Apple fined $2 billion over Spotify's EU antitrust complaint

This is an image of Spotify and Apple's App Store logos
(Image credit: Apple and Spotify)

The European Union has fined Apple $2 billion for breaking EU competition laws with its approach to music streaming. The tech giant is said to have broken the EU's antitrust rules by favoring Apple Music over competitors like Spotify.

The European Commission's statement says Apple prevented app developers from "fully informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services outside of the app," giving an unfair advantage to Apple's own music platform.

According to the statement above, the Commission says Apple's behavior over the last decade has led to "significantly higher prices for music streaming subscriptions." As other streaming services that pursue monetization through Apple's service are subjected to a 30% fee, Apple Music can afford to undercut its prices without losing as much of its profit. 

The press release adds, "Today's decision concludes that Apple's anti-steering provisions amount to unfair trading conditions, in breach of Article 102(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU'). These anti-steering provisions are neither necessary nor proportionate for the protection of Apple's commercial interests in relation to the App Store on Apple's smart mobile devices and negatively affect the interests of iOS users, who cannot make informed and effective decisions on where and how to purchase music streaming subscriptions for use on their device."

Apple's perspective

Following the news, Apple responded with a statement giving a rundown of its side of the story and emphasizing Spotify's growth thanks to the App Store.

The statement highlights Spotify's success in the world of music streaming in an effort to showcase how the App Store ultimately benefits Spotify more than it hinders it. "Companies like Google, Amazon, Deezer, SoundCloud, and Apple compete for customers every day — but Spotify stands at the top."

Apple says Spotify chooses not to offer subscriptions via in-app purchases on the App Store — ignoring the continued dispute over the 30% fee for subscriptions that has led companies like Spotify and Netflix to remove any payment options from the App Store.

Apple claims, "free isn’t enough for Spotify. They also want to rewrite the rules of the App Store — in a way that advantages them even more."

Ultimately, Apple wants to be clear that there have been multiple attempts from the EU Commission to build a case, of which there has been "No evidence of consumer harm" and "No evidence of anti-competitive behavior."

This is only one step in the public antagonism between Spotify and Apple with no official Spotify app on Apple's Vision Pro, the tech giant's latest and greatest spatial headset. Just this weekend, Spotify signed an open letter to Apple, claiming its side-loading workaround is "a mockery of the DMA".

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John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.