Developers Criticize Meta Platforms for Costly VR App Fees

Meta Platforms is facing a backlash based on the fees it is charging virtual reality developers for access to its Meta Quest Store, which uses a financial model similar to that of leading mobile app stores. The Meta Quest Store supports the leading consumer market VR headset, the Quest 2, and reportedly demands 30 percent from digital purchases and anywhere from 15 percent to 30 percent on subscription sales, which is comparable to Apple and Android store fees. Because Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously criticized those companies’ fee structures, he’s being labeled a hypocrite by those opposing the charges. Continue reading Developers Criticize Meta Platforms for Costly VR App Fees

Google Revamps News Display, Works to Settle EU Disputes

Google News is trying to keep peace with publishers while adding functionality to its feed with a revamped desktop that lets users customize up to three topics on the home screen. For example, Local News, World News and Top Picks can be set to display across three-columns. Meanwhile, the global payment battle between content providers and Alphabet’s aggregator has achieved closure in France, where the competition authority said a settlement has been reached after a two-year legal battle and a $525 million fine. Terms include a pledge from Google to give news providers estimates of indirect revenue generated from news content that appears in its search results. Continue reading Google Revamps News Display, Works to Settle EU Disputes

Amazon Plans to Continue Diversifying Despite Tough Times

Despite slowing e-commerce sales growth and signs of a global recession, Amazon plans to continue diversifying through investments like building a brick-and-mortar grocery chain, launching a satellite network for Internet delivery, expanding Alexa services, and developing self-driving cars — including through Zoox, an autonomous taxi subsidiary. That was the message from company CEO Andy Jassy at the Bloomberg Technology Summit in San Francisco. The remarks come after Amazon posted its first quarterly loss in seven years in Q1, which also marked the company’s slowest revenue growth since 2001. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Continue Diversifying Despite Tough Times

Big Tech Fights Antitrust Bill as Congress Moves Toward Vote

Big Tech is pulling out all the stops to prevent Congress from signing the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICO) into law before the midterm elections. Amazon and Alphabet have rallied forces in opposition to the antitrust measure whose principal goal is to halt “self-preferencing,” or the ability of online giants to use their market strength in one area to help boost sideline subsidiaries through preferential treatment. For instance, Alphabet using its wholly-owned search engine Google to promote its own shopping or travel products. Continue reading Big Tech Fights Antitrust Bill as Congress Moves Toward Vote

Chinese Technology Companies Are Experiencing Slowdowns

China’s tech sector is taking a hit. Revenue for e-commerce giant Alibaba posted what appears to be its most sluggish quarterly increase ever, at 9 percent, with competitor JD.com also paced among its worst performances, with revenue up 18 percent for Q1. The nation’s search engine leader, Baidu, reported 1 percent revenue growth, while Tencent remained flat. Supply chain problems due to the COVID-19 resurgence in conjunction with Beijing’s recent measures to battle back monopolies are cited as causes for the negative market turn. Since late 2020, China has been investigating alleged monopolistic practices among many top corporations. Continue reading Chinese Technology Companies Are Experiencing Slowdowns

Legislators Continue Their Scrutiny of Big Tech, Social Media

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) has introduced a new bill, the Digital Platform Commission Act, which proposes the establishment of a five-person commission to protect consumers in the Big Tech era. This, even as attorneys for groups representing Facebook and Twitter on Friday filed with the U.S. Supreme Court an emergency request to block Texas House Bill 20. The companies argue the law compels social platforms to disseminate propaganda and misinformation, including racist and pro-Nazi screeds. Calling HB 20 “an assault on the First Amendment,” the companies claim its implementation could undo billions in development. Continue reading Legislators Continue Their Scrutiny of Big Tech, Social Media

EU Hits Apple with Antitrust Objections Over Mobile Payments

European regulators on Monday hit Apple with an antitrust charge, alleging it has created a “closed system” for contactless mobile payments. The so-called statement of objections says the iPhone maker has abused its market power by favoring its Apple Pay for mobile contactless payments to the detriment of third-party services like PayPal, which reportedly helped initiate the charges. The European Commission says it has reason to believe Apple withheld access to its NFC inputs in order to suppress other mobile-wallet app developers from competing with Apple Pay, which the Commission called “a closed ecosystem.” Continue reading EU Hits Apple with Antitrust Objections Over Mobile Payments

Proposed Antitrust Laws a Privacy Disaster Warns Tim Cook

Antitrust legislation pending in the U.S. and European Union is at odds with consumer privacy initiatives in those territories, Apple CEO Tim Cook told attendees of the IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2022 in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. Speaking out against proposed “gatekeeper” rules, Cook warned that “when companies decide to leave the App Store because they want to exploit user data, it could put significant pressure on people to engage with alternate app stores — app stores where their privacy and security may not be protected.” Continue reading Proposed Antitrust Laws a Privacy Disaster Warns Tim Cook

FTC Chair Khan Calls for Privacy Rules and Data Limitations

Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan says it’s time for the FTC and Congress to deliver on consumer privacy protection, legislating to ensure that consumers don’t have to surrender personal data in order to enjoy online tools that are essential to everyday life. Speaking Monday at the IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2022 in Washington, D.C., Khan emphasized creating “substantive limits rather than just procedural protections” when it comes to personal data. Meanwhile, Big Tech did its own lobbying on behalf of consumer privacy. Continue reading FTC Chair Khan Calls for Privacy Rules and Data Limitations

Google Testing New Data Protections with Privacy Sandbox

Google is advancing to the next stage of trials for its Privacy Sandbox — a  proposal centered on advertising relevance and measurement. The new Sandbox ad targeting tech stack is under consideration as a replacement for the tracking-based cookie approach that has been the norm in Chrome. Described as a revenue-friendly user privacy enhancement, the new stack is being discussed as potentially going into effect in the second half of 2023. Starting last week, developers could begin global testing of the Topics, FLEDGE, and Attribution Reporting APIs in the Canary version of Chrome. Continue reading Google Testing New Data Protections with Privacy Sandbox

TikTok Library Taps Giphy to Add New Video Creation Tools

TikTok is introducing a new feature, the TikTok Library, aimed at making it easier for creators to augment entertainment content and jump on trends. The TikTok Library will initially be populated with content from Giphy, including the audio-enhanced GIFs known as Giphy Clips. Companies ranging from TV and movie studios to game makers, record labels, sports leagues and media outlets have been sharing licensed content using Giphy Clips. Giphy was founded in 2013, and was in 2020 purchased for $400 million by Facebook, now Meta Platforms.  Continue reading TikTok Library Taps Giphy to Add New Video Creation Tools

Amazon Closes $8.5B Deal for MGM, FTC Watches in Wings

Amazon completed its $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM late last week. The companies finalized the deal immediately upon expiration of the Federal Trade Commission’s mid-March deadline to object, though the agency let it be known that it can challenge a deal any time it finds cause. Amazon in May announced intent to acquire MGM, which has a library of more than 4,000 films and some 17,000 TV episodes as well as ongoing production in both areas. In August, a group of four labor unions collectively urged the FTC to quash Amazon’s bid. Continue reading Amazon Closes $8.5B Deal for MGM, FTC Watches in Wings

Google to Spend $5.4 Billion for Cybersecurity Firm Mandiant

Alphabet has agreed to purchase cybersecurity firm Mandiant in a deal valued at nearly $5.4 billion. Mandiant — which services global enterprises, governments and law enforcement agencies — brings expertise that will fortify Alphabet’s Google Cloud with increased security at a time when businesses worldwide are focused on preventing cyberattacks. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close later this year. The fact that Mandiant complements, rather than expands, Google’s sphere of influence should prove beneficial as Alphabet faces antitrust lawsuits from the Justice Department and U.S. states. Continue reading Google to Spend $5.4 Billion for Cybersecurity Firm Mandiant

Epic Pitches Big Tent in Metaverse with Bandcamp Purchase

Epic Games has purchased online music store and community Bandcamp. Citing a shared “mission of building the most artist friendly platform that enables creators to keep the majority of their hard-earned money,” the blockbuster game developer explained in a statement that Bandcamp will play an important role in the gamer’s “vision to build out a creator marketplace ecosystem for content, technology, games, art, music and more.” It’s an interesting strategic move. Competitor Electronic Arts has had success with music, getting its “Star Wars” scores released and creating hits through its “FIFA” and “Madden NFL” games. Continue reading Epic Pitches Big Tent in Metaverse with Bandcamp Purchase

Apple Faces U.S. Legislation, Dutch Fines for App Store Fees

The legislative tide seems to be turning against Apple and its App Store, marking what some note is a shift in attention previously trained on Meta Platforms and its alleged child endangerment through Facebook and Instagram, Amazon’s behavior toward its retailers, and Alphabet’s advertising controls on Google. The Apple attack is building worldwide, as Dutch antitrust watchdog Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) on Monday fined Apple $5.7 million over what it says are abusive payment requirements that prohibit developers from using third-party platforms for dating app fees. Continue reading Apple Faces U.S. Legislation, Dutch Fines for App Store Fees