Apple Accuses Spotify of 'Resorting to Rumors and Half-Truths', Sets Record Straight on App Rejection

Yesterday, Spotify accused Apple of using its App Store approval process as a "weapon to harm competitors" after Apple rejected a Spotify app update, and now Apple has responded to Spotify's accusations to "set the record straight."

In a letter to Spotify lawyer Horacio Gutierrez that was shared by BuzzFeed, Apple's legal head Bruce Sewell says Apple is disappointed with the public attacks and concerned that Spotify is asking for exemptions to rules that apply to all app developers.

spotify app

There can be no doubt that Spotify has benefited enormously from its association with Apple's App Store. Since joining the App Store in 2009, Apple's platform has provided you with over 160 million downloads of your app, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental revenue to Spotify. That's why we find it troubling that you are asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers and are publicly resorting to rumors and half-truths about our service.

Our guidelines help competition, not hurt it. The fact that we compete has never influenced how Apple treats Spotify or other successful competitors like Google Play Music, Tidal, Amazon Music, Pandora or the numerous other apps on the App Store that distribute digital music.

Sewell goes on to say that Spotify's belief it should not have to pay to take advantage of the "benefits of Apple's hard work" is "simply unfair and unreasonable," pointing out that the App Store rules existed long before Apple Music was introduced. He also points out the new revenue split rules for subscriptions, which will see Apple taking a 15 percent cut from customers who have subscribed to a service for more than a year, instead of a 30 percent cut.

Sewell's letter to Spotify ends with some clarification on why Spotify's app was rejected on May 26. Spotify replaced its in-app subscription purchase options with an account sign-up feature Apple says was "clearly intended to circumvent Apple's in-app purchase rules."

Apple notified Spotify about the guideline violation and following discussions with Apple, Spotify submitted a new version of the app on June 10 that incorporated the same sign-up feature asking for customer email addresses to be used to invite customers to sign up for a Spotify subscription on the web, which Apple again rejected.

That feature exists only for the purpose of avoiding to having to pay Apple for your use of the App Store by emailing customers within hours, directing them to subscribe to Spotify on its website. A clear violation of the terms every other developer adheres to. [...]

There is nothing in Apple's conduct that "amounts to a violation of applicable antitrust laws." Far from it. Apple has continued to innovate with lower pricing for our customers, and a new revenue share model for the developers that have helped make us so successful. We understand you want special treatment and protections from competition, but we simply will not do that because we firmly adhere to the principle of treating all developers fairly and equitably.

In Spotify's own letter, sent to Apple on June 26 but made public yesterday, Spotify accused Apple of causing "grave harm" to its business by rejecting the app update. Spotify said Apple's aim was to "exclude and diminish the competitiveness of Spotify on iOS," which "raises serious concerns under both US and EU competition law."

Sewell's full letter to Spotify can be read over at BuzzFeed.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
51 months ago
Say you wrote a software package that you sold on the web for $29.

You want the same profit, but you want to sell it at Walmart. Walmart takes a 35% cut. Your software must cost around $49 at Walmart to give you the same profits.

Would Walmart have an issue with your software when someone opened the box there was a note that asked you to 'return this to Walmart - save $20 - and buy it over the web for $29'.

This is exactly what Spotify is doing.
Score: 143 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago
Clear, strong and polite reaction from apple. And as it now looks a bit stupid on Spotify.
Score: 73 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago
Apple is full of it when it comes to this. They own and run the App Store like the government, with plenty of deceit.

How is it that Spotify isn't labeled as an Essential app when it is the most widely used streaming music service in the world? Oh, because it competes with Apple Music? A dating app like Tinder is labeled as an Essential app, and how much do you want to bet that if Apple were to get into the dating app business they'd sink Tinder down to the bottom of the barrel in a heartbeat.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago
Yeah right, "we firmly adhere to the principle of treating all developers fairly and equitably", all except themselves. Which is their whole point.

Us users have paid plenty for Apple's hard work (Check Apple's profit on iOS devices), stop ****ing us users over by forcing other app providers out by using unfair competition.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago
I downloaded the Spotify App and subscribed via Spotify's website, so I don't really see the issue here.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago
Dubious says the competitor (Spotify) that before there was ever an Apple Music, it itself was the M O N O P O L Y of the paid streaming market.

This insistence that it, Spotify, should just be able to "use" another platform "at will" and demand special exceptions is.... ludicrous.

Poor poor Spitify.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

'This App is No Longer Shared' iOS Bug Preventing Some Apps From Opening

Friday May 22, 2020 3:58 pm PDT by
An app bug is causing some iOS users to be unable to open their apps, with affected iPhone and iPad users seeing the message "This app is no longer shared with you" when attempting to access an app. There are multiple complaints about the issue on the MacRumors forums and on Twitter from users who are running into problems. A MacRumors reader describes the issue:Is anyone else experiencing...

'Apple Glass' Rumored to Start at $499, Support Prescription Lenses, and More

Tuesday May 19, 2020 6:30 am PDT by
Front Page Tech host and leaker Jon Prosser today shared several alleged details about Apple's rumored augmented reality glasses, including an "Apple Glass" marketing name, $499 starting price, prescription lens option, and more. The marketing name will be "Apple Glass" The glasses will start at $499 with the option for prescription lenses at an extra cost There will be displays in both...

Apple Releases iPadOS and iOS 13.5 With Exposure Notification API, Face ID Mask Updates, Group FaceTime Changes and More

Wednesday May 20, 2020 10:00 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 13.5, major updates that come more than a month after the launch of iOS and iPadOS 13.4.1. iOS 13.5 is a major health-related update that brings many features related to the ongoing public health crisis. The iOS and ‌‌iPadOS‌‌ 13.5 updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the updates, go to Settings...

Apple Shares iPhone 12 Camera Module Orders Between Three Suppliers

Thursday May 21, 2020 3:10 am PDT by
Three of Apple's suppliers will share camera module orders for its forthcoming "iPhone 12" lineup, according to sources from Taiwan's handset supply chain (via DigiTimes). Rumors have suggested Apple will complete its transition to an all-OLED iPhone lineup in 2020 with one new 5.4-inch device, two 6.1-inch models, and one 6.7-inch handset. Rumors suggest the 6.7-inch iPhone and one...

Former iOS Chief Scott Forstall Shares Intriguing Story of His Interview With Steve Jobs at NeXT

Friday May 22, 2020 4:01 am PDT by
Former Apple executive and iOS chief Scott Forstall made a rare public appearance this week at Code.org's virtual Code Break event, and in between classes, Forstall shared the intriguing story of how he was hired by Steve Jobs. Forstall revealed that he had been considering working at Microsoft when he went to interview at NexT, the company started by Jobs after he had left Apple. Forstall...

Apple Memorial Day Deals: Shop the Best Apple Accessory Sales From Twelve South, eBay, Anker, Mophie, and More

Friday May 22, 2020 6:39 am PDT by
We're now just a few days away from Memorial Day on Monday, May 25, and numerous retailers have opened up discounts in celebration of the holiday. This includes sales on helpful Apple-related accessories like Anker's portable batteries, Beats headphones at eBay, Incase and Incipio's protective iPad and iPhone cases, Mophie's iPhone battery cases, JBL's Bluetooth speakers, and much more. Note:...

T-Mobile and Sprint Offering Free iPhone SE With Trade-In

Thursday May 21, 2020 1:14 pm PDT by
T-Mobile is launching a Memorial Day promotion that will see the company offering a free iPhone SE to customers who trade in an eligible older smartphone in good condition. From Friday to Monday, customers who trade in an existing smartphone can get a free iPhone SE (sales tax still needs to be paid) or up to $500 off a Samsung Galaxy S20. The free iPhone SE will be provided in the form...

Apple Releases tvOS 13.4.5 for Fourth and Fifth-Generation Apple TV Models

Wednesday May 20, 2020 9:58 am PDT by
Apple today released tvOS 13.4.5, the fourth major update to the tvOS operating system that runs on the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV models. tvOS 13.4.5 comes two months after the launch of tvOS 13.4. tvOS 13.4.5, a free update, can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the Apple TV by going to System > Software Update. Apple TV owners who have automatic software...

Apple's 'Bounce' AirPods Ad Wins 'Best of Advertising' Award

Friday May 22, 2020 10:09 am PDT by
Apple's creative "Bounce" ad designed to highlight the AirPods took top honors in the 99th annual ADC (Art Director's Club) awards for advertising, earning the "Best of Discipline" award along with two Gold Cube awards in the craft in video and branded content categories. Released in June 2019, the ad features a bored man who pulls his AirPods off of their wireless charging pad and then pops ...

Jon Prosser Claims Apple is Working on 'Steve Jobs Heritage Edition' AR Glasses, Gurman Calls Rumor 'Complete Fiction'

Thursday May 21, 2020 4:50 pm PDT by
Apple is working on a limited-edition version of its augmented reality smart glasses that's designed to look like the round, frameless glasses that Steve Jobs was famous for wearing, according to Jon Prosser. Prosser, who runs YouTube show Front Page Tech and who has been sharing a flood of Apple rumors in recent weeks, mentioned the detail in Cult of Mac's latest Cultcast podcast....