EU Prepares to Charge Apple in Antitrust Dispute With Spotify

EU regulators are in the process of finalizing a charge sheet against Apple, initiated by an antitrust complaint from Spotify (via Reuters).

European Commisssion

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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Top Rated Comments

ForkHandles Avatar
43 months ago
It’s great that we have institutions who can investigate practices of large corporations.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
djcerla Avatar
43 months ago
I can buy an eBook on Amazon, and read it on my iPad Kindle one instant later. No Apple-Tax.

I subscribed to one year of Babbel on their website. No Apple tax, Babbel working great on my iPad.

Why can’t Spotify do the same?

If you want a platform, go build your own, like Apple did betting the house on the iPhone.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Art Mark Avatar
43 months ago
No matter if you believe there is an issue or not with Apple's current set-up, what I don't understand is what the courts want Apple to do? Apple has - according to the angry software companies, no right to charge anything for access to their devices or their customers. It must all be free, and allow for any system any developer wants to establish. But this doesn't work in any other commercial setting. Try selling at a craft fair, you get charged for a table. Try getting your product into Walmart, you give Walmart discounts (they DEMAND discounts greater than wholesale) and Walmart may decide not to carry your product - end of story. Even grocery stores in the US have 'house brands' that are cheaper and often replace other brands on the shelf. Why is this marketplace any different? I have no skin in this game. But their does seem to be some wishful thinking when it comes to thinking marketplaces have no barrier to entry and that your 'right' to sell can never face any kind of fee or cost on a platform or place.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
calzon65 Avatar
43 months ago
I wish Apple allowed an alternative to load applications on IOS (not developer mode). Yes, this could expose users to malicious applications that could cause them harm, but users could still chose to only load applications from the Apple store. We can load any application we want on MacOS, Windows or Linux, ... just not IOS.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
5232152 Avatar
43 months ago
It's a fair complaint. With Apple having their own music streaming service has no reason to treat Spotify fairly. I don't know what the end result would logically look like but there is definitely a conflict of interest in the current setup.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mattspace Avatar
43 months ago
"but iOS isn't the majority of the smartphone market, how can they be charged with antitrust abuse of monopoly power, when they're only a minority player - Spotify should just go to Android if they don't agree to Apple's terms, because Apple made the iOS market and they set the rules"

welcome to "competition policy doesn't work the way you think it does".
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)