Tech Antitrust

Thought this was worth its own thread as it’s relevant to pretty much every Tech giant (except strangely, Microsoft).

Looks like WhatsApp are pushing ahead with the privacy policy changes after the short recess and have gone with the stick to make users agree.

The media coverage on the Australian News Media Bargaining Code has been farcical, with every outlet taking potshots and Facebook and Google.

From what I can see the law is a joke. Big media companies have crappy business models and so (with Government approval) have arranged a shakedown of Google and Facebook. What seemingly goes unsaid is that they rely on said traffic to keep their business going but somehow feel they should be paid for this support?


Does that analysis include the actual physical news gathering and content generation?

Tim Berners-Lee must be suicidal, watching everyone slumped in the rancid corner of world wide web that is Facebook. It’s like going on a world tour and just sitting in the hotel every day watching the travel channel.


If they can’t afford to pay for it then yes.

The web has obviously hurt News orgs. They no longer enjoy natural local monpolies and have to compete for attention on the web with every other thing that warrants user attention. But how many have actually tried to really change their business model to adapt to this new world?

It’s interesting that the best coverage I’ve seen on this comes from the NYT, who coincidentally have a coherent strategy and are thriving.

I’'m not too sure how chuffed he’d be about charging for links either.


I’m fairly sure Facebook is everything he hates about how people use the web, and wish it would die.

The point is, news organisation can’t afford to pay for it because Facebook and Google get 87% of the ad revenue generated by people reading the news, just by republishing it. Who will write the news if news organisations go bust? Not Facebook and Google.

(I’m talking about proper, BBC-type news, not Buzzfeed shite where an intern vomits up ‘You’ll never believe the 50 gifs we lolled at during the last 10 years of X Factor’ clickbait.)


Boohoo. There are countless examples of industries being disrupted by the internet. But are successful companies expected to subsidise the duffers. Should Netflix be paying Blockbuster or ASOS coughing up to Debenhams?

Do Google and Facebook actually republish the news? As far as I can see they are huge sources of page views for news sites, who obviously don’t do a good enough job of attracting readers directly so have to rely on search and social media instead.

How news should be funded is a completely valid question. But this law doesn’t address it. This is literally just a transfer of profits from Google to News Corp shareholders (and other news giants). Small outlets are SOOL and there are no restrictions at all on having to spend the money on journalism.

It’s not an actual news tax (which I’m not against), paid to the government for redistribution. It’s Rupert Murdoch shaking down Google and Facebook. There’s nothing noble going on.

And just to make it really clear that this has nothing to do with news, Google have somehow sidestepped the actual legislation by making private deals.


Which makes it all more curious that Buzzfeed News was actually pretty good, but got rather too expensive for them to keep up


The whole mess is a strong argument for proper taxation

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What’s SOOL?

Shit out of luck I believe.


This feels a bit dubious. If your app features “obvious” functionality that makes sense for the OS to include, you should expect to be Sherlocked at some point. Without the Diversity angle would this make any sort of shockwave?



And certainly, morals/ethics aside, I can’t see any angle where she wins in copyright law.


Great feature for switchers. Great feature to demonstrate how easy it is for users to switch. Win win!

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Agreed! Shame it’s not so easy to do the other way around! A few of my friends feel trapped in Google photos. It feels much harder to escape Google’s services than it does Apple’s, but I presume that’s by design.

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Yep. I want to get my pre-iPhone photos transferred in and can’t be bothered to put in the work.

Have they not heard of Google Takeout?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that this directly transfers data into Google
Photos without any work involved. But Google have pretty much been the leaders at giving you the ability to get at your data.

To be fair, with the amount they collect, they bloody well should!

Ultimately, it’s not the data that provides the stickiness. It’s the entirety of the ecosystem you’ve bought into.

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Ah, that broken piece of software that exists purely so they can say they give people a way out, except, not really.

Tried it, it doesn’t work. Its slow, error prone, and messes with the metadata. So they’re locked into paying Google £2 a month after being lured by free unlimited storage, when 79p 50GB iCloud data would have been enough.

Are they? Even post GDPR, I’ve had a hard time getting my data out of them. I would argue Apple are market leaders in terms of making that accessible. They did it before GDPR compelled them to, and don’t just limit it to Europe.

I’d argue the data is the most important part of an ecosystem. If you can’t extract it, you can’t leave, frankly.

I can move between hardware and software ecosystems quite seamlessly, but services persist among them.


I’m not pretending to be a Takeout expert but I used it a few weeks back to download my 50GB music library and it worked adequately.

By no means effort free but it did the job.

Takeout has existed for something like 10 years so well before GDPR. No idea if it’s region restricted.

Honestly I don’t know how good Apple are at this as I don’t use them to store any data that’s not also on a physical drive connected to my Mac.

My point was based on the premise that you can get at your data (bugs etc aside).

Unless you have money to burn, it’s non trivial to change your Apple Watch, HomePods, iOS only apps, Messaging ecosystem and anything else up to and including your car to work with your new phone.

All those extras that make the experience so fantastic are what keep you locked in.

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I think we’ve both misunderstood what we each meant by access to our data here. I’m not just speaking in terms of our photo libraries or our music collections, but more broadly, in terms every component of data that they possess associated with your identity.

The stuff GDPR compelled companies to provide in the EU. Something Apple started doing before GDPR, and have rolled out globally. I can’t speak for Google, but Facebook only offered the same thing where compelled by law EU, and given how similar their fundamental business is to Google’s I’d suspect they approached it the same way.

Now that we’ve left the EU, Facebook want to take this option away from us, if they haven’t done so already! I don’t know about Google, but I don’t personally see them being any different to Facebook on this.

Big data is all the same. The lengths I had to go to even in a world of GDPR to exercise my right to be forgotten with Twitter and Google was insurmountably onerous to say the least.

I eventually got it done with Twitter, but Google is still a work in progress, and I’m having a hard enough time as it is just getting access to my data so I can request its removal. I get the impression at times that even Google themselves don’t know what data they have since they have so much.

In terms of GDPR stuff, it’s essentially a one click button and they give you every bit of data and information they have on you. Not that it’s much in the grand scheme of things to be fair. But you can easily tell them to delete it too.

I’d argue this stuff is trivial to be fair. iMessage is likely to be the stickiest member of the Apple ecosystem, but given that there are two core platforms, everyone needs at least two messaging services. As I say, I believe services dictate it more than anything.

Apple discontinued HomePod on Friday. The conclusion I came to is it failed, not so much due to the high price or ecosystem lock-in, but because Spotify wasn’t on it. Even my friend at Apple returned theirs because it didn’t work with Spotify.

You may wonder why they don’t use Apple Music, but they do. It’s a free perk for working there. The only issue is they’d been building their library for years on Spotify and the process of switching would mean manually rebuilding their entire library of tens of thousands of songs, and having to teach Apple’s algorithms their tastes from scratch.

As much as I lust for a HomePod mini, because I think that’s a much better price given the locked down limitations, I refuse to buy one because it only works in the Apple ecosystem. I don’t like hardware that’s so severely hobbled that it can only work well with devices from the same manufacturer, unless it was designed to be a standalone device.

Standards compliances mean it’s not too tedious to switch between software and hardware platforms one device at a time without too much impact that it’s not feasible. And those different platforms can still work well together. iOS + windows is not an uncommon choice for people. And neither is Mac + android.


More on the topic of tech antitrust issues and the calls for breakups though, I feel like there’s a lot of hyperbole there.

Tech giants are just the modern day tech industry versions of procter and gamble, or Unilever, or General Electric.

The only real difference is the way those companies market their brands, that a lot of people don’t seem to realise that not only is a conglomerate behind their favourite brands, but that there’s only a handful of companies that sell you all the different branded stuff in super markets. Very few are indie companies.

Remember when hotpoint tumble dryers started catching fire? A lot of people went out and replaced them with and Indesit, blissfully unaware they’re the same company, among others. Both are whirlpool, who is General Electric. Now I know people made that mistake with WhatsApp, but Facebook put the logo on the splash screen! They at least try to tell people they’re the same company. Never thought I’d be defending Facebook, but there we are.

Much of the anger from politicians trying to curb the tech giants more often than not seems to stem from the fact that these startups managed to play a game that was rigged against them from the very start and won. Had they not, I doubt we’d have all these antitrust issues.

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