Google and Apple combined are responsible for providing a platform for downloading applications and are also the market leaders for app stores. Almost every developer launches their app either on the Google Play Store and/or the Apple App Store, so that consumers and customers can see their products or services. There are 2.8 million android applications available on the Google Play Store while the Apple App Store has close to 1.3 million apps available for its users in early 2020.
A popular game, Fortnite was removed from both Apple and Google platforms over ambiguity in the way Fortnite developer Epic Games conducted payments inside the gaming app. This led to Epic Games filing lawsuits against both Apple and Google for banning Fortnite from their platforms. Fortnite is one of the biggest battle royale games in the world right now and there are over 250 million Fortnite players in the world.
Unfolding of the ban:
Fortnite’s latest game update offered all players a 20% discount on its in-game currency V-bucks, but only if they paid Epic Games directly rather than using Apple or Google’s payment systems. This did not sit well with Google and Apple as both platforms take a standard 30% of purchases on their app stores. It also meant Epic Games broke the rules applying to both the stores.
Apple proceeded to remove Epic Games from their platform leaving ios users with no way to install the game. Epic games released a video mocking Apple with a television themes advert similar to the one Apple used in their 1984 Super Bowl commercial.
Epic Games has defied the App Store Monopoly. In retaliation, Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices.
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) August 13, 2020
A few hours later after the Apple ban, Fortnite vanished from the Google Play Store, as well.
Fortnite is currently unavailable on Google Play. More information will be forthcoming soon.
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) August 14, 2020
What is the lawsuit
Documents available in the public domain through the United States court records system show Epic Games filed a complaint against Google in a California court, just as it did against Apple. The lawsuit highlights Google’s motto which was once “Don’t be evil.” Epic Games said “Google has relegated its motto to nearly an afterthought, and is using its size to do evil upon competitors, innovators, customers, and users in a slew of markets it has grown to monopolise (sic.)”
The lawsuit further goes on to describe a deal that Epic Games had reached with phone maker OnePlus to make its games available ‘seamlessly’ on their devices. Epic Games said “But Google forced OnePlus to renege on the deal, citing Google’s ‘particular concern’ about Epic having the ability to install and update mobile games while ‘bypassing the Google Play Store (sic.)”
What is Epic Games looking for?
Epic Games says it wants the mobile app stores to be fairer for all developers. Epic Games also highlights that it is not seeking a compensation payout or more favourable deal for itself. However, they state any reduction in the 30% cut charged by both Apple and Google will help Epic Games favourably.
Google said “The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores. For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies (sic.)”
Apple said in a statement “Epic has had apps on the App Store for a decade, and have benefited from the App Store ecosystem – including its tools, testing, and distribution that Apple provides to all developers. Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely and we’re glad they’ve built such a successful business on the App Store. The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users (sic.)” It also said “We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store (sic.)”
It will be interesting to watch the outcome of the lawsuit filed by Epic Games and if the courts will rule in the favour of a fairer market or in the favour of existing market rules.
William H Gates Sr., The Father Of Bill Gates Passes Away
Bill Gates shared the news of the demise of his father William H. Gates Sr., in a blog post. Bill Gates announced the news in a blog post saying his father passed away peacefully on Monday at their family residence in Washington. William Gates was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and is the most likely cause of his death.
William Gates Sr.,was a well known civic leader, attorney and philanthropist and is also one of the key figures in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In an obituary the family credited the patriarch with a “deep commitment to social and economic equity,” noting that he was responsible for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s first efforts to improve global health as well as his advocacy for progressive taxation, especially unsuccessful efforts to pass a state income tax on the wealthy in Washington.
Bill Gates mentioned in his blog that his father always had the knack for taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. Bill Gates also mentions how his father’s legal advice has helped him a lot and other famous personalities which include Howard Schultz of Starbucks.
My dad was the “real” Bill Gates. He was everything I try to be and I will miss him every day.https://t.co/OnAEsmosNb
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) September 15, 2020
Bill said his father wrote him a letter and one of the excerpts from it was “I have cautioned you and others about the overuse of the adjective ‘incredible’ to apply to facts that were short of meeting its high standard. This is a word with huge meaning to be used only in extraordinary settings. What I want to say, here, is simply that the experience of being your father has been… incredible (sic.)”
Bill Gates summed up William H. Gates’ life in the best way possible in his blog post. Bill said “I know he would not want me to overuse the word, but there is no danger of doing that now. The experience of being the son of Bill Gates was incredible. People used to ask my dad if he was the real Bill Gates. The truth is, he was everything I try to be. I will miss him every day (sic.)”
We at Startup Stories extend our deepest condolences to the Gates family as they mourn the death of William H. Gates Sr.
TikTok Ban Paves The Way For YouTube Shorts
Google is the latest entity to take advantage of the Indian Government’s ban of the viral application TikTok. Google plans to introduce a new feature on YouTube called YouTube Shorts. The feature for all intents and purposes mimics the same features TikTok used to provide. The new feature will mimic many of TikTok’s most popular features, allowing users to make and post 15 second videos with built in creative tools encouraging them to add licensed music and more.
The YouTube Shorts is being bundled into the main YouTube app for Indian users, where it will appear with a prominent “create” button. The videos can also be set to music, thanks to YouTube’s access to a large library of songs that it says will continue to grow over time. India will be the first country where YouTube Shorts will be launched. YouTube said “Music for these videos will be available through in-product music picker feature. The picker currently has 100,000s of tracks, and we’re working with music artists, labels, and publishers to make more of their content available to continue expanding our catalogue (sic.)”
TikTok was enjoying an unrivalled popularity in India as it became a means to keep boredom at bay during the nationwide lockdown which was imposed in light of the COVID-19 virus. TikTok amassed more than 200 million users in India and this is mostly due to the cheap internet plans rolled out by Jio Telecommunications, which made the internet accessible to every person even in the remote corners of India.
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However, the Indian government announced that it would ban 59 Chinese applications in which TikTok was one, along with WeChat, Helo, Cam Scanner and many others. The ban was imposed citing data security and concerns about data being shared with the Chinese Government. This left a huge void in the instant video sharing space and Facebook was the first to cash in on it by releasing Instagram Reels. Even Instagram Reels does not have any standalone application but is instead a feature in the Instagram app where it is promoted heavily.
Neither Instagram nor YouTube have tried to clone TikTok’s patented search algorithm and are instead relying on their own discovery algorithms to push content to the users. As TikTok continues to be banned more and more players will look to cash in on the massive void left by the viral app. Facebook and Google are the first major players to try to take a chunk of TikTok’s user base. It will be interesting to see how YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels will perform in the future.
Vodafone Idea Gets Rebranded To Vi
Vodafone Idea is one of India’s largest telecommunications companies along with Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio. Vodafone Idea has a market share of 23% in India and Reliance Jio leads the market with a share of 34%. Indian telecom companies have been hurt badly by the Supreme Court verdict on the Adjusted Gross Revenues (AGR) case. The AGR is a fee sharing mechanism between the telcos and the government who shifted to the ‘revenue-sharing fee’ model in 1999, from the ‘fixed license fee’ model. In this course, telcos are supposed to share a percentage of their AGR with the government.
Following the Supreme Court verdict which came against the favour of telcos, the verdict directs the telcos to pay the due payments to the government over a course of ten years. The total amount due as per the Department of Telecom’s submission to the Supreme Court is Rs. 119,292 crores. Out of its total dues of Rs. 43,980 crores, Bharti Airtel has paid Rs. 18,004 crores so far while Rs. 25,976 crores are still remaining. Vodafone Idea’s dues are the highest at Rs. 58,254 crores, of which the company has paid Rs. 6,354 crores and the balance due is Rs. 51,400 crores.
This has hurt both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea as they have to raise enough capital to pay the dues. Failure to pay the dues means the telcos are looking at bankruptcy. According to a report by Jefferies Equity Research, dated September 1st, Vodafone Idea could require up to ₹18,800 crores by the end of March 2023. To do so, it will need to raise money since its existing operating profit is less than annual payments that will be due. Vodafone Idea on Friday said it will raise up to ₹ 25,000 crores. The fundraising will be through the sale of shares or non convertible debentures (NCDs.) Both routes of fundraising have a limit of ₹ 15,000 crores each. The proposed fundraising is subject to regulatory and shareholders approvals. Vodafone Idea will take up the proposal at its annual general meeting on 30 September.
Vodafone Idea has therefore announced a rebranding as part of its fundraising efforts and going forward Vodafone Idea will be called Vi. This is because Idea is now integrated with Vodafone. Launching the new brand, Ravinder Takkar, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Idea Limited, said “the brand integration not only marks the completion of the largest telecom merger in the world but also sets us on our future journey to offer world class digital experiences to one billion indians on our strong 4G network. VIL is now leaner and agile and the deployment of many principles of 5G architecture has helped us transform into a future-fit, digital network for the changing customer needs (sic.)”
The future of Vi is still uncertain and more updates will be revealed in the following weeks and a new updated tariff plan will also be rolled out. Vi looks to earn back its customers and get back to being a strong market leader which it once was and only time will tell what is in store for Vi and its customers.
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