European Commission Targets Apple with Antitrust Charges

In the wake of an initial complaint from Spotify, the European Commission has levied antitrust charges against Apple for breaking EU competition rules regarding its App Store policies. More specifically, the EU focused on two rules, one requiring developers to use its in-app purchase system, for which it charges a 30 percent cut, and a second not allowing developers to let users know about other purchasing options. The Commission found that the rules “distort competition” and result in higher prices for consumers. Continue reading European Commission Targets Apple with Antitrust Charges

Google Joins Apple in Reducing App Store Commission Fees

Google is following in Apple’s footsteps by lowering the commissions it charges app developers in its Google Play Store. Apple and Google, currently the primary marketplaces for apps, charge developers 30 percent for app sales and in-app purchases. Now, beginning in July, Google stated it will lower the traditional fee to 15 percent for the first $1 million developers earn. That is slightly different than Apple’s plan, which is to lower its rate to 15 percent for developers who generate less than $1 million in annual sales. Continue reading Google Joins Apple in Reducing App Store Commission Fees

States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Arizona, Maryland and Virginia are just three states pushing legislation to limit Big Tech companies such as Google and Apple on issues including digital advertisements, app-store fees and online privacy. Their actions appear to highlight a growing trend: that state capitals are emerging at the forefront of potentially regulating Silicon Valley behemoths. While the federal government is holding hearings and suing some Big Tech companies, states may beat them to passing laws that will become de facto national standards. Continue reading States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

YouTube to Launch Restricted Version for Tweens and Teens

Google’s YouTube is rolling out a version of its video service that will allow parents to supervise the viewing of tweens and teens that have outgrown YouTube Kids but aren’t quite ready for the unrestricted video platform. Currently, children under the age of 13 in the U.S. are legally barred from regular YouTube. The new option lets parents set up a managed account for children and teens that will prevent them from uploading videos or commenting. Parents will also have different content filters to restrict video viewing. Continue reading YouTube to Launch Restricted Version for Tweens and Teens

Apple Makes Additional Changes to App Store Commissions

To help businesses hold paid digital events during the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple stated that companies offering virtual events or digital classes via iPhone apps won’t have to pay the 30 percent commission fee ordinarily applied to App Store in-app purchases. This concession will extend through the end of June 2021. Apple will also reduce its commission for smaller developers. Meanwhile, Epic Games, which with other developers has been fighting Apple over its in-app commission fee, now has an ally in Nvidia. The GPU and gaming company is testing its GeForce NOW gaming platform on Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. Continue reading Apple Makes Additional Changes to App Store Commissions

Epic Games Wins a Partial Victory in Legal Battle With Apple

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Epic Games can maintain access to Apple’s Developer Tools but that its game “Fortnite” will stay out of its App Store. “Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem,” wrote the judge. Epic Games founder and chief executive Tim Sweeney is battling Apple and Google over their app store commissions. Apple’s response to the ruling was to state it looked “forward to making our case to the court in September.” Continue reading Epic Games Wins a Partial Victory in Legal Battle With Apple

TikTok Becomes a Revenue Giant as App Spawns Subgenres

According to reports, young people are now equally splitting their time between popular video-sharing platforms YouTube and TikTok. Since starting to watch TikTok, consumers ages 4-15 have increased their social app use by 100 percent in 2019 and 200 percent this year. Parent company ByteDance is making so much money on TikTok’s advertising and in-app purchases that it may be valued between $150 billion and $180 billion in an IPO. ByteDance just hired former Disney exec Kevin Mayer as TikTok’s new CEO, giving the company an American face. Continue reading TikTok Becomes a Revenue Giant as App Spawns Subgenres

Houseparty Chat Expands Beyond Teens to Wider Audience

Zoom has gotten a lot of attention as the popular video chat platform that’s soared in usage since the COVID-19 shutdown. But Houseparty is another video chat platform with free mobile and desktop apps that’s gaining traction. Originally targeting teens, Houseparty offers features designed to encourage interaction, such as jumping into a conversation or playing trivia games remotely. In the last month, Houseparty has had 50 million signups, about 70 times its typical number in some markets, said cofounder and chief executive Sima Sistani. Continue reading Houseparty Chat Expands Beyond Teens to Wider Audience

Apple App Store Rules Ban Cloud-Based Streaming Services

Apple has always had strict limits on apps that users can access on its devices. For gaming, that means its 1+ billion iPhone/iPad users have one option: Arcade, the subscription service Apple unveiled in September. The App Store guidelines also ban streaming from the cloud, which limits Arcade’s capabilities. Still, software developers need to be on Apple’s iOS if they want to reach a maximum number of users. According to Sensor Tower, the iOS App Store was responsible for 65 percent of all global app spending last year. Continue reading Apple App Store Rules Ban Cloud-Based Streaming Services

Instagram Tool Lets Users Make In-App Fashion Purchases

Partnering with 23 brands, Facebook’s Instagram debuted an easy-to-use in-app checkout tool for U.S. users. Adidas, Burberry, Dior, Nike, H&M, Zara, Kylie Cosmetics and Kim Kardashian West’s KKW Beauty are among the first retailers to sign on, with more to be added to the beta test throughout the year. Users in the U.S. will see the feature roll out over the next few weeks. Instagram head of product Vishal Shah noted that, “given that 80 percent of people follow a business on Instagram, the desire really is there to shop.” Continue reading Instagram Tool Lets Users Make In-App Fashion Purchases

TikTok to Pay Record Fine After Violating Children’s Privacy

The Federal Trade Commission just inked a settlement with video social network TikTok (which merged with Musical.ly last year) over the charge that its app illegally collected children’s personal information. A large percent of users are under 13, and the personal information collected — without asking for parental permission — included email addresses, names and schools. The site refused to delete video and other data when requested by some parents. The FTC said the $5.7 million settlement is a record for a child privacy violation. Continue reading TikTok to Pay Record Fine After Violating Children’s Privacy

Sprint, T-Mobile Detail Plans for 5G Network Debuts in 2019

Sprint and T-Mobile plan to launch commercial 5G networks this year. In May, Sprint’s 5G will debut in Chicago, where it is being beta-tested; and parts of Atlanta, Dallas and Kansas City. The next month, Sprint plans to add 5G service in parts of Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. None of the launches will be city-wide. T-Mobile, which is merging with Sprint, said it would launch 600MHz 5G services in the second half of 2019, as it awaits the arrival of compatible devices. Continue reading Sprint, T-Mobile Detail Plans for 5G Network Debuts in 2019

Facebook Hit with FTC Complaint on Children’s In-App Buys

Seventeen groups, including Common Sense Media, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, claiming that Facebook has deliberately duped children into making in-app purchases on games including “Angry Birds,” “PetVille” and “Ninja Saga.” The purchases were often made without parental permission, and Facebook makes it “nearly impossible” for parents seeking refunds. The accusation originates in a 2012 class-action lawsuit. Continue reading Facebook Hit with FTC Complaint on Children’s In-App Buys

Facebook Gives HTML5 Another Shot for its Instant Games

Although its first experiences with HTML5 were just short of disastrous, Facebook is now using it again to expand Instant Games to developing countries via Facebook Lite and to interest communities via Facebook Groups. Because smartphone processing power and mobile browser app technology have improved, HTML5 is now able to support more complicated games, and Instant Games can launch in a mobile browser or directly into Groups. Currently, 90 million people take part in 270,000 Facebook Groups about gaming each month. Continue reading Facebook Gives HTML5 Another Shot for its Instant Games

Some Developers Fed Up With Apple, Google App Store Taxes

Apple and Google are getting pushback from such companies as Netflix, Epic Games and Valve that have complained the tech behemoths collect too high of a tax for residing in their app stores. The number of such complaints has risen significantly, and new ways of reaching users has led some companies to avoid app stores altogether. That, combined with competition from those new sources and regulatory scrutiny threaten what has thus far been a source of billions of dollars in revenue for Apple and Google. Continue reading Some Developers Fed Up With Apple, Google App Store Taxes

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