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 US tech companies.
In this case, the two companies are Apple and Spotify, the latter having just filed an antitrust complaint with European officials blasting some of the iPhone maker’s policies related to its lucrative App Store as unfairly limiting competition. Spotify CEO Daniek Ek, in a blog post today explaining the move, said some of Apple’s rules around third-party apps “limit choice and stifle innovation.”
“My goal for Spotify is and has always been to reimagine the audio experience by giving consumers the best creativity and innovation we have to offer,” Ek’s note today begins. “For that to be a reality, it is my firm belief that companies like ours must operate in an ecosystem in which fair competition is not only encouraged, but guaranteed.”
He goes on to explain that Spotify has tried to work out its dispute with Apple directly, to no avail. Spotify, which is based in Sweden, now wants the EU’s European Commission arm to step in.
The reasons why include Apple’s “app tax,” the 30 percent cut that Apple takes when developers sell their wares in the company’s App Store. Spotify contends that paying that “tax” when customers upgrade their iOS Spotify app from the free to the premium version of the service “would force us to artificially inflate the price of our Premium membership well above the price of Apple Music.”
From there, Ek goes on to lament that if the company decides that situation is too onerous and doesn’t want to use Apple’s payment system as a way of getting around this, “Apple then applies a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions on Spotify.” Those include limiting what Spotify is allowed to communicate to its customers via email, according to the company. Ek adds that 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.”
Apple hasn’t as of the time of this writing responded to requests for comments about Spotify’s action, while a spokesperson for the European Commission told The Wall Street Journal that Spotify’s complaint has been received and is being reviewed. Meanwhile, Spotify isn’t just stopping there.
The streaming giant has also launched a companion PR campaign, prepping a website (https://timetoplayfair.com) and releasing a YouTube video explaining the company’s concerns: