Technology

What's Up With Apple: Fake Stock, Biden's Right-to-Repair Rules and More

While it is not regulated yet, trading in “synthetic” equities has begun in big-name stocks like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Tesla and Amazon. These stocks are fake assets that only reflect the price of the equities they track.

Traders don’t own any shares of the company. Instead, they own tokens that have been issued on a blockchain for the sole purpose of providing “explicit price exposure,” according to Do Kwon, co-founder and CEO of Terraform Labs, a Korean firm that created the Mirror Protocol on its blockchain. The tokens may be traded 24/7 from any location because they are not listed on any exchange and are not hindered by any rules at all, except perhaps, caveat emptor.

Bloomberg explains:

The idea [behind the Mirror Protocol] is to keep prices of the synthetic — or “mirrored” — equities in the ballpark of the real thing by offering incentives for traders to arbitrage price discrepancies and manage the actual supply of tokens. Users can create, or “mint,” new tokens when prices are too high by posting collateral, and destroy, or “burn,” tokens when prices are too low, driving the price up or down.

Nothing that happens to synthetic equities affects the price of genuine Apple or Tesla stock. At least not yet. Several decentralized, automated markets already exist, each with its own token and protocol.

President Joe Biden is expected to issue an executive order soon, directing the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to draft new rules that would limit a manufacturer’s control over the right to repair the manufacturer’s products, either at an independent repair shop or on their own. Apple, among many other tech companies, has its own repair services and also trains and verifies a network of authorized repair shops that must use Apple parts to fix the company’s products. People who try to repair an Apple product on their own risk voiding the product warranty.

While most of us are unlikely to want to tear apart an iPhone and replace, say, the battery, there are many other products (say, tractors) for which manufacturers now claim exclusive rights to repair.

The European Union also has announced plans to enact new right-to-repair laws. According to a report at Bloomberg, “tech companies and manufacturers have warned that opening access to underlying software and services could endanger Americans, from improperly installed batteries on tech devices to modifications on tractors and other heavy equipment that could bypass environmental and safety systems.”

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday reported that actress Reese Witherspoon is exploring the sale of her production company, Hello Sunshine, and that Apple is among multiple companies interested in acquiring the company that produced the hit HBO series Big Little Lies. The Wall Street Journal cites sources who say Hello Sunshine may be worth as much as $1 billion.

Finally, Apple Watch owners and premium subscribers to streaming music service Spotify are soon going to be able to download playlists to their smartwatches and play the lists offline. According to 9to5Mac, the rollout has begun and is “picking up speed.”