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
69 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
69 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
69 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
69 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
69 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
69 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)

Top Stories

studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...
maxresdefault

Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak Discuss iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, Privacy, Shortcuts on Mac, and More

Saturday June 12, 2021 6:12 am PDT by
As is tradition, Apple executives Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak joined Daring Fireball's John Gruber in an episode of The Talk Show to discuss several announcements that Apple made over this weeks WWDC, including iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and a large focus around privacy. Federighi kicks off the conversation discussing the common architecture, now thanks to Apple silicon, across all of...
M1X MBP Feature

Leaker: Upcoming MacBook Pro to See Price Hike Over Current Model, Equal Performance Across 14 and 16-Inch Sizes

Tuesday August 24, 2021 5:28 am PDT by
The upcoming 14-inch MacBook Pro is set to be more expensive than the current 13-inch MacBook Pro and both the 14 and 16-inch models will offer the same performance, according to the leaker known as "Dylandkt." The leaker shared the information on Twitter, explaining that both of the upcoming MacBook Pro models, expected to come in 14 and 16-inch sizes, will feature the same performance due...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
YouTube Picture in Picture Feature

YouTube Premium Subscribers Can Now Use iOS Picture-in-Picture: Here's How

Wednesday August 25, 2021 3:55 am PDT by
Google has rolled out picture-in-picture support as an "experimental" feature for YouTube premium subscribers, allowing them to watch video in a small window when the app is closed. If you're a premium YouTube subscriber looking to try out picture-in-picture, follow these steps: Launch a web browser and sign into your YouTube account at YouTube.com. Navigate to www.youtube.com/new. Scroll...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...
twitterqrcode

Twitter Introduces QR Codes for Sharing and Following Accounts

Wednesday November 16, 2016 4:13 pm PST by
Twitter today introduced Snapchat-style QR codes, which are designed to make it easier to find and follow friends on the social network. Each Twitter QR code is unique to an individual Twitter user, so when scanned, it'll bring up the person's account. To access your Twitter QR code, you'll need the official Twitter app for iOS. In the app, go to your profile, tap on the gear icon, and select...
macOS Monterey on MBP Feature

Apple Seeds Sixth Beta of macOS Monterey to Developers

Monday August 30, 2021 1:11 pm PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth developer beta of macOS Monterey, the newest version of the macOS operating system. The sixth beta comes three weeks after Apple released the fifth macOS Monterey beta. Registered developers can download the beta through the Apple Developer Center and once the appropriate profile is installed, betas will be available through the Software Update mechanism in...