Here’s why there’s a microchip shortage, and what it could mean for consumers.
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The growing problem of the international semiconductor microchip shortage has rippled throughout multiple industries since the start of the pandemic. It has driven up prices, and caused high-demand consumer electronics like the PS5 and iPhone 12 to be in short supply.
It may even affect the used car industry in the coming months; some car factories have begun to shut down as they are unable to obtain the essential component, halting new car production for multiple manufacturers. Some estimates have shown the auto industry losing $60 billion in sales during the first half of this year, spelling certainty for a price hike in used cars.
Many have blamed the pandemic for the shortage due to factory closures and reduced worker capacities worldwide; pandemic also caused a spike in demand for personal computers due to the sudden work-from-home status quo, along with the demand for other consumer electronics as millions sought ways to combat the boredom of isolation. However, the pandemic’s impact on microchip supply may only be half the story.
Seemingly endless innovations in consumer electronics have prompted an increase in demand for the latest gadgets, which contain more complicated chips than ever before. All of the latest flagship phones, most of which were released in late 2020, come standard with 5G capabilities and powerful onboard computer processors. The newest generation of gaming consoles such as the PS5 and Xbox Series X also require far more processing power than their predecessors, necessitating complex semiconductor microchips.
President Trump’s trade war with China during his term in office may have also contributed to the shortage. Some analysts suspect that the Chinese phone producer Huawei Technologies may have begun stockpiling chips when Trump banned the sale of its phones in May 2019. The mounting problem was also recently exacerbated by a grounded container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week, cutting off a supply of chips headed from Asia to Europe.
Global consumers can expect to continue seeing shortages of consumer electronics that require semiconductor chips, as well as a drastic decline in the availability of new cars — and thus, higher used car prices. According to basic macroeconomics, this multi-industry supply-and-demand phenomenon caused by the chip shortage may cause the prices of all of these products to rise; if the shortage continues for an extended period of time, the high prices could end up affecting other industries as well.
More and More States are Looking to Provide Universal Broadband
Some states in America now see broadband internet as a universal right and are fighting to give it to all of their residents. And some of these states are now using the recently-passed American Rescue Plan as a way to do it.
In July of 2021, Virginia governor Ralph Northan announced a major plan that will expand broadband access to all Virginia residents by the year 2024. To make this plan a reality, Northam intends to use $700 million in federal funds set aside by the American Rescue Plan, which was passed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to assist citizens and states struggling to make ends meet. In total, more than $4 billion was promised to Virginia so Northam’s plan will just use a portion of the total sum.
Virginia isn’t alone in its quest to give all residents broadband access. Others such as Connecticut and the nation’s most-populated state, California, are promising to find ways to fund broadband for all. Connecticut’s plan is more comprehensive than California’s, with a goal of 2027 set in place. There is a good chance that more states will follow the lead created by these states as the demand for universal broadband becomes stronger and the need becomes more apparent.
In 2020, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia crated a report that found one in five Virginia students lacked high-speed internet or a computer at home. Broadband coverage has always been sparse in rural areas, with many residents unable to even pay for the service. The Coronavirus pandemic only highlighted the need for internet access for all citizens, as most were forced to work from home and all students were required to attend classes online. More and more people and politicians are beginning to speak out, stating that broadband access is a right that all Americans are entitled to.
With the 2022 mid-term elections beginning to loom over the American political landscape, the idea of creating broadband access for all Americans is becoming more and more popular, and will likely be a major debate point for politicians seeking office.
How Windows 365 Can Benefit Businesses
It’s no secret that Microsoft has been moving more towards digitizing many of their services. Xbox Cloud Gaming brings console gaming to a wider variety of users, lowering the barrier of entry and bringing the optimum experience to more devices. Now with the official upcoming release of Windows 365, Microsoft will again improve accessibility to one of their most popular services – Windows.
Windows 365 is the latest in cloud computing services (a development on their existing Azure) which allows anyone with app store or web browser access to be able to stream a full Windows 10/11 PC to their device. Laptops, tablets, phones, and even old PCs can act as a light client for the virtual PC (similar to a Virtual Machine), including Apple devices.
As a result, businesses all around the world can take advantage of the benefits provided by a consistent, cloud-accessible, and scalable solution for computing anywhere.
4 Major Benefits of Windows 365 for Business
Maintain a Uniform Experience Between Devices
One of the major problems resulting from the new hybrid workspaces that have developed as a result of COVID restrictions has been the inability to access work computers. Your company PC is likely to have all your work files, sufficient hardware, and the programs you need to do your job. But, you can’t always take your desktop home with you.
Windows 365 helps by creating a single virtual PC instance that maintains its state even when logged out. That means that if you leave something unfinished on your office PC, you can resume it directly from your laptop, tablet, or phone at home with the same resources available. No matter where it’s accessed from, Windows 365 provides a uniform experience to all devices.
Minimize Hardware Costs
Computer hardware advances quickly – and so do the expenses if you’re trying to stay up to date. All businesses need optimal performance from their hardware but it doesn’t make sense to replace computers regularly.
Windows 365 allows you to turn just about any device with a screen into a full-fledged Windows 10/11 PC. Old laptops, cell phones, and a variety of low-cost devices can act as mobile workstations without the investment it would take to achieve that performance with hardware.
On-Demand Performance Scaling
Do you ever wish you had more computer performance? Of course you do – and with Windows 365, you can get it with just a few clicks.
Businesses with Windows 365 accounts are able to assign resource plans to individual users that are part of their network. As long as a vacant subscription exists, administrators can change the plan tied to the user to something more powerful immediately. This unlocks more processing power and other resources, allowing for optimal performance when it is needed without hardware upgrades required.
Easy Onboarding of New Members
Whether you’re a growing startup or a seasonal business looking to bring in more help, onboarding with Windows 365 is as simple as ever.
To provide access to business files, resources, programs, and other important information, business owners can simply provide an account to the new employee on their network. They’ll immediately have access to a virtual business PC with everything they need – no dropbox, email attachments, or flash drives required.
SEC Arrives at Settlement with First American Financial Two Years After Breach of Data
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) pressed charges against First American Financial, a real estate company, for failing to abide by disclosure requirements and procedures. The acts of non-compliance came after personal identifying customer information was breached in 2019, including social security numbers and financial data. First American was found to be liable for having immense vulnerabilities in their cybersecurity management, rendering them in violation of Rule 13a-15(a) of the Exchange Act.
Shockingly, First American’s information security team discovered said vulnerabilities months in advance of senior management’s response to the incident, but they did not comply with company policies by advising their superiors about it. First American initially learned of the mishap, which consisted of at least 800 million images being revealed unintentionally, when a cybersecurity journalist contacted them with the unfortunate news. Despite First American rapidly issuing a statement once leadership learned of the incident, they were penalized for the overall poor structure of compliance regarding security of their electronic data.
The severity of this incident was emphasized through statements reiterating that all of the confidential information accidentally leaked was within reach of anyone who had access to the internet. Furthermore, the company’s reputation took another huge blow when they were confronted with accusations of failing to implement a sufficient cybersecurity system by the New York State Department of Financial Services’ Cybersecurity Regulation in July of 2020.
Although First American did not outright admit to any wrongdoing, they accepted a cease and desist order and settled their mistakes by paying a $487,616 fine. First American expressed gratitude for the resolution that was reached, and they asserted that complying with disclosure mandates set forth by the SEC will continue to be a priority for them. The penalty imposed on First American for their faults is sure to set an example for their industry, especially considering they hold 21.07% of the market share and are one of four top mortgage title companies.