- E.U. Charges Apple for Breaking Competition Rules
- U.S. Consumer Spending Increases with Pandemic Relief Money
- India Variant Alarm Worldwide
E.U. Charges Apple for Breaking Competition Rules
Apple has “abused its dominant position” in distributing music streaming apps through its App Store, the European Commission said Friday.
“Our preliminary finding is that Apple exercises considerable market power in the distribution of music streaming apps to owners of Apple devices. On that market, Apple has a monopoly,” Margrethe Vestager, the head of competition policy in the E.U., said in a press conference.
Noting that music apps had to go to the App Store to reach Apple users and accept the “rules” imposed by Apple on them, Vestager emphasized that Apple has a significant amount of market power and abuses its dominant position in the field of music data streaming applications.
Vestager recalled that Apple not only controls apps but also competes with Apple Music that it owns with other similar apps.
The European Commission, the E.U.’s executive arm, opened an antitrust investigation into the App Store last year after the music streaming platform Spotify complained in 2019 about Apple’s license agreements. The agreements mean that app developers have to pay a 30% commission on all subscription fees that come through the App Store.
In response, Apple said the E.U.’s case was the “opposite of fair competition.”,
“Spotify has become the largest music subscription service in the world, and we’re proud of the role we played in that,” Apple said a statement. “Once again, they want all the benefits of the App Store but don’t think they should have to pay anything for that.”
Reminding that Apple is competing with many applications through its own applications, Vestager stated that Apple rules increase its competitors’ costs and reduce their profit margins.
Vestager added that after this stage, Apple must respond to the E.U. Commission within 12 weeks.
U.S. Consumer Spending Increases with Pandemic Relief Money
The U.S. economy, which contracted last year as the Covid-19 epidemic interrupted economic activity, made a strong start this year. While the country’s economy showed a growth performance of 6.4% in the first quarter of the year, the financial support provided accelerated economic growth.
In the USA, consumer spending rose in March due to the increase in income with the direct cash aid provided by the government in the pandemic under the economic stimulus package. This situation is expected to provide a solid basis for further acceleration of consumption in the second quarter of the year.
Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, increased by 4.2% last month after falling 1.0% in February, the Commerce Department said. The increase was broadly in line with economists’ expectations.
According to data released on Friday, the first quarter also saw the highest increase in the last 14 years. It is stated that the reason for this stems from the rise in wages at a time when companies competed for labor to increase production.
It is stated that the huge 1.9 trillion dollar incentive package of the White House and the improvement in public health have increased the demand.
“While we aren’t completely out of the woods yet, today’s report shows the beginning of an economic rebound,” said Brendan Coughlin, head of consumer banking at Citizens in Boston. “Assuming no setback in the continued rollout of the vaccines, U.S. consumers are well-positioned in the second half of the year to stimulate strong economic growth across the country.”
India Variant Alarm Worldwide
The coronavirus horror is not slowing down in India. New case and death records are broken every day in the country. Hospital beds, oxygen, and medicine shortages are at an extreme. The crisis in India could negatively affect the world in terms of global vaccine supply and the spread of the epidemic.
As journalist Rana Ayyub wrote in Time, “If the apocalypse had an image, it would be the hospitals of India.”
Doctors on the frontline have claimed the variant triggered the explosive outbreak, but others assessing the crisis say it was a perfect storm of insufficient social distancing and potentially spread the Kent variant, which is known to spread fast.
“Before the pandemic, we used to cremate eight to 10 people daily,” said Jitender Singh Shunty, head of the Seemapuri crematorium in eastern New Delhi. “Now, we are cremating 100 to 120 a day.”
Demand is so high that Seemapuri crematorium has expanded into its parking lot, where dozens of workers construct new cremation platforms from bricks and mortar. There is so little space and so many bodies that families have to get a ticket and wait in line for their turn.
Besides, the proportion of U.K. cases of the India variant of coronavirus has soared eight-fold in just two weeks, new figures show.
A total of 400 cases of the variant have been found in Britain since it was first detected in February, and three mutant strains have been discovered in the U.K.
The White House announced Friday that it would begin restricting travel from India to the United States next week, citing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a major new test of the Biden administration’s pandemic response.
To be noted, BioNTech said it is confident its Covid-19 vaccine will work against the Indian variant.