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Big Tech finds a way to pass on the cost of digital taxes in Europe – CNBC

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External View of the Apple store on Fifth Avenue on August 19, 2020 in New York City.
VIEW press | Corbis News | Getty Images

Apple has announced that it will increase its charges for app developers, as it becomes the latest tech giant to pass on some of the costs of new digital taxes to smaller businesses.

The move, announced Tuesday, comes after countries including the U.K., France, Italy and Turkey implemented digital services levies, which force tech giants to pay more taxes. However, Apple also said that some of its latest price adjustments were taking place due to changes in VAT (value-added tax) rates.

“When taxes or foreign exchange rates change, we sometimes need to update prices on the App Store,” Apple said in a statement.

It went on to say that charges would be adjusted in Germany because of VAT changes and new digital services taxes in France, Italy, and the U.K. App store prices will not be changed in these countries, the company said. However, the prices of apps and in-app purchases on the App Store will be increased following tax changes in Chile, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

Apple was not immediately available for further comment when contacted by CNBC on Wednesday.

Digital services taxes is a topic that has sparked division between a number of countries and the United States, the home of these tech behemoths. The White House believes the introduction of such levies is unfair and discriminates against American firms. 

It has been embroiled in discussions with other countries on how to overcome their differences on digital taxation for some time. However, Washington pulled out of talks on the subject earlier this summer, questioning whether any resolution will be found before the end of the year. 

Google too

Apple is not the only company passing on the costs of the new taxes.

In a statement a few days ago, Google told advertisers: “As of November 1, 2020, a 2% UK DST (digital services tax) Fee will be added to your next invoice or statement for ads served in the United Kingdom. The fee is driven by the new digital services tax in that country.”

Google Ads’ fees will be updated on November 1 to reflect the new digital levies in the U.K. and Austria, the company said.

Earlier in August, Amazon also said it was increasing charges on sellers after the U.K. government approved its digital tax.

“I’m not surprised by the price changes,” Dexter Thillien, a senior industry analyst at Fitch Solutions, said via email.

“There is nothing to prevent tech companies to do so, even if it doesn’t really look good for their images,” he said. He added that “this is not so much a tax issue but a competitive one, because ultimately end-users, whether developers, marketplace sellers or others, will need to use these services, and end up paying the tax.”

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Sony CEO says "a special low priced, reduced spec" PS5 would be "problematic" – GamesRadar+

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Sony isn’t interested in making a weaker PS5 alternative and believes that such a model would be “problematic” in the long run, according to president and CEO Jim Ryan.

As Ryan told Japanese outlet AV Watch (translated by VGC), “If you look at the history of the game business, creating a special low priced, reduced spec console is something that has not had great results in the past. We’ve considered that option and seen other executives who have attempted this discover how problematic it is.” 

Ryan didn’t single out any alternative consoles in “the history of the game business,” and the contemporary example, the Xbox Series S, is still unavailable and therefore impossible to properly evaluate. Speaking of which, Ryan maintained that “I respect every competitor’s decision and their philosophies” in a tacit nod to Microsoft’s approach to the new generation.

“Based on our research, it’s clear that people who buy a game console want to continue using it for four, five, six or even seven years,” he continues. “They want to believe they have bought something that is future-proofed and not going to be outdated in two-to-three years. They want to have faith that if they end up buying a new TV that their current console will be able to support that new 4K TV they are considering on buying.”

Ryan seems to be leaning on current market research as much as sales and opinions related to previous consoles, but whatever his reasoning, it’s clear that he and Sony believe that the benefits of a single unified console outweigh the benefits of a cheaper next-gen entry point. This is reflected in the PS5 Digital Edition, which is the exact same PS5 console under the hood with the exception of a missing disc drive. 

While it’s not interested in a weaker PS5, Ryan says Sony will continue to support the PS4 for years to come, and games like Horizon Forbidden West and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales have now been confirmed for PS4

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PS5 Disc And Digital Pre-Orders Continue To Sell Out Nightmarishly Fast – Forbes

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One criticism of Sony’s rollout of PS5 pre-orders this week is that they were dropped like a bomb without any warning. Or in fact, the opposite, a promise that they wouldn’t start until a day later when they went live that evening.

Xbox began to snarkily counter with an exact date and time that Series X/S pre-orders would go live, but even when potential Sony buyers know when pre-orders are going up now, that isn’t helping either.

Last night there was a message on the Walmart website that gave a specific time that PS5 pre-orders would open. Everyone sat there on the page, ready for the clock to strike the hour and…

…about thirty seconds later, the stock was completely sold out.

Whether it’s seconds or minutes, trying to get your hands on a PS5 has been nothing short of a nightmare for many potential buyers so far, and that’s across every retailer, be it GameStop selling out of the 12 units per store they were allocated for in person reservations, or megacorp Amazon selling out because someone found the link early. As expected, PS5 pre-orders are already popping up on Ebay topping $1,000.

Another aspect to this story is that many consumers who are landing a PS5 are not able to get the one they want. Sony made headlines when they revealed the all-digital console was $400 compared to the $500 of both the disc model and the Xbox Series X. But at least in this early batch of pre-orders, it absolutely seems like Sony has made way, way more of the higher priced disc stock available, meaning that those lucky enough to snag a pre-order are often doing so for an extra $100, even if they have no interest in the disc one.

There is not a full collection of data about pre-orders, but some early results are…illuminating:

While I don’t believe that’s the true ratio of disc to digital Sony has made available, it is not anywhere close to 50/50, and I would not be surprised if it was in fact something like 10:1. I’ve seen digital models sellout before the link was even fully live for a page at numerous storefronts.

What’s unclear is how many PS5s Sony has sold through pre-orders already and how many more of these restocks are going to happen in the next two months. I do think it’s too early to be worried that if you didn’t get one in these wild last 36 hours, you won’t get one at all. But it’s very clear that Sony has A) mangled this launch from a consumer perspective (though they’re still getting paid, obviously) and B) heavily limited stock of the cheaper console on purpose to ensure most early adopters get the pricier model.

Stay tuned for more updates about PS5 pre-orders, as when they come in, it’s going to be a feeding frenzy to snag one from now until release, it seems.

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The new iPad Air reminds us just how bad most Android tablets really are – Android Central

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Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central

Samsung can make a damn nice tablet. I don’t much care for tablets, but even I was really impressed with the Galaxy Tab S6 while I had it here for a review, and I’ll be the first to say that a Samsung tablet is a well-built piece of machinery that looks and feels like it justifies its price. But that’s not the problem — it’s the apps.

The most expensive Windows laptop is hundreds of times faster than a new iPad or Chromebook or crappy Windows laptop.

Forget all the PR mumbo jumbo Apple’s slick new iPad Air presentation about how much more powerful it is than practically every Chromebook and Android tablet out there. That’s all hogwash — an expensive product from one company was compared to the best-selling budget models from others. The new Galaxy Tab S7 with Qualcomm’s latest processor is plenty powerful enough to do everything the new iPad can do. The iPad is overbuilt so Apple has fewer components to manage and that saves money in the long run.

No, what’s frustrating about Android tablets isn’t the hardware. It’s not even the platform. It’s the apps.

The only great apps on a brand new Galaxy Tab S are the ones Samsung wrote for it. You can use the S Pen with oodles of pressure sensitivity, you can transfer handwriting to text, you can even draw a crummy circle and an app can make it look geometrically accurate instead of like the blob you drew. But when you open the Play Store it all comes crashing to a halt.

I feel like I keep writing this over and over, but Google just doesn’t seem to care about tablet apps the same way Apple does. That’s a shame because something like a Galaxy Tab deserves great apps like Pixelmator or any of the other “must-have” apps for the iPad. It just doesn’t get them.

There isn’t much Samsung can do about it other than pay thousands of developers to write those apps and games. Samsung probably could afford to do it, but it’s not going to when it can spend that money developing its own first-party apps that are pretty awesome on the Galaxy Tab. No, this problem is something only Google can solve.

It’s.👏The.👏Apps.👏

That’s not an easy task, either. Google basically has two choices: it could go the Apple route and if an app isn’t tablet-optimized it’s not listed on the device’s Play Store at all. That means close to 90% of the apps — including ones you want to use — would be gone when you hit up the Play Store with a new Android tablet. Or it could pay cold hard cash to get developers to do it. Google is going to do neither, so it just gave up.

It’s all about the mighty dollar. You’ve heard it before but developers don’t make much money from Android apps when compared to apps for iOS. That goes double (at least) for tablet apps. I don’t know if that’s because Android users have been trained not to pay for things after years of getting most apps and services for free, or whether because of Android’s open nature piracy is just rampant. But I do know it’s true because I’ve seen the same studies and reports you have. Apps written for iOS make a lot more money than ones written for Android even though there are twice as many people using Android.

When there’s no money to be made, nobody cares. I can’t fault a developer who wants to feed their family by sticking with iOS. That’s a smart move and exactly what I would do if I were in their shoes. I’m actually impressed that some third-party apps, like Sketchbook (a must-have app for any Galaxy Tab or Galaxy Note, in my opinion) are so great on a tablet because I know they aren’t making much money.

I want to recommend a new Galaxy Tab to someone looking for a great tablet, but I can’t because iOS has apps that are so much better.

There is no easy answer. Most Android apps work on an Android tablet or a Chromebook but they look like crap or don’t work correctly. Google keeps making it easier to design and lay out apps for bigger screens — because it hasn’t given up on great Chromebooks like it has for tablets — but it’s not making a difference. Google Play is a desert for good tablet apps. You’ll find an oasis once in a while, but there is a lot of empty sand not worth paying attention to in between.

If someone were to ask me which tablet I recommend I’d either steer them to a Fire tablet if they were all-in with Amazon Prime — or an iPad. And I hate that because Android is just better than iOS. You can simplify Android down so it “just works” but you can’t upscale iOS so it does more than just work. I want to be able to recommend Samsung’s great line of premium tablets, but until Google gets the app gap sorted, I can’t.

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