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Phones, laptops and game consoles get tariff reprieve until December

Phones, laptops and game consoles get tariff reprieve until December

August 13, 2019

Update: Trump confirmed to reporters that the delay is due to timing for the holiday shopping season. “We’re doing this for the Christmas season,” he said. “Just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers.”

Electronics manufacturers are no doubt breathing a collective sigh of relief this morning at the news that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has delayed tariffs on a number of categories.

A long list of exports, including livestock, foodstuff and clothing will have the additional 10% tariff imposed on September 1. Others, including “cell phones, laptop computers, video game consoles, certain toys, computer monitors, and certain items of footwear and clothing” have simply been delayed until December 15.

It seems the fees are an inevitability, but many might be able to scrape through just in time for the holidays.

“Certain products are being removed from the tariff list based on health, safety, national security and other factors and will not face additional tariffs of 10 percent,” the USTR writes. “Further, as part of USTR’s public comment and hearing process, it was determined that the tariff should be delayed to December 15 for certain articles.”

That list includes a wide range of electronics, from “telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks” to “telephone answering machines” and “cassette players (non‐recording) designed exclusively for motor‐vehicle installation.”

Stock prices for companies like Apple have already seen a positive bump following the news. The White House is expected to have additional trade talks with China next month in Washington, though President Trump has since cast some doubt.

Asked by reporters whether he might cancel the talks, the president answered, “Maybe. We’ll see what happens.”

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Huawei’s new OS isn’t an Android replacement… yet

Huawei’s new OS isn’t an Android replacement… yet

August 12, 2019

If making an Android alternative was easy, we’d have a lot more of them. Huawei’s HarmonyOS won’t be replacing the mobile operating system for the company anytime soon, and Huawei has made it pretty clear that it would much rather go back to working with Google than go it alone.

Of course, that might not be an option.

The truth is that Huawei and Google were actually getting pretty chummy. They’d worked together plenty, and according to recent rumors, were getting ready to release a smart speaker in a partnership akin to what Google’s been doing with Lenovo in recent years. That was, of course, before Huawei was added to a U.S. “entity list” that ground those plans to a halt.

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Trump attacks Google and Sundar Pichai in morning tweets

Trump attacks Google and Sundar Pichai in morning tweets

August 6, 2019

The president of the United States of America kicked off the morning with a series of tweets criticizing one of the country’s largest corporations for alleged ties to election tampering and China’s military. In a thread that would have been regarded as a remarkable occurrence under any other administration, Donald J. Trump called out Google by name, tagging CEO Sundar Pichai for good measure.

“[Pichai] of Google was in the Oval Office working very hard to explain how much he liked me, what a great job the Administration is doing, that Google was not involved with China’s military, that they didn’t help Crooked Hillary over me in the 2016 Election,” the president tweeted, “and that they […] are NOT planning to illegally subvert the 2020 Election despite all that has been said to the contrary.”

Trump cited a Lou Dobbs Fox Business Network interview with Peter Schweizer, Breitbart editor and the president of conservative think tank, the Government Accountability Institute. “[Schweizer] stated with certainty that they suppressed negative stories on Hillary Clinton, and boosted negative stories on Donald Ttump [sic],” Trump tweeted. “All very illegal. We are watching Google very closely!”

The tweets are the latest in an ongoing series of public criticisms of Google and other U.S.-based social platforms like Facebook and Twitter . Trump and fellow Republicans have long accused the services of a liberal bias, suggesting that they have “shadow banned” and otherwise repressed conservative voices.

Last month, the White

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Trump threatens Apple with tariffs, Google with investigation on Twitter

Trump threatens Apple with tariffs, Google with investigation on Twitter

July 26, 2019

The president of the United States called out two of the nation’s largest tech firms in a pair of tweets this morning. Google was the first target. The statement follows weeks of suggested investigations of the tech giant over a supposed relationship with China.

“There may or may not be National Security concerns with regard to Google and their relationship with China,” Trump tweeted at two minutes after 10AM ET. “If there is a problem, we will find out about it. I sincerely hope there is not!!!”

The ambiguous suggestion appears to be a direct response to statements earlier this month from entrepreneur and Trump advisor Peter Thiel, who suggested that the company may have been infiltrated by Chinese government agents.

“A great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone!” The president tweeted on July 16, addressing a suggestion that it “should be investigated for treason.” He added, “The Trump Administration will take a look!”

Google firmly denied the claim, telling the press at the time, “As we have said before, we do not work with the Chinese military.”

Six minutes after taking on Google this morning, it was Apple’s turn. This time, Trump addressed ongoing concerns around the averse impact his tariffs would …

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Twitter and Facebook reportedly not invited to White House ‘social media summit’

Twitter and Facebook reportedly not invited to White House ‘social media summit’

July 8, 2019

On Thursday, the White House’s social media will reportedly host a who’s who of conservative media pundits. PragerU and Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk have apparently received invites to the event. There will, however, be some key names missing from the invite list — including, notably, the social media companies themselves.

Trump’s White House is hosting what it calls “a robust conversation on the opportunities and challenges of today’s online environment” this week. But according to a new report from CNN, neither Facebook nor Twitter qualify as “digital leaders,” as neither platform has received an invite.

The White House hasn’t released an invite list for the event — nor is it commenting on this latest report. Those sites will almost certainly be in the crosshairs, however, as Trump and fellow conservatives discuss their perceived biases. The President recently accused comes of “fighting” him in a recent interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, stating that “what they’re doing is wrong and possibly illegal.”

In recent years, conservatives have accused Twitter, Facebook and Google of “shadow banning” and other perceived slights. Earlier this month, Twitter — which has been the subject of criticism from liberals and conservatives alike — announced a new “abusive behavior” notice aimed at public officials who violate the company’s speech policies.

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Apple is reportedly moving Mac Pro assembly to China

Apple is reportedly moving Mac Pro assembly to China

June 28, 2019

Back in 2013, Apple announced that it would it would be assembling its high-end desktop in the U.S. After manufacturing had mostly moved out the country, the company made a point of touting its use of its Texas plant to help produce the Mac Pro.

When the long-awaited followup was announced earlier this month at WWDC, many wondered whether the company would return to Austin. Apple didn’t comment on its plans at the time, but a new report from The Wall Street Journal claims that the desktop will be produced by Quanta Computer Inc. in a plant outside of Shanghai.

Apple hasn’t denied the report, which comes courtesy of “people familiar with its plans.” Asked for comment, a spokesperson for the company highlights the other parts of the production process,

“Like all of our products, the new Mac Pro is designed and engineered in California and includes components from several countries including the United States,” the statement reads. “We’re proud to support manufacturing facilities in 30 US states and last year we spent $60 billion with over 9,000 suppliers across the US. Our investment and innovation supports 2 million American jobs. Final assembly is only one part of the manufacturing process.”

The report comes at a particularly sensitive time for U.S./China relations, as a trade war has been stoked, in particular, by Trump. Apple has long been aware of the potential impact of tariffs on components and international sales. Last year, CEO Tim Cook noted that he had met with the President, telling him that tariffs were “the wrong move.”

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Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony pen letter highlighting ‘harm’ from Trump’s tariffs

Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony pen letter highlighting ‘harm’ from Trump’s tariffs

June 26, 2019

It’s not every day the three biggest competitors in a space join forces to denounced political action. Of course, this isn’t the first time the Trump administration has had this impact on a category.

Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony (collectively known as gaming’s “big three) penned a joint letter noting the harm the industry stands to face in the age of Trump administration tariffs on China. Addressed to Office of the United States Trade Representative General Counsel Joseph Barloon, the note asks for a modification the existing tariff list.

“While we appreciate the Administration’s efforts to protect U.S. intellectual property and preserve U.S. high-tech leadership,” the letter reads, diplomatically, “the disproportionate harm caused by these tariffs to U.S. consumers and businesses will undermine—not advance—these goals.”

The three companies highlight a broad range of cascading impacts the laws could ultimately have the vast industry, including,

  • Injure consumers, video game developers, retailers and console manufacturers
  • Put thousands of high-value, rewarding U.S. jobs at risk
  • Stifle innovation in our industry and beyond.

The impacts of tariffs have already begun to take their toll on various technology sectors, with several leaders — including, notably, Apple’s Tim Cook — personally petitioning Trump for exceptions.

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DJI looks to assemble drones in California as government concerns mount

DJI looks to assemble drones in California as government concerns mount

June 24, 2019

With increased pressure on Chinese manufacturers like Huawei and ZTE, Shenzhen-based drone giant DJI has no doubt had cause for concern of late. In late-2017, the U.S. government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office raised concern that the company’s camera-equipped flying machines could be sending data back to China.

A few weeks back, the Department of Homeland Security similarly raised warning over commercial drones from China. In a hearing entitled “Drone Security: Enhancing Innovation and Mitigating Supply Chain Risks” last week, meanwhile, the National Defense University’s Harry Wingo told the Senate Transportation Subcommittee, “American geospatial information is flown to Chinese data centers at an unprecedented level. This literally gives a Chinese company a view from above of our nation.”

DJI fired back in a letter provided to TechCrunch, noting,

Because the drone industry is becoming an increasingly critical engine for small American businesses as well as the entire U.S. economy, it is essential that decisions affecting key components of the industry are based on fact. We are deeply concerned that, left unchecked, the unsubstantiated speculation and inaccurate information presented during your Subcommittee hearing will put the entire U.S. drone industry at risk, causing a ripple effect that will stunt economic growth and handcuff public servants who use DJI drones to protect the public and save lives.

The letter also breaks down some of the finer points of the discussion as follows,

  • DJI drones do not share flight logs, photos or videos unless the drone pilot deliberately chooses to do so. They do not automatically send flight data to China or anywhere else. They do not automatically transmit photos or videos over the internet. This data stays solely on the drone and on the pilot’s mobile device. DJI cannot share customer data it never receives.

  • DJI’s professional pilot app

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