Spotify has filed an anti-competition complaint about Apple with the European Commission, claiming the Cupertino, California-based company limited innovation and constraining user choice by refusing to allow Spotify and other firms access to technology and information via the App Store.
“Apple is both the owner of the iOS platform and the App Store —and a competitor to services like Spotify,” Daniel Ek, founder of Spotify, announced the complaint on the company’s blog. “In theory, this is fine. But in Apple’s case, they continue to give themselves an unfair advantage at every turn,” 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.”
He adds that if Spotify paid Apple’s 30% “tax” cut of purchases made on the App Store as a tax, it would force his company to artificially inflate the price of our Premium membership well above the price of Apple Music.
“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,” Ek writes. “For example, they limit our communication with our customers—including our outreach beyond the app. In some cases, we aren’t even allowed to send emails to our customers who use Apple. Apple also routinely blocks our experience-enhancing upgrades. Over time, this has included locking Spotify and other competitors out of Apple services such as Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch.”
He says he isn’t seeking special treatment. Spotify “simply want the same treatment as numerous other apps on the App Store, like Uber or Deliveroo, who aren’t subject to the Apple tax and therefore don’t have the same restrictions,” Ek adds.
Here’s what he wants from Apple:
First, apps should be able to compete fairly on the merits, and not based on who owns the App Store.
Second, consumers should have a real choice of payment systems, and not be “locked in” or forced to use systems with discriminatory tariffs such as Apple’s.
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.