Week-in-Review: Trump’s order takes a hatchet to Huawei’s heart

Last week, Trump signed an executive order that enabled the federal government to prohibit U.S. companies from buying telecom equipment from foreign companies at their discretion.

This week, the full damage began to feel apparent to China’s fastest-growing smartphone powerhouse, Huawei. American companies, at the behest of Trump and company, began turning on the Chinese giant, and what they’re stripping away will undoubtedly impact Huawei in a material way. Huawei may soon have to deal without simple, little things like — I don’t know — access to the non-open-sourced version of Android or possibly the prevailing chip architectures in modern smartphones, or Google’s app store.Here are some of the parties at play that may be leaving Huawei by the wayside. ARM. Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx and Broadcom. Google.

Basically, the past week has stripped away decades of the American smartphone technology backbone and ensured that Huawei is going to have to DIY its future success in these arenas. The ban was placed, officially, because the U.S. government didn’t want America being placed at risk of espionage, but it’s also a clear move in escalating trade war tensions.

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What hangs in the balance is more than just Huawei’s imminent business health, but the fact that China and the U.S. can start taking aim against each other’s tech giants as uniform trade war chess moves. This week it’s Huawei, but if the perfect deal lingers, could Apple be next?

Macbook pro illuminated keyboard

Dünzl/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Trends of the week

Here are a few big news items from big companies, with green links to all the sweet, sweet added context.

  • Apple tries another fix for its failing keyboard design
    Apple’s butterfly keyboards have been one of the biggest product embarrassments
Read the rest

Equity transcribed: How to avoid an IPO

This week, the Equity duo of Kate Clark and Alex Wilhelm convened to get some quick hits in about Slack’s WORK, Luckin Coffee and Sam Altman’s departure from Y Combinator.

They then dug a bit deeper into the money around food: DoorDash and Sun Basket both raised this week. And what is a discussion about venture in food without mentioning Blue Apron?

And finally, TransferWise illustrates how not to IPO.

In all of this, they considered a world without the word “unicorn” as it relates to billion-dollar valuations — before admitting they are probably responsible for a good amount of its use.

Alex: So I think that the real unicorns now are companies that are growing, and are profitable, while also been worth over a billion dollars. Because we’ve seen very few of these, Zoom famously, was a profitable company. And its S-1, appears TransferWise also is, I can’t name more than two. And that makes them actually as rare as unicorn should be, in my view.

Kate: Yeah, I’m thinking maybe we should just actually stop using the term unicorn unless they’re profitable.

Alex: The problem with that is, it would be a two-person crusade against a wave of usage. I don’t think you and I have that clout. No offense to us.

Kate: I do think you and I are responsible for using that term, at least like 20% of the times that it’s used.

Alex: If that’s true, I’m going to retire. But I hear your point, we should actually get rid of the word unicorn, it’s now effectively meaningless, it means nothing. And profitable growing and worth a billion would be a great constellation of things to actually meet some threshold to be called special, because that is.



This also marks the last time the … Read the rest

To realize its VR dreams, Facebook needs to kill what Oculus has built

Mark Zuckerberg has poured billions into his virtual reality dream, a new platform that Facebook owns.

Facebook bought Oculus and has spent the last five years killing what it was and reinventing it as a Facebook-scale company. It has dumped most of the co-founders, brought in Zuck loyalists to take over the most important decisions and shifted towards accessibility over appeasing the company’s early supporters.

Facebook’s latest release is the realization of all that.

The company’s Quest product, which they released on Tuesday, offers a streamlined version of high-end virtual reality while leveraging time-honed software to make the process of getting up-and-running immeasurably easier. It’s probably the best VR product that’s been built yet, and one that has the mainstream firmly in view.

Facebook needs to lean in on the new device and move away from what got it there.

With past VR releases, there’s always been a key technology to blame or a key feature that was missing, but if the Oculus Quest fails, Facebook may just have to consider that the whole product category doesn’t hold the mass appeal it hoped for. Of more immediate concern should be why they’re maintaining such a differentiated product line in in pursuit of the mainstream when the Quest is largely alone in appealing to the mainstream customer that they actually want.

As the closing of the Oculus acquisition approaches its fifth birthday, one wonders where Facebook’s 10-year-plan for virtual reality begins to show some signs of critical success. Even as the company has built up a niche group of VR gamers and shipped millions of headsets, the company is still grappling with coaxing a mass audience and recouping what it’s invested.

Whether or not the Quest succeeds, you can only wonder how they’ll aim to streamline their current product line as … Read the rest

This is one smart device that every urban home could use

Living in a dense urban environment brings many startup-fuelled conveniences, be it near instant delivery of food — or pretty much whatever else you fancy — to a whole range of wheels that can be hopped on (or into) to whisk you around at the tap of an app.

But the biggest problem afflicting city dwellers is not some minor inconvenience. It’s bad, poor, terrible, horrible, unhealthy air. And there’s no app to fix that.

Nor can hardware solve this problem. But smart hardware can at least help.

For about a month I’ve been road-testing a wi-fi connected air purifier made by Swedish company, Blueair. It uses an Hepa filtration system combined with integrated air quality sensors to provide real-time in-app feedback which can be reassuring or alert you to unseen problems.

Flip to the bottom of this article for a speed take or continue reading for the full review of the Blueair Classic 480i with dual filters to reduce dust, smoke and pollen   

Review

If you’re even vaguely environmentally aware it’s fascinating and not a little horrifying to see how variable the air quality is inside your home. Everyday stuff like cooking, cleaning and changing the sheets can cause drastic swings in PM 2.5 and tVOC levels. Aka very small particles such as fine dust, smoke, odours and mite feces; and total volatile organic compounds, which refers to hundreds of different gases emitted by certain solids and liquids — including stuff humans breathe out by also harmful VOCs like formaldehyde.

What you learn from smart hardware can be not just informative but instructive. For instance I’ve switched to a less dusty cat litter after seeing how quickly the machine’s fan stepped up a gear after clearing the litter tray. I also have a new depth of understanding of … Read the rest

Growth, Kubernetes, rocket launches, gender in tech, and more Luckin Coffee

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How to see another company’s growth tactics, and try them yourself

Growth marketer and founder of BellCurve.com Julian Shapiro published his third article on Extra Crunch, exploring how to analyze your startup’s competitors to figure out their growth tactics. He explores how to see a company’s A/B tests, ad spend, keyword optimization and other areas for competitive analysis.

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