Apple's 30% app store commission unfair, Spotify claims

Lloyd Doyle
March 16, 2019

Spotify did opt out of Apple's payment system back in 2016, but it still can't email Apple customers about offers and other information.

The music-streaming service filed an European Union antitrust complaint on Monday night alleging that the maker has behaved unlawfully and abused its dominance in its App Store to favour the company's own rival Apple Music service. For instance, the HomePod or Apple Watch is only compatible with Apple Music at the moment while Spotify is off bounds on both platforms. In Spotify's case, the company finds itself competing with Apple Music, the streaming service that comes preloaded on iPhone.

A spat between the companies that operate two of the biggest music streaming services in the world has landed at the doorstep of the European Union, which has been taking an increasingly tough stance lately against antitrust-related issues involving USA tech companies.

Spotify then ceased use of Apple's IAP system, meaning Spotify customers could only upgrade to the fee-based package indirectly, such as on a laptop.

In a statement from Spotify's counsel Horacio Gutierrez "We've consistently worked hard to play by the rules, even though we can never be sure when they will change, or how". "They continue to give themselves an unfair advantage at every turn", Ek said. Through their app stores, the two tech giants have for years acted as gatekeepers to iPhone and Android users, dictating how many people shop for apps and pay for their services.

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".

Apple requires Spotify and other digital services to pay a 30% 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. A report published by Variety tells the story of Spotify accusing Apple of unfairly limiting choice and competition in the Europe marketplace. What the streaming music service wants, it claims, is to be free of the "Apple tax" in the same way that apps like Uber and Deliveroo are.

"We aren't seeking special treatment", Ek explains.

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. Ek believes "we should all be subject to the same fair set of rules and restrictions" - including Apple Music. It's not something we ever have-or will-shy away from. We want the same fair rules for companies young and old, large and small.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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