I still don’t know about Spotify, but I thought this was the interesting part:
Anyway, despite a substandard offering, Apple Music is growing faster in the US (5% monthly) than Spotify (2%), as the Apple Music icon is on the home screen dock of 1B iOS devices. Apple charges Spotify a 30% tax to be in the App Store and denied an update to the iOS Spotify app, essentially blocking iPhone users’ access to the latest version of the Swedish service.
and then expands to:
intentional anticompetitive behavior … Amazon is also abusing their platform, the Echo, to juice another inferior product, Amazon Music. … Google keeps signing consent decrees saying they will send us to the best place, instead of another place they can monetize. They keep violating these decrees, last year absorbing a $3B fine from the EU. Btw, that fine amounted to 3% of their cash on hand. Neither their business nor their stock was affected.
Right now the media emphasis is on privacy, and ownership of people’s metadata. Thanks to GDPR, every firm is re-analyzing what it stores, how it lets people control what it stores, and what it tells people about what it stores. This is a really big deal. There are ways around it, still. Imagine you go to use an app and a pop-up asks you “Can I record your data?” You’ll likely say no. But if buried in the lengthy Terms and Conditions is a paragraph about agreeing to have your data recorded because without that data you won’t get the free service this app is providing, you probably won’t have read it and even if you did, well, that’s the price of free services.
And so there was even a question proposed (not taken seriously, though), as to whether Facebook should have a paid-for account in which the account’s usage data wasn’t stored. Facebook doesn’t want that because selling your data is far more profitable.
But, back to the “anticompetitive behavior” described. That’s the true way it works, but is it really fair to label it “anticompetitive?”. In a truly free market, companies should be able to use their products to help sell their other products, or even to sell other products on which they make more money. This has been going on for decades. The “fairness” in us wants Google to have a search feature that has no profit-based biases, but when you really think about it, Google is offering to you a free service, so why does that free service have to follow some altruistic goals? You can bet that paid search services have to have bias-free results, but that’s between a provider and its paying customers, so there is an explicit relationship of getting what you pay for. When a company hires a consultant, it expects that consultant to consider only what’s best for the company that’s paying its bills. But, it’s arguable that a company providing free services should not be compelled to follow that same model, especially if that free service discloses what it’s doing.
Is it really wrong for Apple to be charging Spotify to be able to be on Apple devices - devices in which Apple spends tons of money to develop, advertise, and support? The original iPhone had no apps other than those developed by Apple. Certainly no company has an inalienable “right” to be on a company’s device.
But, the trend is not towards this. Google is thought of as THE search provider, much like Microsoft was thought of as THE personal computer OS provider. But, perhaps that’s not really fair. Either way, though, what does this mean for these business’s futures? Will government intervention eventually hurt the businesses of Apple, Google, Amazon, etc? At least with GDPR, companies have to only disclose what they’re doing - not necessarily stop it. Some governments (Germany I believe) actually do restrict what can be done with user’s data, based on some “expectations of privacy.”
Is this a trend that is growing? If so, will it eventually fundamentally change the “free” model upon which so many now successful businesses are based?