Apple is in breach of European Union competition law with Apple Music, say the preliminary findings of the European Commission. The charges are connected to a two-year-old antitrust dispute initiated by Spotify.
Ahead of a formal verdict, Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s digital competition chief tweeted the preliminary findings of the commission:
Our preliminary conclusion: @Apple is in breach of EU competition law. @AppleMusic compete with other music streaming services. But @Apple charges high commission fees on rivals in the App store & forbids them to inform of alternative subscription options. Consumers losing out.
— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) April 30, 2021
Apple has been formally told of the conclusion.
Music streaming service Spotify filed a complaint with the European Commission back in 2019. The company alleged that Apple enforces App Store rules that “purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience,” accusing the company of “acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers.”
Spotify argued that Apple’s 30% commission on App Store purchases and in-app subscriptions, like a Spotify subscription, gave Apple an unfair advantage. While Apple Music was able to offer service for $9.99. Meanwhile, Spotify had to charge existing subscribers $12.99 per month for its Premium plan on the App Store, just to be able to collect the $9.99 per month it usually charges.
So far, we don’t know what exact sanctions the EU may bring, but it is expected to issue Apple with a charge sheet before the summer. Apple could be forced to pay a fine or make changes to its App Store business model in Europe to foster greater competition.