The European Commission on Friday accused tech giant Apple Inc. (AAPL) of “abusing its dominant position” by imposing unfair rules and fees in its App Store.
The regulator said it found that Apple has broken EU competition rules with its App Store policies, based on an initial complaint from Spotify back in 2019.
“Our preliminary conclusion is that Apple abused its dominant position for the distribution of music streaming apps through its App Store and distorted competition in the music streaming market,” said Margrethe Vestager, the head of competition policy in the EU.
Last year, the European Commission had opened an antitrust investigation into Apple’s App Store, after the music streaming platform Spotify complained about Apple’s license agreements.
The EU were concerned on two conditions that Apple has imposed on developers to access the App Store– first one, the mandatory use of Apple’s in-app purchase system for which Apple charges a 30 percent commission, and second, a “anti-steering provisions”, a rule that forbids app developers to inform iPhone or iPad users of alternative, cheaper subscriptions available elsewhere.
“Apple’s rules distort competition in the market for music streaming services by raising the costs of competing music streaming app developers,” the Commission said. “This in turn leads to higher prices for consumers for their in-app music subscriptions on iOS devices.” The EU has also sent Apple a statement of objections, which is essentially a list of how the Commission believes Apple has violated competition rules.”
Spotify welcomed European Commission’s decision. “The European Commission’s Statement of Objections is a critical step toward holding Apple accountable for its anticompetitive behavior, ensuring meaningful choice for all consumers and a level playing field for app developers,” Spotify’s chief legal officer Horacio Gutierrez said in a statement.
In response, Apple said the EU’s case was the “opposite of fair competition.”
“Spotify has become the largest music subscription service in the world, and we’re proud of the role we played in that,” Apple said a statement. “Once again, they want all the benefits of the App Store but don’t think they should have to pay anything for that.”
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