March 13, 2019
Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service, has filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission alleging the tech giant unfairly restricts competition against the Apple Music service.
Spotify ended its most-recent fiscal period with 87 million paid subscribers compared to about 50 million for Apple Music.
In a March 13 blog post, Daniel Elk, founder and CEO of Spotify, said Apple has changed the rules and stifled innovation how it operates the proprietary App Store. Elk argues that as Apple is both the owner of the iOS platform and the App Store — a competitor to services like Spotify, which gives the company an unfair advantage.
Specifically, Spotify takes issue with the 30% tax it and other digital services must pay utilizing Apple’s payment system. If the service opts out of the payment platform, Spotify alleges Apple restricts how it can communicate with its subscribers outside the app, in addition to limiting tech and user-enhancements.
“In some cases, we aren’t even allowed to send emails to our customers who use Apple,” Elk wrote.
The executive said apps should be able to compete fairly on their merits and not based on who owns the App Store. He said consumers should have a choice of payment systems and not be forced to use systems with discriminatory tariffs.
Elk said the App Store should not be allowed to control the communications between services and users, including allegedly placing unfair restrictions on marketing and promotions that benefit consumers.
“After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, we’re now requesting that the EC take action to ensure fair competition,” he wrote.