Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘china’ Category

Apple WWDC: The China Backdrop

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Happy Monday.  

It’s 6/3/2019, thirty years on from 6/3/1989.

The New York Times has published an editorial explaining why China cannot erase the truth of Tiananmen. And Ian Johnson’s analysis explains that thirty years on, someone always remembers despite the government’s efforts to make them forget.

In some ways, the world is interacting with a different China in 2019. In others, the tiger hasn’t changed its stripes.

And as its annual developer conference gets going in San Jose later this morning, WIRED reminds us that Apple could be a likely target for Chinese retaliation in the increasingly chilly U.S-China trade “Cold War.”

WIRED observes that many in China view the “aggressive US measures” on trade and IP as designed to prevent China from rising further, and the multipronged campaign against Huawei “is largely perceived in China as a naked attempt by Washington to kneecap a serious competitor in everything from mobile devices to networking equipment and especially 5G.”

But China could respond in a way that could take a big bite out of Apple’s profitability:

Beijing could respond by increasing tariffs on US imports into China and by making it more cumbersome for US companies to do business in China, through such moves as permitting delays and holding up shipments in customs. But if China is truly looking for revenge, it need look no further than Apple. The Cupertino company has a vast global business, but China represents a real vulnerability.

China represents 19 percent of Apple’s worldwide sales, with the iPhone making up the bulk of that. While China is not as fruitful a market for Apple’s burgeoning services business, it is and has been a strong and generally growing market for Apple’s devices—until the past year.

Already, without the government doing anything explicit, Apple’s China sales have slowed precipitously. It had 10 percent share of the smartphone market at the beginning of 2018; it now has barely 7 percent. Almost all smartphone makers have seen shipments decline in China. The exception? Huawei, whose market share and sales have modestly increased while its competitors, ranging from Apple to Samsung to Xiaomi, have fallen.

Or, WIRED goes on, the Chinese government “could simply ban the sale of iPhones in China using the same justifications that the US is using against Huawei: national security and data security.”

But with the Google/Huawei Android license dispute looming with an August extension of the original deadline, one imagines Apple could be safe through much of the summer if, for no other reason, they serve as a viable smartphone OS hedge for the Middle Kingdom

So with that as the backdrop, what, exactly, are we hearing that could be announced, shown, unveiled, etc at Apple’s biggest developer event of the year?

Topline: Possibly a new and improved MacPro on the hardware side. macOS 10.15 and iOS 13 on the iPad, with more possible convergence between the Mac OS and iOS through Apple’s Marzipan project (including confirmed new apps that include Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV).

Also expect updates on tvOS and watchOS, new AR, and likely pricing on the Apple Arcade service.

And oh yeah, a Dark Mode for iPhone owners. 

Will there be an upside surprise in today’s keynote or this week’s event?

Tune in a couple of hours and find out.

Written by turbotodd

June 3, 2019 at 10:11 am

Posted in 2019, apple, china, developers

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Crazy Dogs and Tank Men

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This one reminded me of Socks the Puppet.

You remember Socks, the Pets.Com mascot back during the dot com heyday? Go watch one of their TV spots on YT. Good stuff.

Well, China’s “Crazy Dog” is not to be outdone, and recently raised $43.4M in Series B funding. The company was founded in 2014 and is one of China’s leading Internet-based pet supplies brands.

Crazy Dog actually sells stuff, though, including more than 5 million bags of dog food last year. China’s annual pet care market reached some $24.7 billion last year (only 33% of which was dog food).

Also on the Chinese front, a startup called Neolix Technologies is mass producing self-drive delivery vans in Changzhou. Specifically, what are referred to as Level 4 autonomous vehicles, those that a driver does not need to interfere with any driving operations and where autonomous travel is available under specific conditions, like self-driving zones.

And on to more sensitive subjects, we’re less than a week away from the 30th anniversary of the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown (June 4th). We’ll see just how good those Chinese AI algorithms are, as posts that allude to dates, images and names associated with the protests will be automatically rejected and/or deleted.

Penalties for Internet users and activists who step beyond the bounds of Chinese censorship propriety include fines to jail time.

That means any allusions to “Tank Man” will likely end up in the AI scrapheap of history.

But you can still buy good dog food online in China.

Written by turbotodd

May 28, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Posted in 2019, china

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Telco Turmoil

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The 5G and telco industry whirlwind continues…

Bloomberg reported earlier this week that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is "leaning against approving T-Mobile’s proposed takeover of Sprint."

Apparently the "remedies" proposed by the wireless carriers earlier this week didn’t go far enough resolve the department’s concerns that the deal risked harming competition.

Next, the FTC won an antitrust case against Qualcomm in the Northern District of California, this just a few weeks after Apple and Qualcomm settled a major patent dispute.

The FTC has ordered a number of remedies to Qualcomm, including that the company must not condition of the supply of modem chips on a customer’s patent license status, and that the company must negotiate or renegotiate license terms with customers "in good faith under conditions free from the threat of lack of access to or discriminatory provision of modem chip supply or associated technical support or access to software," among others.

And not to be left out, the telco vice against China continues today with the U.K.’s chip design firm ARM reportedly in a leaked memo has told its staff it must suspend business with Huawei. A report from the BBC explained that "Arm’s designs form the basis of most mobile processors worldwide" and that the designs contained "U.S. origin technology," and therefore subject to the U.S. trade restrictions.

Written by turbotodd

May 22, 2019 at 9:56 am

Posted in 2019, 5G, china

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On the Verge of a Digital Cold War: Peking Duck (and Cover)

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Man oh man, has this already been a juicy week thus far for tech geopolitical geeks like me.

First, last week, the U.S. Commerce Dept. basically banned all U.S. telcos from doing business with Huawei, but then today has “temporarily eased trade restrictions [on the company] to minimize disruption for its customers.”

Tit, meet Tat.

Specifically, Reuters reported today that Commerce has not granted Huawei a license to buy U.S. goods until August 19th to maintain existing telecoms networks and provide software updates to Huawei smartphones.

This gives telecom operators that rely on Huawei time to make other arrangements.

China’s Huawei founder isn’t taking all this lying down: “The U.S. government’s actions at the moment underestimate our capabilities,” said Ren Zhengfei.

The latest Huawei casualty? Microsoft removed the Huawei MateBook X Pro (one of the best Windows laptops available in the U.S. right now, says The Verge) from its online store — without a Windows license, it’s a brick.

This shit is getting real real and fast!

Which makes me wonder: Who’s holding which cards in this geopolitical poker game with gargantuan stakes? China certainly seems to have the edge (and pricing power) on new 5G technologies, but do they have their own native-built smartphone operating system they can do a hot switchover to lest the Android goes completely dark.

Bloomberg reports that Huawei has indeed, and better yet, has been building its own OS and its own “App Gallery” (lest it need to supplant the Android Play Store).

I f——ing love this industry, and it’s a great time to watch these great powers battle for its future. We might just have ourselves a new space race, and despite the tensions, remember, the space race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Led to more technological innovation in a short 7-8 years than I even care to count (although we’ll leave Tang out of that equation).

Freeze dried ice cream, anyone? It’s time to celebrate!

Written by turbotodd

May 21, 2019 at 4:20 pm

Posted in 2019, 5G, china, huawei

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Brooks and Bran

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Spoiler Alert!

If you haven’t watched the end of the PGA Championship yet on your DVR, I’m about to congratulate the winner, so stop reading this post now.

If you did watch, you know it was one half of the “Smash Brothers” who took his fourth major golf championship inside of 23 months: Brooks Koepka.

Pretty spectactular stuff.

My boss actually called this one, and I couldn’t say I disagreed with him. Brooks seems to be one of those once in a generation players who comes loaded to bear on the golf course, especially at the majors. 

And when I say loaded to bear, I’m talking about insane distance off the tee (but also accuracy in hitting fairways), great up and down (scrambling), and some great putting (which is an area where he has struggled in the past).

Dustin Johnson, the other Smash bro, put on a good run, especially in the middle of the round when Brooks bogied four holes in a row to take his lead to one, but it just wasn’t to be, and Koepka took the Wannamaker for the second year in a row.

Now, the other spoiler alert: GOT. 

If you don’t watch “Game of Thrones” you need to get with the program. Of course, now it’s all over, and as I predicted, Jon killed Dany and Bran became king.

Apparently a lot of folks didn’t like the last several episodes and/or the ending, but it all worked well for me.  Eight seasons is a lot to wrap up such epic storytelling, and I figured after the Drogon Burning Man fest from last weekend, Dany had to go.  And Tyrian convinced Jon, and that was that.

So what does all this have to do with technology?  Everything and nothing.

GOT certainly has everything to do with clashing empires, which is exactly what we’re seeing now with the “Chimerica” tech wars.

Over the weekend, Reuters reported that Google has suspended business with China’s Huawei telco business, for anything “that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing.”

That means no more licensing of Android to Huawei.

But what this is really about is the burgeoning big power battle over the evolution of 5G technology — meaning, the U.S. does not want China to be a primary provider of 5G equipment due to concerns around … well, you name it: surveillance, national security, concerns over economic power, technology transfer, etc.

So if Huawei loses in the 5G battle (and I’m not convinced they do, particularly if European and other partners don’t go along with the ‘Merica First 5G battle cry), who wins?

Vendors like Ericsson, HPE, Nokia, Intel, and Qualcomm, certainly. But let’s not forget, their products are typically much more expensive than those from Huawei.

We’ll see if it’s the almighty dollar — or the strengthening renminbi — that ultimately prevails.

 

Written by turbotodd

May 20, 2019 at 2:56 pm

Posted in 2019, 5G, china, golf

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Ok, Cupid, Goodbye “Chimerica”?

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Happy Tuesday.

The U.S. markets are experiencing slightly less turbulence today than they were yesterday. Maybe the Trump Put is on after all?

If so, that could very well lead to an upsurge in online dating!

In which case, Match.com has your back.

According to a report by Engadget, Match is now offering some human assistance for online daters in the form of “AskMatch,” a service that will connect its paid users to a dating coach for a chat on the phone.

“Match’s mission has always been around relationships and bringing people together. We want to go beyond just being an app on your phone,” said Match CEO Hesam Hosseini in an interview with Engadget. Match users will be able to find the option to “Talk to a coach” under the “Discover” area of the app. If selected, Match will connect you to one of its dating experts for a phone conversation. After the phone call, you can update your coach through the app with any progress you’ve made or ask further questions. 

Hosseini points out that there’s still plenty of room for us humans after all, and that the machines and algos can’t take over everything.

“Automation is great, but it’s not for everything–especially when it comes to relationships and love,” said Hosseini. While it’s doubtful that dating coaches will solve the bigger problems with online dating fatigue — chatting with a human person may help some users find clarity.

Meanwhile, the Chinese owner of Grindr, Beijing Kunlun Tech Co., released a statement indicating its being forced out of the gay-dating app game and will be required to sell Grindr by June 2020 under an agreement with U.S. officials.  

And Kai-Fu Lee, whose most recent book I would argue is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the coming AI revolution, is apparently also feeling the U.S./China trade pinch.

Lee had already left his Sinovation U.S. office last year, and now, according to CNBC, has “pulled back alongside many other Chinese investors who are struggling to put money to work in the current political environment.”

So much for “Chimerica,” you say?  

I’d say, China and the U.S. are heading down the wrong path. While trade agreements and disputes around intellectual property and related issues certainly need to be worked on to mutual benefit, a full on Chinese-American Cold War is exactly what we don’t need.

Written by turbotodd

May 14, 2019 at 2:14 pm

Some iPhone Models Banned In China

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Happy Monday.

Axios is reporting that a Chinese court has banned the sale of a number of recent iPhone models “citing infringement of two Qualcomm patents.”

Axios writes why this matters:

The preliminary injunction blocks the sale and import of iPhones into China, but not the manufacture or export of the devices, so the direct impact is limited to the domestic Chinese market. Still, it represents a significant disruption to Apple’s business and could bring the two parties to the negotiating table in their long litigation war.

The injunction prevents the sale and import of the iPhone 6s, 6sPlus, 7, 7 Plus, iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X. 

Apple’s response: 

“Qualcomm’s effort to ban our products is another desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world. All iPhone models remain available for our customers in China. Qualcomm is asserting three patents they had never raised before, including one which has already been invalidated. We will pursue all our legal options through the courts.”

And Qualcomm’s:

Apple continues to benefit from our intellectual property while refusing to compensate us. These Court orders are further confirmation of the strength of Qualcomm’s vast patent portfolio.”

Meanwhile, Kara Swisher writing in The New York Times pulls back the camera and asks the question, “Can the U.S. Stop China from Controlling the Next Internet age?”

Rhetorical???

Written by turbotodd

December 10, 2018 at 9:55 am

Posted in 2018, apple, china, iPhone

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