Microsoft Plans to Launch Its Own Mobile Games App Store

If it overcomes regulatory hurdles and completes its $75 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft plans to launch a mobile app store for games to challenge Apple and Google, according to Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Games. The EU’s Digital Markets Act mandates that the makers of Android devices and iPhones must make their mobile platforms accessible to app stores by third parties, with enforcement beginning in March 2024. That means Microsoft could open a mobile app store as soon as next year, adapting the company’s Xbox and Game Pass apps to accommodate sales to mobile devices. Continue reading Microsoft Plans to Launch Its Own Mobile Games App Store

Changes Ahead for Big Tech When EU Regulations Enforced

The European Union’s implementation of the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA) is poised to trigger worldwide changes on familiar platforms like Google, Instagram, Wikipedia and YouTube. The DSA addresses consumer safety while the DMA deals with antitrust issues. Proponents say the new laws will help end the era of self-regulating tech companies. Although as in the U.S., the DSA makes clear that platforms aren’t liable for illegal user-generated content. Unlike U.S. law, the DSA does allow users to sue when tech firms are made aware of harmful content but fail to remove it. Continue reading Changes Ahead for Big Tech When EU Regulations Enforced

Microsoft Elevates Activision Deal with ‘Call of Duty’ Promise

Microsoft has signed agreements giving Nintendo and Nvidia access to Activision Blizzard titles including from the popular “Call of Duty” franchise in a bid to advance its proposed $75 billion purchase of the game firm. The acquisition is opposed by some regulators in the U.S. and Europe on antitrust grounds. Microsoft’s offer to provide valuable IP to platforms that compete with its Xbox aims to quell such concerns. While Nvidia and Nintendo appear to have capitulated as a result of the new contingency, guaranteed for at least 10 years, Sony Interactive Entertainment remains a holdout. Continue reading Microsoft Elevates Activision Deal with ‘Call of Duty’ Promise

Biden Challenges Big Tech, Calls for Children’s Online Safety

President Biden’s second State of the Union speech Tuesday night included calls for stronger consumer privacy protections and tougher antitrust laws in direct challenge to what many perceive as the unchecked power of Big Tech. “Pass bipartisan legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement and prevent big online platforms from giving their own products an unfair advantage,” Biden stated, urging Congress to “stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children, and impose stricter limits on the personal data these companies collect on all of us.” Continue reading Biden Challenges Big Tech, Calls for Children’s Online Safety

Senators Grill Live Nation on Antitrust After the Swift Debacle

Anticompetitive practices, outrageous ticket fees and poor customer service were among the allegations leveled at Live Nation Entertainment Tuesday at a contentious Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing over botched Taylor Swift concert ticket presales by the company’s Ticketmaster subsidiary. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) called the Live Nation relationship to Ticketmaster “the definition of monopoly,” adding that venues fearful of losing the company’s concerts don’t have the ability to push back because Live Nation is “so powerful that it doesn’t even need to exert pressure, it doesn’t need to threaten because people just fall in line.” Continue reading Senators Grill Live Nation on Antitrust After the Swift Debacle

Digital Ad Share for Meta, Alphabet to Drop Below 50 Percent

Insider Intelligence forecasts that 2023 will mark the first time since 2014 that the combined digital advertising market share for Meta Platforms and Alphabet will fall below 50 percent, indicating erosion of their “duopoly.” Projection of a 2.5 percent drop due to increased competition from rivals including Amazon, Apple, TikTok and Microsoft will put the pair at a projected 48.4 percent this year, according to the research group. While the trajectory is likely to garner negative media and investor attention, it is a plus from the perspective of fending off global antitrust attacks. Continue reading Digital Ad Share for Meta, Alphabet to Drop Below 50 Percent

EU Pushes Its Antitrust Case Against Facebook Marketplace

The European Commission has formed a “preliminary view” that Meta Platforms has breached EU antitrust law by manipulating competition in the online classified advertising markets on Facebook and Instagram. The Commission took particular umbrage with the bundling of Meta’s Facebook with access to Facebook Marketplace, which allows users to buy and sell items. Meta could face a fine as high as $11.8 billion if the allegations of self-dealing prove true. The Commission also claims Meta is imposing unfair conditions on Marketplace competitors for its own benefit. Continue reading EU Pushes Its Antitrust Case Against Facebook Marketplace

Apple Plans to Open iOS to Third-Parties Thanks to EU Laws

Apple is planning to allow app sideloading in response to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, set to take effect in 2024. The move reverses long-held policies that were a source of ire to many Apple developers as well as global regulators. It is believed the new approach could spillover to other regions where lawmakers are at various stages of reining in Big Tech, with companies including Google and Meta Platforms also in the crosshairs. The news sent shares up among companies that offer dating apps, including Match Group and Bumble. Spotify also got a bump. Continue reading Apple Plans to Open iOS to Third-Parties Thanks to EU Laws

Apple Revises App Store Pricing Policy, Adding 700 Options

Apple has updated its App Store pricing in what some have interpreted as a preemptive move against regulatory and legal pressure over store policies. Apple is offering developers “700 additional price points and new pricing tools” to make it easier to set prices per App Store country or region and manage foreign exchange rate changes, among other things. The move brings the total number of available App Store price points to 900 and allows developers in the U.S. to set prices ranging from $0.29 to $10,000. The new policy is expected to roll out soon in global markets. Continue reading Apple Revises App Store Pricing Policy, Adding 700 Options

Taylor Swift Fans File Class Action Suit Against Ticketmaster

A group of 26 Taylor Swift fans have filed a lawsuit against Ticketmaster, alleging anticompetitive conduct and fraud after a glitch resulted in the ticketing service canceling sales to Swift’s “Eras” tour, leaving thousands of fans — some of whom waited four to eight hours in ticket queues last month — “empty-handed and unhappy,” according to The New York Times. Their outcry resulted in not only a 33-page complaint filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles, but also Congressional demands to unwind the 2010 merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation. Swift’s 52-show Eras tour is scheduled to begin in March. Continue reading Taylor Swift Fans File Class Action Suit Against Ticketmaster

Big Tech to Face Increased EU Scrutiny as DMA Takes Effect

Next week, the EU’s Digital Markets Act takes effect, and U.S. tech giants are preparing for headaches. Among the DMA’s goals is making companies like Amazon, Google and Meta Platforms more open and interoperable in 2023. Last month, veteran EU official Gerard de Graaf, who helped create the DMA, was installed as director of a satellite office in San Francisco. There, he will help Big Tech prepare for breaking out their wallets and breaking open their walled gardens as the result of  “significant” changes to how they’ve been doing business in Europe. Meanwhile, telecoms in Europe are looking for tech firms to pay new fees based on bandwidth issues. Continue reading Big Tech to Face Increased EU Scrutiny as DMA Takes Effect

Google, Amazon Reach an Accord in OS Battle for Smart TVs

Google and Amazon have struck a deal to end simmering hostilities over a battle for control of smart TVs. After a particularly damning report by the Competition Commission of India last week, Amazon announced that TCL — a major player in the drama — will this fall release in Europe two new models equipped with Amazon Fire TV software. The new pax has also paved the way for Amazon to work with consumer electronics companies including Hisense, Xiaomi, and more, who were previously forbidden from using the Amazon OS under Google’s licensing terms. Continue reading Google, Amazon Reach an Accord in OS Battle for Smart TVs

Meta, Spotify Blast Apple Over App Store Fee Enforcements

Apple announced various App Store developer updates last week, and one change getting lots of attention is that which specifies “sales of ‘boosts’ for posts in a social media app must use in-app purchase.” That means Apple will be taking its customary 30 percent fee for paid boosts on iOS devices, a move that will primarily affect Meta Platforms’ Facebook and Instagram, since they hadn’t previously been processing such transactions through Apple’s in-app purchase system, like Twitter and Tiktok have. Apple says its “guidelines have been clear” that in-app sales are required to use its In-App Purchase. Continue reading Meta, Spotify Blast Apple Over App Store Fee Enforcements

Microsoft’s New Gaming Strategy Includes Xbox Mobile Store

Microsoft is reportedly building an Xbox mobile store, challenging Apple and Google. The Redmond company’s pending Activision Blizzard deal is key to successful implementation of its mobile gaming strategy, which was previously hinted at and now comes to light in a filing with the UK Competition and Markets Authority, which requested additional information from Microsoft as part of its analysis of the $68.7 billion deal. In its filings, Microsoft says a “next generation” game store that “operates across a range of devices, including mobile” is significant impetus for the acquisition. Continue reading Microsoft’s New Gaming Strategy Includes Xbox Mobile Store

Meta Says It Will Sell Giphy per UK Competition Unit’s Order

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has rendered a final decision ordering Meta Platforms to sell its Giphy marketplace for animated GIFs. Meta acquired the U.S.-based Giphy in 2020. The CMA subsequently found the purchase anticompetitive, determining the move would stunt innovation in UK display advertising and limit social media choices for consumers. After Meta failed to decisively win an appeal, the matter went back to the CMA, which this week reaffirmed its earlier decision and ordered Giphy sold. Meta said in a statement it is “disappointed by the CMA’s decision,” but won’t pursue further appeal. Continue reading Meta Says It Will Sell Giphy per UK Competition Unit’s Order