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COMMΞЯCIΛL ΛWΛЯΞNΞSS | 01.04.24

COMMΞЯCIΛL ΛWΛЯΞNΞSS | 01.04.24

A rundown of things that you should know about from last week 01 | 04 | 24

 

  • Vodafone-Three merger to face full-blown investigation by competition watchdog

The future of the Vodafone and Three merger hangs in the balance, facing a serious threat as the Competition and Markets Authority steps in with a comprehensive Phase 2 investigation.

There’s growing worry that the proposed £15 billion merger might lead to reduced competition in the telecommunications industry, potentially resulting in higher prices for consumers.

If the merger goes through, the combined entity would boast a massive customer base of 27 million, positioning itself as the largest mobile network in the UK. Moreover, it would significantly shrink the number of major network providers from four to three.

Back in March, the CMA gave Vodafone and Three an opportunity to propose “meaningful solutions” to alleviate concerns or face further scrutiny. Unfortunately, neither company presented any viable solutions, prompting the launch of this in-depth investigation. The investigation process is expected to stretch over at least six months, during which the fate of the merger hangs in the balance, with the possibility of it being ultimately blocked.

  • AI Safety: UK and US sign landmark agreement

The US and the UK have shaken hands on a new partnership aimed at making sure artificial intelligence (AI) is as safe as can be.

They’re teaming up to carefully examine AI tools, making sure they’re not only safe but also diving deep into how they actually work.

They’re tackling some pretty hot topics too, like chatbots that can generate conversations, the tricky issue of deep fakes, and of course, safeguarding people’s personal data. Together, they’re going to figure out what risks AI might pose and put measures in place to keep everything under control.

This is the first time the US and the UK have joined forces like this specifically for AI. It’s a big step forward in making sure that as AI technology keeps advancing, it’s doing so in a way that’s safe and responsible. The EU has also recently jumped on board with its own set of rules and guidelines for AI. Looks like everyone’s really taking AI safety seriously!

  • Food price fears as Brexit import charges revealed

Starting from April 30th, it’s going to get a bit more expensive for companies bringing food from the EU into the UK, thanks to some new charges that are part of the post-Brexit changes. If they’re importing animal products like fish, cheese, yoghurt, and sausages, they might have to fork out up to £145 in fees. And if their shipment has different types of products, they’ll be charged for each type, but the total won’t go over £145. For individual imports, the fee could be as high as £29. Oh, and plants and plant products won’t get off easy either—they’re facing the same charges.

These fees were just announced by the UK government last week, and they apply to imports coming through the Port of Dover and the Folkestone Eurotunnel. The government says they’re going to use the money to make improvements to border facilities.

But here’s the thing: these extra costs are probably going to end up being passed on to us, the consumers. And some sellers might even decide it’s not worth it to import stuff from the EU anymore because of these charges. So yeah, it’s definitely going to shake things up a bit in the world of food imports.

  • Amazon scraps ‘just walk out’ checkouts at grocery stores

Looks like Amazon is making a big change in its approach to shopping at its Fresh supermarkets in the US. They’re actually ditching their high-tech checkout-free system called “Just Walk Out“. You know, the one where cameras tracked what you picked up and automatically charged you when you left. Instead, they’re shifting gears towards using smart trolleys.

These smart trolleys sound pretty fancy—they’ll give shoppers all sorts of helpful info like where to find stuff in the store, whether items are in stock, and even suggest alternatives. It’s like having a personal shopping assistant right there with you!

But don’t worry, if you’re in the UK, this change won’t affect Amazon Fresh stores here. However, it seems like things haven’t been going too smoothly for Amazon’s Fresh stores in London. They’ve already shut down a few branches, and they’ve put a pause on opening any new ones, just two years after they started rolling them out.

Apparently, the closures in London are because there just wasn’t enough demand at those locations. So yeah, even tech giants like Amazon have to adjust their plans when things don’t quite work out as expected.

  • Boeing pays Alaska Air $160m after January blowout

It’s been quite a rough ride for Boeing lately. They’ve just shelled out a whopping $160 million to Alaska Air as compensation for a pretty scary incident back in January. Imagine this: mid-flight, one of the aircraft doors just blew off because four bolts that was supposed to keep it secure weren’t screwed on properly.

This mishap caused chaos—thousands of flights had to be cancelled, and Alaska Air’s reputation took a serious hit. The $160 million payout from Boeing is meant to cover the losses for the first quarter of 2024, but Alaska Air is bracing for more payouts in the months ahead. Initially, they estimated they’d be facing a $150 million financial blow from the incident.

But here’s the kicker: this whole saga is expected to cost Boeing a jaw-dropping $4 billion just in the first quarter of 2024 alone.

And to add fuel to the fire, Boeing is under a criminal investigation over the incident.

With all this turmoil, Boeing’s CEO, Dave Calhoun, has announced he’s stepping down from his role by the end of 2024. It’s definitely a turbulent time for the aerospace giant, to say the least.

  • Tesla sales slump wipes $35bn off Elon Musk’s electric car giant

Tesla’s sales have fallen for the first time in four years as deliveries of Elon Musk’s electric cars went into reverse on the back of worsening demand for electric vehicles (EVs).They announced a pretty hefty 9% drop in sales, marking their first year-on-year quarterly decline since 2020.

In the first quarter of 2024, they shipped around 386,810 vehicles, which is down from 423,000 in the same period last year.

Tesla’s pointing fingers at a couple of reasons for this dip. They’re blaming disruptions in shipping, especially in the Red Sea, and even an arson attack at their gigafactory in Germany.

Tesla is mainly seen as a luxury brand. But here’s where things get interesting: competitors from China like BYD and now Xiaomi are stepping into the ring with more affordable options. And that could spell trouble for Tesla, especially when it comes to holding onto their market share.

Tesla’s already started slashing prices in China, hoping to stay competitive. But whether that’ll be enough to keep their spot at the top remains to be seen.

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