App Store War: Spotify Calls Apple ‘Harmful,’ ‘Anti-Competitive’ in Letter to EU Commissioner

Apple CEO Tim Cook waves as he arrives for the Economic Summit held for the China Developm
NG HAN GUAN/AFP via Getty Images

Spotify and eight other app developers and associations have sent a letter to Margrethe Vestager, the executive vice president of the EU Commission, urging her to take legal action against Apple’s app distribution methods. The letter states that “Apple benefits from a monopoly position over its mobile ecosystem and extracts exorbitant rents from app developers who have no choice but to remain on the App Store to reach European consumers.”

MacRumors reports that the letter, which is endorsed by the CEOs and heads of Basecamp, Deezer, Proton, Schibsted, Spotify, European Publishers Council (EPC), France Digitale, and News Media Europe, calls on the EU to wrap up an ongoing inquiry into Apple’s methods for distributing apps that Spotify started.

Daniel Ek

Spotify chief Daniel Ek (Drew Angerer /Getty)


European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager  © AFP Emmanuel DUNAND

The group asserts that the platform’s policies and its “capricious changes to terms and conditions” have hampered their businesses and consistently made it difficult for them to grow. They contend that these limitations harm European consumers and impede their development. The letter states:

For years, Apple has imposed unfair restrictions on our businesses. These restrictions hamper our development and harm European consumers. They include the tying of the App Store to Apple’s proprietary payment system, with its excessive commissions for app developers; the creation of artificial obstacles that prevent our businesses from freely communicating with our customers; restrictions to developers’ access to data of their own users; and capricious changes to terms and conditions. Apple benefits from a monopoly position over its mobile ecosystem and extracts exorbitant rents from app developers who have no choice but to remain on the App Store to reach European consumers.

The letter mentions the recently passed Digital Markets Act (DMA) and calls for its prompt enforcement to end Apple’s alleged abusive behaviors. “The EU has the opportunity to take the lead, but it must act quickly, as every day that passes is a loss for innovation and for the welfare of European consumers,” the letter declares.

The Commission’s Statement of Objections against Apple, which outlined its conclusions following an investigation into shady App Store practices, was published by the EU in April 2021. The EU claimed that Apple “abused its dominant position for the distribution of music streaming apps through its App Store” and that it objects to “music streaming app developers being forced to use Apple’s in-app purchase mechanism to distribute their apps.” Now, the group of businesses asserts that “countless other app providers,” not just music streaming apps, are also subject to the alleged wrongdoings.

The letter further states:

We therefore call for a rapid decision in the competition case against Apple for its illegal, anti-competitive behavior involving music streaming services. Many of the anti-competitive behaviors described in the Commission’s Statement of Objections against Apple are felt not only by music streaming services but by countless other app providers who wish to offer goods and services via the iOS App Store. That Statement of Objections is nearly two years old and the abuses and consumer harm will continue until a remedy is enforced. Beyond the specific App Store case, the EU authorities urgently need to look at Apple’s abusive behavior in other areas as well, such as publishing, web software, communications, and marketplaces.

Spotify has been one of the loudest critics of Apple’s alleged unfair and anti-competitive business practices in the App Store. In a press release from October, Spotify claimed that Apple’s restrictions “hurt both creators and consumers alike,” impairing “Spotify’s and other developers’ abilities to provide a seamless user experience.”

Spotify has made no secret of the fact that it doesn’t like Apple’s App Store, but despite repeated requests, it hasn’t added HomePod support to its app, unlike many of its rivals. Because of this, some Spotify users have switched to other services like Apple Music. This week, Spotify stated on its website that “Apple has been enabled by the lack of decisive action by regulators, who continue to move hesitantly, even though the situation is getting worse.”

Read more at MacRumors here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan


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