Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

The Justice Department is scrutinizing Apple’s App Store rules, specifically the requirement that app developers use Apple Pay, which takes up to a 30 percent cut. Since mid-2019, lawyers have been interviewing app developers about their experiences with Apple. Developers have pushed back by blocking subscriptions and payments on their apps or charging higher rates on iPhone apps. The DOJ’s antitrust resources are focused on Google’s dominance in digital advertising, which may result in a case as early as this summer. Continue reading Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

Apple Confirms Transition From Intel Chips to Its Own Design

At its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this week, Apple revealed that after years of development, it’s ready to replace Intel’s chips with its own custom-made ARM processors. Apple will be able to customize its circuitry for AI, 3D image rendering and other specific uses, with a focus on powerful, energy-efficient processors. The company expects its migration to silicon to take about two years, with its first ARM-based Macs shipping later this year. It will continue to ship Intel-based Macs in the short term and says it plans years of support for Macs with Intel processors. Continue reading Apple Confirms Transition From Intel Chips to Its Own Design

Apple Rejects Facebook App, Calls for Antitrust Probe Grow

Apple rejected Facebook Gaming’s submission to the App Store for at least the fifth time since February. Sources said that, with each rejection, Apple referred to its rules that don’t allow apps with the “main purpose” of distributing casual games. Apple’s App Store is the only officially approved venue for iPhone and iPad owners to find new games (and other programs), which generated about $15 billion in revenue last year. Microsoft president Brad Smith said antitrust regulators need to look at the practices of app stores. Continue reading Apple Rejects Facebook App, Calls for Antitrust Probe Grow

Apple is Next Target of European Commission Investigations

European Commission executive vice president in charge of competition Margrethe Vestager is ramping up her scrutiny of U.S. tech giants, including Apple and Amazon. She’s currently targeting Apple’s “gatekeeper” position with third-party apps and Apple Pay. She is also looking more closely at Amazon’s position in online retail. Bloomberg Intelligence antitrust analyst Aitor Ortiz, however, noted that the $9 billion fine she levied against Google didn’t stop the tech giant from continuing to dominate search. The fines “don’t really have a deterrent effect,” he concluded. Continue reading Apple is Next Target of European Commission Investigations

Snapchat Aims to Compete With AR-Centric Digital Platform

Snap is planning to compete directly with Apple, Facebook and Google by creating a complete digital platform, with an app store, expanded games service and ability for third-party developers to build augmented reality experiences with its machine-learning models. Further, Snap is permitting other apps to integrate its camera software and include businesses and users’ friends into its maps. Snapchat has grown to 229 million daily users, versus Twitter’s 166 million, but is still smaller than Instagram and Facebook. Continue reading Snapchat Aims to Compete With AR-Centric Digital Platform

Anthill’s Whatifi Offers Interactive Storytelling via Mobile App

Anthill’s latest version of interactive storytelling app Whatifi is now available in the Apple App Store. Founded by Jaanus Juss and Hardi Meybaum, who have been exploring interactive storytelling in their native Estonia via live theater, the startup enables users to “choose their own adventure” in two stories: “As Dead as it Gets” and “Anatomy of a Decision.” The first is a “drunken night with a few bros” that turns into a supernatural fantasy. A character on the verge of death, the viewer must follow the advice of ghosts to return to the land of the living. Whatifi is now based out of Los Angeles and Estonia. Continue reading Anthill’s Whatifi Offers Interactive Storytelling via Mobile App

Facebook’s Purchase of Giphy to Provide Valuable User Data

Facebook has acquired the GIF platform Giphy for $400 million. Giphy’s 100+ million active daily users send over 1 billion GIFs a day. Facebook stated that Giphy’s content database will be integrated into its apps including Instagram, although it didn’t state a timeframe. Since every social app offers at least some GIF integration, including many that rely on a GIF keyboard and Giphy’s database, Facebook’s purchase is both a competitive edge and another way to harvest the kind of data that attracts advertisers. Continue reading Facebook’s Purchase of Giphy to Provide Valuable User Data

Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

As more companies ask employees to work from home due to the global spread of the coronavirus, Google, Microsoft and Zoom have responded by providing their workplace software for free. Microsoft’s Teams saw a 500 percent increase in meetings, calls and conference usage in China since the end of January, and demand is rising in the U.S. as work-from-home policies are instituted. Many Microsoft employees have been instructed to work from home and, last week, their Teams chat volume rose 50 percent, with video/audio meetings up 37 percent from a week earlier. Continue reading Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

Apple Alters App Guidelines, Okays Opt-In Push Notifications

Apple has revised its App Store review guidelines used to curate iOS/iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS App Stores, most notably, now allowing developers to serve ads via push notifications. In past guidelines, Apple specifically said that push notifications should not be used for “advertising, promotions or direct marketing purposes.” The revised guidelines also expand the definition of a spam app and state that legal entities of services in “highly regulated fields” should submit the app rather than individual developers. Continue reading Apple Alters App Guidelines, Okays Opt-In Push Notifications

Free Video-Sharing App Byte Aims to Compete with TikTok

Byte, a video-sharing app created by Dom Hofmann, debuted Friday and hit No. 1 for free iOS apps in Apple’s U.S. App Store. Byte, which targets rival ByteDance’s TikTok, is a reboot of the former Vine video-sharing service Hofmann co-founded in 2012 and sold to Twitter that year. Twitter couldn’t find a way to make Vine profitable and shuttered it in 2016. In its short life, Vine became a “cultural touchpoint” as users took on the creative challenge of the six-second format. Byte is also the top free iOS app in Canada. Continue reading Free Video-Sharing App Byte Aims to Compete with TikTok

New Disney Streamer Tops App Downloads, Google Search

In the first month since its debut, streaming platform Disney+ ranked No. 1 every day in Apple’s App Store and Google Play in the U.S., with 22 million global downloads of its mobile app. According to Apptopia, Disney+ has averaged 9.5 million daily active users, 84 percent of whom reside in the U.S. It added that the new streaming service also has 5.8 percent longer average session times on a per-user basis than Netflix and 7.8 percent longer than Amazon Prime Video. Google reported that “Disney Plus” was its top search trend for 2019. Continue reading New Disney Streamer Tops App Downloads, Google Search

Microsoft to Debut xCloud Game Streaming Service in 2020

According to Microsoft head of gaming Phil Spencer, the company will introduce its xCloud game streaming service, integrated with Xbox Game Pass, in 2020, with price and launch date to be determined. Microsoft will also bring xCloud to Windows 10 PCs, making it likely that PC games will be streamed there in the future. Microsoft head of cloud gaming Kareem Choudhry noted the lack of mouse and keyboard support for Xbox games streamed via xCloud to a PC, but said there will “be more types of content” in the future. Continue reading Microsoft to Debut xCloud Game Streaming Service in 2020

Apple Drops More on Ads for iPhone Than Its OTT Platform

Apple’s debut of its streaming service, Apple TV+, has garnered outsized attention. But an examination of Apple’s spending on marketing indicates the Silicon Valley company’s main priority is its new iPhone. In September and October this year, Apple spent a total of $71.9 million on iPhone ads and $40.3 million on Apple TV+ ads. In October, for example, Apple spent $19.9 million on television commercials for Apple TV+, but, according to measurement company iSpot.tv, only $38.6 million on the new iPhone. Continue reading Apple Drops More on Ads for iPhone Than Its OTT Platform

Apple Arcade Introduces New Model for Subscription Games

Apple’s video game subscription service Arcade, due to unveil September 19, is based on an established model for casual mobile games — with a twist. Ordinarily, the games are free to download and play, but the companies make money with ads and sales of in-game purchases. Apple is charging $5 per month for those free games, but shedding the ads and digital add-ons. The question is if Apple can change an industry’s typical business model. Microsoft and Google have tried the subscription model, but for higher end games. Continue reading Apple Arcade Introduces New Model for Subscription Games

Government Makes Bipartisan Push to Investigate Big Tech

Democrats and Republicans have come together to examine big tech companies. Last Friday, a bipartisan group of attorneys general in eight states and the District of Columbia began an antitrust probe of Facebook, and, on Monday, another such group announced its intention to investigate Google. Sources said attorney general Ken Paxton (R-Texas) is leading the Google investigation. The Federal Trade Commission, Justice Department, and House and Senate committees are also scrutinizing the tech companies. Continue reading Government Makes Bipartisan Push to Investigate Big Tech

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