Eq: Tech

(San Francisco)

In today’s Tech Watch post, we will look at the growing battle in the wireless charging space, which is proving a hot segment. Wireless chargers are just as they sound, wireless mats on which you can place phones or other devices and have them charged. However, in a Betamax vs. VHS-like battle, multiple different technologies are emerging in the space, with powerful players on both sides. The Wireless Power Consortium, which includes LG, Philips, Samsung, and Sony is developing one type of technology, while the Power Matters Alliance, which includes Powermat—the most dominant company in the space—is developing a different form of the charging station. From the outside, the technologies are indistinguishable, but each requires separate hardware, so for now they are mutually exclusive. Powermat just won a lucrative contract from Starbucks, who plans to install Powermat’s stations in all of its stores by the end of 2015. The transmitter which is required to enable current phones to charge will likely start to be integrated into new phone models over the next year.

FINSUM: Evidently, the demand for wireless charging mats is massive—from individual consumers all the way to carmakers (like Cadillac, who is introducing it already), hotels, and airports. An interesting niche space for investment.

(San Francisco)

In an interesting development, major auto insurers, like Insurethebox, are announcing that the development of driverless cars may ultimately lead to the demise of their industry, as the cars are expected to drastically reduce the rate of accidents. The industry current underwrites more that $25 bn of premiums every year, but this figure could dwindle mightily as safety improvements and legislation may reduce the need for insurance. As Google, Volvo, GM, and a slew of other carmakers experiment with driverless cars, many are wondering how responsibility for crashes and repairs will be handled legally. In fact, that aspect is seen to be the driverless car’s single biggest impediment to full release—who is responsible when an accident happens? Currently, the US, UK, and several European countries have granted licenses to test driverless cars on public roads, and Google hopes to release its model to the public in the next few years.

FINSUM: The development of driverless cars does raise a major liability question, but if safety improvements are as drastic as touted, they would accordingly lower the overall need for insurance. Insurers may have to develop new revenue models to sustain business.


Infuriated over US accusations that China uses special military hackers to spy on the US and eager to boost its own state-controlled technology sector, China is targeting some of the US’ largest tech companies with tougher rules. Microsoft appears a particular target, and Chinese investigators are visiting the offices of major companies as they investigate concerns over US spying within China. Beijing appears to be trying to limit the scope of US tech company operations within China as a way to mitigate spying, which it believes is done through the companies, but it is also an attempt to stymie the corporations’ growth so young state-owned tech companies can get a better foothold in their domestic market. China is now routinely moving all of its government-related operations off of major US technology platforms, and the government has officially forbade state agencies from using Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system. All the issues have soured US tech companies’ formerly ebullient views on the Chinese market.

FINSUM: This seems to be somewhat of a “mini-sanction” that China is enacting against the US. It also seems to be retaliation for the US boosting tariffs on Chinese solar products to lofty levels. The Washington-Beijing tussle continues on all fronts.

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