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

NutriAsia’s EcoStation is a solar-powered sustainable hub

For a greener living in the city

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NutriAsia, the Philippines’ prime producer of condiments and sauces, launched a sustainability hub that contributes to green living.

Nestled within the busy Bonifacio Global City, NutriAsia’s EcoStation houses innovative features. For instance, there’s Select & Collect — a sustainable way of shopping and restocking your favorite kitchen staples.

Select and Collect

You can select your pantry essentials and pay through the website selectandcollect.ph. Afterward, you can choose your preferred time to pick up your purchases on the Select and Collect lockers at the EcoStation. Other options include the curbside of the JY Campos Center and the bring-your-own-bottle booth in the Mind Museum.

What the system does is encourage people to collect their purchases at their own time while using their reusable shopping bags. Less carbon footprint? Check. Reduced unnecessary packaging? Check. Minimized contact? Check.

Free water refill

Weirdly, bottled waters are expensive. NutriAsia’s EcoStation is a refresher that encourages people to embrace a refilling mindset. You can use your own containers, ideal for runners within the complex.

All you need to do is scan the QR code that will redirect you to the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) website, so you can generate a unique QR code to be scanned by the dispenser and get your free water refill

Sustainable from the get-go

More importantly, the Ecostation uses solar energy to power up the eco-friendly spot and irrigate the plants through an integrated watering system. NutriAsia’s EcoStation is strategically located at the bus stop along 30th street (beside Track 30th) in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Philippines.

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Enterprise

Touring the first Google Store in New York City

An exquisite experience of technology, commerce, and design

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After pop-up shops and showrooms, Google finally opened its first physical retail store in the city that never sleeps.

Located on 15th and 9th by Chelsea Market in Manhattan, the Google Store in NYC offers a hip and smart experience echoing the vibe of its trendy community location.

Earlier this week GadgetMatch was invited to a special preview. Here is what we saw.

A spectacle of architecture and technology

The new Google Store features floor to ceiling glass that allows a glimpse of its sophisticated exteriors.

A Google campus bike is parked outside the store.

Come on, let’s have a look.

My senses are… overwhelmed

The Google Store is intended to be both a space where one can experience the entire range of Google hardware, and a shop for those wanting to take it all home.

The Nest Gallery Wall. Images/GadgetMatch

From Pixel phones and Nest products to Fitbit wearables and even Pixelbooks — there’s a lot to explore and experience.

An interactive exhibit

There’s a 17-foot-tall circular glass structure near the main entrance called the Google Imagination Space. It’s a set of custom interactive screens featuring rotating exhibits of the best of Google’s products and technologies.

It was designed and engineered with local New York partners so you can probe the possibilities of Google Translate and the capabilities of machine learning. You can try a real-time translation of your speech into 24 languages simultaneously when you speak to the exhibit. If you want to know the technology behind it, the exhibit will also showcase the hows.

The Nest Living Room

The Google Store lets you play on their sandboxes. One is the Nest Sandbox, decorated as a simulated living room filled with Nest products.

You can explore how Nest provides useful solutions that you can apply — should you decide to build your own Nest smart home.

It’s definitely social-media-worthy, in case you ever want to drop by.

Stadia Sandbox

Of course, there’s a dedicated space for those who love playing games. You can freely experience and game on Stadia through the Stadia Sandbox.

The whole vibe speaks futuristic and contemporary!

Workshop space

While Apple has a video wall called The Forum as a center stage for creativity, Google has a Workshop Space that caters to various events such as family storytime, Nest cooking demos, Pixel photography lessons, YouTube concerts, and the likes.

Commitment to sustainability

Sustainability is always at Google’s core — whether it’s their technology, hardware, or even a physical store. Every element of the Google Store was meticulously considered and selected. From the materials, building processes, mechanical systems, and more.

For instance, each lighting fixture is energy-efficient — working with the U.S. Green Building Council to achieve a LEED Platinum rating, the highest certification within the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system.

All the help that you need

There’s also a Here to Help support desk, complete with associates that will help assist your needs, answer all your questions regarding technology, and aids you on an on-site repair of your Pixel smartphone.

The Google Store opens its doors for business starting June 17, 2021 at 10 a.m. Eastern. You may visit it at 76 Ninth Avenue in Chelsea, Manhattan, New York City.

All photos by GadgetMatch.

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Enterprise

Amazon is acquiring MGM Studios for $8.5 billion

Amazon isn’t giving up on the streaming wars

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Amazon Prime Video is going head-on against Netflix, Apple TV+, and HBO Max. And to get a headstart, the e-commerce giant is acquiring MGM Studios for a whopping US$ 8.45 billion.

The film studio is behind the Rocky, Legally Blonde, and James Bond franchises.  Also included are more than 17,000 TV shows. Once the deal closes, the short-term impact will be unfettered access for Amazon’s Prime Video platform.

Bond is the fifth most valuable movie franchise of all time, with its 24 films to date grossing more than $7bn, behind only the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe. MGM’s library includes unscripted TV shows like The Voice and Shark Tank and modern TV shows like The Handmaid’s Tale and Vikings.

It is the second-largest takeover deal ever struck by Amazon. In 2017 it paid US$ 13.7 billion for the upmarket US grocer Whole Foods. Amazon said it’d “preserve MGM’s heritage and catalog of films” and provide customers with greater access to existing works.

However, this transaction isn’t uncommon. Disney’s US$ 66 billion acquisition of Fox assets gave the world’s largest media company the extra content muscle to successfully join the streaming wars with the launch of Disney+. It later went onto acquire India streaming company Hotstar for an undisclosed amount. Back then, Hotstar had close to 400 million monthly active users, and many of them view the free, ad-supported content.

Amazon doesn’t report any metrics about Prime Video’s usage, for instance, and the only reference to content expense is in a footnote to its financial statements. Hence it’s unknown how many active users it has. Since the streaming service is clubbed with Amazon’s e-commerce business, it’s also a very affordable purchase for a user.

“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,” said Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios. “It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling.”

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