Founder and CEO of Spotify Daniel Ek has spoken out in a blog post about Apple’s rules on the App Store that “purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience”.
After an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the issues directly with Apple, Spotify has not only filed a complaint with the European Commission (EC), but also launched a press campaign against the company. Titled “Time to Play Fair”, the campaign explains Apple’s “anti-competitive” behaviour through a dedicated micro-site and two-minute video on YouTube.
Calling out Apple for “acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers”, Ek cited in the blogpost the example of the 30% tax imposed on Spotify and other digital services purchases made through Apple’s payment system. This includes the upgrades to Spotify’s Premium service.
Ek said that if Spotify has to incur the cost of tax, it would be “forced” to artificially inflate the price of its Premium membership well above the price of Apple Music. “And to keep our price competitive for our customers, that isn’t something we can do. As an alternative, if we choose not to use Apple’s payment system, forgoing the charge, Apple then applies a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions on Spotify,” he added.
The restrictions, according to Ek, limit Spotify’s communication, disallowing the music streaming platform to send emails to its customers who use Apple in some cases. Apple allegedly has also been routinely blocking Spotify’s experience-enhancing upgrades. Additionally, Ek highlighted that the rules by Apple gives the music streaming platform “an unfair advantage at every turn”. This includes locking Spotify and other competitors out of Apple services such as Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch. He added,
We aren’t seeking special treatment.
“We simply want the same treatment as numerous other apps on the App Store, such as Uber or Deliveroo, who aren’t subjected to the Apple tax and therefore don’t have the same restrictions,” he said.