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Facebook reportedly prepping antitrust lawsuit against Apple on App Store rules (businessinsider.com)
228 points by PieUser 6 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 255 comments



The best analysis of this is from Stratechery: https://stratechery.com/2020/privacy-labels-and-lookalike-au...

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"Amazon, meanwhile, is increasingly where shopping searches start, particularly for Prime customers, and the company’s ad business is exploding. Needless to say, Amazon doesn’t need to request special permission for IDFAs or to share emails with 3rd parties to finely target its ads: everything is self-contained, and to the extent the company advertises on platforms like Google, it can still keep information about customer interests and conversions to itself. That means that in the long run, independent merchants who wish to actually find their customers will have no choice but to be an Amazon third-party merchant instead of setting up an independent shop on a platform like Shopify.

This decision, to be clear, will not be because Amazon was acting anticompetitively; the biggest driver — which, by the way, will also benefit Facebook’s on-platform commerce efforts — will be Apple, which, in the pursuit of privacy, is systematically destroying the ability of platform-driven small businesses to compete with the Internet giants."

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FB has a point here, but I'm still hoping Apple wins - I'd rather the tracking model not be viable.


So to break Amazon monopoly, the users must be tracked all day long, have complete profile of every living person and these people should not be asked first?

Why not break Amazon through regulatory power instead of total population tracking?

I also don't buy the small local business argument. If a local bakery wants to reach me, they can put a sign or do a promotion like giving a free cookie with the coffee on my way to work. It will also benefit the local community instead of a soulless corporation in SV.

When there's no Facebook, there's no FB for all of these bakeries. I don't die out of hunger because I failed to see targeted ad, instead I look at the maps or walk around and find the shops or ask a friend for a recommendation. The bakeries can excel in quality, have amazing prices etc. to reach me, like the old days.

An optimised version of FB's business is one where all the 3 bakeries in my neighbourhood give all their margin to FB in attempt to sell me cookies. Even better for FB if they optimize their cookies for lowest possible quality, just enough that the ads can drive me to buy one.


This.

Its like arguing: Timmy steals money all day. I also want to steal money but Timmy steals from his rich parents, but since I can't I steal from my neighbors. Big poo poo cops said that stealing is not okay, but that's bad! I want to also steal because Timmy gets to steal from his parents!

Instead of "The cops said stealing is no longer permitted, also take a look at Timmy."


Putting a sign or giving you freebies is orders of magnitude more expensive than getting some impressions on Facebook.

And this scenario where bakeries grind their margins in an endless ad fight is a bit far fetched, all the bakeries need to do is get your attention enough so that you know/remember they’re there. It’s a few cents with online advertising, FB makes billions because there’s a lot of users.

You’re also forgetting that such ads are about telling you about products you didn’t even consider you need. So yeah, you’re not going to die out of hunger due to lack of ads, but you may not learn of more luxurious items that you may want.

(Disclaimer, I work at FB, not on ads, and don’t know anything an outsider wouldn’t know)


You seem to be missing the point of conversions, word of mouth, etc. Ads may cost pennies on your company’s user tracking platform, but what about the real cost of acquiring and retaining a customer? Those need good products and good service in a case like this. Buying ads for what seems like pennies can hurt businesses as they keep chasing “engagement” while waiting for revenue and profits. The reach of an online platform may be high compared to a sign, but that alone can’t help a business survive (especially small businesses that need local customers).


A chaulkboard / whiteboard costs fuck-all and is a one time expense. I've seen innumerable small businesses using such on the sidewalk. They seem to be very popular and have a homey authentic aesthetic you will never get with Facebook ads.


Sure, if I pass next to your business you get cheap advertising. But what if you’re off my path? Or just off the main street of the town? Also note that being on my path to work costs even more money - location is expensive and businesses will pay extra to be in high visibility spaces.

Facebook ads work for physical businesses because they’re competitive on price with their other options.


How do you think those of us not using facebook manage to not starve to death for want of a bakery? Trust me, I can find local businesses just fine without Zuck crawling up my ass.

Bakery A feels compelled to buy ads from Facebook because Bakery B does. Bakery B has to because Bakery C does. Bakery C has to because Bakery A does. Facebook isn't providing value here. Facebook is a parasite that specializes in creating prisoner dilemmas used to bleed small businesses dry. Facebook is lower than mosquitoes, who at least provide nourishment to birds.


No one ever starves due to lack of advertising, advertising is not needed to let you know you need food.

And your contrived bakery example is unlikely. Ads are about letting you know a business exist, or convince you to give them another chance. Once everyone in town knows of all the bakeries, people will just pick favorites. If you’re the most famous bakery in town, you don’t need advertising. If you just started your cookie business, you do. Choose whatever advertising that works for you: signs, flyers, word of mouth, vitality stunts or just online ads. You will find that online ads are astoundingly cheap.

Again, if you serve the best croissants in town, customers will come back. (Reality is more sophisticated than that due general demand generation ideas such as just reminding you of croissants vs inferior pastries)


Amazon even splits into three very cleanly separate pieces: AWS // Amazon.com // Fulfilment


> FB has a point here, but I'm still hoping Apple wins - I'd rather than tracking model not be viable.

I think it's possible for two things to be true simultaneously:

a) it's bad and wrong for apple to demand 30%, or whatever it is, as a cut of any payment made inside an app distributed through their app store

b) apple blocking tracking and advertising networks at the operating system level (API calls between the app running on a phone or tablet, and the underlying OS) is a net benefit for the consumer end user. obviously apple has a very different perspective on this since they are not facebook, or google, and not dependent upon advertising revenue.


What's up stop b) from being "goodbye api" and completely removing it? I'd assume at some point any App could be expected to make required updates for a variety of reasons. Like any other tool: what obligations does a manufacturer have to continue creating replacement parts?


B would result in more law suits faster, this way apple can claim "its the customers decision". Right now, people complain about apple making decisions for them. And, fwiw, i know people who actually opt-in to tracking (no idea why...)


If it is truly a manufacturer making replacement parts, then they have to have enough stock to fulfill warranty requests for the life of the warranty. Otherwise, they have to replace the entire thing.


b) Apple blocking tracking is only a net benefit if you value privacy enough to overweigh the drop in customers for niche businesses well served by targeted ads.


Apple is not blocking tracking, though. Apple is putting the decision in the hands of the user.


The practical effect is a massive decrease in tracking information for companies- defaults are powerful.

I agree with Apple’s decision. It’s just going to have negative effects for some businesses, which is a price that must be considered against the gain in privacy.


It will have effects, sure. But they still don’t prevent tracking, and if the trade off is so compelling for users as some people here seem to imply, then users will just accept it.

It is difficult to say that the users being aware of what they are giving away is a bad thing, unless you are a crook whose business model is based on deception.


That's not you evaluate giving up a person's privacy. Otherwise your argument is akin to saying we should force X millionaire to give up all his money to y group of people because of the net benefit.


Well in the case of the USA taxation is part of the constitution. Privacy is too but that relates to how the government surveils you and not necessarily how a private company collects info on you as you use their product.

So I guess I’m saying your comparison is specious.


I do not agree with the quoted train of logic in the context of an antitrust suit. It leads to the conclusion that X (Facebook) should wage an antitrust lawsuit against Y (Apple) in order to achieve an outcome that would help tame the growth of Z's (Amazon) market position.

If the United States feels that Amazon is an anticompetitive company, then that position should be litigated in and of itself.

It's understandable that Facebook feels righteous in filing a proxy lawsuit for its advertisers. They've had their hand in the cookie jar of so many internet transactions for so long that they cannot imagine the horror of not knowing about any of them.


Its not actually about Amazon. The point is just that Apple limitations will help "self contained" data holders like amazon because they don't need the tracking data that apple is limiting.

Amazon is just a simpler target to explain the small-biz impact than "facebook with its marketplace and shopify integration and existing data sources and abilities and pending future products they've announced"


It's worth reading the entire blog post I linked - it's good and provides more context.

I only quoted a relevant subsection because I know otherwise 99% of people won't click through to read any of it.


There is the "technically true" way of looking at this, and there's the non-legalistic, subjective judgement of these companies.

FB, their business model and modus operandi is filthy. They really moved the overton window on what is morally normative in terms of advertising... and then applied those norms to everything... content, not just advertising.

Apple do stuff you might disagree on. They normalised demoting applications to "apps," which exist inside a walled garden, pay rent and play by Apple's rules. This might not be a good vibe. But, the app store isn't their product.

Monopoly, by and large, is not Apple's business model. Apple are big enough that they do monopolize markets, like the app store. But the app store isn't the product or business model. Selling phones is. They don't generally pursue dominant market shares, prefering to cream the high end.

A business model that isn't inherently monopoly seeking at its core, isn't mostly about data, advertising or somesuch... that basically makes Apple a shining example. Everything is relative.

That said, despite hoping FB lose generally, I do hope that antitrust builds up to something meaningful. I'll be hoping for a guilty.


You must have missed the last five years where Apple is looking to extract increasingly more value from “services” i.e. the app store. They very very much want to retain their monopoly there.


Yes. I think I was clear enough that I'm speaking in relatives, not absolutes.

Apple's size, platform positioning and the fundamental microeconomics of Apple's markets all drives towards "competition for monopoly," to use the term of art. They're not above customer lock ins, closed ecosystems. They're not above creating little tyrannical kingdoms... Apple may become a Facebook (ar amazon/google) eventually, but atm they are not.. and the opportunities have been many.

Apple still, essentially, makes new products and hopes people like them enough to overpay for it. They actually exposed themselves to risk of failure if new products aren't good/popular enough. Who does that?

One or two Windows Vista level failures could kill Apple. There is no guaranteed income for macs or iphones in 2022. Facebook, Google, MSFT. even amazon... the quality of their work does not pose a risk of failure in the medium term. Google's user base is protected by default. They own android, and pay for iphone defaults. Own youtube, your emails. The search data. On the customer side, they have a (recognised by courts) monopoly. Search advertising is non-optional for many, many businesses. Adwords is the only seller.

For a (old) counterexample, think of rss podcasts. Apple named it, popularized it, dealt with a bullshit one-click-like patent claim on subscription audio as a whole. Meanwhile, Apple never tried to dominate, close, or "own" podcasting. Podcast today is the only free, popular medium.

Currently, Spotify's is literally trying to buy up all the top podcasts just to exclude them from the open protocol. The aim, naturally, is to own podcasting.. at which point they can force all the little guys to give them content for free and on their terms.

Podcasters, they think, are totally disunited, unlike recording artists. That means once spotify has market share, they can dictate terms like youtube does for video. I bet they already have a cute name for podcasters picked out. Vloggers are called "youtubers." Maybe podcasters will be "spotters." Has a nice ring to it.

I'm not calling them angels. Half of it is probably being boomer and being slow to adapt to modern ways. That said, if you compare Apple core business models to the other guys...


This is true but the solution should be anti trust action against amazon as well, as opposed to let fb be monopolistic and “give small business a chance”


This presupposes that this tracking heavy targeted advertising has positive ROI for these small businesses. Is there any evidence this is actually true?


Yes. This question seems to come up constantly as if advertising is still some arcane art. Facebook and Google are incredibly good at this and have the valuations to show for it.

Highly targeted advertising can produce great results and there was a time where Facebook was basically a money-printing machine for affiliate and ecommerce because it was so good at finding and reaching the perfect customer. This has become saturated and results have dissipated somewhat but it's still very strong.


Small business are well known for making very poor decisions on average. Just look at Groupon and Food Delivery App XYZ. Moving lots of inventory at negative margins is much easier than doing so profitability, which is one of the reasons they so frequently fail.


I think small businesses are intended to refer to e.g. mom and pop businesses, not moderate sized startups. Not that that necessarily detracts from your point.


My point was a huge number of businesses failed to benefit from Groupon etc. Profitable small business are on a tightrope with failure on one side and growth on the other. The kinds of businesses that can really leverage targeted advertising are exactly the kinds of companies that stop being small businesses.


Sure, nothing prevents a business from making poor decisions that puts them out of business. Why is that specific to ads?


It was a question of ROI, and targeted ads are simply more difficult to use well.

Putting up a large sign outside convince store is going to target people in the area well enough. Giant companies like Disney can easily produce different ads to target individual slices of the population for similar results. But, how well can a small river rafting company for example leverage demographics data? Meanwhile because some companies find this data useful they suddenly need to pay a premium, which just doesn’t seem likely to pay off on average.


Ads aren't magic. When and how you use them has a significant impact on actual ROI, just like anything else in business. Part of the value of these adtech companies is that they can do most of the heavy lifting for you, so even small businesses can target and optimize without a large team.

If you want to target river rafters then you can just target people with "river rafting, outdoors, adventurer, travel" interests, or followers of your page, or upload emails of existing customers. Then let Facebook find similar people automatically. It's that easy.

Everything else being equal, targeted ads still do better than non-targeted ads. I don't see how this is so controversial.


They could clearly target say “river rafters” but it’s less clear if such a group going to cost effectively bring in new customers. The risk is if you target people that are looking into river rafting your simply poaching current or future customers who would know about you either way.

That’s the thing, it’s very easy to advertise to existing customers, worse your competitors are likely to bid up any easy associations. So, the most common case ends up in failure. Perhaps you didn’t something that works you can double down on, but that’s in practice extremely rare these days. Far more common is to realize after the fact you just spent a lot of money on a negative return.


I think you're arguing for the sake of argument here.

Targeting people who have obvious self-selected and data-driven interests in what you're selling is going to do better than generic ads with no specific audience. This is practically science at this point. However nothing is guaranteed and a specific campaign not providing results doesn't have anything to do with the concept of targeted advertising.


I'm not sure that answers the question.

It's not impossible that Facebook and Google capture all of the value--or more--that their clients generate by running ads: Bob's Burgers runs $500/mo worth of ads, only generates $400 in (new) profit from them, but is afraid to stop because Paul's Pizza is also running ads and they might lose even more marketshare.


That's theoretically true but not true in reality, ask one of any of the thousands of new (in the last ~8 years, since FB launched lookalike targeting) businesses that grew to millions of dollars of revenue off of FB ads. I personally know at least 10 whose primary early growth mechanism was Facebook ads. They work.


As a counterpoint, you may be interested in this 2015 paper by Blake, Nosko, and Taldelis: https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w20171/w201...

They found that paid (i.e., ads) and unpaid traffic were nearly perfect substitutes for brand names: people will either to get to eBay. For non-brands, clicks go down, but sales don’t; ads are mostly attracting “browsers”, rather than buyers.

The real answer is that it probably depends a lot on the industry, market, and individual business.


That paper is mostly referencing brand search at large companies which is completely different than lookalike ads for small, unknown companies. I'm not really sure how the comparison is relevant.

If your point is that effective advertising strategies vary by company then I agree, but that is a tangential and meaningless point in the context of the above conversation.


You pointed out a niche where internet ads apparently worked well (though isn’t some of that just survivorship bias?)

I found the eBay data interesting because AI had assumed that they would have a fairly sophisticated online operation, and yet neither the branded nor non-brand ads really helped (for the latter, removing ads led to -40% on clicks, but -2% on sales).

I can’t imagine that the neighborhood pizza place is really doing a top-notch job on ad attribution; it seems a heck of a lot more likely that they throw a few ads up because everyone else does too.


That “niche” is the reason Shopify is a 100+ billion dollar company.

With respect to eBay, proving someone sucks at running ads isn’t the same as proving ads suck. (also it matters a lot more what % of sales the ads in this case represented, rather than just the absolute change in sales).

I agree with you about the neighborhood businesses fwiw.


The increase (or lack of decrease) in marketshare has to be factored as part of the return on investment, in which case the result is positive.

Otherwise why continue to run the ads? A smaller but profitable marketshare is better than a larger but negative one.


If it's about lack of decrease in market share, then the existence of the ads product is not a net positive for small businesses. It is potentially just extracting a rent out of them without any aggregate benefit by pitting businesses against each other in a coordination problem.


If a company creates better kitchen equipment that allows one shop to make better food, isn't that the same thing? Is it now rent-seeking that anyone who can provide an advantage can potentially sell that to all the shops so they all remain competitive and not lose market share?

All competition is a coordination problem.


Uncertainty, perhaps?

Prediction and attribution are really hard. I linked a paper below showing that eBay was wasting money on entirely ineffective keyword ads. I can’t imagine that most small businesses (especially brick and mortar ones) are much savvier.


Why is uncertainty specific to ads? That's part of anything in business whether it's a new office, new equipment or new salesperson.

Whether something provides a return or not for your specific situation doesn't have anything to do with whether the product itself is working and valid.

Ebay situation is different because search is as close as you can get to "intent" in advertising. You don't need user-targeting when you have a search query telling you exactly what they're looking for. Targeting is a proxy for that kind of intent when it's not available.


Look, I am not arguing that ads, of whatever sort, cannot ever work for anyone. I'm sure that internet marketing is a key part of some companies' business plans. Warby Parker, perhaps.

What I'm not yet convinced of is that they're a panacea for all small businesses. Details aside, one moral of the eBay paper is that a $50B business, with a whole dedicated department, still managed to make a dog's breakfast of their online advertising; Uber reported similar problems earlier this winter.

It seems hard and it's not obvious to me that every business has the aptitude, market, or business model to do it well. At the same time, I can easily imagine people deciding "We need to do something about advertising" and then forging ahead with whatever something they land on. This is especially true with the ROI is difficult to calculate--and I do think it's probably harder to calculate for an ad than for something with very standardized cost/performance characteristics like new equipment.

Google, Facebook, and Shopify making money doesn't really answer this question. As an analogy: "Is there gold in them there hills?" "Sure, even the guy selling shovels is making money!"


I just told you why Ebay's situation is different. Uber was defrauded and wasn't a failure of advertising.

Advertising can be complicated, but part of the value of these giant networks is helping to run those campaigns effectively. I'm not sure why you think everyone has to put in similar amounts of effort. That's not necessary at all. You have tools from simply setting the budget and targeting lookalikes of people liking your posts (what most small businesses do) to running your own bidder stack (for larger brands that have entire agencies working for them).

While attribution will never be perfect, it's not guessing either. Ecommerce only makes it easier as you can track all the way from exposure to checkout, and in some ways can be more attributable than other businesses expenses.


I'd love to see some research about this from an unbiased source showing that targeted advertising produces great results in small businesses (<100 employees, or <5M revenue yearly).


It would also be important to know, not if ads can produce great results, but how many companies do they provide great results for? Even better, what percentage of all business that run online ads get a positive return on their investment, and what is the average of that return.

My personal experience is that it is pretty hard to get consistently good performance running campaigns on FB or Google. It requires a lot of learning and a lot of trial and error. On top of that, they constantly push you to spend more by giving you dubious recommendations on how to “improve” your campaigns. Very hard to believe that the average small business is actually capable of running good campaigns and consistently make money from them.


Anecdotal but I’ve always heard from marketing friends that Facebook ads are hands down the best ads and yield many multiples of the cost of the ads


What about all the actual small businesses that have positive ROAS? There are millions of them on Facebook's platform. What kind of other research are you looking for?


Sure I'd love to see something concrete about the "actual small businesses that have positive ROAS." You have any research to cite?

Keep in mind I'm talking about targeted advertising, not advertising in general.


Yes. I know someone who runs a blog that shows ads. Since Google adwords/sense and modern targeted ads became a thing their revenue from the business has basically doubled if not more.


ITT: Ad-tech people, talking up their own book.


> Apple, which, in the pursuit of privacy, is systematically destroying the ability of platform-driven small businesses to compete with the Internet giants

Awesome, that's really good news. Now we need to figure out how to destroy the business models of these giants as well so that competing with corrupt global surveillance corporations is no longer necessary.


I’ve thought hard about the summary for this, I think this is a good one:

Facebook: we don’t provide anything of tangible physical value. Other people do, and they make money off of it. Where’s our money?!?!


The solution is this:

1. Apple iPhone needs to be an open platform. Users can install apps from wherever and don't have to go through Apple distribution. (But Apple can still provide this for convenience and discovery, and still charge a fee.)

2. Installing apps includes a strong permissions API. The filesystem, sensor access, GPS, etc. can be cordoned off and requires user intervention. Heuristics and isolation can prevent apps from sharing data for tracking/identification.

The reality is that Apple outgrew their platform and it can't continue to exist as a walled garden without being a monopoly. They can't have their cake and eat it too. Otherwise Facebook has a case. Epic has a case. Etc.


I don't agree with this or want this.

I like that Apple has leverage to tell app developers to adhere to their platform rules in ways that benefit Apple's users.

If Apple was wielding this to harm users that'd be one thing, but they're not, they wield it to prevent spammy crap, to make it easy to subscribe and unsubscribe, to prevent spying and tracking, etc.

That's why I value and buy Apple products, if someone wants an open platform they can buy something else. They're not a monopoly and they don't act in a way that harms their users.


It's true that Apple's gatekeeping gives it a lot of leverage. In this case they're using their power in a way that benefits their users and that's great. Still, it shouldn't be necessary for a corporation to own its users and decide what's best for them on their behalf just so other corporations will stop abusing people's privacy.

In an ideal world, governments would step in and tell them straight up to stop invading people's privacy or face punishment. Obviously that's not going to happen: any proposed law would immediately be defanged by the industry's lobbyists on the basis it would hurt their "legitimate" business interests. Not to mention the fact governments would love to keep these global surveillance tools around.


It's not about what you want, it's about what the market needs to remain healthy and competitive.


It’s not about that either.

There is a healthy market here. Forcing Apple to do what you suggest is harmful to users and reduces user choice by making the Apple ecosystem like Android. This removes Apple’s ability to do things like block tracking and force store compliance which is the reason I and others choose them.

An option exists for people that don’t want a curated ecosystem. This is about you forcing your preferences on everyone else, specifically users that prefer and chose Apple’s model.


> If Apple was wielding this to harm users that'd be one thing,

The ones who have been killed in Hong Kong by Apple throwing protestors under a bus might disagree with this.

Or a variety of sexual subcultures, or sex workers, who Apple relentlessly attack.


Instead look at the literal millions of people who have fallen down the Q-Anon hellhole because of Facebook. And those that have been radicalized by YouTubes algorithms. The rampant disinformation that oozes from both platforms. Both firms should be charged with crimes against Humanity alongside Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News.


You won’t find any disagreement from me on this. Western company deference to China is wrong: https://zalberico.com/essay/2020/06/13/zoom-in-china.html

That’s mostly a separate issue though.


Why do you need the platform to be locked down to achieve this?

You can choose to only download apps from the Apple app store that follow those rules. You will in no way be effected whatsoever by the platform being open. For you, nothing will change.

Why do you feel everyone else in the world must live with in your limits and not limits they choose for themselves?


The lock down gives Apple the leverage to force good behavior and policy.

If it was left to choice the companies are incentivized to be shitty.

Users are unsophisticated so the incentive will be for companies to track, mine, and sell data and most will do it.

> “You can choose to only download apps from the Apple store that follow those rules”

There will be way fewer of them, if it’s even possible to tell them apart at all.

> “Why do you feel everyone else in the world must live in your limits...”

I don’t - they can buy android and side load if they want to.

Why do you feel I must be forced to suffer an open platform as well? Forcing Apple to do this removes consumer choice, it doesn’t add to it.


>if Apple was wielding this to harm users that'd be one thing

walled gardens harm users by definition because they reduce competition. Forcing an open API would immediately create the opportunity for people to offer competing clients for any Apple (or Facebook etc) service, drive down costs, produce new ways to interact with the services of large companies and so on, it would immediately unlock the ability of countless of independent creators to produce new products.

In fact if you were to open up Facebook, Apple's apis and so on and turned them into open protocols you would not even necessarily need invasive privacy regulation, people could just build a privacy respecting Facebook client that lets people interact with the service in a way they want, getting an algorithm free news feed if they want, stripping out baggage they don't need. It would solve a large majority of the exact issues that we have with large tech companies.

Apple does hold a monopoly over all Apple users, which gives them market power the same way a monopolistic company in a larger market exercises power. It's actually straight up depressing for someone to say "well I benefit from the walled garden". It's no different than someone saying "I like the oligarch because he treats me nicely"


Sure, but consumers should be free to make that decision themselves. The government shouldn't force it upon them.

Apple has not deceived consumers with regards to their App Store practices. On the contrary, they've been quite boastful about it. There are (and were) plenty of open computing platforms, allowing consumers to experience their benefits and tradeoffs. If consumers prefer to use a more locked down platform, then so be it.


Most people don't even know what a world would look like in which power was taken away from large companies and a genuine market of services would exists that gives power back to the users and developers rather than platform owners. The hold that Apple has on its billion users and that Facebook has on its 2 billion is too strong to be solved by some magical third party. None of the large firms which control our digital infrastructure provides an actual protocols.

The government should absolutely force it on Facebook and Apple and Google the same way the American government forced it on railroad barons a hundred years ago, when they were forced to make their networks interoperable.

Imagine if Volkswagen owned the streets and you could only drive your car on 30% of all roads. Sure you can go to Toyota, you just have to drive in circles. We'd laugh anyone out of the room who actually defended this. Yet this is literally how the internet is structured right now. We live in little fiefdoms where Android users can't talk to imessage users because feudal lords have decided to draw a line across the territory.


>Most people don't even know what a world would look like in which power was taken away from large companies and a genuine market of services would exists that gives power back to the users and developers rather than platform owners.

Consumers knew exactly what more open computing was like prior to the App Store. There were no App Store for Windows or OS X back in 2005, and you could largely install whatever applications you like onto the smartphone operating systems of the day. Evidently, a pretty large chunk of users decided the preferred the more restricted operating system with the "curated" store.


> Sure, but consumers should be free to make that decision themselves.

Why? The state makes a variety of judgements that corporations cannot leave things up to user choice because that's too dangerous to wider society.

Apple can't sell an iPhone that occasionally electrocutes users and out it down to "user choice." We rightly ban that.


> If consumers prefer to use a more locked down platform, then so be it.

There is nothing wrong with a consumer being allowed to choose to keep their own phone locked down.

Thats not the problem. The problem is when you go to a consumer and tell them that they aren't allowed to open up their own property, in an easy way.

You can keep your phone locked down. Just give other people the choice to also open up their own phone, easily, if they choose to do so.


> Apple does hold a monopoly over all Apple users

Starbucks holds a monopoly over all Starbucks customers.

If I want to be a Starbucks customer I have to go to Starbucks. Goddamn them I want to get my overpriced Starbucks coffee from Dairy Queen!

Speaking of Dairy Queen, why are they the only ones that get to sell a Blizzard??!?

*****

Your statement is just as nonsensical to me.


A closer analogy is Walmart deciding what goes on its shelves and it being hard for users to buy from any other store besides Walmart once they choose a “Walmart” device which locks them into their choice a bit.

I can see the argument, I just don’t think the power is being wielded for consumer harm - if it was that’d be different.

If Apple was blocking some company from their store everyone wanted because they were competing with an Apple product that’d be an issue. As it is they’re making it easy for their users to not be spied on.

In the analogy it’d be Walmart checking that what they stock on shelves doesn’t poison their customers.

Are they wielding power? Sure - is that monopoly abuse? No.


Starbucks is pretty generic. I'm not locked into Starbucks coffee.

In fact, in the past week alone I've bought coffee at both Starbucks and Dunkin. The product lines are similar and buying one does not preclude buying the other. There's zero lock in.

Once you start using your iPhone, you stop buying Android apps. You also don't use Google Wallet.


Starbucks is a corporation, it is not generic. You can't buy Dunkin at Starbucks.

It is your choice to shop at either. Just as it is your choice to use either an iPhone using iOS or a phone using Android/Google etc.

Just as it is your choice to choose a car from a particular manufacturer.


The big point here is that Apple users choose the walled garden for themselves. Many people buy apple products specifically because of it.

Of course apple holds a “monopoly” over their own users, exactly the same as how Walmart and Target hold a “monopoly” over the space within their own stores.

If you don’t like the business model of Walmart because of how they have ruined local businesses, you can go shop at the farmers market or local organic shops. But you wouldn’t file a lawsuit which would demand that Walmart host the local farmers market in their own parking lot.


The reality is that the decision to use alternate stores will not be from user choice - it will be from large internet companies telling them the only way to get Facebook is via the Facebook store, to get Fortnight is from the Epic Games Store, to get Netflix is via the Netflix store, etc.

And the purpose of these stores will be to skirt Apple requirements on apps in their store - not just payment, but things like network traffic surveillance.

These stores will also not be pitched by companies based on informed user decisions. They will be pitched in order to get users to sign up in whatever way they can drive taps through consent screens.

So unfortunately to remain a user choice, there needs to be a strong disincentive for parties to force a customer into a third party store, but not so strong that it looks like antitrust.

Google Play for instance has tons of "Play Services" which are not available to apps from alt-stores.

The Mac has certain security settings which can only be disabled through a process requiring a reboot and command-line action as a way to limit vendors from driving customers through disabling essential security features without proper education.

Mac applications are also notarized, so whether they are downloaded through the official app store or a third party channel they can be scanned for static issues and revoked after the fact as malware in the case of dynamic issues.


I dunno, hasn’t Apple always been the choice for people who want a walled garden? Whether it was the old Macs, iPod or iPhone, Apple’s value proposition has always been a curated experience. Given the availability of Android, I have very little sympathy for claims that Apple is doing something wrong by setting the terms of access to its user-base.


Isn't this essentially saying:

1. Make Apple build a strong permissions API that covers the filesystem, sensors, GPS, isolation, privacy, tracking protection etc.

2. Force Apple to provide this for free to all developers (allowing them to charge for access to list on the App Store)

?


They already do. It's called Safari


The question is whether iOS is ready to run truly untrusted code. So far only web demonstrated proper sandbox which is rarely penetraded. Take Linux server for example, only few days ago sudo bug was found which could be used to escalate user privileges to root.

I'm not iOS expert, but the mere fact that there's private API which is forbidden to use by ordinary apps but that's only implemented by some static code checking rather than by OS means that iOS does not have proper security model ready to withstand arbitrary code execution.


I try to evaluate these BigCo vs. BigCo battles individually rather than always dissing one company or being a fanboy for another. In that vein, I support Apple in its attempts to clamp down on FB’s egregious tracking and data collection. At the same time, I support Epic’s attempts to break up Apple’s stranglehold on in-app payments. On that last issue specifically, I am even sympathetic to FB’s claim against Apple.


I appreciate your appeal to nuance.


As long as they are suing eachother, there’s a balance kept. The problem is that we already see content moderation oligopolies forming between Facebook, Google and Twitter.


1) What is the problem with the moderation of these three? 2) How is it an oligopoly?

Anecdotally, i appreciate the efforts towards their moderation and hope to see more in the future. It makes me more likely to use their products. I'm voting "with my attention" (to paraphrase a oft-used quote)


They have network effect and can destroy a great legal and valid business just because an advertiser doesn’t like it.

As long as they moderate separately, the businesses have chance to survive.

Black Mirror had an episode with social scoring system that looks like the future, but is already happening on a small scale.

Also if you want to see a movie with moderation turned on by multiple parties, watch the new Mulan and compare to the old one.


> As long as they moderate separately, the businesses have chance to survive.

Absolutely, although dispositions have shown that they do collaborate.

Also collusion can still happen if companies create separate decisions and have no communication (see petrol prices).


I think Facebook has 2 or 3 targets here.

They want to force Apple to open up the restriction on the App Store. Apple has been slowly turning the screws making it more and more difficult to get information out of the phone. I'm not sure Facebook is going to be able to get that, but I suspect they have a plan B which is iMessage.

iMessage is Apple's secret "Social Network". When I quit Facebook, it's what I turned to, and I know a lot of people who rely on it as their primary way of keeping in touch with friends/ family and the increasing functionality of iMessage is becoming more of a threat to FB.

While Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and all the other messaging apps have to beg to get access to Photos, Location, ApplePay, cameras, FaceId, etc, with iMessage everything is permitted out of the box. Apple has a whole mini-App Store for iMessage which isn't really possible with Facebook.

Finally, I'm sure Facebook would absolutely love to open up their own Ad-supported App Store which tracks everyone to their hearts content. Piles of money building an App Store, particularly when someone else is building the whole tool-chain to make it work and you just have to serve up the content.


> I'm sure Facebook would absolutely love to open up their own Ad-supported App Store which tracks everyone to their hearts content.

Facebook appears not to have attempted this yet on Android, where it would be technically possible, though it would likely require sideloading. Perhaps the steps to sideload an app on Android would create too much friction for a Facebook app store to gain traction?

However, Facebook's "internet.org Free Basics" initiative [1], which is available in countries where internet access is generally more costly, has some similarities to an app store. Facebook approves or denies the inclusion of various websites, sets technical and content requirements, and operates the proxy through which these websites are accessed.

[1]: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/internet-org/gettingsta...


> Facebook appears not to have attempted this yet on Android, where it would be technically possible, though it would likely require sideloading.

Facebook went above and beyond that - they effectively commissioned HTC to build a Facebook phone[1], which thankfully flopped

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTC_First


A more realistic approach might be for Facebook to develop their own phone and mobile OS, with an app store to go along with it.

I don't think alternate app stores for other platforms that already have their own "authorized" app stores is an idea with any legs, due to the friction you mention.


You must only have privileged friends and family. None of my family has an iPhone. They are all android. So they can't run iMessage. It seems improbable that 100% of your family and friends are all iPhone. Or maybe you just decided if they didn't get an iPhone they weren't worth connecting with?


I have friends with Android. I just use SMS talking to them... which is accessed via iMessage as well. The experience is a little bit less nice.


> Or maybe you just decided if they didn't get an iPhone they weren't worth connecting with?

Anecdotally I have heard of kids and teenagers doing that. Sending a green message marks you out as a scrub.


Note that it is possible for these accusations to have some merit even if the accuser has engaged in similar things on their own.

There's no need to group every interaction into political dichotomies.


Yes, but in this case it’s obvious that the only reason they are doing this is because of Apple’s requirement for people to consent to tracking.

There is every reason to believe that this case is being shaped either a shakedown or to shape the market to facebook’s wishes, and not to serve an idealistic public good.

Pretending this is not the case would be willful ignorance that nobody should engage in.


It may be in FB's best interest, but I would prefer we approach it by asking "Will this help consumers, users, and independent developers?", instead of "Will this help FB? Because if so, count me out".


It’s not going to help consumers and independent developers.

Facebook and a preparing the case and does not care at all about either group, except perhaps to be able to take a slice of the action themselves.

If the Facebook app was also an App Store, we’d be in a much worse situation than we are now.

Some kind of intervention in the market might help those groups.

This has absolutely nothing to do with that. It’s just dressed up in that language to mislead people about what it’s intent is.


> It’s not going to help consumers and independent developers.

Developer here, top mod of /r/iOSProgramming. Making iOS an open platform will _absolutely_ help developers AND consumers for a myriad of reasons. Facebook being able to open their own app store means ANYONE can distribute their own apps, which is GOOD because that's how the web works and how every other general purpose computing platform works (Windows, macOS, even Android). See:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25375711&p=2

I encourage you to read the full lawsuit, as it outlines the harm Apple is actively doing to its users and developers:

https://cache.saurik.com/lawsuit/complaint.pdf


I’m a developer too.

“which is GOOD because that's how the web works and how every other general purpose computing platform works”

What’s good is that we have these alternatives.

The web is a shit medium for application delivery and people don’t trust it.

Android is much less trusted for app delivery than iOS because the store is less policed.

Forcing alternative stores on users will erode trust in the platform as well as creating fragmentation, and developers will definitely suffer.

If you don’t like the 30% fee - that can be solved, buy let’s not destroy the only trustworthy app market.


One can just as easily say “Apple doesn’t care about the users, they’re just trying to make money selling phones and getting a bigger cut of transactions that happen on the phone”. These sorts of statements are somewhat true, but ultimately not relevant to law or public policy. In reality you’d find that companies are composed of individuals with a diverse range of motivations.

If you find yourself unable to contemplate that the thousands of people at company X as something other than a unified blob of evil, it might be a useful exercise to seek other perspectives and practice some empathy. It’ll make the world easier to understand.


‘One can just as easily say “Apple doesn’t care about the users, they’re just trying to make money selling phones and getting a bigger cut of transactions that happen on the phone”.’

Yes one can, and one can make a case for that based on the aggregate of the companies behavior and statements of their executives.

If you don’t look at the actual companies, it’s easy to make a false equivalence like this.

In this case actually looking at Facebook’s behavior, incentive structure, and the statements of its executives support the position I have taken.


Looking at the company’s behavior and incentive structure is definitely more relevant than trying to read the tea leaves of motivations.

Facebook’s business is getting paid by companies to help them sell goods and services to consumers. Facebook is claiming that Apple’s changes make it harder for them to do that. Don’t Facebook’s claims match its incentives here?


Your description of Facebook’s business is incomplete.

Facebook’s business is getting paid by companies to help them sell goods and services to consumers by tracking user behavior without consent so that they. can sell targeted ads, and by keeping users engaged with the ad delivery platform by presenting content algorithmically selected to provoke emotional reactions.

Those are the incentives.


You’re just expressing that you have some beef with the company, not making an argument about the lawsuit. You could similarly talk about how Apple depends on sweatshops to increase margins.


Erm, no - nothing I just said is about expressive a beef.

It’s just a description of Facebook’s core business.

If Apple does use ‘sweatshops’, which they clearly do to some extent, that is a marginal part of their business, and not part of their business model at all.

Selling Ads is what Facebook gets paid for. Targetting ads is why they can charge a premium for those ads. Keeping users engaged to content is how they reliably deliver a large volume of ads.

This is their business.


You said:

> by tracking user behavior without consent so that they. can sell targeted ads, and by keeping users engaged with the ad delivery platform by presenting content algorithmically selected to provoke emotional reactions.

Some things in here are the core business model, others are implementation choices that don’t have to be true (like the sweatshops). I don’t think it’s reasonable to say that the lawsuit should fail because they didn’t lead it with a list of complaints people have about the company (not would I expect Apple to include the same in their response).


“others are implementation choices that don’t have to be true”

Are you able to identify one of these implementation choices that don’t have to be true?


Sure, “tracking without consent” is an easy one.


It seems like Zuckerberg disagrees with you on that. He seems to think it is a very important part of their business.

I’d like to believe you are right and it’s just an implementation choice, but Facebook seems very determined to be able to continue the practice.


I expect the lawsuit will be about how Apple is requiring users to opt-in for companies to be able to track ad conversions in some places but not others.

Will require opt-in to track:

Facebook ad conversion to buy an item in Wish’s store

Facebook ad conversion to buy an app from App Store

Won’t require opt-in to track:

Amazon ad conversion to buy an item from a store on Amazon

Apple App Store ad conversion to buy an app from the App Store

Facebook’s proposed remedy might be removing the opt-in requirement, or adding the same requirement uniformly to create a level playing field.


Why would this be relevant if tracking without consent is just an implementation choice?

Why even bother with a lawsuit over it if it’s not an important part of their business?

Wouldn’t they just let users opt-out if the wanted to?

In any case, I think we have established that my characterization of facebook’s business was accurate. They wouldn’t be seeking remedies for something that wasn’t important to them.


Because enough money is at stake to make it worthwhile to pay the lawyers, I’d imagine.

> Wouldn’t they just let users opt-out of the wanted to?

Users already could opt-out. I imagine the lawsuit will be about Apple’s recent changes, which unevenly apply an opt-in requirement that arguably picks winners and losers (see above).

> In any case, I think we have established that my characterization of facebook’s business was accurate. They wouldn’t be seeking remedies for something that wasn’t important to them.

Your claim is that Facebook is trying to mislead people about the lawsuit, and I don’t think you’ve established that at all.


Users can opt-out if they are aware of the option. This this is just about users being made aware that they have the option, and being given the chance to grant consent before the action happens.

There is no argument that I see that Apple’s changes will pick winners or losers.

All it will do is reduce the information available from users who don’t consent to it.


Apple added an opt-in requirement for Facebook’s ad business but not for its own. Users, on average, will stick with the default. How is that not picking winners and losers?


“Apple added an opt-in requirement for Facebook’s ad business but not for its own.”

This is a false statement.

Apple has had opt-ins for all tracking and user data collection for a while now.

Also, it’s not possible to seriously claim that Apple has an advertising platform that competes with Facebook.

It doesn’t.


When you go to Apple’s App Store, you see ads for apps. If you click on an ad and install the app, Apple gets paid for that conversion, and that will happen whether or not you’ve opted into “cross-app tracking”. If you see an ad for the same app on Facebook, Facebook will not get paid for that conversion unless you’ve opted in. The market for ads for apps is worth billions, and Apple put this “cross-app tracking” block in place, which will help them capture that market. By using their privileged position as platform owner and setting the default choice, they’ve taken over by fiat instead of through competition. Sounds like an antitrust case to me.

Up to some point.

But once you are well known for abusing power your own cries when you are on receiving end of abuse kinda loose their power to get me motivated to defend you.

For me it is rather clear case of wrestling between large corporations to see how much they can push the balance of power.

FB was quite happy to be pre installed on many an Android phone and enjoy preferential treatment. I don't remember them crying for equal treatment then and if not being able to uninstall FB from a phone is not a preferential treatment then I don't know what is.

https://time.com/5497200/samsung-facebook-app-delete/


I am heavily on Apple’s side on this. People like my wife and me want a safe, privacy environment and Apple delivers. (I have two Linux laptops for out-of-the-garden use).

Apple does deserve a little criticism for the App Store, but their softening fees for most developers helps. Compared to Facebook (a blight on civilization, IMHO) Apple is couth indeed.


If you want saftey and privacy, don't use Facebook in any form. The App Store does not protect you, the operating system does.


I don’t use Facebook anymore, except that I use it to enjoy my Oculus Quest. I am not ready to have a “burning my Quest” experience, as satisfying as that might feel.


> People like my wife and me want a safe, privacy environment and Apple delivers

I agreed with that and have been an Apple fan for ages, until Apple banned Parler and not Twitter. Now I'm a little jaded on their privacy brand.


> People like my wife and me want a safe, privacy environment and Apple delivers

Yet iOS exploits are cheaper than Android exploits because iOS exploits are so plentiful[1][2] in comparison.

There's no reason you'd have to use anything but Apple's App Store if Apple's monopoly on mobile app distribution was broken.

[1] https://www.theregister.com/2020/05/14/zerodium_ios_flaws/

[2] http://zerodium.com/program.html


There plentiful because some many people where looking at them, because they where so expensive in the past IMO. There are other advantages as well, less device fragmentation makes it a lot easier to sell exploits that work on all phones.

I would not be surprised if over all android phones where less secure. One of the reasons being the device fragmentation.

Apple has also recently taken decent strides to make one of the main 0 click vectors (Messages) harder to exploit with iOS 14.


> People like my wife and me want a safe, privacy environment and Apple delivers.

I’m not sure that Apple persevering privacy also requires them to also break antitrust laws.


People claiming that Apple can do "whatever it wants" are definitely wrong, but in all of the discussion on this article I don't see anything like the following: which current antitrust law is Apple violating with this behavior?

There are a very small number of such laws (Sherman Act, Clayton Act, Celler-Kefauver, Hart-Scott-Rodino, Robinson-Patman, plus three or four others). Someone who wants to make a case that this is a "clear" antitrust violation (definitely the attitude of some in this thread!) should point to which law has been violated. Even better: point to similar case law from earlier decisions. Just arguing that this behavior is "bad" is not going to be that persuasive to a court

You can think Apple is right or wrong on this issue, but to say that the antitrust case against Apple is clear is quite different. Why is it a clear case?


I dislike Facebook and even without using their platform (account was deleted years ago) my PiHole #1 DNS queries are all related to Facebook. They are the cancer of the web.

If I want a moated ecosystem for my smartphone I am happy to have this option with Apple. If I wanted open I can go with any of the Android options. I have a choice.

I do not need Facebook to remove that choice for me in their efforts to violate my privacy further.


Facebook is more popular than iOS, and they maintain a developer platform as well. What kinds of distinctions could they draw which force Apple to open up its platform without also having to open up the Facebook SDK? Should courts force Facebook to allow apps that populate newsfeed?


Indeed. Where is my ability to run my own ad service, payment processor, et cetera through Facebook's servers?


I’m sure Google would love to let users choose whose ad network delivers them ads on Facebook properties. There might even be room for innovation here.


Facebook is more prevalent/ ubiquitous than iOS.

I'm not sure I'd agree it's more popular.


Sure. My question still stands with your framing.


It's a neat question, I wish I had a good answer.


This is a bad faith argument: an operating system is fundamentally different from an application.


Not at all.

What is Apple's monopoly? It is not in Smartphones, they barely have 50% share. Their monopoly is on access to iOS users.

You cannot claim iOS is a monopoly without saying the same thing about Facebook. Facebook has a monopoly on Facebook users.


The word "monopoly" doesn't appear in the article....


Monopoly != Trust


Web browsers are applications where similar arguments apply. Facebook once had thousands of 3rd party applications running on their platform and has steadily removed support for most of them. I’m not asking on behalf of a random weather app; I’m asking on behalf of an application with more users than iOS. I don’t think there’s a universe where Apple removes Facebook from the App Store. At that point, why are you a mere app developer or why should you be treated as such?

As an aside, I’m asking the question very sincerely. I’m always open to more developer platforms - it’s in my professional interest.


As if we needed further proof of exactly what kind of a company Facebook is and what their core business is.


Each time the issue of action to force Apple to open the App Store comes up, I usually mention that Facebook will be the first to open a store.

If Facebook prevails, at the very least every developer and every user will have to deal with both Apple’s store and Facebook’s store.

We know that Facebook will permit apps which do tracking without consent.

This situation is objectively worse for both consumers and developers than what we have now.

It’s also worth pointing out that Facebook would be unaffected, or indeed May even benefit if the overall app marketplace contracted due to erosion of user trust.


Even if FB does open a store, the apps released on it will still be controlled by the OS of the device. So if iOS still says you can't track, you must get permissions for specific access, then that's how it will be. FB has no control over that.


This is just not how it works.

Apple’s rules relies on both controlling the API and the App Store rules, to prevent tracking and other kinds of misuse.

Facebook’s store simply wouldn’t have rules against fingerprinting etc, and of course the Facebook store app itself could issue and manage tracking identifiers.


So you're saying that even if a developer doesn't want to bother with the tracking, the FB store will demand you put stuff in to feed their beast? Again, I still say that the device itself will need to grant an app access to things like GPS, etc. If the user says OK to that request, then whatevs, but the OS will still force the app to request permission.


> So you're saying that even if a developer doesn't want to bother with the tracking, the FB store will demand you put stuff in to feed their beast?

No - why would this conversation have anything to do with developers who don’t want to do tracking?

I’m saying that developers who do want to track users across apps (including anyone who used the Facebook api) would be able to do so without getting user consent. If they couldn’t get an identifier from the OS, they would be able to get one from the store app, so OS based permissions would be irrelevant.

> Again, I still say that the device itself will need to grant an app access to things like GPS, etc. If the user says OK to that request, then whatevs, but the OS will still force the app to request permission.

This is irrelevant to preventing tracking of user behavior across apps without consent which is what Facebook is arguing for.

However you raise a good additional point. An app which asks for GPS to provide a local feature would also be able to sell that data behind the scenes without consent, if the app was sold on a store other than Apple’s.

None of this is good.


> No - why would this conversation have anything to do with developers who don’t want to do tracking?

Because it's FB. Pure and simple. Why would you think for one second that it would be anything different? You want to use/live in the FB environment, you play by their rules. That means using their SDK in all of your things deployed via their environment.

So in this case, it's good for the goose but not the gander when FB slaps terms on their platform, but not when Apple does it on theirs. Yes cart->horse, but you just know it's going that direction.


> That means using their SDK in all of your things deployed via their environment.

I guess that is an even worse possible outcome than I was imagining.


A Facebook store would be an instant flop because it adds nothing of value to the ecosystem. By your logic why aren't they running a successful store on Android?


Facebook makes a bunch of profit right now from selling app install ads.

They would instantly start selling those apps themselves.

They would also instantly start selling apps that collect user data without consent.

Tell me again how that would be a flop?


Dev's taking a 30% slice of revenue is abject absurdity and multiple stores would force competition on this front.


That may be true, but this remedy would still harm both developers and users much more than the 30% does.

Having to support multiple stores will cost small developers much more than it does large ones.

And having to deal with more scammy apps, and the loss of any tracking prevention will be a pure step backwards for users.

Nobody should support this move by Facebook, even if you believe the app market needs reform.

A Facebook App Store is obviously not the solution.

There is actually no reason why the 30% couldn’t just be regulated directly, e.g. in the way that music performance royalties are regulated.


I currently have Steam, Epic Game Store, Origin, Battle.net and GOG Galaxy installed on my Windows PC and I don't seem to be running into the problems you describe. What I have is a lot of choice and a bunch of stores competing for my dollar in really interesting and innovative ways which largely benefit me and, often, the smaller developers.


It’s interesting to look at the cut that these stores take. Some people seem to be under the impression that competition will drive App Store cuts to single figure percentages, but I doubt it.


Why do you think these stores only exist for games?

Why are there not more general app stores for windows?


Because average users use very few apps other than the browser, and maybe an office app, and games.

On desktop media players are largely avoided in favor of Spotify or the like. Traditional instant message desktop software is all but extinct outside of business realm.

Some specialties use more software. Designers use Adobe's stuff. Developers have a lot. Musicians have their own stuff.

But honestly, outside of specialists, gaming is the biggest area, and there you most commonly have Discord, OBS (for streamers), video editing software (for youtubers), the games themselves, and possibly some accessory software for specific specialties (like timer programs for speedrunners). Steam even offers a decent chunk of common paid software gamers might want. The free to download software like Discord often see little point in working with Steam, since the stores offer them little of value. Discoverability is the main thing a store can offer them, but most of them rely on word of mouth instead.

Outside of Games and Development tools/utilities, I honestly can't remember the last piece of desktop software I purchased. Probably Windows, and Office before that. And I have a LOT LOT more software on my PC than the average user.


I think this is going to protect Apple from antitrust lawsuits. Nobody like Facebook in the current government. They certainly won't help Facebook in this case. This is all on top of how absurd and unpopular this lawsuit is to begin with.


Wow. I didn't realize that all we needed to bat back the absurd monopolistic practices of the tech giants was a big tech civil war.

The absurdity is compounded by the fact regulators never had the gumption to hunt the tigers themselves.


It is entirely appropriate to consider Apple's conduct as anti-competitive and/or acting as part of a cartel, without asserting that the appropriate remedy is an injunction allowing Facebook to utilize user's unique device ID's to the benefit of Facebook's ads systems for ad targeting.

In other words, this particular case may help elucidate Apple's dominance/influence on the market, but that does not necessarily mean that the privacy changes in and of themselves are the foundational antitrust issue.


That makes no sense. Apple is guilty for doing the right thing?

If you want to demonstrate market dominance, write a clear definition into the law and enact it.


I'm not addressing guilt, but to your point, it may be but one way to demonstrate their market dominance (even if the consequences are beneficial for consumers).

If you spent illicit funds on a good cause, it can still be used as proof of your control over the funds.

So Apple's position and influence over the market may raise antitrust concerns, but that doesn't mean I don't want privacy protections (I do!).

As an example, a drug dealer can give money to their community and while it's going towards a good cause, that doesn't change who/how they are donating. Companies can have similar conduct in hopes that an enforcement action would be perceived as harming the consumer/retail investors.


Besides payments, this is essentially over Apple's privacy demands isn't it?

If so, I sincerely hope that Facebook loses.


All of this presupposes the current flavor of programatic advertising is something worth protecting. IMO, the cost of the current targeting methods -factoring in the actors and practices of the attached data economy- is simply not worth it. Not even close. I applaud Apple's intentions, but I’m afraid they’ve made a tactical error that will only serve to cement bad practices at the end of all the lawsuits and government inquiries. Fingers crossed.


Let Facebook and Apple fight to educate the masses on their bullshit - while hopefully one or more strong competitors start scaling?


I still don't understand is Apple conservative about AppStore because of security reasons or like Zuck said they prefer their own apps and services. I mean if Google open sourced Android why wouldn't Apple ease their AppStore policies?


Apple sees privacy as a marketable point of differentiation to its competitors. I for one appreciate that Apple’s approach is a choice available to me as a consumer.

Meanwhile, the arc of Google’s Android platform has been steadily bending away from open source, not towards it.


I understand that privacy is point of differentiation but on Android you can still load any .apk file on any Android device on iOS devices not so much.


You can install any .ipa on a iOS device you just need to jump through a bunch of hoops to get it onto your device signed in a way that will make it valid.


Can I do this without MacOS?


As long as you have an existing developer certificate or jailbreak the phone you can. You could use something like isign. https://github.com/sauce-archives/isign

Or altstore https://altstore.io/ which is literally a locally run alternative App Store.


Effective privacy protection means that app developers need strong incentives to follow strict rules. I for one appreciate that Apple’s approach of enforcing strict rules is a choice available to me as a consumer.


Apple is all about power and control over their users. The security schtick is a smokescreen


There was a story; when Google+ was released, Zuckerberg started saying “Carthage must fall”, seeing it as an existential threat to Facebook in the same way as Cato saw Carthage as an existential threat to the Roman Republic.

If that story was true about Google+, he’s probably saying something similar about Apple today.

Given what happened in DC a few weeks ago, given what happened in Myanmar since late 2016, given that what FB is suing to prevent is a thing which I read as legally required for operation in the EU (GDPR requires genuine opt-in IIUC), given the monopolistic behaviour FB is demonstrating with Oculus and other purchases?

Facebook delenda est.


All power to Facebook!

I can (and do) block Facebook and be almost not affected with what they do, but iPhones as part of a duopoly cannot be avoided. I like and use Apple hardware but hope that Facebook and Epic rip them into pieces. It's completely inacceptable that a single company holds the sole power to access such a widespread platform. There needs to be a side-loading choice and alternative app stores.


> It's completely inacceptable that a single company holds the sole power to access such a widespread platform.

Why? What about Apple's practice is unacceptable?

What is the difference between Apple's behavior and how Nintendo or Sony run their platforms?

Personally, I do not want another store outside of Apple's because I value the review process. Compare Apple's app store to the Microsoft Windows Store. The relative quality of apps on Apple's store is significantly higher than on Windows Store.


> Personally, I do not want another store outside of Apple's because I value the review process.

Then feel free to not install apps from different stores?

And let everyone else choose to use those other stores, on their own phone, if they choose to do so.


It's not this simple, and security isn't about an individuals choice. It is about ecosystem security. The platform is considered secure because folks can't (easily) install malware from sketchy app stores. With an iphone talking to another iphone, one can be more confident that the other parties device is not compromised by garden variety trojanized apps, etc.


Ok, then you should be given an option on your phone which says "do not jail break my phone".

And you should be free to keep the "don't jailbreak my phone" option on, and other people, who know the risks, should be free to switch that off.

Put a scary warning on it if you like. Problem solved.

Everyone gets what they want.


I thought the platform was considered secure because Apple is good at making a secure OS with working sandboxes. Their app moderation is bad enough that I would not want to rely on app store policy alone.


You'd be free to keep using the Apple App Store. Nothing would change for you. You can still value their review process. You don't need to ban everyone else's choice to use a different app store for you to keep enjoying the Apple App store

As for Sony and Nintendo, 3 wrongs don't make a right.


Any chances of having juicy revelations like those we had with Apple v.s. Samsung? I loved the early prototypes and Samsung "Apple did this, we did this, fix it to make ours the way Apple is" documents that came out as evidence in the court.


I just want to be able to build an app and put it on my phone, which I supposedly own, without having to jump through any of Apple's hoops.

Is this lawsuit going to help me in any way?


Depending on what you mean by "jump through any of Apple's hoops", you can already do this.


Yeah for a whole 7 days!


Makes sense that Facebook would fight anything that helps people realize how many ways they track and manipulate users.


Wow. People in glass houses...


Yes, this is great for my specific use case.


Facebook is fighting the good fight for evil reasons. They complain that Apple's restrictions on apps are not applied to their own apps, given them an unfair advantage and also preventing people from developing real QoL improving apps for iPhones. That sounds reasonable. But then the stated reason is that Facebook wants to be able to better track what people are doing with their phones, so now I want both sides to lose.


Let's not forget, that Facebook also owns its own platform. And Facebook has long tradition of doing basically the hell they want with it including whatever they want with user data, offering products aimed at influencing election results, building products to compete with existing businesses on their platform and then deplatforming competitors, etc.


Yes, it would be deliciously ironic if Facebook won the case and was then forced to abide by the same mandate of openness.


Apple apps don’t do what Apple is restricting other developers from doing here, so any claim that these restrictions aren’t applied to their own apps is moot.


So who do I root for ...?


>the iPhone-maker abused its power in the smartphone market by forcing app developers to abide by App Store rules that Apple’s own apps don’t have to follow

Yeah... So?


That could be seen as abusing their monopoly. Judges tend to take a dim view of that.


First Apple needs to be found to have a monopoly.


No, it doesn't. Colloquial definitions of monopoly do not matter when it comes to antitrust laws[1]:

> Courts do not require a literal monopoly before applying rules for single firm conduct; that term is used as shorthand for a firm with significant and durable market power — that is, the long term ability to raise price or exclude competitors. That is how that term is used here: a "monopolist" is a firm with significant and durable market power.

[1] https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/competition-guidance/guide-a...


Didn't Apple fans happily report that Apple collects 120% of all mobile profits?

That majority of phones sold in US are iPhones? That Apple market share became majority last year in US?


I'm not saying it is or isn't, just that arguing Apple really is a monopoly is going to be a large part of Facebook's case.


Second, consumer harm needs to be proven.


Where is the consumer harm in not allowing Facebook to track users between apps?


Apple does not have a monopoly any more than Ford or Toyota do.


Using your analogy, Ford/Toyota would own the roads. IANAL but this strikes me a lot like the lawsuits Microsoft was being slapped with in the 90s/2000s[1].

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Corp._v._Commissio...


Microsoft had a dominant market share within the computing industry.

At one point it was as high as 95%. Apple is not remotely close to that.


Er, no. Using my analogy T-Mobile et al own the roads.


Facebook: “Your honor, Apple implemented a prompt to ask people whether they want 3rd parties to track them, using their own data.”

Judge: “Case closed.”


Well, it can be more like "Your honor, Apple demanded that all their competitors implement a prompt to ask people whether they want tracking, but their own tracking is hidden under "System services" [macOS] or under another separate, by default enabled, switch [iOS].

They also demand that our Messenger discloses list of collected data, while apple's iMessage messenger does not disclose the data collected by Apple corporation as part of their iCloud service suite."

Facebook is a scummy company. But Apple is hiding their own tracking under default opt-in switches and using double standards as well. It's funny that their own apps don't disclose all the data that iCloud collects and uses for basic functionality like messaging.

Having BOTH corporations honestly disclose what they collect would be the biggest win for us.


Except Apple does provide very detailed information about the sorts of data it collects, why it collects it, and how it uses it.

https://www.apple.com/privacy/

Its bundled apps do not track users across the internet, which is the crux of Facebook’s issue.

Just because Apple’s bundled apps aren’t on the App Store and don’t have the same nutrition facts scorecard it doesn’t mean that they aren’t communicating their approach to privacy loudly and in detail elsewhere.


The question is - is that shown next to iMessage with the exactly same dialog and messaging as for all their competing apps? Same UI location? Are Apple's first party apps treated the same as their competitors?

Because there's a difference between a big in-your-face popup and a website far away from the device actually running iMessage.


Signal also doesn’t track your activity across the web and thus does not get any big in-your-face popup. You can also go to Signal’s website to read additional information about why that’s the case.

Apple isn’t really giving themselves a special dispensation here. Giving users additional information about how Facebook messenger (and others) are doing things that most users don’t expect is a service.


I think a better analogy to illustrate izacus’ point would be:

"""The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread."""

Apple have defined the rules, the rules which Apple have defined mean that Apple apps do not look scary while Facebook’s do.

Are those rules fair?

I happen to think “probably yes”, yet I am prepared to be incorrect.


Apple specifically details what data is collected under the "About iMessage and FaceTime & Privacy" link within the Messages preferences.

And their description listed under the Privacy section, "The Apple advertising platform does not track you" couldn't be more clear.

Maybe you can outline exactly how Apple is tracking you ?


> Apple specifically details what data is collected under the "About iMessage and FaceTime & Privacy" link within the Messages preferences.

So does Facebook. But Apple then demanded that everyone except them shows a big disclosure popup in AppStore which doesn't appear for their apps since they're preinstalled.

> And their description listed under the Privacy section, "The Apple advertising platform does not track you" couldn't be more clear.

Note the weasel phrase "Advertising platform". Remember, Apple keeps all of our private data, messages and even locations stored on their servers. Well, at least from most of us that use iCloud.


> Note the weasel phrase "Advertising platform". Remember, Apple keeps all of our private data, messages and even locations stored on their servers. Well, at least from most of us that use iCloud.

Isn't all this private data encrypted with the user keys?

That's the impression I have gotten at least and I hope I'm not wrong.


The world doesn't revolve around Facebook.

Almost every single app on the store doesn't have a comprehensive Privacy section. And so enforcing this on behalf of users is a very positive and important step.

And yes in order to offer backups, have a cloud-based Messages service and offer features like Find My they will need to collect data.

But all of that can be switched off and Location Services for example is opt-in by default.


> The world doesn't revolve around Facebook.

Well said. However, if you are a business owner today who wants to be able to put out their app to half their customer base, your world does revolve around Apple, which is what those of us who don't agree with the way Apple runs its App Store hegemony don't want to happen.


“But Apple is hiding their own tracking under default opt-in switches and using double standards as well.”

This is, as far as I can tell, completely false.

Apple has been asking for explicit opt-ins for years, and is only now requiring apps to follow suit.


This is the difference. Apple is explicitly opt-in. (In fact, a very large number of people opt-out of Apple's as soon as they get the prompt.) The non-Apple ones are completely opaque to the user.

They should all be opt-in.


That's not the case on my macOS MacBook or my iPad.


If you do a clean install, you’ll find that you are asked to opt-in to all the services that collect personal data.

You may not remember it, and I think that some of the opt-ins persist across device restores, but all the data collection is through explicit opt-ins.


You were asked on every single OS update whether or not you wanted to share usage and crash data with Apple and third party developers.

And it is opt-in.


This feels like false equivalency. Sure, it would be great if consumers had better visibility into how data is used, but one company is an ads company where the users are the product and the other sells hardware and services.


When it comes to antitrust for platforms, equivalency is exactly what's being tested. That is: are 3rd party applications treated the same as 1st party ones?


No it doesn't. Antitrust comes down to if there's harm to the consumer from the behavior of the company. If Apple's tracking is sufficiently different than Facebooks (because one is a hardware and services company collecting data to improve the hardware and services and the other is selling the data for ads), then it's a false equivalency to group them together.


In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, that is how antitrust has been treated in US law, yes. But the law, including this definition of antitrust, is socially constructed, which means it can be changed.


Bullshit. When you setup a new iPhone there’s a step where you’re asked whether you want to share data with Apple.


Apple doesn’t sell user data, totally different than Facebook.


They "sell" user data in exactly the same way, just on smaller scale. They have ads in appstore, that are based on your behavior.


You say that, but everything I have seen mentions that Apple does not track users. The recommendations in the App Store depend only on other apps you have bought already, which does not imply tracking across different apps, which is what Facebook is whining about.

If you have a proof that they behave otherwise, that would be useful, but as things are you cannot just write a sentence like that without any supporting evidence.


Parent comment wasn't about Facebook collecting data from different apps, just about "selling" user data. Both Apple and Facebook do it.

Facebook doesn't sell you data of people, they sell you ability to have people interact with your ads. Apple doesn't sell you data of the people, they sell you ability to have people download your apps.


> they sell you ability to have people download your apps.

How do you construct that as “selling user data”? Does my local farmers’ market sell my data because I can go there and buy some food every week? This “both sides” argument is just as wrong as when it is used in other contexts.


I get FB's argument, but I have little sympathy. Apple doesn't sell user data unlike FB.


if apple does similar tracking themselves, but don't allow third parties, then FB might actually have a case there...


They don’t


Source?


It’s widely known that Apple asks for an opt-in explicitly for user data collection.

It doesn’t require a ‘source’ to check this.

If you have a source showing that they are doing tracking without consent, that would be relevant, and would indeed favor facebook’s case.


None of their apps use data for tracking according to their nutrition labels.


Anymore I just opt out of the game.

I don't use any Apple tech.

I don't use Facebook.

I don't use Amazon.


Sounds great. Let's break up Facebook AND unbundle the iOS app store.


Apple are a private company and can do whatever they want...


Why is hacker news full to the brim with this exact comment? This is a flawed worldview. Private companies cannot do whatever they want. When they are as big and their reach is as far as Apple's they have a further responsibility to society. What that is exactly can be decided in court, but the limit to their power isn't "whatever they want".


Well established legal principles - ones old enough to be in Latin. "Nullum crimen sine lege" or "no punishment without law". Despite prevalent feelings of how it should be there needs to be an actual law broken to say they can't do that. Being a jerk isn't a crime.

Anything isn't literally correct - if Apple decided and openly "we don't serve Jews" they would rightfully get in big legal trouble from several fronts from Civil Rights to shareholder lawsuits angry about the needless illegal mess they just made. But if there is no law it really is against them.

Responsibility to society is a dangerously vague term and not backed by force of law for reason. Laws may fall under that as a label such as legally defined minimum of taxes but so do any number of potentially mutually exclusive opinions.

I have yet to see a coherent proposal for defining a remotely popular new law to restrict undesired behaviors - let alone one that would be constitutional as well.


I’d like to see Facebook’s ‘responsibility to society’ examined first.


I was being contrarian hoping that someone posted the gold that was the person you replied to. The irony in that comment is incredible!


I aim to please. Now tell me: what about my comment is wrong?


We can examine both at the same time. You don't have to defend Apples practices just because Facebook is worse.


I completely agree with this and didn't mean to imply otherwise.


A very original take on this situation.


The rallying cry of the apocalypse


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