President Trump, already leading the U.S. into a trade battle with China, plans to ratchet commercial tensions higher by barring many Chinese companies from investing in U.S. technology firms, and by blocking additional technology exports to Beijing.
.. the measures are meant to forestall Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” plan to become a global leader in 10 broad areas of technology
.. With little evidence the escalating trade feud is hurting their economies, the U.S. and China aren’t close to backing down. Before one of them cracks, Heard on the Street columnist Justin Lahart warns, investors may get squeezed.
subscription streaming has more or less ended the strategic importance of music to tech companies. In the past, any music you bought for your iPod had proprietary DRM and could only be played on Apple devices
.. Your music library kept you on a device. With streaming these issues mostly go away.
.. if you do switch to a different service you’re not giving up tracks you’ve paid money for, just a list of your favourites. Switching became easy.
.. Since music no longer stops people from switching between platforms, it’s gone from being a moat .. to a low-margin check-box feature.
.. A Taylor Swift exclusive for Apple Music might drive some iPhone sales, just as a cool new ad campaign might, but there’s no strategic lever here – no lock-in.
.. whenever I talk to music people or book people, very quickly the conversation becomes a music industry conversation or a book industry conversation. What matters for music are artists and touring and labels and so on, and what matters for books are writers and publishers and rights and Amazon’s bargaining power in books and so on. These aren’t tech conversations.
.. The big tech platform companies rolled into these industries and changed everything, but then moved on to bigger things.
.. Amazon has a big ebooks business, but Prime and perhaps Alexa are the strategic levers.
.. Tech needed content to make their devices viable, but having got the content (by any means necessary), and with it of course completely resetting the dynamics of the industry, tech outgrew music and books and moved on to bigger opportunities.
.. the shows that are watched mainly because they’re broadcast at 8pm on Saturday will suffer, and so will the channels that are watched because they’re high up on the program guide. Channel brands, shows and episodes are unbundled. We’ve been talking about this in theory for over a decade, but finally, praxis is here.
.. Amazon and Netflix have entered TV content creation and ownership in ways and on a scale that no-one from tech ever did for music or books. Amazon did try to get into book publishing and has a significant self-publishing arm, but it had little success recruiting existing mainstream authors
.. neither Apple nor Spotify created a record label. In TV, though, Amazon and Netflix are already spending more on commissioning original and exclusive content than many traditional channel brands.
.. Cancel the subscription delivery service and you lose access to all Amazon TV shows.
.. For Google and Facebook, there’s no subscription to cancel – there’s no binary (renew/don’t renew, cancel/don’t cancel) decision you might take that would cut off your access to that great TV show. You don’t close your Facebook account – you just go there less. You might stop paying for the Youtube TV service, but that won’t cut off your access to any other part of Google – nor would anyone want it to – the purpose of these businesses is reach.
.. cancel Prime and you’d lose Amazon, but what do Google & FB have to cancel? Without some platform decision to lock you into, content is marketing, and revenue, but not a lever.
.. You pay an average of $700 or so every two years (i.e. $30/month) and Apple gives you a phone. Buy an Android instead and you lose access to the (hypothetical) great Apple television service. This is why people argue that Apple should buy Netflix.
.. From a pure M&A perspective, buying Netflix and immediately limiting its business to Apple devices would halve its value – why buy a business and fire half the customers? Buying it without such a restriction would have no strategic value – Apple would just be buying marketing and revenue.
.. Apple has always preferred a very asset-light approach to things that are outside its core skills. It didn’t create a record label, or an MVNO, and it didn’t create a credit card for Apple Pay – it works with partners on the existing rails as much as possible
.. it does so with nothing like the kind of negotiating power that it had in iPod days – Amazon and Netflix (if not also Google and Facebook) have seen to that.
.. Part of ‘content is king’ was the idea that (at least in theory) content companies can withhold access to their libraries entirely, and in the past one might have presumed that that meant they had the power to kill any new service at birth. In reality, rights-holders have always had too strong a need for short-term revenue to forgo broad distribution, and few of them individually had a strong enough brand to extract a fee that was high enough to justify exclusivity.
.. They always have to take the cheques – individually to meet their bonus targets, and collectively to meet their earnings estimates.
.. for a media company to give a tech platform exclusivity is immediately to build up that platform’s power over the media companies.
.. Similar problems apply to the somewhat chimerical idea that content companies should go direct to consumer – few of them have the skills, fewer have the brand and content, and fewer still, again, have a shareholder structure to allow the short-term revenue hit.
.. the device is the phone and the network is the internet. The smartphone is the sun and everything else orbits it. Internet advertising will be bigger than TV advertising this year, and Apple’s revenue is larger than the entire global pay TV industry.
.. This is also why tech companies are even thinking about commissioning their own premium shows today – they are now so big that the budgets involved in buying or creating TV look a lot less daunting than they once did.
The result is that Americans will almost certainly face higher costs as companies pay more for parts they need to build cars, dishwashers and tractors, and then firms turn around and pass those higher prices onto consumers.
.. All of Trumps tariffs so far — on China, on steel and aluminum, on washing machines and on solar panels — will end up costing the average U.S. family $80 a year
.. If Trump continues to pile tariffs on China (he has threatened to do another $100 billion) and China retaliates, then the cost to the average family would rise to $210
.. 45,000 jobs will be lost because of the tariffs Trump has issued so far.
.. They also forecast a small hit to the economy and wages.
.. tariffs will hurt the economy because prices will rise, reducing profits for companies and costing consumers more.
Alternatively, tariffs could cause the U.S. dollar to rise, which usually makes it more difficult for American companies to sell their products abroad, another potential hit to jobs and the economy.
.. “When we lose $500 billion a year … in a trade deficit. When we lose hundreds of billions of dollars in intellectual property theft, not only China but others, we have to stop it. We can’t allow this to happen. So in a certain way, I call people patriots because … short-term you may have to take some problems. Long-term, you’re going to be so happy. You’re going to be so happy.”
.. Trump is calling on Americans to pay higher prices for a while because he thinks it will be worth it if he gets concessions from China and the E.U. It’s what economists and business leaders call a cost-benefit analysis, and Trump is arguing it will be worth it in the end.
.. higher costs don’t hit everyone equally.
The reality is every family isn’t going to pay $80. Some families are likely to pay hundreds or thousands or be the ones losing jobs and livelihoods, while most others probably won’t notice the price increases.
.. Gary Cohn, Trump’s former top economic adviser, went as far as to say Trump’s tariffs could wipe out the entire economic gains of the tax cuts
.. Trump and (most of) his top advisers say this is about winning the big economic war of the 21st century.
China and the United States are fighting for dominance in technology and biotechnology. Trump and his team say the United States won’t win if China keeps stealing American intellectual property and technology secrets.
.. But for the farmer or the small auto parts manufacturer that may have a terrible year or go out of business during the tariff battle, it probably won’t feel worth it.
It’s not that the Amish view technology as inherently evil. No rules prohibit them from using new inventions. But they carefully consider how each one will change their culture before embracing it. And the best clue as to what will happen comes from watching their neighbors.
“The Amish use us as an experiment,” says Jameson Wetmore, an engineer turned social researcher at the Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society. “They watch what happens when we adopt new technology, and then they decide whether that’s something they want to adopt themselves.”
.. The motto of the 1933 World Fair in Chicago was “Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms.”
It was really a very prevalent idea that technology was going to save us all. Basically, we needed to worship it if we were going to have any chance of survival. This was just out of the Great Depression. There were a lot of really destitute people. Governments and companies were saying that technology can lead us out of this. It may not always be comfortable, but we have to ride it out.
.. That is the clear push coming into the 1930s and into the 1940s and 1950s. Household technologies are all the rage. When you hit the 1960s and 1970s, there is this shift. I think the hallmarks of that shift are the dropping of the atomic bomb, and then of course you have Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed, and you also have Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.
.. It’s interesting that the Amish have different districts, and each district has different rules about what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. Yet it’s very clear there are two technologies that, as soon as the community accepts them, they are no longer Amish. Those technologies are the television and the automobile.
.. The reason the Amish rejected television is because it is a one-way conduit to bring another society into their living rooms. And they want to maintain the society as they have created it. And the automobile as well. As soon as you have a car, your ability to leave your local community becomes significantly easier.
.. You no longer have to rely on your neighbor for eggs when you run out.
.. Think about the origins of Facebook. This was not a value-free technology. The goal was to connect people.
.. A big part of the sexual revolution was just the fact that young people could escape their parents with a car in ways they never could before.
.. I asked one Amish person why they didn’t use automobiles. He simply smiled and turned to me and said, “Look what they did to your society.” And I asked what do you mean? “Well, do you know your neighbor? Do you know the names of your neighbors?”
.. For the Amish, there are no rules prohibiting new technologies. So typically what will happen is one member of the community will say, “You know, I’m fed up with axes. I’m using the chainsaw.”
So maybe he goes out and begins to use a chainsaw. You might get some stern looks from neighbors, but officially it’s not prohibited. Every six months, the [Amish district councils] sit down and discuss. People are beginning to use chainsaws in our communities: Is this what we want? And then they have a conversation about it.
.. But the Amish said the Sabbath was something they would not change. They would not compromise their day of rest. They worked with local milk wholesalers and arranged to have their milk picked up early Saturday and Saturday night, so they would have Sunday free.
.. One thing it’s taken me awhile to understand is that I don’t think the Amish believe in progress. I don’t think the Amish believe there is a perfect world in the future.
.. It’s pretty crazy if you stop to think about it to realize that car travel is so important to us, that were willing to sacrifice 30,000 to 40,000 lives a year for it.
.. All things being equal, it’s hard to say decreasing infant mortality and radically increasing the life expectancy of people isn’t in some ways good.
I think if you’re like the Amish, it’s not a goal you are going to be working for. You’ll be satisfied with much lower life expectancies.
.. In the 1930s, we ended up as a society deciding that four-year-olds should be the one to blame. We began to train people even before they began to speak about how to cross the street and how to avoid it in the street. We redesigned our world to be safe
.. When sociologists were really diving into the Amish culture in the 1960s and 1970s, 75% of Amish children would decide to become Amish adults. The most recent statistics show that 95% are now choosing to join the Amish Church.