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Big Revolution - Spotify surfs the anti-tech wave

Welcome to Thursday's Big Revolution. Today I'm keping up with my workload by juggling clients, but n
March 14 · Issue #371 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Thursday’s Big Revolution. Today I’m keping up with my workload by juggling clients, but not literally – that would be very bad for my back.
– Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Meanwhile, Facebook has now recovered from its most severe outage ever. Users in many parts of the world found the company’s services inaccessible for up to 14 hours. No word on what caused the issue, but it affected Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and even Oculus to varying degrees.
  • Google has released the next big version of Android as a developer preview. If you’re brave and have a Pixel phone, you can install it. It’s probably worth waiting unless you make Android apps, though.
The big thought
Artwork from Spotify's anti-Apple website.
Spotify surfs the anti-tech wave
Spotify has a big problem with Apple. In fact is has many problems with Apple.
Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek wrote in a blog post:
“In recent years, Apple has introduced rules to the App Store that purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience—essentially acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers.”
As a result of this, Spotify has now filed a complaint with the European Commission.
To get the public on side, Spotify has launched, which includes a timeline of all the ways Apple has annoyed the company with its behaviour.
At the core of the issue is the 30% fee Apple takes from all sales of subscriptions and digital goods through iOS apps. Spotify isn’t alone in thinking this is unfair. Over Christmas, Netflix stopped allowing users to begin subscriptions in its iOS app, instead kicking them out to a web browser. Spotify also does this, but it suffers a serious hit in the user convenience it can offer as a result.
Meanwhile, Apple’s own streaming music service Apple Music is incredibly easy to sign up for on iOS, and at a price Spotify simply couldn’t justify on iOS without losing 30% of every subscription fee. The case that Apple is abusing its position is pretty clear. If Elizabeth Warren wanted an ally in her quest to break up the big tech companies, it appears Daniel Ek would be happy to play that role.
Some argue that Apple is doing nothing wrong, and that if you play Apple’s game you have to play by its rules. But to see this as being about Spotify being too cheap to pay a 30% fee is to miss the point.
Given the smartphone market is essentially divided into two ecosystems, and Apple has a tight control over one of them, the argument that it is impeding consumer choice is pretty clear.
Spotify has timed this campaign perfectly to chime with a narrative of increased criticism of tech giants (even if, as a publicly traded tech company that leads in global music streaming, Spotify has issues of its own around its treatment of the music market).
And the European Commission isn’t afraid to dive into antitrust investigations with gusto. Some real good for consumers could come out of this spat.
One big read
Facebook Can Make VR Avatars Look—and Move—Exactly Like You Facebook Can Make VR Avatars Look—and Move—Exactly Like You
Facebook is working on ultra-realistic 3D versions of users that can be used inside VR apps. The tech is apparently years from completion, but this shows where VR is going, and also where ‘deepfakes’ and misinformation could be going.
That’s all for today...
Don’t forget our live online class about how startups can build strong, consistent messaging around their products. It takes place on 26 March, and you’ll also get access to a recording to listen back to at your leisure. It costs $249, and you can sign up here. If it’s not for you, tell a tech entrepreneur who can benefit from it!
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