News Bytes – June
Sony jumps to Azure
In a surprise move which seems to have caught some of its employees off guard, Sony has announced plans to use Microsoft’s Azure cloud system for its games. Sony was originally planning to run its own cloud gaming operations through the PlayStation Now platform, but its servers and network infrastructure weren’t able to deliver the promised “as good as a console” gaming experience others (e.g. Google Stadia) claim they will be offering soon. This prompted Sony to look for new partners; it is thought that a partnership with Amazon Web Services was proposed, but the two companies could not agree on the terms and Amazon may be launching a separate cloud gaming service in the near future.
Sony’s partnership with Microsoft has excited the market, with stocks in Sony jumping almost 10% on the back of the announcement. However, it doesn’t appear to be a massive commercial turnaround, given that analysts have predicted that in five years’ time just 2% of the gaming market will be cloud-based.
Google restricts Huawei
Huawei’s position as the world’s second-biggest cell phone manufacturer may be under threat with Google’s compliance with US government orders to cease supplying the Chinese giant with components or software. Google’s dominant Android system is now unavailable to Huawei, although basic services and Google Play will still function, and the US Commerce Department has issued a temporary general license that means current owners of Huawei devices will still receive updates. While Huawei will still be able to use a basic version of Android, which is available free, an inability to access all features may have a massive impact on sales; Huawei enjoyed $105.2 billion in sales in 2018, but whether customers will be willing to risk investing in a smartphone that may not be able to run the latest software or accept updates remains to be seen. The Trump administration claims the action is necessary to prevent Huawei posing a security threat to US interests, something the company strenuously denies; the Chinese government alleges this is simply part of the current trade war between the two nations. The US order could have a serious effect on the US tech industry, with Huawei purchasing $11 billion worth of US hardware and software in 2018, purchases which now cannot be made without US government approval.