Spotify files antitrust complaint against Apple, alleging unfair App Store policies

Spotify says Apple Music has

The audio streaming giant has filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission against Apple, claiming its App Store purposely limits choice and stifles innovation at the expense of the user experience.

"Spotify is largely on the right side in both facts and principle, which creates risk that App Store policy terms will be forcibly changed in a way that negatively impacts Services revenue and Apple's brand", KeyBanc analyst Andy Hargreaves wrote in a note to clients.

It's not the first time Apple has faced criticism over how it manages the App Store, and the demands it places on developers producing apps for iOS devices like iPhone and iPad.

He said that if Spotify pays Apple's tax it would be forced to artificially inflate the price of its premium membership well above the price of Apple music. This made its service more expensive than Apple Music, and Spotify isn't happy about it.

If Spotify was to ditch Apple's payment system, Ek continues, "Apple then applies a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions on Spotify". A spokesperson for the European Commission which handles antitrust complaints confirmed that they had received Spotify's complaint, "which we are assessing under our standard procedures". This central tension gives Tim Cook's behemoth what Ek calls "an unfair advantage at every turn"-whether by disallowing apps from promoting discounts, or by imposing the so-called "Apple tax".

Spotify Technology SA wants regulators to investigate the rules that Apple Inc. sets for outside apps on the App Store. Ek said, "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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Spotify's beef with Apple centers on a 30% tax it and other digital services have to pay whenever they use Apple's "in-app" payment system to process user purchases such as upgrading subscriptions.

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.

He goes on to explain that Spotify has tried to work out its dispute with Apple directly, to no avail.

The complaint was prompted by "an accumulation of increasing restrictions that we believe are extreme", he said. He adds that all App Store users should have a choice of payment systems, and not be locked into using Apple's platform.

Consumers win and our industry thrives when we're able to challenge each other on fair footing.

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