EU Charges Apple with Antitrust Violations after Spotify Complaint
After a 2019 complaint by Spotify (see “Spotify Asks the European Commission to Make Apple Play Fair,” 13 March 2019), The Verge is reporting that the European Commission has slapped Apple with antitrust charges related to how it operates the App Store in relation to music streaming. The EU has singled out two practices:
- The 30% commission Apple takes from App Store sales
- App Store rules preventing developers from even mentioning non-Apple payment options
If convicted, Apple could face a fine as high as $27 billion or be forced to make fundamental changes to the App Store.
This may just be the beginning of Apple’s antitrust battles in the EU. Last year, Rakuten’s Kobo subsidiary also complained to the European Commission about Apple charging 30% on ebooks sold in the App Store while simultaneously promoting its own Apple Books service. Plus, the EU hinted that more charges could be related to Apple’s role in the gaming market.
I wonder if Apple should just let devs like Spotify link from the app to their websites for external payment but then in turn charge Spotify $5 per downloaded Spotify app to cover for Apple’s distribution and dev tools costs that Spotify is no longer paying for otherwise.
Netflix and Amazon don’t sell from within their streaming app to avoid Apple’s cut. Spotify can do the same. What they cannot do is expect Apple to bear all the costs for their app distribution, dev tools, vetting, security, etc. and then expect to get all of that for just their annual $99 dev fee.
Looks like the judge in the Epic vs. Apple trial might be thinking along similar lines.
I’d totally be in favor of Apple being forced to let app developers at least talk about alternative payment methods, even if they can’t be linked in directly. As you suggest, Apple could even create a separate per-download fee to offset the lost revenue.
That might create an interesting decision for developers: take Apple’s 15% or 30% fee, or accept a per-download fee. Depending on price point, it might make more or less sense in different situations.
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