Spotify Tells Apple It’s ‘Time to Play Fair’; Files a Complaint with the European Commission

Spotify has accused Apple of anti-competitive behavior in the way it manages the App Store and has filed a complaint against it with the European Commission.

Spotify says that over the last few years, Apple has introduced App Store rules that stifle the competition and help promote Apple’s own music streaming service. In the announcement, Spotify CEO says that the company has tried numerous times to solve the issues directly with Apple but those efforts bore no fruit. This is why the company has now filed a complaint with the European Commission.

Spotify has even launched a Time to Play Fair website highlighting Apple’s unfair practices. In the website, Spotify highlights that Apple takes 30 percent of the revenue generated via IAPs from certain apps. However, the rules are not applicable across the board as Apple does not charge the same fees for transactions done inside the Uber app, Deliveroo, or even Apple Music.

Secondly, Spotify says that since they are no longer relying on Apple’s IAP, they have been barred from sharing deals with customers.

If we choose not to use IAP (the only payment option on iOS), Apple, in return, bars us from communicating directly with our customers who access Spotify via Apple platforms. Apple won’t let us share awesome deals and promotions — like 99c for three months of Spotify Premium. And we aren’t just talking about what we are allowed to do on the app. Worse yet, they don’t even let us email offers after you register your account, claiming we are circumventing their rules.

It also accuses Apple of rejecting app updates which contain bug fixes and app enhancements which are aimed at offering a better user experience. Similarly, while Apple offers Apple Music on the HomePod and tight Siri integration with its own music streaming platform, it does not allow Spotify to talk to Siri or offer it as an alternative to Apple Music on the HomePod. This is also the reason why Spotify is missing from the Apple Watch despite the app being ready months in advance. Apple straight up refused to work with Spotify on an Apple Watch Spotify app.

These rules Apple unilaterally imposes exist for one reason only: to give Apple an unfair advantage over the many other services that are working hard to compete for fans. For competition to work and innovation to thrive, Apple needs to play fair.

There’s even a timeline on the website which highlights Apple’s anticompetitive behavior from over the years.

Spotify says that once Apple Music launched, Apple started rejecting Spotify app updates more and more. It has even gone ahead and threatened them of being removed from the App Store. These threats have usually coincided with Spotify’s promotional campaign seasons.

Our Take

There’s no doubt here that Apple has taken advantage of the fact that it owns the App Store to promote its own set of apps and services over the competition. Spotify used to lose a major chunk of its revenue in fees to Apple which is why it ultimately stopped offering users the option to sign up from Spotify Premium from the App Store. While Apple bars Spotify from informing customers about deals, the company itself sends out push notifications to customers informing them about deals on iPhones.

It looks to me that Apple is doing to Spotify what Qualcomm did to Apple. Using unfair business practises to put its product or service ahead of the competition. Do you think Apple offers a fair playing field to its competition? Or does it bend the rules as per its convenience?

[Via Spotify]