Apple to defend itself against Spotify’s antitrust accusations in the EU

This Friday, Apple will defend itself against a Spotify accusation that the Cupertino firm prevents music streaming companies from informing users about other buying options, reports Reuters. At the time, Spotify said Apple “purposely limits choice and stifles innovation at the expense of the user experience.” The accusations have changed a bit since the Swedish firm first complained to the European Commission in 2019.

The Commission started investigating in 2020, and in 2021, it issued an initial “statement of objections” against Apple. At the time, the Commission’s preliminary finding was that Apple’s rules “distort competition in the market for music streaming services by raising the costs of competing music streaming app developers.” This led to higher prices for consumers buying in-app music subscriptions on iOS devices. “In addition, Apple became the intermediary for all IAP transactions and took over the billing relationship, as well as related communications for competitors,” the announcement read.

Apple responded that Spotify is the leading streaming service in most European countries while Apple Music trails in third or fourth place. In addition, in 2022, the Cupertino firm revised its rules to allow reader apps – aka Spotify and Netflix – to include links to their website for sign-ups and user payments.

While third-party developers still can’t say on the app that people can subscribe for a lower price on their websites, they can now link to their web pages instead. In addition, many apps offer different prices on the web and iOS/Android apps by adding a 30% fee to the final price. Twitter Blue costs $8/month on the web and $11/month on iOS/Android, for example.

This hearing is important for Apple because it could be fined up to 10% of its annual revenue, which could be billions of dollars.

Later this year, the Cupertino firm must comply with the Digital Market Act and support sideloading apps and/or app stores. It’s unclear how Apple is going to implement these changes for its European users. Bloomberg reported that Apple could have announced how it would work during WWDC 2023, but the company scrapped the plans.

BGR will report once we learn what the European Commission decides from this complaint Spotify filed in 2019.

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