Spotify files EU antitrust complaint against Apple

Roman Schwartz
March 16, 2019

Spotify's general council, Horacio Gutierrez, said separately that Google, unlike Apple, did not require Spotify to use its own payments system but "we are allowed to offer users a choice of payment systems".

Spotify isn't just trying to sway the European Commission but the public as well, as outlined by its video above.

Apple controls both the iOS platform and its app store... which gets seedy when you consider that it also competes directly with some apps sold through that store (think: Apple Music vs. Spotify).

Spotify is also concerned that the company has been "locking Spotify and other competitors out of Apple services such as Siri, HomePod and Apple Watch", wrote Mr Ek. Before it stopped selling Premium subscriptions through the App Store in 2016, it had one of the highest-grossing apps in the USA and around the world. Ek says that Apple does this through the "Apple Tax".

The music streaming provider further argues that developers that choose not to use the IAP system also end up taking a hit from an additional set of restrictions imposed on them by Apple.

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Technical and experience-limiting restrictions are imposed on Spotify that makes it hard to communicate with customers if they choose not to use Apple's payment system, Ek added. Spotify is accusing the company of unevenly enforcing App Store policies in a way that tilts the playing field against rivals.

Spotify is hoping an Anti-Competition motion they're petitioned for in Europe will prevent Apple from skewing the lines of fair play. Spotify has provided an entire timeline of the events, going all the way back to 2010 when Apple started changing the guidelines for its App Store. Ek says he wants the rules that apply to third-party apps to be equally applied to Apple Music, and that services like Spotify should be able to contact their users as they wish, and not force them to use a single payment system for in-app purchases.

Ek said Spotify had tried unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, and was now asking the Commission to "take action to ensure fair competition". The most prominent example is Apple's standoff with Amazon over Kindle e-books, which it wanted a cut of. The company claims, among other things, that Apple has on multiple occasions blocked it from rolling out app updates without proper justification.

Second, consumers should have a real choice of payment systems, and not be "locked in" or forced to use systems with discriminatory tariffs such as Apple's.

We aren't seeking special treatment. We want the same fair rules for companies young and old, large and small.

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