The TikTok ban and the iPhone monopoly | The Vergecast

The TikTok ban and the iPhone monopoly | The Vergecast

Intro (00:00:00)

  • David Pierce, the host, expresses his regret for not obtaining eclipse glasses despite the upcoming solar eclipse.
  • He describes his unsuccessful attempts to find eclipse glasses at various stores.
  • The upcoming show will discuss TikTok, Apple, and related topics, including audience questions and concerns.

Vergecast Hotline (00:01:53)

  • The hosts, David Pierce, Nilay Patel, and Alex Cranz, address listener feedback on two previously discussed topics: Apple antitrust and the TikTok ban.
  • They plan to discuss Apple first, followed by TikTok, and have selected representative voicemails to guide their discussion.

Is the DOJ picking on Apple for being too successful? (00:02:47)

  • Apple is facing antitrust scrutiny due to its success and dominance in the smartphone market, which some argue gives it an unfair advantage in other areas, limiting competition and consumer choice.
  • Unlike Amazon and Google, whose antitrust concerns involve specific actions, Apple's case is more complex due to its control over the entire iPhone ecosystem, making it harder for competitors to enter the market.
  • Younger generations are increasingly concerned about antitrust issues as they feel their options are limited by a few large companies across various industries.
  • Tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Apple are facing legal challenges for allegedly abusing their dominant market positions.
  • Google is accused of using its search engine monopoly to suppress competition by acquiring potential rivals and controlling internet real estate.
  • Amazon is alleged to have penalized sellers who offered lower prices outside its platform, hindering competition.
  • Apple's case involves concerns about its control over markets like cloud gaming and its practice of degrading services to lock in users, as seen with ads in the settings app and limited access for competing apps.
  • The tension in these cases lies in balancing the rewards of success in capitalism with the potential negative consequences for consumers, such as reduced competition and diminished product quality.
  • The discussion emphasizes the historical significance of antitrust laws and the importance of maintaining competition in markets to prevent monopolies that can harm consumers.

Is regulating Apple going to ruin their products? (00:11:28)

  • Forcing Apple to open its platforms and services could lead to a fragmented user experience, as other companies may create their own exclusive systems.
  • Apple's control over its operating system limits the user experience, as only Apple can show ads on the setting screen.
  • Apple's reputation for enforcing a specific user experience may be influenced by its financial interests, leading to questionable decisions that result in subpar user experiences.

Why would we want a super app in the US? (00:19:14)

  • The Chinese government's promotion of WeChat as a "super app" has contributed to its success and may be a talking point for the US Department of Justice (DOJ) due to its appeal compared to "web apps."
  • Apple developed its services to compete with Google apps due to concerns about users loading iPhones with Google's offerings.
  • The US government's actions, including the lawsuit against Apple, are influenced by political considerations and the need to demonstrate their power as law enforcers.
  • "Super apps" may not be universally desired but serve as a useful example in the discussion about lowering phone prices and promoting choice.
  • The web-based application model on desktop computers demonstrates that users can have preferences and still use different operating systems without the need for "super apps."
  • The TikTok ban in the US is driven by concerns that people may not buy expensive iPhones if they can access the service on a cheaper phone.
  • Super apps, like WeChat, can be seen as monopolies and may not be necessary or desirable in the US, especially considering many Americans routinely use Meta products with personalized advertising and would likely choose free services over paid ones.

Is the TikTok ban a cover for US companies, and about power in an election year? (00:25:55)

  • The TikTok ban is being considered due to national security concerns and its impact on the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.
  • Some suspect ulterior motives, such as the influence of pro-Israel lobbying groups and the desire to control information during an election year.
  • The neutrality of the TikTok algorithm is questioned, as it may affect public opinion and influence the US government's stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
  • Public outcry and social media campaigns have had some impact, as seen in Joe Biden's recent statement on the situation in Gaza.
  • Competitors like Meta (Facebook) and Elon Musk may financially benefit from the ban, as it would drive users back to their platforms.
  • The lack of concrete proof makes it difficult to determine the true reasons behind the TikTok ban.
  • The assumption that the TikTok algorithm is neutral is questionable, as algorithms have preferences and biases shaped by those who control them.
  • The discussion becomes complex when considering the potential consequences of different entities, such as Rupert Murdoch or the Chinese government, having control over the algorithm.
  • The algorithm's potential to influence users' behavior and preferences raises concerns about its impact on society.
  • TikTok is not a single entity, and different users see different content on the app.

David has been brainwashed by TikTok? (00:35:34)

  • The 1932 Communications Act prohibits foreign ownership of media, which is a compelling reason to ban TikTok since it is owned by a Chinese company.
  • TikTok's content differs significantly from Reels and YouTube Shorts, particularly in the number of pros and cons posts on controversial subjects.
  • The argument that "China does it to us so we can do it back" is not valid because China has an authoritarian government and directly controls its information.
  • The US government has historically regulated companies, and some of the country's most prosperous economic periods occurred during periods of heavy regulation.
  • The TikTok ban seems hypocritical considering Disney's significant control over the US media landscape, but unlike TikTok, Disney has employees in the United States and is subject to accountability and consequences for its actions.
  • The core argument revolves around who should be allowed to dominate conversations in America, with concerns that no single entity should have a monopoly on culture and media.
  • While there are concerns about foreign actors influencing American society through platforms like TikTok, banning TikTok alone does not solve the problem as other tools and platforms can be used for the same purpose.
  • The effectiveness of regulating American-owned services is questionable due to challenges posed by the First Amendment and the difficulty in ensuring that American companies prioritize American interests.

Most prohibition laws fail, right? (00:47:44)

  • The TikTok ban is still not in effect, and there's no movement on a bill in the Senate to ban it.
  • Even if TikTok is banned, people will likely move on to other platforms.
  • Banning TikTok would not be practically enforceable due to the large number of users in the US and the existence of VPNs.
  • A Chinese-style Great Firewall would not be perfect, and people would still find ways to use TikTok.
  • The most likely outcome is that nothing happens, and the second most likely outcome is that TikTok gets sold to someone other than Steven Mnuchin.
  • The hypocrisy of the ban lies in the fact that it deems it acceptable for the Chinese government to manipulate people through TikTok but not for other companies like Disney or Ellison.
  • The TikTok ban and the iPhone monopoly are complex issues that will likely keep lawyers employed for a long time.

What web apps do you use? (00:52:20)

  • Francisco recommends Feedbin, a lightweight RSS reader, and Todoist, a simple to-do list app with offline capabilities.
  • Alex suggests Storygraph, a tool for tracking reading progress, and the web app version of the Pi-hole console for interacting with Raspberry Pi.
  • Dieter mentions the Homebridge web app for managing plugins and the web server in his Sony receiver for adjusting settings.
  • The discussion highlights the prevalence of web apps that offer better experiences than native apps, yet many companies still push for app downloads.
  • Apple's desire to avoid the fate of its laptops, where web apps replaced native apps, is seen as a driving force behind this push.
  • The Vergecast discusses the TikTok ban, the iPhone monopoly, and a recent lawsuit involving the Apple Watch, highlighting regulatory concerns surrounding Apple.
  • The Vergecast announces an upcoming event in Chicago on April 13th, featuring panels on AI and creativity, and encourages listeners to attend if interested in discussing AI's impact on creativity.

Vote for us in the Webbys! (00:57:57)

  • The Vergecast has been nominated for a Webby Award for best technology podcast.
  • Beating Decoder, hosted by Nilay Patel, is very important.
  • The Webby award is really cool looking and they want to win it.
  • Listeners can vote for the Vergecast in the People's Choice Award category.
  • The Vergecast team loves hearing from listeners, even if some of the feedback is mean.
  • The Vergecast produces a hot question on the show at least once a week and encourages listeners to keep sending in their questions.
  • The US government is considering a ban on TikTok due to national security concerns.
  • TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company, and the US government is worried about the Chinese government accessing user data.
  • Apple is the dominant player in the smartphone market, and its App Store policies give it a lot of control over what apps can be installed on iPhones.
  • If TikTok is banned from the App Store, it would be a major blow to the company.
  • Apple's control over the App Store has been criticized by some as being anti-competitive.
  • The Vergecast team discusses the potential implications of a TikTok ban and Apple's role in the situation.

Overwhelmed by Endless Content?