Start Up: Trump blocks Broadcom, how AirBnB hit New York, S9 sells.. the same?, rogue satellites!, and more

Remember Google’s Pixel C tablet? Android P doesn’t. Photo by Joe Wilcox on Flickr.

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A selection of 11 links for you. Where it’s at. I’m @charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Trump blocks Broadcom’s $142bn Qualcomm takeover • FT

Eric Platt:


US president Donald Trump blocked Broadcom’s $142bn takeover bid for chipmaker Qualcomm on Monday, halting the Singapore-based group’s bitter four-month battle for its US rival.

In a statement from the White House on Monday evening, Mr Trump said the deal — the largest tech acquisition ever proposed — threatened to “impair the national security” of the US, following a recommendation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

“The proposed takeover of Qualcomm by the Purchaser is prohibited, and any substantially equivalent merger, acquisition, or takeover, whether effected directly or indirectly, is also prohibited,” Mr Trump wrote in an order.


The end of that, one hopes.
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Age checks for UK pr0n site visitors on ice as regulator cobbles together some guidance • The Register

Rebecca Hill:


The checks, which will require people to prove they are over 18 in order to view web-based filth, were meant to come into force in April but now may not be introduced until much later in 2018, possibly towards year-end.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the delay would allow the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) time to draw up and consult on guidance for porn-makers.

The BBFC was only approved as regulator at the start of February, and critics already voiced concern that the April timetable was too tight to allow pornographers to comply, especially when the regulator was yet to publish any guidance.

Government minister Lord Ashton was pressed on the time it had taken to appoint the regulator – let alone issue guidance – during a debate in Parliament last month, with peers saying that progress had not been “particularly satisfactory”.

The BBFC’s public consultation will begin later this month. It is hoped that the guidance will set out how the BBFC plans to police the space, detail what blocking those that don’t comply will entail, and what the appeals process will be.

Parliament will then have to clear the guidance, after which DCMS said there would be “up to three months” before the law comes into force.

“It is anticipated age verification will be enforceable by the end of the year,” DCMS said.


Have a look at the link where the DCMS notifies this, though. It’s a huge self-congratulatory thing about 5G, and then a few lines announcing the delay. This is how governments try to keep embarrassments quiet. Probably won’t save them from more embarrassment later in the year; the porn-age idea is near unenforceable.
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What Airbnb did to New York City’s housing market • CityLab

Alastair Boone:


To map this process, Wachsmuth and his team used estimates of Airbnb activity from AirDNA, a California-based firm that scrapes and analyzes Airbnb data. They studied Airbnb activity from September 2014 to August 2017, including more than 80 million data points, for the whole 20 million population of the New York City metro region. They also used a number of new spatial big-data methodologies developed specifically to analyze short-term rentals.

Their conclusion: Most of those rumors are true. Wachsmuth found reason to believe that Airbnb has indeed raised rents, removed housing from the rental market, and fueled gentrification—at least in New York City. To figure out how, the researchers mapped out four key categories of Airbnb’s impact in New York: where Airbnb is concentrated and how that’s changing; which hosts make the most money; whether it’s driving gentrification in the city; and how much housing it has removed from the rental market.

The phrase “home sharing” evokes an image of an individual who opens their home and rents out their extra space to wanderlust-y strangers. This is, after all, how Airbnb got its start: Struggling to make rent in San Francisco, founders Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky started renting out floorspace in their living room and cooking breakfast for their guests in 2007. Today, it is worth some $30bn.

While many people still use the platform this way, Wachsmuth found that 12% of Airbnb hosts in New York City, or 6,200 of the city’s 50,500 total hosts, are commercial operators—that is, they have multiple entire-home listings, or control many private rooms. And these commercial operators earned 28% of New York’s Airbnb revenue (that’s $184m out of $657m).


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The day I went viral • Jonathan Pinnock, writer of stuff

Pinnock tweeted this, which is the last two lines of David Gerard’s excellent “Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain”, and it went mad:


At the time of writing, it’s showing 2594 RTs and 7315 likes. By the time you read this, both numbers will probably be considerably higher.

Quite apart from the irony of my most popular ever tweet (by a country mile) being one promoting someone else’s book, it’s all a bit weird. All I intended to do was highlight something that amused me, and because I was tweeting from my phone, I didn’t even manage to get in a link to the book itself. And then Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s technology correspondent, RT’d me (no idea how he saw it). Then either Charlie Stross or William Gibson RT’d me, followed by either William Gibson or Charlie Stross. Oh, and then Duncan Jones.

From then on, it acquired a wild and happy life of its own as more and more people spread it to the far corners of Twitter. I’d often wondered how I’d feel if my mentions ever started to heat up, and I finally got the chance to find out. Here are what it’s like:


No particular reason why this should go viral now; it’s as true as it has been for months. But the experience he relates is so true.
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Google gives up on tablets: Android P marks an end to its ambitious efforts to take on Apple’s iPad • Apple Insider

Daniel Eran Dilger:


Google’s upcoming Android P release drops support for Pixel C, the company’s last effort at building an Android tablet. While it once appeared that Google wanted to ditch Android and move to its web browser based ChromeOS, the termination of its last Android tablet follows Google’s discontinuation last summer of Chromebook Pixel, the premium-priced laptop running ChromeOS.Google failed to make a dent in Apple’s iPad business despite trying longer and harder than Microsoft’s Zune attempt to rival iPods

Android P also drops support for all remaining Nexus branded devices. In fact, the next Android release only supports Google’s last two batches of Pixel phones – which themselves did not sell well – indicating a rather dramatic scaling back of what was once supposed to be a vast array of hardware expanding into new directions to tackle Apple at every turn.

While things like Chromebooks and Nexus Player TV boxes were launched as experiments, Google’s efforts to build a self-branded tablet (both to rival Apple’s iPad and to show its own Android licensees how to build a good tablet) was always presented as a serious, strategic effort to conquer Apple’s second largest iOS franchise.

Here’s a look at why Google failed to make a dent in Apple’s iPad business despite trying longer and harder than Microsoft’s Zune attempt to rival iPods.


Android tablets as a class have fared really poorly. Amazon is now the biggest-selling in that group, and it doesn’t even run Google Play. Chinese vendors are exiting the market. And the Pixel C.. who’s got one?
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Bitcoin is ridiculous. Blockchain is dangerous • Bloomberg

Paul Ford:


the blockchain can be a form of media. The writer Maria Bustillos is starting a magazine that will publish on the blockchain — which means it will be impossible to take down. (Disclosure: In theory, I’ll write for Maria, who’s a friend, and she’ll pay me in cryptocurrency, or what she calls “space jewels.”) One of her aims is to make it impossible for people—Peter Thiel, for example, who backed Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker—to threaten publications they dislike.

You could even make a distributed magazine called Information of Vital Public Interest About Peter Thiel that would be awfully hard to sue into oblivion. It’s the marketplace of ideas. Literally. Try another thought experiment. Remember that anonymously created list of men who worked in media and who were alleged sexual harassers? You could, by whispering the allegations from one wallet to the next, put that information on a blockchain. You could make a web browser plug-in so that whenever someone visited a sexual harasser’s LinkedIn page, that page could glow bright red. You could have a distributed, immutable record of sexual harassment allegations on the internet. (Is there an economy around such allegations? Well, people do pay for gossip. GossipCoin?)

I’m not saying this would be a good idea. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’d be a bad one. Point is, this sort of thing used to be prohibitively difficult to pull off at any scale, because anonymity can be hard to protect, and platforms are hard to run and easy to attack. Now the frameworks are coming to build such tools and make them anonymous and decentralized, so that they might endure, and, as with all internet things, they’ll arrive well ahead of the ethics we need to make sense of them…

…People feel compelled to make predictions about blockchains. Here’s mine: The current wave of coins will eventually ebb, because it’s a big, inefficient, unholy mess. It’s more ideology than financial instrument, and ideology is rarely a sustainable store of value. Plus, transactions are slow (everyone says they’re fixing that), and you shouldn’t have to use an aluminum smelter’s worth of power to make new currency.

Most things that the blockchain promises to do can be done more easily with other technologies, including good ol’ fiat currency. But I know a mind virus when I see it.


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Cryptocurrency scammers of Giza make off with $2 million after ICO • CNBC

Arjun Kharpal:


Investors who spoke to CNBC all described a common experience with the ICO in question: They thought the project was legitimate until warning signs began to appear, including a falling out with the company’s sole supplier, a lack of correspondence from its supposed founders, and failed attempts to recoup the lost funds.

The apparently well-orchestrated scam centers around a mysterious individual called Marco Fike, the COO of Giza. Among the eight investors, partners and former employees of Giza interviewed by CNBC, all claim they have never seen Marco Fike’s face.

The ICO was for a supposed start-up called Giza, which claimed to be developing a super-secure device that would allow people to store cryptocurrencies.

It carried out its ICO in January and drew investors for several weeks after. One person who put money into the project told CNBC that they invested ether that was equivalent to $10,000 at the time, and another said they had put in around $5,000 worth of ether.

At the beginning of February, Giza had raised and was holding more than 2,100 ethereum coins, which at the time were worth around $2.4 million. All but $16 worth of those ethereum coins are now missing.

But after putting in money throughout January and into February, many who had invested began to become suspicious of the project.

“Everything was fine, until that company that was meant to develop their device came out on the internet and said that Giza has cut ties, and it seems to be a scam and they might not be developing anything. Then things started looking fishy,” an investor named Chris, who wished to keep his surname anonymous, told CNBC by phone.


Fools and their money: new method found to induce parting.
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Apple new entry-level MacBook to reach 4 million in unit shipments in 2018, says Digitimes Research

Joseph Tsai:


Apple is preparing to release a new entry-level MacBook at the end of the second quarter with a price tag expected to be about the same level as that of the existing MacBook Air or slightly higher, according to Digitimes Research.

Digitimes Research senior analyst Jim Hsiao expects shipments for the new MacBook to reach around four million units in 2018.

Hsiao pointed out that Apple originally looked to reduce cost by seeking panel supply for the new MacBook from a China-based maker, but the US-based vendor has decided to source the panels from Korea-based LG Display due to issues at the China supplier.

The 13.3-inch a-Si panels for the new notebook feature the same resolution as Apple’s 13.3-inch MacBook Pro at 2,560 by 1,600.

LG Display will begin supplying the panel in April with the new MacBook scheduled to enter mass production at the end of May or the beginning of June.


Note this isn’t saying that Apple’s going to discontinue the MacBook Air. There’s a lot of discussion on sites that have picked this up where they think it’s going to be a Retina MacBook Air. Still not seeing that.
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Apple to acquire digital-magazine-subscription service Texture • WSJ

Tripp Mickle:


Apple said it will acquire Next Issue Media LLC and its digital-magazine-subscription service Texture, a product developed by top magazine companies that bundles together some 200 subscriptions into one monthly service.

The acquisition comes as Apple looks to beef up its services business, which includes music streaming and mobile payments.

Apple has set a goal of increasing total revenue from services to more than $40 billion by 2020. The company generated nearly $30 billion in services revenue in its fiscal year ended in September.

Apple typically takes a 15% cut of subscription services from publishers and content providers, including Netflix Inc. and HBO, if those subscriptions are purchased through the App Store.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Next Issue Media and Texture are owned by Condé Nast, Meredith Corp. , Hearst Corp., Rogers Communications Inc. and KKR & Co.

The magazine industry for years has sought ways to transition from print to online, but has faced profound challenges competing with tech giants for digital ad dollars, while print ad revenue continues to decline…

…“We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president who oversees the services business.


I guess that answers all the people asking “where’s the Spotify for news?”

Sort-of related (at least, revealed by Cue at the same SXSW event): Apple Music now has 38 million subscribers.
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FCC accuses stealthy startup of launching rogue satellites • IEEE Spectrum

Mark Harris:


On 12 January, a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket blasted off from India’s eastern coast. While its primary cargo was a large Indian mapping satellite, dozens of secondary CubeSats from other countries travelled along with it. Seattle-based Planetary Resources supplied a spacecraft that will test prospecting tools for future asteroid miners, Canadian company Telesat launched a broadband communications satellite, and a British Earth-observation mission called Carbonite will capture high-definition video of the planet’s surface.

Also on board were four small satellites that probably should not have been there. SpaceBee-1, 2, 3, and 4 were briefly described by the Indian space agency ISRO as “two-way satellite communications and data relay” devices from the United States. No operator was specified, and only ISRO publicly noted that they successfully reached orbit the same day.

IEEE Spectrum can reveal that the SpaceBees are almost certainly the first spacecraft from a Silicon Valley startup called Swarm Technologies, currently still in stealth mode. Swarm was founded in 2016 by one engineer who developed a spacecraft concept for Google and another who sold his previous company to Apple. The SpaceBees were built as technology demonstrators for a new space-based Internet of Things communications network.


You may think: what has the FCC got to do with satellites launched in India? Turns out there’s an international treaty about what you can launch into space, and both the US and India are signatories. The suggestion from that Stack Exchange discussion is that India is responsible for any damage the satellites cause.

More to the point, do we need an IoT in space?
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Report: Samsung sets high Galaxy S9 sales goal, despite low pre-order figures • Android Authority

Duncan Elder:


Recent reports suggest that Samsung plans to ship 43 million units of its flagship Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus smartphones. This is around two million more than the 41 million S8 handsets it reportedly sold last year.

This report comes from Korean financial news website The Bell, which quotes parts industry shipment plans that suggest Samsung believes it can improve on last year’s sales.

The article’s sources say that Samsung has made quarterly plans for 12 million shipments in the first quarter, 13 million in the second, 10 million in the third, and eight million in the fourth. While not set in stone, these parts forecasts can be used to estimate how many finished products Samsung plans to ship.

Just two weeks ago, Gartner released a report that suggested there was a 5.6% drop in smartphone sales in Q4 2017, when compared to the previous year. However, despite this drop, Samsung was one of the few companies that actually managed to increase its year-on-year sales in that quarter. This kept Samsung as the phone maker with the largest overall share of the smartphone market.


The reporting on this is all over the place. A different data point: “Galaxy S9 first-day sales reportedly much lower than Galaxy S8, but overall goal still higher” which says that “Preorders haven’t been able to match the Galaxy S8’s performance, and first-day sales numbers were around 70% of the Galaxy S8, a new report says. That would be a significant drop, suggesting that Samsung’s plan to release an “S” update this year isn’t going over well with consumers.” (Those figures from Yonhap News.)
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified

2 thoughts on “Start Up: Trump blocks Broadcom, how AirBnB hit New York, S9 sells.. the same?, rogue satellites!, and more

  1. I’ve given up trying to get this point into the pundit consciousness, but “impossible to take down” also means that copyright would not be enforceable. Whether or not one is for it or against it (copyright), that’s the implication. Regarding Gawker, the compartmentalization is also very strange, as making sure that private sex tapes can’t be removed from public view is not usually considered a good argument. People really have a hard time with the aspect that Peter Thiel’s strategy was to use Gawker’s pure sleaze conduct against others (i.e. not him!) as the legal basis for lawsuit. Thus if a goal is listed as making sure anyone targeted by a future Gawker with similar sleazing would suffer even more, well, there’s a problem there.

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