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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook on Monday launched its free cloud gaming platform on desktop and Google's Android mobile operating system but said it it couldn't offer the service on Apple's iOS because of Apple's "arbitrary" policies on applications that act like app stores.

The big picture: It's the latest example of the complex interrelationships among tech's biggest companies, which cooperate with one another in some areas while competing and fighting in others.

Details: "We’ve had some history with Apple restricting instant games on the standalone Facebook Gaming app on iOS," a PR rep for the company noted Monday morning."We’re unfortunately not launching cloud-streamed games on iOS, and we’re again being transparent about why."

  • In a blog post, the company noted that "Even with Apple’s new cloud games policy, we don’t know if launching on the App Store is a viable path."
  • "While our iOS path is uncertain, one thing is clear. Apple treats games differently and continues to exert control over a very precious resource."

Context: Facebook and Apple have clashed this year in several areas, with Apple's app store and privacy policies at the center of the dispute.

  • Those battles follow a series of high-profile spats, like Apple shutting down a Facebook "research" app in 2019 that tracked what users did on their phones, and Apple temporarily cutting off Facebook's developers from access to test versions of their iOS software.
  • Facebook and Google — which fought for years in the social media arena as Google tried, and failed, to set up a rival to Facebook's dominant network — find themselves on the same side in that conflict.

Google and Apple, for their part, continue to compete in the mobile operating system market — but Google also pays Apple billions as part of long-term deals placing Google search as a default on Apple phones.

  • Nearly half of Google's search traffic comes from Apple devices, according to the Justice Department's recent lawsuit against Google. Apple receives roughly $8 billion to $12 billion in annual payments from Google in exchange for making Google the default search engine in its products, per reports cited in the lawsuit.

Why it matters: These complex frenemy relationships offer prosecutors and regulators plenty of evidence to explore as they zero in on each of these companies as a monopoly and potential violator of antitrust laws.

Between the lines: Google's search business depends on the health of the open web, whereas Apple's vision of mobile operating-system stewardship is based on a "walled garden" approach, with strict rules to keep its user experience clean and secure.

  • As Facebook aims to expand beyond its social networking platform in markets like gaming and hardware, it finds itself more frequently in conflict with Apple than Google — even though Google is its chief rival in the massive online advertising business.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Facebook seeks a new head of U.S. public policy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook is looking externally for a new U.S. policy chief as it moves Kevin Martin, a Republican who now holds the job, to a different position, per a memo seen by Axios.

Between the lines: Facebook is moving on from the Trump era in which Republicans held most of the power in Washington and Facebook was particularly eager among tech companies to forge warm relations with GOP policymakers.

Jan 28, 2021 - Technology

Facebook Oversight Board overturns 4 of its 5 first cases

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook's independent Oversight Board published its first set of decisions Thursday, overturning four of the five cases it chose to review out of 20,000 cases submitted.

Why it matters: The decision to go against Facebook's conclusions in four out of five instances gives legitimacy to the board, which is funded via a $130 million grant from Facebook.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.