Spotify accuses Apple of abusing its power over the App Store

Lloyd Doyle
March 14, 2019

Apple wields its App Store as a cudgel to stifle innovation, weaken competition and unfairly tax its rivals, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a post Wednesday, after the world's biggest music streaming service filed a complaint with European regulators.

Recently Senator Warren of MA criticised technology giants Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple for putting their competitors at a disadvantage. Complicating things, there are plenty of transactions that flow through iOS that Apple doesn't extract it's 30 percent from - rideshare services and food delivery apps, for instance (the most obvious distinction is that these apps facilitate physical purchases, not just the purchase of digital goods and services). He said Spotify is asking for three commitments: Services in the App Store, including Apple Music, should be subject to the same rules; consumers should have choice over which payment systems to use for the apps; and app stores should be blocked from controlling communications between services and their customers. The executive says that all apps should be able to compete fairly, and Apple Music shouldn't get an advantage because Apple owns the App Store. The European Commission said it has received Spotify's complaint, which it is assessing under its "standard procedures".

Mashable has reached out to Apple for comment and we'll update this article when we hear from them.

Ek believes that this app subscription "tax" is created to harm streaming services that compete with Apple's own services, such as Apple Music.


Under App store rules, Spotify said, content-based apps could not include buttons or external links to pages with production information, discounts or promotions and faced difficulties fixing bugs. He explained that the charge could push Spotify to inflate its prices above the cost for a subscription to Apple Music, Apple's music streaming service.

If Spotify was to ditch Apple's payment system, Ek continues, "Apple then applies a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions on Spotify". Ek insists that Spotify isn't seeking special treatment in filing this motion.

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". The streaming music service announced its "Time to Play Fair" campaign today, accusing Apple of, among other things, regularly changing the rules for iOS developers in ways that disadvantage rivals. He reckons the Apple-licensed "App Store" should remain objectively unbiased with the market place should remain inconquerable.

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

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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