Apple should be probed by the European Union's antitrust agency over how it allegedly squeezes rival music streaming services, Spotify Technology SA said, escalating a debate over how Apple takes a cut of sales on its App Store.
"In recent years, Apple has introduced rules to the App Store that purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience - essentially acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers", Daniel Ek, Spotify founder and CEO, wrote of the complaint. (Apple rejected that charge, saying Spotify had been seeking preferential treatment.) And Spotify has complained more recently that the 30 percent fee Apple takes for some app payments, like when you upgrade your Spotify account from free to premium, is used as a tool to throttle competitors. A growing number of software companies, including Netflix and the developers behind the popular video game Fortnite, are aiming to bypass app stores altogether, or minimize Apple's involvement in payments. If Spotify chooses not to use the payment system and avoid the 30 percent charge, Ek said, Apple can complicate matters for Spotify, such as limiting its ability to communicate with customers or blocking upgrades.
For example, they won't let us market to our customers who use our app on iOS.
Spotify argues that it has to raise prices, making it more expensive than Apple's own streaming service, Apple Music.
Spotify wants the same treatment as other App Store apps like Uber and Deliveroo, "who aren't subject to the Apple tax and don't have the same problems". 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 U.S. tech companies.
Spotify also contends that Apple gives its own services an unfair advantage by allowing them to violate rules third-party services must abide by, like sending push notifications offering savings, or preventing the use of iOS APIs to recommend podcasts.
Finally, app stores should not be allowed to control the communications between services and users, including placing unfair restrictions on marketing and promotions that benefit consumers.
Apple's media team in Britain did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It's not something we ever have-or will-shy away from. That's what competition on the merits is all about.