tenthousandthings

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tenthousandthings
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  • 'Fortnite' not coming back to iOS or Mac any time soon

    Sweeney is conveniently omitting the key difference between then and now. Back then, when Apple said Epic was welcome back, it would have been under the terms of the previous contract. 

    Now, however, Epic wants to have its cake and eat it too. It wants back onto the iOS App Store with the app that it broke the previous contract with.

    The court explicitly told Apple it doesn’t have to do that, ever, so Epic should probably be pleased Apple says they will allow them to come back when the appeal is exhausted, which is better than, you know, never.

    It’s also worth noting that Apple will be able to work out the details of how to implement the ruling without Epic’s meddling, at least not directly. Instead, Epic’s (i.e., Unreal Engine’s) customers will be the ones working with Apple to figure this out. 
    watto_cobra
  • Apple not a monopoly but must allow alternate payment methods for apps, judge rules

    tht said:
    "Ultimately, after evaluating the trial evidence, the Court finds that the relevant market here is digital mobile gaming transactions, not gaming generally and not Apple's own internal operating systems related to the App Store. The mobile gaming market itself is a $100 billion industry. The size of this market explains Epic Games' motive in bringing this action. Having penetrated all other video game markets, the mobile gaming market was Epic Games' next target and it views Apple as an impediment."
    The key is the dual clause after the finding, "not gaming generally and not Apple's own internal operating systems related to the App Store" -- the first was Apple's position, the second was Epic's position. But let's be clear -- the judge isn't splitting the difference here, or seeking common ground (there was none). No, she is simply narrowing the scope of the ruling. I think she finds this "relevant market" as a highly problematic one, and this ruling should be seen as an invitation to legislators (and Apple itself, though I don't think the judge sees Apple as being innocent, she sees Apple as happily profiting from it) to rein in this sort of predatory impulse spending.

    The final sentence above, in which the judge says the mobile gaming market (i.e., the "relevant market" in this case) is Epic's "next target," seems targeted at the future, as mobile gaming evolves on all the relevant market platforms. That sentence is aimed beyond Apple and iOS, basically telling Epic that this ruling applies to all other "digital mobile gaming transactions" platforms as well. 
    No, I definitely mean pathological, not that it was hard to follow. The Court had to define a market and obsessively define a market they did, with decisions that strain credibility.

    They really should have just said the market is the iOS and Android gaming market, or iOS and Android App Store market, or a more neutral "touchscreen" gaming market because that's what they essentially defined. Using the name of a company or a brand name to define the market obviously makes it too suspect. "Digital mobile games transactions" market is word salad. Just call it what it is.

    They used the word "mobile", yet declined to include the Nintendo Switch or the game streamer platforms because they were too new. The Switch came out in 2017 the same year Fortnite came out, the driver of this judicial action. They also said it was logical to include the Switch, but neither company provided Nintendo or Switch data, so they couldn't include it. In the market share determination, they said including prospective Switch data would lower Apple's market share, but not lower than 30% (Sherman antitrust value for having "market" power), so it was ok. That only implies they were number shopping to me, not that it was ok to do so.

    Speaking of the market share determination section itself, it was was just plain bad. They didn't compute market share. They computed, if you can call it that, revenue share and then called it market share. Since this was for the USA, maybe if they computed unit share or shared of the installed base, it would come out the same since the USA is close to a 50:50 split for iOS and Android, but we've seen the survey results ad infinitum. iOS users spend more than Android users. There are reasons why that have nothing to do with "transactions". Then, the game streaming platforms are about to turn the gaming market upside down, where the game streaming platform owners could take all of the App Store platform's game money. Similar to that, web apps aren't that far behind either. 

    I basically lit up when I read how the Court defined the market. Why should I trust the Court's judgement if they knowingly exclude data, facts, and circumstances? In a way, it was good for Apple as the market definition tilted largely against Apple in this case, tilted towards increasing Apple's "market share" of the defined market, and they came out not having a monopoly, but I definitely expect more exactitude from the Court's analysis, so obviously disappointed with that.

    Then, what the heck is a "transactions" market? I probably missed where it is defined. Is it who moves the money? Is it agreements between developers and the platform owners? Is it how money is spent? Most of the Court's determinations of Apple's monopoly status was based on Apple's revenue share or "market share" between Android and iOS. That's just the iOS and Android gaming market. The how people buy things is interesting too, but subject for a different post.

    I don't think this ruling is an invitation to legislatures to do something. It's an extrapolation too far for me. If it was, the Court should just say it, rather than leaving it up to people to interpret.
    I think it only makes sense if you parse it as “gaming transactions,” meaning in-app purchases in games. Loot boxes or whatever. Llama piñatas. The “mobile” modifies that whole phrase. It’s not “mobile gaming” followed by “transactions” — rather it’s “mobile” followed by “gaming transactions.” 

    I don’t know why “digital” needed to be spelled out, but I imagine there’s some arcane legal reason for that. 

    Regardless, and setting aside my own speculation about the judge’s motives, I don’t see what is so pathological, whatever you mean by that. I do think the judge sees accurately this market is what Epic wants control of, or else they will take their marbles and go home. Sweeney’s reaction to this ruling just confirms that.
    watto_cobra
  • Apple not a monopoly but must allow alternate payment methods for apps, judge rules

    tht said:
    [...]
    2. The market construction from Judge Gonzales' court is pathological, references regarding its size is incorrect, and basically provided no line of causation to anything pertaining to the Court's ruling. The "digital mobile games transactions" market as described was really just poorly reasoned. If you need 3 adjectives to describe it, you are already in a deep hole. While you may think it is reasonable sounding, the document further narrowed the market definition to exclude the Nintendo Switch and exclude China. So, only Android and iOS, and not including China where surely they have a huge chunk of game paying customers. Moreover, they excluded upcoming game streaming models, and readily admitted the market is in a state of flux because of it. Then they refer it to be a $100b market. They describe it as a "transactions" market. That means payment processing to me. If so, that means the revenue for this market is somewhere between 1% to 3% of the 100b revenue number. Ie, $1b to $3b. That's the current size of the market, not $100b which is the amount of money that the payment processor transacts, not the actual value of the market. As far as I can tell, this market definition didn't have anything to do with the Court's judgments, and so, I'm unclear on what this had to do with anything.

    3. Epic definitively lost their gambit, as currently written in the judgment. What it was trying to get was 100% share of the impulse spenders, who comprise 90% of the money spent on games. The document went through the usual discovery where they found out that the games market is dominated by just a few big spenders. Not a surprise as is this is true in a huge tracts of human endeavors. The remedy is a link which provides sufficient friction to stop enough impulse buyers from buying $100 of digital game currency every few days. If a player has to stop a game, go to a website and push a buy button, that's 1 step too many and they'd have to pay Amazon for the 1-click buy button patent if Amazon so chooses to enforce it. So, no Epic Games Store, no built buy button in the game, and likely having to include Apple's payment methods in addition to theirs, if Apple lets them back in the App Store.
    [...]
    I don't think the market construction language is so terribly hard to follow, at least in the opening statement. Here is the whole paragraph, FTA:
    "Ultimately, after evaluating the trial evidence, the Court finds that the relevant market here is digital mobile gaming transactions, not gaming generally and not Apple's own internal operating systems related to the App Store. The mobile gaming market itself is a $100 billion industry. The size of this market explains Epic Games' motive in bringing this action. Having penetrated all other video game markets, the mobile gaming market was Epic Games' next target and it views Apple as an impediment."
    The key is the dual clause after the finding, "not gaming generally and not Apple's own internal operating systems related to the App Store" -- the first was Apple's position, the second was Epic's position. But let's be clear -- the judge isn't splitting the difference here, or seeking common ground (there was none). No, she is simply narrowing the scope of the ruling. I think she finds this "relevant market" as a highly problematic one, and this ruling should be seen as an invitation to legislators (and Apple itself, though I don't think the judge sees Apple as being innocent, she sees Apple as happily profiting from it) to rein in this sort of predatory impulse spending.

    The final sentence above, in which the judge says the mobile gaming market (i.e., the "relevant market" in this case) is Epic's "next target," seems targeted at the future, as mobile gaming evolves on all the relevant market platforms. That sentence is aimed beyond Apple and iOS, basically telling Epic that this ruling applies to all other "digital mobile gaming transactions" platforms as well. 
    watto_cobra
  • Apple not a monopoly but must allow alternate payment methods for apps, judge rules

    Bosa said:

    the payment thing will not matter , 90 percent of developers will stay same because the cost of collecting your own payments will be much more of what Apple charges 
    Yeah, that math checks out. Stripe for example is 2.9% + 30 cents per successful charge. Apple charges 15-30%. lol
    Bosa’s comment is dumb, but it’s ultimately correct, because Apple isn’t going to just sit there and take it. They are going to get paid. Epic, and anyone else trying to avoid the App Store fees, which support the platform, isn’t going to be able to use it for free. If Epic wants to lose money by circumventing the App Store payment/fee system in order to collect data on their customers, they’re welcome to do so. But let’s get real — if they do so, Apple can expose them for the predators that they are. The judge commented on this in the trial. Competition works both ways.

    I’ve been drinking, so I’m not going to reread the revised article right now, but I gather Mike and Malcolm have been working on it.
    watto_cobra
  • Apple not a monopoly but must allow alternate payment methods for apps, judge rules

    The devil will be in the details here, so we’ll see, but this ruling dovetails nicely with the new South Korean anti-steering law that is in the works. It formalizes something Apple is going to have to do anyway because of laws like the one in South Korea. Like that law, this ruling doesn’t say Apple doesn’t have a right to extract payment from Epic for using its platform. Somehow I’m not worried about Apple figuring out how to do that. There’s a reason Epic is appealing this, and not Apple.

    I am flabbergasted there are people commenting on here who think the App Store cut is only for payment-processing. You’d think folks would stop for a second and think, “No, that can’t be right,” but they don’t. Yes, it’s not surprising given the times we live in, but I still find it to be — what’s the right word? — incredible.
    spock1234radarthekatkillroyroundaboutnown2itivguywatto_cobra