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Upsetting the Apple Cart 🍏💸




January 23, 2024



In this week’s What’s Appening, we provide something of an Apple special. The iPhone maker has made a concession to developers by opening up payments from third-party platforms, but it still maintains a huge fee of 27%. Some big app developers, notably Spotify and Epic, aren’t happy, accusing Apple of running a monopoly. Might that anger have stopped some big names launching apps for the Vision Pro? Well, as our Stat of the Week shows, that hasn’t stopped pre-order sales from smashing expectations. We also have an important story on ElevenLabs reaching unicorn status, and we think its AI voice technology is going to cause a revolution in conversational apps. Finally, What’s dAppening looks at the marriage between NFTs and big fashion brands.

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Takes 🎬

🍏🤑 Apple – New App Store Policy Allows Links to Third-Party Payments

This story has gone on for a long time, but the latest ‘appenings in the battle against extortionate App Store fees is another smackdown by Apple. App Store policies have been updated to allow US developers to link to external payment platforms. Apple was forced into the move after a judge ruled it had no right of appeal on a 2021 federal court order. Now, that might seem like a win, but here’s the kicker. Apple will still charge a 27% commission on those payments. It looks like they simply subtracted the Credit Card charge from the standard AppStore fee, so developers are still subjected to a 30% tax on their earnings. Now Apple’s Small Business Program allows small scale apps to operate at a lower level, but for those with sales above $1MM, like Epic Games and Spotify, the “extortion” continues. The growing coalition of app developers call it monopolistic, anti-competitive, and opportunistic. Their anger at Apple is palpable, and will most certainly lead to further litigation. In the meantime, it looks like some of these firms are hitting back in whatever way they can - both Spotify and Netflix have refused to play ball with Apple’s latest flagship release. Check out our Stat of the Week below for more on that. #AppleRules Read more here.

🦄🗣️ ElevenLabs – AI Speech Startup Joins the Unicorn Club

ElevenLabs just announced a raise of $80 million at a valuation of over $1 billion. The startup, which specializes in AI voice generation and cloning, is at the forefront of disruptive technology with a myriad of use cases. Here at 3Advance, it’s no surprise. ElevenLabs offers an incredible API for connecting apps to their ever improving speech models. We’re a customer of Eleven Labs and we’re currently building out some game-changing apps that rely heavily on their tech. Incidentally, just last week we released a fascinating blog post on the topic, where we highlighted the potential of speech in revolutionizing user experience (hint: 👋 )bye bye forms!. We’re also using text-to-speech to produce our What’s Appening podcast every week! ElevenLabs is at the forefront of this revolution, as the generated voice of your favorite celebrity and even your own will sound more and more authentic. Of course, look out for those fake robo-calls as this tech continues to improve. #TalkingUnicorns Read more here.

🗞️ The Best of the Rest: Other News in Brief

📱Samsung Galaxy S24 Arrives. The S24 range of smartphones was unveiled at Samsung’s Unpacked event. It looks great, has neat AI editing for photos, and is surely a decent rival to the iPhone 15. Yet, Unpacked teased something more interesting – the Galaxy Ring. Could be the next big thing in wearables. Read about it here.

🗓️ Notion Launches Standalone Calendar App. Do we need another calendar app? Perhaps not. But we love Notion, and we were big fans of Cron (the app that Notion bought) here at 3Advance. And the new app is like a free next-gen version of Cron. So, we are down with that. Details are here.

🚫 Apple Introduces Stolen Device Protection. With iOS 17.3 comes a new security feature to stop thieves from taking over your accounts. See how it works here.

🧐 Stat of the Week: 180K Units

🥽↗️ Vision Pro Sells Out — Another Cash Windfall for Apple

Despite the Vision Pro’s high price tag, sales for Apple’s flagship goggles have exceeded expectations. In fact, Apple can’t keep up with demand and seems to be sold out. In just a few days, they are nearly halfway to the 400,000 units they expected to ship across 2024. Yet, is there a bigger story here? Just 150 apps have been specifically designed for Vision Pro, and several big hitters like Spotify, Netflix, and YouTube won’t commit to launching apps at all. Sure, there might be simple logistical reasons for this, and you can still access them via Safari. But might some of the reluctance be down to ill-feeling over Apple’s App Store policies? As we said earlier, the anger from brands like Spotify is palpable, and it’s growing. #VisionProSales Read more here.

🕸️ What’s dAppening?

👗🕸️ NFTs – 21 of the World’s Top 50 Fashion Brands Have Collections

Fashion seems like a natural bedfellow for NFTs, so it’s no surprise to see around 40% of the world’s top fashion brands having collections. Sports brands Adidas (12), Nike (9), and Puma (6) lead the way in that respect, but some high-end brands like Gucci have launched multiple collections too. As for the future of NFTs and fashion, we’d encourage you to read this excellent Vogue article dealing with web3 strategies for elite brands. Momentum has been slow, and some of the big names are reluctant to dive in, but there is also a quiet confidence that this technology will be part of the fabric of haute couture for the long term. #NFTFashion Read more here.

Meanwhile at 3Advance...

The tech world has been constantly buzzing with all the latest developments in AI. We, too, are fascinated by this, and can’t wait to see what will happen next. Over the weekend, Paul wrote about the explosion of opportunity emerging from the GPT Store. Millions of Custom GPTs are already available online, and every day they're growing in number and capability, with a trove of new concepts being validated in real-time. Some might become real products, many more will be consumed by apps we already use. How, you say? Well head on over our revamped blog and check it out. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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