Apr 29, 2019

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

Welcome back. Sorry for the bright screen. I'm sure it's a bit jarring for all those who squinted through Game of Thrones last night.

1 big thing: Why Apple is cracking down on time-limit apps

Photo: Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images

Apple insists that a crackdown on apps designed to help parents manage their kids' screen time is about security and privacy rather than an effort to stamp out competition.

Driving the news: The iPhone maker's defense follows a New York Times report that 11 of the top 17 parental control apps in the Apple App Store had been removed or restricted in the past year.

  • With iOS 12, which arrived last fall, Apple added Screen Time, a feature that tells users how much time they are spending on various apps and allows parents to set detailed time limits for their children.
  • Managing and limiting screen time has emerged as a top issue for parents.

What they're saying: "We recently removed several parental control apps from the App Store, and we did it for a simple reason: they put users’ privacy and security at risk," the company said in a statement on Sunday.

  • Apple said that the removed apps, unlike several that remain, are able to monitor and control app usage by misusing a mobile device management feature.
  • The feature is one that Apple created to let businesses restrict which apps are installed on devices they own or control, but Apple says consumer app makers are prohibited from using it.

The big picture: Apple is facing complaints on several fronts that it makes life hard for developers.

  • Spotify, for example, says third party music apps have to play by rules that are different from Apple's own music service.

Yes, but: In this debate, Apple isn't helped by its history of enforcing rules that make it harder to offer apps that compete with features in its operating systems. And several makers of the removed apps told NYT that Apple's motives are less than pure...

  • Fred Stutzman, CEO of Freedom, asked, “Can you really trust that Apple wants people to spend less time on their phones?”
  • Amir Moussavian, CEO of OurPact, said, "They are systematically killing the industry."

The other side: Apple keeps a tighter hold over its app ecosystem than Google does with Android. And Android developers have far deeper access to the operating system, for better — and worse.

  • That leaves more options for developing screen time trackers and other types of software.
  • It also leaves users open to more types of security and privacy threats.
2. Scoop: Eatsa hires Brotman as CEO

Photo: Eatsa

Adam Brotman, formerly president of clothier J. Crew and chief digital officer of Starbucks, has landed a gig as CEO of automated restaurant Eatsa, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: Brotman helped Starbucks pursue a number of efforts to add tech to its business, including mobile payments and ordering. He left J. Crew earlier this month.

History lesson: Eatsa began as a 2000s twist on the automat, a cashierless quick-serve restaurant concept from the early 20th century. In 2017, Eatsa closed all but two of its locations and said it would start trying to use its technology to power other restaurants.

Wow Bao opened a location in Chicago using Eatsa's technology later that year.

  • The company has since added a couple more partners and introduced new restaurant tech, the latest being a smart shelf that can be used to indicate which customer a digital order belongs to.
3. "Avengers: Endgame" smashes records

Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images for Disney Studios

Disney/Marvel’s "Avengers: Endgame" has obliterated box office records, bringing in a whopping $350 million in North America and $1.2 billion worldwide during its opening weekend, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

The record-breaking weekend nearly doubled the best prior global opening —  Marvel's "Avengers: Infinity War," which last year brought in $640.5 million in its debut.

Why it matters: The movie's success speaks to the critical role that theaters still play in cinema, despite the fact that more people are watching films through streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and soon-to-be Disney+.

“This weekend is the culmination of a decade of investments by theater owners in technology, comfort and convenience and a decade-long bet by Disney on the power of the moviegoing experience."
"This record-shattering weekend didn’t just happen in movie theaters; it happened because of movie theaters.”
— Patrick Corcoran, VP and chief communications officer, National Association of Theater Owners

Yes, but: It also speaks to the power of the popular franchises that Disney has carefully cultivated over the past few years. 5 of the top 10 highest-grossing box office weekend openers belong to Disney-owned franchises, like Marvel and "Star Wars." Disney has had the top-grossing global studio performance since 2016.

Be smart: Axios' Felix Salmon notes that experts predict "Endgame's" record haul will bring it near "cash breakeven" by Sunday, which is unprecedented for a superhero movie.

  • This means Disney will earn back the amount it needs to compensate debts for the film that have been laid out on a contractual basis.
  • Only a handful of movies have achieved this milestone before.

Go deeper: Sara has more here.

4. Exploring the gig economy
Expand chart
Data: Axios Research; Chart: Axios Visuals

Arguably the biggest change to the workforce in the last few years has been the emergence of the gig economy.

Between the lines: Aided by the rise of smartphones, those looking for flexible hours or a side job have unprecedented opportunities. At the same time, such jobs often come without benefits and require workers to supply their own cars or other equipment.

We took a look at these issues and more in our latest Axios Deep Dive.

Go deeper:

5. Take Note

On Tap

  • It's a big week of earnings reports, starting with Google parent Alphabet and Spotify, which report today. Apple and AMD report on Tuesday, while Qualcomm and Square are slated to release earnings on Wednesday.
  • Also kicking off this week is the spring developer conference season, with Facebook's F8 running Tuesday and Wednesday in San Jose.

Trading Places

  • Chris Lynch has left his post as head of the Pentagon's Defense Digital Service.

ICYMI

  • Bloomberg profiles Emerson Collective, the part-charity, part investment firm run by Laurene Powell Jobs. (Disclosure: Emerson Collective is an investor in Axios.)
  • The Partnership on AI, backed by the major tech companies, issued a report criticizing the use of algorithms to make bail decisions. (Quartz)
  • A deadly crane accident at an under-construction Google building in Seattle is casting a fresh spotlight on the city's rapid growth. (Bloomberg)
  • Apple had discussions about acquiring Intel's modem business in recent months. (WSJ)
6. After you Login

Mondays are rough. I get it. Here's something to make your day a little better — a guy running the London Marathon in a Big Ben costume.

Ina Fried