have ever waited in line for an Apple product, you know what this means. The next generation of connected appliances are bringing this sort of branding connection into more and more places. While Samsung was busy debuting their T9000 refrigerator at CES that features an-iPad like, connected screen built in to the fridge that can serve up recipes based on what's inside or allow you to use Evernote to create a communal shopping list with the family (lest we forget the Unilever tie-in for coupons!), the true evolution of the connected appliance could well be something we wear (along with those things that make our toast and clean our dishes). Just last week, The New York Times gave readers a first glance at Disney's pending vacation management system, MyMagic+. Guests at Disney's theme parks will wear their MyMagic+ bracelet which will bundle everything from their credit card information to their hotel room key to alerts for when it's their turn for a popular ride to being able to pre-select from the Web certain VIP experiences. All the while, Disney gets to track your every move: "MagicBands can also be encoded with all sorts of personal details, allowing for more personalized interaction with Disney employees. Before, the employee playing Cinderella could say hello only in a general way. Now — if parents opt in — hidden sensors will read MagicBand data, providing information needed for a personalized greeting: 'Hi, Angie,' the character might say without prompting. 'I understand it's your birthday.'" Regular advertising is starting to feel slightly stale, isn't it? And yet there is no doubt that great advertising can inspire us to do more. To be more. There are only a handful of brands that have truly transcended traditional advertising to become iconic embodiments of our zeitgeist, whether it was Nike's simple sentiment of, "just do it" exhorting us to get up off of the couch, put the Doritos down, and take on some form of daily exercise, or Apple encouraging us to "think different" by using technology to help us create and connect. When those ads hit the airwaves, it wasn't just about selling sneakers or computers, it was about becoming something. So what happens when brands can create something more than an advertisement to sell, engage and connect with consumers in a much deeper and more profound way? We are finding out. While the lines may not be lengthening at the tattoo parlor, it's clear that consumers are lining up to get more personal, connected and have a moment-by-moment connection to a brand. Something more permanent. It's something that few brands could have done without a multi-million dollar advertising campaign, but now it's coming down to technology, social media, big data and utilitarian marketing. From branded apps on smartphones to connected appliances, we're now starting to see brands creep on to our bodies with robust and personalized technology that people not only don't seem to mind, but that they are generally enthused about. Consumers love having their AmazonPrice Check app at the ready to ensure that they're getting the best price possible while at the store level and, in doing so, seem to have little issue with Amazon capturing all of this highly personal and usable data about retail, pricing and how we flow through a store for them to capitalize on. Privacy and hacking concerns notwithstanding, brands that have emotional connections with consumers will be doing everything they can (and more) to further deepen this direct relationship as technology, data and our inherent desire to be connected continues to blossom.
Over 100 million phones will ship with NFC this year. Google has built NFC into the Android operating system. Nintendo uses NFC in the new Wii U gaming console. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung, LG, and Sony unveiled NFC-enabled smartphones, televisions, and appliances. So what's NFC? It technically stands for Near Field Communications, and it enables mobile devices like smartphones to communicate with nearby devices and objects with a simple tap. It works like this: A chip in your phone sends out a radio wave that is picked up by another NFC device or any object with an RFID tag. The tag is small, about the size of a dime, and can be embedded in or attached with a sticker to a product or advertisement. When tapped by a device, the tag tells the device what to do, such as open a web site, transmit a file, download an app, or make a payment. Most of the buzz around NFC has been around payments. Companies like Google and Verizon are hoping people will pay by tapping their phone instead of swiping a card. But the real potential for NFC goes far beyond payments. It has the potential to, as no technology before, bridge the gap between virtual and real. Consider a recent pilot for Kraft Foods. In select grocery stories, small signs were placed on shelves in front of Kraft cheese and Nabisco cookie brands. The signs invited consumers to get recipes, download a mobile app, or share with friends. Consumers could either tap with an NFC-enabled device or snap a QR code — up to now the main technology for linking mobile devices to physical displays. The results were quite remarkable. People were 12 times more likely to tap than snap. Considering that the ratio of QR to NFC-enabled phones is currently about 10 to 1, this means tapping was 120 times more engaging than snapping. You might think this was just a novelty effect of new NFC users trying it out. But the data suggests otherwise. More than 36% of shoppers who tapped the sign went on to save a recipe, download the Kraft app, or share with friends. Typically, a consumer spends between five and ten seconds at the shelf choosing a product. But consumers who tapped the sign spent 48 seconds engaged with the brand experience. In other uses, Activision has utilized NFC technology in its Skylanders video game. The game is unusual in having characters that are both virtual avatars and physical figurines. When you place a Skylanders figurine on a special "portal" attached to the game console, the portal reads the RFID tag in the figurine, and activates that character in the video game. The unique experience plus the added revenue from selling the figurines has made Skylanders a billion-dollar franchise. These examples reveal three key advantages of NFC over existing technology:(1) NFC removes friction. NFC saves time. On the Web, people abandon a site if it takes more than a couple seconds to respond. The same effect holds true on mobile devices. QR codes take about ten seconds by the time you load the app, scan the code, and load the page. NFC is always available. Just a simple tap and you have your connection. In my own experience, I was recently walking in New York, talking on the phone with my headset. I saw an NFC-enabled advertisement on a bus stop. The ad offered a free Cee Lo Green song. Without interrupting my call, and barely breaking my stride, I tapped the ad and downloaded the song. Try that with a QR code. (2) NFC connects the online and offline. The Skylanders game illustrates the ability of NFC to connect the physical and virtual. Even for a grownup, there is something a bit magical about placing the figurine onto the portal and watching the character appear in the game. NFC will bring the same effect to shopping. Tesco already achieved dramatic results with its virtual grocery store in Korean subways, enabling people to shop while they wait for a train. And beyond shopping, leading manufacturers are already exploring how to embed tags into everyday products that can be activated with a tap of a phone and enable a new kind of engagement and loyalty.(3) NFC connects the dots. On the web, we are accustomed to having sites remember things about us and create a seamless experience from one page or visit to the next. With a few clicks, we create wish lists, get recommendations, use loyalty points, or build shopping carts for future purchases. The physical world is far less seamless. Wish lists require a registry process usually reserved for babies and weddings. Recommendations require a knowledge salesperson or personal shopper. Loyalty rewards require keycards or pin numbers. Shopping carts saved for a future purchase require layaway programs. What has retailers so excited about NFC is the ability to bring the seamless connectivity of the online world to the offline world. The potential for a new model of mobile marketing is welcome news for brands struggling to find effective ways to engage consumers on mobile devices. Current approaches to mobile marketing focus on geo-targeting — delivering ads to people when they are in a particular location. But geo-targeting can be annoying, intrusive, or even creepy, as depicted by Tom Cruise in the movie Minority Report. Tap-based marketing solves these problems. Each tap expresses a consumer's intent and grants the brand permission to serve a relevant experience. This is a fundamental shift from Push to Pull. When there is intent and permission, Big Data no longer becomes Big Brother. Instead, it enables a personal relationship with the brand. With greater permission comes a greater ability to measure the effect of engagement on purchase decisions. We would all like to be able to measure ROI offline with the same rigor we do online. Marshall McLuhan famously said that media are "extensions of man." The telephone extended our voice. The computer extended our brain. In some ways, NFC holds the potential to extend our hands. What a computer mouse does for the virtual world, an NFC-enabled device does for the physical world. With a simple tap we can signal an object as something we want to explore, share, remember, or buy. Just as we now click on links and buttons on our screens, we will soon click on ads, objects and products with a tap of our mobile device. This will become increasingly common as more mobile devices are enabled with NFC and more objects are tagged with RFID. NFC won't conquer the world overnight, but the ability to make the real world clickable holds great promise. An age of No-Friction Commerce may be dawning. Taps are the new clicks.
StarMine models accurately predicted the direction of third-quarter earnings surprises for 80% ofits selections. As always, toward the end of the third quarter, the StarMine research team at Thomson Reuters sat down to peruse corporate earnings forecasts in search of companies that it believes are most likely to report a big surprise (either positive or negative) when they announce their results for the quarter. Using StarMine SmartEstimate and Predicted Surprise data, we highlighted ten companies that we believed had a high probability of recording an earnings surprise in the third quarter; five of them that we believed were likely to beat the analysts’ consensus estimate and another five whose reported earnings were likely to fall short of that consensus. In the case of these ten selections — each of which was the subject of an article on AlphaNow in the days and weeks leading up to their earnings announcement –80% of the forecasts were directionally correct, as outlined in the table below. With most companies having closed the books on their fourth quarter, will these companies continue to surprise the market, delivering either unexpectedly bearish or bullish earnings news? Our data indicates that all five of the companies that we predicted would report positive surprises in the third quarter appear likely to do so for the fourth quarter: once again, in every case the SmartEstimate is higher than the I/B/E/S consensus forecast. For instance, in the wake of the positive earnings surprise announced by Boeing (BA.N) in October, analysts boosted their estimates for the company’s fourth quarter profits to $1.18 a share from $1.16 previously. The SmartEstimate remains higher still, at $1.20 a share, a signal that the company may beat that consensus estimate again this quarter. The outlook also remains robust for Louisiana Pacific (LPX.N), which easily beat estimates in the second quarter thanks to the strong housing market. With the housing market continuing to gain ground, analysts have further boosted their estimates for Louisiana Pacific; the consensus estimate now stands at 16 cents per share, up from 12 cents per share at the time the company reported its third-quarter results. In another bullish sign, most of the more recent estimates for Louisiana Pacific published by analysts are far above that consensus. These include one Bold Estimate, a forecast published by one of the analysts with the strongest track records in the industry (as measured by StarMine) that is significantly outside the consensus (and in this case, far above it.) Gap Inc. (GPS.N) reported earnings that were significantly higher than all but the most bullish analysts had been expecting for the third quarter. But analysts have been more cautious in their fourth-quarter predictions; although they are projecting slightly higher earnings than they had been previously, overall, there hasn’t been a significant change to fourth-quarter estimates since the company reported its third-quarter results. Two of the companies that we predicted would beat analysts’ estimates delivered results that fell short of our expectations: Tesoro (TSO.N) and Apple (AAPL.O). However, since reporting its third-quarter results, analysts have boosted their consensus forecast for Tesoro’s fourth-quarter profits from $1.28 to $1.60, hinting that the earnings miss in the last quarter didn’t worry analysts. The company continues to have a large positive Predicted Surprise – it currently stands at 6% — and scores 100 on the StarMine Analyst Revisions Model (ARM), the highest possible score – an indication that analysts remain bullish and the outlook favors a positive surprise. Apple, on the other hand, remains a conundrum. Analysts have slashed their fourth-quarter earnings estimates since the company reported an earnings “miss” in the third-quarter, and the consensus now stands at only $13.33 a share, down from $15.07. Analysts cite increased competition from the Samsung Galaxy series of phones for their increased bearishness. While the company still has a positive Predicted Surprise, and may beat the consensus estimates, it’s worth keeping in mind the fact that these estimates have been lowered significantly since the company reported its latest earnings. Each of the five companies that the StarMine research team predicted would report results that fell short of the consensus estimate ended up announcing results that were well below those forecasts. And in each case, analysts have responded by cutting their earnings estimates for the fourth quarter. One of these five companies, NYSE Euronext (NYX.N) agreed to an $8.2 billion deal to be acquired by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE.N). History has demonstrated that being able to correctly predict the direction of future earnings revisions and whether a company is likely to report a positive or negative earnings surprise is one way that investor can gauge the probability of an upward or downward move in its share price. Therefore, AlphaNow will continue to draw on analysis by the StarMine research team in the coming quarters to highlight companies that models suggest are likely to outperform or disappoint, beginning with a series of ten company-specific reports on likely hits and misses for the final quarter of 2012. Learn more about how StarMine analytics can help you pinpoint critical developments in your portfolio or watch list.Request a free trial today
We've unravelled the mystery of whether Sam Sung actually works for Apple. He does! And he's really nice. The curious case started when Shaun O'Toole tweeted a photo of a business card belonging to Sam Sung, who works in the Apple store in Vancouver's Pacific Centre mall. He said Sung had helped his wife's aunt. Of course, the card went viral with everyone wondering, "Is Sam Sung real?" A LinkedIn profile for "Sam Sung" was deleted shortly after the Twitter photo was shared around the Internet. It shows that Sung, a marketing graduate, has worked for Apple in Vancouver since September 2010. We took a stroll to the mall on our lunch break (we did not stop at H&M) and decided to check it out ourselves. In a very crowded Apple store, we spotted a young man wearing a name tag that said, "Sam." He also matched the photo on the defunct LinkedIn profile. Sam confirmed to us that his last name was "Sung." He said he was aware of the Internet interest but couldn't say much because of Apple's strict media policy. When pressed about what he thought about all the commotion, the very gracious Sung just smiled and shook his head. He sent us off with a friendly: "Have a nice lunch!" Now if only Apple and Samsung -- mired in an intense legal patent battle -- could be so genial with each other.
It had appeared pretty much cut and dried. Apple won big against Samsung in California and looks to collect huge damages. German courts were ruling that Samsung had breached the design patents as well and thus EU action was on the cards. And then two further court rulings have come [...]
Two weeks ago, when summarizing the state of the US vs China escalating patent war (for now manifesting itself in the courtroom brawl between Apple and Samsung, but soon to drag many more comparable companies down in drawn out litigation), we observed that while AAPL may have the upper hand, iPhone 5 map fiasco notwithstanding, that "the Chinese politburo can one day decide to pull FoxConn's operational license, in the process bankrupting AAPL overnight" if China really wanted to turn the tables. Obviously, this was the "thought experimental" MAD outcome which leads to loses for everyone involved: both Apple and China (where Apple's contract manufacturer FoxConn employs over 1 million workers). There is one other alternative: that FoxConn, by now having reverse engineered the peak of Apple's brilliance (whose latest evolutionary step was "lighter" and "longer", which anyone could have come up with), decides to brave it alone, and instead of being a contract manufacturer, to simply slap on a FoxConn sticker, a la Acer and ASUS, and sell all Apple-equivalent products at 50% off while collecting all the revenue. Impossible, you say, Apple would never allow it? It is already happening, first in high-growth Brazil, where FoxConn is now launching its own stores. From Valor International: Chinese contract manufacturer Foxconn, which produces Apple's Iphone, will create a direct to consumer store at its new R$1 billion factory in Itu, in the state of São Paulo, offering several of the brands manufactured by the company. The plant's project was presented Thursday in the São Paulo's state government headquarters. It will be the 9th Foxconn factory in Brazil, but the first not to be created in leased land, representing a more permanent home for the Chinese giant. The new factory will employ between 5,000 to 10,000 people up to 2016. As to what products will FoxConn will sell, it is for now unclear but will likely focus initially on merely being a reseller of Apple and other beneficiaries of its OEM supremacy. If this is the route Hon Hai's factories decide to go, it means that the "magic" of the Apple retail experience will soon be rapidly commoditized, once the inventory of the Apple store is replicated down the street at another retail location, one which has its own selling culture. One thing is certain: if and when it so chooses, FoxConn having reverse engineered a stunning half of the world's entire OEM electronic device product flow, will have its choice of what it wants to bring direct to retail. As a reminder: Apple’s position as the world’s leading computing device company has driven manufacturing partner, Foxconn, to seize an astonishing 50 per cent of the world’s electronic manufacturing services market, said iSuppli today. Half of the world’s production of consumer electronics devices come from a Foxconn factory, with Apple’s production demand driving this record, iSuppli explains. This is now an Apple world. “Foxconn’s customers are some of the hottest companies in the electronics business today, most notably Apple,” said Thomas Dinges, iSuppli associate. “As Apple and others have gained share, so has Foxconn.” With revenue of $17.1 billion, Taiwan’s Foxconn, aka Hon Hai Precision Industries, was the dominant EMS provider in the first quarter of 2010, dwarfing No. 2 player Flextronics International, which posted revenue of $5.9 billion during the same period. Apple represents the fastest-growing customer for Foxconn, which manufactures products including the iPad and the iPhone 4. In simple terms it's called "economy of scale", or in this case "monopoly", and soaring leverage to do whatever FoxConn chooses. Even if that means taking on some of its core OEM customers: after all where are they going to go? Which begs the question: what happens to Apple margins and future innovation cycle if it ever were to lose its primary OEM channel should the infighting between the US, Korea (Samsung) and China (HTC), aka West vs East, continue escalating? Not to mention its $600 billion market cap. And even if FoxConn merely becomes a reseller of Apple and other brands, how long until people realize that at the end of the day absent the creative genius that took Apple to the pinnacle of electronic device innovation under Steve Jobs, all it really is, is a sticker of a fruit affixed to a bunch of products made and packaged by a company operating out of China, which also is the beneficiary of the GDP boost courtesy of iPhone 5 sales, not the US - all the US consumer gets is the credit card bill to fund Chinese economic growth.
Kim Hye Min boasts a 4.0 grade- point average at one of South Korea's top colleges, a perfect score in English proficiency and internships at Samsung Card and AT Kearney.
Workers barred from sitting during shifts and some suffer physical and verbal abuse, alleges China Labor WatchSamsung Electronics, the world's largest mobile and smartphone maker, is being accused of exploiting younger workers and using factories in China where some employees were physically and verbally abused, and forced to work more than 100 hours per month of overtime.China Labor Watch, a New York-based organisation set up by Chinese activist Li Quang in 2000, also alleges that its investigation of six Samsung-owned plants and two of its suppliers showed that safety measures – such as providing protective clothing for workers – were not followed.Workers were barred from sitting during shifts and some suffered physical and verbal abuse, the organisation alleges in the 122-page report. The organisation said it investigated eight plants in China that produce mobile phones, media players, DVD players, TV components, mobile displays, printers, home appliances and mobile phone casings for Samsung. The plants' staff totals more than 24,000 workers.Investigators entered the factories undercover, or spoke to workers away from the factories.Samsung acknowledged to the Associated Press that poor working conditions "may have arisen" due to production demands and that a review would take place immediately."We frequently review our manufacturing facilities regarding overtime work. We will re-evaluate working hour practices," said spokesman James Chung. "When new production lines are completed or new products are launched, high demand has led to overtime work."But the company denied allegations that it used child labour, saying it has "zero tolerance" for the hiring of underage workers. China Labor Watch alleged in August that a Samsung supplier, HEG Electronics, was using child workers. Samsung replied to that earlier this week by saying it will audit working conditions at about 250 Chinese companies in its supply chain by the end of this year, and would end contracts if any labour abuses or violations of its policies are found. But the company denied the presence of child workers under 16 at HEG Electronics.In its latest report, China Labor Watch goes further, and accuses three factories which are all majority-owned by Samsung of hiring workers aged under 18. Hiring workers under the age of 16 is illegal in China, but it is legal to hire 16- and 17-year-olds."The SEHZ [Huizhou Samsung Electronics Co, 99% owned by Samsung, with about 10,000 workers] factory was even reported as having management hire underage workers by changing the name on the young person's ID card to the name of a past worker in order to create a facade of age legality," the report alleges. "Additionally, workers at SEHZ, Chaarmtech, and SSKMT [Shenzhen Samsung Kejian Mobile Telecommunication Technology, 60% owned by Samsung and which makes one set of its mobile phones] have reported that underage workers will enter the factories with fake IDs, indicating a major problem with the hiring and supervision system in these factories."The accusation comes just days after Samsung was handed a billion-dollar fine by a jury in a court battle with rival smartphone maker Apple, in which it was judged to have copied elements of Apple's iPhone interface and earlier models' appearance.Now, as Apple has done over the past year, it is facing accusations over labour conditions in factories in China – leading China Labor Watch to headline its report "Is Samsung Infringing Upon Apple's Patent to Bully Workers?"The American company became so concerned about claims over working conditions in its Chinese suppliers' factories that chief executive Tim Cook paid a special inspection visit earlier this year, and Apple joined the Fair Labor Organisation, which monitors working conditions in far eastern factories used by a number of American companies.The China Labor Watch report also said that while Samsung suppliers Tianjin Intops, and Tianjin Chaarmtech Electronics complied with minimum wage laws (workers were paid the base monthly salary of 1,310 renminbi or $206), the pay was so low that many workers were compelled to work overtime."Dependence on overtime work is characteristic of workers at almost every investigated factory," the report said.The group also claimed that Samsung or its suppliers knew that Chinese underage youths were using forged identity cards to get jobs.The group's report said that "the factory did not take any actions to prevent the hiring of child workers even when they know about them". Samsung also failed to provide a way for workers to lodge complaints, it said."Even when they suffered unfair treatment, workers at almost [every] factory lacked any effective channel by which to express grievances to management," the report said.The allegations faced by Samsung are reminiscent of a labour scandal that dogged Apple through 2011. A flurry of worker suicides at Foxconn Technology Group, Apple's largest supplier, drew attention to conditions faced by workers in China who put iPhones and other devices together. Since then, Foxconn has raised pay and allowed anonymous audits of staff by the Fair Labor Organisation.SamsungChinaComputingTablet computersMobile phonesTelecomsTelevisionMedia businessAsia PacificChild labourSouth KoreaTechnology sectorCharles Arthurguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
By Dan Levine SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Jurors felt Samsung Electronics Co Ltd should pay significant damages in the landmark patent trial against Apple Inc, even though they viewed Apple's demands as too high, according to the foreman. Apple won a sweeping victory against Samsung on Friday in a federal courtroom in San Jose, California. A nine-member jury found the Korean company had infringed on several Apple features and design patents and awarded the iPhone maker $1.05 billion in damages, which could be tripled because the jury also decided the Korean firm had acted willfully. Apple said it intends to seek sales bans against Samsung mobile products, which Samsung will oppose. In an interview on Saturday, jury foreman Velvin Hogan, 67, said Apple's arguments about the need to protect innovation were persuasive in the jury room. He also said video testimony from senior Samsung executives made it "absolutely" clear to them that the infringement was purposeful. "We didn't want to give carte blanche to a company, by any name, to infringe someone else's intellectual property," Hogan told Reuters a day after the verdict. However, Hogan said Apple's damages demand of up to $2.75 billion were "extraordinarily high," partly because it was unclear whether Apple had enough component supply to sell more phones even if it had wanted to. FIGURING DAMAGES Apple's damages expert testified that Samsung earned margins of roughly 35.5 percent on the products at issue in the lawsuit, on $8.16 billion in revenue. However, Hogan said they thought Apple's percentage did not properly take into account many other costs identified by Samsung. Samsung's damages expert testified the margin should be closer to 12 percent, and the jury picked a number slightly above that, Hogan said. "We wanted to make sure the message we sent was not just a slap on the wrist," Hogan said. "We wanted to make sure it was sufficiently high to be painful, but not unreasonable." Hogan worked as an engineer for decades before he retired, and holds a patent of his own. He said jurors were able to complete their deliberations in less than three days - much faster than legal experts had predicted - because a few had engineering and legal experience, which helped with the complex issues in play. Once they determined Apple's patents were valid, jurors evaluated every single device separately, he said. "We didn't just go into a room and start pitching cards into a hat," he said. At one point during the second day of deliberations, jurors turned off the lights in the room to settle a debate about the potential influence screen brightness might have on Apple's graphics interface. Their verdict: Apple's designs were unique. "All of us feel we were fair, that we can stand by our verdict and that we have a clear conscience in that we were totally not biased one way or another," Hogan said. The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al, No. 11-1846. (Editing by Vicki Allen and Bill Trott)