Dec 2, 2019

Axios Login

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving, but it's time to get back to work. Well, technically not for me. I'm taking a vacation day today. But you have work to do! At least you get to read today's Login first.

Fortunately, it's only 1,180 words, a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: How we got to Cyber Monday

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cyber Monday — with a predicted $9 billion in U.S. sales online — has become a self-sustaining phenomenon in the world of e-retail, with email blasts and ad blitzes pushing pre-holiday season discounts.

The big picture: This event did not emerge organically. It's a marketing construct built around a discredited prefix that was originally coined for an invented science, Axios' Scott Rosenberg writes.

Background: The term "Cyber Monday" was created by a marketing executive in 2005. Data had shown online sales spiking the Monday after Thanksgiving.

  • Analysts guessed workers were loading up their virtual shopping carts when they returned to their offices' high-speed internet connections after the holiday weekend.

Yes, but: In following years, consumers demanded higher-speed connections at home so they could play World of Warcraft and binge-watch Netflix, and the telecom industry obliged. Meanwhile, most of the population had also put internet-connected smartphones in their pockets.

The bottom line: Those office T1 lines no longer matter, and Cyber Monday should have evaporated, but it's still going strong.

  • Retailers love events, and everyone loves a sale!
  • The occasion is now just one more element in the fierce battle for consumer holiday-shopping mindshare, which takes place everywhere and anytime. Stores now launch many of their online specials on Black Friday — or even on Thanksgiving itself.

Between the lines: No one says "cyber" today, except with reference to security and this one frenzied day of online purchasing. Even in 2005, the "cyber" prefix had lost its cachet.

  • "Cyberspace" had a brief heyday in the 1990s, when the internet first entered public consciousness, and America Online was ushering millions of newcomers into the online universe.
  • The word was the invention of science fiction writer William Gibson, who'd first envisioned a shared dataspace roamed by "console cowboys" in his 1984 novel "Neuromancer" — an instant classic that gave the cyberpunk genre its label.
  • Gibson borrowed "cyber" from the field of cybernetics, the study of feedback-driven control systems in machines and nature, founded by Norbert Wiener a century ago.
  • Wiener based the name on the Greek word for piloting or steering because he saw his new discipline as a means for understanding how humans could find a path through the looming complexities of technological automation.

Why it matters: We could all use some help steering our way safely through today's wilderness of email barrages and coupon codes.

2. Black Friday online sales soar

Cyber Monday is only one checkpoint for Americans' holiday shopping trends.

  • The larger shift is from physical stores to online, with this year's Black Friday online spending of $7.4 billion, nearly matching the largest ever day of online spending — the $7.9 billion spent on Cyber Monday last year, according to Adobe.
  • And what was once purchased on desktops and laptops is increasingly being bought on smartphones. Of that $7.4 billion in online spending, $2.9 billion came from phones — a record for single-day mobile sales, per Adobe. Mobile sales accounted for 39% of e-commerce sales and were up 21% from a year ago.
  • As for what people were buying, Adobe says the top selling toys included Frozen 2, L.O.L Surprise, and Paw Patrol. Top video games included FIFA 20, Madden 20, and Nintendo's Switch console, while top electronics included Apple laptops and Airpods as well as Samsung TVs.

Go deeper: Cyber Monday's rise comes at Black Friday's expense

3. Rivals weigh in on Qualcomm's antitrust appeal

As Qualcomm appeals a landmark antitrust verdict attacking the heart of its business, the briefs from other parties suggest just how high the stakes are.

  • Automakers warn that leaving Qualcomm's power unchecked could mean higher prices for connected cars.
  • Intel, itself accused of antitrust abuses in the past, says even it couldn't take on Qualcomm in the modem business and was forced to sell that unit to Apple at a loss after investing billions.
  • Meanwhile Qualcomm has a host of large players backing its side, including large patent holders such as Dolby and Nokia, but also the U.S. Department of Justice, which argues the court erred in siding with another arm of the government — the Federal Trade Commission, which brought the antitrust action.

Why it matters: Qualcomm is highly powerful, to be sure, and has a number of controversial business practices, including its requirement that companies license its patents in order to buy its chips.

At the same time, it is also one of the few significant American players in setting standards for 5G and future wireless technologies at a time of growing U.S. concern over Huawei and China's role in that area.

4. Google and YouTube took down 300 Trump ads

Google and YouTube have removed 300 Trump campaign ads, mostly over last summer, for violating the services' policies, according to a "60 Minutes" report.

Details: "60 Minutes" reviewed the companies' transparency reports detailing incidents in which ads have been taken down, but found that the records offered no explanations for the removals, and no record of the original content of the ads.

  • "We found very little transparency in the transparency report," the "60 Minutes" report said.

Context: YouTube has not removed a controversial Trump campaign ad that pushes misleading claims about former Vice President Joe Biden's advocacy of the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor while Biden was vice president.

  • YouTube president Susan Wojcicki told CBS that despite the ad's inaccuracies, it did not violate the platform's policies.

Meanwhile: In a separate "60 Minutes" story, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended his company's policy of running political ads that make false statements.

Go deeper:

5. T-Mobile launches nationwide 5G

T-Mobile is officially debuting its nationwide 5G service today using its 600 MHz spectrum.

Why it matters: The move allows T-Mobile to claim the broadest 5G coverage, even if that frequency doesn't give the kind of ultra-fast speeds possible using millimeter wave frequencies.

Be smart: High frequency bands, like millimeter wave, can carry data much faster, but only over short distances; lower frequencies can't carry data as fast, but travel farther and pass more easily through walls and other obstacles.

  • T-Mobile also announced the first two devices that will run on the network: the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G.

The big picture: T-Mobile, like other carriers, is also slowly building out high-speed 5G in select metro areas, beginning with parts of six cities launched earlier this year.

Go deeper: 5G is off to a slow start

6. Take Note

On Tap

Trading Places

  • Korea's LG replaced CEO Jo Seong-jin with Brian Kwon amid a dip in profits and continued struggles in smartphones.


  • China is requiring every purchaser of a mobile service plan to have a face scan on file beginning Dec. 1. (Quartz)
  • Chinese tech firms are shaping new UN standards for face recognition and surveillance, documents show. (Financial Times)
  • New details behind the Canadian arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou suggest the U.S. handpicked Canada for the job. (Toronto Globe and Mail)
  • Under Singapore's new "fake news" regulations, Facebook has been forced to add warning notices on users' posts that the government deems false. (Reuters)
  • Voting machine bugs in a Pennsylvania county election last month point to the high likelihood of big problems next November. (New York Times)
  • Facebook released a tool for users to export their photos to other services, including Google Photos. It's testing in Ireland but expected to be available worldwide next year. (Facebook)
7. After you Login

AI is good at some things, but inventing new pies is not one of them.