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Sonos, PopSockets speak out against Big Tech's dominance – CNET

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At an Amazon booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center during CES 2020 this month.


Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

As David Barnett tells it, Amazon is an abusive, unfair and uncaring partner to smaller businesses using its platform.

Barnett, founder and CEO of PopSockets, which makes adhesive grips for the backs of phones, on Friday lambasted the e-commerce giant for ignoring issues about counterfeit that he’d raised for months and bullying him to lower his prices. His comments were part of his sworn testimony before the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, which has been holding hearings to investigate the potentially excessive power of the biggest tech companies in the US.

“This is tiring, this is tiring week after week,” Barnett told lawmakers at the University of Colorado’s Wittemyer Courtroom, describing Amazon’s threats to extract better prices — a practice that ultimately caused him to end his partnership selling products directly to Amazon.

He says his company is now banned from selling on Amazon’s website on its own and he’s lost countless sales after cutting off the lucrative direct-sales relationship. Other companies, he suggested, would rather put up with Amazon pushing them around to keep getting paid.

Amazon, along with fellow tech giants Facebook, Google and Apple, have all faced tough scrutiny over the past year from lawmakers and regulators, who not that long ago looked at Silicon Valley in a far more positive way. Now officials are raising concerns about these companies’ growing dominance in the market, which could be squashing competition.

This work could bring about big changes in the tech industry, perhaps forcing big players to break up, cutting off future mergers, or creating new regulatory restrictions. Officials say they’re pursuing this work to make sure innovative new startups can thrive and customers can benefit from strong competition.


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These tech giants have defended themselves by saying they’re small players in their broader fields, like Amazon being a tiny part of global retail. Facebook has pointed to emerging competition like TikTok threatening its lead in social media.

Regarding its PopSockets relationship, an Amazon spokesperson on Friday said it’s continued to work with PopSockets on counterfeits even after the direct partnership ended, calling the company “a valued retail vendor.” The person said Amazon does require some popular brands to sell directly to Amazon, so the company can ensure the best prices are available for customers.

Amazon also pointed to an IDC study, which Amazon funded and which was released Thursday, that discusses the sales growth of small- and medium-sized businesses on Amazon’s platform.

This theme of imbalanced, dominating business relationships kept resurfacing during the hearing. As part of their relationship, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence told lawmakers, Google tried to restrict his company’s innovations and wanted insights into Sonos’ future product plans. Sonos this month sued Google, claiming the company stole its wireless speaker technology.

“There’s such a dominant power that exists with these companies that really even as a company of our size you feel like you have no choice,” Spence said.

A Google spokesperson responded: “Sonos has made misleading statements about our history of working together. Our technology and devices were designed independently. We deny their claims vigorously, and will be defending against them.”

Kirsten Daru, general counsel at Tile, and David Heinemeier Hansson, chief technology officer of Basecamp, offered similar complaints that tech giants Apple and Google so thoroughly dominated their markets that it was virtually impossible not to work with them. Those companies then use that power to make unexpected and unfair changes that can harm smaller businesses, they said. 

For instance, Hansson complained that Apple has been able to charge developers a 30% fee for paid apps for years because it faces little competition. Barnett, of PopSockets, said other online marketplaces that rival Amazon certainly exist, “but most of them are really tiny.”

Fred Sainz, an Apple spokesman, said Friday that the company built its App Store as a safe, trusted place for customers, and a great business opportunity for developers.

Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, who’s chairman of the subcommittee, has already raised serious concerns about these companies’ power, using terms like “economic nightmare” and “one algorithm tweak away from ruin” when talking about them on Friday.

Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado, shared these concerns, showing there’s bipartisan cooperation on this issue, but he warned against unnecessary government interventions.

For now the chance that any of these tech giants could get broken up is remote, and Wall Street has pushed all these companies’ stocks higher despite this negative attention. Still, when Microsoft went through similar antitrust reviews 30 years ago, the process lasted for a decade, so it’s anyone’s guess what the outcome will be over such a long timeline.

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Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 could borrow Galaxy S20 Plus camera setup – Android Authority

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Samsung Galaxy Fold rear cameras

Now that Samsung has launched its second foldable smartphone, the rumor mill has started buzzing about its upcoming third one.

Just yesterday we got word about the possible display size and release date of the alleged Galaxy Fold 2. Now, we have more details about the phone’s possible camera specs, design, and colorways.

XDA‘s Max Weinbach, who was responsible for leaking a bunch of information about the Galaxy S20 trio pre launch, seems to have his sights set on the Galaxy Fold 2 now. Weinbach revealed on Twitter that the Fold 2 will feature the same camera setup as the Galaxy S20 Plus.

This means that the phone could get a 12MP wide-angle sensor, a 64MP telephoto lens, a 12MP ultra-wide shooter, and a VGA time-of-flight sensor. By extension, it would also support 3x “hybrid optical” zoom and 30x hybrid zoom. A 10MP selfie camera can be expected up front.

Weinbach doesn’t really go into a lot of detail, but says that the Galaxy Fold 2’s outside screen will come with Samsung’s Infinity-V display and it will have a new form of the S-Pen. He also apparently knows that it’ll have blue, silver, gold, pink, and black colorways.

We’re not really sure how Weinbach came by this information so early, but he’s been right about a lot of Samsung leaks in the past. If this one turns out to be true, we can expect the Galaxy Fold 2 to borrow more features and characteristics from the Galaxy S20 series. Meanwhile, the phone is also rumored to bring some new hardware such as an under-screen selfie camera which we haven’t seen on any commercial phones until now. But it sounds like the inclusion of this tech isn’t guaranteed just yet.

It’s too early to say anything more about the so-called Galaxy Fold 2. Although, we do hope its display gets better scratch resistance than current foldable phones like the Galaxy Z Flip.

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Apple reportedly holding its iPhone 9 event on March 31 – Neowin

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It’s no surprise, but Apple is expected to be holding an event in March. According to a report from iPhone-Ticker (via 9to5Mac), that event will be at the end of March, likely on March 31. While last year’s spring event was focused completely on services, this one is more likely to be focused on hardware.

One device that’s expected to be announced is the iPhone 9, iPhone SE 2, or whatever else you might want to call it. Meant to be more of a low-cost alternative to modern iPhones, the iPhone 9 will keep the home button. In fact, it’s expected to pretty much be an iPhone 8 with updated internals, similar to how the original iPhone SE was an iPhone 5s with updated internals for those that wanted the older four-inch form factor. According to the report, the iPhone 9 will launch just a few days later on April 3.

Another thing that’s likely is that Apple could launch new iPad Pro models. It’s been nearly a year and a half since the Cupertino firm first announced the latest 11- and 12.9-inch models, so those could also see a spec bump.

While the report isn’t confirmed by any means, it matches the timeline for when we’re expecting these new products. Press invitations will likely be sent out a week or two prior to the event.

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Samsung might launch the Galaxy Fold 2 with an under-the-display camera by July – The Next Web

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Last week, Samsung launched its second foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Flip. Now, new reports are suggesting that the company might be already preparing to launch its next foldable — a sequel to the Galaxy Fold.

Korean news outlet Ajunews and the founder of Display Supply chain Consultants (DSCC), Ross Young, separately reported this development. Both sources said the Korean tech giant is working on the Galaxy Fold 2 under the project name Champ.

[Read: Surprise: The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip’s ultra-thin folding ‘glass’ scratches like plastic]

The new device will reportedly have a huge 7.7-inch screen when unfolded. Samsung is also testing an under-the-screen camera technology to provide a notchless display.

Last year, Oppo and Xiaomi showed under-the-screen technology. However, Xiaomi later clarified that the tech was not ready for mass production.

While these features are important, all eyes will be on the company to deliver a foldable display with better durability. Last year, the company had to delay the launch of the Galaxy Fold, after several reviewers pointed out teething problems with the screen. There have even been reports of a week-old Galaxy Z Flip display being damaged.

A report from Bloomberg published last week, suggested that Samsung is planning to stick with the “Galaxy Z” moniker for its foldable devices. So, the Fold 2 might well be called the Galaxy Z Fold.

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Published February 18, 2020 — 04:29 UTC

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