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Trade War: China’s loss is everyone’s gain

The flow of technology remains untouched

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Trade tensions between the U.S. and China have reached a stage where hostility has become a new normal. Both countries have imposed high tariffs on a substantial proportion of each other’s goods and just when we thought the war is de-escalating, President Trump announced 10 percent tariffs on a further US$ 300 billion worth of Chinese goods.

It’s not surprising that China’s technology muscle is independent to a huge extent. The country is the world’s number one smartphone maker in terms of volume, almost every company on this planet relies on components that are made in China, and giants like Baidu, Tencent, and Alibaba offer everything to the end-user.

Sure, Chinese technology giants still rely on a huge chunk of western technology and we’ve already seen how Huawei took the biggest hit. But, while all of us are busy analyzing and understanding the trade war, other countries are making moves, and they’re making them fast.

Other countries swooping in

It’s a classic story of two cats fighting for a piece of cake and a monkey swoops in, fooling both of them. The two incumbents gain nothing in the end and a third-person reap all the benefits. Obviously, a literal translation would be an exaggeration, but we’re seeing a similar anomaly with the Trade War.

According to the U.S Census Bureau, Chinese imports have dropped by US$ 31 billion in the first half of 2019. But, Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, India, and South Korea have successfully bridged the gap. Vietnamese imports to the U.S increased by a whopping US$ 7.6 billion, followed by South Korea at US$ 3.8 billion and India at US$ 2.7 billion.

These records are a combined figure of all imports and not just limited to technology products and services. But, the tides are changing massively in this industry as well.

Companies are uncertain about their long-term investments in China and are looking for alternatives. Samsung and Intel were looking for safer options for years and currently employ 182,000 workers in Vietnam. These factories assemble smartphones, processors, and almost every component one needs.

According to Bloomberg, the Vietnamese government allowed investment licenses to 1,720 projects in the first half of 2019. Nintendo has decided to shift its Switch production to Vietnam and even Sharp has announced relocation plans.

Samsung’s factory in Noida, India

Foxconn, the maker of iPhones in China has bought a land parcel in Vietnam and announced a US$ 200 million investment in India. Apple, in partnership with Wistron India and Foxconn, is already making iPhones in the country and recently top-of-the-line models were also being shipped out.

Samsung already has the world’s largest mobile phone factory in India that assembles top-tier variants, ready for export. While the quantity is negligible when compared to China’s output, these small steps are an indication that China is slowly losing its edge.

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Apple is not interested in TikTok

TikTok is still up for grabs

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With TikTok virtually up for auction, everyone is getting in on the discussion for an acquisition. Last weekend, President Donald Trump announced a definitive ban against the popular video-sharing platform unless an acquisition deal is done before September 15. Around the same time, Microsoft rose to the fore as the likeliest suitor for the Chinese company. That said, other companies are still popping up in the discussion, one way or another. Today, for example, a source confirms that Apple is not interested in TikTok.

The strange confirmation isn’t unprecedented. Earlier, an Axios report hinted at Apple’s interest in TikTok, citing sources from outside Apple. Naturally, everyone wanted to know whether the American company genuinely wanted TikTok or not.

However, in response to the report, various spokespersons have taken to the media to express their company’s opinion on the matter. It’s definitive. Apple is not discussing a TikTok acquisition. The company doesn’t show interest in one either.

Compared to Microsoft, Apple doesn’t exactly have a lot of stake in the matter. The company has not entered the social media industry, making a TikTok-inspired entry unlikely. On the other hand, Microsoft owns LinkedIn, a comparatively smaller social media platform beside giants like Facebook and Twitter. The company can gain from a company of TikTok’s size.

Currently, the TikTok conundrum has a lot of moving parts. Outside of Trump and Microsoft, ByteDance, TikTok’s owner, has expressed interest in moving the platform’s headquarters to the UK, rather than the US. Also, China has weighed in, calling any plan “an open robbery.”

SEE ALSO: TikTok owner accuses Facebook of stealing and smearing

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China won’t allow US to steal TikTok

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TikTok’s fate is in the hands of two dueling nations: China and the US. While TikTok is currently a Chinese company, the US government wants to either acquire the platform or kick it out of America entirely. This past weekend, Trump announced plans to ban the platform unless an acquisition deal is concluded by September 15. For its part, China has finally responded to the ongoing issue. According to state media, China won’t allow US to steal TikTok.

Reported by Reuters, the state-run China Daily made the comments against the American plan. “China will by no means accept the ‘theft’ of a Chinese technology company, and it has plenty of ways to respond if the administration carries out its planned smash and grab,” the report said.

Another state-run publication has likewise compared the acquisition plan to an “open robbery,” turning American into a “rogue country.”

Currently, Microsoft is discussing an acquisition of the popular video-sharing platform. By the end of Sunday, Trump seemingly stamped his approval on the plan, giving TikTok 45 days for a deal. On the other hand, TikTok is deliberating a separate move: transferring its headquarters to the UK, thereby upending Trump’s and Microsoft’s plans.

None of the involved parties have agreed to a conclusion so far. The next 40 or so days will prove critical for TikTok, the US, and China. In any case, China is finally getting in on the decision, just as it did for Huawei.

SEE ALSO: TikTok owner accuses Facebook of stealing and smearing

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TikTok is considering moving to the UK

Moving away from the US and China

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Since the end of last week, TikTok has scrambled to find a solution for its woes in the US. On Friday, President Donald Trump announced a definitive ban against the Chinese video-sharing platform. By the end of Sunday, the American leader pivoted and warmed up to the idea of an American acquisition led by Microsoft. Trump then gave ByteDance a 45-day deadline to reach an amenable deal between the two parties. Though presenting itself as a yes or no deal, the acquisition plan has spawned an all-new direction. Going against the American plan, TikTok is considering moving to the UK.

Reported by Britain’s The Sun, ByteDance is expected to announce a plan to establish TikTok’s headquarters in London. The expected plan is a plot twist for the Chinese company. Instead of benefiting both Microsoft and Trump, TikTok can kick both to the curb and approach a different market.

With a move to London, TikTok can potentially appease the cybersecurity concerns of all parties voting against the platform. According to the report, a move will prove beneficial to both TikTok and London. One minister was even quoted saying: “This isn’t like Huawei where there are national security concerns.”

Despite the seeming benefit of such a decision, Trump might not agree to the plan regardless. His latest directive advises TikTok to make a deal with an American corporation within 45 days.

Regardless, TikTok is up for grabs. Wherever TikTok plans to move (if they plan to move), both parties will stand to gain. The video-sharing platform is among one of the top apps used today.

SEE ALSO: TikTok owner accuses Facebook of stealing and smearing

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