Ng: Big stories in trade, technology

Wilson Ng

THE biggest stories on technology this year probably revolve around 5G and the China-US trade war.

5G is a new standard in mobile phones, and it is now being implemented in dozens of countries. The most striking feature of this new technology is its speed and low latency. 5G promises speed of up to 10 gigabits per second, which is almost a hundred times faster than the current 4G standard.

How would you feel if you can download the whole movie to your phone in just a few seconds?

Ericsson, one of the providers of 5G equipment believes that by the end of 2025, over 2.6 billion customers will be enjoying this fast internet speed. In fact, it also predicted that by the end of 2019, over 10 million customers will be using it.

Right now, over 100 countries have said that they are starting to install it in key cities, including the Philippines.

The only thing is that, the United States is uncomfortable about the situation. From over 10 providers of telecom equipment worldwide, only three players remained in the 5G race that are considered big enough namely, Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei, with the latter being the biggest.

There are no American companies in 5G, and if this is the technology of tomorrow, the United States would be left behind. What’s more, is that they have taken a stance that they won’t buy the equipment from Huawei because they may be able to snoop and provide backdoors. Therefore, with so much data passing through it, it may provide the Chinese government a means to steal state secrets from them.

China-US trade war

There has been a lot of trade friction going on with the two global economic powerhouses.

The United States has imposed tariffs from 10 to 25 percent on most products from China including technology products like mobile phones and personal computers, with most of these devices are mainly assembled and produced in China.

Of course, these costs will be passed on to customers. I guess many of us always envy why devices, tablets or flat screen televisions are so cheap in the United States. Maybe, in a few months, it won’t be anymore.

Online shopping activities

As I write this, the United States is celebrating its thanksgiving holidays. It’s a long weekend in November, with holiday from Thursday to Sunday. With this celebration comes Black Friday, which is essentially the biggest shopping day for everyone as almost all stores will have discounts to welcome the start of Christmas shopping.

Sales generated in last year’s Black Friday weekend was estimated to be at least US$700 billion for all stores, with online store like Amazon generating over $7 billion.

However, this is being eclipsed by a new shopping day in China called Singles Day, which happened about two weeks ago. A decade ago, Alibaba adopted the Singles Day (Nov. 11) as a marketing tool. 11-11 looks like four single guys standing. This year, Alibaba said it sold over $35 billion on that day.

It generated much higher than Amazon, so you can interpret it in different ways—ecommerce in China is more advanced, or the economy is really bigger. Or you can see it also differently—what sells now is not love, but loving yourself, or being single can be as big if not bigger market than the

family.