How to prove Google's anti-competitive behaviour
The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Google. It is arguing the search giant used unfair practices to preserve its search and search advertising monopoly.
👋 Welcome to the FWIW by David Tvrdon, your weekly tech, media & audio digest.
In this edition
📱 DOJ sues Google, and nobody believes it can win
😈 Adobe shows off AI magic within the new Photoshop
💬 Other tech, media, gaming, audio & podcasting news
👻 BONUS: I had a long conversation with newsletter expert Dan Oshinsky who runs the Inbox Collective consultancy. For anyone interested in media, business and email, you should read the whole interview, Dan shared many great insights.
(Also, here is a shorter version, a kind of listicle with all the useful tips and links.)
DOJ vs. Google
It finally happened, The Department of Justice dropped a lawsuit accusing Google of using money it makes from its dominant position in search to pay other companies to help maintain its lead and block out competitors.
DOJ picked quite a simple reason and did not go for the obvious problems like ad dominance or search results page issues.
I have seen two kinds of reactions. One, which the majority of analysts and journalists had - the lawsuit is weak, Google is going to win, and the DOJ did not even go after the biggest problems the company poses to the market.
On the other hand there were only a handful commendable reactions. One of them was analyst Ben Thompson’s blog titled United States v. Google. Thompson argues the lawsuit is pretty straightforward and the DOJ is using a sound reasoning. Though, even he finishes the blog stating Google will win.
To be able to successfully prove that a Big Tech company is a monopoly (in the legal sense) and is using anticompetitive practices you need a legal framework that is from this decade and not decades old. And the US does not have that, yet.
Big Tech and tech CEOs know that, they have the best lawyers and there are hundreds of lobbyists working for tech companies in Washington.
These lawsuits can be at best a good segway to open a public debate and remind people there could be alternatives to the Googles and the Facebooks of the world with less power over them.
But, to be successful, the laws need to updated and even better, there should be new laws and regulation with clear rules that were created in this decade and by lawmakers who understand how internet had changed things.
Go deeper on the DOJ lawsuit:
The Google Suit: We're All Anti-Monopolists Now (Matt Stoller)
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In other news
⏩ Quibi is shutting down. How about that? I’m kidding, we all knew it will not end up as a success, sorry. Anyway, somewhere in the whole Quibi story there are a few lessons for startups and businesses. And I’m sure there will a book, movie, podcast about all of that. [Wall Street Journal]
🛑 Sweden has banned telecoms equipment from Huawei and ZTE in its 5G network. The decision followed advice from the country's armed forces and security service, which described China as "one of the biggest threats against Sweden". Sweden is joining the UK and others in restricting the role of Chinese suppliers on security grounds. [Reuters]
😲 Adobe uses AI to tweak age and expression with a few clicks. Adobe calls them “neural filters.” The AI-powered features come in the recently released Photoshop version 22.0. [The Verge]
These filters include a number of simple overlays and effects but also tools that allow for deeper edits, particularly to portraits. With neural filters, Photoshop can adjust a subject’s age and facial expression, amplifying or reducing feelings like “joy,” “surprise,” or “anger” with simple sliders. You can remove someone’s glasses or smooth out their spots. One of the weirder filters even lets you transfer makeup from one person to another. And it’s all done in just a few clicks, with the output easily tweaked or reversed entirely.
RELATED: Adobe is adding its ‘content authenticity’ tool to the latest Photoshop beta. Adobe says it's designed for crediting artists and fighting misinformation. [The Verge]
📱 iPhone 12, 12 Pro & iPad Air review are out. If you did not get yet the new iPhones or iPad Air because you were waiting for the review, they just dropped. The reception is overwhelmingly great with many reviewers praising the new design and even the new MagSafe system. All in all, if your iPhone 11 or older model works, there is not a big reason, apart from the nicer design, to upgrade. I mean, the pandemic is raging out there, it’s not like you are going to show off your new iPhone to anyone.
📵 Looking for a tech-related long-read? Save this fascinating profile of Signal founder, Moxie Marlinspike. [The New Yorker]
📨 😶 Netflix’s subscriber growth slows. Though the company isn’t worried about running out of content as many titles restarted production and the streaming giant has been producing and filming all over world, so also in places where the pandemic is not as bad as USA. Netflix added 2.2 million (company’s was 2.5m guidance) net subscribers in Q3 and now has 195 million subscribers overall. [CNBC]
✍️ Twitter made things worse by blocking the dubious story about Biden. The blocking of NY Post's story undermined Twitter’s role as a facilitator for info sharing, while Facebook slowing the spread of the story was more reasonable, argues Ben Thompson. And John Gruger, on the Dithering podcast, reminded listeners of the Streisand effect in that regard. You cannot stop information spreading, and in the case of Twitter, which should be just a middle man with clear rules, such intervention creates quite a dangerous precedent. [Stratechery]
📩 Substack is adding custom domains. That is great news because now the platform is more like WordPress or Ghost. And you actually want to build your own website if you are serious about it. Until now only bloggers who worked directly with Substack got this chance. You have to pay though a one time fee of $50. [Substack]
#️⃣ The (Not Failing) New York Times. Long and interesting presentation on the NY Times' internet turn-around (167 slides). [Mine Safety Disclosures]
AUDIO & PODCASTING
🔊 Audio’s Opportunity. In this 50-minute read Matt Ball lays out the reasons why audio innovation has stagnated for years and that we are about to see a leap forward thanks to big technology companies like Spotify and Amazon (Audible) investing in audio in general. [Matthew Ball]
🎧 The future of audio. In the latest a16z podcast, Gustav Söderström, chief R&D officer at Spotify talked to a16z general partner Connie Chan and editor in chief Sonal Chokshi for a deep dive on all things audio. If you are a proper audio geek, this podcast episode is for you. And, it turns out, there is a lot to be excited about when it comes to podcasting and audio. [a16z podcast]
🌎 According to Libsyn, Google Podcasts is now the third-biggest podcast app. [Podnews]
🗣️ How Nick Quah became the podcast whisperer. This is not particularly podcast related, though I’m sure everyone knows who is Nick and subscribes to his HotPod newsletter about podcasting. The Medium’s Marker publication profiled the Malaysian immigrant who became super popular in the podcast community as one of the earliest people seriously writing about podcasting as a business. [Marker]
🎙️ 10 insights from The Paris Podcast Festival. Maybe you knew, maybe not, but the Paris Podcast Festival has been around for a few years. The French podcasting scene is quite mature as you would expect from a western country these days. [Medium]
📺 Politicians take game streaming seriously. But not in the sense you probably think. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made her Twitch debut playing Among Us and encouraged viewers to vote in the upcoming elections. Her stream peaked at 435,000 viewers around the time of her first match, according to Twitch. That put the stream right up there next to other all time highs like when the famous streamer Ninja played a Fortnite match with Drake in 2018 (600,000 viewers). [The Verge]
🕹️ Cloud game streaming needs better connection. The Verge staff tested Amazon’s new cloud game streaming service Luna (even on iOS as a web app!) and the results are underwhelming. You really need fast connection at this point and the best experience came on the ethernet connected desktop computer, which is not what cloud game streaming promised. [The Verge]