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The News Fix
Apple’s antitrust fight has only just begun. Pressure from investigations and lawsuits here and abroad are chipping away at the business model of the iOS app store. Apple charges a 30% commission on any purchases made through the store, the only way its customers can get apps. Last week Epic Games mostly lost its blockbuster lawsuit, which accused Apple of benefiting from a monopoly on mobile apps. Epic is appealing. The judge left the door open for future litigation on the issue and forced Apple to make one concession.
Apple has to change the rule Epic broke in the first place. This whole thing started when Epic baited Apple into kicking Fortnite off the app store by offering players a cheaper way to pay for the game’s “v-bucks.” Apple wouldn’t let app developers tell users there were other ways to pay, but the judge said those anti-steering rules violated California law. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about how Apple will implement the order, and other changes it made to the app store to appease Japanese regulators.
What’s next? Big Tech antitrust regulation is a rare bipartisan issue, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle used the Epic decision to promote their bills. Under antitrust champion Lina Khan, the Federal Trade Commission is investigating anticompetitive practices in the industry, too. Oh yeah, and Epic also sued Google. That case hasn’t gone to trial yet.
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Smart In a Shot
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is facing double-digit charges of conspiracy and defrauding investors and patients who bought into her company’s bogus blood tests. We heard the first testimony this week from former employees who say the company was cutting corners and bleeding money (sorry).
Holmes’ defense rests on the mythos of the Silicon Valley founder: He (and it’s usually a he) might take a “fake it till you make it” approach, exaggerating accomplishments to attract investment and eventually build a great product. The defense argued Holmes’ tactics were no different, she just wasn’t as successful.
Meanwhile, women in Silicon Valley are feeling stuck, New York Times reporter Erin Griffith told “Marketplace Tech.” Women founders get next to no venture capital funding to begin with, and they’re encouraged to bend the truth like men, but the specter of Theranos looms unfairly over every pitch.
The NumbersIn a new report this week, the Treasury Department said a lack of affordable child care is dragging down the economy. It called America’s system “unworkable” and “a broken market.” So how did it get so expensive to have someone watch your kids?
13%That’s the portion of their income a family with a child under 5 pays for daycare, on average, according to the Treasury report. A recent survey put the average annual cost at $8,355 per year, though exact dollar figures vary across the country.
1 for every 3A big reason for varied costs is varied regulations. This story is old but illustrates the issue well: Mississippi requires one caretaker for every five infants, compared to one for every three in Massachusetts — that adds up to a five-figure difference for those families, on average.
$24,230That’s the median annual salary for child care workers in 2019, according to the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment — poverty wages. High turnover and labor shortages are driving up costs, too, which is why the White House wants an infrastructure plan to prop up the industry.
This week on the podcast
None of us is as smart as all of usTell us what’s making you smarter at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to include your recommendation in a future newsletter.
The other other big tech story this weekWe talked about the Wall Street Journal’s “Facebook Files” investigation on Tuesday, but it’s kept rolling on in the meantime. Kai recommends catching up with the latest and listening to WSJ’s podcast “The Journal.”
The “Disinfodemic”Hispanic Americans are among the most likely to get COVID-19 and the least likely to be vaccinated. Producer Marissa Cabrera recommends this Vice documentary on the rampant disinformation that keeps Spanish-speaking communities from getting the shot.
Some light readingListener Marvin R. was researching California’s recall election when he stumbled upon “Direct Legislation by the Citizenship Through the Initiative and Referendum,” a 19th century text you can read for free online. History buffs take note!