The Download: Google looks into bringing its services to China

This is The Download, a weekday recap of the top technology headlines.

Google in talks with Tencent, Inspur, other local companies to offer Google cloud services in mainland China

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Google is in talks with Tencent, Inspur, and other Chinese companies to offer its cloud services in mainland China, according to Bloomberg.

The tale began early this year, with one of the people saying that partnership candidates were narrowed down to three firms in late March. However, trade tensions between China and the US now loom over the effort and it’s unclear if the plans will proceed.

The goal is to run Google’s services like Drive via the domestic data centers and servers of Chinese providers, similar to how U.S. cloud companies access that market. In most of the rest of the world, Google Cloud rents computing power and storage online, and sells the G Suite collection of workplace productivity apps that are run on its own data centers. China requires digital information to be stored in the country, so Google needs to partner with local players since it doesn’t have data centers of its own on the mainland.

NYSE owners partners with Starbucks, Microsoft, others to form Bakkt Bitcoin trading platform

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Starbucks is partnering with New York Stock Exchange owner International Exchange to launch Bakkt, a venture designed to more tightly integrate Bitcoin into global commerce.

“Bakkt is designed to serve as a scalable on-ramp for institutional, merchant, and consumer participation in digital assets by promoting greater efficiency, security, and utility. We are collaborating to build an open platform that helps unlock the transformative potential of digital assets across global markets and commerce.”

Kelly Loeffler, Bakkt CEO

International Exchange plans to launch an one-day futures contract in November that differs from derivatives already owned by CME Group and CBOE because it’s physically delivered, meaning that owners of the contract will get Bitcoin, rather than cash, upon expiration.

According to International Exchange, Microsoft is also joining the effort to help consumers and institutions “buy, sell, store, and spend digital assets.”

A statement from International Exchange said that Bakkt’s investors are expected to include an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group, Eagle Seven, Galaxy Digital, Horizons Ventures, Alan Howard, Pantera capital, Protocol Ventures, and Susquehanna International Group.

Google Maps rolling out feature that shows battery level of a device used when sharing location

Google Maps location sharing

Sharing your location with a friend through Google Maps will now also reveal how much battery life is left on our device. According to Android Police, hints of this new feature were discovered in a Google Maps for Android beta earlier this year and it’s been rolling out to more devices – including on iOS and outside the US – since then.

The feature could ease concerns of people you trust when your battery’s nearly empty, for example, if they lose contact with you for a hour or two. On the other hand, if they see that you’re not answering when you’re supposed to be free to talk despite having plenty of battery life, appropriate action can be taken to ensure that you’re safe. To try it out, go to Google Maps, open the app’s menu, then go to Location Sharing, and choose who you want to send your location to.

Apple becomes first company to achieve $1 trillion market cap

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Apple Park in Cupertino, Calif. (Image: Apple)

Apple has become the first U.S. public company to reach a $1 trillion market capitalization.

As noted in the last edition of The Download, Apple’s business is bigger than ever. The company has generated $255 billion of revenue and $56 billion in profits just in the last 12 months. Sales growth has also accelerated in each of the last six quarters, led by the iPhone X, its rapidly growing Services business, and its wearables category.

Deezer raises $185 million

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Paris-based music streaming service Deezer has raised $185 million in funding, valuing the company at $1.16 billion.

Investors participating in the round include Kingdom Holding Company and Rotana, led by Chairman HRH Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, Access Industries, Orange, and LBO France.

The company also announced a partnership with the Rotana Group, a Dubai-based media company, that will let Deezer distribute Rotana’s content across the Middle East & North Africa.

“Rotana is the world’s premier provider of award-winning Arabic music. We are now expanding our reach and distribution by partnering with Deezer, a leading global digital music streaming service, to deliver our high-quality music content to an ever-growing global listenership in the Middle East, North Africa, and other regions around the world.”

Salem Al Hindi; Rotana Audio CEO, in a statement

“The new funding enables us both to accelerate our expansion in fast growing international music markets and strengthens our positions in key territories. The exclusive long-term distribution agreement also provides us with an unique opportunity to build future market leader positions in exciting markets.”

Hans-Holger Albrecht, Deezer CEO

Deezer has been a significant competitor to Spotify in Europe, with 14 million monthly active users and a catalog of 53 million tracks.

According to Crunchbase, the company has raised $531 million to date.

In other news…

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