Richard Bergmair's Blog


==> Bloomberg’s Natalia Drozdiak reports that Huawei Eyes ProtonMail as It Searches for Gmail Alternative. People react with dismay. Proton Mail responds, Clarifying Proton Mail and Huawei.

The mainstream interpretation here is “Bloomberg messed up and got the story wrong”. Here is my two pennies’ worth, providing, purely speculatively, an alternative interpretation of what might have happened.

Bloomberg is a source that investors and traders trust with getting them some level of access to the rumour mill (in the spirit of the saying among traders that goes “buy the rumour, sell the news”). The problem here is that, fact or fiction, rumours affect the financial markets, and not knowing about them puts a market participant at a disadvantage.

The article starts by saying in indicative mood, “ProtonMail is in talks with Huawei Technologies Co. about including its encrypted email service in future mobile devices […].” I don’t see a problem with that part of the statement, since they were indeed in talks of some kind, and there’s a certain bandwidth of what “including” could mean. It could just mean “making available through Huawei AppGallery”, so there is nothing wrong with using indicative mood here.

In the second paragraph, the article switches the modality and says, “The Swiss company’s service could come preloaded …” Now, it could, of course, be the case, as people are alleging, that they just entirely made that shit up and manufactured a rumour. But it could also be the case that they were reflecting a rumour already out there and sufficiently widespread that they thought investors and traders should know about it. They used subjunctive mood using the auxiliary verb could to signal that something was going on here about the modality of the statement.

ProtonMail speculated that a misunderstanding of their earlier announcement must have been the basis of Bloomberg’s article. But I guess we’ll never find out if that was indeed so.

ProtonMail clarified their earlier announcement and took issue with the word “partnership” being used to describe their relationship with Huawei. Interestingly, they did not come flat out to respond to these assertions. For example, they did not say that preloading was not a topic that was discussed.

Now, it stands to reason that preloading would amount to Huawei handing a huge chunk of market share to ProtonMail. Then it would be up to users to make up their minds about the likelihood of Huawei asking for quid-pro-quo and ProtonMail’s response.

Rather than there being no basis at all for the Bloomberg article, another scenario could be that ProtonMail saw that making-up-of-minds play out on social media in response to the Bloomberg article and decided to do a one-eighty as a result.

… I guess we’ll never know.

#business#computers   |   Sep-09 2019