Apple hits back at 'misleading' Spotify antitrust complaint

Marco Green
March 15, 2019

Spotify, launched a year after Apple unveiled its first iPhone in 2007, said on Wednesday the company unfairly limits rivals to its own music streaming service.

"After using the App Store for years to dramatically grow their business, Spotify seeks to keep all the benefits of the App Store ecosystem - including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store's customers - without making any contributions to that marketplace", it wrote.

Regarding Apple's 30% tax that it levies on paid apps, which is the crux of Spotify's complaint as Apple Music is not subject to it, Apple says Spotify left out a few key pieces of info in its complaint. Spotify apparently wants to pay Apple nothing for subscriptions taken via the App Store.

Apple requires Spotify and other digital services to pay a 30 per cent tax on purchases made through Apple's systems, Ek said, which Spotify declined to do to avoid inflating the price of its premium membership to well above that of Apple Music. "Even now, only a tiny fraction of their subscriptions fall under Apple's revenue-sharing model". The company also points out that Spotify's Watch app is now the number one app in the Watch Music category. It said that it has approved almost 200 app updates, and "the only time we have requested adjustments is when Spotify has tried to sidestep the same rules that every app follows".

"In recent years, Apple has introduced rules to the App Store that purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience - essentially acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers", Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek said in a statement.

Ek said Apple's platform was "the gateway to the internet" for over a billion people, and a competitor to services like Spotify.

Spotify, launched in Sweden just over a decade ago, claims 207 million users in the world, of whom 96 million are paying subscribers, adding 1 million users in India within a week of its launch in February. Apple says it reached out to Spotify about Siri and AirPlay 2 support "on several occasions", to which Spotify replied it's "working on it".

The company expressed surprise about Spotify's Watch app claim, saying "we reviewed and approved it with the same process and speed with which we would any other app". It added that Spotify is "deeply integrated" into Carplay, and that its developers can access the same tools as anyone else. "In fact, the Spotify Watch app is now the No. 1 app in the Watch Music category".

Spotify was not immediately available to comment on Apple's response.

First published at 3:11 a.m. PT. Updated at 4:43 a.m. PT: Adds more details.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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