Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Apple Tax

From the Onion: Al Franken and the FTC are investigating the so-called “Apple Tax” for rival streaming services
In a sentence that would make frighteningly little sense to a someone who fell into a coma in 1995 and just awakened today, [As a side note, if I were writing for that publication, I don't think I'd open with a "things were sure different twenty years ago" gag. As a friend of mine mentioned in a conversation recently, twenty years ago, the Onion was the place to go for smart, fresh humor writing while Cracked was a tired magazine your father used to read. -- MP] Saturday Night Live-writer-turned-senator Al Franken has called on the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department to investigate whether successful computer manufacturer and music provider Apple may have engaged in anti-competitive behavior against rival music streaming services like Spotify or Rdio.

The crux of the investigation comes down to the multi-faceted relationship between Apple and the streaming services it both supports and competes against. As the proprietor of iOS’s App Store, the company has a huge amount of control over those streamers’ access to their consumer base, many of whom use their iPhones to play music while on the go. But with the advent of the company’s own Apple Music service, Apple is now in direct competition with those same companies, who it assigns a 30 percent surcharge to operate in the Store.

The company was previously suggested to have manipulated music licensees into dropping out of Spotify’s free streaming service, a practice that also invited investigation from the FTC.
It's too late to go into a big discussion of anti-trust and vertical integration and monopsony and all that jazz (or, more accurately, too late for me to read through all of the Wikipedia pages on anti-trust and vertical integration and monopsony so I can sound knowledgeable about all that jazz), so I'll leave it to the readers to draw their own conclusions about the concentration of economic power in media and finish up with this clip from College Humor.

[I assume by this point everyone knows these aren't safe for work.]

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