Tag: vietnam

Chip sales continue to be weak

Apple and the PC market were slow in the second quarter, according to research published by Carnegie Research.

April has shown some changes from the traditional seasonal chip pattern, while sales of Apple handsets aren’t likely to show many gains either.

According to the research, Taiwanese exports in April also showed a slowdown. However, Korea showed some growth in April while Vietnamese handsets were boosted in May. Carnegie thinks that Korean company Samsung will produce 240 million handsets during 2013 – that’s 40 percent of the giant’s production.

In the USA, retail sales were weak in April and PC imports weakened.in March. There’s a slowdown in handset retail sales in mainland China, partly caused by price pressure. However, Chinese handset exports grew.

Vietnam hires bloggers to influence online discussion

As China’s Communist Party censorship went from a storm in a teacup to a wider protest movement over the altering of Southern Weekly’s New Year editorial, Vietnam has admitted that it hires its own sock puppets to influence public opinion online.

According to Hanoi’s head of propaganda, Ho Quang Loi, the Vietnamese government has hundreds of the bloggers on its pay roll, with at least 400 accounts spanning 20 different social media networks. 

The BBC says there is a noticeable number of bloggers on social media networks popular in the country, who mostly post positive comments and articles about Vietnam’s communist party. It’s claimed they enthusiastically take part in discussions online, and attack those who are critical of the regime.

While the existence of government sponsored sock puppets has long been debated in tinfoil hat circles, generally people spend their time arguing online all day in the West for free. Regardless, the technique is not unique to Vietnam or China. In 2011, it emerged that the United States had been developing software to game popular social networks with fake profiles to influence conversations and spread propaganda, the Guardian reported at the time. 

The BBC quotes two posts on its own Vietnam  page, which has nearly 50,000 likes, one of which said countries like the United States should look to their own human rights abuses before criticising other nations. 

Loi maintained, according to the BBC, that party bloggers had been useful in shutting down dissent and blocking calls for mass gatherings in Hanoi.  

Australia and Japan will sign rare earths trade pact

As experts recently forecasted that Australia could benefit from newly discovered reserves of rare earths, it has committed to a supply pact with Japan.

Japanese foreign minister Seiji Maehara, talking in Canberra to Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd, began preliminary negotiation about a future free trade pact. Rudd told reporters, says the Taipei Times, that the “Australian government understands the significance of rare earths globally. Australia stands ready to be a long term, secure, reliable supplier of rare earths to the Japanese economy.”

The announcement will serve as a wake-up call to China. It was recently found that rare earth reserves are not the problem, but mining for them is costly and a long term game. China will shortly  resume trade with Japan and allow exports to clear customs by this weekend, according to Japanese daily Nikkei

Australia is another country to pledge allegiance with Japan, one of the largest users of rare earths in the world. Rare earths are required for manufacturing all manner of electronics components, from hard disk drives through to cars. Mongolia signed up with Japan recently while Vietnam has also put its signature on a cooperation deal. 

On his visit, says the Taipei Times, Maehara confirmed that Japan will need to focus on ensuring it has enough rare earths to go around, and access will be a top priority for his country’s economy. 

The problem is, China began the long game many years ago and set up mines accordingly.

It will be 2013, at least, before Australia’s first mine is completed. The next should begin in 2014. 

It’s good news for the West and specifically the EU which is nervous about China’s current grip on trade. In the meantime the European Union has been urging China to allow for further rare earth exports. Earlier this month it decided to limit exports in order to reserve its own quickly depleting stockpiles – which will in turn result in price spikes for technology materials. 

South Korea has also recently discovered stock. A modern day gold rush started as the country plans to re-open an ore mine in Yangyang, Gangwon Province. Full commercial mining there is expected to begin in 2012. Until then, the world will have to look to China. 

Intel rolls out massive factory in Vietnam

Intel has opened a $1 billion chip testing and assembly facility in Vietnam, which it says is the biggest facility for the company yet.

According to the company,  the factory has a total area of 46,000 square meters, which is around the size of five and a half football fields. Situated in the Saigon Hi-tech Park, Ho Chi Minh City, the factory will be used for testing chips for defects before packaging.

“Assembly and test is a critical final step in the end-to-end manufacturing of Intel’s silicon products,” the company said.

According to Intel this is its biggest project in Vietnam since it opened its first office in Ho Chi Minh City in 1997. Intel estimates several thousand jobs will be created by the new facility in Vietnam and that it was attracted to the country by its skilled, vibrant workforce, as well as the support Intel has received over the past four years from the Vietnam government, the Saigon Hi-tech Park and suppliers.

Paul Otellini told Bloomberg: that the investment has put Vietnam on the map and attracted other firms such as Compal and Foxconn.

Intel has been a busy bee this week also opening another factory at a cost of $2.5 billion in China. The semiconductor manufacturing plant in Dalian was built with the aim of increasing the chip producer’s capabilities in the global PC market.

Hackers become government tools

There is some evidence that some governments are starting to use hackers and botnets to crush opposition sites.

The most recent case has been a computer virus which infected more than 10,000 machines and then used them to conduct DoS attacks on online forums critical of the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party.

According to the FT, similar attacks have been waged on anti-Russian sites operated from conflict zones in the Caucuses. Politicians at odds with the Kremlin have also been targeted by “pro-government” hackers.

Insecurity experts at SecureWorks said they could not prove that the new virus, which they dubbed Vecebot was unleashed by the government or someone working for it.

However, there was some interesting timing involved in the release of the virus into the wild. On October 19, a Vietnamese blogger using the name Dieu Cay was to be released after serving a 30-month sentence.

SecureWorks thinks that Vecebot could have been released ahead of that date, with a view toward shutting down sites that would have been likely to celebrate his return to freedom.

The blogger was kept in jail on new charges and the opposition sites might have complained were knocked out.

It is perhaps ironic that the forces of law and order seem content to use the archetypal symbols of anarchy, the hackers, to prop up their authoritarian rule. 

Vietnam's domains are a cyber crime haven

The net domain reserved for Vietnam is a haven of cyber crime with more than half of them hosting malware.

According to the Insecurity outfit McAfee, 58 percent of the sites using Vietnam’s .vn domain had malware installed.

Anyone visiting one of these sites ran the risk of having sensitive data stolen or their computer being hijacked, McAfee worked out.

McAfee visited 27 million live sites worldwide to create its stats. Worldwide 6.2 percent of sites were dodgy which is up from 5.9 percent in 2009.

The report said that the web is getting getting trickier to navigate safely.

Vietnam became a favourite with hi-tech criminals in 2010. In 2009, the country’s domain came 39th in the global risk ranking. Blighty is now the 49th riskiest domain.

Paula Greve, director of web security research for McAfee Labs, said that cybercriminals target regions where registering sites is cheap and convenient and pose the least risk of being caught.

About 15,000 of the 24,000 websites sitting on the .vn domain were home to criminal activity. Many .vn domains are used as redirect points for other malicious sites or to control networks of hijacked computers or botnets.

Sites with the .info suffix are also popular for malicious sites. Apparently the number of spam sites on the domain grew by 94.5 percent. Spam gangs use the implied authority of the .info name to lend credibility to sites peddling fake pills or bogus security software, McAfee claimed.

Malicious sites hosted under the .com domain almost hit one million in 2010 with many being enrolled in long-running malware attacks.

Many .com domains were involved in the Koobface virus outbreak which targeted Windows users who were heavy users of social notworking sites. 

Intel ready to open Chinese Dalian fab

The $2.5 billion Intel spent to build a fab in Dalian in China will be ready to roll by the end of its month. And Intel’s $1 billion testing and assembly factory in Vietnam is ready for production, too.

That’s according to Dow Jones Newswire, quoting a man familiar with Intel’s plans – to wit, Navin Shenoy, its APAC general manager.

The Dalian plant will make chipsets using 12-inch wafers and will employ around 1,500 people. The Vietnamese site will hire around 4,000 people, according to Dow Jones.

Shenoy told the wire that the low penetration of PCs in the Asian market means that it is a prime target for Intel – India, in particular, has a particularly low PC penetration rate, and the chip giant also wants to penetrate other potentially large Asian markets, such as Indonesia.

Earlier this week, Intel announced record earnings for its quarter.

Shenoy said that while Intel is always open to buying companies, currently it doesn’t have any targets of desire in its sights. Dow Jones is here (sub needed). 

The best of Wikileaks is still to come

Whistleblowing site Wikileaks says that there is much worse information to come.

The outfit said that it is preparing another batch of 15,000 documents for release that reportedly include up to 10,000 cable messages from US embassies around the world.

The information includes things relating to arms deals, trade talks, covert meetings and uncensored views of various governments.

While the Wikileaks documents are proving to be to the Afghanistan war what the Pentagon Papers were to Vietnam, there is some real fear in the US that the embassy cables could do even more damage.

There is speculation about what will be in the cable messages. Already it is known that diplomats waded into an Icelandic politician, but it is hard to see how these could be any more dangerous than the Afghanistan leaks.

Oddly it seems the US administration agrees with this assessment. Although it has lashed out at the publication of its military secrets, there is a genuine fear that Wikileaks might have its paws on some interesting diplomatic cables.

When the US government arrested the person responsible for the military leaks, it was the diplomatic cables that they were really concerned about. One can only wonder what is in them that makes assassination squads and shooting kiddies appear so mild. 

Digital TV to boom in Asia Pacific over next five years

Digital TV is expected to boom in the Asia Pacific region, with a nearly two and a half times increase in subscribers by the end of 2015, according to a new report by Informa Telecoms and Media.

The Asia Pacific region will see an increase of more than 94 million TV households to 784 million by 2015, with an average of 1.4 TV sets per home, totalling 1.1 billion TVs in the region within the next five years.

43 percent of this number will be cable subscribers for both analogue and digital. Direct To Home (DTH) satellite TV is in second place with nine percent. India is the strongest market for DTH, overtaking Japan in 2008, and is expected to have a 63-percent market share for DTH by 2015.

33 percent, or 259 million, will still use analogue terrestrial signals but may switch to cable analogue or digital after 2015.

Paid TV packages will also see strong growth, garnering an expect 400 million subscribers in the region by 2015. This should generate revenue of over $40 billion (£26 billion) . China and India will be the big players for paid TV, while emerging markets like Vietnam and Indonesia will also contribute strongly.

Informa Survey

Japan will remain dominant in the TV market, with a revenue share of 31 percent in 2009. However, this is expected to fall to 29 percent in 2015, with most of the two percent difference going to China, which will be in tied place at 29 percent in five years time, up from 20 percent last year.

Digital TV has seen strong growth recently, with more expected over the next five years. Digital TV penetration in Asia Pacific was 21 percent at the end of 2009 and is expected to increase to 54 percent by the end of 2015. Four markets within the region will have achieved a 100 percent digital penetration by 2015, with four others achieving a penetration rate of over 70 percent.

Informa Survey

China is the largest provider of digital TV, stealing Japan’s crown in 2007. By the end of 2009 it accounted for 46 percent of the region’s digital TV market share. By 2015 it is expected to have at least 55 percent of the share. India will follow with 20 percent, Japan with nine percent, and South Korea with three percent.

Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) is also experiencing growth, with expectations of 45 percent growth by 2015. Informa Telecoms and Media believes it could become a strong competitor to traditional cable TV, thanks to advances in fibre-optic broadband speeds.

The average revenue per subscriber (APRU) is set to increase in the short-term, but will plummet over time as competition drives prices down.

Informa Survey

iPhone 4G leaks in Vietnam

Another leak of an iPhone 4G has surfaced, with Vietnamese Apple forum Taoviet showing multiple pictures of what appears to be an updated model of the prototype Gizmodo had last month.

Some information that came with the photos showed that the model was 16GB, had a micro SIM instead of standard SIM, and had the SIM slot moved from the top to the side. There is also a frontal camera for video call. The people who had the new prototype complained it did not fit squarely in their hands.

iphone leak 1

iphone leak 2

iphone leak 3

The device was torn apart to reveal what it’s like inside. The chip bears the markings 339S0084, K4X2G643GE, YN6024Z3, and APL0398.

iphone leak 4
iphone leak 5

Gizmodo’s leak of the iPhone 4G last month after buying the device from someone who supposedly found it in a bar caused a lot of stir. Apple called the police, who then raided the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen. Gizmodo responded by threatening a lawsuit.

That was not the only case when Apple threw a hissy fit over a leaked product, however, and it has become notoriously guarded about product secrecy.

Last year a prototype was lost by security company Foxconn, which resulted in Apple putting pressure on the hired gun. Foxconn then put pressure on 25-year old Sun Danyong, who then put pressure on himself by leaping to his death.

It’s not clear how Taoviet users got their hands on the latest prototype, but what is clear is that if the past is anything to go by Apple will go ballistic.