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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

More than 20,000 users submit cases to Facebook oversight board

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

More than 20,000 people have submitted cases to Facebook's independent Oversight Board since the board started accepting user appeals in October, the organization announced Monday, and it has selected six initial cases for review.

Why it matters: The number of submissions speaks to the multitude of people who feel the platform's moderation of their content has wronged them. The tiny number of cases getting reviewed speaks to the limits of human oversight on a platform the size of Facebook, as well as to the novelty of the board's process and the complex nature of the cases chosen.

Dec 1, 2020 - Technology

Facebook News to launch in U.K. in January

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Facebook said Monday that it plans to launch Facebook News in the U.K. in January, with several big publishers, including Conde Nast, The Economist, Guardian Media Group, Hearst and others, initially providing content.

Why it matters: The creation of Facebook's dedicated News tab has helped the company appease regulator demands globally for more equitable relationships with news publishers.

56 mins ago - Sports

The end of COVID’s grip on sports may be in sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Packed stadiums and a more normal fan experience could return by late 2021, NIAID director Anthony Fauci said yesterday.

Why it matters: If Fauci's prediction comes true, it could save countless programs from going extinct next year.