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Report comparing Apple Music to Spotify subs makes antitrust suit seem like nonsense

Published Apr 4th, 2024 10:20AM EDT
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A new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) sheds some interesting light on how popular Apple Music is relative to Spotify. The report specifically focuses on iOS users. The report is especially interesting in light of the DOJ’s recent antitrust lawsuit against Apple for allegedly enjoying an illegal monopoly over the smartphone market. The lawsuit claims, in part, that Apple leverages its monopoly power to the detriment of competitors like Spotify.

We’ll get to the DOJ suit in a bit, but for now, let’s take a closer look at CIRP’s findings. The report reveals that 41% of iOS users are currently subscribed to Apple Music. This compares to about 30% of users who are Spotify subscribers. And trailing far behind is Pandora One, with a user base of 10%.

Spotify, of course, has been outspoken about Apple’s App Store practices for years. Just last month, for instance, the Swedish-based music company enthusiastically cheered when the EU handed Apple a $2 billion fine for allegedly favoring its own music service over those of competitors. The EU decision articulated that Apple has been stifling competition in the music space.

Spotify and Apple’s heated rivalry

Spotify specifically takes umbrage with the fact that Apple prevented rival apps from telling users that they could sign up for a subscription outside of the App Store. In doing so, Spotify and others would have been able to avoid the 30% fee Apple charges developers for purchases.

Apple, interestingly enough, issued a press release last month where it was unusually vocal and effusive about its squabble with Spotify. Apple noted, among other things, that Spotify has been downloaded or updated more than 119 billion times across Apple devices:

Today, Spotify has a 56 percent share of Europe’s music streaming market — more than double their closest competitor’s — and pays Apple nothing for the services that have helped make them one of the most recognizable brands in the world. A large part of their success is due to the App Store, along with all the tools and technology that Spotify uses to build, update, and share their app with Apple users around the world.

But that’s just part of the picture, because Europe’s digital music market has absolutely exploded. Companies compete for new customers. Consumers have many options to choose from. And last year, there were nearly 160 million subscribers — up from 25 million in 2015 — a staggering 27 percent growth rate per year. Companies like Google, Amazon, Deezer, SoundCloud, and Apple compete for customers every day — but Spotify stands at the top.

The CIRP report is interesting because it arguably calls into question allegations of Apple stifling innovation. After all, Apple doesn’t even enjoy a 50% market share of streaming music apps on its own platform. And Spotify, meanwhile, seems to be doing just fine on the iOS platform.

Incidentally, there are reports that Spotify may increase its monthly subscription rate by $1-$2 by the end of the month.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.