Spotify Files Complaint Against Apple Alleging Anticompetitive Behavior

Versus Applemusic Spotify Credit: CNET
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Spotify has filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission (EC) for alleged anticompetitive practices.

Daniel Ek, the founder and CEO of the streaming giant, revealed the complaint in a blog post on Wednesday. Ek claims that Apple had introduced App Store rules that “purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience.”

Apple Tax

More specifically, Ek said he takes particular issue with the fact that Apple takes a 30 percent cut of in-app purchases made on the App Store — what Ek refers to as an Apple tax.

Spotify says that this 30 percent cut requires it to bump up the price of its Premium service to compensate. In fact, Spotify does charge $12.99 for Premium memberships managed through the App Store, higher than the $9.99 it usually chargers. An Apple Music account purchased through Apple’s platforms also costs $9.99.

In his blog post, Ek alleges that this gives Apple an “unfair advantage.” Spotify competes with Apple Music, but also relies heavily on the App Store to distribute its app and sell in-app Premium subscription purchases.

The Spotify CEO also said that if third-party apps choose not to collect payments via the App Store, Apple allegedly makes life harder for them.

That includes a “series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions.” Over time, Ek says this has included “locking Spotify and other competitors out of Apple services such as Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch.”

It’s worth noting that the so-called App Store tax doesn’t apply to all third-party apps equally. Apps like Uber and Lyft are able to skirt by the 30 percent cut because they offer goods or services “consumed outside of the app.”

Ek maintains that it isn’t a “Spotify-versus-Apple issue,” and is simply about making the App Store a fairer place for all companies.

As far as what changes Ek wants made, he said that all apps on an app store should be subject to the same set of rules, consumers should have a choice about payment systems, and app stores shouldn’t be able to control the communications between apps and users.

Spotify had apparently tried to resolve the issue with Apple directly, but was unsuccessful. That led it to file a complaint with the EC.

The streaming giant also launched its own website seeking to inform customers about the issue.

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