Instant Authority: Tech’s next four years
In the four years of President Donald Trump in the USA, the world of tech saw great changes from both direct and indirect actions, and chaos and uncertainty. This is not limited to the US, either.
First, a short story:
- In my home town in Newcastle, Australia, Chinese businessman Martin Lee bought the local football (soccer) club, the Newcastle Jets, in 2016 for $4.3M.
- Lee founded LED lighting company Ledman Group in Shenzhen and was reported to be a billionaire at the time. The club and its fans were naturally keen to see a cash injection and a return to former glory.
- Yet, in the four years since, things haven’t been great for the club. Here’s one report describing the reasons why: “Trade tariffs between the USA and China had a major impact on Lee’s fortunes with his LED lighting company Ledman Group suffering a severe downturn in profits.“
- Lee is now close to selling the Jets for a reported $5.8M, plus $2.2M in underlying debt.
This is just one footnote from US-China trade war and tech fallout, reaching all the way to an Australian football club.
There are a few larger impacts, too. Perhaps you noticed?
- China: ZTE and Huawei suffered major lasting damage to both their consumer and 5G infrastructure businesses. While ZTE was let off the hook, and the absolute nature of the bans surrounding Huawei appear to be weakening, both Chinese companies have suffered.
- TikTok and WeChat have experienced major upheavals. As I write, the moves to largely dismantle TikTok in the US have been placed on hold following court action, though appeals have been lodged.
- As the founders of Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft have become the three richest people in the world, scrutiny over antitrust has increased: Alphabet caught the eye of the Department of Justice in a filing that was supported only by Republican governors. However, it is understood Democrat governors will also act.
- Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act came under heavy scrutiny, including Congressional hearings featuring Big Tech execs. The Trump administration saw the Act as protecting Big Tech from concerns it had hidden right-wing viewpoints. More from the EFF on Section 230’s role in tech.
The incoming Biden administration offers hope for relief for some, a positive turn for many, and fresh concerns for others.
What will change under Biden:
- On the campaign trail, Biden didn’t detail a tech policy platform in the same way as the Green New Deal platform.
- However, Biden did clearly show he was no fan of Big Tech. In a piercing January 2020 interview with the New York Times editorial board, Biden said that he wanted to revoke Section 230, referred to Big Tech executives as “little creeps” who showed “overwhelming arrogance.”
- Biden’s reasons for the repeal of Section 230 are not for a perceived bias against conservative views, but because of the poor job in policing misinformation. There is no proposal for what would replace the law.
- Tech companies and hopeful humans from around the world should see benefits from promised reform of the H1-B visa system, which has restricted a reliable method of hiring overseas engineers, developers, and more, from abroad.
- The FCC is more complicated. While a bye-bye to the FCC’s Ajit Pai (Vice) is widely expected before Biden takes office, Trump is currently attempting to push the current Senate to confirm his nominee (Axios). Jamming up the FCC would halt the Democrat progress on issues like net neutrality.
What may not change:
- A Justice Department antitrust case against Google may or may not continue. NPR reports that while that case may be dropped, a different or even broadened suit may be filed.
- The expectation is that China’s tech industry will remain under intense scrutiny. “Biden will take a tough stance on China. And Biden will actually have a strategy. Trump had neither a process nor a strategy,” Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who studies tech policy, told NPR.
What they’re saying:
- Very little: Huawei was contacted for comment regarding what it hopes for or expects from a new Biden administration, but declined to comment.
We all felt something when Google announced Google Photos would end its unlimited free storage. Not everyone was upset, but there was widespread dismay at Google’s switch from its promised approach, and plenty of searching for alternatives. And the leaked Galaxy S21 details are pretty significant for a device two months or more away. Don’t miss that.
- ? Massive new Samsung Galaxy S21 leak reveals hardware specs, display sizes, battery camera features, confirms three variants: S21, S21 Plus, S21 Ultra. Loads in here, including battery sizes, details on display, Snapdragon 875/Exynos 2100 processor, and more (November 14, 2020).
- ? Google will end its free, unlimited Google Photos storage on June 1, 2021, after five years of unlimited free photo backups. There’ll now be a hard 15GB cap for all new photos after that date, but existing photos and documents uploaded before then will not count against the cap. Pixel phones users will still have unlimited High Quality uploads after the cutoff, too (November 11).
- ? This could be useful: The best Google Photos alternatives (November 14).
- ? Apple’s new M1 chip, M1 MacBooks and new Mac Mini broken down and evaluated. It’s great to see Arm-based progress in computing. Apple charging full price for transition products is less assuring. We await reviews (November 11, 2020).
- ? Huawei looks set to sell Honor. The deal is for a Chinese consortium to buy the company in a reported $15-billion-plus deal, as Huawei looks to streamline, and Honor tries to escape the Huawei-related bans from the US. Will this version of Honor be separate enough to allow Google Mobile Services to return? (November 10, 2020).
- ? Samsung and Xiaomi dominated the top 10 smartphones globally for Q3 2020. Samsung outsold Apple, too, though the average selling price is vastly different, and the iPhone 11 was the top shipping smartphone of Q3 2020. Still, a good result. (November 10, 2020)
- ? It’s official: PUBG is coming back to India as PUBG Mobile India. Amid changes such as the game being played in simulation, characters will start clothed! (November 12, 2020).
- ? This could be our first look at the OnePlus 9 design, which looks …flat? Treating this one with careful skepticism. (November 14, 2020).
The team got through a diverse range of devices this week. And yes, our team continues to review Apple devices to ensure you know what’s out there, where it fits in the Android world, and what it all means.
- OnePlus Nord N10 review: Solid enough but missing Android 11, and curiously, no trademark alert slider… and in a world where the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G exist, it’s very hard to recommend – by Eric Zeman.
- Apple iPhone 12 review: The vanilla non-Pro/non-mini iPhone 12 is a great overall device, but it sits a bit awkwardly in Apple’s own lineup of devices for 2020 – by Dhruv Bhutani.
- Apple iPad Mini 5 review: The best (and only) small tablet if you want something more capable than the Fire HD tablet range – by Nick Fernandez.
- Google Nest Thermostat review: Like Google’s other 2020 devices, the new Nest Thermostat is approachable, nice-looking, and cheaper than competing products. Not the best, but a top smart thermostat for the money – by Jimmy Westenberg.
- Jabra Elite 85t review — Some of the best earbuds get an upgrade from the Jabra Elite 75t and 65t before them. Now, with active noise-canceling, Jabra’s new flagship ‘buds get a strong recommendation – by Lily Katz
Features & Opinion
Apple’s new M1 Macs and Google Photos benefits running out dominated discussion on Slack this week. Here’s what it produced:
If you’re shopping for tech right now, check out these popular deals:
Tech Tweet of the Week
We can’t believe we have to say this, but please do not blow vape smoke into your Xbox Series X.
— Xbox (@Xbox) November 11, 2020
Coming up this week:
- Oppo Inno Day 2020 event — Nov 17. Expect VR glasses!
- Apple M1 MacBook/Mac Mini reviews may emerge?
- And I can confirm a surprise next week. Not a new phone but something like a new phone. No further questions.
That’s it, folks! We’ll have more top Android stories for you next week. To stay up to date on all things Android Authority in the meantime, be sure to subscribe to our newsletters at the link below.