EU Prepares to Drop $542 Million Hammer on Apple Following Spotify Complaint — As Another Investigation Takes Shape

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The approximately $542 million EU fine against Apple is reportedly set to be announced on March 5th. Photo Credit: Alexey Larionov

Earlier this month, reports suggested that the European Union was preparing to fine Apple about $542 million (€500 million) in connection with an antitrust complaint levied by Spotify. Now, the expected date of the fine’s issuance has come to light, and the iPhone developer is reportedly facing a different investigation yet.

These newest details about the EU’s regulatory actions involving Apple, which has long battled criticism from Stockholm-based Spotify over its App Store fees and policies, just recently emerged. As we recapped closer to February’s beginning, the approximately $542 million fine – which isn’t set in stone but is widely expected to be handed down – stems from a 2019 complaint from Spotify.

The Financial Times previously relayed that the European Commission intended to issue the penalty in “early March” and cite perceived infractions relating to “‘unfair trading conditions'” when doing so.

And while the Commission (the EU’s executive body) still hadn’t commented publicly on the matter at the time of this writing, Reuters has now indicated that the fine is poised to be announced on March 5th. Even with less than a week until that date, the exact amount and timing “could change” depending on the plans of officials, per the outlet.

Besides the fine, the Commission will reportedly order Apple to axe the allegedly unlawful practices at hand, which it appears will be addressed by the Digital Markets Act (DMA) next month in any event. Tech mainstays including Apple have until the 7th to comply with that law, though the specifics associated with this compliance are eliciting pushback from Spotify. Apple, for its part, has argued against the audio-entertainment giant’s qualms in the media.

Shifting to the aforementioned fresh EU investigation into Apple, the probe concerns the Cupertino-based business’s alleged decision to cut off access to certain “progressive web apps.” That refers particularly to apps accessible in web browsers after tapping the appropriate home-screen icon.

Apple has reportedly painted the move as one component of an effort to comply with the DMA; the pivot would seemingly block third-party developers from a possible means of avoiding the 30 percent App Store fee as well.

Confirming the beginning of this latest Apple inquiry, the European Commission communicated: “We are indeed looking at the compliance packages of all gatekeepers, including Apple. In that context, we’re in particular looking into the issue of progressive web apps, and can confirm sending the requests for information to Apple and to app developers, who can provide useful information for our assessment.”

Notwithstanding the recent focus on the EU’s Apple penalty and investigations, the company isn’t alone in grappling with regulatory scrutiny; TikTok is facing a Digital Services Act probe over its impact on minors, advertising transparency, and more.