Make no mistake: Apple will end up eating the higher costs that supplier Foxconn will incur to end excessive overtime and improve working conditions at its plants. But, as we suggested earlier this year, it will be Apple’s rivals that will end up suffering most. Read more
Tech news from around the web:
China has overtaken the US as the world’s biggest smartphone market by volume in the third quarter, Reuters reports. According to research company Strategy Analytics, smartphone shipments grew 58% to reach 23.9m units in China during the quarter, while US shipments fell 7% from the second quarter to reach 23.3m devices. Read more
The two-day London Cyber Conference wrapped up Thursday with a remarkable lack of unity for such a carefully staged, invite-only event for world political and technology leaders. Read more
Ebay chief executive John Donahoe said the Chinese government won’t let foreign-owned internet companies win in that country, but added PayPal will nonetheless bend to fit new rules and stay in the market. Read more
Act one of Google’s spat with the Chinese authorities over censorship and government-backed hacking closed last year with Google partially retreating from the world’s most populous nation.
There was, however, still the unresolved issue of Google Maps, and act two of Google versus China may now be beginning with Google having submitted an application to Beijing to allow the service to remain in China. Read more
Alibaba Group chief executive Jack Ma said on Wednesday that he expected his fight with the company’s largest shareholders, Yahoo and Softbank, would end with an amicable resolution despite what he said were complex “peace talks.” Read more
There has been an increasing amount of talk from high places, including the White House, about the urgent need for international cooperation on cybersecurity. But a proposal to be released tomorrow calling for specific US-China steps shows, more than anything, how far we have to go. Read more
An explosion ripped through a large manufacturing facility owned by key Apple supplier Hon Hai, better known as Foxconn, killing two and injuring 16, Chinese state media reported. Read more
Powered by social networks and mobiles, Chinese video games are set to topple America’s lead as the world’s largest gaming market, according to research by Digi-Capital, a boutique investment bank. Read more
In the year since Google revealed that some of its prize intellectual property had been stolen by hackers it associated with the Chinese government, the private sector and the FBI have increased their efforts on cybersecurity. But it isn’t nearly enough, according to outside experts including an influential panel of advisors. Read more
The way is finally clear for the first formal tie-up between a Taiwanese and a Chinese chipmaker. Taiwan’s government on Monday gave approval for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, to take a 7.4 per cent stake in China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International, China’s biggest chipmaker by capacity.
The story of how SMIC was founded a decade ago by Richard Chang, a former senior TSMC executive, and how the two companies later became embroiled in a long-running trade secrets battle, is an interesting and revealing tale about China’s (largely failed) efforts to create a domestic chipmaking industry.
When Google’s search service became widely unavailable in China a few hours ago, it looked like the other shoe had dropped: the authorities were finally retaliating after Google’s decision last week to end its long and miserable submission to self-censorship.
But the truth, as this rather embarrassing statement just put out by Google makes clear, is very different:
Lots of users in China have been unable to search on Google.com.hk today. This blockage seems to have been triggered by a change on Google’s part. In the last 24 hours “gs_rfai” started appearing in the URLs of Google searches globally as part of a search parameter, a string of characters that sends information about the query to Google so we can return the best result. Because this parameter contained the letters rfa the great firewall was associating these searches with Radio Free Asia, a service that has been inaccessible in China for a long time–hence the blockage. We are currently looking at how to resolve this issue.
Who needs censors when you can walk blindly into a giant firewall like this?
Update: This story just keeps getting weirder – see after the jump. Read more
China benefits from open network links to the rest of the world. An FT editorial says any big step now in the direction of restricting access could have longer-term repercussions.
Its repressive stance has set a dubious leadership for regimes elsewhere, with the open internet under attack in many parts of the world. Diplomatic and economic pressure may have more effect elsewhere. If the global drift towards a more restrictive internet is to be halted, now is the time to draw a line in the sand.
“Google decided that its brand, which depends on its image as a champion of liberalism, was worth more than a slice of China’s still-nascent online advertising market,” writes the FT’s David Pilling. Now, he says, “Google’s decision has presented Chinese authorities with a quandary.”
Some officials have sensibly sought to characterise the pull-out as a purely commercial decision of little broader significance. To escalate the affair risks jeopardising China’s official stance of being welcoming to business and further poisoning already strained relations with the US. More, to paint the withdrawal in ideological hues risks putting Beijing into conflict with a subset of its own netizens who are embarrassed that a great company such as Google cannot operate freely in a great country such as China.