Apple Hit With EU Antitrust Violations Over Spotify’s App Store Complaint

Apple Spotify

The European Union hit Apple with antitrust violations stemming from Spotify’s complaints about the iPhone maker’s App Store policies, the European Commission (EC) said in a statement.

The EC’s statement of objections handed down to Apple said that the tech giant has abused its power as the “gatekeeper” of smartphone and tablet apps. Regulators also said that Apple “distorted competition” by imposing a 30 percent commission and not allowing developers to give users other ways to get the app.

Apple’s App Store hosts more than 1.8 million apps that are considered beneficial to both businesses and consumers, the statement indicated. That in and of itself makes Apple a gatekeeper, since “app stores with the most users are the most attractive for app developers,” which means more apps are available in Apple’s store.

“Our preliminary finding is that Apple exercises considerable market power in the distribution of music streaming apps to owners of Apple devices. On that market, Apple has a monopoly,” EC Competition Chief Margrethe Vestager said in a speech on Friday (April 30). “The company not only controls the only access to apps on Apple devices, it also offers a music streaming service, Apple Music, that competes with other apps available in the Apple App Store, such as Spotify or Deezer.”

If the statement of objections is confirmed, Apple’s behavior would “infringe Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) that prohibits the abuse of a dominant market position,” according to the statement.

Apple responded by pointing the finger at Spotify, stating that the music streaming service has seen continued success on the App Store despite paid functions being disabled in order to avoid App Store fees, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“At the core of this case is Spotify’s demand that they should be able to advertise alternative deals on their iOS app, a practice that no store in the world allows,” an Apple spokesman said. “The Commission’s argument on Spotify’s behalf is the opposite of fair competition.”

The allegations are part of a global battle over fees for app downloads on smartphones and tablets. Earlier this month, regulators in the U.K., Germany and Australia said that the pandemic is not an excuse for anti-competitive behavior.

When Apple changed its privacy policies with its iOS 14.5 update, nine industry associations in Germany called foul. By allowing users to decide how much, if any, data to share, the group claims that mobile app developers could lose some 60 percent in revenue.