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Spotify Files EU Antitrust Complaint Against Apple Over App Store Fees

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Apple is facing another antitrust complaint from Spotify for alleged unfair collection of App Store fees. The Swedish music streaming service accused the iPhone maker of engaging in practices that stifle innovation and limit the choice for consumers.   ( Pixabay )

Spotify has filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Union (EU) for allegedly collecting App Store fees unfairly.

In a blog post, Spotify Founder and CEO Daniel Ek said the company is outraged at how Apple forces content-based service providers to pay a 30 percent fee to use the App Store.

Spotify believes this tactic is designed to harm other businesses, especially other music streaming companies that are in direct competition with Apple's own Apple Music.

"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," Ek wrote.

"After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, we're now requesting that the EC (European Commission) take action to ensure fair competition."

Ek pointed out that Apple operates a platform that serves as a gateway to the internet for many people around the world. By owning both the iOS system on iPhones and the App Store, Ek said the company gives itself an unfair advantage over Spotify and other similar services.

Unfair App Store Charges

Apple requires all digital services, including Spotify, to pay a 30 percent tax for every purchase made through the App Store.

Ek said if Spotify were to pay this tax, it would force the music streaming service to raise Premium membership fees well above those of Apple Music's. This is a move that Spotify cannot do in order to keep its prices competitive.

On the other hand, if Spotify were to choose not to use the App Store, Apple would then apply several "technical and experience-limiting restrictions."

Ek said this was the case when Apple allegedly limited Spotify's communication with its customers. There were also cases when the company was not able to send out emails to customers who use Apple.

Apple had also supposedly blocked Spotify's experience-enhancing upgrades, such as locking the music streaming app and other competitors out of Siri, HomePod, and the Apple Watch.

Aside from filing a complaint with the EU, Spotify has also launched several press initiatives to combat Apple's unfair practices. These include a website and a YouTube video outlining Spotify's grievances with the iPhone maker.

While Spotify is not looking to get special treatment, Ek said the company wants to get the same treatment as other digital services on the App Store. He named Uber and Deliveroo as examples of apps that are not subject to Apple's taxing and restrictions.

Other Antitrust Complaints Against Apple

Apple has had a long history of facing antitrust complaints from both competitors and consumers.

In November, the iPhone maker appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court to defend itself against an antitrust lawsuit. The complaint was filed by consumers who wanted the company to cut its 30 percent fee it charges software developers who use the App Store.

In 2010, the Department of Justice filed an employment antitrust lawsuit against Apple and other Silicon Valley-based tech companies for allegedly engaging in practices that restrained the hiring of high-tech employees. Apple later entered a settlement with the U.S. government.

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