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Game maker to test idea of iPhone as distinct market - Arab News
SAN FRANCISCO: ’Fortnite’ maker Epic Games has launched the most significant effort yet to advance the legal theory that Apple’s iPhone ecosystem has become so “sticky” that it is a distinct software market over which Apple exercises monopoly power. On Thursd…
SAN FRANCISCO: Fortnite maker Epic Games has launched the most significant effort yet to advance the legal theory that Apples iPhone ecosystem has become so sticky that it is a distinct software market over which Apple exercises monopoly power. On Thursday Epic filed a lawsuit in federal court after Apple pulled Fortnite from its App Store to punish Epic for implementing a payment mechanism that bypassed Apples practice of taking a 30 percent commission on in-app purchases. The suit seeks a court order ending Apples commission structure and forcing Apple to allow users to install software on iPhones outside the confines of the App Store. Epic also sued Alphabet Incs Google, but the case is different because Android phones allow app installs outside its Play Store. Epic is not the first to sue over the App Store. Consumers have filed suit alleging Apples practices raise software prices. Developers in another suit have argued that software for iOS, the iPhones operating system, is its own market but also made extensive alternative arguments. Epics lawsuit relies almost completely on the one argument that Apples iOS app distribution and in-app payment systems are their own markets. It also goes further to argue that Apple purposely created those markets by building an ecosystem of devices and services meant to favor Apple products. A customer choosing to purchase or switch to a non-Apple device loses access to these services, leading to increased costs a customer must face when choosing to leave Apples ecosystem, Epic wrote. Apple on Friday declined to comment on Epics suit. Its primary defense in the past when confronted with allegations of anticompetitive practices is that it does not have a majority share of the global smartphone market. Apple does not have a dominant market share in any market where we do business, CEO Tim Cook told the US House Judiciary Committee during a hearing on competition in digital markets in July. The defense is factually accurate. iPhones and Macs have much lower global market share than Android and Windows devices, and Apple executives often say that consumers can access whatever software they desire on those competing devices or via the web browser on iPhones. But if a federal court accepts the argument that the iOS app distribution and in-app payment markets are distinct, the implications could be profound, said John M. Newman, an associate professor at the University of Miami School of Law. The relevant market would not be apps for smartphones where Apple has a small global share compared to Android, but rather apps for iPhones where Apple has much more power. A landmark case against Microsoft Corp. in the 1990s established that taking actions that make it harder for consumers to get applications from developers even if consumers can still ultimately access the applications with extra work could be grounds for an antitrust claim, he said. If a court agrees that Apple controls the market for iOS app distribution, that could make Apple vulnerable to Epics claims of illegal tying of two products together by requiring the use of Apples in-app payment system to be allowed in the App Store. It sounds like the weirdest and most arcane part of the case, but it actually may be the simplest from a legal perspective, Newman said.
Private mission's important innovations launch new space age - Arab News
Donald Trump and Mike Pence watch the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, May 30, 2020. (Reuters)
https://arab.news/nx9r5 The international media, and with it millions of people worldwide, cheered this weeks successful launch of a manned spacecraft by SpaceX to the International Space Station (ISS). It wasnt always clear to everyone why this mission was being hailed as historic. After all, the ISS is only 400 kilometers above Earth and, over its 20-plus years, there have been countless such trips to it, by both the US (NASA) and Russia (Roscosmos). OK, this time it was by a private company, SpaceX, although partially funded by NASA, but does that make it such a big deal? And why now, while we have a pandemic to contend with? Are there no risks of contaminating the ISS, where disinfection would be very difficult? Indeed, it was a bit surreal to see the astronauts and mission officials not wearing face masks; it was as if this whole event was happening pre-coronavirus, or was somehow totally disconnected and isolated from the rest of the world. First, one should remember that space missions are always thoroughly disinfected (mainly with radiation) to ensure that no germs are ever carried to space. Secondly, and confirming that the coronavirus wasnt going to stop important projects around the world, on April 9 Russia launched its Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS, carrying one NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts (the Russians call them cosmonauts riders and explorers of the cosmos). This leads me to the strategic aspects of the latest mission, which Jim Bridenstine, the current administrator (director general) of NASA described as a high-priority mission for the United States of America. Why? Because the US could not afford, literally and figuratively, to keep paying Roscosmos $86 million for each American astronaut sent to the ISS. Indeed, since its space shuttle fleet was retired in 2011, NASA has sent 38 astronauts aboard Soyuz, at a total cost of $3.3 billion, with one more to go in November. Moreover, the US wants to be in total control of who, what and when to launch into space. Most importantly, the US has always encouraged competition within the private sector in all fields. In space technology, as private companies started to emerge and mature (SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada, and other upcoming firms), it became logical and strategic to entice them with contracts (NASA has signed multibillion-dollar contracts with SpaceX and Boeing) to push them to innovate and bring the price down. This brings me to what I consider the most important aspect of this mission and the reason why it can be considered a historic moment and a step up (not quite a quantum leap, to be honest) in the history of spaceflight: SpaceX has made important innovations, most notably its ability to bring the main launch rockets back to land on Earth after successfully sending up a spacecraft. This has not only helped bring the overall price down by more than 30 percent (since rockets can be reused for dozens of flights), it has also allowed for the introduction of new safety measures that protect the astronaut-carrying capsules. And now that SpaceX has proven itself capable of handling manned missions another first for this ambitious company it can guarantee its financial future (through vital contracts with NASA) and safely and confidently pursue its bigger goal: Getting humans to Mars. Who can believe that, more than 50 years after man first walked on the Moon (there were six Moon landings in total, with 12 astronauts walking on our nearest cosmic neighbor, performing various tasks and bringing back half a ton of rocks), no human has been sent farther than the ISS, 400 kilometers above ground? If you had asked people, specialists and laymen alike, back in the 1970s about when we would walk on Mars, I imagine that most would have said the early 2000s. Granted, Mars is hundreds of times farther and harder to reach than the Moon (seven months each way, with all that this implies in terms of supplies and safety measures), but manned missions to the red planet kept being pushed back decades that is until Elon Musk (the visionary founder and owner of SpaceX and other innovating companies) stepped up. Musk has always considered Mars his main goal and priority, and he knows that taking people there requires important quantum leaps in space technology. But he is doing it, one development at a time. SpaceX can now guarantee its financial future and safely and confidently pursue its bigger goal: Getting humans to Mars. Nidhal Guessoum This mission has opened up space to the private sector. The heavens are no longer reserved for the big superpowers (the US, Russia and China, with India soon to join); they are all of humanitys, including private companies and people. This will multiply missions and goals, including trips to space stations, asteroids to mine, the Moon, Mars, and who knows where else. The success of this new, different and somewhat spectacular mission (rockets separating, one of them landing back on a platform, everything broadcast live and in high resolution) comes at a good time for the US and the world. Much like back in the late 1960s, the US is suffering from deep political and racial divisions, while the world is also struggling to contain and overcome a pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands and broken economies big and small. In such times, any project that unites people and turns their attention to loftier goals and vistas, where race and nationality do not matter, is very welcome.
- Nidhal Guessoum is a professor of physics and astronomy at the American University of Sharjah, UAE. Twitter: @NidhalGuessoum