A spat between the companies that operate two of the biggest music streaming services in the world has landed at the doorstep of the European Union, which has been taking an increasingly tough stance lately against antitrust-related issues involving U.S. tech companies.
Spotify is not the only company to object to the app store practices of Apple and Google, which operates Google Play. Spotify had 96 million paying subscribers at the last count in February, while Apple Music reportedly had 56 million subscribers at the end of 2018.
A spokesperson for the European Commission confirmed to City A.M. it has received a complaint and will assess it under the standard procedure. Right now, both music streaming platforms have the same prices.
Ek says the company had tried - and failed - to resolve these issues with Apple before filing a complaint to the EC.
Spotify Technology SA wants regulators to investigate the rules that Apple Inc. sets for outside apps on the App Store.
"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 said.
Spotify files EU complaint against Apple's 'anticompetitive' App Store rules
For example, they won't let us market to our customers who use our app on iOS.
Apple Music overtook Spotify as the most popular music streaming platform in the United States a year ago, and later this month will launch a TV and movie streaming service to rival Netflix and Amazon Prime. Spotify did opt out of Apple's payment system back in 2016, but it still can't email Apple customers about offers and other information.
According to Spotify, Apple makes life hard for any service that tries to get around the 30% fee. Spotify says Apple makes it very hard to avoid the fee, which makes some services more expensive.
All Spotify wants, says its founder, is to be treated the same as apps that don't pay the 30% tax such as Uber or Deliveroo.
Ek's argument is that Apple requires Spotify to pay a 30% "Apple tax" on every purchase that Spotify customers make though Apple's payment system, including upgrading from the Free to the Premium version of the music streaming service. He adds that all App Store users should have a choice of payment systems, and not be locked into using Apple's platform.
The complaint was prompted by "an accumulation of increasing restrictions that we believe are extreme", he said.