Spotify Pen’s joint letter calling Apple ‘harmful’ and ‘anti-competitive’ claims App Store is destroying business

Spotify and eight companies and associations have written a letter to the EU’s competition commissioner calling Apple a harmful, anti-competitive and monopolistic company that needs to be regulated through “urgent action”.

That letter, signed by the CEOs and heads of Basecamp, Deezer, Proton, Schibsted, Spotify, the European Publishers Council (EPC), France Digitale and News Media Europe, was sent to Margrethe Vestager from the EU. The letter calls on the EU to take regulatory action and end an ongoing investigation triggered by Spotify against Apple’s app distribution practices.

The group claims Apple’s App store have hindered their businesses and consistently make it difficult for them to grow due to the platform’s policies and its “sneaky changes to terms and conditions.”

For years, Apple has imposed unreasonable restrictions on our businesses. These restrictions hamper our development and harm European consumers. They include the tying of the App Store to Apple’s proprietary payment system with its excessive commissions to app developers; the creation of artificial obstacles that prevent our companies from communicating freely with our customers; restrictions on developers’ access to data from their own users; and capricious changes to terms and conditions. Apple enjoys a monopoly position over its mobile ecosystem, extracting exorbitant rents from app developers who have no choice but to stay in the App Store to reach European consumers.

“The time has come for swift action by the EU to stop Apple’s abuses,” the letter said, citing the recently passed Digital Markets Act (DMA) and calling for its speedy enforcement. “The EU has the opportunity to take the lead, but it must act quickly, as every day that passes is a loss for innovation and for the welfare of European consumers,” it continues.

In April 2021, the EU published The Commission’s Statement of Objections against Apple, outlining its findings following an investigation into unfair ‌App Store‌ practices. In the statement, the EU said that Apple “abused its dominant position in the distribution of music streaming apps through its ‌App Store‌” and that it takes issue with the “mandatory use of Apple’s own in-app purchase mechanism imposed on music streaming app developers for to distribute their apps.” Now, the group of companies claims that these alleged wrongdoings are being experienced by “countless other app providers” and not just music streaming apps.

We therefore call for a speedy decision in the competition case against Apple for its illegal, anti-competitive behavior involving music streaming services. Many of the anti-competitive behaviors described in the Commission’s statement of objections against Apple are felt not only by music streaming services, but by countless other app providers who want to offer goods and services through the iOS App Store. This Notice of Objection is almost two years old and the abuses and consumer harm will continue until a remedy is enforced. In addition to the specific App Store case, EU authorities urgently need to look at Apple’s abusive behavior in other areas as well, such as publishing, web software, communications and marketplaces.

Apple has been repeatedly accused of unfair and anti-competitive business practices in its ‌App Store‌, with Spotify being one of the most vocal critics. In October Spotify published a press release accusing Apple of harming “Spotify’s and other developers’ abilities to provide a seamless user experience” and stating that these restrictions “hurt both creators and consumers.”

Although Spotify has been vocal about its disapproval of Apple’s ‌App Store‌, the music streaming service has neglected widespread requests to add HomePod support to its app, despite many of its competitors doing so. As a result, some Spotify customers have switched to other platformslike Apple Music. In an independent blog post On its website this week, Spotify said: “Apple has been enabled by the lack of decisive action from regulators, who continue to move hesitantly, even in the face of a wave of support.”

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