Chinese Court Backs Qualcomm Over Apple; Google Pixel 3 XL Lite; First 350Kw EV Chargers Installed; Flying Car Market Could be $1.5 Trillion

Qualcomm has gotten an injunction against Apple in a Chinese court, banning Apple from importing older iPhones into China. Theverge.com reports that the order would affect the 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X. Apple says it is still selling phones in China, and notes that iOS 12 (which is supported by all the phones blocked by the injunction) avoids the patent conflict. As new phones sold in China have this software or above, the ruling shouldn’t affect them at all. Qualcomm has been trying to ban Apple iPhones in China for over a year, as well as their attempt to ban the Apple handsets in the US (which has not been upheld by regulators.) The legal battle continues…and Qualcomm has already been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for abusing its modem monopoly in Taiwan and China. This court injunction gives Qualcomm more ammo in its claim that Apple has used its intellectual property without compensating them.

A new leak of pictures depicts Google’s ‘budget’ Pixel line. The Pixel 3 XL Lite will sport a 6 inch display and NO notch! The XL has a 5.5 inch display. Both handsets are expected to have plastic bodies, according to 9to5google.com, in keeping with the budget category. It appears that they may be powered by either a Snapdragon 670 or 710, and they sport a single rear cam. It’s unclear if they will have Google’s amazing photo software that lets the single cam phones compete with multi lens ones like Apple and Samsung have, but if so, and the price is enough lower, the ‘lite’ line could grab huge sales when it comes out.

Northern California now has some of the fastest electric vehicle chargers on the planet…even if no cars can use them yet! Engadget.com says Electrify America has installed two 350Kw chargers and eight that produce 150Kw at the Livermore Outlets, where there were already 20 Tesla Superchargers. The 350Kw chargers are expected to deliver 200 miles of range on a 10 minute charge. The Porsche Taycan will be able to use the high power stations, and will be on the market by 2020. Electrify America says its just getting ready for the future, with 17 other Simon outlet malls in California getting the high power chargers, and a number of others planned in other states.

We are still a ways away from George Jetson’s flying car that folds into a briefcase, but according to geekwire.com, Morgan Stanley has done a study that shows that autonomous flying cars…either air taxis or private vehicles, could be a $1.5 trillion dollar market by 2040! Both Boeing (through its subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences) and Airbus are working on flying cars…with Airbus partnering with Vahana in Silicon Valley, Voom in Mexico and Brazil, and Audi. Lockheed Martin is also investing in eVTOL autonomous aircraft, and it looks like Northrop Grumman is jumping in, too. Raytheon and Harris are working on air traffic control tech. Morgan Stanley sees most of the money coming from transport of people, with only $413 billion from freight transportation.


Ultrasound Powered Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensor; Snapdragon 855; Google & Amazon Making AirPod Alternatives; Apple Adding Health Sensors to AirPods

Adding an extra layer to fingerprint sensor security, Qualcomm is baking in ultrasound to beef up its in-display fingerprint sensor. Engadget.com reports that the ultrasound will allow creation of a 3D mold of your finger, which will be much harder to copy. It will pick up on the ridges and even pores. As a bonus, the sensor should be able to tell it’s you, even though you still have a little of today’s lunch on your finger (wash up, you slob!) They didn’t allow testing at the demo, so we’ll have to wait to see how fast the new tech is.

Speaking of fast, Qualcomm also showed off its Snapdragon 855 at its event in Hawaii. According to 9to5google.com, the chip will power the 2019 flagship phones, including from Samsung. It will support multi-gigabit 5G, which also rolls out next year in a number of markets. Qualcomm says the chip has 3x the AI performance of last year’s chip.

It’s not that there aren’t already cheaper alternatives to Apple’s AirPods on the market, but a couple are coming from some heavyweights…Google and Amazon appear to be preparing to launch competitor products.

9to5mac.com says Apple isn’t exactly waiting around for the increased competition…they are working on more water resistance, support for Hey Siri, and interchangeability…so you could put one in an ear without checking to see if it’s Left or Right, and the AirPod would orient itself and the audio automatically. Apple is also expected to integrate health sensors into the next gen AirPods, and integrate the data with Apple Watch as well as the health app on iPhones. Well known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says to look for Cupertino to sell 26-28 million sets this year, 50-55 million in 2019, and over 100 million in 2021.


Samsung Will Have 5G Phone in 2019; Apple-All New AirPods, But No 5G Phone Until 2020; Amazon Testing King Sized Amazon Go Store

Samsung is partnering with Verizon to bring a 5G smartphone to the US in the middle of 2019! Cnet.com reports that they will show off a concept handset this week at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit in Hawaii. 5G is expected to significantly boost the speed, coverage, and responsiveness of wireless networks. Phones will upload and download data at anywhere from 10 to 100 times faster than the 4G network we have today! Samsung has not said if the phone will be exclusive to Verizon, and did note that they will continue to work with other wireless partners.

Over at Apple, the word is that it will be at least 2020 before a 5G iPhone will be in peoples’ hands. According to macrumors.com, Apple will hold off a bit instead of being on the leading edge…which they have done before when new generations of wireless capability rolled out. Bloomberg points out that there has often been poor coverage when a new layer of connectivity rolls out, with phones often having to drop back to the old tech, or jumping back and forth between the two systems. Besides Samsung, Huawei and Oppo will also put out 5G smartphones next year…although neither of those two are really factors in the US market like Samsung is. Part of the delay for Apple may be the ongoing litigation with Qualcomm. Apple is partnering with Intel on 5G chips, and those won’t be out in time to get phones to market in 2019.

There will be all-new AirPods in 2020, but prior to that, Apple will release wireless charging AirPods early next year. 9to5mac.com picked up a report from well known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that says the wireless model will also include yet to be disclosed upgrades, but that the total revamp will be set for a 2020 release.

Amazon is reported to be testing out a large-sized Amazon-Go type store, sans cashiers, in Seattle. Geekwire.com says it is set up to look more like a traditional grocery store. Now what grocery store could it be designed like…oh, yeah…Whole Foods, which Amazon owns! They are particularly working on seeing if the system that tracks what shoppers grab off the shelves works well with the higher ceilings and bigger spaces with vastly more products. It remains to be seen when or if the tech will reach Whole Foods or other stores. Amazon has said in the past they have no plans to add the tech to Whole Foods stores…but such claims are often made, then things change. We do know Amazon is planning opening up to 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021.


Galaxy S10 Unique Feature; Facebook Earnings Crash; Facebook Grabs Redkix; Apple May Drop Qualcomm Modems

The Galaxy Note 9 bows in just a couple weeks, but meanwhile, we have more word on a possible killer feature for next year’s Galaxy S10. No, it’s not the foldable phone! Bgr.com says the fingerprint reader we’ve heard that would be under the screen on the Galaxy S10 will be something no one has had before. For the 10th anniversary of the iPhone competing smartphone, Samsung will use an under screen, ULTRASONIC fingerprint reader! The ultrasound fingerprint reader is supposed to have better performance than an optical sensor, and should give Samsung to tout against Apple’s Face ID. It sounds like both the two Galaxy S10’s will have this feature, as will next year’s high end Galaxy A and the 2019 Galaxy Note.

After disappointing 2nd quarter earnings were reported yesterday, Facebook stock went off a cliff. Businessinsider.com reports that the stock dropped enough to be on pace to lose $115 billion in market value…which would be the biggest collapse in market history. Facebook reported earnings after hours Wednesday, and dropped 24% in an hour. Investors didn’t like sales and subscriber numbers that were lower than expected, but really hated the warning of a growth slowdown. Investors also pounded other monster cap companies in tech…Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Alphabet all lost more than 1.5% overnight.

A positive note for Facebook…at least theoretically…lies in the acquisition of Redkix, and email startup that combines email, messaging, and calendar features into one app. According to recode.net, Facebook intends to roll the app into Workplace, their enterprise social network platform. Facebook and about 30,000 other companies have their employees using Workplace internally for messaging and groups. Facebook hasn’t shared how many of these are paying customers, nor has it broken out Workplace revenue on earnings reports, so it’s hard to tell if the subscription model is working for them.

After a brutal legal battle, it looks like Apple will be going with all Intel Modems, and dropping Qualcomm. Appleinsider says the Qualcomm CFO noted in a conference call that Apple will be using only Intel modems in the upcoming iPhones. Intel has only been supplying Apple modems since 2016. Besides the legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm, the Intel modem chip runs on both GSM and CDMA networks, so has that big advantage. Losing Apple…even if only for a year…would be a big hit to Qualcomm’s earnings.


New Google Pixelbook Coming; HomePod Siri Features; Qualcomm Shows 5G Module; Tesla Supplier Cash Ask

The Pixel 2 was a big improvement on the original Google Pixel phone, and the 3 is eagerly anticipated this Fall. Now, 9to5google.com says leaker Evan Blass, who has a pretty decent track record, is touting the release of and updated Pixelbook alongside the Pixel 3 and 3XL handsets. Bless claims the updated Chrome OS Pixelbook will be shipping by the holidays. The fall event is expected to also show off A Pixel Watch and new generation of Pixel Buds.

Apple is testing a private beta version of OS12 for HomePod that includes multiple Siri timers and allows people to make and answer phone calls…in an effort to keep up with Alexa and Google Home. 9to5mac.com reports that corporate and some retail employees are test driving the beta. The multiple timers feature is one Alexa has that allows, for example, someone to put a couple timers on different things they are cooking at the same time. Right now, it’s unclear which, if any, of these features will make it to the final release of OS12 for HomePod this fall.

Qualcomm has showed off the first completely integrated 5G module for smartphones…including 5G mmWave antenna, wave radio, power amp, and antenna array. According to macrumors.com, the whole system has been crammed into a package small enough to sit on your fingertip. It is thin enough to fit the bezel of a phone, and Qualcomm sees up to 4 being put into a handset so if one antenna is covered by a hand or otherwise blocked, the unit will still transmit and receive. The tiny 5G modules are being shipped to phone makers this week.

Tesla has reportedly ask for cash back from suppliers, in order to cut their costs and become profitable in Q4. While it’s not unusual for a company to ask for or demand price cuts from suppliers….Walmart is a past master at this…it IS unusual to ask for money back from previously furnished and paid for items. That’s what electrek.co says Tesla has done. Some of the clawbacks would date back to 2016. It remains to be seen if any suppliers will cooperate, now that Tesla is producing the promised 5,000 Model 3s per week.


YouTube Creator Plusses; Apple vs Qualcomm; Facebook Messenger Translations; Stanford Blockchain Research

YouTube has announced new ways for content creators to make money. Now, according to engadget.com, channels with over 100,000 subscribers will have access to Memberships, which will let viewers pay a monthly $4.99 fee to get exclusive access to badges, emoji, livestreams, members-only videos and shoutouts. YouTube had already offered this with Sponsorships, but that category was only available to a select group of content producers. If you have less than 100,000 subscribers, YouTube says it will offer Channel Memberships at $5 a month to more people in upcoming months. They are also partnering with Teespring for a merchandise shopping tool creators can use to sell custom gear on their channel. Initially, there are 20 different kinds of gear available. YouTube claims 1.9 billion monthly logged in viewers. 

The Apple-Qualcomm legal battle rages on. Apple has now filed petitions with the US Patent and Trademark Office challenging validity of 4 Qualcomm patents…saying they don’t cover new ideas. Macrumors.com says they cover camera autofocus, a gadget that functions as a phone and digital assistant, touch-sensitive displays, and circuit memory. This type of challenge is a favorite of Apple lawyers…Apple has filed just shy of 400 such challenges with the Patent Office. A panel of 3 judges will now consider Apple’s petition and Qualcomm’s response. Apple and Qualcomm have been hashing it out legally since early 2017, mainly in a dispute over royalties due Qualcomm.

Facebook has rolled out M Translations for Messenger. M Translations join the existing M Suggestions features that are already built into Messenger for things like quick replies, polls, and sharing your location. English-Spanish translation should now be available in both the US and Mexico. The feature was announced at Facebook’s F8 gathering earlier this year. Theverge.com reports that translation had been available for Marketplace transactions, but now all Messenger conversations have the feature. It should work pretty seamlessly. The app will note if, for example, English is your default language, and the Messenger bot will automatically pop up and offer to translate a message you receive in Spanish. Facebook says other languages will be coming, but hasn’t offered a time line as to when.

A group of crypto startups and organizations are sponsoring a new blockchain research center headquartered at Stanford University. According to coindesk.com, The Center for Blockchain Research is being led by two professors who have specialties in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The research outfit plans to “develop best practices” for blockchain by bringing the university scientists and the industry’s top leaders together. The center will focus on designing a blockchain curriculum for both students and working professionals. The new center notes that blockchain is becoming increasingly critical to doing business globally.


Qualcomm-New AR & VR Chips; Microsoft Passes Alphabet Market Cap; Amazon Expands Whole Foods Discount; Siri Driven Beats speaker coming

Qualcomm has rolled out a dedicated chipset for mass market AR and VR headsets. According to techcrunch.com, the Snapdragon XR1 will support 4K streaming at 60fps. The chipset is aimed at helping manufacturers cut the cord to PC tethered systems. Qualcomm says the chipset won’t match PC based systems, but says for a lot of users, the higher graphics and memory bandwidth of chips like the Snapdragon 845 aren’t needed for a good VR or AR experience.

The horserace is on! Fully 4 tech companies are in the hunt to become the first company in the world with a trillion dollar market cap. Businessinsider.com reports that Microsoft has passed up Google parent Alphabet for the first time in 3 years this week, hitting $753 billion…compared to Alphabet’s $739. Apple and Amazon are still #1 and #2, and it is most likely one of them will cross over the mark first, but it’s still amazing to see 4 tech giants nearing the trillion dollar milestone!

On the subject of Amazon, they are expanding their 10% off discount deal at Whole Foods for Prime members to 12 additional states. According to geekwire.com, all 365 Whole Foods stores will be included now. Available deals will rotate weekly. Customers also get the savings with Whole Foods grocery delivery, which is free for Prime members using Prime Now on orders over $35. Amazon is really trying to unload the upscale grocer’s ‘Whole Paycheck’ reputation. Of course, Amazon also just raised the cost for prime 20 bucks to $119 a year!

Among predictions of things to debut at Apple’s WorldWide Developers Conference next week, analyst Gene Munster says look for a Beats branded cheaper version of the HomePod…also powered by Siri. Macrumors.com says it may sell for around $250. We’ll recap the WWDC keynote highlights next week.