Yesterday, the EU’s European Commission revealed that it had narrowed its Apple antitrust inquiry to focus specifically on App Store rules’ impact on consumers and music streaming services. Now, Spotify has officially responded to the news and called for a prompt resolution to the long-running investigation.
Stockholm-headquartered Spotify, which first submitted an EU complaint against Apple in 2019, addressed the Commission’s updated probe in a more than 100-word statement. Of course, the “Time to Play Fair” campaign organizer has for some time criticized App Store rules and fees, especially the “tax” that developers must pay Apple for in-app transactions.
(Others, including Fortnite developer Epic Games and Deezer, have also taken aim at App Store policies. Apple has, predictably, pushed back against the criticism via public remarks of its own. Meanwhile, Spotify about one year ago unveiled a “groundbreaking” agreement with Google for in-app subscriptions.)
To be sure, Spotify head Daniel Ek personally traveled to Brussels last September in an effort to speed up the marathon inquiry, which has now seen the European Commission claim that “Apple’s anti-steering obligations are unfair trading conditions.”
“In particular, the Commission is concerned that the anti-steering obligations imposed by Apple on music streaming app developers prevent those developers from informing consumers about where and how to subscribe to streaming services at lower prices,” the government entity penned when detailing its retooled Apple investigation yesterday.
As mentioned at the outset, Spotify is voicing its approval of the Commission’s latest determination – and claiming that consumers deserve to receive a “final resolution” soon.
“The European Commission has once again made it abundantly clear that consumers are the ultimate victims of Apple’s abusive and anticompetitive behavior—and putting a stop to it is a top priority,” wrote Spotify, which in February began testing “token-enabled” playlists.
“Apple’s anti-steering rules, which prohibit Spotify and other developers from telling consumers about deals or promotions through their own apps, mean that users are deprived of opportunities to save money and enjoy a higher quality service. That directly harms consumers,” continued the streaming platform, a portion of which belongs to activist investor ValueAct Capital.
“With each passing day, Apple continues to choke competition and smother innovation. The European Commission today is sending a clear message that Apple must play fair and let competition work. Momentum is on the side of consumers but they deserve final resolution—and soon,” concluded Spotify.
Apple also addressed the Commission’s announcement with a widely circulated statement, communicating in part: “We’re pleased that the Commission has narrowed its case and is no longer challenging Apple’s right to collect a commission for digital goods and require the use of the In-App Payment systems users trust.
“The App Store has helped Spotify become the top music streaming service across Europe and we hope the European Commission will end its pursuit of a complaint that has no merit,” continued the Cupertino-headquartered company, which is said to have generated almost $21 billion in services revenue during Q4 2022.