Apple's EU antitrust investigation revised in a major blow to Spotify's claim

Apex Legends Mobile on an iPhone 14 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

The European Commission is issuing a revised Statement of Objections in the case of the formal complaint filed against Apple by Spotify over its App Store. 

The new SO drops the in-app purchase claims made by the original and will instead focus solely on anti-steering allegations. As such, the European Commission will no longer challenge Apple's right to collect commission on the payment of digital goods or its rules that developers must use its own in-app payment methods in a fairly significant blow to Spotify's claim. 

Anti-steering in the App Store

"Anti-steering" measures on the App Store and devices like the iPhone are policies enforced by Apple that prohibit developers from directing customers away from the App Store in order to buy digital products elsewhere, possibly bypassing Apple's commission.

For example, Spotify doesn't currently allow users to pay for a subscription through Apple's App Store, because 30% of that money would go to Apple. However, Spotify is also not allowed to tell customers that they can go to Spotify's website to sign up. During the Epic Games trial, Apple protested that telling customers they can get App Store goods elsewhere for cheaper would be akin to Levi's putting a sign up in a department store advertising their jeans at a lower price in their own shop. 

If the EU does hone in on this and judge Apple to be in breach of antitrust laws, an enforced change could see developers allowed to include links within their apps diverting customers to a website or online store that offers the same products but at a cheaper price, something Apple has been keen to avoid previously. However, Apple does allow developers to send "communications outside of the app to their user base about purchasing methods other than in-app purchase." 

"Apple will continue to work with the European Commission to understand and respond to their concerns, all the while promoting competition and choice for European consumers," an Apple spokesperson told iMore in a statement. "We’re pleased that the Commission has narrowed its case and is no longer challenging Apple’s right to collect a commission for digital goods and require the use of the In-App Payment systems users trust. The App Store has helped Spotify become the top music streaming service across Europe and we hope the European Commission will end its pursuit of a complaint that has no merit."

The company says it will keep engaging with the Commission to understand and answer its concerns. 

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9