Antitrust Bill on the App Store | GDPR versus Google Fonts | A word worth 10 million dollars and more

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welcome to The long view– where we go through the week’s news and cut it down to the essentials. let’s work what really matters.

This week: The Open App Markets Act is questioning developers well, Germany is fining a website for using Google Fonts, and The New York Times is buying Wordle for an infeasible sum.

1. Antitrust Bill Would Open App Stores

First meeting this week: The Open Application Markets Act seems to be a big hit with the developers. In a poll, more than 80% wanted lawmakers to adopt this Senate bipartisan bill.

Analysis: But 30% of nothing is nothing

One of the biggest complaints from developers is the 30% reduction in all Apple revenue, including in-app purchases. Many developers also experienced random rejections of store submissions. And these seem to be the main driving forces behind calls from developers to tear down all the walls around the gardens. But they have to be careful what they wish for – users might don’t see it the same way.

Karl Evers-Hillstrom: 8 out of 10 app developers support measure to curb Google, Apple

The Coalition for App Fairness, [an] industry group for app developers, is pushing Congress to pass the Open App Markets Act. [The] The bipartisan Senate bill…would prevent app stores from favoring their own in-house apps in searches, forcing developers to use their payment systems, and preventing users from downloading apps from third-party stores.

Developers interviewed…complained about exorbitant fees…and how they had difficulty getting their apps featured or accepted by app stores. Only 13% of app developers surveyed oppose the bill. … The margin of error is plus or minus 7.11 percentage points.

The proposal, co-sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), are scheduled for committee markup this week. Apple and Google CEOs personally pressured lawmakers to drop out [such] antitrust legislation.

Wouldn’t that kill the proverbial goose? No, says this anonymous coward:

The only reason Apple is successful with the iPhone is because developers write apps for it, it’s no different from Windows in that regard. … If Apple’s app store is so good, everyone from developers to end users will continue to use it and no one will use third-party app stores.

Clearly, there is a clear profit motive for excluding any competition in the App Store space. But I don’t understand how people can claim that Apple makes great products and at the same time claim that they couldn’t survive the competition on the platform.

But Dr. Edith Müdyk—@BabyHueby– doesn’t seem to hope this will go anywhere:

Too bad that politics is not dictated by public opinion.


2. German court fines site for using Google Fonts without consent

Did you know that you must obtain permission from a European user before downloading a Google Font? do it now.

Analysis: Schrems II comes home to roost

No more GDPR popups oh! A German court has “clarified” that websites and apps must obtain informed consent before loading content if it reveals a user’s IP address to a third party. Fortunately, the fine was only $110 – this time, but if the culprit were to do it again, the court threatened 2500× this amount.

Thomas Claburn: Website fined by German court for leaking visitor’s IP address via Google Fonts

A German court has fined an unidentified website €100 ($110)… for violating EU privacy law by importing a web font hosted by Google. [It] transmitted the IP address of the unidentified requestor to Google without authorization and without a legitimate reason to do so. And it violates… GDPR.

The website could have avoided this tragedy by hosting the font itself. … The decision explicitly cites this possibility to assert that relying on Google Fonts hosted by Google is not legally defensible.

The decision orders the website to stop providing IP addresses to Google and threatens… with a fine of €250,000 for each violation, or up to six months in prison, for continued misuse of Google Fonts. …These data privacy judgments … reflect the consequences of the EU Court of Justice’s 2020 decision to strike down Privacy Shield data protection agreements that previously allowed US companies to trade data with European partners under “standard contractual clauses”.

Isn’t that ridiculous? And surely not the intention of the GDPR? Aristos Mazer strongly disagrees:

This is absolutely the intended consequence, with a lot of analysis in this regulation. … Even if it means rethinking the foundations of the network.

Forcing sites to stop transferring data in any form to Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, etc… is exactly the point. [It’s been] repeatedly validated by surveys of EU citizens.

And indeed, the goal is to obtain “informed consent”. This is Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese:

“To go beyond this point…your IP address must be shared with a third party.” Would they click on it? … I know at least one person who would read this as follows: “If I click on this link, you will tell people where I live.” (I know because they had a pop-up like that once and called me in a slightly agitated state.)


3. Wordle Sold to NYT for Over $10 Million

Josh Wardle, a Welsh developer living in New York, sold this winter’s social game hit to his state’s eponymous newspaper. The New York Times thinks it will be a useful addition to its Games section. But the the price is amazing.

Analysis: Nice payday for Josh

How? ‘Or’ What many? Hard to see how the Times is going to make any money from this. The word of tomorrow must be: NOROI.

Alexis Benveniste: The sudden rise of Wordle

In less than six months, Wordle went from a giveaway to a viral sensation, to… part of The New York Times. … Josh Wardle, a software engineer in Brooklyn, created the game as a gift for his partner … and its popularity skyrocketed.

Nearly two months later, 300,000 people have played it. … The buzz around the game can be attributed to the spoiler-free scorecard that allows players to share their Wordle victories on social media.

Wordle was acquired for an undisclosed price in the low seven figures.

In other words, north of $10 million. Not bad for a quick one-dev hack by Josh Wardle:

The game got bigger than I ever imagined (which I guess isn’t much of an achievement considering I made the game for a one-person audience). … I’m so grateful for the personal stories that some of you have shared with me.

[But] I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit overwhelming. [So] I am incredibly happy to announce that I have reached an agreement with The New York Times. …I’m thrilled they’re the stewards of the game.

But “RIP Wordle”, cries _xeno_, apparently speaking for many:

It’s about to get bogged down with trackers, then later ads. … A paywall is almost certainly on the way – The New York Times has very cautiously stated that it will “initially remain free”. … Not surprisingly, there are already many clones. … There’s no way The New York Times can make any money from this.


The moral of the story: No disguise will hide his true character.

Have you read The long view by Richi Jennings. You can contact him at @RiCHi Where [email protected].

Image: Masahiro Miyagi (via Unsplash; leveled and cropped)

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