Citing what it calls a tax for accepting digital payments from its app in the Apple App Store, Spotify has filed a compliant against Apple with the European Commission. The complaint calls out the 30% cut that Apple gets on transactions through apps, claiming their own apps are not subject to this “tax”. Further, Spotify claims that the rules applied if they bypass this system stifles development and limits contact with end users.
The news of the filing came from Spotify’s founder and CEO Daniel Ek on the company’s blog. The lengthy post outlines the complaint the streaming music service is making and is asking the European Commission to level the playing field.
It’s why, after careful consideration, Spotify has filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission (EC), the regulatory body responsible for keeping competition fair and nondiscriminatory. In recent years, Apple has introduced rules to the App Store that purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience—essentially acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers. After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, we’re now requesting that the EC take action to ensure fair competition.Daniel Ek, Founder and CEO of Spotify
In the post, Mr. Ek points out the limiting factors Apple has in place if they bypass the digital payment system in the App Store. It points out that the rules Apple has in place limits how they can contact end users. He also points out that Apple has routinely blocked feature enhancements to their app and has blocked them from integration with Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch.
While it could take time for the EC to hear the complaint, Spotify is asking for specific things in their compliant.
We aren’t seeking special treatment. We simply want the same treatment as numerous other apps on the App Store, like Uber or Deliveroo, who aren’t subject to the Apple tax and therefore don’t have the same restrictions. What we are asking for is the following:
First, apps should be able to compete fairly on the merits, and not based on who owns the App Store. We should all be subject to the same fair set of rules and restrictions—including Apple Music.
Second, consumers should have a real choice of payment systems, and not be “locked in” or forced to use systems with discriminatory tariffs such as Apple’s.
Finally, app stores should not be allowed to control the communications between services and users, including placing unfair restrictions on marketing and promotions that benefit consumers.
It is possible that the two companies could come to a resolution on their own before the EC has to get involved.