What’s new in tech
Beijing pressures its tech sector
China is on the verge of nationalizing its tech sector, said Christopher Balding in Bloomberg.com. Last year, 34 Chinese startups surged into the world’s elite ranks of $1 billion–plus valuations, and private equity and venture capital investment there soared from $14 billion in 2012 to $120 billion in 2017. “By many measures, China’s tech companies seem unstoppable.” The Chinese government has noticed, too, and is using a raft of aggressive moves to signal it wants more control over the industry. Communist Party committees have become a fixture “at many tech firms,” tasked with examining “everything from operations to compliance with national goals.” Regulators have also examined taking a financial stake in the biggest Chinese tech companies, such as Alibaba and Tencent, while the companies themselves “have been widely encouraged” to pump money into state-owned firms.
Apple revamps news offering
Apple is building a paid news-subscription service it hopes can emulate the success of its Apple Music platform, said Christina Bonnington in Slate.com. In March, the company acquired Texture, a digital service often dubbed the Netflix of magazines, which lets users subscribe to more than 200 magazines for $9.99 a month. Apple plans to integrate Texture into Apple News, in order to grow Apple’s suite of subscription services. In Apple’s most recent quarterly results, those services, including iTunes, Apple Music, iCloud, and the App Store, earned $8.5 billion in revenue, a 13 percent increase over last year. “While iPhone sales continue to be Apple’s cash cow, the services segment is catching up” as phone-buying habits shift.
Google VR to preserve historical sites
Google is attempting to “preserve endangered historical sites in virtual reality,” said Nick Statt in TheVerge.com. The search giant is partnering with the nonprofit 3-D laser–scanning group CyArk to document and record sites “at risk of irreversible damage or total erasure due to human conflict and natural disasters.” The Open Heritage project will lean on CyArk’s laser-scanning prowess to capture data and enable the virtual re-creation of each site. The inspiration for Open Heritage came from the destruction by the Taliban of 1,500-year-old Buddhist statues in 2001. Sites earmarked for similar re-creation include a temple in Myanmar, a palace in Syria, and Mayan ruins in Mexico.