Enterprise

Trade war: How the US played its trump card wrong

The dragon is no longer sleeping

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The US and China are embroiled in a trade war and the last few months have witnessed unprecedented escalation from both sides. Tensions between the two countries are ongoing and virtually two power blocs have been created. The conflict has also changed everyone’s outlook on technology forever.

US President Donald Trump banned American companies from working with Huawei, one of China’s largest technology companies. This meant Huawei could no longer use American technology, including Android. Thankfully, an interim resolution lets Huawei transact with American counterparts right now.

However, this was a blaring reminder for China. It depends too much on the US for technology and this needs to end. For two power blocs, interdependence isn’t an option. And the US played its trump card at the wrong time, in a wrong way.

Trade war affecting free flow of tech

Technology has been freely flowing since the inception of the Internet. Everyone has been connected to a neutral medium of communication except for a few countries. The flow of information has been so fast, yet transparent. Adding to this, open-source has been a boon for everyone since technology is never restricted and everyone gets a chance to experience it.

Even if a service or product is proprietary, companies have been quick to monetize it via licensing. There are apps that are built in one country and used by citizens of another country that’s thousands of miles away. In a nutshell, we’ve always imagined modern or digital technology to be easily transferable.

But, the US proved it can stop this flow of sanctions or bans, only to reverse the decision. We can call this saber-rattling. They wanted to serve a warning and the message has been received. However, China also realized one thing, it needs to become truly independent.

China’s alternatives

The Chinese internet is different from the rest of the world’s internet. It’s guarded by a nation-wide firewall and heavily censored by the state. A few services like Google and Facebook aren’t available. This has already made way for homegrown alternatives like Baidu, Weibo, and WeChat.

Now, Huawei is gearing up for the worst. It accelerated work on its own operating system, HarmonyOS. It’s expected to roll-out slowly in the coming quarters. In a bid to challenge Google Maps, they’re also planning to unveil a mapping service known as Map Kit.

Every Chinese company would be scrambling to create a backup plan, preparing for the worst. In the short term, they’ll suffer due to sudden shortcomings. But in the longer run, the US loses its leverage.

The ban is bad for progress

The US government’s ban on Huawei is ill-timed. The company is a leader in 5G deployment due to its patents and manufacturing ability. The world needs Huawei to effectively deploy the next standard of wireless communication. If the US wants its allies to avoid Huawei, alternatives need to be available, and that’s not the case.

Even US companies aren’t very fond of getting dragged in the trade war. Trump agreed that tariffs on China will hamper Apple’s ability to compete with Samsung. Not to forget all the revenue US companies lose after sanctions are applied or the Chinese develop their own alternative.

Other countries also have only two options — get in line with the US or develop its own cushion. A territorial divide has also prompted countries like India to lobby for data localization. In case relations turn sour tomorrow, how much control do you want to give others?

These questions and hypothetical scenarios are often considered to be an exaggeration. And I don’t blame them. But the US could’ve used this trump card later, actually benefiting from it.

Enterprise

Xiaomi’s 2019 revenue exceeds CNY 200 Billion

A good year for Xiaomi!

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Xiaomi Corporation is an internet, smartphone, and smart hardware company. Their products are fundamentally connected by their Internet of Things(“IoT”) platform. And, they’ve just hit the jackpot with their audited consolidated results for the year 2019.

Their Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Mr. Lei Jun says: “Despite headwinds from the Sino-US trade war and global economic downturn, Xiaomi stood out in 2019 with a commendable set of results as our revenue exceeded RMB200 billion for the first time.”

2019 was a good year for Xiaomi. They’ve managed to achieve significant growth across all of their business segments. They’ve earned themselves a total revenue of over CNY 200 billion for the first time (reaching CNY 205.8 billion).

Xiaomi managed to celebrate several key milestones. From successfully launching their independently operated dual-brand, Xiaomi and Redmi, focusing on ‘5G+AIoT’ as a strategic roadmap, to their inaugural entries into the prestigious ranks of not just the Fortune Global 500 but also, BrandZ’s Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands.

Mr. Lei Jun says, “while the entire world is still under the dark shadows of COVID-19, we have maintained our keen focus on efficiency to tide over this economic ‘black swan’ with everyone. At Xiaomi, we firmly believe that our long-term business success is underpinned by technological innovations… Overall, we remain committed to using technology to connect and improve lives everywhere in future.”

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Enterprise

Huawei acknowledges the US ban is hindering its sales

But the US government isn’t ready to negotiate

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For the first time since the U.S. imposed trade sanctions on Huawei, the company has acknowledged that its sales have been affected. Even though the company’s revenue grew by almost 20 percent to nearly US$ 121 billion, it says the numbers could’ve been higher had the sanctions not been imposed.

Last year, Huawei was added on a U.S. blacklist known as the Entity List. It restricted American firms from doing business with the Chinese telecom giant. For the end-user, it meant that Huawei phones won’t have Google apps pre-installed out-of-the-box. Two of its most recent flagships — the Mate 30 and the P40, were released without licensed Google apps.

Eric Xu, Huawei’s rotating chairman, told CNBC that they’re projecting a revenue loss of US$ 10 billion due to the ban. The ban hasn’t come to full effect yet, but it’ll be extremely damaging for their international expansion plans in the future. The company wants to transact with Google, but the U.S. administration has left no choice for either of them.

The ban has not only sealed off the American market for the company, but it also can’t source components and other software technologies from American counterparts. Google is just one of these examples. Huawei can’t even acquire Intel processors for its laptops.

Huawei never had a considerable smartphone market presence in the North American country. This is not a big deal for the company in its home market China because Google apps have been banned there for years now.

As a mitigation plan, the company accelerated the development of its own operating system called Harmony OS, but it’s restricted to TVs for now. To bridge the gap of missing Google apps, the company has also been actively pushing its own suite of apps via Huawei Mobile Services.

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Enterprise

Google will contribute $800 million via ads to fight Coronavirus

Here’s why it’s a notable contribution

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Google has committed to donating more than US$ 800 million to support businesses, organizations, and healthcare workers as part of its fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. Breaking it down, it says it’ll give the World Health Organization (WHO) and global government agencies a total of US$ 250 million in ad allowances.

Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, confirmed that another US$ 340 million in ad credits will be provided to small and mediumsized businesses who’ve actively advertised via them over the last year.

Furthermore, the company is establishing a US$ 200 million investment fund to help small businesses get access to capital. Lastly, it’ll be offering US$ 20 million in Google Cloud credits to researchers and academicians to unleash the power of computing on the virus. Research requires an exorbitant amount of computing power since formulas, calculations, and simulation models are supremely complex.

Google may seem like a technology company, but business-wise, it’s the world’s largest advertising company. Everyone who has access to the internet has at some point, used a Google service. This is how the company attracts users via its suite of services and serves them ads. For a behemoth like Google, it’s easy to reach out because of its robust advertising network.

The company not only serves ads on its own services but also exports out ads to other websites via services like AdSense. While it may seem Google isn’t actually giving away money from its profits but from its revenues, it doesn’t matter. The end contribution to the cause is what matters. And the company is leveraging its power to reach out.

These ads can help local authorities across the world fight misinformation about the virus. Moreover, also spread awareness passively while people are indoors in isolation and constantly connected via the internet.

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