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EU Narrows Apple Music Streaming Antitrust Suit

 |  February 28, 2023

The European Union has taken a step forward in its legal battle against Apple, sending the tech giant an updated list of objections over their App Store rules for music streaming providers, reported CNBC. 

The EU is accusing Apple of using anti-competitive practices to stifle competition and gain an unfair advantage in the market. The antitrust suit could have far-reaching implications for the digital music industry and how consumers access and purchase music

The EU’s preliminary statement of objections, issued in 2021, accused Apple of abusing its dominant position by forcing music streaming app developers to use their own in-app purchase payment technology and restricting the ability of developers to inform iOS users about other available music subscription services. The commission sent the tech giant a Statement of Objections listing issues that it believes warrant further investigation. In it, the EU’s executive body outlined its issues with Apple, namely making developers use its payment system and preventing them from telling subscribers about alternative (and often cheaper) payment options outside of iOS apps.

Read more: Consumer Group Joins EU Apple Antitrust Case

The new list of objections is more narrowly focused on Apple’s rules for music streaming providers, specifically those related to Apple Music.

“Today, the European Commission sent a clear message that Apple’s anti-competitive behavior and unfair practices have harmed consumers and disadvantaged developers for far too long,” Spotify’s General Counsel Eve Konstan said in a statement. “We urge the Commission to reach a swift decision in this case to protect consumers and restore fair competition on the iOS platform.”

The Commission said that its investigation focused on Apple’s rules for the distribution of music streaming services through the App Store, which are alleged to have artificially raised the prices of competing music streaming services and restricted choice for consumers. The Commission is concerned that these rules limit competition in two ways: by limiting competing music streaming providers’ ability to communicate directly with customers, and by preventing them customers.

It is not yet clear how the Commission will respond to Apple’s statements, but it could potentially result in hefty fines for the tech giant if it finds that its activities are in violation of EU antitrust law. In addition, the Commission may also impose changes to Apple’s App Store rules that would make it easier for competing music streaming services to compete with Apple Music.