Weathering the criticism: Apple makes life on Android a little worse

Not every acquisition is an antitrust violation.


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Last week, Apple acquired Dark Sky, one of the premier weather apps, and summarily canceled the Android and Wear versions of the app, surprising industry observers who looked up from their laptops in unison and said “Someone was making Wear apps? Why?”

Let the outrage pour forth! It’s not like we’re doing anything else anyway. The Macalope’s just sitting here making quarantine masks out of unused MLB commemorative Opening Day 2020 t-shirts.

Writing for Fortune, Aaron Pressman asks the Betteridge’s Law-shattering question “Should Apple be allowed to kill one of Android’s best weather apps?” (Tip o’ the antlers to Shawn King.)

It is amazing how many people suddenly get big government regulation religion when Apple is involved. Except, of course, Pressman hasn’t, really, he’s “just askin’!”

The Macalope is the first to admit he may have some baggage about this issue but it is hilarious to read articles about poor Android suffering at the hands of Apple after hearing for years how Android’s larger market share would sweep away the iPhone. Not to mention the repeated claims of Google executives about how any day now developers would begin shipping things on Android first.

So funny.

But, that was then, this is now. As a student of capitalism, The Macalope is not at all a fan of large mergers that consolidate markets under one or just a few players (see: online ticket sales, cable companies, Idris Elba sucking up all the handsome and leaving none for the rest of us). To be honest, he’s not really a fan of Apple cornering the market on privacy, but no one else seems to want to be in that business.

But is this acquisition a big problem?

“It’s worth asking whether there is any reason we should allow this merger,” [ Stanford University law professor Mark ] Lemley adds. “True, it’s not the most important app in the world, but it seems to make consumers unambiguously worse off.”

Are they? Android users are, sure, but if the speculation that Apple acquired Dark Sky to create a privacy-focused weather API for its operating systems is true, it stands to benefit macOS and iOS users a lot, as well as developers.

Small app and startup acquisitions have typically not received much scrutiny from antitrust regulators at the Federal Trade Commission or U.S. Justice Department.

What word in that sentence might explain why that is? The Macalope will give you a hint: it’s the very first word.

Okay, that was a pretty big hint.

With many other weather apps available to consumers, the Dark Sky acquisition probably isn’t significant enough on its own to draw serious review, Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute, says.

Hence this unserious review.

Hey, The Macalope gets it. It’s a drag when something you like goes away. But you don’t call the police when the people who own the kitty that sat in the window you walk by every day and liked seeing move away and take the kitty with them.

Other than you, Karl.

We know what you do.

We know.

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