News roundup: Apple beats Google, Amazon, and Microsoft to $1 trillion

A roundup of the week’s technology news including do not buy lists, Google in China, and Tesla surfboards.

A roundup of the week’s technology news including do not buy lists, Google in China, and Tesla surfboards.


Do not buy

The US Defense Department this week acknowledged it has a ‘do not buy’ list for software that excludes Chinese and Russian companies. Ellen Lord, the Defense Department’s acquisitions chief, said the DoD has had that the list for around six months and works closely with intelligence agencies to be sure of the provenance of their technology. While Lord did not name names, it’s likely ZTE, Huawei, and Kaspersky Lab are on that list given recent headlines.

“What we are doing is making sure that we do not buy software that is Russian or Chinese provenance, for instance, and quite often that is difficult to tell at first glance because of holding companies,” Lord said. “We have identified certain companies that do not operate in a way consistent with what we have for defense standards.”


Apple and the 12 zeros

Apple is now worth a trillion dollars. Trillion. With a T. The Cupertino Company passed the 12-zero valuation market cap on Thursday on the back of another healthy and highly profitable quarter. The iPhone maker is the first US company to reach the massive milestone, following PetroChina back in 2007 and Saudi oil giant Aramco.



Siemans has acquired low-code platform Mendix, ARM has snapped up Treasure Data, Facebook now owns Redkix, Cisco has bought Duo Security, HP has snaffled Apogee, Mimecast has purchased Solebit, DocuSign has got its hands on SpringCM, Imperva has splashed out for Prevoty, and Xero has taken over Hubdoc.

GE is reportedly looking to sell off its digital division. Uber is shutting down its self-driving truck division.



  • WikiLeaks has had 11,000 internal messaged leaked. Oh, the irony. WikiLeaks is saying some of the messages have been edited.
  • Facebook has removed a bunch of accounts attempting to interfere with US politics.
  • Turns out John McAfee’s unhackable bitcoin wallet is actually pretty hackable.
  • ICANN is ignoring its own advice and will not be releasing ‘.islam’ or ‘.halal’ name domains.


Google looks to China

Google may be re-entering the Chinese market. The Intercept is reporting that the company is planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in the Middle Kingdom. Codenamed ‘Dragonfly’, the site will blacklist websites and search terms around human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest. Amnesty accused the company of “putting profits before people”.


Hematene the hot new 2D material

2D materials are cool. First there was Graphene. Then Stanene. Then Silicene. Germanene. White Graphene. Phosphorene. Each one offering its own unique properties that could revolutionise electronics. The latest addition to the list of cool 2D super-materials is hematene.

Made from a single layer of hematite – a common source of iron ore -- hematene is magnetic and could be a good catalyst to speed up chemical reactions. Researchers at Rice university say it could be used in solar cells and serve as an ultrathin magnetic material for spintronic-based devices


AR windows still too small

While Augmented Reality headsets are cool, the most disappointing thing is often the field of view. Microsoft’s HoloLens had impressive video demos, but in reality, visibility is restricted to a very small window, which kills the feeling of immersion.

It seems Magic Leap’s debut product won’t fix this problem either. Documentation on the ML site suggests the field of view will be around 40 degrees horizontal by 30 degrees vertical, making it slightly better than the HoloLens but still very much just a small rectangle in the center of your vision. Maybe the next version will be better.


Tech utopia not to utopian

Isn’t Silicon Valley great? A tech utopia, where it turns out even incredibly well-paid tech workers can’t afford to live. According to anonymous workplace app Blind, an average of 59% of tech workers say they can’t afford to buy a house in the Bay Area. Just over half of Google and Facebook employees said they couldn’t afford to buy property, but for the likes of Cisco and eBay that figure shoots up to over 70%.

At the same time, new proposed regulations in San Francisco would forbid employee cafeterias in new corporate construction.

“These tech companies have decided to leave their suburban campuses because their employees want to be in the city, and yet the irony is, they come to the city and are creating isolated, walled-off campuses,” Aaron Peskin, a city supervisor who is co-sponsoring the bill, told the NYT. “This is not against these folks, it’s for them. It’s to integrate them into the community.”


Flipping pretty phones

Turing, the company which promised a super-secure phone but never quite delivered, is back! The Hubble Phone is a smartphone-come-clamshell and looks beautiful.

The specs promise 5G capabilities, ‘next generation’ gaming experiences, and an ‘emotional machine-intelligence chip’, whatever that is. It will reportedly ship with its own open source Keplerian Operating System.

Given Turing’s failure last time, don’t hold your breath for that 2020 release date. But still, it is a damn good-looking device.


Smart clothing that knows how often you wear it

What’s less useful than smart clothes? Smart clothes that don’t do anything other than track you. Tommy Hilfiger’s new Tommy Jeans Xplore range will track how often customers wear the clothes and reward users who wear these items enough with gig tickets and gift certificates. No thanks.


Tesla surfboards

Another week, and more branded tat from Elon Musk. This week he was hawking Tesla-branded surfboards for $1,500 a pop. Obviously, they sold out instantly and are going for extortionate amounts on eBay. I guess every little helps when you announced a $700 million loss in a single quarter.