EU Prepares to Charge Apple in Antitrust Dispute With Spotify
In 2019, Spotify filed a complaint with the European Commission, alleging that Apple enforces App Store rules that "purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience," accusing the company of "acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers."
In particular, Spotify highlighted that Apple's 30 percent commission on App Store purchases, including in-app subscriptions, forces the music streaming service to charge existing subscribers $12.99 per month for its Premium plan on the App Store, just to collect the $9.99 per month it usually charges.
It is proposed that this gives Apple an "unfair advantage," since Spotify is unable to fairly compete with Apple Music's standard $9.99 per month price within the App Store. If Spotify chooses not to collect payments via the App Store, Apple purportedly "applies a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions" on the company. It is also said that Apple was "locking Spotify and other competitors out of Apple services such as Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch," thereby making Apple Music a more attractive option for subscribers.
In what appears to be a significant advancement in the antitrust case, Apple looks to be hit with charges by the European Commission, suggesting that the company has likely been found to have conducted itself anti-competitively and violated the EU's antitrust rules. The EU is now actively preparing a charge sheet against Apple, according to sources speaking to Reuters, which may be sent to the company before the summer.
The Spotify antitrust case is one of several opened by the European Commission into Apple's business practices last year in June last year, including similar cases from the likes of Kobo-owner Rakuten. It is not yet known what exactly the EU's charges could involve, but it has been suggested that Apple could be forced to pay a fine or make changes to its App Store business model in Europe to foster greater competition.
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