Good morning! Google is testing the ability for apps to use alternative billing options for Spotify. It’s good for consumers, good for Google, but what does it mean for Apple? I’m Ben Brody and since being invited over for “mulled red wine” (??!) I wonder if we were onto something with pandemic restrictions.
Too, we want to know your favorite under-the-radar websites or apps. What platform do you use that you don’t think others know about? Read the bottom of this email for more information, then reply to this email and let us know!
Your move, Apple
Google’s announcement yesterday that it’s going to let Spotify try out non-Android payment options is the culmination of a brutal international, multi-company battle – and Google’s concession that the whole saga has changed the app forever. Store in ways that will take us years to figure out.
Google has launched a “pilot” to enable alternative billing options in certain countries for Spotify, who had been a key architect of the app developers’ unlikely success against Apple and Google.
- The move, which was effectively an extension of what Google had to do under a new South Korean law, also teased work with a few other developers, essentially implying that it was trying to come up with a system that it could roll out to Android in the coming years.
Don’t get me wrong: this is a concession that the old way of app stores is gone.. It’s been gone for a while (see: Fee Discounts), and it will last a long time in many places. But the era of Google and Apple simply routing in-app purchases through their own payment systems and charging developers 30% for the privilege is coming to an end.
- There had been a lot of bumps in the model: lawsuits (like Epic Games versus Google), as well as proposed legislation in the states, in Congress, and internationally.
- They all came together to put down the companies, more or less. Or company management realized they would soon.
The only question now is what replaces it. Google won’t just walk away all money on the table when it owns Android, has the ability to place and frame alternative billing systems, and is always keen to cite its own investments in security and privacy.
- The case of Apple in the Netherlands seems to provide a useful caveat to the idea that consumers will suddenly be completely free of 30% fees.
- iOS simply charges a generic fee to dating app developers who want to use alternative billing systems under the country’s new antitrust ruling. It’s 27%.
- Apple, by the way, seems to be perfectly happy to just take a loss as the government repeatedly fines it for what authorities call non-compliance.
Apple is the elephant in the room. Google’s decision certainly puts pressure on Cupertino.
- As long as Google and Apple stuck to essentially the same fees in the same form, commissions were basically a reality that developers and consumers alike had to accept. (A lot of people would call this a duopoly.)
- Now that Google and Apple are parting ways in their approach, everything is to be won, and the forces of antagonism led by Spotify, Epic, Match and others may fall apart.
- Fees aside for businesses to try out new payment processors, which apps might even have them? In which regions will they exist? What safety standards will they have to meet and what pretexts will be used to send them back? Where and how easily will consumers be able to access it?
- And it’s an open question how much those systems want to charge.
No one really has the answers to these questions yet. I suppose they will only become clear over the years, thanks to corporate announcements, continuous developer lobbying, court rulings, legislative threats, fines imposed on authorities and more. For now, however, the next step is Apple’s.
— Ben Brody (email | Twitter)
A MESSAGE FROM INTEL
In a few years, we may be largely living on the edge. As the amount of data increases exponentially, there is an increased need for advanced computing solutions to facilitate real-time decision making.
People are talking
Jensen Huang said Nvidia didn’t need Arm, but it would have been nice to have:
- “As business owners, you want to own big assets, you want to own big platforms.”
Chris Chancey of ManaVoid Entertainment said the four-day work week is a game-changer:
- “In any case, the morale was there. There was much less absenteeism during the week.
Pat Gelsinger said that like oil, chips will play a role in geopolitics:
- “Where the fabs are for a digital future is more important. Let’s build them where we want them and define the world we want to be a part of in the US and Europe.
Break purchased NextMind, a neurotech startup that has created a headband that lets users control parts of a computer with their thoughts, for an undisclosed amount.
Spotify is renaming its live social audio app from Greenroom to Spotify Live, sources told Bloomberg. It is expected to come into force in the second quarter of this year.
Airbnb joins TechNet as a member, becoming the 10th company to do so this year.
Brian Lanigan is Lacework’s new Vice President of Global Channels and Alliances. Lanigan recently worked at Splunk.
Mila Ferrell has joined Matterhorn as a partner. Ferrell was an original member of Zoom’s product team.
In other news
A teenager can lead the Lapsus$ hacking group. Researchers told Bloomberg they believe he was based in England and ran a global operation without even his mother’s knowledge.
Speaking of Lapsus$: they could see customer data from Okta, the company admitted. Okta said he had not seen the forensic report on the incident, which happened in January, until recently.
Stephen Wilhite, an original creator of the GIF, died of COVID last week. He was 74 years old.
Instacart is less and less dependent on gig workers. The company provides grocery stores with management software services that can be used for everything from advertisements to fulfillment.
Koch Industries is dedicated to caring about climate change. After years of helping fund climate denial, the conglomerate has invested millions in American battery and electric vehicle startups over the past year.
Arizona residents can now keep their driver’s license on their iPhone. Apple will eventually roll out the feature to other states.
Meta execs didn’t work around Silicon Valley. A few people headed to the UK and Israel, Adam Mosseri bounced around from Hawaii to Los Angeles to Cape Cod, and Mark Zuckerberg split his time in a few places.
Instagram’s timeline feed is finally back. Users can now view content based on the time it was shared in two different ways.
Russia blocked Google News. The government cited “unreliable information” about the war in Ukraine as the reason for the ban, as it continues to crack down on news sources in the country.
What’s your favorite super-secret app?
You can find anything online if you know where to look. Need a good movie recommendation? Head toward agoodmovietowatch.com. Want to know what you could look like with a certain t-shirt? Download the Forma Closet app. We know there are more hidden websites and apps out there, so we want to hear from you.
What’s your favorite website or app that you don’t think anyone else knows about? Do you have the resource for every life hack in the world? What is an online game that you love that has managed to fly under the radar? Reply to this email and let us know, and we’ll round up our favorites in Source Code‘s Sunday edition.
A MESSAGE FROM INTEL
As a form of distributed computing, edge computing allows processing to occur where the data is generated. The convergence of 5G networks with edge computing not only means that data travels faster, but can also be quickly translated through media, inference and analysis into insights and action, enabling new applications to ultra-low latency to come to life.