Spotify lawyers up against Apple for rejecting its updated iOS app

Macworld Australia Staff
1 July, 2016
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Spotify family, macworld australiaThe music streaming war is heating up.

Spotify claims that Apple is blocking competition after the App Store rejected an updated version of its iOS app. According to a letter Spotify sent to Apple’s legal team on 26 June, Apple’s rejection stems from an anti-competitive practice to boost Apple Music. The letter was sent to some members of Congress this week and was originally reported by Recode.

“We cannot stand by as Apple uses the App Store approval process as a weapon to harm competitors,” wrote Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez to Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell. Apple claimed that the new Spotify app was rejected because it violated “business model rules”.

According to App Store rules, Spotify must use Apple’s billing system if it wants to sell subscriptions in-app. However, Spotify has contested this system publicly before, and it seems the company is planning to use the latest rejection as legal ammunition against Apple.

The story behind the story: Over the last year, Spotify has criticised Apple’s App Store practices that seem to punish third-party music subscription apps in favour of the native Apple Music. Apple does not allow app-makers to use an alternative billing system for in-app subscriptions, and the company charges a 30 percent fee, otherwise known as an ‘Apple Tax’.

Because Apple discourages alternative subscription options outside its in-app billing system and apps must go through the App Store to be distributed onto iPhones, Spotify claims Apple’s practices are anti-competitive. And some members of Congress agree. This week, Senator Elizabeth Warren said, “Apple has long used its control of iOS to squash competition in music.”

Spotify has fought back against the Apple Tax by encouraging users to subscribe via the website, not the app. Previously, Australian Spotify subscribers who subscribe via the iOS app are charged $14.99 a month for the service to account for Apple’s cut. Otherwise, a Spotify Premium subscription is $11.99 a month, the same as Apple Music.

Spotify has since turned off in-app subscriptions.

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