This Week in Mobile is a weekly podcast produced by Atherton Research that reviews the main news of the mobile world from the past 7 days
This Week in Mobile is a weekly podcast available on Apple iTunes or Google Play where I bring you up to speed on the top mobile news stories of the week:
On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department is investigating whether Huawei violated U.S. export sanctions related to Iran. After the Trump Administration imposed a ban on the sale of American technologies to ZTE earlier this month for similar export violations, this latest development feels like deja vu all over again and could cast a serious shadow over the business of the $92.5 billion Chinese company as customers look for a backup plan.
According to Pakistan's telecom operators, ZTE has stopped providing services to them following the U.S. decision to ban the sale of American technologies to the Chinese firm. A situation that could spread quickly to ZTE customers around the globe.
Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that iOS and Mac OS will not merge because "one of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well. And if you begin to merge the two ... you begin to make trade-offs and compromises."
In its earnings call, Qualcomm said that it will cut its licensing fee which could help the San Diego company to win back Apple's business and avoid other smartphone makers to switch to Intel modems.
Rumors are heating up about Apple canceling the iPhone X because of low sales. In a research note to clients based on supply chain contacts, Atherton Research revealed that Apple will launch the next iPhone X and a larger iPhone X Plus this fall, as scheduled .
China's fourth smartphone maker Xiaomi is expanding its presence in Europe with a new store in Paris in May. France is Xiaomi's second largest European market in Europe after Spain where it opened its first European store last November.
App of the Week: Acronis Mobile is the only app that can backup all your iOS and Android devices to your local computer or network storage server (NAS) wirelessly, or to the Acronis cloud. After the free 30-day period, Acronis Mobile costs just $50 to backup all your mobile devices to a PC (perpetual license) or $50/year for the cloud backup subscription (250 GB).
Joining me this week to discuss these top mobile news stories is tech veteran Eric Leandri, the co-founder and CEO of search-engine Qwant.
One last thing before you go, you will find an edited transcript of This Week in Mobile below, and feel free to reach out with mobile news and products (devices, apps, accessories) or if you'd like to be a guest on the show. Enjoy!
This Week in Mobile Podcast Jean Baptiste Su: All right. All right. So we're going to start. Hello everyone, and welcome back to another episode of This Week In Mobile. It is Saturday, April 28, 2018. And I'm Jean Baptiste Su, Principal Analyst at Atherton Research and your host today. Joining me today to discuss the top mobile news stories of the past seven days is tech veteran Eric Leandri, CEO and co-founder of search engine Qwant. Welcome back to the show, Eric.
Eric Leandri: Hello, how are you?
JBS: Good, good. So, thank you for your time, Eric. I know it's a very early on Saturday. And you had a quite a busy week I've heard.
EL: Yes, when you're a search-engine during GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) you have to travel a lot. I went to Brussels to talk to the European Commission and then came back to Paris before heading to Lyon to participate in The Web Conference and talk to Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf from Google
JBS: And The Web Conference that's with Tim Berners-Lee, right? The creator of the web.
EL: Yes. Yes, I think he is a really really very smart indeed perfectly understand why privacy is an issue today and why should found a way to give to all the internet users capability to restore their right to privacy on that too.
JBS: So, let's move on to the top mobile news of the past week. And my goodness, it was another absolutely crazy week again. I don't know if it's you, Eric, if it's GDPR but it's just crazy. So last week we talked about the ban on ZTE, they can't buy any more U.S. technologies. This week, well, some of their customers are saying that they're not getting service from ZTE anymore. It looks like this is the beginning of the end for ZTE.
EL: I think it would be very very complicated for ZTE like we said last time, especially as their product stocks are getting very low. And if they can't find the solution then it would be very complicated especially because all the ZTE are made with U.S. technologies. Yeah, without US technology for ZTE it's a very very very complicated.
JBS: And this week, we learned that Huawei is under criminal investigation by the U.S. government. The FBI is working on their case to find out if they sold some equipment to Iran. I mean it's hard to know how it's going to end up. I mean you're using their servers, you're using some equipment from Huawei, what are your thoughts when you know that if there's a ban on Huawei as well then you won't get any more of their equipment. Maybe they won't service you anymore. So, knowing this will you buy their equipment now?
EL: The thing is Huawei has the same problem with ZTE. If you talk about smartphones, it’s the same but on smartphones, they still do their, for example, the CPU even or even NPUs. But Huawei needs lots of U.S. technologies to make their products. So if Huawei is impacted that would be huge. It will also impact other huge companies like Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba where quite everything inside of Alibaba has come from Huawei. For Qwant, I just have to talk to HP, okay. So it's just very incredible. I perfectly understand in the U.S. that you don’t want to have Huawei in the telecommunications network. But in over 160 countries, Huawei is the second largest provider of antennas for 3G, 4G and very soon 5G. So that's very very incredible move and if they target Huawei quite impossible that China can't let go the same way in ZTE. Because Huawei for China it's one of the most important technology company. In the short-term, it will be just incredible because any company that would like to build cellphones will need to talk to American companies because they are the only one capable of giving you the essential technologies needed. But can you imagine a world without Chinese cellphone? So we are talking about putting down the number 3 cellphone maker if they put down Huawei.
JBS: You might need a contingency plan or maybe a backup plan in case Huawei can't make servers anymore.
EL: For me it's simple. Hewlett-Packard is my back plan, I have no problem. And for the maintenance, I have no problem too because usually, it's another company that does it.
JBS: Too big to fail?
EL: Huawei it could be very fragile but they have a lot of patents, a lot of technology, a lot of capabilities and a lot of support from their government. And again, for Qwant it's not a big deal we'll found some solution quickly. For Alibaba, Baidu and the others and what about if the Chinese government ban HP in China, for example. That's going to be a big mess.
JBS: It's a mess. It's a total mess that’s for sure.
EL: For me, it's really really incredible. So we will see but it's a real mess.
JBS: So let's move on. And I'm sure next week we will still be talking about ZTE and Huawei about this. Let's move on and last week there was an interesting comment from Tim Cook, obviously the CEO of Apple. He was asked if he would think that Mac OS, the operating system for Macintosh and the iOS the system for iPhones and iPads, if they would merge. And he's just said it just doesn't make sense to merge both operating. I've been covering Apple forever and I remember when iOS came out it was already a light version of Mac OS. It's just doesn't make sense even historically because they've created iOS out of Mac OS and now they would merge it. I know it would maybe simplify some things, the support and obviously, the iPhones now are very powerful with the latest processors inside iPhones and iPads but still. What are your thoughts?
EL: Right now an iPhone or an iPad has a very different need than a Mac and you don't use your iPhone to manage, for example, a network. Mac OS is built on the FreeBSD or NetBSD so it’s a full-featured operating system. For iOS, you need to guarantee that its quick, fast, and works perfectly with your device. But the line between ChromeOS and Android is more blurred then Mac OS and iOS because ChromeOS laptops can also run Android.
JBS: So it seems that both Apple and Google have sort of the same idea, where you need an operating system specifically for mobile and another one for desktops or laptops, and that neither Google or Apple are ready to merge their 2 systems.
JBS: Let's move on, the other big news obviously this week a lot of the tech companies announced their earning results. And one of the big one in the mobile space was Qualcomm and again great quarter. But one of the things they said was that they are ready to lower their licensing fees for their modem, for their chips. And I know we had the discussion a couple weeks ago about modems. Qualcomm and Apple have a legal dispute over those licensing fees because Apple thinks it's too expensive and they chose Intel for their modem and at least 70% of the modems on iPhone come from Intel. And the other part, the 30-year other percent is Qualcomm but it seems that Qualcomm is ready to win back Apple's business and is ready to lower the fees and just settle.
EL: I think that Qualcomm is very very smart company and they are very very good. Like I have said last time the European Commission has to fine them 1 billion euros because of their dominant position with 90% marketshare.
JBS: In Europe.
EL: Yes, in Europe. I think that Qualcomm always tries to push their prices up until they can't. And I think now it's time for them to change the strategy and lower their prices because as you've seen Apple moved to Intel even if Qualcomm's modems are better than Intel's. But at the end of the day, I think that the prices are too high and the difference between one modem and another is not important enough for Apple, or anyone else, to pay such a high premium.
JBS: Do you think the Intel's modem is less, maybe not as fast not as good as the Qualcomm's modem? What do you think?
EL: No, we are talking about small things here. And Apple is not as kind of company who doesn’t test like crazy with an incredible battery of tests. So the quality of Intel modems is very good. It's not the quality, the thing is Qualcomm has a very fantastic expertise and if you have a Qualcomm at a better price then you will choose Qualcomm especially because they are the experts in that field, with so many patterns and they are spending so much in R&D. But losing is never a good idea because when you lose Apple as a customer it will impact you on the rest of the market, as everybody now thinks that Intel modems are a very good alternative. So, you will see that Intel will start to gain back market share in the cell phone market. And for Qualcomm it's really important to win back Apple especially in the next iPhone X.
JBS: Right, the iPhone X. It’s a great segue because there are rumors that Apple will stop the iPhone X they will not be a new iPhone X in September. Here in Atherton Research, we know there's going to be a sequel but just curious about your thoughts about this rumor that suggests that sales of the iPhone X are so bad and that Apple is just going to give up on that.
EL: I don't think so and if they stop doing the current iPhone X its to do the next version of it. Everybody has copied the iPhone X. Everybody said that the notch was a stupid idea and now you have tons of Android smartphones with a notch.
JBS: Let's talk about another smartphone manufacturer, Xiaomi. Xiaomi announced this week that they're going to come to France, to your country. Again, with another Apple-like smartphone with a notch so I'm curious what’s your thoughts about Xiaomi in France, in Europe?
EL: Again, we have no problem. There will still always be discussions about security but for the rest, we have no problem with cell phones coming from China. Huawei is available here, ZTE is available here and Xiaomi will be here and Nokia 10 I'm sure. So the market is really open in Europe so it's open to new companies, to Chinese companies, etc. You will not have any kind, let say, block on the arrival of Xiaomi and others. The only thing I would say is to be very careful about the apps who treat data because the most important thing here is to follow GDPR.
JBS: Great. Let's move on to the App of the Week. And this week we're going to talk about an app that is not so sexy compared to the Qwant browser for example because it does backup. The app of the week is Acronis mobile backup. It's an app that backs all of your data from your mobile to the cloud or to your PC or if you're a geek to your network server at home. And what I really like about the Acronis app is that it backups all of your data that you can use to move from an Android to an iPhone or an iPhone to an Android. And also I just think it's really important just to back up your data on your phone as it is on your PC or laptop. Although with Apple you have iCloud that stores some of your iPhone data. I think on the Android side you have also Google Cloud that provides some kind of backup but what I really like about the Acronis app is that it works on both platforms, iOS, and Android. What's your thought on mobile back-up in general?
EL: First of all, I think it's very sexy because I think backup is very important today, especially for people like me who have both iOS and Android in their pocket every day.
EL: So if you just have one backup on Apple's cloud and another on Google's cloud, you don’t have the control of your data, right? So one app that gives you the capability to backup everything bring it back very quickly because it's very fast and even the capability to backup on your own disks at home on your own cloud, personal cloud I think it's very very smart and sexy. That's so cool. If you think about GDPR the idea of that kind of app is absolutely in the idea of GDPR because you will be able to backup your data inside of your own personal cloud not obliged to do it inside of the cloud of somebody else and pay the price that they want you to pay for it. You can still do it. You can do both. You have the right you have the choice, you have the freedom to do it, the liberty to do it. That’s the kind of product that I hope tomorrow we will see a lot more. Of course, you still need to spend some time to double check if your data goes through their servers and if there is a capability for anybody to be in the middle. You can talk about security for sure and that will certainly be what Apple and Google will push as the first reason why you should use just their clouds. But at the end of the day, we should all have the right to back up our data anywhere we want. If you are a geek like you say or even if we just want to back up everything for our family, the place we secure or even if you just want to back up everything and try to use it later wherever you are on that planet, even if you go to China you will able to bring your backup with you.
JBS: Yeah, I agree. Well, you've heard it first here. Backup is sexy.
EL: It is. No, it is. And you will see in the future it will be more and more important. Look at your photo, look at your video. My wife was crazy about that we use so many cell phones for so many years and I use it to take some photos of my daughter and others. And then when we try to recollect everything and get all the photos that we have taken she was so crazy that we will need some of them.
JBS: Well, that's it for This Week In Mobile. Thank you again, Eric, for coming.
EL: Thanks to you.
JBS: And I see you all next week.