May 5, 2021 • 11M

⏩ Apple fears Epic wants to turn iOS into Android

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Raad Ahmed
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🚨 Announcement: For your listening pleasure, we recorded a short discussion of this weeks issue. Just click the play button above or subscribe to our Apple Podcast below👇🏽

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This week: Epic and Apple begin a landmark trial, and Cloudflare gets ready to pounce on a patent troll. Plus, what’s going on with Basecamp?

🍏 Epic and Apple finally go to court 

Day one of the Epic-Apple trial kicked off on Monday, and Epic went for an anti-competitive strategy.

  • The video game maker’s CEO took the stand: Tim Sweeney described Apple’s iOS as exerting too much control in its walled garden app store. Epic’s lawyers pointed to old emails between Apple execs in which they said getting customers through their stores was “one of the best things we can do to get people in the ecosystem.”

  • Meanwhile, Apple focused on security: In its opening statement, the company said it has created a system where some 2 million apps can thrive, both for customers and companies, by regulating the quality and security standards. (It cited the $750 million Epic has made as evidence of the success.) “Epic wants us to be Android, but we don’t want to be,” Apple lawyer Karen Dunn said.

Epic tried to take down Apple’s security defense

By being the center for all app purchases, Apple reasons it leads to greater quality and security. But Epic noted plenty of low-quality apps have made the cut over the years and shared an Apple exec’s email question why an obvious “ripoff app” was a top seller.

The Verdict 

If Epic gets what it wants, iOS will look very different. Epic may be able to charge for in-app purchases -- the strategy that led to the litigation -- and Apple may have to allow other means for downloading apps than the app store. The trial is expected to last three weeks.

💥 Employees fight back at Basecamp

For years Basecamp has tried to make work easier for other companies through software, apps, and perhaps most notably the open-source code Ruby on Rails. Its leaders have authored books such as It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work.

But now Basecamp has found itself in a difficult work situation. 

  • About one-third of its 57 employees left the company in the last few days: According to The Verge, the exodus stems from Basecamp’s attempt to limit discussions about political and real-world conversations in internal company chats. 

  • To employees this felt like suppression: And they said the biggest discussions on internal chats were not about politics generally but the policies and atmosphere at Basecamp, where employees accused leadership of not understanding white privilege and work conditions of Asian and Black employees

The Verdict 

Coinbase enacted a similar ban on political discussions a few months ago and about 5% of its 1,200 employees resigned. As you likely know because of its major public listing, there haven’t been huge consequences, and the same could end up true for Basecamp once the news cycle dies down.  

☁️ Cloudflare shows how to destroy another patent troll 

A company called Sable Networks filed a patent lawsuit against Cloudflare a little over a month ago. It is the exact worst company for a patent troll to mess with.

  • Sable Networks hasn’t done much meaningful business in the last decade: But it owns at least 10 patents and has been suing tech companies. Its lawsuit against Cloudflare references four patents Cloudflare has supposedly violated. 

  • So Cloudflare restarted an operation known as Operation Jengo to fight back: It’s dangling $100,000 worth in cash prizes for people who turn in “prior art” that show the patents of Cloudflare are invalid in an attempt to remove most of Sable’s patent trolling power. 

Cloudflare has played this game before 

In 2017, it got sued by Blackbird Technologies, easily winning the court case and presenting prior art examples for all of its patents. Blackbird Technologies went into a tailspin and is no longer as prolific at filing patent lawsuits.

The Verdict

Cloudflare noted patent trolls appear to be on the rise after a relative decline in recent years. You can join the fight with Cloudflare if you think you can produce any prior art. And certainly do not bet against them.  

💌 What else we’re forwarding 

Big Tech got really, really big in the pandemic: In a “strange and amazing year” for tech, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook made a combined $1.2 trillion in revenue. 

Just like Epic, the EU is going after Apple’s App store: Want to know who else thinks it is anticompetitive to force companies to comply with the App Store’s 30% commission and other regulations? The EU. The bloc of European countries has filed a lawsuit against Apple.

🎧 Music we’re working to

Today we’re playing music and DJ sets from Facta, a producer from London. Facta co-founded the label Wisdom Teeth with childhood friend K-Lone in 2014. With his only LP, Blush, released only a few weeks ago, the Wisdom Teeth cofounder shows newfound devotion to melody, texture, and feeling. Enjoy!

Blush - Facta (30m, no vocals except samples on tracks 5 and 6)
Spotify / Apple Music / YouTube Music  / Tidal

See ya tomorrow,

🧐 Raad