Will Apple build its own blockchain? – TechCrunch

Hello readers and welcome back!

Last week, I wrote about the problems Axie Infinity is facing after a $625 million heist. This week, I’m talking about Apple and crypto.

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Image credits: Apple

the big deal

This week, my colleague Sarah wrote an interesting story about an “NFT” app on the App Store that Apple suddenly seemed to ban even though it had already been running in plain sight for months. Apple had argued that the app was misleading consumers by selling “NFTs” that couldn’t be resold and, moreover, weren’t even stored on a blockchain. The app looks a bit dodgy in my opinion, but that’s not particularly the fault of the developer of the app in question; the app seems built to live in the gray area of ​​Apple’s nonexistent guide to NFT. (It’s worth noting that an hour after our story was published, Apple surprisingly restored it to the App Store.)

This whole minor saga triggers a more interesting question: What exactly are Apple’s plans for NFTs?

On the one hand, I’m sure Apple would like nothing more than to explicitly ban NFTs from the App Store. Apple has argued that a key area of ​​the App Store’s usefulness is protecting users from scams, something that is quite difficult to do in today’s NFT environment. Regulating the industry within the walled garden of its App Store sounds like a nightmare, something that would require Apple to essentially build its own internal SEC.

But, and it’s important but, Apple also loves money; more specifically, revenue from App Store services.

Games are the most popular vertical on the App Store, bringing Apple tens of billions in revenue annually. The prospect of gaming companies adopting NFTs in a major way over the next decade seems increasingly likely, and losing that revenue would be destructive to Apple’s control over in-app payments in mobile games.

But how does Apple calculate its IAP in-app payment system with NFT and blockchain assets?

While individual apps may justify Apple’s tax on primary sales of NFTs, there’s no way those same fees would apply to secondary peer-to-peer sales of NFTs already owned. NFT storefronts like OpenSea and Rarible have already released apps on the App Store, but these native apps only allow users to view NFTs, not interact with their storefronts at all. Most legitimate NFT startups are weighing how to proceed on mobile, and Apple delaying clear guidelines could push more developers to invest in web-based experiences, which skirt App Store rules.

One thing that’s pretty clear is that if Apple creates a specific exception for NFTs in its own App Store rules, it will be on its own terms. They could take several different paths; I was able to see a world where Apple could only allow certain assets on certain blockchains or even build their own blockchain. But Apple’s path to control of the user experience will likely depend on Apple being directly involved in crafting its own smart contracts for NFTs, which developers could be forced to use to comply with App Store rules.

This could easily be justified as an effort to ensure consumers have a consistent experience and can trust NFT platforms on the App Store. These smart contracts could send Apple royalties automatically and lead to a new pipeline of in-app payment fees, which could even persist across transactions that took place outside of the Apple ecosystem (!). More complex functionality could also be incorporated, allowing Apple to handle workflows such as reverse transactions.

Needless to say, any of these moves would be highly controversial among existing developers. If Apple puts in place mandates on how smart contracts are written and which ones can be used, it would mark a major change in the world of cryptocurrencies and lead to a lot of confusion in the developer ecosystem. But I do think it’s clear that Apple is going to have a hard time ignoring this market for much longer.

(Photo by JAM STA ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)

other things

Here are some stories from this week that I think you should take a closer look at:

Axie Infinity lands $150 million in funding after $625 million heist
A little follow-up to my newsletter from last week… The crypto game Axie Infinity, which was hacked in a major way, announced this week that it had raised $150 million from Binance, which it will add to its own funds to replace the stolen money. last week by a hacker.

Elon promises widespread rollout of full autonomous driving software this year
Tesla’s (more specifically Elon’s) promises surrounding the imminent release of full autonomous driving software have been a constant source of controversy. However, at the company’s Cyber ​​Rodeo event, Musk again reiterated that the full release of the software was just around the corner.

Meta will leave the F8 developer conference this year
Facebook’s long-running developer conference will be canceled this year, or “stopped” in Meta’s words. The F8 developer conference used to be the main place for Facebook to showcase updates from the Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp platforms, but following the company’s metaverse twist, its flagship event will likely change to its Connect event, which takes place in the fall. .

musk TESLA-elon

(Photo by BRITTA PEDERSEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

things added

Some of my favorite reads from our TechCrunch+ subscription service this week:

3 visits to Elon’s investment on Twitter
“…I’ve been kicking around the topic of big names taking their fans to new platforms ever since we saw an exodus of certain right-wing figures to alternative Twitter services in recent years. Some left voluntarily, others with a firm boot on their behinds. But what they all share is the fact that, in general, their new homes have failed to challenge the hegemony of Twitter…”.

What Fast’s disappearance teaches about the fragility of unicorns
“…It appears that a lot of startups raised money last year beyond the defensible price cap, leaving them in a zero-margin situation. Any startup that raked in a double- or triple-figure revenue multiple in 2021 now faces an environment of declining values ​​for tech companies and high-profile investor groups pulling out of trading. This could lead to negative rounds (or worse)…”

What Axie’s Binance Bailout Means for Web3
“…The hack, which took place on Axie’s Ethereum-based sidechain Ronin, marks the largest known crypto theft to date. It was a bad image not only for Sky Mavis, but also for investors like a16z who had hyped Axie as the future of cryptocurrencies. It starts to look even worse when you consider the demographics of Axie players in general: more than 25% are unbankedthe company said, and many are low-income workers in developing countries who rely on Axie for a significant portion of their income…”

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