Apple Responds To Spotify Anti-trust Lawsuit & “Time To Play Fair” Campaign

Earlier this week, Spotify announced that it had filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Union, “alleging that the iPhone maker is harming consumer choice and stifling innovation via the rules it enforces on the App Store,” summarizes Verge.

As outlined in a blog post from Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek, the company seemed to take particular issue with a 30 percent “tax” that the App Store levies against app creators. Spotify launched the following video as part of a press campaign to bring awareness to the injustices it claims Apple is perpetrating.

In response to these claims and the lawsuit, Apple released an official statement this morning refuting and taking issue with much of what Spotify claims. It begins:

At its core, the App Store is a safe, secure platform where users can have faith in the apps they discover and the transactions they make. And developers, from first-time engineers to larger companies, can rest assured that everyone is playing by the same set of rules. […]

What Spotify is demanding is something very different. After using the App Store for years to dramatically grow their business, Spotify seeks to keep all the benefits of the App Store ecosystem — including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store’s customers — without making any contributions to that marketplace. At the same time, they distribute the music you love while making ever-smaller contributions to the artists, musicians and songwriters who create it — even going so far as to take these creators to court.

Apple’s response takes a very surprised and hurt tone for the majority of the text. The general idea is that Apple doesn’t know where all these allegations from Spotify are originating. In response to many of the technological claims, Apple says they’ve worked with Spotify every step of the way, offering their services and reaching out with development help whenever possible.

“We found Spotify’s claims about Apple Watch especially surprising,” it reads at one point. “When Spotify submitted their Apple Watch app in September 2018, we reviewed and approved it with the same process and speed with which we would any other app. In fact, the Spotify Watch app is currently the No. 1 app in the Watch Music category.”

With regards to the 30 percent “tax” that Spotify so heavily leans on in their press, Apple says that 84 percent of the apps in the App Store “pay nothing to Apple when you download or use the app.”

“The only contribution that Apple requires is for digital goods and services that are purchased inside the app using our secure in-app purchase system,” it continues. “As Spotify points out, that revenue share is 30 percent for the first year of an annual subscription — but they left out that it drops to 15 percent in the years after.”

Apple accuses Spotify of using rhetoric to appear magnanimous in the public eye while going behind content creators’ backs in their own self interest. Examples include Spotify’s recent appeal to the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision last year to increase payout rates to songwriters by 44% over the next five years, an action which has been popularly (and “dubiously,” as Verge puts it) referred to as “suing music creators.”

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