Spotify Wages War on App Store Rules

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Apple's power as a platform hasn't yet triggered antitrust concerns in Europe, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told reporters in Austin, Texas, on March 10, before Spotify's complaint became public.

Ek said that that should compete daily on merit, not based on who owns the App Store. When Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) launched its music service in the European Union, they were able to be both the platform holder as well as a competitor to Spotify. Before it stopped selling Premium subscriptions through the App Store in 2016, it had one of the highest-grossing apps in the USA and around the world. Chief Executive Daniel EK said they are left with no choice but to inflate their prices to absorb the 30 percent "tax" cut made by Apple.

Spotify has been unhappy with its treatment by Apple for years, and filed an informal complaint with the Commission three years ago, said Jacques Lafitte at the Avisa consultancy in Brussels.

However, Ek said he has now been forced to officially lodge a complaint with the European commission after Apple introduced what he claimed were wider anti-competitive practices that has made it "both player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers". Ek says that if the company doesn't comply with Apple's tax, it faces "a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions", on its app. Ek added that Apple "routinely blocks our experience-enhancing upgrades", locking competitors out of Apple devices such as Siri, Apple Watch and Homepod.

The company has set up a new website, called Time to Play Fair, asking Apple to level the playing field and that its "anti-competitive behavior" must be challenged.

Spotify files antitrust complaint to Brussels against Apple
Apple's 30% app store commission unfair, Spotify claims

Spotify began emailing customers in 2015 that they should cancel subscriptions purchased through Apple's App Store.

This has been a long-running bugbear of Spotify's: in 2016, Spotify ran a promotional campaign directing its users to sign up for its Premium tier on Spotify's site, rather than through the App Store. Spotify has provided an entire timeline of the events, going all the way back to 2010 when Apple started changing the guidelines for its App Store.

Ek says the company had tried - and failed - to resolve these issues with Apple before filing a complaint to the EC.

The escalating conflict highlights growing criticism over the way Apple and Google control customer access to digital services. "This is how we convert our free customers to premium", Gutierrez said.

In addition to taking issue with those rules, Spotify alleges it has been the subject of unfair treatment.

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