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Apple fined $2 billion in EU following Spotify antitrust complaint

Published Mar 4th, 2024 7:37AM EST
Apple CEO Tim Cook before WWDC 2023 keynote kicked off
Image: Apple Inc.

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The European Commission has fined Apple €1.8 billion (almost $2 billion) for anti-competitive behavior against Spotify. In a press release, the European Commission said it fined Apple for “abusing its dominant position for the distribution of music streaming apps” through the App Store.

The European Commission has fined Apple over €1.8 billion for abusing its dominant position on the market for the distribution of music streaming apps to iPhone and iPad users (‘iOS users’) through its App Store. In particular, the Commission found that Apple applied restrictions on app developers preventing them from informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services available outside of the app (‘anti-steering provisions’). This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.

At the same time, the Cupertino company published a press release about the App Store, Spotify, and the EU by saying, “the primary advocate for this decision and the biggest beneficiary — is Spotify, a company based in Stockholm, Sweden. Spotify is the largest music streaming app in the world and has met with the European Commission more than 65 times during this investigation.”

Image source: Spotify

In the long press release, Apple feels shocked to be fined $2 billion as it only wanted to deliver “a safe and trusted marketplace for users” with the App Store, while the European Commission believes Apple is practicing anti-competitive behavior towards Spotify, even though the streaming service “pays Apple nothing.”

Apple highlights that the Spotify app has been downloaded, re-downloaded, or updated over 119 billion times on Apple devices. In addition, thanks to Apple’s APIs, its music service could thrive thanks to Cupertino’s ecosystem while “not paying anything.”

Spotify wants to bend the rules in their favor by embedding subscription prices in their app without using the App Store’s In-App Purchase system. They want to use Apple’s tools and technologies, distribute on the App Store, and benefit from the trust we’ve built with users — and to pay Apple nothing for it. In short, Spotify wants more.

Still, Apple doesn’t account for the fact that it also needed Spotify to grow, the same way it still needs Netflix, YouTube, and so many other apps. With the recently released Apple Vision Pro, its users are feeling what it’s like not having an app for that because developers haven’t fully embraced Apple’s vision of the future.

Wrap up

Apple needs to comply with Europe’s DMA in the upcoming days. Cupertino says, “The European Commission is issuing this decision just before their new regulation — the Digital Markets Act (DMA) — comes into force. Apple is set to comply with the DMA in days, and our plans include changes to the rules challenged here. What’s clear is that this decision is not grounded in existing competition law. It’s an effort by the Commission to enforce the DMA before the DMA becomes law.”

BGR will keep following this story as we learn more about it.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.