Things are starting to get a little heated between Spotify and Apple, after the former made public a letter that it sent to Apple’s legal team following the rejection of a new update to its music streaming app. That rejection, Spotify claims, caused the company “grave harm” and it wants Apple to let the app, fully updated, into the App Store.
Details on the update itself are not as clear as they could be, but it appears that Spotify altered its sign-up process in an attempt to avoid paying Apple a cut of its recurring subscription charges.
Apple currently takes a 30% cut of all in-app purchases, including subscriptions, and it appears Spotify attempted to find a way around that by inciting new users to subscribe via the company’s website by offering a special discounted rate. That, Apple says, is a breach of App Store rules.
“This latest episode raises serious concerns under both US and EU competition law,” Gutierrez wrote. “It continues a troubling pattern of behavior by Apple to exclude and diminish the competitiveness of Spotify on iOS and as a rival to Apple Music, particularly when seen against the backdrop of Apple’s previous anticompetitive conduct aimed at Spotify…we cannot stand by as Apple uses the App Store approval process as a weapon to harm competitors.”
This isn’t the first time that Apple has enforced these rules. Not too long after the App Store’s introduction, Amazon fell foul of the same issue with its Kindle e-book store. Amazon ended up removing all reference to its online store, including any links to it from within the Kindle app, making the app a pure reader rather than a way of purchasing new reading material.
What is upsetting Apple here is Spotify’s perceived attempt to traverse App Store rules – rules that Apple says all other developers abide by.
Having taken the argument public, Spotify has now had a response from Apple, which it too has provided for the public to rule on. Apple’s legal head Bruce Sewell has written to Spotify, attacking it for using “rumors and half-truths about (its) service” in an attempt to sway public opinion.
There can be no doubt that Spotify has benefited enormously from its association with Apple’s App Store. Since joining the App Store in 2009, Apple’s platform has provided you with over 160 million downloads of your app, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental revenue to Spotify. That’s why we find it troubling that you are asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers and are publicly resorting to rumors and half-truths about our service.
Our guidelines help competition, not hurt it. The fact that we compete has never influenced how Apple treats Spotify or other successful competitors like Google Play Music, Tidal, Amazon Music, Pandora or the numerous other apps on the App Store that distribute digital music.
Why can’t we all get along?
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