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The Best of Tech News: February 1st-8th

The first week of February is already behind us! The past week in tech news has given us plenty to talk about and we want to share some of the key February tech highlights with you. In the European telecom world, we can see a competition between the Finnish Nokia and Swedish Ericsson both trying to secure a leading spot in the 5G leadership. Last week we reported on Ericsson’s encouraging Q4 results. Today we will look into Nokia’s results and the forecasts for the telecom giant. We will also take a look at China going even further to regulate the big tech, Ether trying to leave Bitcoin’s shadow, Elon Musk getting another cryptocurrency soaring with a tweet, and Google averaging AI in the health monitoring apps. Then we will move on to discussing the most important biotech developments in the Covid-19 vaccine world. AstraZeneca received some bad news today while Sinovac can celebrate. Stay with us and start your Monday off well with the February tech news highlights of the week.

Telecom Tech News Highlights: Nokia Reports Challenges Ahead After Q4 2020 Results 

After reporting the Q4 results, Nokia has warned of the challenges it starts 2021 with. The Finnish telecom has been competing for 5G customers with its long-time European rival, Ericsson. The two companies have been trying to gain the 5G clients that would otherwise have gone to the Chinese Huawei. So far, Ericsson has been doing better and it has also gained some big 5G contracts in China, as opposed to Nokia. 

“We have not yet made a breakthrough in 5G (in China) but of course we are not excluding that possibility going forward,” said Pekka Lundmark, who was recently appointed as the new Chief Executive of Nokia. “We want to be prudent so that we do not want to be there at any cost.”

Short-Term Losses Expected For The Telecom Tech Giant

Although the Q4 results show a fall since 2019 results, the data is still better than expected in terms of fourth-quarter revenue and underlying profit. Having said that, on Thursday, the forecast for 2021 is projected with the revenue continuing to fall to between 20.6-21.8 billion euros from 21.9 billion euros in 2020.

“We expect 2021 to be challenging, a year of transition, with meaningful headwinds due to market share loss and price erosion in North America,” Lundmark said.

It was a big hit for Nokia to lose a part of the Verizon 5G contract in the United States. When Lundmark took over in the fall of 2020, he announced a new strategy with the long-term goal being taking a lead in 5G.

“We believe that we have year-to-date captured about half of the geopolitically influenced opportunities that are there,” Lundmark said. “Most of these cases have been in Europe.

Nokia Continues To Lag Behind Its Biggest European Competitor

At this time, experts believe that Nokia continues to fall behind Ericsson when it comes to technology and it does not look like they will catch up in 2021. Having said that, Lundmark is willing to sacrifice the short-term margin to increase Nokia’s chances to overcome its Swedish competitor in the long-term. 

On Thursday, Nokia reported that they have secured 195 commercial 5G deals with 45 live networks. Today, the Finnish telecom reported that it won the optical network deal from Deutsche Telecom, as reported by Reuters. No financial details were revealed as of now. 

Regulatory Tech News Highlight: New Anti-Monopoly Rules In China, Targeting Big Tech 

On Sunday, the Chinese market regulator issued new anti-monopoly guidelines that tighten the restrictions that have recently become much more stringent for the big techs. In November, a draft of an anti-monopoly law was released and the new guidelines are meant to formalize it. 

The rules outlined by the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) will put pressure on the giant e-commerce sites and payment services such as Alipay or WeChat Pay. It forbids companies from ”forcing merchants to choose between the country’s top internet players, a long-time practice in the market,” as reported by Reuters.

According to the information posted by SAMR on their official website, the aim of the guidelines is to stop monopolistic behavior and protect fair competition in the platform economy market. SAMR reported that internet-related monopolistic behavior has been on the rise lately and that the big techs must be controlled in a more efficient way. 

Crypto February Tech News: Futures On Ether Launched On Sunday

Late Sunday, futures on Ether launched on derivatives exchange CME. Ether is the second biggest cryptocurrency looking at the daily volume and market cap, however, it has been in Bitcoin’s shadow for the past years. Having said that, it is a leading financial infrastructure and it settles more than $12 billion in daily transactions. 

Ether futures will most likely not result in huge volumes right away, similarly to bitcoin futures’ initial performance after they launched in December of 2017. Having said that, since the launch, the CME has reported a large growth in the adoption of bitcoin futures. A similar path is expected for the ether futures. The CME listing of ether will allow investors to diversify their crypto holdings outside of bitcoin. 

“This will introduce new people and organizations to crypto and to the programmable smart contract side of the ecosystem, rather than just a store of value and digital gold,” the president of AVA labs, John Wu, said to Reuters.  

The 2020 results show that Ether had investor flows of $926, while bitcoin ended the year with $4,5 billion. 

PayPal Cooperates With A Consumer Watchdog On A Venmo Investigation 

On Friday, PayPal Holdings Inc revealed that it is cooperating with the U.S consumer watchdog about an investigation into Venmo. The civil investigation comes as a reult of an allegation of Venmo’s unauthorized fund transfers. 

As PayPal sai in a regulatory filing, the demand by the U.S Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was made last month. 

Venmo has been a part of Paypal since 2013. 

AI February Tech News: Google Smartphones To Leverage AI Help In The Heart And Breath Monitoring

Google announced that cameras on their Google Pixel smartphones will use AI to measure the heart rate and breathing rate. The new upgrade will start as early as next month.

Last week, the leaders of Google Health announced that the AI technology that powers the measurements has been upgraded. In the Thursday blog post, the company said that they will come out with an academic paper that shows details of clinical trials and methods they used in the upcoming weeks. 

Elon Musk Behind Another Crypto Surge 

Dogecoin soared up by more than 60% on Thursday. Reason? Elon Musk. The entrepreneur and the man behind SpaceX, Tesla, and Neutralink tweeted about the cryptocurrrency, calling it “the people’s crypto”

Dogecoin surged 67.99% to $0.054496. The crypto that was created mostly as a satirical critique of the crypto frenzy that happened in 2013 can be bought and sold on digital currency exchanges

Musk has been tweeting about specific cryptocurrencies or companies to over 45 million of his followers and as a result, we have been seeing their prices jumping up. We could observe it last month with Bitcoin, GameStop, or Etsy as well. 

Biotech February Tech News Highlight: Bad News For AstraZeneca As South Africa Halts The Vaccination 

On Sunday, the health authorities in South Africa announced they are halting the rollout of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine. A study showed that the vaccine does not provide satisfactory protection against the South African, highly contagious, variant of Covid-19. 

South Africa’s Minister of Health Dr. Zweli Mkhize said that they are not fully stopping the rollout of AstraZeneca’s vaccine but only temporarily pausing it in order to conduct further studies on how to deploy the vaccine. The vaccination with Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson will continue as planned. 

Preliminary data of a study of 2000 volunteers were released on Sunday. It shows that the AstraZeneca vaccine gave participants only minimal protection from the mild or moderate South African variant of the virus.

The BioTech Said They Are Working Closely With The South African Ministry Of Health

AstraZeneca released a statement saying that the company was “working closely with the South African Ministry of Health on how best to support the evaluation against the severe disease of the B.1.351 variant, and start to bring this vaccine to the South African people should it prove to be successful”

The statement also highlights that AstraZeneca believes that if the dosing interval is longer than 3-4 weeks and stretches to 8-12 weeks, the vaccine will be effective in protecting against the severe disease from the B.1.351 variant.

Yesterday, the technical lead for Covid-19 of the World Health Organization’s, Maria Van Kerhove,  said that the WHO’s independent vaccine panel will have a meeting today and discuss the results of the preliminary research and the way forward with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Sinovac’s Covid-19 Vaccine Approved For Public Use

Last week, the second vaccine has been approved for public use in China, after the Sinopharm vaccine (developed by the Beijing institute connected with the state-owned National Pharmaceutical Group) was approved late last year. 

Both vaccines and an additional Sinopharm vaccine have already been used in China in their massive vaccination program. Currently, 31 million doses of the jab have been given to the most vulnerable. 

Different Efficacy Rate

A number of countries in South America, as well as Indonesia and Turkey, have provided the CoronaVac vaccine an emergency authorization. However, the vaccine has shown average efficacy based on Phase III clinical trials. 

The research in Brazil showed that it is 50.65% effective against Covid-19, barely passing the 50% needed for being allowed for emergency use. A bit higher efficacy rate of 65.3% was reported in the Indonesian trial. In Turkey, the rate is drastically increased, with a 91.25% efficiency rate. 

Come back next week for another weekly tech news highlights! Meanwhile, do not waste your February procrastinating, make sure you take a look at our event calendar and look at the best FREE events that you can attend virtually this month. We will be back next Monday with another February tech news weekly highlights

If you want to check out more of our weekly highlights, remember to visit:

The Best of Tech News: January 25-31

The Best Of Tech News: January 4 – January 11



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