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India is proposing rules to target Chinese social media apps

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If the law is passed, app owners will have to put in place “automated tools … for proactively identifying and removing or disabling public access to unlawful information or content,” according to the report.

Chinese apps such as video apps TikTok, Like and Helo have rapidly gained market share in India, with more of them taking over the top 10 most popular apps in the country’s Android app store last year than in 2017, the report said.

CNBC contacted India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology for comment, but it did not immediately respond.

For more on the draft regulations, see the story in the Financial Times.

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China’s auto sales slide may be obscuring a demand shift

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Some of China’s automobile industry watchers are putting their hopes on a new growth trend, driven by consumer demand for more intelligent cars.

Electric-powered cars were a clear focus for start-ups and foreign auto giants alike at this week’s Shanghai Auto Show. For some in the industry, they say it will be the smartphone-like interface of the new vehicles that will really attract buyers. Those consumers are increasingly using internet-connected services such as food delivery for daily life, especially in China.

“The key point is not new energy. The key is smart,” Fu Qiang, president and co-founder of electric vehicle start-up Aiways, said Wednesday in a Mandarin-language interview translated by CNBC.

“The entire decline in the auto industry, much more, in my personal view — of course has some small connection to the economy — but I think the greater reason is that customers right now are not satisfied with the product mix,” said Fu, formerly president and CEO of Volvo Cars China.

China battery-electric vehicle unit sales forecast (in millions)

Source: Morgan Stanley Research

A nine-month slide in automobile sales in the world’s largest vehicle market has many worried about a significant slowdown in the Chinese economy, and the wallets of a population of more than 1 billion. Last year, uncertainty about the fallout from the U.S.-China trade war and Beijing’s efforts to reduce reliance on debt for growth put a chill on spending, especially on big-ticket items such as cars.

Much of the decline in auto sales in the last two years was the result of a tough comparison with rapid growth in 2016, Alan Kang, Shanghai-based senior market analyst at LMC Automotive, said on Tuesday. He noted a major drop came from decreased demand from China’s smallest cities for domestic auto brands, while premium foreign brands had less of an impact.

“This year will be overall a year of recovery,” Kang said in a Mandarin-language interview translated by CNBC. And despite subsidy cuts, he said he expects sales volume in new energy vehicles to increase to 1.5 million from 1 million last year.

The category — which includes both pure battery-powered vehicles and hybrids — has been a bright spot in China, helped by favorable government policies. Sales grew 62 percent last year, while overall auto sales fell for the first time in more than 15 years, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers accessed through the Wind Information database.

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Man arrested with gas cans inside New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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A man carrying gasoline cans inside New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral was taken into custody by the New York Police Department on Wednesday, according to NBC News.

The man was described by law enforcement sources as emotionally disturbed, NBC reported.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

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Why Apple had to settle its dispute with Qualcomm

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In the end, Apple had to choose the lesser of all evils:

Option one: Settle with Qualcomm, the leader in 5G chips. Qualcomm’s 5G chips are already shipping in some devices today, with more expected as the year rolls on.

But Apple has seen Qualcomm’s business model as detrimental to the entire industry since it uses its dominant position to squeeze large fees out of each company that uses its chips and patents. Hence that nasty lawsuit. Apple CEO Tim Cook made his disdain for Qualcomm’s practices known in a January interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer, and even blasted Qualcomm’s decision to hire a PR firm to write fake news stories about Apple, which Business Insider reported.

Option two: Wait for Intel to catch up in 5G. Even before Intel announced Tuesday night that it would abandon its plans to make 5G modems, there was speculation that the company was running behind to deliver the chips on time. Apple has been exclusively using Intel’s 4G modems in its latest iPhones as its dispute with Qualcomm raged on. If that dispute continued, a 5G iPhone might not have been possible until 2020 or even 2021.

Option three: Choose Huawei. In an interview that ran on CNBC this week, Huawei’s CEO said the company was “open” to talks with Apple about bringing its 5G chips to the iPhone. But a partnership with Huawei would’ve looked bad for Apple, given the stink of political and security concerns around the company. (Huawei’s CEO has denied spying allegations.)

Option four: Apple could make its own 5G chips. Apple is thought to be working on its own modems after opening an office in San Diego, Qualcomm’s hometown, and posting job listings for modem chip designers. But it would likely take Apple several years to develop its own 5G chip, putting it several years behind its rivals.

None of those options were ideal for Apple. It could’ve waited an extra year or two for Intel to get its 5G chips up to snuff. It could’ve waited several more years to develop a 5G chip of its own as competitors like Google and Samsung push out their 5G devices and market themselves as more innovative than Apple. It could’ve worked with Huawei, a company that still can’t sell products in the U.S. over security concerns.

Or it could’ve ended its dispute with Qualcomm, even if Cook is allergic to its business practices. Unfortunately for Apple, Qualcomm was the best bet.

Tuesday’s settlement could result in a 5G iPhone as soon as this fall, when Apple is expected to release its next iPhone. (For what it’s worth, timing on a 5G iPhone is still unclear. Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf said in an interview Wednesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that he couldn’t comment on Apple’s product plans that include Qualcomm chips.)

Qualcomm gets to take a victory lap this week. Its lead in 5G forced a settlement with Apple and added a massive boost to its stock. Qualcomm shares was up 12% Wednesday, adding to its 23% gain Tuesday. Intel was up about 4%. Apple was up just 1%.

The market agrees. Apple was the loser in this fight.

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