Tech & Telecom news — Oct 16, 2017

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Applications

Chinese BATs (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent), frequently compared with FANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google), are claimed in this post to be very different companies. They’re more diverse, often compete between themselves, and face different challenges (with more political risk linked to government censorship) (Story)

Meanwhile, while BATs get all Western media attention, Toutiao, an independent app using AI to personalise the content consumption experience (and increasingly production too), is having an amazing success in China, with 120m active users spending 74min/day with the app (vs. Facebook’s 50min, Instagram 32min) (Story)

Blockchain

Blockchain is emerging as a tool to change how energy grids are operated, e.g. by enabling to better track how much clean / renewable energy is produced, reducing transaction costs and reducing errors, or by making it possible to efficiently manage a new peer-to-peer grid architecture, with distributed production (Story)

A startup founded by Princeton graduates, Intangible Labs, has attracted big VC names to invest in its new cryptocurrency, basecoin, a token with a rules-based monetary policy built in its blockchain, that helps reduce price volatility (a key weakness of current cryptocurrencies), while keeping decentralisation and privacy (Story)

Regulation

Political pressure increasing on Silicon Valley giants, as shown by this NY Times piece from this weekend, where threats from Facebook’s and Google’s data manipulation, and from Amazon extending its online retail monopoly to the offline world, are commented. The conclusion is that “we need greater regulation” (Story)

HARDWARE ENABLERS

Network — 5G

Qualcomm’s dominant position in wireless networks’ intellectual property (a reality in 4G, where they own 12.5% of the relevant patents) could be under threat from China in the future 5G ecosystem. Chinese firms already own 10% of essential 5G patents, and would be favoured by deployments in lower bands (Story)

SOFTWARE ENABLERS

Artificial Intelligence

Alibaba will invest $15bn (!!) over next 5 years to build a new “research academy” with (initial) focus on Artificial Intelligence (a current obsession for Chinese government, that wants China to lead), Quantum Computing, IoT and fintech. They don’t want this to be a separate unit, and aim to connect it deeply with the core (Story)

Chatbots and AI algorithms are increasingly used by companies’ HR departments to select job candidates, particularly in the initial screening phase. This is helping address a drastic increase in the volumes of CVs that have to be analysed, and is seen as just “the surface of what can be automated” in selection processes (Story)

M&A

T-Mobile and Sprint could be planning a merger not involving any immediate asset sales, as a way to increase synergies and improve the competitive position of the combined firm. This of course could trigger challenging negotiations with US anti-trust regulators, that have already been claimed to be skeptical about the deal (Story)

Disruption at Telecom Italia, as Vivendi takes control, could complicate the business turnaround under way. In particular, some analysts think that the company is “no longer treated as an Italian company by the political establishment”, and could be even forced (by the government) to separate its fixed-line telecom network (Story)

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