Here we present a very tiny snapshot of the comprehensive daily Bloomberg TMT briefs from Chris Lowe, the company’s global technology, media and telco specialist. In his daily brief he presents some of the key highlights from Bloomberg and across the industry in the TMT sector across Europe, Asia and the USA, plus looking at companies (including start-ups), markets and tech trends. In this summary below, we’ve focused on some of the bigger trends rather than financial information, in line with our own focus on innovation, ecosystems, technology trends, and economic development.
BT / OPENREACH: A UK national press report suggests that a staggering 5.7 million people in the UK do not receive the minimum expected download speeds stipulated by the country’s regulator OFCOM, and some customers experience no service at all.
According to a Bloomberg note: “The poor service can leave customers waiting up to two hours to download an hour-long video, and have forced some businesses to close in the worst-affected parts of the country, the researchers say. Despite the Government spending £1.7bn on improving broadband, businesses are struggling and Britain is now lagging behind other countries including Japan, South Korea, and Spain, the report warns.
The research, published by Grant Shapps, the former cabinet minister, says Britain’s network of ‘outdated’ copper cables must be entirely replaced with a super-fast ‘fibre’ system. It recommends a radical overhaul of the internet market and calls for the break-up of the ‘monopoly’ that BT holds on the cable network. “BT’s Openreach division, which owns and maintains the cables, must be sold off to promote competition and improve the quality of internet services more quickly, the report says”. The radical conclusion is endorsed by 121 MPs from across parties in a letter to The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
TELECOM ITALIA: continues this theme of broadband penetration as Chairman Giuseppe Recchi tells Corriere della Sera over the weekend that they plan ultra broadband coverage for 75 percent of Italian households by 2017 from 40 percent. The plan also includes increasing 4G mobile coverage to 95 percent from 88 percent over the same period.
INWARD INVESTMENT: Looks like the UK’s inward investment agency for tech, has its work cut out this year, as a report says TechCityUK received just 37 applications for a visa scheme 4,200 slots tech immigrants to enter the UK.
INFOSYS: CEO Vishal Sikka says rate of hiring to slow down in future. He also estimates about 5 million current jobs to be lost to tech, yet ‘lots of jobs’ to be created by tech for ‘innovators’. He believes that scaling up operations to be main focus.
SHARP: The Japanese government backed INCJ may invest about 300 billion yen ($2.6 billion), splitting the funds between Sharp’s LCD panel business and remaining operations. INCJ’s investment would be the most recent example of Japan’s government providing support to struggling domestic companies to keep technology out of the hands of foreign rivals. Four years ago, INCJ created Japan Display Inc. from the troubled screen units of Toshiba, Sony and Hitachi with a 200bn yen infusion.
BAIDU: which has announced more than $2.7 billion worth of deals during the past two years, is ready to do more, President Zhang Yaqin said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week. Comment: “Voice recognition, picture recognition, machine translation, deep learning and neural networks and all those things will make us competitive in the long term, and in the short term, too,” and, “In the short-term there is pressure, we have to face it, it takes time to make that transition from manufacturing to services, from labor-intensive to innovation-driven,” Zhang said. “I am bullish in the long-term in China.”
APPLE: Likely to be volatile in the next couple of sessions as investors get the jitters as to being long or short into the numbers print. According to a Bloomberg note: “Apple is becoming more reliant on the iPhone for growth, even though the line-up was expanded last year to include the Apple Watch, a new Apple TV and Apple Music. Yet the iPhone is still by far the company’s most important product and biggest money maker. The smartphone accounted for 66 percent of Apple’s revenue last year, up from 50 percent three years ago”. See Apple needs a new hit or Alphabet will overtake it as the most valuable company in the world
Speculation is also growing that Apple is planning a VR headset. Late to the party, but it’s a marketplace that’s still up for grabs! According to Stuff: “We imagine that Apple’s waiting to see how the market will pan out, and we also reckon Sir Jony Ive has been patiently waiting in the wings for technology to get slimmer and lighter, allowing him to do what he does best – design a product that looks and feels fantastic”.
Additionally, the executive leading Apple’s electric car is leaving the company, according to two people familiar with the move. Steve Zadesky, who was tapped by CEO Tim Cook to shepherd Apple’s bid to enter the automobile market, stepped down for personal reasons, not because of his performance. The leadership change hasn’t altered Apple’s plans to develop a car, one of the people said. Zadesky’s exit was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal. According to the Journal, Apple’s team has run into trouble in development, with some suggesting the deadlines aren’t obtainable.
GOOGLE: parent Alphabet has agreed to pay $185m in a tax settlement with UK authorities, dates back to 2005! The pact has divided politicians in the UK, while Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said on Twitter that it was a ‘victory’ for the government’s policies, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told the BBC that the bill was ‘derisory’ and looked like a ‘sweetheart deal’, and that he would call for it to be investigated by the public sector watchdog.
FACEBOOK: On a panel at the 2016 World Economic Forum at Davos, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella and Mahindra & Mahindra’s Anand Mahindra were among the executives offering bold claims about strategies technology companies should consider if they want to help change the world for the better. “Put 3D printers in villages” India’s Mahatma Gandhi and economist E. F. Schumacher shared a vision of preserving local economies – but they were missing 3D printers, said Mahindra.
Comments: “Theoretically India’s on a springboard ready to take over from China. Meanwhile 65 percent of the population is still in villages,” Mahindra said. “What you really need is to stop migration, put 3D printers in the villages, allow the local shops to remain, create surplus right there locally — it’s the missing link to Gandhi and Schumacher. There’s going to be an explosion of productivity.”
INTEL: China’s Tsinghua University and Montage Technology will partner with Intel to develop local datacentre solutions for China as a whole. In brief: Intel will help state-backed Tsinghua develop high-performance computing technology. Tsinghua to develop reconfigurable processor modules and system software that address local requirements. The new products, which use standard Intel Xeon processors, will be sold in China from 2017.
NETFLIX: Kevin Spacey makes a great point, ahead of the fourth series of House of Cards on Netflix – “In the next few years Silicon Valley is going to much more involved in content. I would not be surprised if a big tech company would buy a studio… It’s what I thought a few years ago with Yahoo, or Google or Netflix. Those companies who have made a lot of money being a portal for entertainment… if they wanted to complete they would have to start doing their on content so I wasn’t surprised when Netflix stepped up,” he said. See the interview on TechCrunch here.
Trends in focus
We’re getting closer to fluorescence detection for tumor removal. Excerpt from report: “When a patient is diagnosed with a solid tumor cancer, one of the first options for treatment is often surgical removal of the tumor. But the biggest challenge for surgery as a treatment for cancer is determining, at a cellular level, the border between the tumor and healthy tissue surrounding it. As a result, sometimes surgeons aren’t able to remove the entire tumor and fragments of cancerous tissue may be left behind, or they accidentally remove some healthy tissue along with the cancerous mass.
But fluorescence detection for tumor removal could change that. Fluorescence detection involves using a type of dye that, when stimulated, emits light wavelengths close to infrared light. These light wavelengths can’t be seen by the naked eye and instead require the use of a special camera hooked up to a monitor that projects a sharper image from inside the body”.
The long awaited security armageddon in IoT home devices gains momentum. Would you want a device that could be hacked, fairly easily, that controls the locks on your home? “At a talk during PrivacyCon held by the Federal Trade Commission last week, the researchers revealed that many smart devices leak private information in cleartext — with little to no effort to encrypt that data. The most notable of their findings was that the Nest thermostat was leaking the zip code of the user in clear text”. More here.
CHINA’S DIGITAL CURRENCY
China’s central bank said it is studying the prospects of issuing its own digital currency and aiming to roll out a product as soon as possible, contending that alternative payment systems can improve the efficiency of global transactions. The People’s Bank of China set up a research team in 2014 to study digital currencies and application scenarios, according to a statement posted on the regulator’s website. The PBOC said it has consulted with experts from Citigroup and Deloitte, though it didn’t specify what technology it would be using to issue its digital currency or how it would work in relation to the yuan.
Comment: “Right now it’s too early to see what effect PBOC’s move will have on China’s bitcoin community,” said Wang Chun, Beijing-based co-founder of the world’s second-largest bitcoin mining pool F2Pool. “They could decide to let bitcoin co-exist with its own digital currency, or chose to crack down on it.” Could be pivotal and inspire other government acceptance.
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