In a rebuking and harsh response, Apple has taken Spotify to task over their claims of anti-competitive practices in the App Store. The response comes just days after Spotify filed a complaint with the European Commission against Apple. That claim argues that Apple stifles competition and limits Spotify’s ability to reach customers and development. Apple did not take that well.
In a response posted in the Apple Newsroom, Apple points out that the App Store has brought a safe and secure place for consumers to buy apps, that they are fronting the cost for it (thus their 30% commission or “Tax” as Spotify calls it), and that Spotify has been treated equally with other apps.
After using the App Store for years to dramatically grow their business, Spotify seeks to keep all the benefits of the App Store ecosystem — including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store’s customers — without making any contributions to that marketplace. At the same time, they distribute the music you love while making ever-smaller contributions to the artists, musicians and songwriters who create it — even going so far as to take these creators to court.Apple
The lengthy rebuke outlines in detail what Apple claims they have done to help the streaming company and the process by which they have done it. They directly point out that they have reached out to the streaming company over integrations with Siri and AirPlay 2, indicating they are willing and able to help if needed.
We’ve worked with Spotify frequently to help them bring their service to more devices and platforms:
When we reached out to Spotify about Siri and AirPlay 2 support on several occasions, they’ve told us they’re working on it, and we stand ready to help them where we can.
Spotify is deeply integrated into platforms like CarPlay, and they have access to the same app development tools and resources that any other developer has.
We found Spotify’s claims about Apple Watch especially surprising. When Spotify submitted their Apple Watch app in September 2018, we reviewed and approved it with the same process and speed with which we would any other app. In fact, the Spotify Watch app is currently the No. 1 app in the Watch Music category.
Spotify is free to build apps for — and compete on — our products and platforms, and we hope they do.
Perhaps the harshest statement from Apple was around the fees associated with in-app subscriptions. Apple freely admits they take a 30% cut the first year but also point out it drops to 15% after the first year. They clearly call Spotify out on this omission. Secondly, they point out that any app that is free in the App Store is free to download and use. It is only when apps they are “using our secure in-app purchase system”
Finally, to make their point further, Apple points out that Spotify sued the US Copyright Royalty Board over an increase in royalty payments to music creators. This is something Apple themselves did not do.
Just this week, Spotify sued music creators after a decision by the US Copyright Royalty Board required Spotify to increase its royalty payments. This isn’t just wrong, it represents a real, meaningful and damaging step backwards for the music industry.
It would seem the kerfuffle between Apple and Spotify isn’t going to end soon with both company’s digging their heels. But it is clear that Apple isn’t going to sit idly by on it.