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Spotify Files Antitrust Complaint With EU Against Apple


Music streaming giant Spotify Technology SA (SPOT) has filed a complaint with the European Commission against Apple Inc. (AAPL), accusing the iPhone maker of introducing rules to the App Store that purposely limits choice to consumers and gives Apple Music an "unfair advantage" over its rivals.

In a blog post published Wednesday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said that as Apple is both the owner of the iOS platform and the App Store, the tech giant continues to give itself an "unfair advantage at every turn."

Spotify, currently available in 79 markets, was launched in Sweden in 2008. The company had 96 million subscribers and 207 million monthly active users, as at the end of December 2018. In 2015, Apple launched its own Apple Music streaming service as a rival to Spotify.

"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. After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, we're now requesting that the EC take action to ensure fair competition," Ek said.

Ek said that Apple imposes a discriminatory 30 percent tax on competitors to give advantage to its own services.

Citing an example, Ek noted that Apple requires Spotify and other digital services to pay a 30 percent tax on purchases made through Apple's payment system, including upgrading from Spotify's Free service to its Premium service.

According to Ek, Spotify's payment of the tax would force the company to artificially inflate the price of its Premium membership well above the price of Apple Music. Thus, the company would not be able to keep prices competitive for its customers.

The Spotify CEO noted that if his company chooses not to use Apple's payment system and forgoes the charge, Apple will apply several technical and experience-limiting restrictions on the company. This includes limiting Spotify's communication with its customers.

Further, the CEO alleged that Apple routinely blocks Spotify's upgrades and has also locked Spotify as well as other competitors out of Apple's services such as Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch.

"We aren't seeking special treatment. We simply want the same treatment as numerous other apps on the App Store, like Uber or Deliveroo, who aren't subject to the Apple tax and therefore don't have the same restrictions," Ek said.

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