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China warns US it may detain Americans in response to prosecutions of Chinese scholars – News in USA by Post24x7

1970-01-01 00:00:00
China

The Chinese officials have issued the warnings to U.S. government representatives repeatedly and through multiple channels, the people said, including through the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

The Chinese message, the people said, has been blunt: The U.S. should drop prosecutions of the Chinese scholars in American courts, or Americans in China might find themselves in violation of Chinese law.

China started issuing the warning this summer after the U.S. began arresting a series of Chinese scientists, who were visiting American universities to conduct research, and charged them with concealing from U.S. immigration authorities their active duty statuses with the People’s Liberation Army, the people said.

The arrests were the subject of a Wall Street Journal article that also reported U.S. allegations that Chinese diplomats were coordinating activities with the researchers, and described that as a factor in ordering China to close its Houston consulate in July and remove the remaining military scientists from the country.

Chinese authorities have on occasion detained foreign nationals in moves seen by their governments as baseless, or in some instances as diplomatic retaliation, a tactic that many in Washington policy circles have referred to as “hostage diplomacy.” China has denied U.S. citizens permission to exit from the country, and arrested, charged or sentenced Canadian, Australian and Swedish citizens on what officials from those governments have said are bogus allegations.

A State Department spokesman declined to address China’s alleged threats to retaliate for the U.S. arrests of Chinese military scholars, saying: “We warn U.S. citizens that business disputes, court orders to pay a settlement, or government investigations into both criminal and civil issues may result in an exit ban which will prohibit your departure from China until the issue is resolved.”

In a September travel advisory, the department recommended Americans avoid China travel for a number of reasons, including a warning that the Chinese government detains other countries’ citizens “to gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments.”

John Demers, head of the Justice Department’s national security division, said: “We are aware that the Chinese government has, in other instances, detained American, Canadian and other individuals without legal basis to retaliate against lawful prosecutions and to exert pressure on their governments, with a callous disregard of the individuals involved.”

Mr. Demers declined to comment on the specifics of the alleged Chinese threats made in conjunction with the U.S. cases against the Chinese researchers but added: “If China wants to be seen as one of the world’s leading nations, it should respect the rule of law and stop taking hostages.”

Neither the Chinese Embassy in Washington nor China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to requests for comment. Beijing objects to the use of the term “hostage diplomacy” by U.S., Canadian and other officials and says it is only implementing its laws and acting to protect national security.

Chinese prosecutors in June indicted two Canadian citizens on espionage charges, advancing a pair of cases widely seen as retribution for Canada’s arrest of a prominent Chinese executive at Huawei Technologies Co. in conjunction with a U.S. extradition request.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has publicly criticized the arrests. On Thursday, China’s ambassador to Canada hit back at Mr. Trudeau at a media event marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Ambassador Cong Peiwu warned Canada to stop granting asylum to democracy activists from the Chinese territory of Hong Kong, saying Canada should support Beijing’s implementation of a new national security law that many Western countries condemn as draconian, if it is concerned about the “health and safety” of 300,000 Canadians who live in the former British colony, according to a recording of the event the embassy posted online.

Asked by a journalist if he was issuing a threat, Mr. Cong replied: “That is your interpretation.”

The U.S. has affixed tariffs on Chinese imports, restricted Chinese corporations over national security concerns, and sought to counter Beijing’s military buildup in the South China Sea. But former U.S. national security officials say the Justice Department’s cases against the military-affiliated researchers, who were arrested as they had prepared to leave the country, represented a major, public embarrassment for China in a way that other U.S. actions targeting China haven’t.

“Historically, these dust-ups were resolved behind closed doors to contain the diplomatic fallout and allow China to save face,” said Craig Singleton, a former U.S. national security official who is now a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative think tank.

“DOJ’s recent moves represent a full-on assault of one of China’s most revered institutions, the PLA,” Mr. Singleton said. “It’s a real game-changer that could carry significant risk for both sides.”

China began conveying the warnings after one of the Chinese military-affiliated scientists took up residence in China’s San Francisco consulate for a month after being questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in June, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. Chinese officials told their U.S. counterparts they would detain an American in China if the U.S. didn’t allow the researcher, Tang Juan, to leave the consulate and return to China.

U.S. officials say they expected China to make good on the threat, but it didn’t, and the FBI arrested Ms. Tang in July when she left the consulate grounds.

A lawyer for Ms. Tang, who is out on bail after pleading not guilty to visa fraud charges, said in a statement that his “inquiries reveal nothing even remotely similar to any assertion that the Chinese government sought to interfere in Dr. Tang’s case.”

The lawyer, Malcolm Segal, added: “The Chinese government has played no role whatsoever in the case itself or in her defense, nor do I ever expect them to do so.”

In addition to Ms. Tang, four other researchers recently accused of hiding their ties to the Chinese military have pleaded not guilty to similar charges. Two are scheduled to face trial next month.

—Kim Mackrael contributed to this article.

Write to Kate O’Keeffe at [email protected] and Aruna Viswanatha at [email protected]

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Apple’s new iPhones aim high and wide – Tech News by Post24x7

1970-01-01 00:00:00
Apple

At Apple Inc., simplicity no longer sells.

The tech company may be most famous for its easy-to-use devices, but it once took a very streamlined approach to its product lineup as well. Each year brought one new iPhone model, while the previous year’s version was demoted in price and the others were dropped. But it has been edging away from that practice over the past few years, and Tuesday’s iPhone unveil represents the biggest shift yet. Four new designs under the iPhone 12 moniker were unveiled at different prices, compared with three new iPhone 11 variants introduced last year.

That complexity actually makes sense in a mature smartphone market where one size no longer fits all. Not every buyer wants a massive screen or a professional-level camera. Nor does every buyer want to shell out $1,000 or more for a device that has become a near necessity. And most certainly, not every buyer this year will want to pay up to connect to a 5G network that is still hard to find outside a handful of cities.

Apple’s wide product shot Tuesday reflects an aggressive bet on 5G technology. Every iPhone 12 model announced Tuesday will work on 5G networks —including the hardest-to-find millimeter-wave format operated by Verizon. And even though 5G chips are more expensive, Apple doesn’t seem to be passing the cost on to customers. In fact, the four phones and their various memory configurations announced Tuesday average a price tag 6% lower than last year’s new iPhone models. The most expensive phone in the lineup costs $50 less at $1,399.

That could give a twist to investors’ hopes for a “supercycle” set off by the 5G phones. Lower prices will certainly help sales, especially given other improvements, including wireless charging and a new cover glass called “Ceramic Shield,” designed to reduce breakage.

But Apple’s investors also care deeply about a bottom line that is the envy of the consumer-electronics space. The stock has taken hits before when gross margins fall, and Wall Street hasn’t baked that into the current plan. This helps explain why Apple shares fell more than 2% on Tuesday.

Apple’s gross margins are currently projected to stay flat in the current fiscal year ending next September. Tricks such as no longer including a charger with the new iPhones will likely help Apple offset some of the latest cost pressure. The company just better hope enough iPhone 12 buyers are already set to plug in.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

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iOS 14 Review: Your iPhone will look completely different now, if you want – Tech News by Post24x7

1970-01-01 00:00:00
Apple

There are the Keep Everything the Samers. You believe the iPhone shall not, and should not, change—not with software updates and certainly not with home-button removals.

Then there are the Bring on the Changers. You fear nothing, not even the disappearance of a headphone jack.

There is no right or wrong, but Apple’s latest iPhone operating system, iOS 14—released on Wednesday for the iPhone 6s and later, and even that old iPhone SE—is a win no matter your registered party. (Insert cringeworthy 2020 joke here.) In its 13-year history, there has never been a bigger design change to the iPhone’s main home screen. And yet if you want everything to stay the same, it will. No action necessary.

Taking cues from Google’s Android, iOS 14 allows you to customize your home screen with widgets, the digital doodads that update with live information about the weather, news, you name it. You can also completely rethink how you organize your folders and apps. The result? A more personalized and organized smartphone.

Since Apple didn’t announce new phones during its event on Tuesday, as it normally does in mid-September, this should hold you over. Apple is expected to roll out iPhones next month with 5G and other features. Who knows? The free software might even save you a hardware upgrade.

With a month of testing the new software under my belt, I’m prepared to be your tour guide through Widget World. (My term, not Apple’s!) But before we enter, my annual iOS advice hasn’t changed: It’s never good to rush into an OS update. If you can, hold off for a few days, at least until any issues have been fixed. My iPhone 11 experienced a battery-life hit during the past week. Ironic, because the battery widget is my new fave.

(If you have automatic software updates turned on, you can turn them off by going to Settings > General > Software Update.)

Welcome the Widgets

The idea of the widget might seem like tech for the lazy. Instead of the grueling process of, say, tapping your weather app, the forecast just appears on your home screen.

Adding widgets is simple, though buried. Let’s do it together:

Hold down on your home screen and wait for “jiggle mode.” (Apple’s term, not mine!)

Tap the plus sign in the upper-left corner.

Peruse the widget library. Tap one that you like.

Scroll through to find a size variation (small square, small rectangle, big square, big rectangle) that fits best, then tap “Add Widget” or just drag it to your home screen.

On the home screen, drag the widget where you’d like it to live.

Apple has a big library of widgets for its own apps (Notes, Calendar, Music, etc.). As app developers update their apps for iOS 14, many will include their own widgets, too.

But what’s better than one widget? A “smart stack,” of course. This combines several widgets so you can flip through them. For instance, I added weather, batteries and music to one spot on my home screen. The easiest way to create stacks is to drag same-size widgets on top of each other.

Simplified Apps

One day it will be revealed: Joanna Stern spent 5% of her waking life organizing iPhone apps—creating folders, placing apps into folders, trying to find apps in folders. With iOS 14, you can devise other ways to spend your time, thanks to a new feature called App Library.

Swipe to the last page on your home screen and you’ll find all your apps automatically organized by category, including Suggestions and Recently Added. At the top, there’s a search bar, too. (You can still pull down to search from the home screens, as usual.) What this screen really does is free you from making your own folders, if you’ve ever bothered. In fact, you can now just delete all those other pages of apps. All together now:

Hold down on your home screen and wait again for “jiggle mode.”

Tap the tiny dots at the bottom of your screen.

Now deselect the app pages you want to hide, then tap Done in the upper-right corner.

For the curious, my home-screen layout now has the aforementioned megawidget at the top of the first page, along with my most-used apps. Then I have…no other pages. I either search or swipe right to the App Library for anything else.

Privacy and More

There are many other features in iOS 14 that make the upgrade worth it. It’s true that Apple did cave (at least temporarily) to pressure from Facebook and other publishers to delay a feature that would ask users for permission before tracking them across other companies’ apps and websites. But iOS 14 does include some other important privacy features.

If an app is using your camera, you’ll now see a little green dot in the upper-right corner of the screen. If your mic is being used, there’s a yellow dot. In the Safari browser, on the left side of the address bar, tap the little AA button, and you can see a privacy report, detailing the number of trackers that have been blocked.

There’s also a new feature meant to conceal your exact location. Instead of basically giving apps your home address, you can share what Apple is calling an approximate location. You can enable this for individual apps by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services, then selecting each app. (I haven’t tested this yet for privacy or effectiveness with location-sensitive apps.)

Still more additions will make your daily iPhone use more productive—you can now search emojis and pin important chats to the top of your messages app. I’ve run down my top 14 hidden iOS 14 tricks in this video. Step out of that old-school grid-like home screen—if you dare.

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Write to Joanna Stern at [email protected]

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Huang’s Law is the new Moore’s law, and explains why Nvidia wants Arm – Tech News by Post24x7

1970-01-01 00:00:00

Actually a prediction by Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore rather than any sort of physical law, Moore’s Law held that the number of transistors on a chip doubles roughly every two years. It also meant that performance of those chips—and the computers they powered—increased by a substantial amount on roughly the same timetable. This formed the industry’s core, the glowing crucible from which sprang trillion-dollar technologies that upended almost every aspect of our day-to-day existence.

As chip makers have reached the limits of atomic-scale circuitry and the physics of electrons, Moore’s law has slowed, and some say it’s over. But a different law, potentially no less consequential for computing’s next half century, has arisen.

I call it Huang’s Law, after Nvidia Corp. chief executive and co-founder Jensen Huang. It describes how the silicon chips that power artificial intelligence more than double in performance every two years. While the increase can be attributed to both hardware and software, its steady progress makes it a unique enabler of everything from autonomous cars, trucks and ships to the face, voice and object recognition in our personal gadgets.

Between November 2012 and this May, performance of Nvidia’s chips increased 317 times for an important class of AI calculations, says Bill Dally, chief scientist and senior vice president of research at Nvidia. On average, in other words, the performance of these chips more than doubled every year, a rate of progress that makes Moore’s Law pale in comparison.

Nvidia’s specialty has long been graphics processing units, or GPUs, which operate efficiently when there are many independent tasks to be done simultaneously. Central processing units, or CPUs, like the kind that Intel specializes in, are on the other hand much less efficient but better at executing a single, serial task very quickly. You can’t chop up every computing process so that it can be efficiently handled by a GPU, but for the ones you can—including many AI applications—you can perform it many times as fast while expending the same power.

Intel was a primary driver of Moore’s Law, but it was hardly the only one. Perpetuating it required tens of thousands of engineers and billions of dollars in investment across hundreds of companies around the globe. Similarly, Nvidia isn’t alone in driving Huang’s Law—and in fact its own type of AI processing might, in some applications, be losing its appeal. That’s probably a major reason it has moved to acquire chip architect Arm Holdings this month, another company key to ongoing improvement in the speed of AI, for $40 billion.

The pace of improvement in AI-specific hardware will make possible a range of applications both utopian and dystopian, from the end of automobile accidents to ubiquitous surveillance. But it’s also enabling, right now, a less fantastical application with huge implications for how we shop and the fate of millions of retail jobs: cashierless checkout.

San Francisco-based tech company Standard recently announced a deal with Circle K to turn some of its stores into “grab and go” experiences in the mold of Amazon.com Inc.’s Amazon Go stores. The three-year-old startup installs cameras throughout stores, then routes video from them to Nvidia-powered systems in the back, which perform tens of trillions of calculations a second. As shoppers grab objects off store shelves, the system tallies it all, and bills them through their mobile devices as they walk out.

For perspective, a system performing this many operations a second is faster than the most powerful supercomputer in the world was as recently as 2012, at least at AI inference tasks.

“Honestly we could do nothing and just wait and Nvidia will drop our prices every year,” says Jordan Fisher, Standard’s founder and CEO.

Another category that Huang’s Law affects is autonomous vehicles. At San Diego-based TuSimple, a rapidly expanding autonomous-trucking startup, the challenge is making a self-driving system that can fit the power and space limitations of a diesel-powered semi-trailer truck. On a typical TuSimple vehicle, that means cramming the entire system, which can’t draw more than 5 kilowatts, into an air-cooled cabinet in the sleeper cab.

Given such power constraints, what matters most is performance per watt. TuSimple is seeing performance double every year on its Nvidia-powered systems, says Xiaodi Hou, the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer.

Similar boosts in performance have been occurring since the mid-2000s in a very different area of AI: our mobile phones.

In 2017, Apple introduced the iPhone 8, which included its Neural Engine. Apple designed the chip specifically to run machine-learning tasks, which are important to many kinds of AI. (Its chip-manufacturing partner is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.)

Apple’s decision to make the chip accessible to any app on the phone—as well as the introduction of comparable chips and software on Android phones—allowed for new kinds of AI businesses, says Bruno Fernandez-Ruiz, co-founder and chief technology officer of Nexar, a company that makes AI-powered dashboard cameras for cars. By processing on users’ phones streams of video captured by dashboard cameras, Nexar’s technology can alert drivers to imminent hazards.

Uses of mobile AI are multiplying, in phones and smart devices ranging from dishwashers to door locks to lightbulbs, as well as the millions of sensors making their way to cities, factories and industrial facilities. And chip designer Arm Holdings—whose patents Apple, among many tech companies large and small, licenses for its iPhone chips—is at the center of this revolution.

Over the last three to five years, machine-learning networks have been increasing by orders of magnitude in efficiency, says Dennis Laudick, vice president of marketing in Arm’s machine-learning group. “Now it’s more about making things work in a smaller and smaller environment,” he adds. Arm’s smallest and most energy-sipping chips, tiny enough to be powered by a watch battery, can now enable cameras to recognize objects in real time.

This movement of AI processing from the cloud to the “edge”—that is, on the devices themselves—explains Nvidia’s desire to buy Arm, says Nexar co-founder and CEO Eran Shir. Nvidia has a near monopoly on AI processing in the cloud. But where two years ago, Nexar performed 40% of its data processing in the cloud, Arm-based chips have enabled it to do much more of that processing in mobile devices, and faster, since it doesn’t have to be transmitted over the internet first. Today, the cloud is doing only 15% of the work. In addition, some functions, like a vision-based parking assistant, were not even possible until recently, when the chips in phones became much more capable.

Experts agree that the phenomenon I’ve labeled Huang’s Law is advancing at a blistering pace. However, its exact cadence can be difficult to nail down. The nonprofit Open AI says that, based on a classic AI image-recognition test, performance doubles roughly every year and a half. But it’s been a challenge even agreeing on the definition of “performance.” A consortium of researchers from Google, Baidu, Harvard, Stanford and practically every other major tech company are collaborating on an effort to better and more objectively measure it.

Another caveat for Huang’s Law is that it describes processing power that can’t be thrown at every application. Even in a stereotypically AI-centric task like autonomous driving, most of the code the system is running requires the CPU, says TuSimple’s Mr. Hou. Dr. Dally of Nvidia acknowledges this problem, and says that when engineers radically speed up one part of a calculation, whatever remains that can’t be sped up naturally becomes the bottleneck.

It’s also possible that, like Moore’s Law before it, Huang’s Law will run out of steam. That could happen within a decade, says Steve Roddy, vice president of product marketing in Arm’s machine-learning group. But it could enable much in that relatively short time, from driverless cars to factories and homes that sense and respond to their environments.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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AMD buying Xilinx: No chip shot – Tech News by Post24x7

1970-01-01 00:00:00
AMD

On paper, an AMD-Xilinx matchup makes sense. Making it work will be much more complicated.

The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday that Advanced Micro Devices is in advanced talks to acquire Xilinx in a deal that could be valued at more than $30 billion. That is assuming Xilinx is able to land a decent premium to its unaffected market value of a little under $26 billion. The deal would pair two chip makers that typically work at very different ends of the market but have both been targeting data centers lately. Both also depend on the cutting-edge fabrication processes of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, or TSMC, to actually produce their chips.

Investors are likely to be intrigued. AMD’s share price slipped only 3% in early-morning trading Friday—a tame reaction considering the dilutive effect of what is likely to be mostly a stock deal by a company sitting on just over $1 billion in net cash. AMD has been on fire recently with its stock price up more than 200% over the past 12 months. Xilinx is up only 8% in that time, though its unaffected valuation of 36 times forward earnings is one of the highest on the PHLX Semiconductor Index.

Not a steal, in other words. To justify the price, AMD will need to integrate the types of programmable chips made by Xilinx into its own offerings to produce new growth opportunities. That has so far eluded Intel, which bought Xilinx’s top rival, Altera, back in 2015. Intel believed that deal would strengthen its data-center business. It does indeed continue to dominate the space, but it remains unclear what role—if any—Altera has played. Intel’s programmable-solutions segment, mostly comprising Altera, showed revenue of just under $2 billion last year—less than 3% above what Altera reported the year before being bought.

Intel also had a much larger business to fold Altera into. AMD is one-tenth the size of its rival, making Xilinx a much bigger fish to swallow. Analysts note that Xilinx brings superior profit margins; Matthew Ramsay of Cowen estimates the deal could be 10%-20% accretive to AMD’s per-share earnings by 2023. But a move this ambitious—at a time when the U.S.-China trade war has made any major semiconductor transaction perilous—will need a stronger argument than just padding the bottom line.

Write to Dan Gallagher at [email protected]

Corrections & Amplifications

Intel acquired Altera in 2015. An earlier version of this article incorrectly gave the year as 2005. (Corrected on Oct. 9)

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TikTok’s fate coming to a head – Tech News by Post24x7

1970-01-01 00:00:00

A week after that preliminary deal was struck, it is still hard to predict what happens next. TikTok and other participants are continuing to fine-tune the agreement, in which it would partner with Oracle Corp. and Walmart Inc. to become a U.S.-based company with its data secured by Oracle. TikTok also is working in the U.S. courts to win an emergency order blocking a Commerce Department ban on app downloads—which, if the company fails, would take effect Sunday night. And TikTok’s Beijing-based parent, ByteDance Ltd., is awaiting word from Chinese regulators after having submitted the deal for their approval on Thursday.

President Trump, who last Saturday said he had approved in principle TikTok’s deal with Oracle and Walmart, on Thursday reiterated that any final deal will need to meet his administration’s national security concerns.

“They’re working to see if they can make a deal,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “If they make a deal, that’s fine. And if they don’t, that’s OK, too.”

Mr. Trump has said that potential Chinese government access to TikTok’s data on U.S. users could pose a national security threat, and that TikTok must either find an American buyer or face a ban. TikTok has said it doesn’t give user data to Chinese authorities.

Under the preliminary deal that Mr. Trump blessed, Oracle and Walmart would take a combined 20% in TikTok Global, a new U.S.-based company that would run the global service. Details of the structure are still in flux, people involved with the deal talks have said, as the companies try to ensure that it will win final approval from governments on both sides.

One point of confusion has been the exact ownership breakdown, with the TikTok side and Oracle having issued contradictory messages since the preliminary deal was announced. A spokesman for ByteDance has said that it would directly hold an 80% share of TikTok Global, while Oracle has said publicly that Americans will be the majority owners and ByteDance will have no ownership in TikTok Global.

One way those claims could square, according to some people familiar with the talks, is to have ByteDance initially own its majority stake in TikTok when the deal is completed, and then have it reduced soon afterward. That could come by distributing ByteDance’s stake to existing shareholders, many of which are U.S. investors, and through a fundraising round ahead of a U.S. initial public offering that deal participants have said would come within a year.

But another person close to the situation disputed that theory and said Americans will be the majority owners as soon as the new company is formed.

China’s government also is weighing whether the deal accords with recent export limits. China’s ministries in charge of commerce, science and technology in August added restrictions to exports of data-processing technologies such as content-recommendation algorithms, in a move widely seen as aimed at TikTok.

Under the preliminary agreement in the U.S., TikTok’s algorithm won’t change hands, but Chinese media have criticized the outlines of the deal, and Beijing could still object, which would jeopardize the deal’s projects for completion.

The most urgent issue for TikTok, though, is heading off the Trump administration’s planned download ban, which is slated to go into effect after 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday and would bar new app downloads and updates in the U.S. TikTok on Wednesday asked a federal judge to halt the order, saying it violates constitutional provisions for free speech and due process.

Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., plans to hold a hearing Sunday for both sides to argue their cases before determining whether to temporarily block the ban at TikTok’s request.

Judge Nichols indicated he finds persuasive TikTok’s argument that a download ban could cause harm to the company.

TikTok lawyers have laid out in court papers the damage they say the ban has done even before taking effect.

They said that prominent TikTok content creators and their fans fled to other platforms over uncertainty over TikTok’s availability and that several top job candidates have rejected employment offers, citing the U.S. government’s actions.

While existing users would still have access to TikTok, a ban on downloads would lead to “loss of TikTok’s user base and long-term erosion of market share,” they said. “Continued growth is the lifeblood of a social-media company like TikTok and essential to maintain its competitive market position.”

The Commerce Department plans a full ban for Nov. 12 if an American deal for TikTok isn’t completed by then. TikTok officials stressed that a full ban, even temporarily, would be devastating, estimating in court papers that a two-month blackout of the app would lead it to lose 40% to 50% of daily active users in the U.S.

At a court hearing on Thursday, both sides declined to provide the judge with new information about the status or terms of the deal.

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Google will be hard habit to break – Tech News by Post24x7

1970-01-01 00:00:00

There are ways the government can hurt Google. Blowing up the company’s deal with Apple Inc. might not be one of them.

The Justice Department has been meeting in recent days with state attorneys general to map out a course for pursuing an antitrust case against the internet-search company owned by Alphabet Inc. The outcome remains highly uncertain given the charged political environment. The Wall Street Journal reports that not everyone is on board with the speed at which U.S. Attorney General William Barr wants to move.

The scope of the case is also a big question. The New York Times reports that a major focus of the Justice Department is search agreements Google strikes with companies such as Apple. That particular deal makes Google the default search engine on the Safari web browser shipped with every Apple device. Neither company has ever disclosed details of the arrangement, but it has been in place for years.

Its scale was first revealed through filings in a trial between Google and software giant Oracle in 2016 which revealed that Google had paid Apple $1 billion two years prior for the access.

That is believed to have grown substantially since. Bernstein analysts estimate that Google now pays around $8 billion to Apple annually, while Goldman Sachs puts the number at about 25% of Apple’s total services revenue—which would amount to a little less than $13 billion for the trailing 12-month period ended June. Even the smaller figure would represent more than one quarter of the total traffic acquisition costs Google reported for that period.

Hence, ending these sorts of exclusivity deals could bring a substantial boost to Google’s bottom line—at least in the short term. It also could hurt Apple’s profit since the licensing revenue that Apple recognizes from Google is widely estimated to be almost pure profit. Even Bernstein’s lower $8 billion estimate equates to about 12% of Apple’s projected operating profit for the fiscal year ending this month.

Less clear is how it might affect Google’s top line. The deal with Apple gives it easy access to an installed base of more than 1.5 billion users accustomed to paying up for premium products. But many of those would likely be using Google anyway. The company’s Chrome web browser is used on two-thirds of the world’s computers, smartphones and tablets, and Google has long handled more than 90% of web search activity across all device types, according to StatCounter.

Google continues to hold a 97% share of web search on smartphones and tablets in Europe. That has remained unchanged since the company implemented a “choice screen” early this year on new Android devices sold in that market. That move, which allows users to pick their own default search engine, was part of a deal struck with European Union regulators who levied a $5 billion antitrust ruling against the company in 2018.

A recent survey by Morgan Stanley found that 50% of Amazon Prime members in the U.S. start researching products on Google first—even though they are paying more than $100 a year to effectively make Amazon their first stop in online shopping.

Essentially, when given the choice, users are still picking Google. That isn’t surprising since the company has had two decades to cement its image as the internet’s starting point. Even dictionaries have included Google as a verb since 2006. Regulators might have legitimate concerns about Google’s dominance in search, but there is little they can do if consumers use it anyway.

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Arrest warrant against Donald Trump by Iran over killing of top general – News in USA by Post24x7

1970-01-01 00:00:00


Iran has issued an arrest warrant against Donald T… moreIran has issued an arrest warrant against Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, signifying a new low in the two nations’ already-strained relationship. Tehran has accused Trump and over 30 others of ‘murder’ and ‘terrorism’ over the killing of its top military officer, General Qassem Soleimani.

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