Spotify reports Apple to European Union commission over rules which 'disadvantage' app developers

Marco Green
March 14, 2019

Spotify has filed a complaint with European regulators arguing that Apple limits choice and competition in its app store, giving its own music streaming service an unfair advantage over rivals. Music site Spotify has complained to European Union regulators about Apple, saying that the USA tech giant is abusing its dominant position in music streaming and hurting competition. Spotify's list of grievances, which the EC says it is reviewing, also mirrors much of Senator Elizabeth Warren's recent proposal for limiting the anti-competitive behavior of big tech companies. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that calls for breaking up USA tech giants.

Spotify's beef with Apple centers on a 30 percent tax it and other digital services have to pay whenever they use Apple's "in-app" payment system to process user purchases such as upgrading subscriptions.

Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify's general counsel, said the company was pressured into using the billing system in 2014, but then was forced to raise the monthly fee of its premium service from 9.99 to 12.99 euros, just as Apple Music launched at Spotify's initial 9.99 price.

"As an alternative, if we choose not to use Apple's payment system, forgoing the charge, Apple then applies a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions on Spotify".

Spotify's complaint marks the first occasion on which Apple's App Store has had an antitrust complaint publicly registered with the European Union, but companies have criticized Apple's App Store charges since its launch in 2011.

"Let me be clear that this is not a Spotify-versus-Apple issue".

A spokesman for the European Commission said that it had received a complaint from Spotify and is assessing it under standard procedures.

Apple did not immediately respond to calls and texts asking for comment.

Ek says that Spotify wants the same treatment as other App Store apps like Uber and Deliveroo, "who aren't subject to the Apple tax and therefore don't have the same restrictions".

Spotify also contends that Apple gives its own services an unfair advantage by allowing them to violate rules third-party services must abide by, like sending push notifications offering savings, or preventing the use of iOS APIs to recommend podcasts.

It's not the first time Apple has faced criticism over how it manages the App Store, and the demands it places on developers producing apps for iOS devices like iPhone and iPad. A growing number of software companies, including Netflix and the developers behind the popular video game Fortnite, are aiming to bypass app stores altogether, or minimize Apple's involvement in payments.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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