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A few weeks ago, music streaming service Spotify filed a complaint with the European Commission, claiming that Apple’s App Store rules give Apple an “unfair advantage at every turn.”
Now, the Financial Times reports that the EU will launch a formal antitrust inquiry into the matter in the next couple of weeks.
In a blog post explaining its decision to file the complaint, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said that Apple has put Spotify in an impossible position.
“Apple requires that Spotify and other digital services pay a 30 percent tax on purchases made through Apple’s payment system, including upgrading from our Free to our Premium service. If we pay this tax, it would force us to artificially inflate the price of our Premium membership well above the price of Apple Music,” he wrote.
“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.”
Apple fired back with a blog post of its own, claiming that “Spotify wants all the benefits of a free app without being free,” saying it uses “misleading rhetoric” and accusing Spotify of short-changing the artists whose music it distributes.
Notably, just a day after Spotify’s public complaint, the EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager tweeted that the Spotify CEO sent a “strong message.”
Now, the European Union will reportedly rule over the dispute (both Apple and Spotify declined to comment to Financial Times). EU’s regulators haven’t exactly been shy when it came to imposing large fines on tech companies over antitrust regulations breaches. But there are nuances to this case, and hopefully the EU will decide in a way that best benefits the artists and the consumers.