Fresh off the IT Block on 11th August 2020
Hello again, welcome back to another release of fresh off the block from us at IT Block! Today's news stories will focus on Huawei's chip supply struggles, how you can "Brydge" the gap, with a new wireless keyboard, and how AMC's new deal has created tension amongst cinemas and studios.
Huawei says it is struggling to supply the chips for its phones thanks to US sanctions
Thanks to continued US sanctions, smartphone manufacturer Huawei has stated it is now running out of its chip supplies. Huawei's CEO Richard Yu has claimed that the company will also no longer be able to make its own Kiren chip sets, as these also rely on US manufacturing technology to be put together.
Their orders for US chips had to end on May 15th of this year, meaning that in just over a month's time on the 15th September, Huawei will no longer be able to receive, or sell any phones with US made components, regardless of whether the components are originally from another country. If the US is involved in any stage of the manufacturing process, Huawei would be breaking the terms of these trade restrictions.
Huawei have repeatedly denied accusations from the Trump administration that they are using their phones to spy on the US government and to steal data from key figures in the US like politicians, entrepreneurs and celebrities. Since May 2019, 114 affiliates of Huawei have been on the US government's entity list. The entity list is basically all of the people or companies that the US government believes are following practices that contradict the laws and interests of the US.
As a result, Huawei has been given no choice than to lose the opportunity of getting an Android license, meaning no Google apps can be used on Huawei's phone models. The Chinese based phone supplier is also having to branch out its chip manufacturing back to eastern countries like Taiwan and China. Qualcomm has been one of the newest western companies attempting to get a deal with Huawei. The US based chip manufacturer is currently lobbying against US regulators to try and seal a deal with the smartphone company. They state that the US is actually giving away $8 billion USD a year in revenue to Chinese chip manufacturers as a result of the sanctions, rather than Huawei being the one losing out on revenue.
These sanctions haven't seen a hit to Huawei's figures to be fair though. Huawei reported better than expected sales in the second quarter of 2020, they ended up selling more phones than Samsung, meaning they (for now) hold the title of the world's largest smartphone company.
The news from Qualcomm will only further benefit Huawei, with the chip manufacturer hoping that a more secure production of chips can help both Huawei and the US 5G market prosper as more masts are built and the network begins to grow more widespread. It is only a matter of time before demand for 5G phones replicates that of current 4G phones, and Huawei will quite clearly want to be part of that in every applicable market. They will take all of the legal steps to try and ensure they maintain a foothold of the US market, that's something we can all expect.
"Brydge" the gap - Check out these new wireless keyboards!
If you're in the market currently for a premium wireless keyboard, this might be your new go-to! Brydge have partnered up with Microsoft to release an all-new "designed for surface" wireless keyboard and track pad. Designed especially for Surface Pro and Surface Go users, the new W-Touch trackpad, as well as the W-Type keyboard, will bring a new level of seamless typing, clicking and surfing.
It is scheduled for release on the 17th August, with the W-Touch set to be listed for $99.99 (USD) and the W-Type set for a $59.99 (USD) price tag. Although expensive for a trackpad, it is apparently the first ever one built as a standalone product, especially for Windows 10. You can look forward to utilising senstitive features like pinch-to-zoom, multi finger swipes, and a generally impressive surface area to work with (5.5 by 3.3 inches - Slightly smaller than Apple's own trackpad model).
Probably more impressive is the power and connectivity available. The W-Touch will give users Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, as well as a battery life lasting up to one month! This model will charge via USB-C, so for all of you Samsung Galaxy S8/9 users, you can now charge both your trackpad and your phone from the same charging cable.
As for the W-Type, it also runs off a USB-C type charging lead, and will provide the same long- lasting power of up to a month. Microsoft would always overcharge for a wireless keyboard, as it is their own branded keyboard of course! The keyboard is pretty impressive though, even for the 60 dollar price tag. It is detailed with aluminium, plus the keys have 2mm travel, something that Brydge claims is the perfect amount of key travel. Stack this full-size keyboard up against what we have seen built into other Surface laptop models, and we see a definite reason to be excited.
The W-Type brings an impressive Bluetooth 5.1 level of connectivity, meaning you can support up to 4 devices, and easily switch between your desired device without having to register your keyboard. Simply search for your device in the bluetooth menu and you'll be ready to go in under 2 minutes.
The new keyboard from Brydge might make your Surface Pro/Surface Go laptop a little chunky looking, and you will find the bluetooth connection isn't as sensitive as the pogo pin models (The ones you click onto your surface monitor), but the travel and feel of the keys seems to be very impressive, and you'll find that working and surfing the internet becomes far smoother.
AMC/Universal deal sparks tension in the world of cinemas and studios
In the world of cinemas, the world's largest cinema chain, AMC theatres, has just signed a deal with Universal Studios which will completely reshape the market for movie releases. From now on, any movie released by Universal will be able to go straight to VOD (Video on demand) after just 17 days, as opposed to the previous 70 day waiting period.
Now, this is great news for two groups of people, streaming services like Google Play and iTunes, and also their viewers. One of the big factors in this deal is that the new releases won't be extended to then play on the big streaming services like Netflix or Hulu.
Other big cinema chains like Cineworld and their American-owned Regal have largely vented their disapproval over the deal, stating that the move doesn't show any business sense, and is the wrong move at the wrong time, considering the current climate. Cineworld have reiterated they will not be changing their policy, and only intend to deliver screenings of movies that adhere to the classical 70 day period, before releasing the movie on any form of VOD.
For lovers of services like Disney+, otherwise referred to as a PVOD (Premium video on demand) service, they'll be intrigued to know that Mulan is going to be available from the 4th September. The only catch with this is it'll cost $30 (USD) - That's basically what it costs for a family of 4 to visit the theatres, or at least for a basic ticket where you get those old style seats, and not the leather remote controlled chairs!
Moves like this were to be expected - The demand for streaming services has increased massively since lock down began, and many people are touting it as the shift away from cinema. Others believe cinema can, and will bounce back. Cinemas are one of the most recession-proof industries going, they survived the 2008/09 financial crisis, the first and second world wars, and the great depression (This is based off Cineworld's long history, but we are pretty sure there are other brands who have survived just as long, if not longer).
The cinema experience is hard to replicate at home, that's for sure - Although TVs and projector screens have grown in size and popularity, nothing beats the big screen, and we can't see cinemas going away any time after COVID, even with the new 17 day deal. If you want to see the proposed movie line up for the rest of the year and into 2021, you can do so here. The list includes both movies set for a cinema-only release, as well as those going straight to VOD, in case you're wanting to watch from home on the day of release!