The secrets Google spilled in court

“Google’s revenue-sharing deal with Apple was a major part of the trial because Apple is believed to get the bulk of what Google pays out in those agreements. Having a default search placement on Apple devices, which make up roughly half of the smartphone market in the US, is extremely important to Google. We’ve known for years that Google pays Apple for that default placement — this also stops Apple from developing its own search engine — but that’s about it. While Google tried to keep virtually everything about the deal away from the public, we still got a few new details.

In an apparent slip-up, Google’s own witness in the waning days of the trial told us how much of Google’s ad revenue Apple gets: 36 percent for searches done on its Safari browser. The monetary value of that 36 percent is still a mystery. Judge Mehta did not disclose how big Apple’s slice of the $26.3 billion pie is, allowing the DOJ only to say it’s “more than $10 billion.” But the New York Times, citing internal Google sources, put it at $18 billion.”

“We didn’t just find out some of Google’s secrets; a few things about Apple came out, too. Apple’s senior vice president John Giannandrea testified that his company talked to Microsoft about buying Bing in 2018. Apple ultimately decided against it, but not before using the possibility as leverage in its search default negotiations with Google, something Microsoft is still pretty sore about. Apple executive Eddy Cue testified that the company chooses Google to be the default search because it believes Google is the best for its users. But speaking of Bing …”

“Multiple Microsoft executives, including CEO Satya Nadella, testified that Microsoft really, really wanted to make Bing the default search on Apple devices, to the point where it was willing to lose billions of dollars a year for the privilege. Samsung and Verizon, the trial also revealed, essentially refused to even negotiate with Microsoft over changing their search defaults to Bing. Perhaps they were thinking of Mozilla’s experience switching from Google to Yahoo. Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker testified that Yahoo offered more money and fewer ads, so Mozilla’s Firefox browser switched the default from Google to Yahoo in 2014. Mozilla switched back to Google a few years later, which Baker attributed to Google’s search being better for its users, echoing the point that Google emphasized in its defense.”

https://www.vox.com/technology/2023/11/16/23962967/google-search-antitrust-trial-what-we-learned

Israel and the West reckon with a high-tech failure

““The most common question is, where were the Israeli surveillance drones? The answer is everyone who should have called those drones was already dead,” said Israeli tech journalist Assaf Gilead.
The attack also sent shockwaves through the defense establishment in Washington and Europe, not least because Israel has become a key supplier of security and defense technology across the West.

Within Israel, failure of the military’s security technology fed into a broader sense of abandonment among citizens and victims, who called into news programs and texted family for help while gunmen rampaged for hours, unimpeded by Israeli soldiers.”

“the group that both the U.S. and Israel regard as a terrorist organization managed to use sheer numbers to overpower Israeli radar, cameras and automatic machine guns, said retired Israeli Brigadier General Amir Avivi. First, Hamas launched thousands of rockets, and then its militants moved in.

They analyzed the places which are not covered by machine guns and they simply went to the places that were a bit less exposed,” Avivi said. “They also attacked cameras, [surveillance] headquarters, they used drones to throw grenades at tanks. It was multiple attacks on army positions and towards the 22 towns surrounding the Gaza Strip.”

Once fighters were inside Israel, they attacked the Re’im base where drone and surveillance operators were concentrated. Graphic footage posted online by Hamas showed masked gunmen firing into the base, and depicted Israeli soldiers who appeared to be shot dead.”

““Perhaps what’s happened is the Israelis have become too reliant upon their technology and they should go back to some of their earlier techniques of just effectively infiltrating using human means,” she said.”

https://www.politico.com/news/2023/10/10/israel-hamas-technology-failure-00120667

America’s Immigrant Brain Drain

“The United States boasts more international students, immigrant inventors, and foreign-born Nobel laureates than any other country. But thanks to our dysfunctional immigration system, the U.S. is slowly surrendering that advantage to other countries.”

“Demand for H-1Bs far outpaces supply, and the annual cap of 85,000 visas has not changed in more than 15 years. Three-quarters of America’s H-1B workers are Indian. But thanks to caps on the number of green cards a given country’s nationals can receive each year, there is a massive backlog of workers waiting for permanent residency. It can take decades for Indians to achieve that status.”

” It is not just foreign workers who suffer under the U.S. immigration system. American employers are increasingly unwilling to navigate such complex processes to hire foreigners, depriving them of employees who might otherwise be perfect fits. Envoy Global, an immigration services provider, reported in March that 82 percent of the employers it surveyed “had to let go of foreign employees in the past year due to difficulties securing or extending an employment-based visa in the U.S.” A similar share transferred foreign workers to an office abroad for similar reasons. And a staggering 93 percent of the businesses that Envoy surveyed said they were considering nearshoring or offshoring.”

https://reason.com/2023/09/26/americas-immigrant-brain-drain/

Taiwanese Company Demands U.S. Taxpayers Cover the Higher Costs of Making Semiconductors in Arizona

“The largest semiconductor manufacturer on the planet agreed to open factories in the U.S. instead of abroad. The company wants the government to pick up the tab for the difference in cost, even as it postpones production.”

“In a January 2023 earnings call, TSMC Chief Financial Officer Wendell Huang said that while he couldn’t give an exact number for the financial discrepancy between building in the U.S. and Taiwan, “the major reason for the cost gap is the construction cost of building and facilities, which can be 4 to 5x greater” in the U.S.

Of course, part of that gap can be explained by factors like the difference in the cost of living—by one estimate, over twice as much in the U.S. as in Taiwan. But in November 2022, a month before Biden announced the project, TSMC wrote in a public response to questions from the Commerce Department that it doesn’t “see access to capital as a significant barrier to growth in the US”—rather, specific factors making the project more expensive included “federal regulatory requirements that increase project scope and cost.”

Rather than forking over billions of dollars to a single company, the Biden administration should take steps to ease regulatory burdens on expanding companies. Similarly, plenty of firms could benefit from a greater number of high-skilled workers, like those proficient in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. And yet foreign nationals who graduate in STEM fields from American universities face near-impossible challenges to stay in the country and most end up going elsewhere. Congress could help that situation by raising the number of green cards that can be issued annually.

With TSMC’s delay, Biden and Congress have an opportunity. TSMC admits that its issues are bureaucratic, not financial, so there’s no need to shovel more money at a wealthy company. Instead, lawmakers should get rid of cumbersome regulations and create a more welcoming environment for both businesses and workers.”