Spotify Launches Antitrust Complaint Against Apple With European Commission

Spotify Antitrust Complaint
Spotify icon shown on a smartphone (Photo: CC BY-SA 2.0)

Music streaming firm Spotify has formally filed a complaint against Apple for giving its own service an unfair advantage over its competitors. The Swedish audio streaming company filed the complaint with the European Commission detailing how Apple had used its App Store to purposely persuading users to opt for its own music streaming service instead of those being offered by third-party companies.

According to a blog post published by Spotify's CEO, Daniel Ek, Apple had apparently introduced some new rules on the App store which purposely limited the choice of its users when it comes to installing music streaming platforms. The executive further explained that the move was oppressing innovation and ruins the overall user experience. The company had already requested European antitrust officials to intervene in the matter following futile attempts by the company to settle it directly with Apple.

Ek's company along with other music streaming platforms had apparently been asked by Apple to pay a 30 percent fee for any purchase that was made through Apple's in-app payment system. While other content providers are required to pay the fee for the use of the payment system, Apple's own music streaming service, Apple Music, was exempted. Spotify claims that this apparently puts other music streaming services at a great disadvantage.

Apple rolled out the new rule back in 2014 and Spotify immediately agreed to pay the fee. However, the added expenditure led to the company raising its premium subscription service from US$11.30 to US$14.70 for Apple users. During the same time, Apple had released its own music streaming platform with a premium subscription fee of only US$11.30. Due to the discrepancy and Spotify's high pricing, the company chose to opt out of the payment system in 2016. The company currently does not have its premium subscription service available on the app store in Europe. Instead, Apple users in the country can only use the company's free ad-based version.

To further drive home his argument, Ek revealed that other mobile services such as Uber and Deliveroo were not required to pay the additional fee to use the company's payment system. Ek explained that requiring them to pay the tax would only result in them increasing their prices way above the price of Apple's own platform. Additionally, Ek alleged that Apple is currently preventing their services from being used with Siri as well as on several of Apple's hardware including its Apple Watch and HomePod.

The European Commission recently released a statement, which stated that they had already received the complaint from Spotify. They are reportedly now investigating the matter, but have yet to announce a deadline for a possible remedy. Apple has yet to release a statement in response to the complaint. 

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