The idea here is: if you have a substantive point to make, make it thoughtfully; if you don't, please don't comment until you do. Remember that every post you make has a non-negligible impact on the community. If we all treat this place like the discussion forum we'd like to have, eventually we'll have it.
HN is, hopefully, better than most places on the internet as there are lots of people willing to decide each issue on its merits, and also recalibrate their positions continually in the light of events,
Of course, everyone has to be their own judge in every particular case, but there's so much room for disagreement that generalized interpretations of downvoting behavior just aren't convincing.
Introspecting into the occasions when I myself downvote out of disagreement it is usually:
1. I think the other person "doesn't get it."
2. I lack the time to offer a substantive opinion.
3. The other party has demonstrated either: a. A tendency to view statements ungenerously or; b. that they already know The One True Way.
4. Some combination of the above.
Edit: List formatting.
"I'm confident that I'm right and they're wrong, but their argument is very well put, and after a minute of thinking about it I can't find any way to contradict their viewpoint. I'll just downvote it now so that I can mentally dismiss it and move on without giving it further consideration, because otherwise it'll continue bothering me that I might be wrong."
(And, to parent: thank you for taking the time to reason through this and consider your own actions. I'm not sure where I stand on #1 at all. I'll have to think on it a while longer than a day.)
My take is the exact opposite: this episode is an opportunity to air grievances regarding each company, which by themselves have amassed a bunch of reasons for customers and end users to dislike them. There are no good guys in this story, only bad guys whose evilness outstages the other's evilness.
For me, like in others, Apple sure brings up a lot of feelings for some reason. I have gone to from hating to loving to hating to loving. Now I think they are currently on a really good iteration of products and I will use them when it makes sense for me. If they hit a rough patch I will try something else.
As for the 30% cut etc, I can't get emotional about that. There are so much bigger issues in the world. You have democracy, global warming, nculear weapons, war and famine.
I can’t get emotional about the 30% cut either, but I can and do get emotional about locked-down computing devices. For a kid that grows up only or primarily using a smartphone rather than a laptop, what chance do you think they have to learn how this stuff works? If you use an iPhone, you can’t even begin to write software for it without also having a Mac, and it certainly doesn’t make its inner workings apparent.
Kids only having access to phones and not laptops is a thing that really happens, especially among lower-income families: https://www.vox.com/2020/4/9/21200159/coronavirus-school-dig...
And speaking of democracy, when companies lock down devices such that the manufacturer must approve any software that runs on them, what do you think the impact is on users of those devices when the government of a less-democratic country pressures the manufacturer to remove apps they find inconvenient? See China’s take on VPN apps on iOS.
The more we teach people that computers are magic and design systems such that huge distant companies dictate how it works, the more the balance of power shifts away from individuals. These things have real-world impact. I’m not just picking on Apple here, they’ve just gone further than most so far; this kind of attitude is endemic in our industry, though.
And I think I can sympathize with them, considering 30% of my revenue is walking out the door to a company that charges both consumers for the hardware and companies for the right to send binaries to a user.
None of the arguments are emotional responses. All arguments are rational responses to the problems that both Apple and Epic Games creates with their modus operandi, and the comments we see about this issue boil down to people pointing out how the modus operandi of these companies again havr negative effects.
I'm not a stakeholder in Apple or Epic. I don't possess products from either. That said, I'm inclined to view epic's actions here as closer to civil disobedience, specifically in that epic is playing the long game to prove their opinion that Apple's contractual terms are anti-competitive.
Because it maps so effectively to civil rights struggles for me and likely for others as well (sidebar — I'm not white), I can see why this topic gets pretty heated. It's not so much about evil v. evil as it is about one group feeling oppressed v. another feeling offended at (their team) being accused of oppression.
Then there are outright attacks like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24045935, which we would have banned you for if we had seen it at the time. Please don't do those any more.
If you wouldn't mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and using HN in the intended spirit, we'd be grateful.
And yes, I called that guy a stupid fuck only after my two civil comments both got flagged, one including a source. I'd say I acted in good faith there, and got flagged by the community. The level of toxic use of downvote/flag on this site is quite apparent, and maybe mods should find a different approach on moderating or even allowing non-technical topics. Comments or discussion on those topics is constantly slanted in a disgusting manner, and I could easily lose my own downvote rights for bothering to participate.
PS: I'm not white. Will I get protected by moderation now that I've pointed this out, or do I need to throw that in to every one of my comments as if it is relevant? Or am I just fucked because I'm not a leftie who feels compelled to use my race as a blunt object when engaging people online?
People in the more general population definitely support Company A or B as if these were sports team, you can in fact find this on the linked article.
This may be true at times, but the assumption of the same is the root of a lot of the toxic behavior. You cannot be neutral or even in agreement with Apple's position without being a "fanboy", or giving into the "cult of Apple", etc.
That is distinct between the emacs vs vi sort of social identity dichotomies. Coke isn't trying to ban pepsi or demand they change their formula.
> The idea here is: if you have a substantive point to make, make it thoughtfully; if you don't, please don't comment until you do. "Boo $BigCo", "yay $BigCo" fan-v.-antifan cage matches are not curious conversation. We want curious conversation.
If you really desire that, then please consider making some fundamental changes to how HN voting and auto-moderation works.
I just saw a comment pop up and get downvoted into the gray WHILE IT WAS STILL AT "0 minutes ago": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24314105
Currently, every HN mechanism seems designed to make these "conversations" one-sided, where $SideA just gets to pile on $SideB with abandon and all $SideB can do is watch:
• Any user that piles on $PitchforkTarget gets tens of upvotes.
• Any comment that does not pile on $PitchforkTarget gets downvoted, no matter how substantive or thoughtful it is.
• It’s not enough to just not support $PitchforkTarget; simply remaining neutral is enough to get downvoted.
• A few downvotes in a row makes you unable to post anything anywhere on HN for several hours.
All this comes together to say: “When there’s a mob against $PitchforkTarget, join it or stay out of it.”
HN does not allow the "wrong" side a chance to be heard, and punishes users for having the "incorrect" opinion. I am literally afraid to post anything by now on such topics.
This is NOT a conversation, this is an echo chamber.
These discussions are not one-sided—they're two-sided at least, which is one reason people get so mad at each other. Each side feels like the discussion is one-sided against it though.
I certainly agree that internet dynamics favor indignation, but that's not specific to HN and it's not clear what any technical changes could do to mitigate it. We do everything we can as moderators.
This is inaccurate: "A few downvotes in a row makes you unable to post anything anywhere on HN for several hours". Rate limiting isn't based on votes. Moderators rate-limit accounts when they post too many low-quality comments too quickly and/or get involved in flamewars. There are also some software filters that can lead to rate limits, such as for new accounts.
Making them invisible to other readers and pushing them down, like the example  above.
All it takes is, what, 2 or 3 downvotes to prevent thousands of other users from even seeing a comment?
> These discussions are not one-sided—they're two-sided at least
On this very page, there were only 2 comments for most of the time, without clicking "More": Yours, and the one favoring Epic.
Any comments with an opposing view appeared briefly before being driven out in under a minute, again like that example .
> it's not clear what any technical changes could do to mitigate it.
On Reddit, some communities hide karma scores for a specified amount of time.
HN could do the same: Do not show the score and do not let the score affect a comment's visibility for N hours.
That would at least ensure that every voice has a chance to be heard, and reduce the emotions which result from seeing yourself instantly downvoted if you don't agree with the louder voices.
For spam and more severe violations, there's always the Flag button.
> Rate limiting isn't based on votes. Moderators rate-limit accounts when they post too many low-quality comments too quickly and/or get involved in flamewars.
I had never encountered that in all my 6 years on HN, until recently when I tried to take the side of the mob's targets as loudly as the voices decrying them in such "conversations".
- The rights of the individual/company compared to the good of the public.
- The right of an individual to control that which they bought. Also, whether and what you buy compared to license the use of.
- Anti-competitive behavior and monopolies (as distinct concepts, whether one applies doesn't preclude a different answer for the other).
- Very large companies and the amount of control they have over individuals and their rights.
These are all vibrant topics of discussion on HN, and this includes, and in some cases epitomizes, aspects of all of those and more.
Although people like to believe they think rationally, especially here; the truth is, none of us is capable of doing so all the time. We all bring things to the table. And I think each of the things you mention touches all of us pretty deeply, as it has to do with all of our individual standings in society and our freedom to live our lives.
Another major example is Xbox vs Playstation. Often because mom is only going to buy you one and not both, so now you're part of that faction when duking it out online. That's certainly how I spent my summer at age 15.
Ideally you grow out of caring which corporation stacks more money, though. Very boring hobby.
I think the fact that there are many devs here who deal with and depend on Apple is much more significant though.
If this discussion was on Reddit or similar is would probably more one-sided both due to the number of people who play games and the proportionally lower amount of people who have spent a lot of money on Apple products than on HN (accidental humblebraggging regarding your credit card bill seems relatively prevalent here)
Consider that instead we are professionals that need the best tool possible that works and is functional
Tie that in with the usual Software Freedoms and people wishfully thinking they one day will be in Apple's shoes.
(More specifically, it's Apple and Fortnite. Two very popular franchises.)
This behavior has been given blessings.
But it also happens with opinions, no matter how thoughtful, rational and well written the comment is. Even with true facts that someone happens to dislike. I'm avoiding certain topics as long as I can and following pg's advice in What you can't say. It's not worth it. Actually I'm avoiding most topics that I find interesting directly for me, begining with the technical ones.
I would also like a new feature in HN: giving up the right to vote.
Please let me know if I’ve misread you. But interesting.
I'm not an English native speaker and ellaborating in technical topics is more difficult than in pop-sci or net folklore. Spending a long time composing a comment just to see it misunderstood or downvoted is discouraging.
If you take a look at my recent comments, there was someone complaining that he could not control his browser completely. I've had some success using Chromium Embedded Framework. I suggested that and got a -2. Why? I don't know, because it was a post about Firefox? So what? Someone that disliked another thing I said?
It doesn't matter, but it happens to be my most technical comment in weeks, maybe months. Other of my comments with platitudes are much upvoted.
Most discussions are polarized. Sometimes I start to write a comment writing a disclaimer saying that I'm not in side X, but... when I notice that, I stop and cancel. And that's not only politics or bigco.
They get buried and then no one ever sees them to upvote. The visibility in the absence of raw numbers works as a reference and sometimes it is misleading.
Real shilling/astroturfing is a different phenomenon. It certainly exists, but from everything I've looked at, it's orders of magnitude less common than fans making up bogus accusations about shilling.
> Real shilling/astroturfing is a different phenomenon. It certainly exists, but from everything I've looked at, it's orders of magnitude less common than fans making up bogus accusations about shilling.
This is interesting... how many orders of magnitude?
Did Sweeney anticipate Apple's threat to Unreal Engine? Maybe, maybe not. But the temporary restraining order did block that threat, at least for now.
I don't think Epic ever intended to release the new Fortnite season on Apple platforms.
This is a long play, not a short play. In the short term, Epic loses money by not having Fortnite on Apple devices. But in the long term, it's much better for Epic to break Apple's App Store monopoly.
If Stripe can claim Wells Fargo doesn't want to process porn payments, and that's legal, how can an American court rule for Epic?
Epic are obviously going to lose, and lose hard, or set a precedent that's going to screw every payment provider in America and open a flood gate for fraudulent payments.
You can't force someone to sell something they don't want to, especially because Apple is nowhere near a monopoly in games or gaming sales, they can just point at steam.
If somehow the American courts arrive at that judgement, and I am a non-lawyer, I put my hands up, but surely it's going to set all sorts of nasty precedents?
Edit: The more I think about it the more absurd this is. It's as if some random brand of Mayo is suing Wallmart for not stocking their brand on their shelves.
There is absolutely no way they can win this, unless American courts are going to start allowing "mom & pop" random ketchup brand to force Wallmart to stock it on their shelves. Apple doesn't have a monopoly on phones, it doesn't have a monopoly on games, it's got a store front you can buy stuff from, and if you don't want to play by their rules, then bye-bye. Wallmart choose their suppliers, and sets the markup, why can't Apple?
In any case, App Store is the only store in town, where the "town" is the 1.5 billion iOS users. If there's only 1 store, with no competing stores, that's an entirely different situation legally.
I was not in any way coerced into buying said device, and there are a plethora of other options for substitute devices had I wanted more control of what runs on the device, which I do not.
Would you accept a house that only allowed furniture, food, books, electronics, devices from the company that built the house? Do you think it should be legal for a company to make a house with those conditions?
Would accept a car that could only take gas, tires, oil, electricity from the company that built the car? Should it be legal to offer such a vehicle?
You used to be able to buy a VCR and choose only to rent videos from Blockbuster video if you wanted "safe and clean". That didn't require any company making the VCR to force people to only to go their "safe and clean store". Apple doesn't need to force everyone on iOS to go to their store for you personally to continue to only get apps from their store.
Consoles? Only allows you to run code they allow, since forever.
CD/DVD Players? Only runs the code which gets flashed during manufacturing.
TVs? Can’t run your own code.
The list goes on, Apple was actually the first company which made a marketplace on a non PC device which had a overly cheap way to get your software on it and they even made it super easy and cheap for developers to get updates for their code on it, that was during a time where consoles where limited to physical media to ship your code to customers.
Microsoft made you pay 5 digits or something similar outraging to release updates on Xbox once they had a digital store on it.
Is Apples model outdated by now? Maybe. Should a court force them to practically change their model to the one of their competition? Well, why should anyone buy their stuff then anymore? It would practically made their brand worthless to me, they’d just become another pc shop, the last time they tried that it nearly made them bankrupt.
That time made Apple what it is today, it’s in their DNA. They’ll fight anyone which tries to change that.
> CD/DVD Players? Only runs the code which gets flashed during manufacturing.
> TVs? Can’t run your own code.
CD/DVD players don't demand a cut of music and movies. TVs don't demand a cut of TV shows. These devices work on a standardized, non-propriety format. You can even burn a CD at home. So in a sense, you can run your own code. You can play home movies on your TV too.
It's too narrow to think of freedom only in terms of "code".
PC as in Personal Computer, which includes Macs, but even if one were to take the strict interpretation of "IBM Compatible PC", that also includes the current x86 Macs, at least until the first Apple Silicon models appear.
I'm pretty sure you know this all :)
"Is Apples model outdated by now? Maybe. Should a court force them to practically change their model to the one of their competition? Well, why should anyone buy their stuff then anymore? It would practically made their brand worthless to me, they’d just become another pc shop, the last time they tried that it nearly made them bankrupt.
That time made Apple what it is today, it’s in their DNA. They’ll fight anyone which tries to change that."
This is a very distorted telling of history, and trying to equate Apple with iPhone. Desktop computing has been in Apple's "DNA" since 1976 and continues to be today. Mac sales were $7 billion last quarter. Apple had financial trouble in the mid-90s, but they were doing well in the 2000s even before iPhone came along. There's nothing about the App Store that's essential to Apple as a company.
There were companies before Apple with non-PC software marketplaces, such as Handango.
If we want the phone or tablet to become a real alternative to the PC, they need to open up. It’s not just about devs being gouged for 30%, it’s also about the outright ban on some types of app, from cryptocurrency to BitTorrent to pornography.
Most consumer shops now only sell tablets and laptops, and if desktops are in display they tend to be some variation of NUCs, which are basically laptops in a desktop case.
I have a Playstation that only allows me to play games that comply with DRM, unless I root the Playstation (if that's even possible). I have a coffee machine, that only accepts cups from a specific manufacturer, because they own the patent. I own a car that only allows me to run maps supplied by the manufacturer and the updates are expensive.
I knew all of this when I bought this stuff. Complaining about the app store when you buy an iPhone is like complaining about the airplanes after you bought a house near an airport.
"However, as to the desire of recovering your liberty, it is unseasonable to indulge it so late; whereas you ought to have labored earnestly in old time that you might never have lost it; for the first experience of slavery was hard to be endured, and the struggle that you might never have been subject to it would have been just; but that slave who hath been once brought into subjection, and then runs away, is rather a refractory slave than a lover of liberty; "
So yes a fairly different context.
Someone in my grandparent's neighborhood brought that suit and the airport had to pay to install soundproof windows in everyone's houses.
One of these is OK to be all locked down and centered around a monopolistic content store. The other one really isn’t.
Smartphones and tablets have been trying to move from one category to the other, and this is where the problem lies.
This distinction is purely arbitrary, user-hostile, and monopolistic, and so it is not worth respecting.
Another point - Kindles are also content consumption (and sold at a loss or were) but they still allow me to load any book that I have.
Which means they're to cheap. Customers need accurate price information or they will buy things that were more expensive to produce than they're worth.
Would I personally buy one? No. That doesn't mean it should be illegal to offer such a bundle. You can simply choose not to buy it.
And guess what? According to current US law, as long as those limitations are disclosed to the buyer at the time of purchase, it is in fact, not illegal to offer such a bundle.
Come to think of it, Teslas are pretty much impossible to modify, because they're more comparable to the iPhone, a fully integrated hardware and software stack. However, to continue on cars in general, I cannot load my own maps into my car navigation. I cannot load 3rd party maps into the navigation. If I want to upgrade the maps, I need to go to the dealership and pay them an ungodly amount to upgrade them for me.
It's not impossible, it's just not cost effective for them to do so. The cost of sealing the engine bay to such an extent that the end user cannot modify the hardware, while the garage can, adds more cost than the value gained to the manufacturer can justify.
If they could do it in a way that was cost effective for them, there is little reason to believe that they wouldn't be doing it already.
Be careful with that. Consider how prevalent HOAs are (In most areas, you can not buy a house that's not covered by one), despite how much people hate them.
Consider the market pressures that resulted in that state of affairs. Everyone who wants to own a home has to make a bargain with the devil, despite few homeowners actually wanting to do that. It's quite possible that those market pressures will lead to a situation where the choice will be made for you.
I don't see how the schools are relevant, because parents tell children how to dress and what they can say too. Children have very limited legal rights. But we're not children, and I'm tired of Apple treating us like children.
As for homeowners associations and cities, it's important to note that the residents of those have a vote, whereas Apple users have no vote over how their devices work. (Only Apple shareholders have a vote.) Someone is going to respond "you vote with your wallet", but that's not the same. With Apple, your only choice is "love it or leave it". Whereas in a democratic organization with voting, you have the option to stay and still change how the system works.
Let Apple users vote! I'm all for that.
I think it's less that "there are going to be issues" and more that people fear that there will be issues, and vote to remove what they think of as a threat.
The instant you let someone plant azaleas instead of tulips there are going to be issues that most would prefer to have prevented in the first place.
Should it be legal? I mean, why not? If you don’t want one, just don’t buy one. There are plenty of other houses and cars out there!
When I was buying a house, I didn't want an HOA. I hate them. But the options were extremely limited, and it was a seller's market.
I think local governments like HOAs because they pay to maintain certain common areas, so the cities don't have to spend tax money on that. Also, local politicians are all on the take with... surprise, surprise... the home builders.
What's the marketing budget of Purism? What's the total budget of Purism? In which stores are these phones available?
Consumers can't buy what they don't even know about. Popularity requires availability. It requires awareness. These things are very costly. There are huge barriers to entry, especially in the smartphone market.
Easy to say as an end-user, but what if you were a furniture maker by trade? You've been selling furniture for years and then houses start being built that can't use your furniture. Eventually these houses become the largest segment of the house market. Your furniture business goes bust.
You probably have access to only one power company. A small handful of internet providers. And your car example is quickly becoming the reality as well.
No. But for some reason I do pay for Spotify, Neflix, Disney and some others and for a bunch of media I never would have before. I can’t use the media from one service in the player from another. Even the Apple TV app doesn’t work that way: it takes you to the DRM holder’s player. Trade-offs.
> Should it be legal to offer such a vehicle?
Yes, til we discover the extent of impact of such a model.
The house example is very interesting. Currently, no, I wouldn’t buy into that ecosystem. However, I am going through a process of updating my views on land and building ownership. I’m tending towards personal home ownership (and land) being anathema to stable society. Call me a communist in this area. So, if houses had “compatible” power and furniture, AND they were owned by commons, I might accept it. We already have standardised power outlets.
I buy gym membership but it’s not for me to decide who is the staff or what kind of equipment is there.
I buy a car but I can’t drive anywhere but places I’m either legally allowed or where land owner lets me.
I pay for the medical insurance and I don’t get to choose exact procedures I’m going to be signed to.
I’d say that “I pay but I don’t have control” is common theme. Sure I can switch to other service provider but no perfect providers for any service exists. There are other mobile systems as well.
One interesting thought behind what you wrote is that you compared software ecosystem to utility. I wouldn’t go as far. OS is OS and if you don’t like it you legally can jailbreak device albeit the provider in this case can choose not to support it, which it does.
Note that you are not allowed to drive everywhere. You can absolutely drive your car anywhere you want. Including off a cliff if you are so inclined.
This is more akin to shutting off the engine if you are not driving on an Toyota approved road.
You probably don't know this, but current car manufacturers can stop car from starting if
a) maintenance isn't done in a way it should be (see AdBlue)
b) maintenance is done with non-original parts
Sure - b) is the premium and luxury segment, but you don't see people raging about this. Because - as with smartphone - it's a choice that they made. iPhone isn't a necessity. It's a choice. If you don't like it you can choose one of many other mobile systems or opt for a dumb phone.
I saw people complaining at HN.
"You can choose other than iPhone" is invalid because it's iPhone/Android duopoly market.
If Apple's app store was truly competitive, then Apple would have no problem keeping developers within their walled garden.
Another example: would you rather listen music on Spotify, Apple Music or would you like to install Sony Music, Universal Music, Warner Music etc and always try to guess which artist is on which store.
(Obviously one can discuss whether it actually is a monopoly or not given android around.)
 One significant exception to this almost universal agreement is of course the private owners of said natural monopolies. Estimating the relevance of their opinion is left as an exercise to the reader...
However, that doesn't mean that that's how the market will pan out with healthy competition. For all we know an app store that really meets its users' needs will win out and have the majority of the market.
AFAIR this is not exactly the case.
Software using GPLed code cannot be distributed via the apple App Store because of the GPL clause forbidding additional restrictions. The GPL is incompatible with the App Store license, just as it is for example with the old OpenSSL license. There’s nothing in the App Store rules that forbids GPL code, the restriction comes entirely from the GPL side. It’s a choice the developers of that code have made.
However, if you hold other rights (for example the full
Copyright or you entered a special license agreement with the creators of the GPL’ed code), you can distribute such an app via the App Store.
The GPL is fundamentally at odds with a lot of things, for $reasons. For example, ruby could not be distributed with compiled-in OpenSSL support, until the developers adopted an OpenSSL linking exception.
The GPL or the developers of the GPL’ed software could make an exception for app stores. But the developers have deliberately chosen a license that is incompatible with certain uses, including all app stores - it’s not only the apple App Store that is affected, all consoles for example are affected, too.
There's absolutely no reason that Apple wouldn't be able to allow GPL apps legally on their app store. It's just a matter of Apple changing their own terms.
> The GPL could make an exception for app stores
No, it couldn't unless you have a time machine or the ability to get consent from the author every line of GPL code ever written to agree to relicense their code under these new terms.
Apple doesn't even need to make exceptions for the GPL, it could just relax its policy or allow users to install whatever software they want.
You can read more about those terms here, but they have nothing to do with the iOS security model.
If you allowed more stores, they would have to actually compete to attract customers and prices are a fairly common way to do that. It's exactly what's happening on the PC video game markets with the Epic Store having giveaway and promotions.
So yes, it's pretty much a given that if you allowed more stores it would result in lower prices for customers.
You can argue that for subscription based services of IP content like netflix this doesn't really apply since you'll now need multiple subscriptions. But a big reason these subscriptions have to keep their prices low is because of the free competitor called pirate bay. If it wasn't for the alternative of pirating, we might not ever have gotten Netflix.
Another commenter put it really well :
A sufficiently powerful company or group could promote a third party app store by negotiating exclusive deals. Imagine a "EpicTwitBook" store being the only way to get Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Fortnite.
Previously those apps were forced to make concessions to be on the iOS store, and I could download "Instagram, the version that makes Apple happy" app.
But now, that version of the app is gone! I google "Why is my Instagram gone" and get an article that says I have to sign up to the "EpicTwitBook" store, and download the "Instagram, the version that makes Advertisers happy" app.
I would prefer the first version but I don't get a choice.
B) If this does happen, then just make the choice of not installing the app.
Why is "If you don't like the app spying on you, don't install the app" OK, but "If you don't like paying the 30% tax for having your app on iOS, don't make an iOS app" not OK?
It is a legal problem only when the Apple tax becomes anti-competitive behaviour by giving Apple products an unfair advantage (e.g. Apple Music vs Spotify). Apple driving away from the market competitors to its products is bad for everyone but Apple.
How to solve that? 3rd party app stores are workable and theoretically desirable, but that's a solution both Apple and the 3rd party stores will end up hating without fixing the problems (95% of users will still only use the official store; Apple will still hate it because they lose 5% control).
It's better to fix the current store. Perhaps banning use of private APIs by non-system Apple apps and allowing payment system choice would be enough. A more transparent app review system would also help.
My apologies, but I don’t see what options I have? Either I go with Apple, or I go with Google.
Going with Google is akin to giving away all your privacy, going with Apple is akin to giving up all your control. Neither is really a great option, so we need the law to step in and correct what the free market (apparently) does not.
Apple is a public company, and face the same pressures to make profit that Google does. If they can't "capture the value" of the platform they've created via the Apple Tax, there's a decent likelihood that they'll be forced (by pressure from their shareholders and the market) to start giving away your privacy too.
So as you say: Right now you have a choice not to give up your privacy. If Epic prevails, there's a good chance you won't have that choice any more.
Just like the ones you mentioned it’s not really an equivalent solution.
I agree that it costs time, effort and money to develop each functionality. I fail to see the choice between only iOS and only-Android. It is not mandated to choose only between these two.
Politicians and lobbyists (”the law”) are awful at “correcting” problems like this. It’s a total fairytale. We’re better off leaving the out of it.
Presumably almost every user would just use Apple's app store and be satisfied with that, but for everyone else they'd be able to use their iPhone with much more freedom.
The downside is Mom somehow installs said store, and said store distributes a poker game that does something malicious. Mom blames her iPhone as that's all she knows. She doesn't separate hardware from operating system and apps like we do.
You don't own iOS devices, you're just paying an exorbitant rent.
For an example, with alternative app stores it's very likely you could release a jailbreak and have it installable without a computer since most (non-checkm8) jailbreaks break out of the sandbox and exploit their way to root access and installing an dpkg frontend. That's all well and good until someone does the same but hides jailbreak code in an inconspicuous app that initiates the jailbreak in the background, and instead of installing dpkg it installs a keylogger/keychain dumper that sends all passwords to a remote server.
Either Apple will still need to review these, have IPAs notarized, or have contracts in place with each app store developer to ensure the same app review quality. I don't see epic accepting any of these scenarios without a fight.
If Apple want's to ensure that the platform itself is as secure as possible, that involves patching the underlying vulnerabilities. The presence of a third party app store doesn't affect that one way or the other.
As Windows shows us, none of these need to be true.
Don’t download random shit from people you shouldn’t trust, and you won’t have malware and/or keyloggers.
If only it was that simple. Apple's audience is not really us. I can't count the number of times, my mother-in-law tried to install random stuff on her PC and me having to deal with it. This is Apple's user.
(I suppose NPM could be an interesting point of discussion here though.)
Surely better to just let them finish suiciding themselves?
Personally I'll be sad to see them go, but judging by the number of comments that are encouraging them to continue on their current path (now single digit market share) I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of them are really thinking like this.
But if they carry on their current trajectory they will be a target for a hostile take over by a bigger hitter like Huawei.
Except that said competitor is actively hostile to your privacy. The device market is also incredibly confusing to navigate - many competing independent companies, unreliable security updates depending on said manufacturer, and a wide hardware performance range.
And regardless, all of this is entirely irrelevant from the perspective of a company that wishes to run their own marketplace spanning every significant platform out there.
Secondly, if you are requesting that one side in the current court (Apple) is forced legally to take a different economic incentive, then why would they remain as privacy-oriented? Times will change. Without the freedom to choose incentives, a company’s structure will change. There are risks to taking Apple’s privacy-oriented approach for granted.
Suggesting that feature phones are an alternative in this situation (mobile gaming) is completely absurd. iOS and Android devices are the only option right now for quite a wide range of things.
> then why would they remain as privacy-oriented?
You aren't seriously suggesting that Apple only promotes privacy because of their walled garden?! (Even if that were the case, the fact that a wall proves useful to the owner doesn't imply that it's legally permissible or morally desirable.)
In fact for many of them, a feature phone is still the gateway into computing in 2020.
That is a stretch and I do not accept this definition. On one hand, we have had MeeGo, Symbian, FirefoxOS, QNX, Windows on Arm, even Ubuntu on Mobile phones. It covers both phone functionality and gaming functionality.
For games, there are game alternatives. You can buy games on non-mobiles extensively.
Furthermore, feature phones are covering functionality necessary to work on both games and application stores (limitations vary on model - even if limited to mobile gaming,There are options for that ).
In this varied complex history, why would I perceive as iOS and Android as the only game in town? They never were.
Note that FirefoxOS allowed the tinkering, which would permit all the functionalities . My point is to revive such mobile OSes instead of having to rely on iOS. If someone wants tinkering, FirefoxOS is a case study.
Or install Ubuntu on a phone/pad.
Covered elsewhere is the fact that web on iOS/Android can perform the equivalent gaming experience. With the current state of WebGL, gaming on web is feasible.
> ou aren't seriously suggesting that Apple only promotes privacy because of their walled garden?!
Having a cut from app revenues will cover the cost for the infrastructure and give financial boost to the mobile division at Apple. If the financial cut is gone, Apple’s middle managers will not be incentivised to maintain the same level anymore. At that point in time, there will be financial cost to the AppStore infrastructure, but limited financial incentive in maintaining the AppStore/other store integrations.
I claim that restrictions on the iOS application stores imposed from court will result in Apple’s incentives changing to limited privacy. In due time, Apple will start sharing private information just like Google is doing, to fill the gap by the lower percentage revenue. Then we all lose.
The wall is useful for me - this is a wall the owner placed himself. Now the only incentives for the owner are inside that wall. The owner being a set of managers (see Innovators Dilemma for reference).
A third point not covered is the cost per application. The original idea is that the cost per app will be lowered, had it not been Apple. But the list price for applications are driven by what the developer can charge, not the developer’s costs. If the optimal list price for an application is 10$, the price will remain 10$ with or without a change in % associated to Apple. Say a widget costs me 1$ to develop. It costs 3$ to market. I know that my target audience pays 10$ for the widget. Say, if the costs is less than 10$ the audience associates it with bad quality, so 10$ is the optimal spot. ) A new marketing strategy comes up and it costs 1$ to market the widget.
What is the price to sell the widget? My target audience associates good quality with 10$ per widget. It costs with 1$ to make the widget, but to serve my audience, what is my incentive to lower the price? I will sell the widget at 10$ at a higher margin of 8$.
I am ready to put good money that Fortnite’s price will increase, at a time in the future when it is all settled to avoid bad PR.
It is possible to like the garden and dislike the walls. I really like my iPad mini, despite hating the fact that I need a Mac to sideload or develop apps for it. The last time I was in the market for an upgrade, I read that Apple had “no competition” . This problem seems to be getting worse over time as tablet developers concentrate their attention on the iPad. And it affects other markets – when buying a phone, I need to consider whether it will play nice with my tablet. It would suit me to put some restraints on Apple’s ability to use its dominance in one field to push me to buy other products I’m less interested in.
There are plenty of Apple customers who do want to control what runs on their devices, which is why some people are excited about these developments.
It doesn't have to be an either/or.
There are ways to open up, they already do for Macs. The argument is weak.
The question is whether the law requires Apple to code their OS to make that easy for you. It’s up to the courts of course, but I’m skeptical there is a viable, consistent legal theory available to Epic under current law.
That's a strange one. In patching security holes, Apple are actively preventing people from jailbreaking their phones. And they should be. So that argument seems ... problematic. This kind of thing was never about making it easy to jailbreak your devices. Actually, it's kind of about the opposite: you should be able to own a device that runs code of your choosing and also have that device not be riddled with security vulnerabilities. (And, despite Apple's bizarre insistence to the contrary, this is very possible).
In other words: I bought something in the general understanding it is 'tractor'/'general purpose computer with 4G' but its capabilities are an artificially restricted.
I think it would be in everyones best interest to have such consumer protection/rights from such practices.
Perhaps they should be required to market themselves with a prominent disclaimer saying they are restricting it's normal functions.
I have never had a single person complain about what they can't run on an iOS device. The apps that aren't availabe are either crapware or if they are useful they only matter to 0.00025% of users who can gladly go get an Android instead.
I personally hate that I cannot reasonably run software _I_ write for _my_ phone without having/using an Apple developer account.
There now you've heard a complaint. I'm sure if you were to pay attention, you'd see this same complaint voiced quite often.
Yes, there's a lot of crap on the Play Store, but there's also a lot stuff that I don't like about Android that makes me not want to use it, much less gladly.
There is a lot of prohibitions in the iOS guidelines that serve no purpose but Apple's business interest, such as running a "platform" app that has other apps embedded. Of course, if you're WeChat, you get to ignore that rule.
To pass off all this as "security" or "curation" is just dishonest. There's a lot of crap on the App Store too, but that crap can't be as malicious because iOS has a better sandbox, not because Apple does the literally impossible task of scanning for hidden malicious behavior in its review process.
Of course users are not complaining about having no access to apps that were never developed in the first place, because 80% of the revenue is on iOS and going Android-only makes little sense.
It’s not like the ‘00s when you couldn’t buy a PC without Microsoft being involved
If Epic does win it could set a very wide-reaching precedent.
And actually in the case of Inkjet printers, the court of appeals and the supreme court ruled in favor of companies making third-party cartridges and refills:
The EU started an antitrust investigation into Apple's App Store practices:
Retaliation, such as this one by Apple, or the recent kerfuffle around the WordPress app are only going to increase the probability of antitrust action against Apple.
The Lexmark case was about whether patents right end once a patented product is sold and doesn't seem to be directly applicable here. But note that Lexmark's technological and contractual "post sale" restrictions preventing the reuse of discount toner cartridges were not considered illegal, even if their patent rights were considered exhausted after the sale.
Generally I don’t want to do it with my console either, as I explicitly buy it to play games. The same thing is not true for my phone, which is very much a general purpose device.
But even then --- a mobile phone has analogues with other computing devices that are more open.
Whether you agree with that model or not, it's definitely different than the iPhone model where you are paying full price for the hardware, but are limited in what software you can run on it.
If Microsoft and Sony could no longer take a cut of all software sales like Apple does, they’d simply be forced to adapt their business model, perhaps to something similar to Nintendo’s. Gamers would either have to pay full price for modern hardware (less volume discounts) or otherwise settle for older parts. Microsoft and Sony would have to focus a lot more on bringing top developers in-house with exclusive publishing contracts. Life would go on.
That's an interesting take that I didn't consider - that console manufacturer can charge money for the guarantee that the games will work.
However, from a quick google, two sites  have tried to build a PC with the same specs as the PS4 Pro ($400) and came up to ~700.
restricting what could run in it is recent.
“EU ruling means speed limiters will be mandatory in the UK [and EU] by 2022“
In other words, the claimed motivation is to prevent you from running off a copy of whatever you happen to be streaming from Netflix. In reality though it doesn't seem to be very effective, leaving me wondering why so much time and effort is invested in it.
There are no studies that demonstrate the absolute ubiquity and irreplaceable nature of a gaming console; there are for phones.
I don't order a pizza with it. Or check my email. Or call Uber. Or read HN. Or take pictures of my kids. Or make phone calls. Or check social media (well... I don't... but over 3 billion do). Or...
There's a way that a "smart phone" (more accurately, a palm-sized computer that happens to make phone calls) is a general computing device - and a critical component of modern life in Western civilization -- that a gaming console is not.
All this seems like such an immature pointless argument.
in fact i'm going to stop wri
If one doesn't like it's abilities - don't buy!
If so many people here seems to believe that neither iOS, nor Android, provide both flexibility and privacy they seek market opportunity might be ripe for new competitors.
You try to make a case about how phones are somehow special but they’re really not. You have millions of people who only have an Xbox and so you can’t reach them unless you contract with MS.
They learned an important corporate lesson, which is why Xbox games can link to external subscription payment options.
Apple have not yet learned this lesson.
> The jurisprudence on this actually starts at 40%.
Can you provide more background on this?
As one might imagine the full history is a bottomless pit of claim, counterclaim, strong-arm tactics, PR, subversion, argument, opinion etc where the truth goes to die.
These numbers also include UK (I think), a traditionally strong market for Apple, but which should be out of EU Single Market by the end of the year.
IANAL, but I don't think that's enough for Epic to have a case in the EU. On the other hand I could see the EU being more likely than the US to regulate these kind of stores, to try to protect European editors against Apple/Google. But the lobbying would have to come from European editors, not from Epic.
What might lead one to think it hasn't already attracted the interest of regulators outside the US? These battles are fought globally.
> The European Commission has opened formal antitrust investigations to assess whether Apple's rules for app developers on the distribution of apps via the App Store violate EU competition rules. The investigations concern in particular the mandatory use of Apple's own proprietary in-app purchase system and restrictions on the ability of developers to inform iPhone and iPad users of alternative cheaper purchasing possibilities outside of apps.
The Justice department has said that more that 50% is generally required to be considered a monopoly power, but 70% is a stronger case (not a lawyer, if someone can parse this better please do)
I’m trying to figure out where the monopoly argument comes from. Apple hasn’t demonstrated that they have monopoly pricing power since even the Windows store takes 30% and they’re obviously using their dominance in the smartphone space to advantage themselves in… the smartphone space.
Also, if PlayStation has control of that much of the market, perhaps there ought to be some regulations there as well. Does Sony similarly force all in game sales to use their payment processor and forbid you from mentioning it or encouraging folks to pay you directly?
The argument is that when a vendor controls a large enough portion of the market, consumers might not be left with sufficient choice for market forces to prevent abusive behaviors. This idea has significant legal precedent and legislation behind it throughout the entire western world.
The question isn't whether you actively chose to buy into the PlayStation ecosystem. It's whether you had a meaningful choice available to you and whether the vendor is abusing it's market power.
If console developers are satisfied with the deal, then it's hard to say that it's abusive.
Also, there's no specific % cut that can be said to be excessive, outside of context. In some cases, a 50% cut may be a good deal. It sounds to me like console vendors may be returning better value for their cut than Apple does.
In my opinion as an Apple developer, Apple returns very little value for its 30% cut. I'd be happy to pay 30% if it was worth it, but it's not.
I don’t get what Epic wants exactly. Even with Android where they initially had users side load their apps they eventually gave up and put it on the Play Store after complaining that there’s too many warnings when users load third party APKs (how dare they include security warnings of un-reviewed apps!)
It seems to me that Epic expects Apple and Google to offer up an Epic App Store/Epic made games in their own App Stores free of charge, and conveniently ignore any developer terms they previously agreed to. Talk about entitlement.
If through the app stores themselves then they’re essentially asking for discoverability, hosting, and distribution of their products for free.
At what point does a company deserve the right to compete with you on your own product? If Amazon continues to engulf online shopping can another company eventually sue to have their own store listings put on Amazon with no money going to Amazon?
To me these two situations aren’t that different. Apple and Google have each built hardware and software systems for their services. Other companies like Samsung have developed their own app stores that they distribute on their phones. If Epic wants to be a service provider then there are already charted pathways to doing so that don’t involve suing over service fees you already agreed to.
I get where you're coming from, I do -- but the answer to your question is somewhere around "when that company controls access to billions of eyeballs around the planet".
These companies have greater access to and control of people than any government. They are beyond review, beyond accountability, and beyond reach. They are dictatorships controlling access to billions of people, the kind of power that would make any dictator in history blush.
And I am not saying we should take from them all their power. They DID earn it, it's true and most of it is quite benign. But... giving them absolute power over who everyone in the world can do business with, just because they chose to buy that device (probably not knowing what the limitations would be)? For the sake of the future of the entire species I should think that this is not a situation we would consider ideal.
Both companies contribute to the open commons with open source software and sponsorships.
You could probably make a reasonable argument that Play Services are specifically designed to undermine the spirit of open source, but theoretically you could build an alternative, and use AOSP however you wish.
Edit: added the bit about fees.
This is an issue of monopoly power, which depends on scale. If you use an analogy that doesn’t demonstrate the same market power, of course it’s going to seem absurd.
Because of this, there are about 100-ish large mall conglomerates. Of these, the top 4 combined take as much "mall" as the following 10 entries.
Without doing a proper analysis of the data, at a glance it looks like the sizes taper out pretty evenly so it seems like the "mall" industry has a pretty healthy and varied market.
But, at the end of the day, Walmart can't prevent customers from proceeding to Kroger down the street to get the products or deals they want. That's the market regulator of last resort in most circumstances.
You say "Apple doesn't have a monopoly on phones or games". In the broad view, you may be right, but they've spent significant effort in creating a closed ecosystem with non-trivial switching costs, inside of which they DO have complete gatekeeping power. They may not have a full "prevent the customers from going to Kroger" power, but they can basically say "here's a several hundred dollar toll to leave our store, and BTW, we won't let you back in for anything else we sell", which is a pretty high barrier. Is the only available counterweight for their behaviour "drop everything and buy a new $500 phone to express your discontent?"
Google gets out of this with their hands much cleaner-- they can retreat to "Well, you can sideload apps". Epic proved they can make that a viable business that way on Android. But iOS offers nothing resembling that without asking consumers to jailbreak their devices, which is probably beyond reasonable accommodation.
I'm sort of amazed they're so desperate to cling to the no-sideload mentality. Offering sideloading with a lot of big angry red warnings immediately defuses the vast majority of anti-competition complaints, while still being scary enough that most name-brand software isn't going to immediately drop off the App Store. I'd also think it presents a welcoming option for some hobby developers, where even the $100 annual developer fees are prohibitive, until they can show there's enough of a business there to justify going to the real App Store.
Only recently did Destiny 2 gain the ability to transfer save data between platforms. Oddly enough Epic pushed on this kind of freedom too: They wanted PS4 and XBox players to be able to play together, but Sony kept resisting it. They eventually pushed hard on it in public and got concessions so everyone can play the game together now. Now other multiplayer titles from smaller studios also can offer cross-play.
Platform exclusives like a spider-man outfit or playable character are still typically locked to your PlayStation, though.
No. The counterweight is not buying an iPhone in the first place if side loading is important to you.
In those industries - mobile gaming is one, a $150 billion a year market reaching a whopping 50% of all mobile users across platforms, that requires presence on iOS if you want to build a business in any serious way.
This is where Apple is going to have a really, really hard time avoiding an accusation (and judgement) of antitrust. They literally control industries. This means that they probably have to give up some control of their platform.
That is the exact scope of the anti-trust case here, and unless you're the most preeminent expert in the field I'm not inclined to take your word in whether they have the legal right or not.
The case is going to not about that. The case is going to be about Apple not allowing developers to tell their users that they can buy subscriptions and in-app goods for cheaper through alternative payment mechanisms where Apple cannot take a cut. Payments is what is this is about (also see the FB release today).
Apple doesn't have to sell anything it doesn't want to but what it's doing is also preventing apps from telling users where they can buy these goods outside of Apple store unless Apple is offered a cut.
This behavior has a high chance of failing on anti-trust if it goes to a jury trial which is what Epic is trying to force (and likely others like Facebook will join or also sue) because Apple store is the only way people can install apps on iOS.
I don't think I should have to listen to the farmers rules when he's got such a sweet daughter there.
So, getting to the crux of the disagreement -- the way you've stated it, fair enough. What about when the farmer is actually the owner and landlord of just over half the homes in the US? Assuming enthusiastic consent from the daughter to [play Fortnite], it's not so reasonable to require her to "just move into a property your dad doesn't own", especially if the 50% he owns make up the nicer half.
There's a bunch of other places you can take this analogy. I like Epic as a pickup artist here -- in it for their enjoyment, not any caring for the daughter. And some users (daughters?) have chosen to live on Dad's property precisely because he gets to keep the less savory types away, even if it means they have a more limited choice of partners.
At the end of the day, I'm personally against the farmer-baron (thus, temporarily and uneasily allied with the pickup artist). It's the daughter's body, and I believe she should be able to make her own choices. Partiarchy is one solution to unsavory suitors, but I don't think it's the best one.
You're just going to ignore contract law because lots of people wanted the thing, but not to do what they agreed?
Otherwise for instance you could have a dominant employer in your town (eg. A factory town) write into your employment contract that you can only buy household groceries from their own supermarket etc. These kinds of things actually happened at one point in history before the anti-trust regulations.
A lot obviously depends on definition of the "markets" which is what anti-trust cases in practice largely revolve around.
Where is the monopoly here?
The service Apple has, is appealing to customers because they're aggressively protecting what is important to them, and using their fees to ensure they've got the resources to actually vet software, prevent abuses of customers, and make payment seamless.
If you don't like that, you're free to find software in many other forms.
But you don't want that, you want to have someone provide you all that, but without having to you know, pay for it.
Which is why the internet is an ad supported shit hole, and this is one place that is actually pretty great for customer experience.
This very easily can and will be be argued as using dominance in one market (distribution of apps) to extract value out othet (in-app services, books, gaming, movies, sheet music...). There's easily demonstrable consumer harm because buying the exactly same sheet music on a iPad is a few dollars more expensive than buying it on the same app on web and using it in the iPad.
Of course Apple can and probably will make the argument of "movie theater concession stand" (ie. your "in our garden" comment) and will probably make the "safety and security" argument just like concession stand owners will.
However, that analogy is very weak legally i think because iPhones are not really Apple's property (unlike concession stands on theatre property) since they're clearly sold as hardware and is off their books (EULAs not-withstanding - they're not enforceable).
So I think what will happen is Apple will lose this case and will be forced to stop preventing advertising and offering of alternative payment mechanisms by Apps - maybe with some terms and conditions for safety certification by neutral third parties.
I don't really think the remedies will stretch beyond that - but payments is what this fight is about.
Am getting an Android phone the next time, which is about the only effective thing a consumer can do about this.
I find it interesting that we still call those “phones” when for a sizeable part of the population they are mostly portable gaming machine to kill time when they’re bored.
Not Fortnite, of course, more easier games.
So why would anyone buy such fridge? And if they do, there clearly are other benefits, which you omitted.
It would surprise me if any conversation about why to buy an iPhone ever went deeper than that, 99.99999% of the time. The HN crowd is absolutely an exception to the typical buyer.
In no way have I indicated she isn't intelligent. She is. She just doesn't care to know that Apple uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon blah blah blah processor and investigate in depth their app store policies before buying one. And why should she? None of those things tell her "can I send pictures to my friends on Facebook? Can I check email? Will it work on my wifi?" And why should she wonder those things?
What might blow your mind to think about is that her position is the rational one. We can't all be experts in every decision we make. While we might be tempted to (incorrectly) think that more information will inform a better decision, that is not always true and it can lull us into false confidence to believe it is. We rely on "crowdsourcing" knowledge and recommendations (we are, after all, social creatures, and our success as a species is 99.99% predicated on that sole factor) and that is what we do in many many areas of our lives.
Look at other markets to understand what a legacy free smartphone market share like like today.
Other markets are very price sensitive, there is no new iPhone choice below $100. Where people do have a choice, point stands, many choose iPhone and pay premium.
UK 45%, Australia 40%, Germany 30%.
The truth is, if you want the best phone on the market, in any single area (battery, camera, screen, apps, usability, design) or all of them, it is not an Iphone. The only reason USians cling to their Iphones is because they are familiar with it. They are stuck with SMS and Imessage. People are risk averse and would rather pay more for something they know.
You cited the stats yourself. Do you think Germans are more price sensitive than Americans? Search for "poorest state in USA", and Mississippi comes out as one of the poorest in terms of median household income. That number is $44,717 for 2018. Now search for "iphone market share by state" and you end up on this page: For iOS, the most popular states were Connecticut at 73 percent of respondents, Missouri at 72 percent, and Mississippi at 71 percent. Median household income in Germany is $46,278. But Iphone share is 30%.
Are you saying that marginally richer Germans are more price sensitive than the inhabitants of Mississippi? To the extent of flipping the market share exactly opposite of 70-30?
This kind of snark is really unnecessary.
You can't distribute or sell mobile apps to a large percentage of the US public without going through Apple, and they should definitely not be allowed to prevent anyone from doing that (for reasonable terms, which means no 30% tax).
The fact that this is even a discussion is pretty ridiculous: if Apple were a person, their behavior would lead them to be ostracized from all communities and have no friends.
If it's not illegal, the law needs to be changed.
Apple and Google are the only major phone OS's. If they control what you can install on your phone, they have a monopoly.
> Wallmart choose their suppliers, and sets the markup, why can't Apple?
You're really comparing setting up a physical store to building world class operating system and phones? Almost anyone can set up shop and start selling things that Walmart isn't, or from suppliers who won't deal with Walmart, but it's not how tech worms. You're living in a different reality.
> If they control what you can install on your phone, they have a monopoly.
That's not how monopoly power is (legally) defined.
Is this tying? We don't know. It's not a form of tying that's come up before. That doesn't mean it's not tying. Antitrust law is very general. This case is taking a different path than most antitrust cases. The plaintiff is asking for an injunction. It's not about money damages. It's going to be very interesting.
Tying in general is insisting that customers buy thing B, which they don't want, to get thing A, which they do want. The term "B picture" in movies comes from such an arrangement. Exhibitors had to run B pictures to get A pictures. That was knocked down by a lawsuit from Syufy, who went on to build dome-shaped theaters in Silicon Valley such as the ones near Google HQ. At one time the film studios owned many of their own theaters, which is why you see big old theaters named Warner, Paramount, or Fox. That was ended by an antitrust decision.
Tying cases are rare. You can look them up. They come in many shapes and sizes. Examples of tying include trailer park operators requiring new land lessors to purchase a new trailer from them, similar cases involving marina boat slips and boat maintenance, Visa requiring merchants accepting their credit card to also accept their debit card, telcos requiring or deceptively inducing customers to pay for inside wire maintenance, and the one people here may remember, Microsoft bundling Internet Explorer with Windows.
It is definitely, as the judge said, not a slam dunk for either side.
I think this depends on the basis of the rejection. If you can prove that they are not selling because of discrimination then you can force them. The question how can you prove it.
I think what Epic wants to see gone is Apple's condition that IAP sold on the AppStore should be priced the same on any other outlets (e.g. websites, Play store, etc...). And I can see a judge agreeing this is unfair of Apple to ask.
As for me, I mostly like the idea of the AppStore. As a consumer I feel more confident downloading software from the AppStore as compared to e.g. the Play store. What I don't like about the AppStore is that discovery of new products is very hard. And there also doesn't seem to be an easy way to look for apps that are ad-free or that becomes ad-free by paying a 1 time IAP fee.
IAP is nothing more than moving money around, in an app the user has already discovered and downloaded, that will affect a user's account on the developer's servers. The service to the end user is indistinguishable to what is provided by any other payment gateway for ~3% (Stripe, Square, Paypal, etc.) Your card is charged and you have something new in the app.
The only reason I can think of for why IAP takes the same cut as whole apps is that most if not all apps would be "free" but open up to a screen that makes you pay for the app via IAP to take advantage of the reduced fee.
This could be mitigated by ToS restrictions preventing this exact situation, but there would still be a ton of gray area like "pro" versions of apps.
Opening up to third-party payment processors for IAP would create a vacuum in one of their highest margin and most consistent revenue sources so they won't be doing that willingly. Opening up to third-party stores would be more tolerable but any sufficiently large developer will move to their own store and do everything themselves and pocket the ~27.5% (if they are their own payment gateway, interchange fees are ~2.5%)
It's an interesting situation because the platforms want to be paid for all the services I listed above, but in Epic's case they already have the infrastructure to handle everything on their own, and they offer a fully-featured game for free, with the only source of revenue being a conversion of actual money to V-Bucks.
There is no place where the platform can provide a service that Epic would get any value from, but they are imposing a 30% fee in the only place they can, payment processing.
The end user got a nice discount and Epic still pockets more because interchange fees are ~2.5% and not 30%.
The Epic Games Store had a similar strategy, cut the fee for devs and incentivize end users to move onto their platform (weekly free games). They still make a boatload of money even though it's not as much as Valve's money printer.
In general I see this as a great thing for devs (indie in particular) if it triggers more competition to bring platform fees down across the board.
Epic isn't being overtly greedy with end users (yet)
i wouldn't be surprised if it turns out they have been trying to jettison the fornite group. it's just not consumers they want to have on their ecosystem.
Discoverability would include things like a recommendation algorithm but also filtering features, promotional spotting, social graph relevance (do my friends own this game? do they want to?) and general UI accessibility, to name some factors.
Steam has put so much work into making sure users can find a title (regardless of that title's marketing budget) that fits their arbitrary preferences that they are now LEAGUES ahead of mobile stores on that metric.
One example that is easiest to point out is the main carousel (and entire front page) of the steam store. Everyone's carousel is customized to their profile and will show both old games and new based on an algo that weighs your preferences against a title's relevance and performance metrics.
The irony that google, a company that made its name in SEARCH, has an app store who's discoverability is so abysmal that i can't find certain titles without explicitly typing in the name or digging through 100s of "more titles like this" lists is not lost on me.
It's just really bad. The game categories are too few in numbers, and there's no tagging to speak of so finding something remotely hybrid is a pain and the categories themselves have become unhelpful.
Just going to comment on this part.
Supreme court decisions has a long history of making very narrow decisions, and in that question there is a clear out that they could use. The precedent can be that apple can refuse epic if it is in order to prevent fraudulent payments, but not in order to enforce a 30% tax in an online market place. That would narrow the decision down and allow payment providers to operate like they do now, but not apple. It would also not force wallmart to stock "mom & pop" random ketchup brand, because it would not be a online market and the purpose would not be to enforce a 30% tax.
Courts have a lot of room to narrow decisions down based on intent, on circumstances, and even the outcome on the specific market as a whole.
1. Stripe is a minor player overall. Lots of other credit card processors
2. Stripe is not preventing you from collecting payments from your customers. You can use a different payment processors.
And you can use a different device to play Fortnite; for instance, a laptop/desktop or an Android tablet w/ sideloading capabilities.
It's definitely the first step of a fight. It's hard to know what the end game is for Epic, but there's several possibilities I can think of:
- moving towards gettibg their own app store, they did this move on computers already. Apple and google start to get under scrutiny for their monoply.
- being on one platforn using their games to bargain the 30% cut on android (android is bigger user base than iphone and users who mainly play there game can change phone). Now that apple did the move of removing all epic games, it makes this bargain more interesting. I know that Epic sued Google as well but but it can always be settled or dropped.
It would hold up if you said Costco or Sam's Club instead of Walmart. People who pay for a Sam's Club membership do a large amount of their shopping at Sam's Club. Sure they could go to other stores, but that's significantly limited.
Also, people can play Fortnite on their laptop or their Android tablet.
Users have always been (and still are) subject to all kind of fraudulent. It is about the freedom to do whatever you want with your computing device. The idea that Apple has an absolute control of what goes in into their mobile devices, and that they can claim whatever policies they see fit scares me.
Neither apple nor anyone should have this control.
Personally what I find scarier is courts and other govt institution deciding what products companies are allowed to make or sell me.
That's the best I can come up with. Personally I won't run an iPhone.
Yes it is, but they would have a point.
It's unlikely, but In an EU court, it's a different kettle of fish. Maybe Epic's play for a favourable ruling in Spotify Vs Apple in the EU?
Our current definition simply was not made with digital in mind.
If I can buy in-app content in an iOS browser, why can't I buy it inside the app? (Because some app makers have decided they would rather make it unavailable inside an app than pay the Apple tax.)
This is fundamentally consumer-hostile behaviour.
Of course Apple will argue it has to vet apps and in-app content.
And then all a lawyer has to do is point to the various exploits and it's game over for that argument.
And if you look at App Store revenue share, which is probably more relevant in this case (developers need to target the platform where the revenue is), it's closer to 70%
I don't understand the desire to regulate a business that has clearly demonstrated value in a highly competitive market - if you don't want an iPhone, join the other 122 million Americans or 2.3 Billion people with an android.
_You_ may believe
> Q.E.D. Apple has monopolistic power in the U.S. and needs to be dealt with.
but by and large, monopolistic control and anti-trust cases are only brought to court if they are used to negatively impact consumers. In Apple's position, they believe they are doing the better thing for the consumer. If their argument holds water in court, then who is the US government to tell Apple if that business strategy is sound? If the market wants something different or better, then it will decide.
Things would be different if Apple were attacking other platforms, but instead, they're simply moderating their own.
The real question is: Can Apple prove that they are the only one that can provide a store that will keep their customers safe? Because that's what this is about. Epic wants a different store, Apple will argue that they are the only safe store for iOS.
Unless they are counting on the judge actually forcing a store to sell Epic's products, which would be a very scary precedent!
Apple's statement today: "We hope that we can work together again in the future".
Also, Apple requested that Epic submit a new rule-compliant version of Fortnite.
I think Apple would be happy to have Epic back and paying 30%, which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It won't break Apple if they don't get that money, but it's still nice money, with little work required from Apple.
Outside of the billions of dollars and a decade spent developing and marketing a platform on which Fortnite can be consumed.
That doesn’t surprise me at all. Apple wants 30% of that sweet sweet pie.
In what sense is the App Store pain?
Instead of thinking about this in terms of physical stores try to compare it to Netscape vs Internet Explorer.
I keep seeing seeing assessments in this vein but they can't really be right - the courts would have to be toddler-level naive not to see through it. They aren't - here's Judge Rogers addressing Epic at the recent hearing (as reported by Sarah Jeong):
"To Epic: Your client created this situation. Your client does not come to this action with clean hands ..... in my view, you cannot have irreparable harm when you create the harm yourself."
I'm very confident the old Steve Jobs emails from the eBooks anti-trust case will also be brought into the trial to argue anti-trust is in Apple's DNA.
That's also the reason for that silly 1984 ad parody, so they can bring Apple's original 1984 ad into the trial and make an argument of hypocrisy in front of the Jury - once they were plucky upstarts but now as the most valuable company, they're vampire like etc.
Other vendors are also at this same time taking the opportunity to test Apple store rules limitations - either for Epic to be able to add those additional arguments to their own case OR possibly for them to get standing to join the suit - look at the PR yesterday around Facebook donations to creators hurt by Covid being blocked by Apple store rules.
In this situation, there's very little role the judiciary can play except move the process along. It's going to be a fun battle to watch.
You’re quite right that they want a jury trial and to put on a show. But legally this is just a business dispute and arguably one that Epic engineered. I wouldn’t be surprised if the case was simply thrown out for that reason.
Are you sure? How do you explain these cases?
Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc., 551 U.S. 877 (2007): https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/551/877/
> PSKS filed suit, alleging, inter alia, that Leegin violated the antitrust laws by entering into vertical agreements with its retailers to set minimum resale prices. The District Court excluded expert testimony about Leegin’s pricing policy’s procompetitive effects on the ground that Dr. Miles Medical Co. v. John D. Park & Sons Co., 220 U. S. 373, makes it per se illegal under §1 of the Sherman Act for a manufacturer and its distributor to agree on the minimum price the distributor can charge for the manufacturer’s goods. At trial, PSKS alleged that Leegin and its retailers had agreed to fix prices, but Leegin argued that its pricing policy was lawful under §1. The jury found for PSKS.
Copperweld v. Independence Tube, 467 U.S. 752 (1984): https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/467/752/
> Thereafter, respondent filed an action in Federal District Court against petitioners and Yoder. The jury found, inter alia, that petitioners had conspired to violate § 1 of the Sherman Act, but that Yoder was not part of the conspiracy, and awarded treble damages against petitioners.
More cases are listed under "United States Supreme Court cases" in this Wikipedia article:
It makes things interesting but the notion that there's anything heroic or even helpful about what Epic is doing, is real dubious. I think the best argument one can have is that one always wants some Epic around snapping at the heels of whoever is currently the Establishment. That's not the same thing as wanting them to prevail, because then you have to ask 'what are they going to do when they are in that monopolist position that they so obviously want'.
The judge won’t let this influence the decision on not extending the injunction to the Epic Games contract with Apple because of an earlier point, which is that two separate contracts exist.
It’s interesting that this has been addressed with this flimsy follow-up argument.
Obviously the court shouldn’t let this influence their decision because it was a calculated move, and it’s assumed that Epic is fine with the harm it causes them to make a point. Nonetheless it’s causing them financial harm, which may in the long term be irreparable if in the meantime their player base on iOS shifts to different games.
So all in all, it is a calculated risk but irreparable harm is indeed one possible outcome. Whether Apple takes any responsibility in this depends on how the court decides in the case however. Even if their behaviour is judged as uncompetitive, that may not automatically mean that they’re at all at fault here.
You can't deliberately crash your own car and then go to court demanding the manufacturer give you a whole new one because the crash revealed a loose screw.
If Apple had simply removed Fortnite and stopped there, they'd be in a better position legally, and in terms of PR.
It all depends on who ultimately wins the lawsuit, and that's up the in the air. It's a fairly high risk strategy on both sides, but it'll pay off for the winner. Apple is probably confident (perhaps overconfident) that they'll win in the end.
If that's the case, the thing you said in your original comment and what I'm taking issue with seems very unlikely - that "Apple is playing right into his hands". For this to work, everything happens to be obvious to everyone except Apple and the court who are somehow inexplicable naifs.
For Apple, the stage is set, and they are merely players; they have no choice at this point but to act the way they are because if they don't they lose the consistency argument. So while they may see through the strategy, they're also bound by it, because they have to enforce their terms -- lest other developers get "uppity" and think they can do this too.
They also want to demonstrate what it takes to fight them, the amount of money that will be lost, because that too will have a chilling effect.
Honestly the only way this works out for anyone is if Epic wins a slam dunk because otherwise Apple elegantly demonstrates that their control can never be broken. I think it's possible they win some concessions; the slam dunk though... much less likely.
Not necessarily. Even if Epic's solitary actions aren't enough to break Apple's control that doesn't mean more developers acting in tandem can't swing the balance of power. Microsoft and Facebook have already mumbled that they are in support of some of Epic's complaints. If those two try to force the issue now as well, and if more developers in general take a stand together (even Google has reason to join in; Apple Music doesn't use Play Store's IAP for subscriptions on Android while Youtube etc is forced to use AppStore's IAP on iOS), I think Apple might just blink first...
Incidentally it's probably the more permanent one, too.
The Apple side of the argument can be expressed as 'on this platform (that you can buy into), who gets to take your money over the internet?' Exerting oversight over their walled garden and taking a cut of revenues means they take very real responsibility over the situation of 'taking your money over the internet', which they're apparently fine with. We buy into that scenario when we are Apple users: there's a point of clearly defined accountability that we take for granted, and we expect any bad actors to be handled by that point of accountability.
Epic's like, 'no, there should be many points of accountability. Or at least, well, US'. We've already got that platform, and it's Android. People still choose to hang out in the Apple walled garden even though it costs a premium to do so, when Android is RIGHT THERE and lots of people are prepared to make it a very appealing proposition (I use Google Fi as a cell provider, but on an iPhone. There's functionality I would have if I went with a Google phone, and the phone would cost less)
I believe that Apple has other reasons for acting as it does, which are not necessarily directly related to maximizing its chances of winning this specific case.
This doesn't make anyone a naif. Every party in the situation is playing a different game, not the exact same game. Sometimes your hand is just forced by the actions of someone else.
Will they though? For all the players who already had the app they still have access to Epic's payment system meaning they're making 20% more on those transactions. I'm not sure that new user purchases will be > 20% they make in the short term from those existing users.
Part of the calculus must have been that Fortnite was stable enough, especially from a low-level and netcode perspective, that it could do without needing App Store updates to remain cross-play compatible in the medium-term.
While you could technically hide this from them during the review stage, apple can stop any app from functioning on any iOS device connected to the internet by revoking the certificate, if they discover it at a later stage.
Are there noteworthy apps that break this term in the wild?
Any level of a game contains at least some logic like NPC behaviors, event triggering etc. and I'm sure scripting is a standard component of every single game.
Have you heard of Thimbleweed Park? It's basically a VM executing an adventure game language (like the creator's SCUMM VM in the past).
That's on the App Store.
Now if we specifically look at the downloading part, that would mean games on iOS cannot download new levels, which I think is done by a lot of games.
Their goal here being to cover their ass and have a rule, that you already "agreed" to follow, to point at when they want to get rid of your app.
Apple's legal tech has always been years ahead of their electronic tech, I'm honestly curious to see if epic's got some sort of counter to apple's usual legal shenanigans.
This is extremely common in games, less so in productivity apps.
E.g. react native apps have most of their functionality in js and can use services like code push to update themselves without app store and it doesn't violate Apple ToS.
Plus no new customers on iOS.
Those customers will no longer be able to download Fortnite.
However, it seems bubble colour is important.
"Why'd You Push That Button - Why do iPhone users judge people with green text bubbles?"
And honestly I have switched off notifications on WhatsApp (I cannot recommend this highly enough!) so that's the only quick way to reach me. I am sure others do the same.
The blue bubbles are quite useful because it lets you know if your message is being transmitted encrypted or not (green SMS bubbles mean effectively cleartext).
And as for jailbreaking, the last time I jailbroke an iOS device was many years ago, and it never worked 100%. Every time I rebooted the damn thing it had to be connected to a computer to re-unlock it again. I don't know how the experience is now but it was terrible then. I haven't bought an Apple device since because I like the out-of-the-box ability to install whatever random stuff I want.
This is a technology forum, so speaking of technology... maybe there will just be some radical streaming or delivery innovation, compatible with Mobile Safari today, that could really change the state of at least games and movies on iOS. I wonder why that hasn't happened sooner.
So, I suspect that lots of people are going to be sideloading in the very near future.
e.g. I agree with you.
Ideally, the sooner people realize and escape from Apple's tyranny the better.
Epic probably doesn't care much about Apple platforms.
80% of Fortnite players are on console. I doubt macOS accounts for more than 1-2%.
Mind you, this is pure speculation on my part - but given they consider that 5% royalty paid as part of the fee for every title sold on EGS it seems likely that their goal is to sell more licenses, not just to cash in on Fortnite.
The iPhone is merely another console. Really hard for me to see why this is controversial, or why Epic thinks that Apple can have a monopoly over their console while somehow Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo don’t...
1. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have all negotiated smaller rev-share agreements with Epic. Maybe this is in exchange for marketing or console bundles or something else that improves the health of the platform.
2. Epic thinks they can use any victory they get out of Apple to force game console manufacturers to do the same thing.
Personally, I think it's the latter - Epic's ultimate goal is to get their hands into the game distribution pie. One of the things Epic contemplates in the lawsuit is "we want to run our own iOS app store in competition with Apple's App Store". You bet their ass "Epic Game Store on Switch" is going to follow if they win the Apple lawsuit.
(For the record, I happen to want Epic to win, though I don't want EPIC to win. I hate locked-down hardware.)
You are correct in one critical way: there's no way in hell Epic would try this shit with console manufacturers. You know how Apple tried to threaten developer tools access and basically tried to take UE4 users hostage? Yeah, imagine that, except console manufacturers have far more leverage. First, console is Epic's core business; second, console developer access is very strictly guarded. Had the courts not enjoined Apple from revoking Epic's UE4 developer account, they could at least have hypothetically continued to support iOS customers.
This isn't true on console: the developer tools are confidential and highly guarded. So, instead of "we might revoke your dev account access", it's "give us back our devkits, delete all your copies of our SDK, delete any UE4 code that uses that SDK, and stop selling UE4 on our platform". Epic wouldn't be allowed to support PS4/Switch/Xbox developers in any capacity. Just the mere act of a licensed console developer asking an unlicensed engine provider for support with the console SDK would constitute a breach of their confidentiality agreements.
No, they aren't: https://mobile.twitter.com/TimSweeneyEpic/status/12732765485...
> The iPhone is merely another console.
Really hard for me to buy this is a good faith argument. The iPhone has never been marked nor positioned in any way similar to consoles. User & developer expectations are not remotely similar here.
Courts almost never evaluate specific cases based on broader patterns of behaviour... they are always narrowly focused on specific issues.
This might help in the media/social media debate, but I doubt it helps much in court. The bigger piece Epic bites off the harder their battle will be.
Apple is proving that they are.
Ultimately, I think lawmakers are going to have to be the ones to address this, and it's disappointing they don't seem particularly interested in investigating Apple's app store practices
Unity is also making a play on this, portraying the Unreal Engine as an unreliable choice because of Epic's erratic actions, and in their court filing Epic themselves complained about people leaving them in droves.
(Incidentally, when I try to Google "Epic says people leaving in droves" all the results are about millennials leaving cities.)
I think Epic doesn't care much about losing iOS and MacOS. Epic wants to bring public attention to the issue and reiterate the idea that Apple is against the gamer community but Epic is fighting for them.
In either case Epic wins. They wouldn't have gotten into this otherwise.
I press this question because IMO that would be a serious tactical mistake on Apple’s part, and it’s surprising that Apple would make it (even incidentally). The judge’s injunction may have saved Apple from itself.
But I don’t know if it’s true that all UE iOS apps would be removed, if Apple terminated that other account. It seems like no one has given a concrete, conclusive answer.
It’s like blocking all apps that happen to use the leftpad library. It’s not those apps’ fault for what Epic is doing with Epic Store. It’s completely unrelated. And it would be worrisome if, by Apple’s decision, all businesses who built their futures on Unreal Engine were put out of business overnight.
The issue is that Epic will lose access to Apple developer tools and will struggle to maintain Unreal Engine going forward and as such that may hinder development of those games in the future.
There's no indication or reason to believe Apple would manually remove all UE based games (because it wouldn't be something they 'revoke' and all UE games stop working).
What on Earth... Is this the same for Android? I come from the web, and this sounds like madness. You need to login to write code?
This hasn't been true for iOS either for the last N years, AFAIK you can sign apps for free to load on your devices, but the signatures are valid only for a week, so you have to reload the apps at least every week.
Guess where the key required for signing the binary comes from? That's right, it comes from your apple developer account, automatically downloaded and provisioned by xcode when you hit the build button. Without a developer account you won't have any valid key to sign the build, even for debug build. Afaik the only way to skip this is to jailbreak your device so it can run unsigned binary.
Xcode, the SDKs, etc. are licensed, not open source, and probably contain clauses allowing apple to terminate the license.
Thats a totally arbitrary limitation and as nicely illustrated by Apple - very very dangerous.
I can develop and distribute software for my tablet (Android), Notebook (Linux/Fedora), gaming PC (Windows), smartphone (Sailfish OS) or e-reader (Kobo) without the need to open an account with a third party and be at their mercy.
Sure, in some cases a repo system account can make things easier, but I can just as well put the source and binaries on a website and any users wanting to use that will not be needlessly hindered by stupid OS maintainer policies.
Apple might be cracking down on people who sign apps for others as a service, publish signed stuff online, etc. but they literally have no way of preventing development of anything.