Regulations, Innovations and AI Define This Week in Big Tech – PYMNTS.com

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Big Tech companies, including Meta, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, aren’t getting any smaller.

Not only do these businesses represent many of the world’s most valuable public companies by market capitalization, but they increasingly represent the cutting edge of both technological innovation as well as the power of incumbency and global reach.

And, for the most part, these Big Tech giants are all American-made ones that benefit from international network effects.

That’s why PYMNTS on Thursday (April 18) unpacked the past 30 years of digital winter in Europe, noting that of the 69 digital businesses worth $10 billion or more as of December 2023, the European Union (EU), which accounts for 21% of global GDP, had spawned just five: Spotify, Adyen, Revolut, Adevinta and Checkout.com.

As Big Tech goes, so too does much of the business landscape — including across payments and commerce. But the juxtaposition of U.S.-led disruption compared to the EU’s own private sector wasn’t the only news of note this week. From upcoming and enacted legislation to product launches, partnerships and more, read on for the events shaping the Big Tech landscape that PYMNTS tracked.

The Innovation-Regulation Tech Tug of War Continues

News broke Wednesday (April 17)  that Canada’s Parliament is considering a tax on digital services revenue that would impact the world’s biggest tech companies. Because it would primarily hit U.S. firms, including Alphabet and Meta, American lawmakers have called for trade reprisals if the legislation is passed.

Also on Wednesday, the EU told Meta that it can’t paywall privacy, explaining in an opinion from the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) that platforms should not confront users with a “binary choice” over personal data use.

Meanwhile, Google said last Friday (April 12) that it is pulling links to California news sites ahead of pending news-focused legislation, dubbed the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), which would require Google to pay for providing news content.

In Apple news, Japan is considering new legislation to rein in the power of major tech companies, including Apple, that could allow it to seek fines worth up to 20% of sales, per a report.

It comes on the heels of the news that the first Apple-approved third-party app store, Altstore PAL, is available now for download in the European Union as a result of the EU’s Digital Markets Act requirements.

Big Tech and Bigger Computing Are Driving the AI Revolution

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy published his 2023 Letter to Shareholders last Thursday (April 11), outlining how the company is changing and its goals for the future — which center in a big way around AI and AWS (Amazon Web Services).

As a proof point, Amazon Web Services on Tuesday (April 16) said Fugaku, Japan’s fastest supercomputer, is “going virtual” on AWS.

“For these scientific outcomes to proliferate and create an actual impact on society … We’ve injected this supercomputing environment directly into the cloud to extend applications and have much larger impact than in a single machine,” said Dr. Matsuoka, director of Japan’s RIKEN Center for Computational Science (R-CCS).

And with the news also on Tuesday that Intel, working with several other industry partners, is collaborating on a Sandbox Project called the Open Platform for Enterprise AI (OPEA) that aims to accelerate secure, cost-effective GenAI deployments for businesses, putting AI into action is increasingly top of mind for enterprises.

That’s because, also on Tuesday, Amazon announced that its Amazon Bedrock now features all three versions of Anthropic’s Claude 3 artificial intelligence (AI) model. That makes Bedrock the first and thus far only managed service to make all three Claude 3 models — Opus, Sonnet and Haiku — generally available.

That same day, Microsoft shared that it had invested $1.5 billion in Abu Dhabi-based AI firm G42. The partnership will also see Microsoft President Brad Smith join the G42 board, with the two companies creating a $1 billion fund for AI developers.

And on Thursday, Cisco announced the launch of HyperShield, a new security product that uses AI to protect applications, devices, and data across data centers, clouds, and physical locations.

“Cisco Hypershield is one of the most significant security innovations in our history,” said Chuck Robbins, Cisco chair and CEO.

Tech Firms Make Job Cuts

The AI revolution is an expensive one, and Big Tech companies are exploring the best ways to streamline their operations so as to invest as much as possible into the tech world’s next great innovation.

Google is laying off an unspecified number of employees and shifting some roles to other countries as part of a continuing effort to cut costs, the company said Wednesday, and other tech companies have made cuts this year as well.

It was reported April 5 that Apple was laying off 614 employees in the first major job cuts that company has made since the pandemic. It was not specified which projects the impacted employees were working on, but the layoffs came about a month after reports that Apple canceled its electric car project.

On April 3, Amazon Web Services (AWS) said it was eliminating hundreds of roles in two of its organizations as it focuses on other areas. Those job cuts will impact several hundred roles in the company’s Sales, Marketing and Global Services organization and a few hundred in its Physical Stores Technology team.

The Ripple Effects of Big Tech’s Marketplaces Moves

Nothing is ever static in Big Tech, and PYMNTS covered how Salesforce is reportedly in advanced negotiations to purchase data-management software provider Informatica, while in B2B news, Apple’s AirPlay is, per a Thursday announcement, now available in select IHG Hotels & Resorts properties.

And Apple is considering building a manufacturing facility in Indonesia, CEO Tim Cook said on Wednesday after meeting President Joko Widodo, per a report.

Elsewhere, according to a Thursday report, ads are coming to Meta’s Threads platform sooner than expected — as early as the second half of this year.

In Amazon news, the company is still pushing sales of its Just Walk Out payments technology even as it pulls back on the checkout system in its own grocery stores, a move that comes as tech giants compete to own the Click-and-Mortar™ grocery experience.

And Amazon Live on Tuesday launched an interactive and shoppable channel called FAST Channel on Prime Video and Amazon Freevee.

PYMNTS Intelligence has found that consumers want integrated shopping and entertainment experiences that will let them watch a favorite livestreamed series on a mobile device and purchase the clothing or jewelry worn by an actor on the screen.

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