Spotify and a group of European companies are calling on the European Commission to take “swift and decisive action” against Apple over what they describe as anti-competitive practices that have hampered their businesses.
The letter, which is also signed by Basecamp, Deezer, and five others, mostly focuses on the App Store. It says Apple places “artificial obstacles” in their way, charges “excessive” fees, and makes “capricious changes” to the rules along the way.
“[The European Union] must act fast as every day that passes is a loss for innovation and for the welfare of European consumers,” the companies write.
Nearly two years on, the Commission has yet to finish its investigation
Spotify has been pushing back against Apple’s unyielding control over the App Store for years now. The company filed an antitrust complaint in Europe back in 2019, saying that Apple’s rules stifled innovation and harmed consumers through higher prices and worse experiences when it came to music streaming apps.
The European Commission sided with Spotify in its initial findings in 2021, writing that Apple had “abused its dominant position” over the distribution of music apps. But nearly two years on, the Commission has yet to finish its investigation or require changes from Apple.
At the same time, enforcement of the European Union’s transformative Digital Markets Act is closing in. The law will likely designate Apple as a “gatekeeper,” requiring that the company loosen its grip on iOS and the App Store and grant more flexibility to third parties like Spotify. Apple is reportedly planning to comply with the DMA by allowing third-party app stores and sideloading on iOS.
Spotify and the other companies seem to be sending this letter now in hopes of cajoling a ruling while the DMA is in its implementation phase. If designated as a gatekeeper, Apple would have to abide by the DMA’s requirements by March 2024. The group of companies call for a “rapid decision,” saying that the alleged anti-competitive behavior “will continue” until Apple is forced to make changes.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The companies’ complaints revolve around a handful of restrictions Apple places around iOS and the App Store. Apple requires all iOS apps to be served through its own storefront, where companies are generally required to hand over a 15 to 30 percent cut of revenue on digital purchases. Apple limits app makers’ ability to inform their customers of cheaper options elsewhere, which puts companies like Spotify in a tough spot, handing over a significant amount of revenue to the operator of competing music streaming service Apple Music.