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From the U.S. to China, Korea, India and Europe, antitrust action against tech is gaining serious momentum

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From the U.S. to China, Korea, India and Europe, antitrust action against tech is gaining serious momentum

After decades of global expansion and consolidation in the tech sector, antitrust is now a headline issue for the industry across the world.

What has been a slow and sputtering series of disparate actions over the past decade has coalesced in just the past few weeks into a rapid and comprehensive series of actions against the industry, with the United States being a notable laggard worldwide.

Nowhere are these actions more prominent than in China, where the competition authorities have — after many years of a reasonably laissez-faire policy to its internet giants — suddenly decided to take sweeping action against its largest tech companies.

That movement started after Chinese regulators thwarted Ant’s record-shattering IPO in early November. Ant is one of China’s most important tech companies, a fintech company that was looking at a valuation north of $300 billion and that has 1.3 billion active users globally centered on China and the overseas Chinese diaspora.

That regulatory action led to a $60 billion dollar immediate drop in Alibaba’s market cap, given Alibaba’s 33% stake in Ant.

The bad news from Beijing has continued for the tech industry though. Earlier this week, market regulators laid out a “rectification” plan for Ant, including tougher lending standards that are expected to deeply impact the high-flying company’s revenues, margins, and growth. The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that China also specifically intends to “shrink” Jack Ma’s own influence over his business empire, with the government itself potentially acquiring larger ownership stakes in tech companies.

Furthermore, Beijing seems ready to force Alibaba and Tencent to play nicer with each other and create breathing space for startups outside of their two inter-locking corporate webs. Earlier this month, authorities fined Alibaba a nominal amount and also reviewed a Tencent acquisition, actions that were perceived by analysts as the opening shots in a new round of antitrust intervention. More action is expected in 2021.

It’s not just China though that has been bringing tech companies to heel. Almost exactly a year ago, Germany-based Delivery Hero announced a $4 billion takeover of Seoul-based Baedal Minjok, a popular food delivery app. Yesterday, South Korean competition authorities ordered Delivery Hero to divest its existing local delivery assets to get approval for the acquisition — a demand that undermined one of the reasons for acquiring Baedal Minjok in the first place. Delivery Hero has said that it will sell its unit to complete the transaction.

Meanwhile this month, Europe and soon-to-be-Brexited Britain announced a spate of new policies and regulations designed to heighten competition in the tech sector, including increasing legal liabilities for illegal content, broadening transparency around services, and mandating open competition on major platforms. Those policies have been a long-time coming, but now that they are starting to gain traction, they portend huge changes on how the highest-scale tech companies can operate on the Old Continent.

While many of these global policies are designed to undo the consolidation and scale of the industry, in India, regulators are working to prevent such scale in the first place. Local competition authorities there announced in November a framework that would prevent any company from owning more than 30% of local payments volume, and also mandating financial interoperability standards. That policy appears to be designed to avoid the kind of fintech duopoly seen in China between Alipay and WeChat Pay.

With all this global antitrust action bubbling, the laggard has actually been the United States, perhaps since the largest tech giants are all headquartered domestically. While Congress, the president, and dozens of state attorneys general have become increasingly strident on the scope of companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook, action remains very early against the giants.

The largest and most notable action so far has been a massive lawsuit by 46 states against Facebook that was filed earlier this month. As we reported then, the lawsuit “alleges that the company bought competitors ‘illegally’ and in a ‘predatory manner’ in order to grow and preserve its market power. The suit cites Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp as prominent examples.”

Of course, as some of us remember from the 1990s with the U.S. government’s case against Microsoft, antitrust lawsuits often take years to full wend their way through the courts — and often don’t even lead to much if any change in the end anyway.

Whether a Biden administration will dramatically change the course of these actions remains unclear, with the transition offering very limited insight as it prepares to take office next month.

Nonetheless, all of these antitrust actions happening simultaneously across the globe within weeks of each other portends huge regulatory fights for tech in 2021.

TechCrunch

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Man Recalls A Dating Catastrophe When He Invited A Felon He Met Online Over To Hangout

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YourTango

There exists a subreddit where people explain stories by setting the precedent of, “Today I F–ked Up,” called “r/TIFU.”

One man shared how he messed up by inviting a girl over to his place, not expecting the night to take a turn for the worst before he had to go to work the next day.

His second date turned into a night of horror after his date started drinking during dinner.

In order to provide some context, he explained how he met the girl on Facebook Dating and had gone on his first date with her over the weekend.

“I did notice that she only smiled with her top row of teeth in the pictures and figured that her bottom teeth might be effed up, but didn’t think much of it,” he explained, already pointing out potential red flags. “She had trad wife energy and I was into it.”

RELATED: Kindergarten Teacher Says A Mom Gave Her A Vacuum To ‘Turn On’ When Her Daughter Misbehaves

He explained that during their first date, he had learned a lot about her, including her history of battling eating disorders which explained the messed up teeth.

He learned that she doesn’t drink often and that she lives with her parents because she’s preparing for surgery that will require a lot of physical therapy.

“This is all a red herring — nothing about this TIFU has to do with the teeth,” he explains. “I wanted to mention it because I was so focused on this that I didn’t pick up the other red flags.”



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Zuckerberg says Meta Quest 3 will get Quest Pro’s key tech feature

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Renderings of the Meta Quest 3 based on leaked CAD images

Meta Quest 3 is not a reality yet but it is expected to launch this year, probably in the fall at a Meta Connect event. This will be Meta’s consumer focussed headset that will succeed the Meta Quest 2. We recently heard rumors about the headset being much slimmer with more compact display lenses than the Quest 2 and that it could run on a more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipset. 

Now, Meta’s recent earnings release has shed some light on new information around the Quest 3. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, has confirmed that the Quest 3 will have support for Meta Reality — the technology that allows the headset to be used for both augmented reality as well as virtual reality. This means that the Quest 3 will be a mixed reality headset and not just have virtual reality — much like the premium, enterprise-focussed Meta Quest Pro. This is something we had heard of before, but Zuckerberg seems to have confirmed it.

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5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week

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Apex Legends Mobile Cinematic Scene 7

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Welcome to the 470th edition of Android Apps Weekly. Here are the big headlines from the last week.

  • YouTube Music has an annoying censorship bug on Nest Hubs. It doesn’t let you play music with sensitive album art. You get the same warning on the phone app, but you can usually bypass it. Unfortunately, there are limited ways to bypass it on your Nest Hub. Hit the link to learn more.
  • A former Facebook employee says Facebook can intentionally kill your battery. It does so through a process termed negative testing, where the app acts out, tanks your battery, and Facebook collects the data with it. It doesn’t happen to a ton of people, but it can happen to anyone.
  • Samsung updated Good Lock this week, just in time for its Samsung Galaxy S23 launch. The update added an option to update every installed plugin at once. Previously, you had to update each one individually. It’s a minor quality-of-life improvement, but it’s a welcome one.
  • ChatGPT is getting more serious. You can now spend $20 per month for a more powerful version of OpenAI’s bot. It’s only available to US customers right now, but it may expand later. The bot is also causing waves at Google, causing the company to ramp up its own AI work.
  • Apex Legends Mobile is shutting down after less than one year. EA made the announcement just a month after half of the Internet, including us, dubbed it the best new game of 2022. EA cites challenges with the content pipeline. It makes sense, since many of the newer updates have included a host of bugs that the developers just can’t seem to squash. Oh well, it was a nice run.

Pompom: The Great Space Rescue

Price: Free / $5.49

Pompom: The Great Space Rescue is a platformer. You play as Pompom and you progress through the game by jumping through and around obstacles, avoiding enemies, and solve puzzles to progress. It pays ode to the 16-bit era of gaming, so you’ll see a lot of elements, including graphics, from that era. There are also a bunch of weapons and tools you’ll get to help you on your way. The actual gameplay has some runner elements where you run forward automatically, and that’s not a 16-bit era style, but the game is still fun.

Memori Note

Price: Free / $2.49

Memori Note screenshot 2023

Memori Note is a note-taking app with an emphasis on reminding you of things. You write down what you want in the app, ask it to remind you about it at a random time, and it’ll do just that. The app also has color coding, a tags and filters system, and we think it looks pretty nice with its muted colors. There are also some backup settings if you want to transfer notes to a new device. We’re not sure how well it’ll do long term, but it definitely has the potential.

Devil Hunter Idle

Price: Free to play

Devil Hunter Idle is an action idle game. Your character hacks and slashes its way to level-ups, loot, and resources. You use those resources to strengthen your character so they can go back out and hack and slash more bad guys. That’s the primary gameplay loop, and it plays similarly to classic games like Buff Knight. The game’s over-the-top art style makes it feel like a lot more is happening, and the player does get to control some aspects of combat. The advertising is annoying, but you can pay to remove all of them. Other than that and some early bugs, the game is decent for its genre.

Rewind: Music Time Travel

Price: Free

Rewind Music Time Travel screenshot 2023

Rewind: Music Time Travel is an app for music rediscovery. It’s basically a big timeline that you scroll through to see what the music world looked like in any given year. It’s a neat way to rediscover old hits, and remind yourself of stuff you used to listen to. When I tested this one, I used it to help fill out my YouTube Music library a little bit since I had forgotten some of the songs I used to listen to. This isn’t something you’ll use long-term, but it’s a neat little app anyway.

Checkers Clash

Price: Free to play

Checkers Clash is an online competitive game where you play checkers. It’s not a complicated experience. You get into a game with an opponent. The two of you take turns until one of you runs out of pieces or concedes the match. You can also invite your friends and play against them as well. Some other game features include 8×8 and 10×10 board options, bots to play against to improve your skill, and a rewards system where you collect various things. The matchmaking system is imperfect, as it is in almost all online games, but it’s one of the few competitive checkers apps on mobile.


If we missed any big Android apps or games releases, tell us about it in the comments.
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