Spotify, others complain to EU about Apple's 'unfair' App Store practices

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Europe's streaming services are again on the hunt for better business arrangements, as Spotify, Deezer and others this week asked the European Commission to rein in U.S. tech firms that are "regularly abusing their advantaged position."


Spotify co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek. | Source: Spotify


In a joint letter, executives from a number of European companies, including Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek and Deezer CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht, urged the European Commission to ensure "a level playing field" for products marketed on platforms like Apple's App Store, the Financial Times reports. Along with streaming music services, signatories include games publishers and developers.

Echoing statements made in previous complaints, the companies claim larger platform operators that are also competitors, like Apple and Amazon, put them at a crucial disadvantage. Apple, for example, runs the iOS App Store, a dominant player in the app distribution game, where it also markets the Apple Music streaming service.

As it has done in the past on more than one occasion, Spotify notes it must pay Apple 30 percent of all App Store revenue, including fees for recurring subscriptions. The streaming music service failed to mention that Apple recently updated its subscription policy by dropping its cut to 15 percent for subscriptions older than one year.

To offset Apple's take, Spotify sells its premium subscription tier for $13 per month when users sign up through the iOS app, a $3 premium over the $10 users pay when registering through the web. Spotify has said that it views Apple's cut as "a weapon to harm competitors," as Apple sells its own music service for $10 per month.

In any case, it seems Apple's concession are not enough. The group of companies, which includes UK-based shopping comparison site Foundem, seeks "clear and enforceable obligations that are a deterrent and prevent unfair businesses practices by platforms."

"These obligations should include but go beyond mere transparency requirements, which alone will not ensure platforms act as gateways rather than become gatekeepers to the digital economy," the letter reads.

The group also assert that platform owners like Apple do not allow access to comprehensive user analytics, a complaint that has cropped up in the past.

The letter arrives as the commission considers a drastic overhaul of its digital policy. Among the topics of debate are allegedly unfair contracts mandated by dominant platforms like Apple's App Store. Previous reports suggest the commission is thinking about creating an independent body to handle disputes between large companies and smaller firms.

Today's complaint is the latest in a string of actions against Apple on the part of Spotify. Earlier this year, the streaming music firm filed a nearly identical complaint with the European Commission, though that letter failed to mention offenders by name.

In 2016, Spotify went so far as to accuse Apple of monopolistic practices when an updated version of its iOS app was rejected from the App Store.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    I bet if Spotify wasn't struggling they wouldn't say a word...The only time you start complaining is when you start losing. 
    mwhitemacseekerbshankracerhomieequality72521baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 55
    translation: we’re not profitable.
    trashman69macseekermacxpressbshankracerhomieequality72521baconstangwatto_cobrawilliamlondonGG1
  • Reply 3 of 55
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,395moderator
    Yup, and movie theater chains abuse their dominant position by selling snacks at high prices and not letting their customers bring their own food in, and restaurants do the same, wth corkage fees, etc, etc.  except it’s not abuse.  If you own the venue you don’t have to allow vendors to market and sell their wares on your turf.  And while Apple will sell you an iPhone or iPad, transferring ownership and all rights of the hardware to the customer, they do not sell you the OS; that’s licensed and therefore remains the property of Apple.  In that respect, iOS is somewhat equivalent to a movie house.  Vendors wishing to sell food in a movie house certainly pay a fee to do so, and the movie house has every right to chargefor access, because it provides the venue and the customer draw.  Same with Apple’s iOS.  Duh!
    danhbshankracerhomiebaconstangwatto_cobramuthuk_vanalingamSpamSandwich
  • Reply 4 of 55
    I really don’t care fit companies that complain about Apple’s AppStore policies. They build it promote it and support it. They pay the processing fees and process cancelations and returns. Without them their service would not be where it is. If Apple didn’t do all that they do, many of these companies would have died long ago, or never been thought of. 

    My main point, they make in the article. Apple takes 30% of Customers that sign up via The App. Meaning they were not already a customer of theirs. They were Apple’s Customer. Apples website, AppStore, tv or print ads and Name brought them to the platform. 

    If if Spotify and others did a better job marketing and invested more than Apple to draw thier subscribers, they would signup on their website and then be prompted to download the app. Apple takes 0% of that. Realistically there is no reason why Apple couldn’t charge for every download of Spotify. When was the last time you walked into a physical store and everything was free?
    danhbshankracerhomieradarthekatbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 55
    Whiners. 
    bshankbaconstangwatto_cobraSpamSandwich
  • Reply 6 of 55
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,824member
    I'd like to suggest that Tim Cook extend an invitation to the whiners complainers to personally visit each one of Apple's massive data centers and the spaceship campus. Maybe spend a few hours walking around each one, looking at the nearly endless acres of servers, communication gear, storage, blinking lights, cooling systems, and power meters spinning like crazy. Perhaps give each whiner complainer an opportunity to guess the monthly payroll, benefits, and facility costs for all those spaceship occupants. At the end of the tour give everyone some cool Apple swag and then ask them: "Who the hell do you think paid for all this massive infrastructure and for all of these employees needed to keep it running 24x7x365?" Oh and by the way, Apple still pays artists a fair cut for their work and doesn't try to pass off a streaming model that includes a bogus freebie tier (sucker bait tier) as a viable/sustainable business model. Maybe at that point the whiners complainers will be ready to expand on their claims of "unfair business practices." They don't want a level playing field, they want handouts - for what? 
    bshankLordeHawkracerhomieradarthekatbaconstangwatto_cobraGG1
  • Reply 7 of 55
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,870member
    Babies. Supermarkets sell generics or their own labeled products cheaper than the brand names. Sell better products/services. Earn the extra $$. 
    Scot1bshankradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 55
    Why should Apple get a recurring cut of subscriptions? Apple isn’t hosting the content. If I buy a subscription to a magazine I bought at Walmart should they get a cut of that subscription?
    arthurbasingularityasdasdmuthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondonchelin
  • Reply 9 of 55
    dewme said:
    I'd like to suggest that Tim Cook extend an invitation to the whiners complainers to personally visit each one of Apple's massive data centers and the spaceship campus. Maybe spend a few hours walking around each one, looking at the nearly endless acres of servers, communication gear, storage, blinking lights, cooling systems, and power meters spinning like crazy. Perhaps give each whiner complainer an opportunity to guess the monthly payroll, benefits, and facility costs for all those spaceship occupants. At the end of the tour give everyone some cool Apple swag and then ask them: "Who the hell do you think paid for all this massive infrastructure and for all of these employees needed to keep it running 24x7x365?" Oh and by the way, Apple still pays artists a fair cut for their work and doesn't try to pass off a streaming model that includes a bogus freebie tier (sucker bait tier) as a viable/sustainable business model. Maybe at that point the whiners complainers will be ready to expand on their claims of "unfair business practices." They don't want a level playing field, they want handouts - for what? 
    None of that is built into the price of the hardware?
    edited December 2017 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 55
    Spotify could’ve developed a line of headphones, partnered with a cell phone manufacturer, or developed content.  
    Theyre simply a one trick horse, as true innovation requires great risk, flexibility and vision.
    Spotify keeps adding market share to a single product with extremely thin margins.  If Netflix  never developed in-house content, their growth would’ve stagnated and competion increased.

    Similar to Amazon prime,  Apple will continue to roll new features and content into their service until Spotify‘s house of cards collapses.
    Apple has the power and pockets to win the long game on this.
    bshankracerhomieradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 55
    In Europe we get Windows N - which is windows without Windows Media Player.  It's required under European rules.  I don't use nor want Apple Music - it needs unbundling from iOS.  

    And yes - internally to Apple when people download and subscribe then the 'Apple Music' company should pay the same fees to 'Apple Corp.' as other App vendors do - then it's a level playing field. 

    I dont want Apple Music on my iPhone because it's bloat - but I can see the argument that if Microsoft has to unbundle Media Player from Windows that Apple should be required to unbundle Apple Music from iOS. 
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 12 of 55
    This sort of whining and negative attention is only going to grow in scale and scope. The FAANGs — not just Apple — are under serious assault from too many sides. 

    Brace for it. 
    bshankwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 55
    Why should Apple get a recurring cut of subscriptions? Apple isn’t hosting the content. If I buy a subscription to a magazine I bought at Walmart should they get a cut of that subscription?
    Good thing other app stores don't take a cut.. oh wait Google takes 30% as well, and doesn't offer a subscription discount to 15% until next year.
    bshankracerhomieradarthekatbaconstangwatto_cobrawilliamlondon
  • Reply 14 of 55
    Getting pretty tired of spotify pretending that a free lunch is an entitlement.
    racerhomieradarthekatbaconstangwatto_cobraGG1
  • Reply 15 of 55
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,446member
    arthurba said:
    In Europe we get Windows N - which is windows without Windows Media Player.  It's required under European rules.  I don't use nor want Apple Music - it needs unbundling from iOS.  

    And yes - internally to Apple when people download and subscribe then the 'Apple Music' company should pay the same fees to 'Apple Corp.' as other App vendors do - then it's a level playing field. 

    I dont want Apple Music on my iPhone because it's bloat - but I can see the argument that if Microsoft has to unbundle Media Player from Windows that Apple should be required to unbundle Apple Music from iOS. 

    Apple Music is a service, not an app. It is not bundled with iOS. There is a music player though, but it's there because it is part of the core functionality of the device; "a touch screen iPod"

    Microsoft had to unbundle Media Player because it was purposefully and actively stepping all over competing music players, just as Internet Explorer did. Furthermore, Microsoft was subject to further scrutiny because they were a monopoly in the desktop OS market and tried to leverage that to squash competition in other areas.
    edited December 2017 peterhartLordeHawkracerhomieradarthekatbaconstangRayz2016watto_cobraGG1badmonk
  • Reply 16 of 55
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,446member

    macxpress said:
    I bet if Spotify wasn't struggling they wouldn't say a word...The only time you start complaining is when you start losing. 

    I'm thinking Spotify is squirming now because a large chunk of their paid subscribers came (are coming) from iOS. Problem is, they agreed to the terms Apple presented when they signed up to be an iOS developer.
    racerhomieradarthekatbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 55
    arthurba said:
    I don't use nor want Apple Music - it needs unbundling from iOS.  
    Then don't subscribe. I don't follow this argument. 🙄
    racerhomieradarthekatbaconstangwatto_cobrawilliamlondonGG1
  • Reply 18 of 55
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,269member
    Why should Apple get a recurring cut of subscriptions? Apple isn’t hosting the content. If I buy a subscription to a magazine I bought at Walmart should they get a cut of that subscription?
    Actually, they manage the subscriptions, deal with issues, security and the customer is Apple’s. If Spotify brought the customer in they would have signed up on their site. Then Apple gets nothing. If you buy that subscription on Walmart’s website and the manage it and process it every month they will. If you don’t think the company that maintains the store, keeps it clean and up to date, pays processing fees and support cost should get a cut, there’s nothing stopping you from by passing Apple altogether. They don’t have to use Apple for subscription at all.  
    LordeHawkracerhomieradarthekatbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 55
    Wow, I like apple but the fan boy level on these comments is ridiculous. It seems the majority of you guys are pro-market place monopolies. @RadarTheKat: This is not the same as a movie theater charging higher prices for wares as the movie theater doesn't compete against the chip and coke manufacturers. Apple is running a marketplace and completing in said market place. When I as a consumer have no other way to get the Spotify App on my phone but via Apple (marketplace owner) who then places said company at disadvantages to the marketplace owners own offering then you have an anti competitive & anti consumer model. To others.... Spotify is beating Apple in free and paid sub numbers. I'm sure they are probably losing money but then the streaming business hasn't ever made money. Apple only does ok because its really a value add to there real product of hardware so they don't really need to. @Genovelle: while your comment is right in the sign up process of Spotify being able to stop Apple getting 0% of the sign up dollar. The issue is around competitiveness, traditionally under monopoly laws we have not allowed the market place owner (Apple) to complete directly against the a vendor (spotify) This was due to the unfair market position the market place owner resides in. There is no difference here and we should all be concerned about Apple, Google, Amazon etc all pulling this garbage as it is not good for the consumer at all. Consumers are lazy so having extra steps one has to go through disadvantages Apple's competitors compared to the home grown offering. @Jungmark: yes and as we are seeing the negative effects in that space. Consumers are being left with less choice, no other options to purchase different products easier or often worse products. It has also lead to abuses in negotiation of contracts for a fair price of goods from suppliers which hurts employees and other suppliers down stream... Seriously you all need to get out of your apple fan boy bubble as this is a massive issue which goes beyond just Apple.
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 20 of 55
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,446member
    Why should Apple get a recurring cut of subscriptions? Apple isn’t hosting the content. If I buy a subscription to a magazine I bought at Walmart should they get a cut of that subscription?

    If an iOS user chooses to subscribe to Spotify, it could very well be lost revenue for Apple; one less iOS user that would sign up for Apple Music, or buy iTunes songs.

    In your example, Walmart doesn't have a competing magazine publishing house... they're not losing anything.
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