Mobile World Live brings you our top three picks of the week, as Sam Altman left and then agreed to return to OpenAI, BT Group entered into talks to acquire tech trade-in specialist musicMagpie and there were early signs of a recovery in the smartphone market.
Altman set for swift OpenAI comeback
What happened? In a tumultuous week for OpenAI, Sam Altman was removed as CEO by the company’s board and subsequently handed a new role with Microsoft, before a dramatic u-turn saw the executive agree in principle to be reinstated as head of the generative AI heavyweight.
Why it matters: Altman’s initial removal was a major misstep by the company’s board, resulting in threats of a mass exodus by staff and investor pressure to rectify the situation. While Altman will now return to the company under the supervision of a new board, some argue the damage to OpenAI’s reputation may be permanent. Nick Patience of S&P Global Market Intelligence told BBC OpenAI can’t be the same company anymore and the saga would have “implications not only for potential investors but also for recruitment”.
BT in talks over swoop for second-hand tech dealer
What happened? It emerged BT and investor Aurelius Group entered into preliminary talks to acquire musicMagpie, with the tech trade-in company setting a deadline of 18 December for firm buyout offers.
Why it matters: Kester Mann, CCS Insight director consumer and connectivity, said BT’s interest in a potential deal reflects the burgeoning market for second hand devices. He also noted its interest could be part of operator EE’s new strategy to push harder into consumer electronics “by offering a broader range of products to both existing and potential customers using a new digital platform”.
Canalys sees signs of smartphone recovery
What happened? Canalys research indicated early signs of a recovery in the smartphone market, forecasting a shipment decline of 5 per cent in 2023 compared to 12 per cent in 2022. In a full rebound, it expects growth of 4 per cent in 2024.
Why it matters: Following years of gloom, senior analyst at Canalys Toby Zhu said the smartphone industry is “clearly emerging from its darkest days”. Softening decline in 2023 will be driven by a stronger rate of upgrades in emerging markets, while demand from Asia-Pacific in 2024 will be a key driver towards projected growth of the sector.