October 5, 2022
📷 Illustration: Protocol
Good morning! Apple hiked App Store prices by around 20% in some markets outside the U.S. without any explanation and with barely any notice. Critics are unsurprisingly upset, but what choice do they have?
The App Store just became a little pricier for many non-U.S. customers. Apple’s planned price hike went into effect today for any market that uses the euro, in addition to Chile, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, South Korea, Sweden, and Vietnam.
In most markets, the price increase equates to about 20% higher costs for apps (though it’s even more in some countries, like Japan and South Korea). So a mobile app that was previously 0.99 euros now costs 1.19 euros, while the same is true for an in-app purchase like mobile game currency. Curiously, Apple isn’t saying why exactly, leaving developers to guess whether it’s due to currency fluctuations, the related global economic crisis, or perhaps rising energy costs related to operating the App Store overseas.
The price hike is arriving at a sensitive time. The combination of record inflation and a looming global recession has started to take a serious toll on foreign markets as the strength of the U.S. dollar continues to grow relative to weakening foreign currencies like the euro, the British pound, and the Japanese yen.
Apple critics are not pleased. Naturally, a price hike with little explanation and on such short notice is going to rankle Apple's usual detractors in the developer community, including Fortnite maker Epic Games. But the criticisms have grown especially pointed given the current economic climate.
Apple is no stranger to sudden price increases. For decades, the iPhone maker has exercised near-total control of its software ecosystems, including the digital storefronts it has operated since the days of iTunes.
But there is no comparable distribution change for mobile apps or the App Store on the horizon. Apple sets the rules for commerce on iOS, and everyone must follow — so long as they want to reach iPhone customers.
— Nick Statt
Elon Musk decided, seemingly out of nowhere, that he actually will buy Twitter. But before you assume the roller coaster ride is over, think again.
Musk sent a letter to Twitter proposing to buy the company at the original, agreed-upon price of $54.20 a share provided the company agrees to forget the whole court battle. Twitter shares jumped on the news before exchanges halted trading.
Musk and Twitter could be entering even muddier waters, where the company will transition to a whole new owner who has expressed rather controversial ideas about the service. What happens next could go like this, as described by Protocol Policy editor Kate Cox:
Musk loves to prove the skeptics wrong, and turning Twitter around could be another way to do it. But those question marks are there for a reason: the details of how he would do it are beyond murky.
— Sarah Roach
Hundreds of companies that cut staff in recent months announced major funding rounds just a few months before. But startups aren’t blowing through their funding weeks after the check is deposited; it’s more complicated than that.
Startups often wait several months to a year after venture capital checks hit their bank account before going public about it.
The bigger an organization gets, the more secretive it becomes about funding updates. News of a big check is easier to keep from leaking publicly at a company of 100 compared to a company of 2,000, Alban said.
To help ease the blow of layoffs, being transparent can go a long way. “If people understand what their purpose is in a company, and that you see them for what it is that they're fulfilling, and you're helping this company succeed, that is like a tried-and-true strategy, and it takes time, it takes dedication, and I think it takes a lot of thoughtfulness from a founder,” said Anthony Kline, a partner at VC firm The GP.
— Nat Rubio-Licht
Uber's Nikki Krishnamurthy said the company is formalizing in-office “anchor days”:
Intel's Pat Gelsinger said the company should be the "national champion" of the Chips Act:
There’s no let-up in the surge of cyberattacks against businesses. But shutting down the hackers will require many enterprises to evolve their strategy.
Our latest Protocol special report examines best practices for securing both enterprises and small- to medium-size businesses, providing a true threat landscape and information you can use to make decisions about the strategy that best supports your business goals. Read the full report here.
IBM added Red Hat’s storage product road maps and its associate teams to the IBM storage business unit.
S. Daniel Leon is stepping down from Celsius as co-founder and strategy chief officer as the company continues to bleed executive leadership. Lior Koren, previously the company’s global tax director, is taking over.
Jon McNeill joined General Motors’ board. McNeill is a former Lyft and Tesla exec.
Steve Pickle is Samsara’s first chief people officer. Pickle was previously an HR exec at Salesforce.
Tifenn Dano Kwan joined Amplitude as CMO. She’s held similar roles at Dropbox, Collibra, and others.
Adam Blitzer joined Calendly’s board. Blitzer is the COO of Datadog.
Amazon is pausing hiring for corporate retail workers, joining lots of other companies in hiring freezes.
Google settled a consumer privacy suit in Arizona for $85 million. The company's facing similar suits in Indiana, Texas and elsewhere.
Facebook is shuttering Bulletins, its newsletter service meant to rival Substack, by early next year.
Micron’s dropping up to $100 billion on a chip factory in upstate New York over the next two decades thanks to the Chips Act. Construction will begin in 2024, the company said.
Sheryl Sandberg donated $3 million to the American Civil Liberties Union in a push to fight abortion bans.
Coinbase is getting its own documentary. The company worked with director Greg Kohs on the film, which will be released Friday.
The White House released its long-awaited AI Bill of Rights. But the document lacks concrete guidance, is legally non-binding, and is intended to be used as a handbook.
Facebook's quiet layoffs may lead to thousands of job cuts. Directors were told they should mark at least 15% of their team members as "needs support" in their internal review process, Business Insider reported.
A couple decades ago, the Internet Archive housed about 2TB of data that contained much of the internet. Now, the archive is about 50,000 times bigger and facing way more challenges, which range from documenting web pages with paywalls to scraping data from walled gardens like Facebook. And it might just keep getting harder: Have you ever thought about what it would take to archive the metaverse?
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