Enterprise

Huawei and Google release official statements regarding trade blacklist

Existing users shouldn’t worry

Published

on

The tech world erupted earlier today when a Reuters report claimed that Google is blacklisting Huawei devices after an executive order by US President Donald Trump imposed a trade ban between Huawei and the US.

To be specific, Huawei may not buy equipment from US companies without the approval of the North American government. At the same time, US companies also aren’t allowed to deal with Huawei for parts and services.

It was the deadly blow dealt after a years of accusations between the two camps. Previously, fellow Chinese brand ZTE experienced similar banning on North American soil because of concerns over security and data breaches.

With this order in action, Google must pull out its apps and services from future Huawei devices. These include YouTube, Gmail, and the Google Play store itself. To add insult to injury, other US-based tech companies have followed suit in the trade ban, namely Intel, Broadcom, and Qualcomm.

Fortunately — and this is the most positive spin to this developing story — Google released a statement explaining that existing Huawei products will continue to function and won’t be affected by this blacklisting.

The keyword here is existing, meaning Google isn’t promising support for future Huawei products. This hopefully doesn’t mean that other Chinese brands like Xiaomi and OnePlus will go through the same fate as Huawei’s.

Huawei had its own statement to share, and it’s just as reassuring to existing users:

“Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefited both users and the industry. Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products covering those have been sold or still in stock globally. We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.”

The sentence in bold may be the biggest takeaway here. Not only is Huawei committed to providing promised firmware updates and support for current Huawei device holders, sub-brand Honor is part of the company’s reassurance, as well.

This also confirms that current Huawei and Honor users don’t have to sell or trade away their gadgets. Even a newly bought unit from the companies’ present lineups will work just fine with Google’s services and apps.

In effect, only future products will be affected, which brings into question how Honor will treat the Honor 20 launch in London tomorrow, as well as what the landscape will look like by the time Huawei’s flagship Mate 30 rolls in.

Additional questions at the moment are: How will upcoming Huawei smartphones look and function without an Android operating system? Will Huawei release its own OS in time for the next batch of handsets? Will American companies soon block trades with other Chinese manufacturers, too? For now, we’ll have to wait and see.

Enterprise

Apple is suing a small startup for using a pear logo

Five-person startup vs. trillion-dollar company

Published

on

As the saying goes, “apples and oranges.” Apparently, the well-known idiom doesn’t apply for the iPhone makers of the same name. If your company uses any fruit-themed logo (even if it’s not an apple), Apple will see their own logo and go at you with the full force of their legal team. In a strange turn of events, Apple is suing a small startup for using a pear logo.

Reported by Canadian outlet iPhone in Canada, Prepear, a meal-planning startup with only five people, is facing legal action from the trillion-dollar Apple because of their logo. Super Healthy Kids, another startup from the founders of Prepear, shared their woes on Instagram. As the name suggests, Prepear uses a pear-shaped logo in lime green. According to the post, Apple thinks that the Prepear logo looks too similar to the globally known Apple logo.

Now, if you squint enough, you might find a few similarities. Both have a leaf hanging near the stem, for example. However, both logos are quite arguably far enough from each other. In fact, their brand identities are very distinct from each other.

Along with the Instagram post, Prepear has also started a Change.org petition, in hopes of stopping Apple’s legal action against them. In the petition, the startup is calling out Apple for bullying other smaller startups with fruit-themed logos. “Most small businesses cannot afford the tens of thousands of dollars it would cost to fight Apple,” the petition said.

In the same vein, big tech companies in the US are facing a lot of antitrust issues. Just recently, a court hearing caught Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg lying under oath. The social media company stole, bullied, and acquired rival companies to take them out.

Of course, Apple is no stranger to weird court cases from people in the past. However, this is one of the rare instances when the company itself is pursuing legal action for strange reasons against smaller entities.

SEE ALSO: Apple is not interested in TikTok

Continue Reading

Enterprise

Qualcomm reportedly urged US to reverse the Huawei ban

Published

on

Yesterday, Huawei confirmed the inevitable end of the Kirin chip, owing to the heightening American ban. When it launches later this year, the Huawei Mate 40 series is the last phone to feature the iconic processor. Despite the terrible news, Huawei’s fate is still up in the air. For one, the Trump administration can still (unlikely) reverse everything, restoring Huawei’s former status on top of the industry. In another likelier scenario, a third-party chip supplier can provide some much-needed supply for the ailing Chinese company. Today, Qualcomm reportedly urged US to reverse the Huawei ban.

It’s still a shocking plot twist. Qualcomm has clashed with the Chinese company in the processor industry before. Naturally, when the bans rocked the smartphone industry, the company’s continued dominance flourished at the rival’s major losses. However, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf soon announced long-term pursuits to court Huawei’s business. The supposed courting fell silent just as quickly.

Today, however, the Wall Street Journal has leaked a presentation detailing Qualcomm’s lobbying to reverse the ban. According to the document, the chip-making company wants to lift exporting restrictions so it can sell its chips to Huawei. With the export ban in place, the US will allegedly drive Huawei’s business away from America and into competitors from other countries like Samsung and Mediatek.

Of course, it’s also important to note that this is different from an operating license. Amidst the ban, a few American companies have applied for a license to sell components to Huawei. Qualcomm has not applied for such a license — at least, not yet. Instead, the company wants every export restriction lifted, allowing other companies to also do business with Huawei.

Lobbying is only one thing. It’s still up to the US government, ultimately. However, American companies are also fighting the extensive ban. Only time will tell if things will go back to how they were.

SEE ALSO: Mate 40 is the last Huawei phone to feature Kirin chips

Continue Reading

Enterprise

Everything you need to know about the congressional big tech hearing

Why are Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google in trouble?

Published

on

Congressional hearings are uniquely American, and you’ve surely seen them in a movie or show. It’s often the crux, dramatizing a room filled with politicians, media, and the country. Everyone’s attention is glued to the protagonist, who sits in front of the committee and answers their hard-hitting questions. If you really want to see a classic, I’d recommend seeing The Aviator.

Coming back to the point, a similar hearing has grabbed the world’s attention. Often referred to as “big tech”, American internet giants Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are working hard to defend their enormous size, arguing that their dominating position in the market doesn’t stifle competition.

In simpler terms, “big tech” has a market capitalization of more than US$ 4.85 trillion. And, this gives them enough clout to discourage competition and continue their virtual monopoly. When companies become too big, the consequences can be radical since the government will find it harder to regulate them.

Data is the new oil

The American economy has witnessed similar situations before and there are precedents available to curtail a company’s influence. For instance, Standard Oil was among the world’s first and largest multinational companies. It started when oil was a fresh discovery and the world was slowly realizing the fuel’s potential. Officially started in 1870, it grew exponentially in the coming years by acquiring smaller companies, controlling market supply, and chasing maximum efficiency while ignoring antitrust regulations.

By 1890, Standard Oil controlled almost 90 percent of the refined oil business in the US. In the coming years, the company would restructure itself into a holding company that controls more than 40 smaller companies. While these smaller companies were separate entities, all profits went to one parent company. In turn, the parent ensured all the kids work in tandem to improve efficiency and control market dynamics.

Finally, in 1911, Standard Oil’s control came to an end after the US Justice Department prosecuted it via the Sherman Antitrust Act. Standard Oil was dismantled into smaller companies, again. But, they had an independent board of directors and each was left to fend for its own. It essentially meant that Standard Oil, as one entity, no longer existed and the market had dozens of autonomous companies. For consumers, this ensured healthy competition and innovation, while supply chains and associated trade partners were no longer dealing in a pseudo-mafia regime.

Standard Oil of New Jersey and Standard Oil of New York are predecessors of ExxonMobil, Standard Oil of Kentucky became Chevron, and South Penn Oil is known as Shell today. A similar breakup was enforced on telecom giant Bell Systems in 1982 when the parent AT&T, was split into regional companies. One of these sping-offs was Bell Atlantic, today called Verizon.

Big tech and its influence

Data is equivalent to oil or gold. The three together are fundamental pillars of the twenty-first century. Just like Standard Oil started out at the cusp oil discovery, Amazon and Google can be called the early pioneers of the consumer internet.

Equipped with instant connectivity, Amazon created online shopping as we know it today. The internet becomes a stressful place without Google helping us discover basic information. Facebook is quite literally our personal life and everyone around you uses it.

Lastly, Apple is the only significant hardware maker here, but it has surprisingly more control over software thanks to its closed eco-system. These companies are very similar to Standard Oil and can pose a serious threat to encouraging competition. Free market principles also go out the window when someone has majority control.

Apple and its greed for more

The Cupertino-based giant revolutionized music playback thanks to the iPod and iTunes. When Apple sold you the iPod, it made a profit. But you need music to utilize your purchase. So, you buy a track from iTunes, that’s also controlled by Apple. Ultimately, you end up paying more and more to the same company. Thankfully, the system is partially restricted and you can sideload MP3 files, but it’s a cumbersome and discouraging process.

Coming to 2020, apps are everywhere. Apple’s App Store comes pre-installed on iOS devices shipped in the last decade. Apple takes a 30 percent cut on whatever you sell via the App Store. Whether it’s an app or an in-app purchase, Apple will get its share of the revenue. Apple says the store acts as a perfect marketplace for developers as well as users. But, how can a newly started developer or company afford to give away 30 percent of its revenue to Apple as a “service charge?”

Keep in mind, this “big tech” has more than US$ 190 billion in cash. Spotify has publicly called-out Apple for this practice numerous times because it sells monthly streaming plans on its app and can’t afford to part a huge chunk of the payment to Apple. Instead of using Apple’s payment system, it manages its own subscription to save “Apple tax”, an informal slang for Apple’s revenue cut. Even Netflix follows a similar approach. The point is, bigger companies are capable of bypassing Apple’s ecosystem lock, albeit with considerable expenses. Then how can new competition come up from scratch?

It’s practically a monopoly because the developer has two options — take it or leave it. Now, if you’re in the market to sell your app, all iOS devices are out of scope if you don’t adhere to Apple’s demands. And, if you skip the App Store, you’re missing out on all the potential revenue. If you agree with Apple, by an optimistic outlook, you’ll at least get 70 percent of something as revenue? This is the basic working of a monopoly.

The operating system market is a duopoly controlled by Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store. While third-party app stores like Amazon App Store, AppGallery, and more exist, ask yourself when was the last time you downloaded something off them?

In Apple’s defense, the company feels it should be able to collect its 30 percent share because it created the current ecosystem. With the launch of the iPhone, the company created a virtual marketplace out of nothing. The company invested in building an ecosystem that has stood the test of time and brings both, the user as well as developer, on the same page.

The company announced earlier this year that it has paid US$ 155 billion to developers since 2008. That’s a lot of money. There’s no denying that Apple kickstarted the “app as a product” philosophy, creating a brand new arena in the digital age. But is it’s control justified after a decade?

Apple has always been conservative about its ecosystem, but it’s efforts to accomplish that are often far-fetched. Recently, the company barred Xbox Gamepass on iOS devices because it “it can’t review every game” that’s being offered by Microsoft. Going by this logic, Apple should also screen or review every show or album that debuts on OTT (over the top) players like Netflix, Prime Video, Spotify, and more.

It’s clear that Apple wants to defend its Apple Arcade subscription service and doesn’t want Microsoft to steal the show with Project xCloud. This means that Xbox Gamepass will be available on Android only. If Apple can strong-arm a giant like Microsoft, isn’t it very obvious that smaller players stand no chance against the brand?

Amazon and its influence on customers

Starting out with just books, today the site has millions of products listed, ranging from a unique screw to a full-fledged air conditioner. What started out as an online marketplace has grown into a tech giant that has dominance in cloud computing, voice assistants, and even video streaming.

Critics say Amazon has frequently used its funding to undercut the competition. It took some losses in the short-term by trying to retain users. Once the user was accustomed to Amazon, a process that lets them avoid visits to a store, the loss turned into profit. With a yearly Prime subscription, you’d get free delivery on the smallest of products. Eventually, the user has recovered its Prime subscription fee in terms of convenience and Amazon has processed more orders than ever.

This model ensured that Amazon has an edge over everyone else. The site closely monitors your movement on the site and can intelligently suggest new products to purchase. The more one buys, the more Amazon earns. And, so do the sellers. This seems like a fair game.

But then, sellers realized Amazon has started recognizing categories that can be directly dominated. The user data they collect shows them precisely how much demand a product has, the price vs sales comparisons, and more. It leveraged this rich and unique data to launch its own product brand called Amazon Basics. If you’d normally buy a USB-C wire for US$ 10, Amazon Basics provided that for a lesser price. And, the Amazon tag garnered trust, luring the buyer away from third-party sellers to Amazon’s in-house accounting.

Now, sellers realized that Amazon used its internal sales data to indirectly push out the competition. Amazon follows a similar strategy in other markets like India. Obviously, a seller can try to sell directly via their own platform using simpler tools like Shopify, but will that match the reachability of Amazon? Can any individual seller match Amazon’s marketing and brand recognition?

The company grew as an e-commerce website but is involved in much more than selling books today, the prime reason why it’s one of the “big tech.” The marketplace’s dominant position helped it start brand new investment streams like Kindle hardware, Alexa speakers, and AWS cloud computing. The e-commerce model had worked very well and investors were fine with the company diversifying, even if it meant losing some projects like the Fire Phone.

Today, the company is bigger than physical establishments like Walmart. It’s going up against eBay, Flipkart, Lazada, AliExpress, and Rakuten in the e-commerce space. AWS is challenging Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, as well as Alibaba Cloud. Alexa is fighting against Google Assitant, Siri, and Cortana. And lastly, Prime subscription is taking on Netflix and Spotify in one go.

What’s common?

In this article, the most frequently mentioned companies are Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Facebook sits in an entirely different vertical, filled with its own unique challenges. However, if you’re trying to do something on the internet, you’ll end up using one of their technology or platform in some way or the other.

And that’s the whole point of the “Big Tech” debate. These companies have grown too much, too quickly. They dominate the publicly known internet and have barely left any space for newcomers. Even if someone dares to do the unthinkable, they’ll be either acquired or pushed into infinite losses.


This is Part 1 of the series. We’ll be covering Facebook and Google’s involvement in Part 2.

Continue Reading

Trending