Epic Games and Apple Continue Heated Feud Over App Fees

The battle between Apple and Epic Games over the former’s commission fees for games sold in its App Store has heated up. Apple and Google both tossed Epic Games’ “Fortnite” from their app stores after Epic debuted an in-app payment system that prevented both companies from reaping 30 percent of customers’ spending. Epic Games filed a lawsuit, and Apple just filed a countersuit, accusing the software developer of “duplicity and greed” and asking a judge for punitive damages. Epic Games has seen its iOS- and Mac-based usership plunge. Continue reading Epic Games and Apple Continue Heated Feud Over App Fees

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

Apple Music Debuts New Stations, Renames Flagship Beats 1

Apple unveiled two live radio stations on Apple Music, available in 165 countries, and renamed its flagship station, Beats 1, as Apple Music 1. Apple Music Hits will showcase top songs from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, and Apple Music Country will highlight country music. Apple Music’s Beats 1, which launched in 2015, has become a popular destination for music listening and offers in-depth artist interviews as well as global exclusives and premieres. The station also promotes human curation and artist camaraderie. Continue reading Apple Music Debuts New Stations, Renames Flagship Beats 1

Facebook Teams With Top Publishers to Offer Music Videos

In a direct challenge to Google’s YouTube, Facebook introduced licensed music videos to its platform earlier this month. The videos are accessible by genre, artist and mood from a new section in Facebook Watch and are also available via Facebook artist pages. The social network is partnering with publishers including Sony Music Group, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, BMG, Kobalt, Merlin and others with licensing deals similar to those already established with YouTube. Meanwhile, YouTube Music is expanding its features as Google gets ready to shut down its Play Music app. Continue reading Facebook Teams With Top Publishers to Offer Music Videos

Spotify, Universal Music Join Forces With New Licensing Pact

Spotify inked a new multi-year global licensing deal with Universal Music Group after being out-of-contract for about a year. Under the terms of the agreement, Spotify has access to UMG’s catalog for streaming and UMG will be part of Spotify’s so-called two-sided marketplace, whereby it will pay for analytics, data and marketing. Spotify, under pressure to prove to investors that it can be more consistently profitable, spends most of its revenue on licensing deals with music publishers and record labels. Continue reading Spotify, Universal Music Join Forces With New Licensing Pact

EU’s Antitrust Probe Expands to Include the Internet of Things

The European Union’s antitrust unit has broadened its focus of Big Tech companies to include voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa and the growing number of connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager noted the threat of a big company pushing the market until “competition turns into monopoly.” With regard to IoT, she pinpointed voice assistants as the “center of it all,” but included any digital device that records consumer data from Apple Watch to an Internet-connected refrigerator. Continue reading EU’s Antitrust Probe Expands to Include the Internet of Things

SiriusXM Ups Its Podcast Profile With the Purchase of Stitcher

SiriusXM is buying podcast platform Stitcher from the E.W. Scripps Company for $325 million. Scripps purchased Stitcher from Deezer in 2016 for $4.5 million, combining it with Midroll Media, which it bought for $55 million the previous year. Stitcher enables advertisers, creators and publishers to both produce and distribute content. With Stitcher, SiriusXM can now offer original podcasts for listeners. Scripps said Stitcher’s 2019 revenue was $72.5 million, for a compound annual growth rate of 52 percent from 2016 through 2019. Continue reading SiriusXM Ups Its Podcast Profile With the Purchase of Stitcher

European Union, U.K. Seek New Ways to Regulate Big Tech

After failing to have much of an impact on Google with its $8+ billion fine, the European Union devised new regulations, the Digital Services Act (DSA), to rein in Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The new strategy is to create basic rules for data-sharing and digital markets operations. The U.S. is preparing another case against Google, and the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is calling for a “new pro-competition regulatory regime” to control Facebook, Google and other Big Tech companies. Continue reading European Union, U.K. Seek New Ways to Regulate Big Tech

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 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

Spotify Rolls Out Premium Feature for Party Mode Streaming

Spotify just debuted Group Sessions, a feature in beta testing for exclusive use of Premium subscribers. Group Sessions acts as a kind of “party mode” to allow two or more users in the same space to share control of the music being played in real time as well as contribute to a collaborative playlist for the group. The company points out that it is ideal for those quarantining together during the COVID-19 pandemic. Spotify anticipates the feature will now encourage more free users to convert to subscribers. Continue reading Spotify Rolls Out Premium Feature for Party Mode Streaming

Music Streaming Challenges Dominance of In-Vehicle Radio

According to Nielsen, radio reaches 92 percent of Americans over 18 years of age every week. Whereas Netflix and other streaming services have loosened over-the-air TV’s grip on the viewing audience, AM/FM stations still dominate in vehicles. But that might change since the coronavirus has kept millions of Americans from commuting — and listening to radio — while stuck at home. U.S. drivers, who listen to 100 minutes of radio every day on average, are worth $67 in radio industry revenue annually, according to Deloitte. Continue reading Music Streaming Challenges Dominance of In-Vehicle Radio

Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

Spotify Technology has just unveiled an app specifically designed for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Spotify Kids, which is available for free to Spotify Premium Family members, is being tested in the U.K., Sweden, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand. The most notable change is visual: Spotify Kids offers kids the animated creature of their choice to act as an avatar in an environment full of colors and doodles. There are two Spotify Kids versions, one for younger children and another for older ones. Continue reading Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

AT&T TV Launches Today With Hundreds of Live TV Channels

Following several months of testing in 13 U.S. trial markets, AT&T TV launches nationwide today. The broadband service features a 4K- and HDR-capable Android-based set-top box, 500 hours of DVR storage, access to hundreds of live television channels and 40,000 on-demand titles. Streaming services such as Disney+, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify and YouTube are available, as well as 5,000+ apps through the Google Play store. Additionally, the voice-enabled remote control is integrated with Google Assistant. Chromecast support is also built in. AT&T TV will be integrated with HBO Max when it launches in May. Continue reading AT&T TV Launches Today With Hundreds of Live TV Channels

Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

Spotify, reporting its Q4 results, revealed that it now has 271 million subscribers, up 31 percent from a year ago, with paying subscribers up 29 percent to 125 million. The company’s overall revenue reached $2 billion, up 24 percent from the previous year, with a gross margin of 25.6 percent. Spotify is still posting operating losses, with Q4’s pegged at $85 million, with its loss per share now at $1.26. Spotify also acquired Bill Simmons’ sports and pop culture website and podcasting network The Ringer. Continue reading Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

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