Swedish music streaming giant Spotify said on Wednesday it had filed a formal complaint with the EU Commission against Apple, accusing its United States rival of stifling competition in the online music market.
Spotify and Apple Music are the two major players in the streaming music market: While Spotify's global paid subscriber total of 96 million is almost double Apple Music's 50 million, it was reported last summer that Apple Music has more U.S. subscribers.
The complaint asserts that, while the companies initially had a "symbiotic relationship" in 2009, once Apple became a direct competitor with its own Apple Music service, "their restrictions (on Spotify's app) started to become more frequent and extreme", Horacio Gutierrez, general counsel of Spotify told the Financial Times.
A spokesman for the European Commission said that it had received a complaint from Spotify and is assessing it under standard procedures.
"In recent years Apple has introduced rules to purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience - essentially acting as both player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers", Daniel Ek, Spotify chief wrote in a blog post.
Spotify is now asking for EC's intervention into the whole matter as its talk with Apple regarding the issue didn't produce desired results."After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, we're now requesting that the EC take action to ensure fair competition", CEO Daniel Ek said. "We simply want the same treatment as numerous other apps on the App Store, like Uber or Deliveroo, who aren't subject to the Apple tax and therefore don't have the same restrictions". "This is how we convert our free customers to premium", Gutierrez said.
"Let me be clear that this is not a Spotify-versus-Apple issue", Ek concluded.
If Spotify was to ditch Apple's payment system, Ek continues, "Apple then applies a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions on Spotify". Come 2014, Spotify adopted IAP, but had to raise its prices to subscribers using that.
The 30% cut Ek's referring to is commonly known as "Apple tax", and Apple has been sued over it before.
There's a lengthy list of things Spotify claims Apple has done to try to stymie its attempts to promote itself and its new services on iOS, some of which seem more onerous than others. He emphasized that Apple requires Spotify and other digital services to pay a 30 percent tax on purchases made through Apple's payment system.
When Spotify stopped using Apple's in-app payment system in the past after it was forced to hike the prices of its premium service, it claims Apple blocked "experience-enhancing" updates, locked Spotify out of services such as Siri, HomePod, and Apple Watch and, in some cases, stopped Spotify from sending emails to customers who use Apple devices.