Facebook- No Back Door for Government; 90% Tech Growth-Handful of Markets; Mercedes Self Drivers on San Jose Streets; Apple Has Huge Wearables Lead

Facebook gets a lot of criticism pretty continuously…almost all of it well-deserved…over their numerous privacy violations and refusal to do more to keep user data secure. That said, they are actually ‘doing the right thing’ in at least one case. Bgr.com reports that in response to an open letter from world leaders…including US Attorney General Bill Barr…demanding that the social net weaken its encryption protocols so that governments can more easily pry into what users are doing across the platform, Facebook has essentially said ‘absolutely not—we won’t do it.’ No back door for you, governments!

This is not the first time the US, UK, and Australia have demanded a backdoor into Facebook. “Preserving the prominence of American values online requires strong protections for privacy and security, including strong encryption,” reads the opening statement from Jay Sullivan, Messenger’s director of product management for privacy and integrity, who was to testify at a Senate hearing on Tuesday. They will continue to have end-to-end encryption in their messaging apps as well as slamming the door on the idea of a back door in the main Facebook app. Give it up for Facebook for, at least this time, doing the right thing.

According to a report from Brookings Institution, 90% of high-tech job growth has happened in just 5 metro areas: Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, Seattle, and San Diego. Brookings measured what they term the ‘innovation sector’ jobs, which they define as ‘employment in the top science, technology, engineering, and math industries that include extensive research and development spending.’ Meanwhile, 343 metro areas lost a share of these jobs in that same period. Not to quibble, but I’m going to quibble. San Jose IS part of the San Francisco Bay Area, as measured by everyone…so it’s actually just FOUR metro areas. Even in the radio and TV ratings measurement businesses, San Jose is an ‘embedded market,’ and part of the greater San Francisco Bay Area metro counties.

At any rate, the locales draw educated people and investment money from other places. Some 40% of adults have Bachelor’s degrees in these metro areas, compared to only 26% in the bottom three quartiles. Brookings’ report notes that ‘being an innovation city does have costs: These include worsening traffic, ballooning housing prices, and wage growth so high that smaller firms can’t compete. In theory, these spiraling costs should send jobs to cheaper areas, but the report notes that the inflection point is very high, and that when a company does move, its jobs don’t necessarily stay within the US.’ The report points out that with traditional manufacturing and in natural resources development, location was dictated by geography…development took place along rivers, bays, highways, and in forests. This just doesn’t apply in the tech economy. Brookings doesn’t see any movement to other areas without intensive government investment…direct funding, tax preference, and workforce development. Things that, to date, haven’t happened.

A new self-driving taxi service is hitting the pavement in San Jose. Autonomous Mercedes-Benz S Class cars, tricked out by Mercedes and long time partner Bosch. (Mercedes and Bosch partnered on disc brakes decades ago for aircraft and cars.) Theverge.com says the S-Class Mercedes self drivers will carry people between West San Jose and the downtown area. They will run on a fixed route along San Carlos Street and Stevens Creek Boulevard. As is the case in all self driving cars in California that carry passengers, there will be a safety driver in the drivers seat, ready to take over. Way has been operating in a similar fashion in Phoenix, and Lyft in Las Vegas. There are now 65—65!— companies licensed in California to test self driving cars on public roads.

Apple continues to dominate the wearables market with Watch and Air Pods doing the heavy lifting for them. Global wearables shipments hit 84.5 million units in Q3 of this year, with Apple leading by a large margin, according to IDC, as cited in 9to5mac.com. Apple scooped up 29.5 million of those 84.5 million units, giving them a 35% market share…and they are up 200% over 3rd quarter of 2018. Xiaomi is in 2nd pale with 12.5 million units, then Samsung for third with 8.3 million.


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