Epic Games Locks Horns With Google And Apple In A Lawsuit Over Fortnite
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.
Visit https://t.co/K3S07w5uEk and join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming "1984" https://t.co/tpsiCW4gqK
— 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.
Emerging Startup Stories
Suki: This Startup Wants To Transform Healthcare With Its Artificial Intelligence Tool
We live in a rapidly transforming era where humanity is making exponential leaps in technology. Thirty years ago, no one would have believed you could talk to an online voice assistant to create tasks and get things done. Ten years ago, no one would have believed humanity would land robots on Mars. Technology truly has improved the quality of living of every human who owns a smartphone and has access to an internet connection. Voice assistants are slowly replacing manual tasks and making lives easier and efficient. Siri, Alexa, Google Voice Assistant are just some of the widely used artificial intelligence based tools which are employed on a daily basis. Artificial intelligence, which is hailed as the technology of the future is now slowly making its way into much more complex domains like self driving vehicles, quantum computing and also health care.
Suki, a United States of America based startup founded by Punit Soni, developed their own voice assistant which runs on artificial intelligence to simplify healthcare for doctors and other healthcare professionals. In simple terms, Suki is akin to Siri for doctors. While you could order a pizza or schedule an appointment on Siri, doctors could modify, edit and add health records of their patients. Suki is a powerful tool to help doctors with documentation of health records which often take hours of their (doctors) time.
Suki currently focuses on documentation but has the potential to expand its usage to data queries, ordering, prescribing and billing. According to a white paper published by Suki, using its technology increases the time a doctor spends with a patient by 12% by cutting note taking time by 76%. The time which is saved also brings in a financial benefit of $30,000 more in revenue a year on average for doctors.
Suki raised a $ 20 million Series B round from Flare Capital Partners, First Round Capital, and Venrock, doubling its total funding to $ 40 million since its 2017 launch. Suki is also looking to expand its reach in India and has decided to establish Bangalore as their base of operations. India holds a lot of potential for Suki considering the amount of manual work which goes into almost any sector.
It would be interesting to watch how Suki and other similar AI based startups would transform healthcare across the world.
Leher Versus Clubhouse: Which Audio Listening Startup Would You Choose?
Clubhouse is a new type of social networking platform which is an audio only platform. This means every conversation takes place through audio where users speak to let their thoughts known. Users can create and host rooms where speakers will talk about a particular topic. Originating in the Silicon Valley, Clubhouse attracted some major names onto its platform like Elon Musk, Evan Williams, Reddit co founder Alexis Ohanian, former Y Combinator President Sam Altman, AngelList co founder Naval Ravikant, Ashton Kuthcer, Oprah Winfrey, Drake, Kevin Hart and many others are some of the influential personalities who are on Clubhouse. There is however a catch as Clubhouse is currently limited to iOS.
Leher is an Indian made alternative to Clubhouse and is a similar audio sharing and listening startup. Leher also has video support unlike Clubhouse and is also available for both Android and iOS. However, Leher does not have the biggest names in the world on its platform but it does have significant micro influencers and is growing at a rapid pace. Within 180 days of its beta version launch, the company claimed to have its users spend about 44 minutes every day and 250,000 minutes per month for live video sessions.
We at Startup Stories are curious to see which among Leher or Clubhouse would our readers choose to take part in a virtual discussion. Please let us know your answer in the poll below.
Facebook Launches BARS For Creating Raps To Counter TikTok’s Growing Popularity
Facebook is leaving no stone unturned to tackle the surging popularity of the Chinese video making app TikTok. As part of its redoubled efforts Facebook is launching a new app named BARS which could be used to create and share raps. The core idea behind the app is rappers could focus on creating content without having to worry about investing heavily in production and equipment.
Facebook said, “Audio production tools can be complicated, expensive and difficult to use. With BARS, you can select one of our professionally-created beats, write lyrics and record yourself dropping bars (sic.)” The company also added, “BARS auto-suggests rhymes as you’re writing to keep your flow going. You can also jump into Challenge mode and freestyle with auto-suggested word cues. Choose from a variety of audio and visual filters to take your creations to the next level (sic.)”
The app is now available in the Apple App Store in the United States of America. The invites for using BARS would be sent out in batches beginning in the USA and then expanded worldwide.
This would be the second app which Facebook is launching to counter TikTok’s growing popularity. Instagram Reels was the latest offering from the photo sharing platform Instagram (owned by Facebook) and was launched as a replacement for the video sharing application TikTok. 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. 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. This left a sudden void in video making applications, and Instagram realised the need for urgency to capitalize on this void. Therefore, Instagram immediately pushed their latest feature Instagram Reels which lets its users create 15 second videos with music from Instagram’s database. These videos look very similar to the ones made on TikTok and has gained a lot of popularity in India where Tik Tok continues to be banned.
ALSO READ: 4 Things To Know About Instagram Reels
Google also took advantage of the Indian Government’s ban of the viral application TikTok. Google introduced 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 mimics 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.
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