Turbotodd

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

Posts Tagged ‘china

Texas Two Step

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CNBC is reporting that Twitter and Facebook have suspended numerous accounts they say are tied to a Chinese disinformation campaign against pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Twitter indicated it had suspended 936 accounts likely related to the activity, and that the information was designed to sow political discord in Hong Kong. Facebook removed seven pages, three groups and five accounts, one of which had 15,500 followers.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, the computer systems of 23 small Texas towns have been seized and held for ransom in a widespread, coordinated cyberattack, according to a report from The New York Times.

Texas’ Department of Information Resources was “racing to bring systems back online” after the attack, and it was unclear who was responsible but that the state had described the attacker as “one single threat actor.”

Last year, there were 54 publicly reported attacks on city, county/state governments, court systems, emergency services, and school districts in Texas. So far this year there have been 61 (excluding these most recent attacks).

Now comes that lingering question: Pay the ransom and get your systems back, or lose a lot of data, time, and resources and possibly rebuild from scratch?!

You can learn more about IBM Security solutions here.

Written by turbotodd

August 20, 2019 at 9:41 am

Posted in 2019, cybersecurity, twitter

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Brave New World

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Happy Monday. Bloomberg is reporting that Apple CEO Tim Cook made a “very compelling argument’
that Apple might lose its edge to Samsung because due to tariffs on Chinese goods. 

China’s apparently moving on, with The Verge reporting that Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo are collaborating on an AirDrop-style wireless file transfer protocol that will work between their devices with speeds of up to 20 MB/s. If you will, the Great Wireless Wall of China.

Also news on the crytocurrency front: Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has launched a crypto exchange for trading in bitcoin, ether, and bitcoin cash. And, Accenture is reporting that global fintech investments have dropped as Chinese fundraising has fallen sharply.

The U.S. remains the world’s biggest fintech market with $12.7B in first-half fundraising — such investments in China were at $820M, a huge fall from the $17.7B raised a year earlier.

Why the big drop? Increased U.S. scrutiny of foreign investments in the U.S., restrictions on Chinese firms’ access to U.S. tech, Huawei’s blacklisting, fears of a global recession and declining business capx investment (among others).

It’s a brave (and never boring) new world.

Written by turbotodd

August 19, 2019 at 10:34 am

Posted in apple, china, fintech, 2019

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The Harmony Hedge

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I wrote on Monday about the possible fork in the smartphone road between China and the rest of the world.

Today, at the Huawei Developer Conference in Dongguan, China, the company’s CEO, Richard Yu, made it official by unveiling “HarmonyOS.”

Though the OS is currently focused largely on IoT products (wearables, smart speakers, etc.), Yu explained that if and when Huawei can no longer access Google’s Android ecosystem, Huawei could deploy HarmonyOS at any time.

But the plan is to stay with Android. Until it can’t or won’t. 

HarmonyOS (formerly “HongMengOS”) is open source and microkernel-based, and Yu suggested onstage in Dongguan that Android wasn’t as efficient due to its redundant codes and general fragmentation issues.

Developers will be able to port their Android apps over to HarmonyOS using Huawei’s ARK compiler.

This is a serious chicken and egg proposition. Yu hasn’t given a full throated endorsement of HarmonyOS, avoided mentioning smartphones in the introduction, and clearly would prefer to avoid jumping off the Android ship.

But either because of market or political pressures, he has been pushed (quickly) by the powers that be to oversee a major OS hedge.

Statista’s latest estimate of the number of Chinese smartphone users exceeds 1B+, and last year China accounted for nearly half of app downloads.

I suspect Huawei (not to mention Google) clearly wants to hedge on this hedge.

Written by turbotodd

August 9, 2019 at 9:57 am

A Fork in the Smartphone Road

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Well, the Chimerica trade and technology war has been taken to new heights over the weekend, both in terms of policy and in global markets.

After President Trump raised the tariffs on China again, this time 10% on $300 billion in Chinese imports not covered by earlier rounds of tariffs on China, China is retaliating with both active and passive measures.

Passively, China is refusing to prompt up the devaluing Chinese currency, the yuan, allowing it to break through 7 against the dollar for the first time since prior to the Great Recession.

Actively, the Chinese Customs Tariffs Commission of the State Council has not ruled out import tariffs on newly purchased U.S. agricultural products after August 3 (this past Saturday).

While the American and Chinese leaders continue with their Great Game of Trade Chicken, Chinese state media has made an interesting announcement: That Huawei is testing a $288 smartphone running its self-developed HongMeng OS, which Reuters is reporting could go on sale later this year.

Could this eventually lead to a global fork in the smartphone OS market, which is currently largely dominated by Google’s Android (and on which most Chinese smartphones are based)?

Probably not in the short term, but longer term…?

Written by turbotodd

August 5, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Apple’s Service, Vietnam’s Boon

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Apple made plenty of moolah in its fiscal Q3, some $53.3B, nearly half of that ($26B) from iPhones. The story: Its services was up 1% YOY to $10.2B. Wearables, Home, and Accessories generated $5.5B, a 50% YOY increase. Diversification for Apple, good, dependency on iPhone moolah, bad.

Contrast those numbers with Samsung’s, which posted an operating profit of $5.6B on revenue of $47.4B, down 4% YOY. Hurry up and make that Fold fold faster!

Some crypto news that caught my eye: Coindesk is reporting that Chinese importers in Russia are buying up to $30M a day of tether from Moscow’s OTC trading desks. They apparently use the cryptocurrency to send large sums back to China, and they use tether instead of bitcoin because tether is designed to maintain U.S. dollar parity.

Speaking of China, who’s now benefiting from Chimerica? Good morning, Vietnam!, where Samsung already assembles half its handsets. Vietnam has greatly benefited from the U.S. tariffs on China, and even Apple and Nintendo are also said to be shifting certain workloads from China to Vietnam. 

Written by turbotodd

July 31, 2019 at 1:55 pm

Posted in 2019, china, smartphone

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes at Apple

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Big news at Apple this week…Longtime creative guru Jony Ive will be leaving Apple later this year after more than 20 years at the company. Ive is leaving to start LoveFrom, his own creative agency, and has already landed apple as its first client.

Daring Fireball noted “this dropped like a bomb,” apparently because nobody in the media had been given a heads up. Uh, this is Apple we’re talking about, when do they ever warn the media about anything of significance.

John Gruber continued::

It makes me queasy to see that Apple’s chief designers are now reporting to operations. This makes no more sense to me than having them report to the LLVM compiler team in the Xcode group. Again, nothing against Jeff Williams, nothing against the LLVM team, but someone needs to be in charge of design for Apple to be Apple and I can’t see how that comes from operations. I don’t think that “chief design officer” should have been a one-off title created just for Jony Ive. Not just for Apple, but especially at Apple, it should be a permanent C-level title. I don’t think Ive ever should have been put in control of software design, but at least he is a designer.

I don’t worry that Apple is in trouble because Johnny Ive is leaving; I worry that Apple is in trouble because he’s not being replaced.”
Another reaction, from Stratechery:

I understand Gruber’s angst. It is precisely that sort of dictatorship, first and foremost in the person of Steve Jobs, that made Apple, Apple. Again, though, I think Ive is in part a cautionary tale: he did his best work under Jobs, while the last few years have been more fraught from a design perspective; if Ive was not entirely up to the task of being the ultimate arbiter of all things Apple, who can be?
That is why the conclusion I had after WWDC feels more applicable than ever: it is less that Jony Ive is leaving Apple, and more that Apple, for better or worse, and also by necessity, has left Jony Ive and the entire era that he represented. So it goes.

Others reported that I’ve had only been coming into the office twice a week since the release of the Apple Watch in 2015… hey, the only constant in the tech industry is change. Enough said.

But there’s more change at Apple. The Mac Pro, which had been touted by Apple CEO Tim Cook as having been manufactured in the U.S. (right here in Austin, actually), will now be outsourced to Quanta Computer Inc. in China.

Why this matters? From The Wall Street Journal:

While the Mac Pro isn’t one of Apple’s bigger products, the decision on where to make it carries outsize significance. Apple’s reliance on factories in China to manufacture its products has been an issue for the company, especially under President Trump, who has pressured Apple and other companies to make more in the U.S.

The spin:

Final assembly is only one part of the manufacturing process,” [an Apple] spokesman said, adding that the company’s investments support two million American jobs. The Mac Pro is Apple’s most powerful computer, used primarily by a small group of professionals working in industries such as film and videogames.

The global supply chain for tech manufacturers is a long and winding Silk Belt and Road!

Meanwhile, back on the AI front: Somerville, Massachusetts has become the second U.S. city (behind San Francisco) to ban facial recognition usage in public space. From Vice:

The "Face Surveillance Full Ban Ordinance," which passed through Somerville’s City Council on Thursday night, forbids any “department, agency, bureau, and/or subordinate division of the City of Somerville” from using facial recognition software in public spaces. The ordinance passed Somerville’s Legislative Matters Committee on earlier this week.

The ordinance defines facial surveillance as “an automated or semi-automated process that assists in identifying an individual, capturing information about an individual, based on the physical characteristics of an individual’s face,” which is operationally equivalent to facial recognition.

Now if someone could just find an AI bot to clean up all the poop in the streets of San Francisco!

Written by turbotodd

June 28, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Posted in 2019, apple, artificial intelligence, china

Tagged with , , ,

Apple Drive

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It’s already Wednesday?

I’ve got a jet plane to catch, but before I did, I wanted to convey a couple of stories that caught my eye.

First, back to the “Chimerica” trade wars.

The New York Times is reporting that U.S. tech companies that include Intel and Micron have found ways to sell millions of dollars of products to Huawei despite the Trump administration’s ban.

How?

Industry leaders including Intel and Micron have found ways to avoid labeling goods as American-made, said the people, who spoke on the condition they not be named because they were not authorized to disclose the sales.

Goods produced by American companies overseas are not always considered American-made. The components began to flow to Huawei about three weeks ago, the people said.

The sales will help Huawei continue to sell products such as smartphones and servers, and underscore how difficult it is for the Trump administration to clamp down on companies that it considers a national security threat, like Huawei. They also hint at the possible unintended consequences from altering the web of trade relationships that ties together the world’s electronics industry and global commerce.

And…Apple says it has acquired autonomous driving startup, Drive.ai, as well as hiring dozens of the company’s engineers and taking over its autonomous cars. 

The company was once valued at $200M, and Axios reports this deal and the hires “confirm that Apple hasn’t given up its autonomous driving project.”

No purchase price was disclosed.

Let’s hope this isn’t the road to nowhere for Apple and its autonomous driving strategy.

Written by turbotodd

June 26, 2019 at 9:37 am

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