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.
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.
Samsung will launch three Exynos processors this year
Exynos 800, Exynos 1200, Exynos 2200
Late last year, Samsung pushed heavily for an increased market presence for its Exynos series of chipsets. Instead of keeping the processors for itself, the company started selling the chipsets to other tech makers. Already, a few smartphones brands, like Vivo, have already launched Exynos-powered smartphones. According to a new rumor, Samsung will launch three Exynos processors this year.
Leaked by renowned Samsung leaker Ice Universe, Samsung will launch chipsets in three different series: Exynos 800, Exynos 1200, and Exynos 2200. Additionally, the latter two chipsets will come with AMD GPUs.
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) March 2, 2021
According to a previous leak, Samsung will launch the GPUs themselves later this year. Unfortunately, there is no indication when Samsung will launch the actual chipsets. Based solely on the chipsets’ naming scheme, they will likely fill out budget-friendly, midrange, and flagship smartphones.
However, it’s too early to tell which devices will carry them. If this year mimics last year, the company might announce the chipsets late this year and then released early next year. Either way, Samsung is really heating up for an explosive year with all the releases.
Recently, the company already launched the brilliant Galaxy S21 series back in January.
Sophos and Qualcomm are teaming up to secure 5G PCs
AI-enabled protection against cyberattacks
Sophos, a British cybersecurity company, has announced that it will provide its Intercept X software for 5G PCs powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon compute platforms. Called the Intercept X, it’s an endpoint protection suite that helps prevent malicious code deployment such as ransomware.
“The combination of Sophos Intercept X with Snapdragon compute platforms will provide users next-generation security through an always-on, always-connected PC environment,” the companies said in a statement.
The sophisticated software is capable of protecting advanced systems and endpoints via deep learning AI capabilities. The system can inspect and scrutinize files from hundreds of millions of samples to identify and neutralize threats that haven’t been seen before.
In case of a ransomware attack, Intercept X can detect and block foreign encryption processes to protect the device and data. It’ll also use Connected Standby technology to constantly communicate with other Snapdragon-powered devices so that unknown processes are limited and data won’t be compromised when the PC goes offline.
Since Qualcomm’s platform is designed for portable computing, Intercept X shall use AI acceleration through the Qualcomm AI Engine to optimize the device’s performance and ensure minimal battery loss.
Lastly, it’ll be able to harness hardware-level root of trust to ascertain device and cryptographic integrity. According to the firm, the Snapdragon processor series — used to power light, 5G PCs — will come in useful in combating security blackspots as the software will leverage connected standby functions.
“Now, in addition to enabling always on, always connected PC experiences, our 5G-enabled Snapdragon compute platforms bring next-generation security innovation rooted in our advanced AI and 5G connectivity capabilities,” said Miguel Nunes, senior director Product Management, Qualcomm.
Xiaomi announces three new manufacturing plants in India
Two for smartphones and one for smart TVs
Xiaomi announced it’ll be opening three new manufacturing facilities in India to boost its local presence and supply chain. Two of them shall be dedicated to smartphones while the third ones for smart TVs.
Xiaomi’s India Head and Global Vice President, Manu Kumar Jain, said that 99 percent of its smartphones sold in India and 100 percent of its televisions will now be manufactured within the country.
In a briefing to GadgetMatch, he said that Xiaomi has been assembling phones and TVs in India for a while now. But many components are still imported, and the company is trying to reduce this as much as possible. Xiaomi has partnered with DBG India, and its plant in Haryana is already functional.
The second facility will be set up in Tamil Nadu by Chinese electronics maker BYD. The two plants are strategically located to ensure the supply chain runs smoothly across the country. For the smart TVs, Xiaomi has tied up with Hyderabad-based television manufacturer Radiant.
The Chinese phone maker has already tied up with Foxconn and Flex for smartphones and Dixon Technologies for televisions. Jain even went on to say that a vast majority of the phone components that include printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) and sub-boards, chargers and battery, back panels are domestically manufactured in the country.
Jain also proudly said in the briefing that Xiaomi now employs 60,000 people in India via its many facilities, retail units, and back-end operations. Xiaomi’s investment in India isn’t surprising because it has been serious about the market for years and has solidified its standing as an indisputable leader.
The Indian government recently kicked-off a billion-dollar scheme to encourage local sourcing. Also dubbed Production Linked Incentive (PLI), the government is ready to offer subsidies and tariff reliefs for companies that are open to localization. The program has worked wonders for companies on the electronics front, and thousands of jobs are being generated.
Despite competition from Samsung, realme, OPPO, and vivo, the company has largely remained unscathed. However, the brand is still in warm waters due to geopolitical instability between India and China. The anti-China sentiment has affected many Chinese players like Huawei, TikTok, Alibaba, and more. But Xiaomi and other mobile phone markers have avoided controversy by amalgamating with the local market and the workforce.
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