MUSIC STREAMING SERVICE Spotify filed a with the European Commission (EC) alleging that Apple is stifling competition by "acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers."
In a blog post, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek argues that Apple is giving itself an "unfair advantage" through its 30 per cent "Apple Tax", which sees the firm charging a 30 per cent fee toward any sales through its App Store, including subscription services.
"Apple requires that Spotify and other digital services pay a 30 per cent tax on purchases made through Apple's payment system, including upgrading from our free to our premium service," Ek said.
"If we pay this tax, it would force us to artificially inflate the price of our premium membership well above the price of Apple Music. And to keep our price competitive for our customers, that isn't something we can do."
If Spotify was to ditch Apple's payment system, Ek continues, "Apple then applies a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions on Spotify."
When Spotify stopped using Apple's in-app payment system in the past after it was forced to hike the prices of its premium service, it claims Apple blocked "experience-enhancing" updates, locked Spotify out of services such as Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch and, in some cases, stopped Spotify from sending emails to customers who use Apple devices.
Ek says that Spotify wants the same treatment as other App Store apps like Uber and Deliveroo, "who aren't subject to the Apple tax and therefore don't have the same restrictions." It has asked that:
- First, apps should be able to compete fairly on the merits, and not based on who owns the App Store. We should all be subject to the same fair set of rules and restrictions—including Apple Music.
- Second, consumers should have a real choice of payment systems, and not be "locked in" or forced to use systems with discriminatory tariffs such as Apple's.
- Finally, app stores should not be allowed to control the communications between services and users, including placing unfair restrictions on marketing and promotions that benefit consumers.
"Let me be clear that this is not a Spotify-versus-Apple issue," Ek concluded. "We want the same fair rules for companies young and old, large and small. It is about supporting and nurturing the healthy ecosystem that made our two companies successful in the first place.
"Consumers win and our industry thrives when we're able to challenge each other on fair footing. That's what competition on the merits is all about."
Spotify has long had beef with Apple's "anticompetitive" App Store restrictions; back in 2015, the firm filed a complaint alleging that Apple is trying to use its influence and power in the industry to convince music labels to put an end to the free streaming services offered by the likes of Spotify. µ
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