How major technology giants play Fun supply chain

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that in order to ensure that cobalt, an important mobile phone battery material, would not be in short supply due to a blowout in the electric car industry, Apple is discussing the possibility of direct procurement of cobalt materials from several mines.

Although the current multi-party talks are still confidential stage, but informed sources said that Apple is now given the program is to seek suppliers to buy thousands of tons of cobalt material, a period of 5 years or longer, and there have been three cobalt mine sources have identified The news.

From this we can see that although the core competitiveness of technology giants is still their own products and services. However, in the current global context of production, any mistakes in the supply chain will lead to their own market position will be affected. In this issue, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, after another battery explosion may be the best embodiment.

In fact, by investing upstream suppliers for a steady supply of raw materials, parts and components, this is already a long way in the global technology industry. So, other than Apple’s attempt to secure cobalt supplies by contracting directly with miners, what other tech giants have done in the supply chain?


Google’s efforts in supply chain management are evident in recent years. Perhaps most striking is that it invested at least 1 trillion won (about $ 880 million) in LG Display last April to help boost its smartphone OLED screen production capacity .

Specifically, Google invested about $ 880 million in LG Display to expand capacity to reduce the huge capital cost LG Display faces. In exchange, LG Display will ensure a steady supply of flexible OLED screens to Google for use on the next generation of Pixel handsets.

The backdrop to this investment is Samsung Display Corp., which monopolizes almost all of the world’s production capacity in the organic area of ​​mobile phones (Samsung currently accounts for more than 95% of the global mobile device OLED market). Moreover, there is news that Apple has ordered 160 million of its organic screen, plus Samsung monitors also give their own Samsung mobile phones to provide an organic screen, so other handset manufacturers have been difficult to purchase from Samsung to the organic screen. So, like other vendors, Google is also beginning to look to another of the world’s largest organic screen maker LG.

In the meantime, Google, which has recently invested heavily in driverless technology, hopes to strengthen its supply chain management capabilities in this area.

For example, Google recently led Daniel Munoz, Apple’s global supply chain manager, to help the company manage its global supply chain for driverless car projects. Mullis, formerly a global supply chain manager for iPhone and later in the Apple Watch team, has been seen internally as the most suitable candidate for Tim Cook’s post-Apple global COO position.


Speaking of Amazon, we can not fail to mention the company’s efforts in recent years to skip directly to individuals and corporate customers in the middle of such issues as skipping logistics and warehousing.

In fact, the past few years, Amazon has been building a high profile logistics and distribution network. According to MWPVL International, a supply chain consultancy, Amazon basically built a shipping system for the past three years, with about 70 express mail locations in 21 U.S. states and 44% of U.S. citizens within 20 miles An Amazon Express point, compared with only 5% in 2010 when this ratio.

In 2012, Amazon acquired Kiva Systems, maker of robotics, for $ 775 million, significantly improving Amazon’s logistics system. It is reported that by 2015, Amazon has increased the number of robots to 10,000 for the major centers in North America. Kiva systems operate 2-4 times more efficiently than traditional logistics operations, robots run 30 miles an hour with 99.99% accuracy.

As early as December 2013, Amazon piloted the Prime Air unmanned courier service. Customer orders online, if the weight of 5 pounds or less, you can choose to delivery drones, courier delivered home within 30 minutes. The whole process of unmanned, unmanned aerial vehicles in the logistics center line automatically pick the end, direct flight to customers.

This year, Amazon also announced the launch of “Shipping with Amazon” in Los Angeles and Fedex, UPS’s own courier service. The service will be delivered directly to third-party parcels sold on the platform and will be cheaper than the current UPS and FedEx. Therefore, after the news was released, the shares of FedEx and UPS dropped 1.7% and 2.6% respectively on the same day.

Moreover, Amazon is also the first company to promote big data to the e-commerce logistics platform. For example, Amazon took the lead in opening up a whole new “driverless” smart supply chain system in some markets, including China. Based on the data of cloud technology, big data analysis, machine learning and intelligent system, the system automatically predicts, automatically purchases, replenishes and automatically positions warehouses, and automatically adjusts the precise stock delivery according to the customer’s needs so as to automate the massive stock of goods , Accurate management, the whole process is almost zero manual intervention.

It is worth mentioning that, although Amazon has more than one other body in the logistics network leader, but the company did not stop the pace of their own innovation. For example, there is news that Amazon is developing a smart doorbell, hope that through this solution so that couriers can put parcels directly indoors, so as to solve the problem of package loss.


Electric car giant Tesla is in talks with SQM, Chile’s largest lithium producer, on the supply of raw materials for lithium batteries. The Chilean side said Tesla may agree to set up a processing plant in the country to produce the high quality lithium needed for its batteries. If the supply contract and construction plan to succeed, then this will be Tesla first set foot in the field of lithium battery raw materials.

According to the current news, the negotiations between the two sides are still in their infancy and it is unclear what kind of cooperation will eventually be made. But Tesla’s idea is that the company invests in lithium-processing technology to extract lithium, a raw material for car batteries, from brine in Chile’s desert and may even bring a partner to make a negative battery in Chile.

Like the cobalt material mentioned above, the price of lithium material, an upstream resource for the EV industry, has tripled since 2015. In addition to Tesla, global automakers are beginning to lock in the supply of lithium raw materials to expand the production scale of their own electric vehicles.

For example, Toyota Tsusho, a Japanese toyota group that oversees investment and trading operations, recently agreed to pay 282 million Australian dollars for a 15% stake in Australian lithium miner Orocobre, which will be used to expand Orocobre’s carbonated The annual production capacity of lithium is expected to increase by 143% from 17,500 tons in 2017 to 42,500 tons.

In addition, Tesla’s existing range of models also have ultra-luxury supply chains worldwide. In its powertrain system, electric drive system, charging the three major systems, a total of 38 direct suppliers. Among them, there are five Japanese companies, all of which are in the lithium battery pack, covering lithium batteries, positive electrodes, negative electrodes, electrolytes and separators; 21 Chinese enterprises have become direct suppliers; two in Taiwan; two in the United States, including Tesla Itself; one in Mexico and two in the EU. In addition, there are 30 companies in Tesla indirect suppliers list.

Only, compared to the company’s engineering feat in products, Tesla’s supply chain sometimes chain out. Recently, workers were forced to hand-craft Model 3 parts by supply shortages and robot production failures, partly due to the complex global supply chain environment owned by the Model 3 models.

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Amazon levied 6% sales tax on some states in the United States

According to CNBC’s Beijing time on March 3, has notified third-party sellers that sales tax will soon begin to be imposed on goods sold to Pennsylvania.

On the vendor-only sellers platform, Amazon said that from April 1, Amazon “will calculate, charge and transfer sales tax” for orders that are delivered to users in Pennsylvania. Amazon spokesman confirmed this policy.

Amazon’s new service is called Marketplace Tax. Pennsylvania is the second U.S. state to levy ecommerce sales tax following Washington, DC, where Amazon’s headquarters are located. Last year Pennsylvania lawmakers passed a law that requires Internet retailers to impose sales taxes to create a level playing field for physical stores.

As more retail deals move online, states seek to offset a drop in tax revenues and Amazon is being forced to accept the new legislation for online retailers in the states. Internet sales in the United States have never been taxed since 1992, unless the merchant has a physical store in the user’s state. In a report released late last year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that the U.S. state and local governments could have collected a maximum of $ 13 billion in taxes on e-commerce sales last year.

Under Pennsylvania’s new law, sales tax will be levied regardless of whether an e-commerce platform merchant has a physical store in the state. So if a small Atlanta clothing company sends a dress to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it now charges 6% sales tax. So far, Amazon has taxed the sales of its merchandise, but will allow third-party merchants on the platform to handle the tax on the sales of merchandise they sell.

In addition to Washington and Pennsylvania, states such as Colorado and South Dakota have also passed legislation forcing Internet sales taxes to be imposed.

Amazon said on the seller platform page that merchants do not have to take any action or pay any fees for the company’s automatic tax collection service and are unable to opt out or restrict sales to specific states for tax reasons.

In the future, whether there are more states in the United States to follow suit levying Internet sales tax, may depend on the United States Supreme Court. Starting in April, the U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments from South Dakota officials, who believe the 1992 ruling is no longer valid given the changing economic conditions.

Microsoft introduced the blind for VR equipment

Foreign media recently exposed a new Microsoft study. The project combines VR with a set of haptic devices designed to allow visually impaired people to explore the VR world as they would in the real world.

This device is called CaneTroller, mainly consists of 5 parts:

The first is a Braing Mechanism hanging on my waist. I call it Brakes. Like a brake disc, this device controls the front-to-back slide of the bar to which it is attached.

The second part is a hand-held rod-shaped controller, called it the joystick (the laboratory is the use of ordinary alpenstock plus control system).

The third part is the slider. The slider connects the brakes and the joystick, and the user controls the brakes to determine where your joystick (stick) can extend.

The fourth part is Voice Coil. Software control circuit, and then make it vibrate through the magnetic field changes.

Finally, we are familiar with the Vive suite. The lever is tied to the Vive Tracker, with a Vive helmet on the user’s head and a Lighthouse base station in the corner of the ceiling.

With this VR device, the program can position the joystick in the virtual world and recognize the movement of the “stick.”

Let’s see how it works.

The user holds the joystick and points on the floor, similar to the blind pathfinder. The difference is that the control lever is too short to reach the floor at all.

The scene simulated in the program is not the same.

In order to facilitate the presentation, Microsoft deliberately made a MR video, the virtual and the real scene mix.

In the virtual world, a longer rod is simulated, the length of which is set according to the specific needs of the user. At the same time, some virtual objects are also arranged in the virtual world.

When this virtual blind stick touches a virtual floor or other object, the voice coil motor produces high-frequency vibrations that simulate a real collision. In the meantime, the brakes pass the “brake” to stop the stick from moving in the direction of the obstacle. Only feel from the touch, you will feel the grip of the hands really touched something.

Function is justified, however, in the real world, take the root stick trash can easily achieve the thing, why deliberately wear a VR glasses, but also specifically to develop a program to experience this virtual collision?

And blind people wearing VR glasses? What is the significance?

Back to this question: people silly more money?

Do not worry, after all, it’s called Microsoft, let’s see.

Through software control, the voice coil on the joystick accurately simulates the effect of a click or slide. Not only different materials of different terrain sounds, the pace of movement, strength and so can accurately simulate.

Meet an ordinary wall, no challenge.

Common blinds at the station, cane sliding friction and meal touch are simulated very well

At the same time, 3D headphones also provide accurate 3D space sound. This means that just as in the real world, visually impaired users can move forward normally through ordinary two-point touch.

Careful people will find that the root of the virtual stick is always stabbed into the floor. This is because the brake can only control the lever in the horizontal direction, in the vertical plane helpless.

After all, Microsoft, they first thought of using software to make up for the lack of hardware: When the dummy stick moved to where it should not be, the program sounded an alarm.

Listen to Microsoft finish these nonsense operation, the time to witness the miracle.

In order to verify the practicality of the product, the research team asked several people who were visually impaired to use the blind stick for testing. They first learned how to use the device. The goal of the formal test is to find and identify all the objects in the virtual scene with the aid of this device, just by listening and touching.

Among them, the indoor scene with trash cans, blankets, tables.

Outdoor scene is a traffic intersection. Users need to find a blind spot, find the traffic light column, to determine the safe place to cross the road.

Of the nine people who participated in the test, eight said the correct layout of the virtual scene in minutes.

The product is roughly the case, what are its applications? Black box that there are three main:

First, let those with visual impairment, through this device for safe exploration of environmental training. While training with solid carpets, bricks and trash cans is not a problem, it’s not easy to explore more scenarios.

The second is to let visually impaired people experience the blind world. This is not for fun, of course, but for those who serve or design for the blind to understand the actual needs of the blind.

Third, let the blind experience VR. At first, I only understood the device as a training product, but the comments from foreign netizens inspired me: Why can not blind people experience VR?

Robert Accardi, a YouTube user, said everyone underestimated the potential of such products. If you do not have a cane, just let the environment of various objects according to different textures and different distances make different voices, until the human brain to form a reflection or memory. When you put on a pair of glasses that convert ambient 3D information into 3D sound effects, it is equivalent to “seeing” the world with glasses.

There are users questioned, there is no image, it is also called VR?

“Virtual reality is nothing more than the use of software to simulate the real world, not necessarily through the visual sensor to simulate.” User Luca Conesa think so.

The blind also have to explore the world’s needs, and even more intense desire. With VR, they can explore a variety of simulated realistic scenes in safer conditions.

In addition, with the enhancement of haptics and other sensory techniques, there may be content suitable for people with sight or hearing impairment in the future. Who says this can not be just what they need?

Dell or concentrate on the reverse acquisition of VMware transactions, no longer focus on the IPO

According to foreign reports, sources said on Thursday that Michael Dell and his advisors are currently focusing their energy on the transaction that led Dell back into the securities market through a reverse acquisition of VMware, a publicly traded subsidiary. It is reported that, Dell has no longer attached importance to the choice of initial public offering (IPO), because this method can not simplify the company’s capital structure.

It is reported that Dell’s final decision or the reverse acquisition of VMware’s transaction will take at least one more month to complete. Reverse acquisition of VMware’s transaction is equivalent to capital replacement, Dell does not need to pay cash will be able to complete. By merging the assets of both companies into a new publicly traded entity, Dell is also able to access VMware’s entire cash flow. Reverse acquisition, also known as “backdoor listing” or “reverse takeover”, generally refers to the non-listed companies to buy shares of listed companies to obtain the listing status, and then inject their own business and assets, to achieve the purpose of indirect listing.

Michael – Dell is currently considering re-entering the securities market, partly due to the company’s server business is growing, and the PC business remained stable. Dell is currently the world’s largest private technology company. After borrowing $ 67 billion in EMC’s acquisition of EMC in 2015, Dell, which is heavily indebted, seeks to gain new growth through deals, though it has gradually reduced its debt by about $ 10 billion way. The acquisition of EMC’s deal did not allow Dell to achieve its planned cost cutting and performance targets. At the same time, rising parts prices and data storage market conditions eroded Dell’s profit margins. The company is facing a lot of pressure on improving its profitability.

The launch of the tax reform program in the United States at the end of last year, coupled with the increased risk of rising interest rates, put more pressure on raising more cash and could exacerbate Dell’s debt burden. The reverse acquisition of VMware, a business software company, will give Dell access to the company’s $ 11.6 billion in cash to help it trim its current debt of $ 52.5 billion.

In a statement last month, Dell and VMware said the company is evaluating potential “business opportunities,” including initial public offerings or reverse mergers. Dell also said that the company has not yet made any decision, the future may terminate the transaction, continue to operate independently under the current framework.

The merger between Dell and VMware enabled the two companies to be managed by the same management team to help them coordinate their strategy. Dell’s hardware and VMware’s software may be packaged into a set of products for sale. Dell acquired 82% of VMware’s stake in EMC by acquiring EMC. Under the terms of a lockdown signed by Dell, the company was unable to acquire the remaining shares of VMware by the end of September. Industry insiders, in this case, Dell must reverse merger with VMware, and the deal on Dell and Silver Lake is the most favorable. To reflect the fairness, the source said, the latter board considered increasing the so-called “minority majority” voting session at Dell’s reverse merger with VMware.

With the reverse acquisition of VMware, Dell will become a public company. The move could also provide a channel for private equity firm Silver Lake to finally withdraw from its investment in Dell. Silver Lake previously helped Michael Dell to complete a $ 24.9 billion deal for Dell in 2013. Currently, Silver Lake holds approximately 18% of Dell’s stake.

Under the new U.S. tax law, Dell can only pay off 30% of its $ 52.5 billion debt when it pays taxes. Dell paid as much as $ 2 billion in interest last year, but could be deducted from the amount of tax due. As of now, Dell did not comment on this.

Analyst: Apple device life cycle over four years, new products are not sold well

In the past two years, sales of Apple mobile phones have dropped continuously, Apple and Cook into a development crisis. One of the reasons, is believed to be an extension of the upgrade cycle of Apple’s mobile phone, affecting the sales of mobile phones.

According to the latest news from foreign media, one analyst’s recent analysis pointed out that the average life expectancy of Apple devices is actually four years, which is almost twice that of the generally believed upgrade period of the Apple mobile phone.

In the past, many agencies reported that the cycle of U.S. consumer replacements for Apple phones has been extended to two years, and consumers have been able to get new Apple phones for just $ 199 with the carrier subsidy system in the past. However, the cancellation of operating subsidies and the decline of innovation in Apple’s mobile phones have led to an extension of the upgrade cycle.

According to AppleInsider, a U.S. technology news website, Horace Dediu, an analyst with Asymco, a market research firm, recently conducted a study on the useful life of Apple hardware products.

The analyst based on Apple’s quarterly unit sales, and Apple released an important data before: iOS’s active use of equipment has reached 1.3 billion units.

The analyst produced detailed charts and found that the lifespan of Apple hardware devices is actually 17 quarters, which is four years and three months.

This time than the generally considered Apple mobile phone upgrade cycle doubled. This also means that the useful life of existing products increases, from another aspect also affects the sales of Apple hardware products.

Just this week, a U.S. authoritative media report pointed out that the global smart phone market, including Apple and Samsung Electronics, has formed a huge refurbished machine segment. The old mobile phones returned by consumers in some countries flow again after being refurbished The market. According to the analysis, the global sales of smart phones 10%, in fact, refurbished mobile phones.

In the United States, major operators and companies such as Apple operate a similar mobile leasing business, users pay a fixed monthly fee, the next year when Apple introduced a new phone, they can directly replace the use of the latest cell phone, the old cell phone was Returned, entered the second-hand renovation channels, continue to sell to developing countries market.

In 2016, Apple’s official website released information on the useful life of hardware products. Apple said that the useful life of smartphones, tablets and Apple watches is three years, and that of Apple laptops is four years.

But this is only a technical service life, Apple products rely on the excellent manufacturing quality, in reality, have a longer life expectancy.

At the end of last year, Apple suffered a rampage in the world hubbub of “speeding door” incident, many users found that the operating system after the phone suddenly slowed down after the operating system, Apple later confirmed that some of the older cell phone processor was decelerated, In order to reduce the impact on lithium batteries, Apple said such a move is to extend the service life of equipment.

At present, Apple’s three major hardware products are caught in the downturn embarrassing, the authority’s data show that Apple’s mobile phone sales peaked in 2015, and then declined for two consecutive years. In the fourth quarter of last year, while Apple’s mobile phone sales of three new machines at the same time, there was a surprising decline. In addition to an extended upgrade cycle, iPhone X’s pricing of up to $ 1,000 is considered an important factor in hurting sales.

In addition to mobile phones, Apple laptops and tablets are in the two sunset markets, the industry has already declined for many years, Apple as one of the manufacturers naturally can not be spared.

10 misunderstandings about iPhone

To use the phone for a long time, protection is very important. Many users will scratch the film the first time when buying a new iPhone, put on the protective cover, the purpose is to prevent thousands of dollars worth of mobile phone accidental damage. But do you know that in everyday use, even if it’s just a simple standby, charging will inadvertently damage the phone?

idropnews in recent days with the combination of Apple’s sale of “genius” and the recommendations of professionals summed up the 10 “misunderstanding the iPhone,” Here we may wish to look together.

Do not use the lock screen password

Although the current iPhone’s protection mechanism has been perfect, but according to Apple’s 2013 report shows that there are still some users are not accustomed to using a password to protect their equipment.

Although the Touch ID and Face ID can prevent the thieves from unlocking in most cases, the biometric authentication through the biometric authentication will eventually disappear, and the lock screen password will naturally become the protection of your mobile phone The last barrier of privacy. As for the “lock screen” password “effect”, even the FBI (FBI) are no match.

Allow all applications to use location services

Each time a newly installed application is opened, a similar prompt “Allow applications to get your targeting information” pops up, and in most cases, the user will select “Allow” for future use.

But in fact, do we really need to get the app ready for our location?

Perhaps long-term open positioning function to facilitate our readily view the map, search tools or taxi software, etc., but long-term positioning function will have some drawbacks.

The first is the long-term open positioning function, cell phone battery life will consume faster than the need to use open; followed by privacy issues, do you really need an application at any time know where you are?

idropnews advice is to add or remove location-based services for certain applications in your settings based on your usage needs.

“Only when the battery runs out is charged and the battery is good”

I wonder if you have not heard of a rumor Square – “cell phone batteries have to run out and then recharge, so as not to damage the battery”, in fact, cell phone charging is not the end of the world, charging and will not cause much harm to the battery.

Today, lithium battery manufacturing technology and charging technology is already quite mature, in addition to modern mobile phone battery IC can prevent overcharge, but also according to the remaining capacity of the battery to constant charge power, the battery damage and heat down the lowest.

In fact, charging the battery before it is exhausted does not cause any damage to the battery. If you have to wait until the battery capacity is exhausted and recharged, it will only waste your time and affect your experience.

A long time does not shut down

Although this may seem absurd, it is true. Although users are accustomed to being charged before the phone is “low battery” or automatically shutting down, the battery will not be damaged if the battery is fully charged, but this does not mean that the battery of the phone is healthy.

According to Apple’s “genius bar,” the technical staff said that although the battery does not turn off the phone for a long time is not harmful to the battery, but the standby iPhone is like an idling car engine, though not at full speed, but it is indeed in operation, still Will consume battery life.

So Apple’s “genius” have suggested that users can periodically shut down the iPhone to restart to improve battery life.

Do not clean the phone

Whether it is the iPhone or other cell phones, it is inevitable that the bacteria, which is often infused into the device. According to the statistics of idropnews, mobile phone bacteria content per square inch is even higher than the toilet.

In addition, if you do not clean your phone for a long time, dirt, debris (paper towels, thread, etc.) generated by daily use will cause poor contact with the phone and the key feedback is not sensitive.

So, in order to keep your phone in good condition, we recommend that you regularly clean the phone’s ports with a soft cloth and clean with non-metallic objects.

Do not update the phone system

Although Apple Push systems are frequently updated and require at least 10 to 15 minutes for each update, it is quite necessary to periodically update the system.

Especially when Apple fixed a major system vulnerabilities, add significant features, the new version of the system has played a crucial role. So when these “update reminder” box pops up, it is recommended to update the system as soon as possible.

Do not back up your device

Often users have “white apples” (of course, iOS itself) when using the iPhone due to improper handling or tampering with the system, and the content that was previously saved after reinstalling the system was erased.

Therefore, according to the actual situation on a regular basis to backup the phone is very important.

iCloud can automatically save your photos, memos, texts and so on. Of course, if you do not purchase the capacity expansion, iCloud Cloud will only have 5GB of storage space (iCloud will be extended to 50GB and you will pay 6RMB per month).

If you can develop the habit of regular backups, saving the data to your computer with iTunes is a good way to stay safe and cost-free.

Use too much storage space

Many users are accustomed to a large number of video, music, pictures, applications installed into the phone, and even some users of the phone as a major productivity tool, a large number of content stored in the phone.

However, Apple’s “geniuses” advise users to try not to “plug” the phone’s storage because they have limited storage space for application downloads and updates. Their advice is to eliminate unnecessary content to free up storage space when less than 10% of the total memory is left.

The shell was not removed during charging

The “misunderstandings” listed by idropnews are equally weird, but in fact they still have their own reasons. Many users have the habit of putting a protective cover on the phone, but the thickness of the protective cover will also affect the cooling of the phone when charging.

Apple has introduced in the official website iPhone, iPad and other equipment, “extreme temperature.” iPhone “best use temperature” is between 16 ℃ ~ 22 ℃, “extreme temperature” is below 0 ℃ or above 35 ℃, the user should avoid using the iPhone in “extreme temperature”, otherwise it will cause permanent damage to the battery .

In addition, Apple recommends that when the device generates too much heat while charging, remove the protective case first and then continue charging.

Use a third-party charger

Last year’s iPhone 6s “battery door” incident, so that the majority of users back to the focus of mobile phone battery security issues. However, in addition to the natural aging of the battery, long-term use of unofficial power adapter will also damage the battery.

Currently there are a lot of power adapters on the market that have not passed Apple’s official MFi certification. Although they are inexpensive, studies have shown that using these chargers can rapidly reduce battery life.

Therefore, professionals suggest that users should try to use Apple’s official or MFi certified power adapter to ensure the safety of cell phone charging and battery life