Zuckerberg says other tech companies stifle innovation with high fees


Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify to the House Financial Services Committee on “An Inquiry into Facebook and Its Impact on the Financial Services and Housing Sectors” at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC on October 23, 2019 .

Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg accused other tech companies of “stifling innovation” with high fees and limited choice for consumers during a live stream Thursday, while his company faces a federal antitrust lawsuit and congressional pressure over recent leaks internal data has increased documents

Zuckerberg made the comments on Thursday’s Facebook Connect event announcing that the company has changed its name to Meta.

He also outlined the company’s plans to build a Metaverse – a virtual reality experience where people can meet online. His comments seemed to allude to mobile operating systems like those of Apple and Google, although he didn’t mention any company by name or the types of platforms he spoke of.

Still, the comments show how the company is trying to differentiate itself from other big tech peers as the industry faces heavy pressure from multiple government agencies to fight allegations of its own suspected anti-competitive behavior. They also recall a long history of tension, particularly between Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Zuckerberg said during his presentation on Facebook Connect that the past few years have been “humble”. That period included the exposure of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, a $ 5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission on privacy practices, claims that Facebook had amplified misinformation fueling false claims that the US presidential election was stolen, and much more.

Zuckerberg said he learned that “building products is not enough. We also need to help build ecosystems so that millions of people can participate in the future, be rewarded for their work, and benefit from the flood, not just as consumers, “but as creators and developers.”

He added that Facebook is so big, with billions of users, that learning to build for other platforms is also humbling.

“And living by their rules has profoundly shaped my views on the technology industry,” said Zuckerberg. “Most of all, I’ve come to believe that lack of choice and high fees are stifling innovation, preventing people from building new things, and holding back the entire internet economy.”

That language seemed to reflect complaints many app developers have made against Apple and Google, though Zuckerberg didn’t say so himself. Fortnite maker Epic Games has sued both companies over the fees they charge developers for payments through their apps after they are downloaded from the platforms’ app stores. A judge recently ruled in the case against Apple that she could not determine the platform as a monopoly, but ordered that she could no longer force developers to use her in-app payment system.

Zuckerberg emphasized the “different approach” which his company, which he announced, would rename to “Meta”. “We want to serve as many people as possible, which means our services cost less and don’t cost more,” he said.

He added that the company will continue to support sideloading, or the option to load apps outside of a central app store, “instead of forcing them to use the Quest Store to find apps or reach customers.” In doing so, Zuckerberg seemed to draw a sharp contrast to Apple, which forbids sideloading on its iOS for security reasons. Google allows apps to be sideloaded on Android.

Zuckerberg and Cook have previously argued over their approaches, although they usually refrain from calling each other directly. When asked what he would do if faced with the same problems as Zuckerberg, Cook said shortly after the Cambridge Analytica scandal: “I would not be in this situation.” He later gave a speech relating business models using data collection to drive targeted ads and augmentation of content with algorithms to real violence.

More recently, Zuckerberg has called on Apple for its privacy changes that make it harder for developers to target advertisements, and has highlighted Apple as a competitor in messaging services.

Zuckerberg said the company has yet to work out the details of how it will strain the developer meta ecosystem. While the company strives to offer many services with low fees, he acknowledged that “we need to keep some fees higher for some time to ensure we don’t lose too much money on this program as a whole.”

Google declined to comment. An Apple spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

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