Music streaming platform Spotify has accused Apple of using its control of the iOS platform and App Store to keep the latest Spotify app out of the iOS ecosystem, in a move that favours its own Apple Music service. Spotify said that Apple rejected a new version of the firm’s app from the App Store, citing various technicalities.
Apple has insisted that Spotify’s app did not conform to “business model rules”, and demanded that Spotify use Apple’s own billing system “to acquire new customers and sell subscriptions”. Companies such as Spotify have sought to sidestep Apple’s App Store cut by encouraging consumers to sign up for their services online. Apple forbids developers from promoting alternative payment methods within their apps. This is a requirement of all app developers who wish to sell apps on Apple’s App Store. iOS is a closed platform, and so Spotify say there is no choice but to comply.
Apple takes a 30 per cent fee for the privilege, which Spotify is forced to pass on to customers. Spotify claimed that this makes its service appear uncompetitive. But Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell countered that the company deserves a cut of transactions in the App Store for its work operating the marketplace, according to a copy of a letter to Spotify General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez seen by Reuters. Sewell insisted that Apple was treating Spotify as it would any other app maker, in keeping with antitrust law. “We understand that you want special treatment and protections from competition, but we simply will not do that because we firmly adhere to the principle of treating all developers fairly and equitably,” Sewell wrote to Spotify.
Spotify say Apple’s rejection of Spotify’s app raised “serious concerns” under competition law in the United States and Europe and the move was causing “grave harm to Spotify and its customers.
The two companies have gone head to head in the battle for music streaming customers since Apple Music was launched in more than 100 countries last year. Launched a decade ago, Spotify is the world’s biggest paid music streaming service with about 30 million paying users in 59 markets while Apple Music has some 13 million. Music streaming is a crowded field. Alphabet’s Google Music and YouTube, Pandora Media Inc and rapper Jay Z’s Tidal are all players and the latter is now seemingly a target for Apple. Amazon is also preparing a standalone streaming service.