The Cheaper-Alternative Edition Monday, March 4, 2024

Apple Hit With First Ever EU Fine Following Spotify Complaint, by Jon Porter and Jess Weatherbed, The Verge

In a press release on Monday, the EU Commission said its investigation found that “Apple bans music streaming app developers from fully informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services available outside of the app,” in addition to preventing app providers from sharing instructions on how to subscribe to such offers.

“For a decade, Apple abused its dominant position in the market for the distribution of music streaming apps through the App Store,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy. “They did so by restricting developers from informing consumers about alternative, cheaper music services available outside of the Apple ecosystem. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules, so today we have fined Apple over €1.8 billion.”

Apple Hit With €1.8bn Fine For Breaking EU Law Over Music Streaming, by Javier Espinoza, Financial Times

Apple said it would appeal against the decision, signalling years of legal fights in EU courts.

It said the commission had reached its decision despite failing to “uncover any credible evidence of consumer harm”, adding that Brussels’ reasoning “ignores the realities of a market that is thriving, competitive, and growing fast”.

The App Store, Spotify, And Europe’s Thriving Digital Music Market, by Apple

It takes continuous effort and a lot of investment for Apple to make the tools, the technology, and the marketplace that Spotify uses every day. We’ve even flown our engineers to Stockholm to help Spotify’s teams in person. And the result is that when a user opens the Spotify app, listens to music on their commute, or asks Siri to play a song from their library, everything just works. And again — Spotify pays Apple nothing.


Instead, Spotify wants to bend the rules in their favor by embedding subscription prices in their app without using the App Store’s In-App Purchase system. They want to use Apple’s tools and technologies, distribute on the App Store, and benefit from the trust we’ve built with users — and to pay Apple nothing for it.

In short, Spotify wants more.

Wrong Horse

Why Was Apple Car Canceled? The Hubris In Apple Thinking It Could Outdo Tesla, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

According to someone involved in the decision making, it was as if Apple had tried to skip all the early iPhone models and jump right to the iPhone X. Instead of just planting a flag in the ground with a good-enough car (with an Apple user interface, slick Jony Ive-designed interior and exterior, and an iPhone-like buying experience), the company bet everything on the wrong horse: autonomy.

There were other major problems as well. That includes the project’s cost and the inevitably hefty price tag for consumers, as well as the razor-thin (or nonexistent) profit margins that a car might ultimately yield. All of this was compounded by indecisiveness among Apple’s executive team and the inherent production challenges in manufacturing a car. But ultimately it was the hubris that cursed the effort.

Crash Of The Titan: A Short History Of Apple’s Doomed Car Project, by Wes Davis, The Verge

Project Titan was obvious from the outside — from automotive industry hiring to heavily documented, public testing of self-driving cars, there was no way it could stay a secret. But the company still tried to preserve the mystery — when CEO Tim Cook was asked about the project on an investor call in 2016, he responded with cryptic talk about how exciting Christmas Eve is, adding that “it’s going to be Christmas Eve for a while.”


Bookish Diversions: Do Audiobooks Count?, by Joel J Miller, Miller's Book Review

But what about the other digital device that debuted in 2007? That’s the year Steve Jobs first held the iPhone aloft for the world to see. Not only have the iPhone and other smartphones bolstered the distribution of ebooks, thanks to a range of ebook apps, but they’ve also led to the explosion of audiobook sales.

Pedal To The Metal, by Matt Birchler, Birchtree

So should Apple put the pedal to the metal and iterate as quickly as they can on the Vision Pro hardware? Absolutely. They need to keep their edge over the competition, and they need to iron out the technical limitations that the current model has quickly to make this a more compelling device for the masses. Apple history dictates that the first generation of new product lines actually age poorer than the models that follow (Watch Series 0 and the first iPad really spring to mind here), and I see no reason why that won’t be the case again here. Expect the next Vision Pro in 2025, and expect it to make some real strides over what we have today.

Banks Call For Crackdown On Apple Over Claims It Stockpiles British Spending Data, by James Titcomb, The Telegraph

Major banks have called for a crackdown on Apple over claims the tech giant’s access to millions of iPhone users’ transactions will give it an unfair advantage as it pushes further into financial services.


Last year, Apple began allowing iPhone users to see their bank account transactions and balances through the Wallet app, taking advantage of the open banking protocol pushed through by regulators that allows bank accounts to be linked to other apps.

Apple Is Right Not To Rush Headlong Into Generative AI, by The Economist

Yet you do not have to be a true believer to see why Apple may be right to take its time. First, there will be more to gen AI than chatbots. They appear to be a revolutionary technology. But so far they are just a better (and accident-prone) way of putting in a query and getting an answer. That is not Apple’s forte. “They are features, not products,” as Horace Dediu, an expert on Apple, puts it. Nor does Apple compete with other tech giants, such as Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet, to run cloud-computing platforms with large language models (LLMs) on which other firms can build gen-AI apps. Instead of relying on cloud services, it seems to be working on ways to embed gen AI in its own devices, bolstering its ecosystem. Since 2017 it has been using homemade chip technology called neural engines to handle machine-learning and AI functions that its gadgets use behind the scenes.

Bottom of the Page

I'm not sure if Apple was ever interested in making EV cars. What had gotten Apple excited, instead, was the self-driving technology. The electric-powered aspect was just what was expected for all carmakers.

Asking Apple to first figure out how to make an electric car without self-driving will probably result in something that isn't good. It will just be like many of Apple other products where you can straightaway tell Apple's heart isn't in them.


Thanks for reading.