Epic Games, Spotify not impressed with Apple’s App Store changes


Source: PlayStation

Epic Games and Spotify responded on Tuesday to Apple’s decision to cut App Store fees to 15% for developers who make less than $1 million in annual net sales from the App Store.

In short: They’re not impressed. App development is a winner-take-most business, and the top 1% most popular publishers on Apple and Google’s stores account for about 93% of sales, according to a 2019 estimate from app analytics firm Sensor Tower. Epic and Spotify, who are likely in that top 1% category, view Apple’s move as an attempt to blunt criticism while doing little to address the underlying problem of unfair pricing for developers.

“This would be something to celebrate were it not a calculated move by Apple to divide app creators and preserve their monopoly on stores and payments, again breaking the promise of treating all developers equally,” Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said on Tuesday.

“By giving special 15% terms to select robber barons like Amazon, and now also to small indies, Apple is hoping to remove enough critics that they can get away with their blockade on competition and 30% tax on most in-app purchases.”

Sweeney said Android and iOS need to open up to competition for payments to level the playing field among developers and service providers.

Apple’s anti-competitive behavior threatens all developers on iOS, and this latest move further demonstrates that their App Store policies are arbitrary and capricious,” Spotify said. “We hope that regulators will ignore Apple’s ‘window dressing’ and act with urgency to protect consumer choice, ensure fair competition, and create a level playing field for all.”

Epic Games and Spotify are among the most vocal Apple critics. Epic sued Apple earlier this year after the game developer released a version of Fortnite that allowed users to skip Apple’s in-app payment platform, forgoing Apple’s 30% cut, was banned from the App Store.

Spotify has criticized Apple’s practice and teamed up with Epic Games, Match Group and other developers to create a nonprofit named “The Coalition for App Fairness” that is fighting for legal action against Apple’s in-app commission fees. It also responded to Apple’s changes on Tuesday.

A ‘symbolic gesture’

The Coalition for App Fairness said that Apple’s change was a “symbolic gesture” in a tweet.

“$1,000,001 in revenue is an arbitrary benchmark. Subtract 30% to Apple, 20% to marketing, 30% to taxes and you’re left with enough to possibly build and maintain the product — but forget about paying your employees or making a profit.”

David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder and CTO of Basecamp, a project management and team communications app, also spoke out on Tuesday.

“Apple is a $2 trillion company that sells $1,000 phones to consumers that bought those devices and want to use the best apps they can get access to,” Heinemeier Hansson said on CNBC’s Squawk Alley on Tuesday. “Apple needs to flip this around and look at this and say ‘hey hey, these developers are selling our phones, we should be paying them.'” He added Apple shouldn’t be “shaking down” developers.

Andy Yen, founder and CEO of the Proton email app said the change is positive but is a “thinly disguised attempt to escape regularly scrutiny.”

“It is ironic that Apple, a $2 trillion company, considers that any company making more than $1 million is making way too much money and needs to pay higher fees,” Ye said.

“What small businesses need is not a slightly cheaper monopoly, but a real choice of payment methods in the App Store. It is only through allowing real competition in app store payments that truly competitive fees (not 30% nor 15%) can be assured,” he added.

The App Association, an industry group that represents app developers, welcomed the policy change.

“Today’s announcement by Apple marks an important moment in the evolution of the app economy recognizing the crucial role small business like our members play in the growth and innovation of the app marketplace,” App Association president Morgan Reed said in a statement.

The House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust released a report in October that said Apple has “monopoly power” over software distribution on iPhones but also said Apple’s ecosystem has produced benefits to both consumers and developers.

Apple responded to that report and said it does not have a dominant market share in any category where it does business.

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President claims media is breaking ‘election law’ as ‘epic meltdown’ interview is released

US president Donald Trump, claims to have done ‘maybe a great job’ with coronavirus (AP)

Donald Trump is complaining on Twitter about “COVID, COVID, COVID” coverage in the media as he heads into the final week of campaigning, even suggesting reporting on a pandemic amounts to “election law violation” after the country recorded its highest number of new coronavirus infections so far over the weekend, reporting more than 84,000 cases on Friday and 79,000 on Saturday.

The president’s aborted interview with CBS show 60 Minutes was finally aired on Sunday night, with Mr Trump seen claiming his administration has done “maybe a great job” in fighting back against Covid-19 and losing his temper with presenter Lesley Stahl when she confronted with his own past comments on decrying “fake news” as a tactic to discredit unfavourable press coverage.

On the campaign trail on Sunday, the president also provoked confusion when he claimed falsely to have won two Nobel Peace Prizes during a rally speech in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

For more on who’s leading the race for the White House, follow our dedicated US election polling liveblog


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The premiership between Richmond Tigers and Geelong Cats that was nearly epic

The beginning of the match was a parable of the year. It wasn’t anyone’s fault in particular, but it kept coming out wrong. Early injuries, accidental but severe, to Nick Vlastuin (concussion) and Ablett were akin to an exchange of key pieces in chess. Knights, perhaps?

But not quite. Ablett came back, Vlastuin didn’t, or rather, was not allowed. Though by far the lesser sung of the pair, he was structurally more important to Richmond. Without him, the Tiger defence could not relieve the sieges as they were set.

In the first half, the Cats transformed themselves into Tigers. Let’s say it’s a feline. Geelong brought its usual array of sophisticated skills, and added to them a convincing replica of Richmond’s patent all-court swarm. For long stretches in the first half, Richmond could not have gained a clean possession even if wearing full PPE.

At half-time, it was tempting to declare it all over, except for Dustin Martin’s goal just before the break, kicked while being tackled, like Houdini breaking out of a straitjacket and chains.

Somehow, it re-awakened Richmond to its vocation. Martin grew, the Cats faltered. Impersonating Richmond took an obvious physical toll. For the balance of the game, it was nine goals to two. The Tigers made good on their mantra of the last four years, that their system would prevail as long as they kept faith with it.

One of the tenets of that faith is the singular Martin. With four goals this night, and a third Norm Smith medal, he has tattooed his name onto the history of the game. In all ways, he is irresistable.

This was billed as a grand final like no other. May there never be another like it. That’s not to say it never can or will be staged outside Melbourne again. It is not to say that we ought to resign ourselves to night deciders. But it is to pray that it won’t be under these grim circumstances again.

Inescapably, this felt as if the big one was being wrenched from the hands of us, tearing away with it a piece of the city’s soul at what is anyway a vulnerable time. It was a finale lost in space.

Good on the Gabba. Thank you Queensland for your goodwill. Hail and hallelujah for the superhuman effort made by so many to make the season possible at all, and this day. But we need time and space to mourn. Certainly Geelong do. And Richmond might feel a little cheated, too, to have won a premiership in a vacuum.

Melbourne survived this grand final non-day the way it has borne up to all the travail of 2020: stoically. Its absence was so acutely felt that it became a presence, a yawning, gaping, aching chasm of a presence. It was the tree falling in the forest, but with a twist: we all saw and heard it, and yet it didn’t make a sound. In our lounge rooms, it was grand final day. Outside, it was Good Friday, apocalypse for now.

It’s hard to explain, but easy to intuit. Typically, only one in every 30 of the grand final’s audience get to watch it at the MCG anyway. The rest watch as did this night, on a screen somewhere. They’re a virtual crowd, spread across the country, but in Melbourne the proximity of and link to the MCG makes them a palpable force. The remove was real.

Others will scoff, but Melbourne takes its sporting capital vocation seriously. Without all the other rites and rituals, it didn’t even seem to matter that it was a night game, except that it made another long and featureless day. We’ve grown used to those.

At the Gabba, everyone tried so desperately hard. Beaming in Mike Brady from the MCG to sing Up There Cazaly was a good idea, but the empty stands behind him served only to emphasise what was missing, and a little syncopation added to the sense that he might as well have been in outer space.

As heard on TV, gee-ups to the crowd came across as tinny. At the ‘G, they would not have been needed.

For the Cats, there was a saving grace. If they’d lost in Melbourne, it would have been hard to escape the triumphal Richmond atmosphere. In losing a remote, night finale, refuge was one push of a button away.

Congrats Richmond. Commiserations Cats. Thank you Brisbane. If Melbourne ever took grand final day for granted, it won’t again.

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Top MTB Rider Jesse Melamed’s Epic Flow at Whistler Bike Park

This article originally appeared on Bike.com and was republished with permission.

Top-ranked Enduro World Series rider Jesse Melamed is a master of flow. To prove that point, let the video above serve as Exhibit A.

Last week, Melamed laid down a few hot laps during Closing Day at Whistler Bike Park. With a little bit of snow and whole lot of flow, the Whistler-native gave a proper send-off to his hometown bike park’s last day of the 2020 season.

Here’s what Melamed had to say about the ride: “2 weeks off the bike and we were all feeling a bit sketchy! Nothing like some primo dirt and the best jumps in the world to get back to though!”


For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!

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Wallabies show promising signs against All Blacks in epic Bledisloe Cup draw in Wellington

It is far too early to suggest Australia is on the verge of reclaiming the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in almost two decades, but Sunday’s epic 16-16 draw with New Zealand provided evidence brighter days may lie ahead for the Wallabies.

They had their chances to beat the All Blacks in Wellington during almost 90 minutes of rugby and they will no doubt count themselves unlucky Reece Hodge’s long-range effort after the full-time siren hit the upright instead of sailing through for a match-winning penalty goal.

It was not a flawless performance from the Wallabies but there were enough positives to give Wallabies coach Dave Rennie hope his side can win the second Bledisloe Cup Test next Sunday at Auckland’s Eden Park, although he would be mindful of Australia’s woeful record at the venue.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the Wallabies’ display in the pulsating Bledisloe Cup opener.

Wallabies playing with harder edge

It could not be said the Wallabies lacked a desire to win under former coach Michael Cheika, but the squad’s resolve does appear to be strengthening under Rennie’s leadership.

Yes, this is an observation made following just one Test under his coaching, however there were signs in Wellington the Wallabies are developing into a mentally tougher unit.

An example of this came when they trailed 13-3 in the second half.

This was a point in the match where in the past the Wallabies could have easily folded against the All Blacks, especially when playing in New Zealand.

Winger Marika Koroibete (right) scored one of the Wallabies’ two tries.(AP/Photosport)

Yet Rennie’s team responded with score tries to Filipo Daugunu and Marika Koroibiete, and a penalty goal to James O’Connor to move in front on the scoreboard, 16-13.

The fact they could not close out the match shows they are nowhere near the finished product, but there is a reason for Wallabies fans to be encouraged.

Rennie’s comments after the match should also hearten the Australian rugby community, as he showed he will not be satisfied simply with admirable performances.

“We’re disappointed,” Rennie said in his post-match media conference.

“We’re certainly not celebrating in the changerooms.”

There’s room for improvement

As spirited as the Wallabies’ display was in Wellington, there are areas of concern for Rennie ahead of the Eden Park clash and looking beyond to the Rugby Championship beginning later this month.

The Wallabies enjoyed around 60 per cent of both possession and territory, yet could not translate those stats into a decisive scoreboard advantage against the All Blacks.

The line-out proved to be a weakness and the All Blacks got the better of the breakdown battle, while discipline was a cause for alarm, with the Wallabies conceding 14 penalties to their opponents’ seven.

None of this was lost on Rennie.

“We’re miles away from where we need to be, we let ourselves down,” he said.

“We gave away 14 penalties and a big chunk of those were post tackle.”

Debutants show the right stuff

There is no tougher assignment for a player making his Test debut than facing the All Blacks in New Zealand, and Wallabies trio Daugunu, Hunter Paisami and Harry Wilson have reason to hold their heads high.

It is too early to tell whether they will have a similar impact at Test level to another three Wallabies who debuted against the All Blacks in New Zealand 31 years ago — World Cup winners Tim Horan, Phil Kearns and Tony Daly — but there were encouraging signs.

A male Australian Test rugby player dives in the air as he scores a try against the All Blacks.
Filipo Daugunu (left) was impressive on debut for the Wallabies.(AP: John Cowpland)

Winger Daugunu proved a handful on the wing and was justly rewarded with a second-half try, while outside centre Paisami performed with distinction on both sides of the ball.

The hype surrounding back rower Wilson during Queensland’s Super Rugby and Super Rugby AU campaigns was massive and there is much evidence to predict he will deliver on his promise.

Wilson is the type of ball-running back rower — with the ability to offload in the tackle — the Wallabies desperately need and his aggression in defence is another of his strengths.

He was not intimidated by his first exposure to Bledisloe Cup rugby and a lengthy Test career could await the 20-year-old.

Wallabies should keep All Blacks happy

Although the All Blacks were staring at their first loss to the Wallabies in New Zealand in 19 years, they should be satisfied with the performance of their trans-Tasman rivals.

That may sound like a strange statement, but stick with me on this one.

It was only two years ago that then-New Zealand coach Steve Hansen threw a barb at Australia by suggesting the All Blacks were being hindered in the build-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup because they were lacking consistent competition from the Wallabies.

“There is definitely something missing because they [the Wallabies] are not quite right and are not performing to the level they can,” Hansen said in late 2018.

A New Zealand All Blacks players holds the ball while under pressure from the Australian defence.
The All Blacks were pushed by the Wallabies throughout the contest in Wellington.(AP: Andrew Cornaga)

The Wallabies did beat the All Blacks in Brisbane in 2017 and last year in Perth, but they were the only wins they could muster over Hansen’s side in the 2016-2019 Rugby World Cup window and they were both achieved on home soil.

Aside from a gallant 35-29 loss in Dunedin three years ago, the Wallabies barely laid a glove on the All Blacks when playing in New Zealand during that period, highlighted by last year’s 36-0 thrashing in Auckland.

A more competitive Wallabies outfit under Rennie might just keep the All Blacks happy.

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Richie Porte climbs higher on Tour de France general classification as Miguel Angel Lopez wins epic mountain stage

Australia’s Richie Porte gritted his teeth and delivered a brave performance to finish fifth on the most difficult stage yet of this year’s Tour de France which finished at the summit of Col de la Loze.

The fifth placing on the stage moved Porte up from sixth overall to fourth in the general classification as Colombia’s Miguel Angel Lopez took advantage of the high altitudes so familiar to him in his native country and sprinted clear in the final kilometres to take the stage victory.

The win moved him into third position overall behind yellow jersey wearer Primoz Roglic, who was second on the stage ahead of his nearest rival and fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar.

“I feel emotional because of the work done at home with my family, my wife, my son, I dedicate this victory to them,” Lopez said.


Lopez moved to within 1:26 of Roglic, who extended his lead over Pogacar to 57 seconds after the two engaged in an epic duel to the finish line, in which Roglic seemed to break his younger countryman’s spirit.

The pair, along with Porte and Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma teammate Sepp Kuss, had already engaged in a tough battle that started during the final ascent, which included gradients of 24 per cent on the final 21 kilometre climb.

“It was again a good day for us,” Roglic said.

“Of course, I always want to win but I gained some time and I saw that others had problems. I knew I could gain time today and that’s what we did.”

Painful climb to the finish

With four kilometres to go Kuss took off when the man who had led for much of the day — Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz — came back to the small chasing pack, but he was followed by Lopez who had far more speed.

Commentators speculated at the time that it was a poor move for Kuss to leave his teammate and yellow jersey wearer but Roglic confirmed it was all part of a plan.

“Also, the others tried to chase him back and it helped me realise many guys around me were struggling.”

Richie Porte pushes through the pain as he battles Sepp Kuss to the finish line on stage 17 of the 2020 Tour de France.(Reuters: Stephane Mahe)


Porte did well just to hang on for as long as he did, having been dropped a few metres off the back of Roglic and Pogacar as they sought to jostle for second, but on multiple occasions the Australian managed to get back on their tail.

However with two kilometres to go the Slovenians showed their class and finally dropped the dogged Australian, who eventually crossed the line with American Kuss.

Porte finished the stage in fourth overall on the general classification 3’05” behind Roglic and 1’39” behind third-placed Lopez

Fans ignore COVID-19 protocols

Masked Tour de France fans converge as leading riders make a large climb.
Tour de France fans crowd around Tadej Pogacar as he makes the final climb to the stage 17 finish.(Supplied: SBS Television)

Present for the stage was French President Emmanuel Macron, but he was far from the only one and it would be hard to imagine that Tour organisers were happy with scenes that were beamed across the world as the leaders made the final climb.

This year’s Tour set against the backdrop of the global coronavirus pandemic has seen riders frequently tested and the usual crowds sparse, but that was not the case as large numbers of cycling fans closed in on the road and leaders during the final climb.

After the stage Mr Macron told reporters: “It’s extremely important to show that we can live with the virus.”


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Putt-Putt your way into epic home with fire pit

With a mini golf course, 4K cinema, a hand built fire pit and a heated lap pool, this Sydney house will no doubt be the talk of the town.

The custom built house at Blakehurst with flashy walk-in wardrobes, an aquarium and mood lighting is for sale after recently being completed.

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Listed with Ray White — Georges River agents Haydon Sacilotto and Fraser Glen, the four-bedroom residence at 66 Townson Street is expected to sell for around $4m via private treaty.

The extravagant home was completed by the vendor after he purchased the property three-quarters finished from a friend. Mr Sacilotto said the owner had plenty of input into the finished product, including the hand built sandstone fire pit and putting green.

Mr Sacilotto has had more than 100 inquires on the Townson Street dwelling and close to 2000 page views on realestate.com.au since it came up for sale last week

“You’d be stoked to have 100 inquires over the course of a campaign, but to get that in the first week is incredible,” he said.

Mr Sacilotto said buyers have loved the uniqueness and that the home is not a traditional “cookie cutter house” built by a developer.

“Everything here has been done for the family and there are so many features that a regular builder wouldn’t dream to do,” he said.

All four bedrooms are oversized and feature walk-in wardrobes and ensuites. The main bedroom is complete with water views and a stunning ensuite with a freestanding stone bath, shower and his/her vanity, while two other bedrooms have private lofts.

The main living space is open plan in design with feature ceilings, an aquarium and a built-in fireplace. This is connected to the high-end kitchen equipped with a butler’s pantry, Miele appliances, and Calcutta benchtops.

Behind the central hub is the rear entertaining desk with a built-in barbecue, pizza oven and bar fridge. This overlooks a stylish backyard with a custom 14-seater sandstone fire pit and a heated pool.

The double garage features the other highlight of the house — a cinema with a 130in screen, 4K projector, surround sound and a fully stocked bar.

Mood lighting can be found right throughout the property, including in the bathrooms, walk-in wardrobes, the cinema and at the front where there is a multi-hole mini golf course equipped with obstacles and bunkers.

CoreLogic records reveal the home would be one of the most expensive properties to ever sell on Townson Street is sells for around $4m.


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