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Recode Daily: Trump and Xi Jinping reach a temporary trade-war truce

Plus: Uber is negotiating a multibillion dollar takeover of a leading scooter startup; AirPods are Apple’s best growth product for the foreseeable future; things are looking up at the drone industry’s biggest global expo.

U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping shake hands in front of Chinese and American flags
U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping
Artyom Ivanov / TASS via Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping reached an agreement to effectively pause their trade war and work toward a pact. The cease-fire leaves American tariffs in place on $250 billion in Chinese goods, but removes — for now —Trump’s threat to increase the tariffs on $200 billion of those goods in January to 25 percent from 10 percent, and to impose tariffs on all imports from China. The agreement sets a March 1 deadline for a trade deal. The temporary truce, forged over a working dinner on Saturday night in Buenos Aires amid the G-20 global economic summit, appears to be aimed at giving the two leaders some political breathing room after an escalating fight has begun inflicting economic damage on both sides of the Pacific. [Keith Bradsher and Alan Rappeport / The New York Times]

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U.S. President George H.W. Bush died at his home in Houston late Friday night, at age 94. Bush, who was the longest-living president in U.S. history, will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol today; his funeral will take place on Wednesday at the National Cathedral. Despite a thorny relationship with the Bush family, President Donald Trump and his wife Melania will attend the funeral; Trump will designate Wednesday as a National Day of Mourning. State funerals are multi-day events consisting of three stages, starting with ceremonies within the state in which the honoree resided, continuing in the nation’s capital and ending where the individual has chosen to be interred; here is a tribute website, and here is an official schedule. [Ros Krasny / Bloomberg]

Uber is negotiating a multibillion dollar takeover of one of the leading scooter-sharing startups: Will it be Bird, or will it be Lime? The Information reports that Uber has held talks with Bird on a possible acquisition; as a fallback, Uber has also been talking to smaller competitor Lime, in which it already owns a minority stake. There’s strong impetus from both sides for getting a deal done, as Uber seeks to lock up the market before it’s fully formed, and the budding unicorn startups work to secure the funding to match their hyperaccelerated growth. [Vlad Savov / The Verge]

Nexstar Media Group has reached an agreement to acquire Tribune Media for about $4.1 billion, which would make it the largest local U.S. TV station operator. The acquisition would come just three months after Tribune’s $3.9 billion deal to sell itself to Sinclair Broadcast Group collapsed over regulatory hurdles. Texas-based Nexstar, which has a market capitalization of $3.8 billion, outbid private equity firm Apollo Global Management with an all-cash offer that values Chicago-based Tribune at around $46.50 per share. Nexstar owns, operates and provides sales and other services to 174 television stations reaching nearly 39 percent of all U.S. television households; Tribune owns or operates 42 local television stations reaching approximately 50 million households. [Carl O’Donnell and Liana B. Baker / Reuters]

Because Apple and Qualcomm failed to reach a settlement over patent royalties, a district judge scheduled a trial in San Diego federal court, beginning April 15, 2019. The case centers around Apple’s accusation that Qualcomm is illegally taking a cut of each iPhone sold with Qualcomm’s modem technology inside; Qualcomm alleges that Apple stole trade secrets and gave them to Intel. Throughout this extended legal battle, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf has remained optimistic about the potential for a business relationship between Qualcomm and Apple; he recently said Qualcomm “would love to work with Apple” on 5G technologies, though other reports indicate that Apple is instead working with Intel. [Chance Miller / 9to5Mac]

Marketers are rushing to figure out their “voice strategy” in a world populated by voice assistants and smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home. More than 20 million homes in the U.S. — 22 percent of those with Wi-Fi — use the devices; by 2022, more than half of American homes will have a smart speaker. Amazon said on a recent earnings call that it had no plans to add paid advertising to its Alexa voice tech; Google promoted the live-action movie “Beauty and the Beast” on Google Home last year. Both companies have been willing to work with ad agencies and marketers to help them develop applications for smart speakers. [Sapna Maheshwari / The New York Times]

AirPods wireless earbuds are on track to be Apple’s best growth product for the foreseeable future, according to a report by Apple-focused analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The company will release an “upgraded model with wireless charging support” and upgraded Bluetooth specs in the first quarter of 2019; an all-new design of the device is currently slated for early 2020. Kuo, who calls AirPods Apple’s most popular accessory ever, forecasts dramatic unit growth for AirPods, rising from 16 million in 2017 to more than 100 million by 2021; he also said that existing iPhone users are more likely to buy AirPods than upgrade their phone itself. [Benjamin Mayo / 9to5Mac]

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