Music-streaming giant Spotify has filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission (EC), accusing the tech giant of managing its app store in a way that gives Apple Music advantage over its rivals.
Apple requires Spotify and other app owners to pay a 30% tax on purchases through the store, which means that Spotify is under pressure to inflate the price of a Premium membership, impacting the music provider's ability to remain competitive. In a blog post entitled Consumers and Innovators Win on a Level Playing Field, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek outlined the company's ethos of operating in an ecosystem in which "fair competition is not only encouraged, but guaranteed". He explained that Spotify has so far been unable to resolve this issue with the iPhone maker outside of court.
"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 take action to ensure fair competition.
"Apple operates a platform that, for over a billion people around the world, is the gateway to the internet," he added. "Apple is both the owner of the iOS platform and the App Store – and a competitor to services like Spotify. In theory, this is fine. But in Apple's case, it continues to give themselves an unfair advantage at every turn."
Spotify has demanded that the EC step in to allow apps to compete fairly on their own merits rather and that consumers be given a "real choice" of payment systems, rather than being forced to use systems with discriminatory tariffs. Additionally, Ek called for app stores to be banned from controlling communications between services and users, including their ability to place restrictions on marketing and promotions that benefit the users.
"Competition pushes us to evolve and improve both the customer and creator experience," concluded Ek. "It's not something we ever have – or will – shy away from. So, let me be clear that this is not a Spotify-versus-Apple issue. We want the same fair rules for companies young and old, large and small. It is about supporting and nurturing the healthy ecosystem that made our two companies successful in the first place."