EU fines Apple 1.8 billion euros over ‘abusive’ treatment of Spotify


EU sides with Spotify in long-running battle with Apple.
The EU agreed with Spotify that Apple's 'anti-steering' rule is illegal.
Photo: Sora Shimazaki/Pexels CC

The European Commission fined Apple more than 1.8 billion euros Monday for “abusing its dominant position on the market for the distribution of music streaming apps.”

The ruling follows complaints by music streaming service Spotify. In a lengthy response to the fine, Apple said Spotify pays absolutely nothing for the array of services Cupertino provides. Apple also said it will appeal the EC’s decision.

Spotify and EU object to Apple App Store anti-steering provisions

Spotify and Apple have a tense relationship — not surprising considering the two companies run rival music streaming services. For many years, the Sweden-based company objected to App Store rules that required Spotify to give Apple a share of subscription fees paid by iPhone users.

To avoid revenue sharing, Spotify stopped allowing customers to subscribe to its service via its application. Going further, it went to the European Commission with complaints that App Store rules prevented it from steering customers to its website to subscribe.

On Monday, the European Commission sided with Spotify. “The Commission found that Apple applied restrictions on app developers preventing them from informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services available outside of the app (‘anti-steering provisions’),” the commission said in a press release. “This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.”

The fine is 1.8 billion euros, the equivalent of $1.96 billion.

Apple responds

Apple clearly knew this EC ruling was coming and prepared an extensive response. The summary says, “The decision was reached despite the Commission’s failure to uncover any credible evidence of consumer harm, and ignores the realities of a market that is thriving, competitive, and growing fast.”

Apple points out that Spotify commands 56% of Europe’s music streaming market, and “pays Apple nothing for the services that have helped make them one of the most recognizable brands in the world.”

The EU vs. Apple

The crackdown on Apple’s anti-steering rule is just one of many ways the European Union has begun regulating the company.

The Digital Markets Act requires Apple to allow sideloading of iPhone applications in Europe, a change that will go into effect with the imminent release of iOS 17.4. Before that, the EU forced Apple to replace the iPhone’s Lightning port with USB-C.


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