Spotify Hits Apple With EU Antitrust Complaint

Cornelia Mascio
Marzo 16, 2019

Swedish music streaming giant Spotify said on Wednesday it had filed a formal complaint with the EU Commission against Apple, accusing its USA rival of stifling competition in the online music market.

Apple's power as a platform hasn't yet triggered antitrust concerns in Europe, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told reporters in Austin, Texas, on March 10, before Spotify's complaint became public.

Apple Music overtook Spotify as the most popular music streaming platform in the United States past year, and later this month will launch a TV and movie streaming service to rival Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The charge makes Spotify's premium membership more expensive than Apple Music, so the company said it refuses to use the system.

Spotify's escalating conflict with Apple has highlighted growing criticism over the way Apple and Google control customer access to digital services.

On a new Web site called Time to Play Fair, Spotify offers a timeline of its interactions with Apple, documenting how Apple's self-serving behavior with the App Store puts Spotify at a disadvantage against Apple Music.

Apparently, when Spotify stopped using Apple's in-app payment system in the past after it was forced to hike the prices of its premium service, Apple blocked "experience-enhancing" updates, locked Spotify out of services such as Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch and, in some cases, stopped Spotify from sending emails to customers who use Apple devices.

Read Daniel Ek's latest blog post, entitled "Consumers and Innovators Win on a Level Playing Field" in full below. Apple Music is growing quickly, but now Spotify is accusing Apple of using "discriminatory" business practices to give itself an unfair advantage over Spotify.

Additionally, the executive says that if it bypasses Apple's payment system, Apple will limit Spotify's communications with its subscribers. Ek says he wants the rules that apply to third-party apps to be equally applied to Apple Music, and that services like Spotify should be able to contact their users as they wish, and not force them to use a single payment system for in-app purchases. "This is how we convert our free customers to premium", Gutierrez said.

Ek noted that apps like Uber aren't subject to the "Apple tax", and that Spotify isn't looking for special treatment, just equal treatment. 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". So, let me be clear that this is not a Spotify-versus-Apple issue.

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