On today’s How To CEO podcast, I had a conversation with Myriam Joire (AKA tnkgrl) from the Mobile Tech Podcast. Among many other things, Myriam is a tech journalist, podcaster, entrepreneur, and sought-after consultant. She and I will be podcasting together for a multi-episode series.
To begin the series, we discussed tech and the current trade wars. Tech isn’t insular toward politics anymore. We can’t live in a vacuum in this global society, especially with the internet connecting everyone in the world.
“As soon as you have a company,” Myriam said, “you have to start thinking about how you fit into the entire ecosystem of the world.”
Why The US/China Trade War Matters to CEOs
In the current mobile universe, many things are happening that CEOs need to know about. “Our current regime is waging a trade war with China,” Myriam pointed out. So, as a CEO, if you have partnered with Chinese companies, the tension between the US and China is going to make life more difficult for you.
Myriam pointed out that she does a lot of consulting with companies in China. She’s noticing that many of these companies are now getting shy about working with US partners.
The truly big elephant in the room has been the Huawei ban that’s affected the mobile industry so dramatically. But in Myriam’s view, the Huawei ban is just the beginning of the consequences of the heated political situation in the tech world. “I think there’s going to be more, and it’s not going to be pretty,” she said.
Who Will Win This?
I asked Myriam who she thinks is going to win in this political tech war. Will it be an Indian phone? Or perhaps phones from South America could take over a Chinese dominated market?
“I don’t think China is going anywhere any time soon,” Myriam told me. “I think the companies that are strong in Western markets (like Apple and Samsung) are probably already making contingency plans to manufacture phones in India, South America, Africa, and maybe Vietnam as well.”
As far as who will win, she told me, “I don’t think we (the US) are going to win this battle. Our regime is incompetent, and things aren’t going to be in our favor in any way, shape, or form.”
China Isn’t Concerned
Although Chinese consumers have been big buyers of Apple products, China doesn’t care about this trade war to the degree that we in the US do. They just don’t sell their phones here.
As Myriam told me, “The reality is that Americans and Canadians buy Samsung [a South Korean company] and Apple phones. And select niches of the market share are covered by some smaller companies.”
For us in Silicon Valley, Myriam tells us we need to be aware that China doesn’t care or need to sell phones to us. What’s important, she says, is for Apple to be able to continue manufacturing phones for us, whether they manufacture them in China or India or somewhere else. Apple needs to stay competitive with Samsung and others.
“Do not delude yourself to think that the North American Market…is significant for the Chinese. It isn’t. It’s a drop in the bucket.”
Myriam’s Advice to Silicon Valley
Myriam told me that since we’re not relevant to China, “This trade war is going to be a problem for us in Silicone Valley long term. If you’re a CEO of a company in the West, you should have a mitigation plan in place for this. Especially if you have Chinese partners or rely on the Chinese market in some way.”
If you’re in the manufacturing space, or if your business sells hardware, you should have a plan to manufacture products in India, Taiwan, Vietnam, or elsewhere. “Find those partners, find those manufacturing relationships, distribution, and logistics relationships because you’re going to need them if things keep going this way.”
Listen to the Entire Episode.
Myriam had much more insight to share regarding the current tech wars, so be sure to listen to the episode in its entirety. And remember to sign up for the November contest she and I are running. You just might receive a pair of Apple AirPods Pro.