Darwin’s best thinking, however, was not done in his study.
It was done outside, on a lowercase d–shaped path on the edge of his property.
Darwin called it the Sandwalk.
Today, it is known as Darwin’s thinking path.
He would pile up a mound of flints at the turn of the path and
knock one away every time he passed
to ensure he made a predetermined number of circuits
without having to interrupt his train of thought.
JeanJacques Rousseau once said, “There is something about walking which stimulates and enlivens my thoughts.
When I stay in one place I can hardly think at all;
my body has to be on the move to set my mind going.”
Dickens wrote, “The road was so lonely in the night,
that I fell asleep to the monotonous sound of my own feet, doing their regular four miles an hour,”
“Mile after mile I walked, without the slightest sense of exertion, dozing heavily and dreaming constantly.”
while I do think Apple’s anti-steering provision is anti-competitive, this injunction is an odd outcome of this specific case, and a source of much confusion about what this decision was actually about.
Supreme Court precedent is extremely skeptical that there are single brand markets, and
the primary exception (Eastman Kodak) is only applicable if customers are unaware of aftermarket limitations at the time of purchase.
In fact, customers are not only aware of Apple’s walled garden policies, but it is in fact a selling point for the iPhone,
which means customers know what they are getting into when they choose the iPhone over Android.
The strong distinction Judge Gonzales Rogers draws between games and non-gaming apps:
given this market definition, this case was only about mobile games.
That is good news for app developers who have their own antitrust complaints about Apple’s policies, and
also a reason for Apple to not take this ruling as a complete endorsement of their policies.
Second, this ruling does suggest that Apple ought to — and now has the judicial imprimatur to — treat games differently than other apps.
so much of the company’s App Store troubles have come from applying rules and regulations
that are appropriate for games to other areas of the App Store that are totally different, and
now the company has license to come up with two sets of rules for two different markets.
a larger problem in many tech markets: the tendency towards duopoly, which often lets one company cover for the other acting anti-competitively
[Apple & Google’s duopoly in the mobile app distribution market] isn’t the only duopoly:
Google and Facebook jointly dominate digital advertising,
Microsoft and Google jointly dominate productivity applications,
Microsoft and Amazon jointly dominate the public cloud, and
Amazon and Google jointly dominate shopping searches.
And, while all of these companies compete, those competitive forces have set nearly all of these duopolies into fairly stable positions
that justify cooperation of the sort documented between Apple and Google,
even as any one company alone is able to use its rival as justification for avoiding antitrust scrutiny.
the intellectual property to which Apple is entitled to receive a commission is more narrowly defined:
Apple’s IAP is a secured system which
tracks and verifies digital purchases, then
determines and collects the appropriate commission on those transactions.
In this regard, the system records all digital sales
by identifying the customer and their payment methods,
tracking and accumulating transactions; and
conducts fraud-related checks.
IAP simultaneously provides information to consumers
IAP is not the App Store app or the payment processing or any other discrete offering, but rather the totality of its digital e-commerce system
“IAP”as Apple’s overall commerce system is different from “in-app purchases” that are purchases made in an app.
Apple is justified in requiring IAP for in-app purchases.
Judge Gonzales Rogers’ argument is not that Apple has to allow different payment options within an app — that is Apple’s right to control, and even mandate —
but rather that Apple can’t stop a developer from telling users that they can go outside the app to another platform to acquire digital content.
the Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of anti-steering provisions in a case about American Express’s policies;
Gonzales Rogers made a good argument that this situation is different, but that is open to interpretation
Apple may also appeal that the decision considers violations under the UCL separately from violations under federal antitrust law,
the company already argued in court that Judge Gonzales Rogers should not do so
and while Judge Gonzales Rogers took particularly scathing interest in Apple’s anti-steering provisions during CEO Tim Cook’s testimony, they were not a major focus of Epic’s case.
Apple won on almost every count but one, but that one has the potential to cause Apple a fair bit of trouble.
Games have always been a vector for scams and abuse;
it would have been much better (and profitable) for Apple to keep tight control of the category while giving ground elsewhere.
Now it has to deal with a blanket injunction and critics who still don’t think it is enough.
Here’s what I think we’ll end up with:
Most apps will be required to also offer IAP side-by-side with any external methods.
Only “Reader apps” will be exempt from this requirement.
Apple will have many rules regarding the display, descriptions, and behavior of external purchases,
many of which will be unpublished and ever-changing.
App Review will be extremely harsh, inconsistent, capricious, petty, and punitive with their enforcement.
Apple won’t require price-matching between IAP and external purchases.
The result won’t look much different than the status quo:
Many games will offer both IAP and external purchases,
with the external choice offering a discount, bonus gems, extra loot boxes, or other manipulative tricks
to optimize the profitability of casino games for children
(commissions from which have been the largest portion of Apple’s “services revenue” to date).
External purchase methods will evolve to be almost as convenient as IAP
(especially if Apple Pay is permitted in this context), and
payment processors will reduce the burden of manual credit-card entry
with shared credentials available across multiple apps.
The payment-fraud doomsday scenarios argued by Apple and many fans mostly won’t happen,
in part because App Review will prevent most obvious cases,
but also because parents don’t typically offer their credit cards to untrustworthy children;
I don’t expect side-loading or alternative app stores to become possible, and I’m relieved, because that is not a future I want for iOS.
When evaluating such ideas, I merely ask myself, “What would Facebook do?”
As a user, a multiple-app-store world sounds like an annoying mess;
as a developer, it terrifies me.
Apple’s App Store is the devil we know.
The most viable alternatives that would crop up would be far worse.
Apple is entitled to run their platform mostly as they wish,
with governmental interference only warranted to fix market-scale issues
that harm large segments of commerce or society.