The Wall Street Journal / Fox Business – After a year of startling growth, the tech industry faces a more vexing 2021.
The pandemic helped bring the world’s tech giants such as Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to new heights in 2020. The shift to online shopping and remote working accelerated at a pace that would have been inconceivable without the coronavirus.
But there are signs the good times may end soon. Late last year, governments in the U.S., China and Europe separately began investigating whether Big Tech is too big. The scrutiny in Washington is expected to continue under a Biden administration, which also appears inclined to continue the Trump administration’s export restrictions against Chinese companies that are reshuffling global supply chains.
While Big Tech faces perhaps its biggest challenge in years, some sectors can look forward to 2021. The world of electric vehicles may finally arrive. President-elect Joe Biden promises to make cybersecurity a priority. And Washington will start doling out financial incentives to help U.S. companies stay ahead of Chinese rivals.
Here are some of the tech industry’s most important themes this year.
Last year was the year the U.S. government crippled some of China’s tech-industry champions, notably telecom-hardware giant Huawei Technologies Co. and Chinese chip makers. This year will be the year it tries to ensure companies in the U.S. and allied countries don’t squander this edge.
Don’t expect a Biden administration to roll back the major actions against Chinese tech companies, Democratic advisers and China analysts say.
“It’s not reverse engines,” say James Mulvenon, who leads a team of China analysts at defense contractor SOS International. “The Biden administration wants to keep some aspects of Trump policies that are useful, and they want to de-emphasize ones that seem emotional and punitive.”
That could mean maintaining export restrictions on Chinese telecom and chip giants, while leaving courts to figure out the legality of the Trump administration’s ban on TikTok and WeChat.
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