iPhone Factory on Hold-COVID Lockdown; Website Breaks Through Russian Iron Curtain; Subaru Sunsets Gas WRX STI-Future EV? Smartwatch Market Grows 24%

Well, we may be done with COVID-19, but it isn’t done with us yet. Foxconn has had to shut down iPhone factory operations in Shenzhen due to the local Chinese government locking things down due to a new COVID-19 outbreak there. 9to5mac.com reports that Foxconn operates two campuses there dedicated to building the popular Apple phones. Foxconn, fortunately, has built out other plants over the last few years, and is shifting a lot of production to them. They have facilities in India, Mexico, South America, and elsewhere. The lockdown is in effect until March 20th. Huawei, DJI, and Tencent have also had to temporarily suspend operations there due to the lockdown.

Russia has been systematically chasing out foreign journalists and shutting down social media in an effort to feed propaganda about the Ukraine war to its citizens without any of that….you know…pesky actual accurate news. According to engadget.com, a group of Polish programmers have built a website called Squad303 that randomly generates a phone number or email address for you to contact. It draws from a database that has some 20 million cell numbers and around 140 million email addresses. People have been using it to send some nearly 7 million texts and 2 million emails in Russian to the phones of Russians…including images and videos from the Ukraine war. Some of the pro-Putin Russian TV presenters have complained about getting massive amounts of these texts showing the reality of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is bad enough for the Russians, that you may have heard of police there stopping people on the street and demanding to see their text messages…or they will confiscate your phone and arrest you! 

Subaru is sunsetting its halo WRX STI. The WRX series has been something of the Corvette of Subaru…I’ve known a couple guys who had them and raced the quick rascals on weekends. Now, theverge.com says that the company has no plans to build a newer gas version…BUT….they are looking at an EV version in the next generation of WRX STI. The first Subaru electric…the Solterra, will go on sale this year, and sports a 71.4kWh battery pack. A good-sized battery pack with a couple electric motors in an updated WRX would be a real screamer!

It was a market that was slower than expected to get traction, but smartwatches are showing up more and more now. In fact, counterpointresearch.com reports that global smartwatch shipments grew 24% year over year in 2021, after a lackluster 2020 due to COVID-19. The 4th quarter was the highest ever, with 40 million reported shipped. Health and fitness continue to be the main drivers, and more of the devices are supporting cellular. Apple slipped a couple of points, but continues to dominate with 30.1% of the market. Samsung is a distant 2nd with 10.2%. Huawei takes 3rd with 7.7%, with a couple unfamiliar (in the US) brands at 4th and 5th. Garmin has just 4.6%, with Fitbit surprisingly at only 3.8%.



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