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I would put Apple and other tech giants in the therapist’s chair: To understand their motives and actions, it would be helpful to examine their vulnerabilities.
I was surprised this year when Apple barely budged when regulators and some app companies complained loudly about the downsides of the app system Apple had created over a decade ago. before. The underlying problem is that Apple abuses its control over iPhone apps to impose unfair fees and complexity on app developers. That’s the claim in a lawsuit that Epic Games, the maker of the video game Fortnite, is pending against Apple.
Apple says it’s right to exercise control over apps and collect commissions for some of the things we do on phones. But there’s also something else at work: fear.
Connecting the dots between Apple’s predicament and its choices helps us understand why the company does what it does – and extends to how those actions affect people, for whether we own an Apple device or not. Apple’s strategy to bend the world.
Why should Apple worry? It was so successful and so cash-flowing that… well, corporate employees sat on desk chairs that could be more expensive than your sofa. Or your car.
But the reality is that smartphone sales will probably never have the spikes of the 2010s that made Apple a superstar. Smartphones have become a necessity of modern life in many countries, just like refrigerators, but there are fewer potential first-time smartphone buyers every year and people are waiting for a long time. than to replace the phone they already own.
(I’ll admit that Apple has sold more iPhones and other devices lately. We’ll see if that’s long-term or a pandemic-related blip.)
Apple and a lot of the company’s followers don’t think it matters if Apple has a harder time selling more iPhones each year. Instead, the company has changed its strategy to make more money from the gadgets we have in our homes and pockets – in the form of app downloads, subscriptions like Apple Music, headphones AirPods and other Apple products or services are connected to the company’s devices.
It’s a smart strategy that’s working very well, but also one born of necessity as the era of the pinnacle smartphone seems to have come to an end.
There is also a long shadow due to Apple’s need to become more than just the iPhone company. For instance, would Apple be willing to rethink aspects of the app store if it weren’t so dependent on generating money from sources other than iPhone sales? And to what extent are Apple’s tactics changing all the technology we use?
Vox writer Peter Kafka recently wrote that Facebook has decided to start newsletters that people read outside Facebook’s apps in part to avoid paying the fees Apple requires from digital subscriptions sold in its iPhone apps. Billions of Facebook users are affected by Apple’s strategy to attract more money from apps.
The companies also say they feel compelled to charge people money in their iPhone apps because of Apple’s rules. In short, those apps could be worse for users, due to Apple’s change of strategy.
It is not uncommon for the world around us to be shaped by the business and financial models of companies. And sometimes it works in our favor. Microsoft is giving Windows PC users access to a wider range of apps partly because it – unlike Apple – doesn’t need to monetize app fees and Microsoft wants to take the plunge.
We do not fully accept the random money-making tactics of large companies. But I find it very helpful to consider ways in which our technological choices are not by accident, nor are they entirely driven by what we want.
Before we go…
A win for Facebook in a possible long battle: A federal judge says the Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit to break up Facebook lacks too much information needed to proceed. The judge asked the government to try to provide evidence that Facebook meets the legal definition of monopoly, Cecilia Kang reported. DealBook has an analysis of comments from the judge, who also said that more than 40 states have waited too long to bring their own antitrust cases.
Related: Cecilia and David McCabe write that all of the antitrust investigations and lawsuits against Big Tech companies are startling to lawyers. An example: 51 lawyers from 21 law firms appeared in court in connection with antitrust cases against Google.
Life is just fodder for online posts: Residents in a rural county in China dress up as old-fashioned farmers and fishermen to show footage of a bygone China for tourists at home and abroad to take photos of and post online. Vivian Wang, my colleague writes. The settings are very elaborate, including burning straw to simulate fog.
Robotic pets are meh but also promising: One Gizmodo writer says: “They can become sophisticated enough to become a genre of their own – not necessarily a live pet, but not a toaster either. honor.
this is a video enchanting a flock of sheep, recorded from a drone over several months and accelerated. (I discovered this first in the Junk Day newsletter.)
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