Competition officials in the European Union have sent questionnaires to several music labels and music streaming companies with Apple’s new music streaming service, which is expected to arrive later this year, in their sights.
Arguably, Apple created the digital music business through iTunes, but new players such as Spotify, Pandora, Rdio and Rhapsody (see our recent round-up of music streaming services) have usurped Apple’s position as leader.
Part of the appeal for Apple in purchasing Beats during 2014 was the acquisition of Beats Music. That provides it with an opportunity to enter the streaming music business – a move that has been less than successful with iTunes Radio.
Although Apple is no stranger to antitrust lawsuits, it would seem that it isn’t under threat. With other players already in the market and record companies not willing to give Apple pricing concessions that will allow it to undercut the competition, Apple may be forced to compete on equal terms with established streaming services.
If rumours are to be believed, Apple won’t have a free version of its service. It’s hard to see how anti-competition authorities will find fault with Apple if it isn’t entering the market with a free offering; it isn’t blocking music labels from working with other services and it’s not undercutting other services.