Spotify Accuses Apple of Using App Store Approval Process as a 'Weapon to Harm Competitors'

Spotify and Apple are embroiled in a major dispute, which Spotify is today taking to the court of public opinion. Spotify submitted a new version of its app to the App Store, following a decision to eliminate the option to purchase a subscription through Apple, and Apple has rejected the update.

In response, Spotify wrote a letter to Apple's legal team on June 26, portions of which have been shared by Recode. Spotify's letter, which it shared yesterday with Congressional staff in Washington, D.C., accuses Apple of causing "grave harm" to Spotify by rejecting the app update.

spotify app
The details on the rejection are somewhat murky, but Spotify claims Apple denied the app update and demanded Spotify use Apple's billing system if it "wants to use the app to acquire new customers and sell subscriptions." Spotify was using its iOS app to highlight a promotion offering new Spotify customers three months of service for $0.99, something Apple didn't like.

Apple reportedly forced Spotify to stop advertising the promotion in the iOS app or face the removal of the app from the App Store. Spotify stopped the advertisements, but also decided to stop offering App Store subscription options, a move that's led to the current disagreement between the two companies.

"This latest episode raises serious concerns under both US and EU competition law," Gutierrez wrote. "It continues a troubling pattern of behavior by Apple to exclude and diminish the competitiveness of Spotify on iOS and as a rival to Apple Music, particularly when seen against the backdrop of Apple's previous anticompetitive conduct aimed at Spotify...we cannot stand by as Apple uses the App Store approval process as a weapon to harm competitors."

At issue is the 30 percent cut that Apple takes from App Store subscriptions, which has caused Spotify to charge $12.99 for subscriptions purchased through the App Store, a $3 premium over subscriptions purchased on the web and $3 more than the price of Apple Music. Apple does not force apps to use its billing system, but it also does not allow apps to offer other purchase options. As stated in the App Store guidelines:

Apps may not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than IAP. [...]

Auto-renewing subscriptions should only be offered using in-app purchase and may only be used for periodicals (e.g. newspapers, magazines), business apps (e.g. enterprise, productivity, professional creative, cloud storage), media apps (e.g. video, audio, voice, photo sharing), and other approved services (e.g. dating, dieting, weather).

Apple in the past had a battle with Amazon and other book sellers over its App Store rules, which resulted in Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo removing an in-app book store purchase options from their apps. Apple has never relented on the issue, even years later.

Apple recently announced plans to tweak its subscription policies to take a smaller 15 percent cut from subscribers who stay subscribed to a service for more than one year, but Spotify says those changes don't "get to the core of the problem."

Though Apple has rejected Spotify's update, options to purchase Spotify subscriptions in the Spotify app for iOS devices have been gone since the end of May, removed via a backend update. At the current time, it is not possible to purchase a subscription through the Spotify app, and the Spotify app is not able to direct customers to purchase a subscription on the web.

Top Rated Comments

OriginalClone Avatar
84 months ago
Sorry, Spotify, but if you don't like it, feel free to design your own phone and develop your own operating system.
This is the most ridiculous pro-apple response regarding this dispute. Why people continue to repeat it is beyond me.
Score: 119 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JonneyGee Avatar
84 months ago
Sorry, Spotify, but if you don't like it, feel free to design your own phone and develop your own operating system.
Score: 73 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BvizioN Avatar
84 months ago
Let me sell in your shop but I will charge my customers somewhere else, is this what they are asking or I am wrong?
Score: 59 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JonneyGee Avatar
84 months ago
This is the most ridiculous pro-apple response regarding this dispute. Why people continue to repeat it is beyond me.
It's because it's true. Apple pays for server space for the App Store, Apple pays developers to continue updating the operating system, Apple pays people to approve apps, and all of those services make the App Store possible. We're supposed to believe Apple should offer all of that for free so Spotify can make money, especially for a service which Apple itself directly competes? It's not a pro-Apple response, it's a pro-"how to run a business" response.
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
smacrumon Avatar
84 months ago
Apple runs parts of its business in a completely anticompetitive manner. Freezing competitors out is a case in point, so is an elaborate list of exotic approval rules. Those aspects need to be investigated and if supported by evidence, then prosecuted appropriately. Apple isn't above the law.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kaibelf Avatar
84 months ago
This is the most ridiculous pro-apple response regarding this dispute. Why people continue to repeat it is beyond me.
Almost as ridiculous and arguing that Apple needs to give a direct competitor something for nothing.
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Can't Get an iPhone 14 Pro? Here's Why You Should Wait for the iPhone 15 Ultra

Monday December 5, 2022 11:44 am PST by
Due to production issues at Apple supplier factories in China, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are backordered and basically out of stock at every store. If you were planning to gift or receive an iPhone 14 Pro model for the holidays and didn't already get one, you're basically out of luck because they're gone until late December. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...
Apple advanced security Advanced Data Protection screen Feature

FBI Calls End-to-End Encryption 'Deeply Concerning' as Privacy Groups Hail Apple's Advanced Data Protection as a Victory for Users

Thursday December 8, 2022 2:45 am PST by
Apple yesterday announced that end-to-end encryption is coming to even more sensitive types of iCloud data, including device backups, messages, photos, and more, meeting the longstanding demand of both users and privacy groups who have rallied for the company to take the significant step forward in user privacy. iCloud end-to-end encryption, or what Apple calls "Advanced Data Protection,"...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

iOS 16.2 for iPhone Launching This Month With These 8 New Features

Thursday December 1, 2022 8:44 am PST by
Apple plans to publicly release iOS 16.2 for the iPhone in mid-December, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The update remains in beta testing for now, with at least eight new features and changes already uncovered so far. iOS 16.2 introduces a number of new features, including Apple's new whiteboard app Freeform, two new Lock Screen widgets for Sleep and Medications, the ability to hide...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Apple Music Sing in iOS 16.2

Wednesday December 7, 2022 12:24 pm PST by
With the iOS 16.2 release candidate that came out today, Apple added the new Apple Music Sing feature that was announced earlier this week. We thought we'd check out the new karaoke feature to see how it works. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Apple Music Sing is available on modern iPhones and iPads, as well as the newest Apple TV 4K. It's built in to the Apple...
Apple car wheel icon feature yellow

Apple to Charge Under $100,000 for Apple Car, Launch Planned for 2026

Tuesday December 6, 2022 2:31 pm PST by
Apple is aiming to launch an Apple-branded consumer-oriented vehicle by 2026, and its goal is to hit a price point under $100,000 to make the car appeal to a wider range of customers, reports Bloomberg. Apple initially planned to design a car that might look similar to Canoo's Lifestyle Vehicle, where passengers could face one another in a limousine-style car with no steering wheel or...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

iOS 16.2 for iPhone Expected to Launch Next Week With These 12 New Features

Thursday December 8, 2022 7:05 am PST by
iOS 16.2 is expected to be released next week following nearly two months of beta testing. With last-minute additions like Apple Music Sing and Advanced Data Protection, the software update now has over a dozen new features for the iPhone. Below, we've recapped many of the new features coming with iOS 16.2, including Apple's new whiteboard app Freeform, two new Lock Screen widgets, the...
introducing apple music sing

Apple Music Adding a Karaoke Experience With Apple Music Sing

Tuesday December 6, 2022 7:09 am PST by
Apple today announced Apple Music Sing, a new feature in Apple Music that lets users sing their favorite songs with adjustable vocals and more. Apple Music Sing will utilize Apple Music's real-time lyrics to allow users to sing to their favorite songs using adjustable vocals, background vocals, and duet view to allow more than one singer.Apple Music Sing includes: Adjustable vocals: Users...
Twitter Feature

Twitter to Charge $11 Per Month for Twitter Blue on iPhone, $7 on Website

Wednesday December 7, 2022 6:47 pm PST by
Twitter plans to charge $11 per month for a Twitter Blue subscription on the iPhone in order to account for the 30 percent cut that Apple takes from in-app purchases, reports The Information. On the web, Twitter Blue will be priced at $7 per month. Prior to when Twitter Blue was paused, Twitter was charging $7.99 for a subscription, but the pricing will change before it relaunches. According ...
Apple advanced security Advanced Data Protection screen Feature

Apple Announces End-to-End Encryption Option for iCloud Photos, Notes, Backups, and More

Wednesday December 7, 2022 10:00 am PST by
Apple today announced it is expanding end-to-end encryption to many additional iCloud data categories on an opt-in basis for enhanced security. iCloud already protects 14 data categories using end-to-end encryption by default, including the Messages app when backups are disabled, passwords stored in iCloud Keychain, Health data, Apple Maps search history, Apple Card transactions, and more,...