The Apple versus Spotify antitrust battle took a new turn today, with the European Union saying that the Cupertino company will now face an additional charge of anti-competitive behavior.

This indicates that investigators have found enough evidence to add to the expected antitrust charges relating to the way that Apple treats Spotify and other developers …

Background

Spotify filed a formal Spotify antitrust complaint with the EU back in 2019.

Spotify says Apple’s App Store rules limit choice and stifle innovation. Spotify targets Apple’s 30% cut — it refers to as a ‘tax’ — as a key element of its complaint but also references rules about how Apple restricts third-party app developers from communicating with customers […] Spotify says Apple is giving itself an “unfair advantage at every turn”

Spotify said that Apple not only favored its own streaming service, which allows in-app subscriptions without any commission, but is also inconsistent in the way it applies its rules.

One comparison Spotify draws on is that apps like Uber and Deliveroo do not have to use Apple’s payment system and therefore do not have to account for Apple’s 30% revenue share.

However, it seems very likely that a quiet Spotify complaint was also behind the EU opening an antitrust investigation way back in 2015, even before the launch of Apple Music.

Latest Apple versus Spotify antitrust development

It was last month reported that EU antitrust regulators were finalizing their list of charges against Apple, and Reuters today reports that one further charge is likely to be added.

Apple faces an additional EU antitrust charge in the coming weeks in an investigation triggered by a complaint from Spotify, a person familiar with the matter said, a sign that EU enforcers are strengthening their case against the company […]

Extra charges set out in a so-called supplementary statement of objections are usually issued to companies when the EU competition enforcer has gathered new evidence or has modified some elements to boost its case.

We shouldn’t now have long to wait before we find out exactly what Apple’s offences are said to be, and how the EU plans to address these. It is likely that regulators will fine Apple for what it has done in the past, and lay out changes it expects the company to make in the future.

The Cupertino company will, of course, have an opportunity to make a formal response to the charges. Since Apple is unlikely to admit to any wrongdoing, a legal battle seems likely to follow, so the mess looks set to drag on for some time yet.

Photo: Reynier Carl/Unsplash

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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