3️⃣ letters from the EU that Big Tech really hates
Big Tech has fought hard to stop this legislation from happening. It failed.
👋 Welcome to FWIW by David Tvrdon, your weekly tech, media & audio digest.
In this edition
Digital Markets Act (DMA) is coming
Russia’s Google (Yandex) is in trouble
No more Greenroom, it’s going to be Spotify Live
The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is the battle Big Tech fought hard and lost
I can’t think of another EU official who is so beloved by the American tech press. Margrethe Vestager, the Executive Vice-President of European Commission and Commissioner for Competition, is a Danish politician who has been fighting against Big Tech since she was nominated in 2014 to become the Commissioner for Competition.
Last week, Vestager was a guest speaker at SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. And while there, the tech press seized the opportunity to speak with her (read this interview or listen to the podcast, it’s pretty insightful).
The EU is on the verge of implementing a new antitrust law called the Digital Markets Act (DMA).
There are few politicians I like to listen to, but Vestager is always thoughtful in her comments and is able to explain the complexities of European law to anyone. Also, she likes to lay out the steps and reasons why certain legislation is being adopted.
In the case of DMA, she describes how it is going to designate a category of tech “gatekeepers” and outlines rules and fines against anti-competitive behaviour. Such as giving preferential treatment to your own app on a platform you control (Apple Music vs Spotify).
The Financial Times has two very good articles on the topic.
The first one, is looking at how Big Tech lost the antitrust battle with Europe regarding DMA which the FT calls EU’s first overhaul of the rules that govern competition on the internet in 20 years.
DMA is important because it will set out, for the first time, the rules of how large online platforms must compete in the EU’s market.
The FT documents how big tech companies tried to lobby politicians and even pressure them. It’s quite astonishing. Over the course of the past two years, I too have been part of calls in which Facebook and Google managers trying to explain why these acts (DMA and DSA) are not great. The funny thing was, they weren’t able to convince even one European journalist on the call.
The second article from FT, goes deeper to explain the final form of DMA. It’s going to target companies that have a market capitalisation of at least €75bn and run one core online “platform” service such as a social network or web browser.
To become designated a gatekeeper, the platform has to have at least 45,000 active users. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, even Booking.com and Alibaba will meet this standard.
Many of the user rights that DMA will introduce will be painful, especially for Apple and Google, such as users having the legal right to uninstall applications.
Also, users who are locked into messaging services will be able to use smaller competitive services because DMA will force the likes of Messenger and WhasApp to interact with them.
Of course, this is going to mean big technology companies will have to remake those apps and services. That’s of course going to take time and cost money. Their argument is it will slow down innovation. And it’s true. It will slow down their innovation because they have operated one way for a long time and haven’t left space for smaller players to emerge.
The real fulfilment of DMA’s promise will be when, in few years, Europe sees more tech startups competing with Big Tech.
📝 Google Docs update lets you draft emails and send them to Gmail with a click. Super useful if you are drafting an email with others. [The Verge]
👀 Is Yandex too big to fail? They call it Google of Russia and it’s perhaps the biggest tech brand in the country (it still has 60% of the country’s search market). Yandex is often described as a mashup of Amazon, Google and Uber. Now, the Russian tech player is feeling the sanctions and western companies are ending their partnerships with Yandex. [Wired, Bloomberg]
🧑💻 UK’s online safety bill explained. [The Guardian]
🚗 Tesla officially began making cars in Europe after opening its first European plant outside Berlin. Once it is fully operational, the new “Gigafactory” will employ 12,000 people and produce 500,000 vehicles a year. [NYT]
🤓 Nvidia announced a new line of chips aimed at stretching the company’s lead in artificial intelligence. Alibaba Cloud, Amazon AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure are among the large companies that will adopt the new chips, Nvidia said. [Bloomberg, VentureBeat]
📲 Instagram launched chronological and ‘favorites’ feeds for all users, but they can’t be the default. [TechCrunch]
😶🌫️ Nothing will debut its smartphone with its own Nothing OS this summer. The company is based in London and its CEO Carl Pei, a Swedish national born in China, is one of the co-founders of OnePlus. Nothing’s first product was an earbud set, launched in summer of 2021. Pei has big ambitions and says he wants to take on Apple with the new phone. [The Verge]
😲 Google Play app store will allow a “dual billing option” in US apps, starting with Spotify. We don’t know how big the service fee would be for its dual billing arrangements but one thing is for sure, this move puts a lot of pressure on Apple to take a similar step. [CNBC]
🇺🇦 Ukrainian tech journalists had to pivot to war reporting. The staff at Creators Media Group, the country’s largest publisher of technology news websites, had to switch from reviewing PlayStation and the latest iPhone to writing about where the nearest bomb shelter is. [Fast Company, PressGazzette, VentureBeat]
📺 YouTube makes nearly 4,000 TV episodes available for free with ads in the US. It plans to add up to 100 shows and movies each week. I’ve always wondered why there isn’t more ad-supported internet TV. The question remains whether YouTube will buy a global license and roll out this feature worldwide. [The Verge]
📣 How a one dollar offer drives The Boston Globe’s subscription success story. Well, introductory pricing is the name of the game in subscriptions these days. Get people paying, even just a little, build up habits with great content (newsletters, podcasts…) and then enough will stay and pay full price. [DCN]
🤜🤛 An deep-dive look at the falling out between Bob Iger and Disney’s current CEO Bob Chapek. Also, the piece does a good job of explaining how Disney has reorganized itself and what challenges it faces. [CNBC]
😵💫 Investors are pressuring BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti to shut down News and amid cuts top editors are leaving. The organization’s newsroom has won several awards, including a Pulitzer Prize and a George Polk Award. BuzzFeed News, which is part of its content division, has about 100 employees and loses roughly $10m a year. One of the first principles of newsroom independence I was taught early on in my journalism carrier was that profitability buys independence. [CNBC]
FROM THE FIX
[ 📬 Get The Fix newsletter delivered to your inbox every week with the latest insights, news, and analysis about the European media market. Sign up here > ]
🗣 Spotify will rebrand Greenroom, its live conversation app, to Spotify Live and move it to the main app. It might help it take off as it has struggled since Spotify bought Locker Room and rebranded it to Greenroom. [Bloomberg]
🎥 Why podcasters will be stuck doing video. YouTube is already one of the most successful podcast clients, even without the vast majority of shows on it. [Matt Deegan]
ALSO: Automatic posting of podcasts to YouTube is the number one use for Headliner.
💸 A new report show podcasting’s international subscription revenue opportunity. 29% in Poland, 22% in Germany, 16% in France and only 14% in GB. Poland is an interesting case as more high-profile podcasters have recently opted to put their podcast behind a paywall. [Variety]
🤦♂️ The untold story of how SiriusXM, the satellite radio, bought Stitcher and fumbled the whole podcast network. This is very inside baseball, if you are not familiar with the podcast business. But it also shows how big legacy operations have a hard time catching on. [The Verge]
🕵️♂️ Apple Podcasts has explained how their podcast charts work in a new blog post. Ratings and reviews are not a factor for the ranking. Listening, following a podcast and completion rate are the main factors. [Apple]
👏 Podcasters will finally find out how many followers they have on Apple Podcasts. Apple is rolling out new features including follower count. Among minor updates is mp3 support for subscriber audio and customization of subscription banners. [Apple, TechCrunch]
❓ Poll: Do you think DMA will help EU’s tech sector to better compete with Big Tech?
Last poll results: Which iPad would you buy now if you needed one, 9th gen., Air or Pro? 22% prefer Android tablets. 20% iPad Pro. 20% is not interested. 18% the classic 9th gen and 18% the new iPad Air M1.
🙏 And big thanks to Celine Bijleveld who helped me edit this newsletter. You can follow her on Substack here.