Spotify said that if it bypasses Apple’s payment system, Apple applies a series of “technical and experience-limiting restrictions on Spotify,” limiting customer contact and outreach, for instance. It notes that over time, the company has also locked Spotify and other rival streaming services out of Apple’s Siri, HomePod and Apple Watch.
Some developers feel that the fees are worth it, however. Apple checks apps fairly diligently in order to restrict fraud, which is a tremendously time-consuming process. It also manages currency and tax issues, DRM, user privacy and more.
Meanwhile, other streaming services like Netflix have completely killed in-app subscriptions on Apple hardware. That way, Netflix can pocket all the proceeds from iOS customers, even though that might cause it to lose some customers that use Apple devices. Unlike Netflix, however, Spotify is primarily used on mobile, so the company may have felt it couldn’t go that route.
Spotify is trying to convince not just regulators in Europe but the general public as well. As such, it has released a video detailing its claim (above) and launched an entire website called “A Timeline: How we got here.”
The company insists that it simply wants the same treatment as other App Store apps like Uber and Deliveroo, “who aren’t subject to the Apple tax and therefore don’t have the same restrictions.” It has asked that:
- 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.
This is not the first time that Spotify and other streaming services have objected to the 30 percent fee Apple applies to in-app purchases. When Apple Music first launched in 2015, Spotify urged users to shut off subscription renewals through iTunes and do it directly through Spotify.com in order to save $3 per month. In 2011, Napster (then Rhapsody) argued that the fee was untenable for its streaming business.
More recently, Spotify and Deezer asked the EU to push through rules that would protect app developers to prevent tech giants like Apple from gaining a stranglehold on streaming markets. Now, it’s taken that to the next level by lodging an official complaint. “After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, we’re now requesting that the EC take action to ensure fair competition,” Ek wrote.