1. Trump declares national emergency to protect US networks from foreign espionage
President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to “deal with the threat posed by the unrestricted acquisition or use in the United States of information and communications technology… supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of foreign adversaries.”
Reports that the president would sign the executive order were circulating last night, and, as reported, it’s clear that China is the main target for U.S. concerns — even as the two nations continue to escalate their trade war.
While the U.S. has already restricted government contractors and federal agencies from using technology supplied by Huawei or its subsidiaries, this new executive order gives Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other federal agencies broad powers of oversight and approval over private company transactions.
The president had been considering using the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which gives the president broad powers to regulate commerce during a national emergency, since at least last May, when The Wall Street Journal first reported the potential for executive action.
The U.S. Justice Department has issued an unprecedented string of indictments against Chinese hackers since last September, in addition to specifically targeting companies like ZTE and Huawei, which the U.S. has also accused of spying for the Chinese government.
2. Sony and Microsoft team up on cloud-based gaming and entertainment
In an unlikely turn of events, Microsoft and Sony announced today that they are teaming up to tackle the future of entertainment together. The companies are planning to work together to build future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure that will support gaming and content streaming. Sony will also use Microsoft datacenters for its existing game and streaming platforms. The agreement could open up the possibility of cross-play in the future, despite previous reluctance between the competing firms.
The partnership effectively allows Sony to tap Microsoft’s technology to help in areas that the company has struggled with. Sony has taken heat for years over slow download speeds, something that typically hasn’t plagued Xbox owners. Using Azure data centers and eventually moving over to Microsoft’s cloud solutions should allow Sony to focus on its own platform rather than trying to solve technical issues. Sony will also tap Microsoft’s artificial intelligence services to improve the user interface in its products.
So what does Microsoft get out of the deal? Aside from adding a major customer to its already very profitable cloud business, the company will gain access to Sony’s image sensors, which it plans to use to create “new intelligent image sensor solutions.” The companies appear primarily focused on how to improve the functionality of the sensors for enterprise customers, though consumer solutions — an improved Kinect-style system, for instance — are also possible.
3. A glimpse to the future – By 2038, the world will buy more passenger electric vehicles than fossil-fueled cars
Car makers are busy electrifying their vehicles, but they’ll still have to wait as much as two decades before consumers buy more electric cars than conventional fossil-fuel ones.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the media company’s research service, predicts that sales of passenger electric vehicles (EVs) will reach 50 million by 2038, when they will exceed the 47 million units of conventional passenger vehicle sales, according to the organization’s 2019 outlook. The gap will increase as sales of passenger EVs reach 56 million, or 10 million more than sales of those powered by internal combustion engines, two years later.
BNEF’s prediction marks a significant increase from present passenger EV sales—conventional passenger vehicle sales in 2018 were about 85 million units, while passenger EVs clocked in at around 2 million. China, the world’s largest EV market, contributed to about half of those, with sales of both battery EVs and plug-in hybrids. Yet the roughly one million units only accounted for around 4% of the total passenger cars sold in China last year, while sales of passenger EVs in the US made up around 6% of its total passenger car market, according to the Sierra Club environmental group.
The prediction comes as the auto industry is likely entering a recession, according to an analysis by Canada-based global investment bank RBC Capital Markets. The auto slowdown is likely a combination of many factors, including the world’s growing dislike of petrol products amid increasing worry about global warming and air pollution. The age of ride-sharing has also had an impact on car ownership.
In China, the share of passenger EV sales in overall EV sales has increased as the government phases out generous support, such as subsidies to both manufacturers and buyers. But the rest of the world is catching up. BNEF says China will go from accounting for nearly half of all passenger EVs sold in 2025, to only around a quarter in 2040, or around 15 million. It will be followed by Europe and the US, which will take up around 20% and 16% separately.
EV sales might overtake conventional ones faster if more countries turn goals and pledges into law. Nine countries, including Denmark, Italy, and Norway, have said they will ban internal combustion engines, but few of those claims have become law. China hinted in 2017 it would ban fossil-fuel cars, but didn’t set a date yet—though it has basically nixed building new car factories that only make such cars from this year.