Economy

Spotify files antitrust complaint to Brussels against Apple

Spotify files antitrust complaint to Brussels against Apple

Music streaming service Spotify has filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission over App Store rules that give Apple an "unfair advantage at every turn", the company CEO Daniel Ek announced in a blog post Wednesday.

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.

When Spotify stopped using Apple's in-app payment system in the past after it was forced to hike the prices of its premium service, it claims Apple blocked "experience-enhancing" updates, locked Spotify out of services such as Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch and, in some cases, stopped Spotify from sending emails to customers who use Apple devices.

The company takes issue with how Apple acts as a gatekeeper to the internet by controlling important platforms such as its iOS mobile operating system and the App Store, while also competing against services like Spotify with its Apple Music service.

A spokesman for the European Commission said that it had received a complaint from Spotify and is assessing it under standard procedures. "After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, we're now requesting that the EC take action to ensure fair competition".

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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. 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.

One example that Ek outlined in his written deposition, is the manner in which Apple taxes businesses that want to use their platform as a seller's market.

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.

Ek said that Spotify is not asking for special treatment but would like Apple to treat it like other apps that are not subject to the 30 percent fee.

As I recently shared, competition pushes us to evolve and improve both the customer and creator experience. It is about supporting and nurturing the healthy ecosystem that made our two companies successful in the first place.


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