The company is now far more than just a social network and has blown Wall Street away with its latest results. But should we be concerned about its growing power?
“Our journey is only 1 per cent done,” said Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg after unveiling a set of numbers that had even Wall Street’s hardened analysts bowing down and crying “we’re not worthy”.
Apparently it’s a saying around the stunningly successful IT company, the tendrils of which continue to extend ever more deeply into our day-to-day lives. Translation “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet”. Did you just shudder? I did. Just a bit.
Mr Zuckerburg’s baby is now far more than just “the social network”, with apologies to the same-named biopic. It is a dominant force in mobile advertising (growth of 63 per cent). It is a huge platform for the delivery of media globally, including The Independent. Its messaging services are used from Shanghai, to Singapore to Sheffield. And it has a licence to print money.
The internet’s migration to mobile has secured that, helping Facebook to smash through the $6bn in revenue Wall Street had forecast for the April-to-June reporting period. The actual number came in at $6.4bn, up 59 per cent.
And it was only just over 12 years ago that a website called TheFacebook went live in New England. Chew on that.
Facebook won’t. That’s ancient history to a company that is running faster than Usain Bolt on steroids. Did you know that you can now take 360 degree photos with its apps? That its video services are growing like Japanese knotweed? These are expected to dominate its services before too long, and YouTube owner Google has reason to be nervous. Along with WhatsApp, bought for $19bn just under two years ago, it connects in excess of 2bn people through messaging.
Further out, Facebook has ambitions to to bring the internet to vast numbers of previously unconnected people through its solar powered Aquila drones. They will presumably then become Facebook users and continue to power its staggering growth.
Does that sound like pie in the sky? It shouldn’t. They’re flying. Mr Zuckerberg says tests have been successful. They’ll be out there before too long.
In the meantime the company mines data with scary efficiency. It knows us, it knows our views, what what we like, what we don’t like, what films we enjoy, perhaps the bands we listen to, the books we read, what we spend our money on. That last one is key.
And it’s only 1 per cent done.
It is true that many IT companies that once looked like world beaters have either disappeared or been gobbled up on the cheap. Remember MySpace? Not many do. Yahoo! just announced that it is preparing to join AOL in Verizon’s stable of second-raters. Twitter is starting to show signs that it might one day join them. It isn’t there yet but growth is stalling, revenues are sagging and younger rivals such as Instagram and SnapChat are nipping at its heels.
Facebook, however, crossed the rubicon a long time ago. It is now big and powerful enough to buy its way out of either trouble or rapid and unexpected change in consumer habits.
In many ways Facebook has enriched our lives. When I came within an ace of being killed in a cycling accident it was Facebook that my family used to disseminate the news among our friends and family. It was Facebook that was the conduit for the support we desperately needed. The positive impct of the company should not be under esimtated. It’s some story.
However, Facebook has also become enormously powerful. And this is what worries me. How would you feel if, I don’t know, Rupert Murdoch had his hands on that power? Or even Sir Philip Green, as opposed to the nice, liberal, if socially awkward, Mr Zuckerberg?
Samsung to invest $115 billion in its foundry business by 2030
Samsung is earmarking $9.5 billion a year for Samsung LSI and Samsung Foundry.
Samsung Electronics is one of the largest semiconductor players around, and the manufacturer is investing $115 billion (133 trillion won) over the next 12 years to take on Qualcomm and Intel. Samsung says its goal is to become the world leader in semiconductors and logic chips, and the company will invest $9.5 billion a year from now through 2030.
Samsung will invest $63.4 billion (73 trillion won) toward domestic R&D — where it is looking to add 15,000 jobs to “bolster its technological prowess” — and spend $52 billion (60 trillion won) toward production facilities that will make the logic chips. Samsung has long been the dominant player in the memory business, but with that market shrinking the South Korean manufacturer will be looking to diversify.
While the $115 billion seems like a staggering amount at first, it’s in line with what Samsung has been spending in recent years. Just last year alone Samsung invested over $15 billion in R&D, and Intel also spent over $10 billion toward developing new products.
LG V50 ThinQ 5G launch in South Korea delayed
The delay is due to LG wanting to further optimize the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset and Qualcomm X50 5G modem inside of the V50. LG also said it’s working with Qualcomm and South Korean carriers to improve 5G service and phone interoperability.
LG V50 ThinQ 5G price & release date: What we know so far (it’s not much)
LG didn’t say when the V50 will be available in South Korea. Android Authority reached out to LG for comment on a new release date and whether the delayed launch in South Korea will affect the U.S. launch, but did not receive a response by press time.
The delay comes at a bad time for LG, which saw rival Samsung launch its first 5G smartphone April 5 in South Korea. LG likely had hoped to use the Galaxy S10 5G’s launch momentum for its own 5G smartphone, but now we don’t know when the V50 will debut.
That said, LG might have dodged a very big bullet by delaying the V50’s launch. Business Koreareported last week that Galaxy S10 5G owners have struggled with poor 5G connectivity and an inability to switch to 4G LTE. Samsung pushed out an update that supposedly addressed the issues, but the update didn’t help much.
Samsung snubs Apple on 5G modem supply, leaving few good options for the 2020 iPhones
Thanks to the patent war with Qualcomm reaching a crescendo mode, last year Apple’s iPhones shipped exclusively with “Intel inside” as far as cellular connectivity is concerned. That, however, is not an ideal solution for Apple, as Intel’s modems are behind the curve when it comes to features, so it has been shopping around for other options.
Apple could go with Samsung, Huawei or MediaTek’s 5G modems, but each of those choices comes with severe drawbacks. Samsung will likely charge an arm and a leg for its 5G brainchild, America’s homeland security institutions would balk at Huawei’s involvement due to geopolitical considerations, while MediaTek simply isn’t up to par yet.
SAMSUNG’S 5G MODEM OPTION IS OUT FOR APPLE, BUT WHOSE IS IN?
Surprise, surprise, even those unpalatable options have now become harder to pick from, as Korean media is reporting today that Samsung has declined Apple’s advances for its Exynos 5100 5G modem. Not only does the company need its production for the Galaxy S10 5G that will be shipping tomorrow in Korea but it could very well need it for the Note 10, too.
Samsung, it turns out, is simply unable to churn out 5G modems in the quality and quantity that Apple would demand, or so it claims. According to one “electronics industry official” there:
Apple inquired about the supply of 5G modem chip from Samsung Electronics System LSI division. However, we know that Samsung Electronics System LSI answered that the supply volume of its smartphone 5G modem chip is insufficient.
There you have it – unless Apple resolves the bad blood between the companies, Qualcomm is likely to sit its 5G push out, so the last remaining option is for Apple to go it alone, either by acquiring Intel’s wireless modem assets or starting from scratch (highly unlikely). All of these options mean either a lot of extra expenses for Apple in order to deliver a 5G iPhone in 2020, or falling behind the competition by launching one that is a cycle or two behind.
Last summer, insiders claimed that they have seen internal Intel communication regarding a memo that Apple sent Chipzilla. In it, Apple warns that it might no longer need Intel’s wireless modem designs, including the 5G ones, starting with the 2020 iPhone crop. Intel reportedly halted research in this area and might disband the whole 5G modem undertaking, as Apple was its largest and perhaps sole customer.
5G gets going and Apple’s 2020 iPhones can’t go FOMO
South Korea just launched its nationwide 5G network, with the Galaxy S10 5G being its poster child. Upon the phone’s release there tomorrow, Korea will have all of its largest networks offering 5G plans. In fact, Korea Telecom announced three 5G price tiers. Among those, there is a “Super Plan” that offers truly unlimited 5G data without speed caps, and this one will go for the equivalent of $70, a pretty good price no matter how you slice it. In fact, the Super 5G Plan is somewhat cheaper than the current unlimited 4G LTE plans in Korea, so the 5G future seems bright, and we are expecting more and more 5G handsets to enter the fray this year, especially towards the tail end of 2019.
A true nationwide shift to 5G networks is not happening this year in the US anyway, so iPhone users won’t be missing all that much until then. Next year, however, most of the flagship phones of the spring season will probably have some sort of 5G connectivity support, be it with a Qualcomm, Samsung or Huawei modem, and Apple could feel the pinch in that regard. If in the fall of 2020 Apple hasn’t solved its 5G modem supply options, however, there might be image and perception consequences. As virtually all of Apple’s 5G avenues have dried up and will incur extra expenses, patching thing up with Qualcomm would be a smart solution so we’ll keep our eyes on the patent lawsuit as it moves through the court system.