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Big Revolution - ‘What have I unleashed?’

Welcome to Friday’s Big Revolution. Yesterday, I spent lunchtime speaking about the rise of ‘Veruca S
October 5 · Issue #222 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Friday’s Big Revolution. Yesterday, I spent lunchtime speaking about the rise of ‘Veruca Salt’ consumers (“don’t care how, I want it now”), at an event held by a digital agency in London. If you’d like to talk about booking me as a speaker, find out more here.
– Martin

Big things you need to know today
  • Bloomberg published an eye-popping in-depth report about Chinese spy chips finding their way into servers used by 30 American companies including Apple and Amazon. But… Apple and Amazon strongly deny the story is accurate. This is a complicated one – more below in The Big Thought…
  • Certain new Macs cannot be repaired by independent engineers, thanks to the new T2 security chip in the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro. Without special Apple software, any repair cannot be completed. This will surprise no-one who has followed the gradual decline in self-serviceability of Apple computers in recent years.
  • Spotify now lets podcasters directly add their shows to its service. The feature is only in beta for now, but it follows similar tentative steps to let some musicians directly upload their music, instead of using a third-party service.
  • Want to make products exclusively for Amazon? The company has launched an accelerator to help third-party companies create new private brands only for sale through Private brands are a growing part of Amazon’s business.
The big thought
Credit: Alexandre Debiève on Unsplash
‘What have I unleashed?’
An explosive Bloomberg Businessweek story yesterday (which went live just as the last issue of Big Revolution hit your inbox) alleged that Chinese spy chips were found inside servers supplied to 30 American companies including Amazon and Apple.
The chips, the report claimed, were inserted into servers sold by a US company called Super Micro due to a compromised manufacturing process in China. They were supposedly designed as part of a corporate espionage programme co-ordinated by the Chinese government.
However… Amazon and Apple strongly deny the facts as Bloomberg reports them. Read Apple’s forceful blog post on the matter, and Amazon’s similar take. Essentially, they say Bloomberg’s reporting is flat-out wrong.
Either someone somewhere along the line is lying, or someone has made a massive mistake. The Register does a good job of chewing over the various possibilities.
I do feel for the reporters behind the story. I’ve never published a scoop of this magnitude, but when I’ve written something I know is going to have any kind of impact, there’s a feeling of “what have I unleashed?” as it goes live. As the New York Times’ Mike Isaac tweeted, “(I) have no CLUE who is or isn’t right but I have long-standing nightmares that end with “BigCo shoots down my story via corporate press release”.”
Whatever the truth is, it’s likely someone is going to get sued over this eventually. And whether Bloomberg’s story is true or not, state-sponsored corporate espionage is a much bigger global problem than most people know or care to imagine.
One big read
The tragic end of Telltale Games The tragic end of Telltale Games
The Verge goes inside the sad collapse of much-loved interactive story game developer, Telltale Games. A good read on how not to run a games company.
One big tweet
Oh, Elon (part MCXVIII). Taking a Twitter shot at the government body that just fined you and your company a total of $40m for reckless tweets probably isn’t wise.
Elon Musk
Just want to that the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work. And the name change is so on point!
9:16 PM - 4 Oct 2018
That’s all for today...
See you tomorrow for a weekend edition, packed with good reads.
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