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Spotify Hits Apple With Antitrust Complaint in Europe Over App Store

14 March 2019

MUSIC STREAMING SERVICE Spotify filed a with the European Commission (EC) alleging that Apple is stifling competition by "acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers".

"We should all be subject to the same fair set of rules and restrictions-including Apple Music", he said.

This has been a long-running bugbear of Spotify's: in 2016, Spotify ran a promotional campaign directing its users to sign up for its Premium tier on Spotify's site, rather than through the App Store.

It's why, after careful consideration, Spotify has filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission (EC), the regulatory body responsible for keeping competition fair and nondiscriminatory. It argues that Apple both has a vested interest in promoting its own services, such as Apple Music, and the opportunity to potentially limit those of rivals.

Apple had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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In the post, Ek claims that Apple's App Store rules make it hard for Spotify to compete with Apple's own Apple Music on a level playing field.

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. "In some cases, we aren't even allowed to send emails to our customers who use Apple".

Daniel Ek has been CEO of Spotify since he co-founded it in 2006. It can include limitations around outreach to users, delays or blocks to app updates, and preventing Spotify from integrating with devices and services like HomePod and Siri.

Consumers should have a real choice of payment systems and not be locked down or forced to use Apple's discriminatory tariffs.

Spotify Premium costs ten euros, but when offering subscriptions through in-app purchases, the price went up to 13 euros.

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The 30% cut Ek's referring to is commonly known as "Apple tax", and Apple has been sued over it before.

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 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", he said. This antitrust complaint, though, is certainly the furthest Spotify has gone in targeting the Cupertino firm.

It's the latest stage in an ongoing struggle between Spotify and Apple, one that although escalating after the launch of Apple Music, did predate that rival service.

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Spotify Hits Apple With Antitrust Complaint in Europe Over App Store