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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
After years of grudgingly handing over as much as 30% of their mobile revenue to Apple or Google, some app makers and digital service providers are exploring ways to cut out the middlemen.
Among the recent examples:
The bottom line: Apple and Google make big bucks off their cut of subscriptions.
Be smart: While selling virtual goods doesn't carry the same expenses as operating a brick-and-mortar store, there are still some costs to Apple and Google. Credit card fees are the most notable hard cost, along with the costs associated with hosting the app stores and delivering digital content.
And, while there are savings to be had, there are other costs associated with cutting out the app store.
History lesson: It's not like anyone likes handing over 30% of sales to Apple or Google. Still, most of the industry has just adjusted to this as the cost of doing business. But not everyone: Amazon, for example, pulled the ability to buy books from its Kindle and Audible audiobook iOS apps in order to avoid having to give a cut to Apple.
What they're saying:
Speaking of App Store goings-on, Facebook is pulling its Onavo Protect virtual private network (VPN) mobile app after Apple said it violated its data collection policies.
The context: Onavo offers customers a free VPN, which encrypts all communications between two devices, while giving Facebook insight into what apps and services customers use on their device. Bloomberg had warned in June that changes in Apple's policies could be aimed at Onavo.
What they're saying:
The bottom line: This move is yet another schism in a widening divide between the two companies. Apple paints itself as a privacy champion that doesn't depend on user data for its revenue, while Facebook sees itself as bringing positive connections to billions of people around the world.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
In news stories, TV shows and at least one bestselling non-fiction book, you'll see warnings that hackers are coming to take out the U.S. electric grid, plunging the nation into democracy-ending darkness. However, Axios' Joe Uchill says that's just not the case.
Reality check: The people tasked with protecting U.S. electrical infrastructure say the scenario where hackers take down the entire grid — the one that's also the plot of the "Die Hard" movie where Bruce Willis blows up a helicopter by launching a car at it — is not a realistic threat. And focusing on the wrong problem means we’re not focusing on the right ones.
So, why can't you hack the grid? Here's one big reason: "The thing called the grid does not exist," said a Department of Homeland Security official involved in securing the U.S. power structure.
Think of the grid like the internet. We refer to the collective mess of servers, software, users and equipment that routes internet traffic as "the internet." The internet is a singular noun, but it’s not a singular thing.
NewsGuard Technologies, a new service that uses trained journalists to rate thousands of news and information sites, is launching its first product today: web extensions that let users view vetted, non-partisan trust ratings for news and information websites.
Why it matters: It's the first product from NewsGuard, co-founded by journalist Steven Brill and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz. The labels, which have been researched and assigned by journalists, are being placed on the most trafficked news and information websites in the U.S.
Go deeper: Axios' Sara Fischer has more here.
Check out this little spider doing its thing. (Apologies to my arachnophobic readers.)