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Apple orders panels from Samsung; NZ telcos team up to boost coverage

TOP NEWS

* Apple Inc. ordered 70 million bendable organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., which are likely to be used in the iPhone 8, The Nikkei reports, citing sources. The Samsung Group unit declined to comment on the matter, saying it cannot reveal customer orders, while Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

* New Zealand telcos Vodafone NZ, Spark New Zealand Ltd. and 2degrees submitted a joint proposal to upgrade the country's rural broadband and mobile infrastructure. The three operators are looking to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the project and contribute spectrum, operating expenditures and other resources to the proposed project.

PAN-ASIAN NEWS

* Twitter Inc.'s Asia-Pacific head, Aliza Knox, resigned from her position after more than four years, Kompas reports. Knox worked out of Twitter's Singapore office and pioneered the expansion of the service to China and Indonesia. The role will be filled by Maya Hari, Twitter's managing director of India and Southeast Asia.

* Singapore's Bomanbridge Media secured the Asia-Pacific broadcast rights for "Sing My Song," which has been running on China Central Television's CCTV 3 for three seasons and was created by Canxing/Star China International Media, World Screen reports.

JAPAN

* Toshiba Corp. will purchase French electric utility company Engie's 40% stake in British nuclear joint venture Engie NuGeneration Ltd. for ¥15.3 billion. Toshiba currently owns 60% of Nugen. Although the purchase could cause a write-down of ¥49.7 billion, it has reportedly already been factored in its estimate of a net loss of ¥1 trillion for the fiscal year that ended March 31.

* Japanese online shopping mall Rakuten Inc. launched an online social gaming platform called R Games to attract more users to its ecosystem. It offers 15 games, of which some are based on classics such as "Pac-Man" and "Space Invaders." Users will be able to play games directly on web browsers.

* Dentsu Entertainment USA Inc., Japanese advertisement firm Dentsu Inc.'s U.S. unit, announced that a new animated TV series based on the Capcom video game franchise "Mega Man" will premiere on Cartoon Network in 2018 or later.

SOUTH KOREA

* The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning joined hands with Facebook Inc. to support around 10 South Korean virtual reality and augmented reality startups to expand to the global market as part of a pilot program of the Technology Revolution Together project, iNews 24 reports. After the participants are selected, Facebook and the ministry's Korea Innovation Center in Silicon Valley will mentor the companies in developing technologies and business modeling.

* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. started the first official process towards 5G commercialization by opening the content of its Request for Information document on the company website for suppliers to review, ET News reports. The RFI explains the telco's understanding of the concept of 5G and its business direction, and interested parties can submit responses until April 27.

* Indonesian media group Emtek's over-the-top video platform Vidio.com will open a new channel dedicated to South Korean media content for a trial run in April and officially start the service in May, News 1 reports. The service will provide Indonesian viewers with about 6,000 pieces of on-demand content including web dramas, animated films and children's programs.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Chinese electronics company TCL Corp. intends to invest about 35 billion Chinese yuan in a facility for display panel production, Reuters reports, citing a Shenzhen Stock Exchange filing. TCL is reportedly eyeing the central city of Wuhan for the plant and awaiting government approval.

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. will open an innovation center in the city of Wuxi as soon as June, Wuxi Daily reports. The center will offer cloud computing and training services to local tech startups.

* Tencent Holdings Ltd. partnered with the Japanese operation of U.S.-based payment technology company InComm Inc. to allow Chinese tourists to use Tencent's WeChat Pay service at more than 50,000 Japanese retailers that are part of InComm's POSA network.

* Lenovo Group Ltd. is hiring Lu Minxuan to be its vice president, Lan Jing reports. Lu, who used to work for Dell China, will take charge of marketing and branding for Lenovo's mobile business.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Singapore's four telcos participated in the city-state's General Spectrum Auction for 175 MHz of spectrum to be used for high-speed mobile broadband services, The Business Times reports. The auction raised a total of S$1.14 billion, with Singtel as the highest bidder with S$563.7 million for 75 MHz.

* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is seeking ways to impose internet bandwidth fees on digital services such as Facebook, Alibaba and LINE Corp., the Bangkok Post reports. This decision came after the ASEAN Telecommunication Regulators' Council meeting last week in Malaysia.

* In other NBTC news, the regulator's 5G auction on the 2,600 MHz spectrum is likely to be postponed until 2018 due to the lack of well-designed frequency valuation principles and the NBTC's internal transitions, the Bangkok Post reports. The spectrum was originally planned to be auctioned off in September.

* Ericsson AB completed a trial of its 5G abilities in Indonesia that included a 5G test bed, 5G New Radio and other capabilities such as a motion-sensing robotic arm and live 4K video streaming. The trial demonstrated a peak downlink speed of 5.74 Gbps and latency as low as 3 ms.

* Singapore-based ride-hailing service Grab agreed to acquire Kudo, an Indonesian online payment startup firm. Grab said it will integrate the Kudo team and platform with its own proprietary mobile payments platform, GrabPay. Grab did not disclose the deal value.

* Indonesian telco PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk, or Telkom, is preparing a collaboration with an undisclosed Silicon Valley technology company to create a platform for Indonesian game developers, Kompas reports. The collaboration aims to develop a platform similar to Google Play by the end of the year.

* Keshet International, a unit of Israel-based Keshet Media Group, awarded Television and Production Exponents Inc. a license to air the game-show format "BOOM!" in the Philippines. According to World Screen, "BOOM!" will be broadcast as a stripped segment in the local variety show "Eat Bulaga!"

* Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Corp. expanded its 4G VinaPhone services to the country's Binh Duong province, Telecompaper reports. The company also plans to deploy 15,000 base transceiver stations nationwide by the end of the year.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* A consortium led by former Telstra Corp. Ltd. director Geoff Cousins made a formal offer to acquire Virgin Mobile's Australian unit from Singtel Optus Pty. Ltd, The Australian Financial Review reports. Cousins, who is currently waiting for a response to the offer, did not disclose how much it was for and when it was made.

* APN News & Media Ltd. lost Vida Scott, its corporate communications manager. According to Mumbrella, Scott left APN to join Westpac Group as a senior communications manager.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* India-based online retailer Snapdeal is seeking funding of more than US$100 million from Japan's SoftBank Group Corp. and other existing shareholders as well as from new investors, Reuters reports, citing company CFO Anup Vikal. Meanwhile, SoftBank's Lydia Bly Jett joined the board of Jasper Infotech, owner and operator of Snapdeal, The Economic Times (India) reports. The Japanese company holds a 33% stake in Jasper Infotech.

* WhatsApp Inc. is mulling plans to offer person-to-person payments in India through the Facebook-owned platform within the next six months, The Ken reports, citing four sources familiar with the details.

* Amazon.com Inc.'s Indian unit launched Amazon Classroom to assist its new sellers, The Hindu Business Line reports. The virtual training program covers order processing, adding products and managing returns, among other operations.

FEATURED NEWS

E-comm Recon: Amazon's vision for a new retail model unfolds: Amazon's recent moves could define a new age in commerce.

Trump fills out cyber ranks, but more appointments needed: The Trump administration has yet to appoint several agency officials who will deal with cybersecurity for critical infrastructure, including the electric grid.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of Internet: US e-commerce sector sizzles in 2016: E-commerce sales in the U.S. continued their steady upward climb in 2016, with more gains likely in 2017 and beyond as sales continue to shift away from traditional retail channels.

Economics of Internet: Facebook Messenger, Snapchat fuel growth in US messaging market: Mobile messaging services had another year of solid growth in the U.S., primarily fueled by Facebook Messenger and Snapchat.

Best of SNL: Kagan research and analysis, editor's picks: Here are the editor's top picks for the week ended March 31.

Nozomi Ibayashi, Myungran Ha, Frances Wang, Kevin Osmond and Wil Hathaway contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. Hong Kong time. Some external links may require a subscription.