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Spotify Files Antitrust Complaint Over ‘Apple Tax’

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Spotify announced this morning that it’s filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Union, alleging that the iPhone maker is harming consumer choice and stifling innovation via the rules it enforces on the App Store.

As Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek outlined in a blog post, the company is particularly annoyed about the 30 percent cut Apple takes from subscriptions made via the App Store. This “tax,” suggests Ek, seems designed to harm streaming services that compete with Apple’s own.

Ek says that if Spotify pays this cut it has to “artificially inflate” its prices “well above the price of Apple Music.” But if it doesn’t pay, Apple applies “a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions” that make Spotify an inferior experience. Ek also notes that Apple “routinely blocks our experience-enhancing upgrades,” including locking Spotify and other competitors out of Apple services like Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch.

As well as filing a complaint with the European Commission, the EU body that handles antitrust issues, Spotify has launched a press campaign, including a website dedicated to Apple’s unfair behavior and a YouTube video explaining the company’s grievances.

Interestingly, Spotify’s complaint echoes recent comments made by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Warren said last week that if elected president in 2020 she would break up big tech companies. She criticized these firms for the same reason that Spotify is now criticizing Apple: they operate marketplaces in which they also compete against rivals, allowing them to set the rules in a way that benefits them at the expense of others.

Warren singled out Amazon, Google, and Facebook — but not Apple — as targets to be broken up. “Companies would be prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform,” she said.

Spotify’s filing is the first time an antitrust complaint against the App Store has been publicly registered with the EU. However, companies have long criticized the so-called Apple tax since it was introduce not long after the App Store’s launch in 2011.

Although it’s not clear how far Spotify’s complaint against Apple will go, the EU has been on something of an antitrust tear in recent years. In 2017, Google was fined €2.4 billion complaints related to its shopping business, and in 2018, it was fine €4.3 billion for complaints about stifling competition in Android.

A spokesperson for the European Commission told The Wall Street Journal that it had received Spotify’s complaint and was “assessing [it] under our standard procedures.” At the time of publication Apple had not responded to a request for comment.

Source: The Verge

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Huawei Responds To Android Ban

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Fresh off the sledgehammer blow of having its Android license revoked by Google in response to US government demands, Huawei has issued its first, limited response, which leaves more questions open than it answers. In a statement emailed to The Verge, Huawei underscores its contributions to the growth of Android globally — which most recently saw the company’s Android phone sales growing by double digits while every other leading smartphone vendor was shrinking or stagnant — and reassures current owners of Huawei and (subsidiary brand) Honor phones that they will continue to receive security updates and after-sales service. That promise also covers phones that are already shipped and in stock at stores globally, but no additional promises are made beyond that.

“Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry.

Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally.

We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.”

Google has already said that owners of Huawei phones will retain their access to the Play Store and continue being able to update their apps. The big thing that’s being written out of their future, however, are further Android OS updates from Google. To get those back, Huawei phone owners and fans will have to hope for a resolution in the US-China trade dispute, which has been the trigger for Huawei’s current blacklisting by the US government.

For its part, Huawei has been making preparations for an eventuality of losing access to software from US companies like Google and Microsoft, and it has been developing an in-house operating system alternative to Android. That may be what the company hints at in the final paragraph of its statement when it says it will “continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem.” Sustainable being the key word.

Source: The Verge.

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NCA Unveils Plan To Ban All Fake Phones.

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Mobile devices that enter the country will now be tested for their authenticity before being released onto the market.

This follows the completion of a state of the art laboratory by the National Communications Authority to test such devices.

The NCA, together with other stakeholders in the telecommunications industry, has on a number of occasions lamented the effect of substandard mobile devices have on service delivery.

Speaking at the celebration of World Telecoms Day in Accra, Deputy Minister of Communications George Andah said the Ministry will do all it can to maintain high standards within the country’s telecommunication industry.

“The NCA has acquired the state of the art type approval laboratory capable of testing all electronic communication devices to ensure that they are up to standard”

“To the NCA, I request that you kindly liaise with mobile network operators to determine the level of potential risk with regards to the prevalent substandard mobile devices on the market”.

Ghana joined the rest of the world on Friday, May 19, 2019 to observe the 2019 World Telecommunications and Information Society Day under the theme “Bridging the standardization gap”. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the celebration since its inception in 1969.

The day was observed to raise awareness on the importance of the theme as well as encourage the implementation of international standards in Ghana’s communications sector in the bid to bridge the digital divide

Source: CitiBusinessNews.

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Google And Android System Start To Cut Ties With Huawei.

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US internet giant Google, whose Android mobile operating system powers most of the world's smartphones, said Sunday it was beginning to cut ties with China's Huawei, which Washington considers a national security threat.

In the midst of a trade war with Beijing, President Donald Trump has barred US companies from engaging in telecommunications trade with foreign companies said to threaten American national security.

The measure targets Huawei, a Chinese telecoms giant in Washington's sights that is listed by the Commerce Department among firms with which American companies can only engage in trade after obtaining the green light from the authorities.

The ban includes technology sharing.

"We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications," a Google spokesperson told AFP.

The move could have dramatic implications since Google, like all tech companies, must collaborate with smartphone makers to ensure its systems are compatible with their devices.

Google will have to halt business activities with Huawei that involve transfer of hardware, software and technical services that are not publicly available -- meaning Huawei will only be able to use the open source version of Android, a source close to the matter told AFP.

Huawei will no longer have access to Google's proprietary apps and services, such as the Gmail email service.

Huawei did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Huawei is a rapidly expanding leader in 5G technology but remains dependent on foreign suppliers.

It buys about $67 billion worth of components each year, including about $11 billion from US suppliers, according to The Nikkei business daily.

Huawei is the target of an intense campaign by Washington, which has been trying to persuade allies not to allow China a role in building next-generation 5G mobile networks.

US government agencies are already banned from buying equipment from Huawei.

Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said Saturday that "We have not done anything which violates the law," adding the US measures would have a limited impact.

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Rigworld, Maritime University Partner To Train Students On IMO Regulations.

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Rigworld Training Centre (RTC), an indigenous Ghanaian company has signed an accreditation partnership with the Regional Maritime University (RMU) to train personnel on International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations.

Under the accreditation partnership the two parties will collaborate for the training of people on IMO mandatory short courses hence issue two certificates; one jointly signed by RTC and RMU and secondly solely signed by the Ghana Maritime Authority, certificate of competency from Ghana Maritime Authority.

The partnership, which was signed by Prof. Elvis Nyarko, Vice Chancellor of the RMU and Kofi Amoa-Abban, Director of the RTC.

Among some of the courses that would be offered as part of the training program include Elementary First Aid, Personal Survival Techniques, Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities as well as Basic Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting.

Others are International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, Oil/Chemical Tanker Familiarization, Efficient Deck Hand, Lifeboat, Proficiency in Survival Craft Rescue Boat, Radar/ARPA Simulator Training as well as International Safety Management.

The RMU is an international institution owned by the Republics of Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone under the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA). The overall objective of the RMU is to promote regional co-operation in the maritime industry focusing on the training to ensure sustained growth and development in the industry.

The RTC on the other hand is an indigenous Ghanaian company accredited by various international bodies to train people and students in safety and survival skills in the oil and gas industry here. Enditem

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