Provide Chain Weekly Wrap-Up 01/20/2023-01/26/2023


Smartphone shipments records its lowest figures since 2013

2022 saw the lowest recorded shipments of smartphones since 2013, a reported 1.21 billion shipments were made last year. A large downturn of 18.3% in the fourth quarter (October-December) played a large role in the final figure. The drop marks the largest decline in a single quarter in the smartphone industry.

The reason for this recent trend is a result of inflation and the rise in the cost of living which has dampened consumer demand. With economic uncertainties such as an impending recession that faces many of the worlds leading economies, consumers now must think twice before making luxury purchases, smartphones fall into that category. Logistics and supply chain issues has plagued the industry, in addition to the external factors mentioned. Market leader Apple faced a number of issues in the December quarter after the world’s biggest iPhone manufacturing plant in Zhengzhou, China, was hit with a Covid outbreak and worker protests.

Chinese smartphone corporation Xiaomi shipped 33.2 million units in the fourth quarter, down 26.3% year on year. That was the biggest decline among the top five smartphone players, which also include other Chinese smartphone makers Oppo and Vivo. These manufacturers also faced the same issues as Apple, with regards to the Covid outbreaks in China.

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Microsoft confirms up to $10B investment in OpenAI

Technology giant Microsoft has revealed it will be investing up to $10 Billion in OpenAI. This will mark the third phase of the two corporations’ partnership, as previous deals were made in 2019 and 2021. The company stated this agreement with OpenAI will scale up its breakthroughs in AI. This will be beneficial to both companies in the commercialization of their cutting-edge technologies in 2023 and beyond.

Microsoft last year unveiled plans to integrate image-generation software from OpenAI into its search engine Bing. A recent report from the Information said similar plans were underway for ChatGPT as Microsoft looks to take on market leader Google Search. Microsoft also hopes the software they can create in tandem with OpenAI could benefit the supply chain. Their chairman stated, “In this next phase of our partnership, developers and organizations across industries will have access to the best AI infrastructure, models, and toolchain with Azure to build and run their applications.”

OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman said “The past three years of our partnership have been great. Microsoft shares our values, and we are excited to continue our independent research and work toward creating advanced AI that benefits everyone.”

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UK and EU unlikely to change post-Brexit trade agreement

A report has said the United Kingdom and the European Union appear unlikely to change major parts of its post-Brexit trade deal. The report is from an academic body, UK In a Changing Europe (UKICE). A key aspect from the report stated major changes in the relationship between the UK and the EU are unlikely. This comes as the UK has suffered a major economic blow since leaving the bloc along with declining public support for Brexit.

UKICE conducted a poll back in December, showing 56% of UK citizens saying that they would vote to rejoin the EU, 11% up from February that showed 45%. Despite the failing public support for Brexit, the Conservative Party still insists on Brexit and the opposition Labour Party has avoided suggestions that it would look to unravel the 2016 deal.

The uncertainty and the economic turmoil have affected the UK’s supply chain from the rest of Europe. Many firms hope to go back to pre-Brexit Britain that had the freedom of movement and trade with the EU. However, the new trade deals the UK are looking to make with new markets, are now needed with urgency. Or the UK can see even more corporations scale back invest into their economy which will further exacerbate the situation.

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