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Recode Daily: The one about Netflix’s $100 million ‘Friends’ deal

Plus: Apple resorts to previously unheard-of discounts to boost sales of its new iPhones; Netflix pays $100 million to keep “Friends” through next year; the greatest innovations of 2018.

Three of the cast members from the TV show “Friends” sitting on a couch

The one about Netflix’s $100 million “Friends” deal. Netflix wanted it. So did Hulu. And WarnerMedia may want the hit series back soon, too, for its own streaming video service. So here’s the hedge it made: After 2019, WarnerMedia has the ability to pull “Friends” from Netflix altogether and keep it just for itself. Or it can let Netflix stream the show as well, at a discount of about 25 percent. Smart? AT&T execs think so; one former Amazon exec most certainly does not. [Peter Kafka / Recode]

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Here’s how a 7-year-old boy made $22 million playing with toys. Multimillionaire mini-mogul Ryan — of Ryan ToysReview and Ryan’s Family Review — is this year’s highest-earning YouTube influencer, with 17.3 million followers and nearly 26 billion views since he and his parents launched his YouTube channels in March 2015. Content from his channel will be repackaged and distributed on Hulu and Amazon; Ryan also has a collection of toys and apparel sold at Walmart stores nationwide. He’s part of the YouTube trend of “unboxing,” in which content creators film themselves opening up toys, tech products and other consumer goods, explaining different features — and, in Ryan’s case, screaming and giggling with enthusiastic delight as he does so. And here are his fellow highest-earning YouTube stars of 2018. [Madeline Berg / Forbes]

Amid signs of waning demand for its latest crop of iPhones, Apple is experimenting with discount promotions and aggressive other marketing strategies it rarely uses to help goose sales of its flagship product. Apple, which has always occupied the premium tier of the very saturated handset market, is discounting its iPhone XR by up to $300 with a trade-in of an older iPhone model. The company has lost about a fifth of its market value since the start of October on signs of diminishing iPhone demand; it has also stopped reporting iPhone unit sales. Forthcoming new Apple products and services include an augmented-reality headset by 2020, driverless car technology and digital offerings like original video; analysts also expect a new business model centered on subscriptions. [Mark Gurman / Bloomberg]

The online Q&A platform Quora said hackers may have gained access to the account information and private messages of approximately 100 million users; the news comes less than a week after hotel chain Marriott International reported that hackers stole personal data from up to 500 million guests. Quora, which said its computer systems were compromised by “a malicious third party,” noted that the pilfered information was unlikely to result in cases of identity theft since the site does not collect sensitive data like credit cards or Social Security numbers. About 300 million people around the world use Quora at least once a month to ask and answer questions about politics, faith, calculus, unrequited love, the meaning of life and more; by comparison, Twitter claims 326 million monthly active users. [Raymond Zhong / The New York Times]

Epic Games, maker of the year’s viral hit Fortnite, is capping off its insanely successful 2018 with an even more ambitious product launch: A desktop games store built to take on Valve’s Steam Store, the most dominant presence in online PC game sales. Launching “soon” on PC and Mac, the store’s revenue split will give game developers 88 percent of revenue. Valve, which takes an App Store-like 30 percent from game sales under $10 million, quickly announced that it was changing its revenue-sharing tiers in a bid that it hopes will keep higher-earning developers on the platform. [Lucas Matney / TechCrunch]

Facebook will now allow developers to build competitors to features on its own platform. The company will drop Platform Policy section 4.1, which stipulates: “Add something unique to the community. Don’t replicate core functionality that Facebook already provides.” Facebook had previously enforced that policy selectively to cut off competitors like Vine, Voxer, MessageMe and Phhhoto for too closely replicating its video, messaging or GIF creation tools. The move will significantly reduce the risk of building on the Facebook platform; it could also cast it in a better light in the eyes of regulators. Facebook also announced that its two-day F8 developers conference will be held April 30-May 1, 2019, in San Jose. [Josh Constine / TechCrunch]

Bose announced a January 2019 ship date for Frames, its $199 augmented-reality sunglasses that use sound instead of sight to relay information. At launch, the “sunglasses with a soundtrack” will mainly be focused on using a built-in microphone and open-ear headphones to interact with Siri and Google Assistant. Next year, Bose hopes to launch its own augmented-reality platform for apps; more information is expected at SXSW 2019. Privacy is going to be a key concern with Frames — early users say they are much closer in design to a pair of speakers that you wear on your face than traditional headphones. [Jon Porter / The Verge]

Top stories from Recode

New York City has set the nation’s first minimum pay rate for Uber and Lyft drivers. The move could create a precedent for other U.S. cities where ride-hail drivers are organizing to earn higher wages. [Shirin Ghaffary]

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