Gongol.com Archives: April 2024

Brian Gongol

April 20, 2024

Computers and the Internet Apple's iPhone exclusivity isn't the place for the Senate

(Video) Sen. Elizabeth Warren has released a video whose tone might be earnest, but also possibly tongue-in-cheek, decrying Apple's handling of text messages from non-iPhone users to those using iMessage. It is true that Apple uses cues (like a jarring color) to single out those off-brand users. And it's true that some iPhone users are inclined to keep their Android-using friends out of certain chats. ■ But is it the kind of overreach that justifies a United States Senator vowing to "break up Apple's 'monopoly'" over a "stranglehold on the smartphone market", when Apple has a sub-60% market share? That's not a literal monopoly. Its practices may be anti-competitive, but are they really illegally so? ■ It's not as though iMessage has an exclusive hold over the messaging market more generally -- there's Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Bluesky, Mastodon, Snapchat, Telegram, Skype, WhatsApp, and Google Chat, just to name a few. Several of them have more than 25% penetration in the US market. ■ People are free to migrate wherever their preferences take them. And those providers are free to offer exclusive features to attract users. Similar complaints could have been lodged against AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ a couple of decades ago, and look where they are now. ■ For those who truly feel left out of iPhone chats, but who don't want to surrender Androids as their primary phones, a prepaid phone plan for $15 a month and an unlocked, refurbished iPhone can be had for $150 or less. That's not free, but it's also not very much to pay to avoid the fear of missing out. ■ The mystique of government intervention as the way to alleviate even low-grade social conflicts really ought to be avoided. Excessive interference with ordinary market evolution tends to be wasteful and inefficient, slows the work of natural market reactions to consumer demands, and turns society weak and flabby.

Threats and Hazards Stopping the fire before it spreads

Members of Congress have been dropping hints that they've been told unspeakably bad things about what the Kremlin wants to do in Europe. Considering the incomprehensible barbarity of what his army has already done, unprovoked, to Ukraine, it must have been at once both highly persuasive and deeply astonishing in its depravity. When the Speaker of the House says he'd rather be taken down by rebellious party members than see Putin "continue to march through Europe if he were allowed", that's saying something.

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