We are back with the tech news highlight, giving you insights into the most important tech weekly stories that you may have missed last week. Google remains in the headlights as a U.S. judge dismissed the antitrust claims against the tech giant. At the same time, Italian competition regulator has fined the company with a hefty $123 million for abusing its dominant position on the Italian market. Speaking of fines, everybody has been waiting on Alibaba’s Q1 results after the Chinese tech giant has been given the record-high anti-monopoly fine. We will discuss the results and explain why the company stock is decreasing even though the revenues exceeded the expectations. We will also look at the record-high number of IPOs in 2021, the U.S. Department of Defense removing Xiaomi from the government’s blacklist, acceleration of AI due to Covid-19, and many more. Take a look at the newest tech weekly.
On Thursday, a U.S. judge dismissed the antitrust claims against Google. The allegations were brought by advertisers. The ruling was made by District Judge Beth Labson Freeman in San Jose, California.
The ruling is one of the first big decisions in the number of antitrust cases that have been filed against Google since 2019. The cases were filed by customers and competitors alike, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice.
Labson Freeman said the claims were dismissed as the advertisers did not clarify which market Google is allegedly monopolizing. The judge added that the advertisers did not explain sufficiently the anticompetitive behavior of Google in terms of their refusal to help their competitors. As Labson Freeman pointed out, antitrust law does not mandate a company to help the competitors survive.
“The Court is particularly concerned that Plaintiffs’ market excludes social media display advertising and direct negotiations,” she wrote.
“The Court has serious concerns that some of Plaintiffs’ allegations rely on a ‘duty to deal’ theory of antitrust,” she wrote.
The advertisers can adjust and re-submit their lawsuit until mid-June.
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After a series of Q1 2021 results that we have reported on in the past weeks, it is time for Alibaba! The Chinese e-commerce giant has posted the quarterly results on Thursday and the first eye-catching element is operating loss.
It is worth mentioning that it is the first operating loss since Alibaba Group Holding went public in 2014. The loss is caused by the record-high anti-monopoly fine that the company was slapped with by Chinese market regulator. The fine resulted in a total of $1.19 billion operating loss.
Although Alibaba released their forecast, estimating very strong 2022 revenue, the shares of the company still fell by almost 3% (company’s U.S. listing).
“The Penalty Decision motivated us to reflect on the relationship between a platform economy and society, as well as our social responsibilities and commitments,” Chief Executive Daniel Zhang said in an earnings call.
Alibaba forecast annual revenue of 930 billion yuan ($144.12 billion) for the year ending
Overall revenue reached 187.4 billion yuan, exceeding the forecasts of roughly 180 billion yuan.
However, the decreasing stock price shows how important regulation is for investors, according to Brock Silvers, chief investment officer at Hong Kong-based Adamas Asset Management.
“The company has faced rogue waves of regulatory risk, which now threaten the entire tech sector.”
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The newest data shows that 2021 is the year of IPOs. Both the amounts raised and volumes of listings go through the roof around the world. The newest data by Refinitiv estimates that global companies raised approximately $248 billion through this year’s IPOs.
Another record was reached with a number of global IPOs, currently standing a 1054. The U.S. is the undoubted leader, raising $130 billion out of the total $248 billion raised through IPOs. Following the United States are Chinese and UK companies raising $39.1 and $12 billion respectively.
“The stock market and global IPO market should continue to be hot as long as the federal government continues with their current monetary policies that allow a lot of cash to flood the market, such as the stimulus packages,” said Ragu Bhargava, co-founder and CEO of Global Upside Corporation. “There has been concern about inflation that can alter federal policies, as well as impact the profitability of businesses. These concerns could dampen IPO prospects around Q4 of this year, but for now, the markets will remain active.”
However, although the surge in SPAC listings boosted the sector, the analysts believe that they will now slow down because of regulatory scrutiny.
“It is only natural to expect SPAC IPO activity to decrease following a robust 1Q and recent price performance will likely sour some investor appetite within the space,” said Steven Saunders, director and portfolio adviser at Round Table Wealth Management. “I would expect investors become more discerning between different SPACs going forward as the universe grows.”
The competition regulator of Italy has fined Google 102 million euros ($123 million) for excluding an e-mobility app developed by Enel from the U.S. tech giant’s Android system. Enel’s JuicePass has been banned from Android for over two years.
The regulator said that JuicePass (a system that allows apps to be used safely in cars) was not allowed on Android as Google favors their own Google Maps.
“The contested behavior can influence the development of e-mobility in a crucial phase … with possible negative spill-over effects on the growth of electric vehicles (EV),” it said.
The regulator has also urged Google to make JuicePass available.
Google has spoken out following the decision, with the spokesman for Google Italy “respectfully disagreeing” with the decision. The spokesman said the company is yet to decide what their next step will be and needs more time to review the documents.
“There are thousands of apps compatible with Android Auto, and our goal is to enable even more developers to make their apps available over time,” the spokesman said.
Big news for China’s Xiaomi was announced last week. A court filing showed that the U.S Defense Department will remove Xiaomi from the government blacklist. The blacklist was one of the last decisions President Trump made in office.
Now, the court filing announced Xiaomi and the U.S. government have agreed to resolve their litigation and bring an end to the dispute.
Emily Horne, the spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said “the Biden Administration is deeply concerned about potential U.S. investments in companies linked the Chinese military and fully committed to keeping up pressure on such companies.”
Although the Biden administration was not going to change the ruling of Trump, Horned said “the Trump administration failed to develop a legally sufficient basis for imposing restrictions on the company and compelled this action.”
The spokeswoman for Xiaomi has not elaborated on the news, saying the company is following the latest developments closely.
Professor Doug Fuller, said:
“I think it is a sign that Biden will be a bit softer. Calling Xiaomi a Chinese military company was always ridiculous. For firms tied to more legitimate defence concerns, or (Chinese province) Xinjiang, however, it will be more difficult.”
Tech Weekly Highlights: Craig Wright Launches Lawsuit In Order To Secure $5.7 Billion Worth Of Bitcoin
Craig Wright, the Australian computer scientist that claims he created bitcoin has just launched a London High Court lawsuit against 16 software developers. Through the lawsuit, Wright wants to secure $5.7 billion pounds worth of bitcoin, as he alleges he owns them.
Wright demons to retrieve 111,000 bitcoin that are held at two digital addresses that he does not have private keys for. The main claims the keys were lost when his computer network was hacked back in 2020.
The case is being brought by Wright’s Seychelles-based Tulip Trading firm
“Our client has always maintained that he created bitcoin to operate within existing laws and that in the event of loss or theft, where legitimate ownership can be proven, the developers have a duty to ensure recovery,” said Paul Ferguson, a partner at law firm Ontier, which is representing Wright.
The case is being brought against the developers of four networks – Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV), Bitcoin Core (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin Cash ABC (ABC).
Last week, Samsung announced the upgrade of its Samsung Blockchain Wallet. The wallet will be able to manage and trade cryptocurrencies from third-party hardware wallets through an update on compatible Galaxy smartphones. The wallet already supports the biggest cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The release for the Blockchain Wallet reads, “support for hardware wallets provides Galaxy blockchain with a consistent user experience of managing crypto assets from one convenient location. In addition to the Samsung Blockchain Keystore, Galaxy smartphones can now connect to hardware wallets including the Ledger Nano S and Ledger Nano X.”
Since Samsung launched the Galaxy S10, it supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, ERC tokens, Tron (TRX), and TRC tokens.
The company will give developers access to the blockchain segment with the Samsung Blockchain SDK. “Developers can build DApps that generate, store, and manage blockchain accounts easily and process transactions with APIs dedicated to each ledger system,” reads the statement. “It also provides APIs allowing DApps to securely sign for transfers of virtual assets using third-party hardware wallets.”
The newest market research commissioned by IBM showed that roughly 30% of surveyed IT professionals globally admitted they are now using AI in their business. 43% of the respondents reported that Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of AI in their company. In the top challenges for AI this year, data complexity and lack of sufficient AI skills are named.
The “Global AI Adoption Index 2021,” is conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of IBM. The annual survey showed that the momentum for AI is shifting and while the emerging technology is already changing how businesses operate, that change will increase as the demand is growing exponentially.
According to the report, a third of global IT professionals stated their company plans to invest in AI solutions in the next 12 months.
“As organizations move to a post-pandemic world, data from the Global AI Adoption Index 2021 underscores a major uptick in AI investment,” said Rob Thomas, Senior Vice President, IBM Cloud and Data Platform. “A large majority of those investments continue to be focused on the three key capabilities that define AI for business – automating IT and processes, building trust in AI outcomes, and understanding the language of business. We believe these investments will continue to accelerate rapidly as customers look for new, innovative ways to drive their digital transformations by taking advantage of hybrid cloud and AI.”
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Microsoft decided to discontinue its Azure Blockchain Service. Existing deployments have time until September of 2021 to switch to a different platform and no new members or deployments are possible.
Microsoft launched the blockchain service on its cloud platform back in 2015, but the fully managed Azure Blockchain Service debuted only 2 years ago, in 2019. Microsoft did not explain why it was discontinuing its service.
“Once you have completed your data copy, it is recommended that you delete the Azure Blockchain member resources,” the company said in an announcement. “You will continue to get billed while these resources exist.”
The company recommended its users to switch to ConsenSys Quorum service, an open-source protocol layer for developing with Ethereum.
“Expanding our relationship with Microsoft helps organizations take advantage of ConsenSys Quorum and Quorum customer support to offer users an enterprise-grade managed blockchain service that can be effortlessly set-up and deployed,” said Joseph Lubin, founder & CEO of ConsenSys.
“We are excited to bring the awarding-winning Quorum product to Azure users as the next step in our collaboration with Microsoft.”
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