After Spotify protested about Apple’s license agreements in 2019, the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, launched an antitrust inquiry into the App Store last year.
The EU expressed its dissatisfaction with the “mandatory use of Apple’s own in-app purchasing process placed on music streaming app developers to sell their apps through Apple’s App Store,” according to a statement released on Friday.
On September 10, 2019, Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at an event at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.
According to the European Commission, the way Apple distributes music streaming apps via its App Store violates European antitrust laws.
In a Statement of Objections sent to Apple, the European Commission said,
“The European Commission has told Apple of its preliminary view that it manipulated competition in the music streaming market by abusing its dominant position for the delivery of music streaming apps through its App Store.”
After Spotify protested about Apple’s license agreements in 2019, the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, launched an antitrust inquiry into the App Store last year. These requirements imply that software developers must pay a 30% commission on all subscription payments received via the App Store.
The EU expressed its disagreement with the “mandatory use of Apple’s own in-app purchasing process placed on music streaming app developers to sell their apps through Apple’s App Store,” according to a statement released on Friday.
Another thing that the Commission expressed concern about is software developers’ inability to warn consumers of alternative ways to buy the same applications elsewhere.
In March 2020, an e-book and audiobook distributor filed a complaint with the European Commission over similar issues, while Epic Games — which is already involved in a legal dispute with Apple in the United States — filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission earlier this year.
This isn’t the first time the European Commission has launched an inquiry against Apple. In September, the commission voted to take Apple and the Irish government to the European Union’s highest court over what Brussels deems to be unequal taxation practices.
After the Irish government issued “undue tax benefits,” the EU ruled in 2016 that Apple had to refund 13 billion euros ($15.7 billion) in unpaid taxes to the Irish government. The decision was appealed by Apple and the Irish government, and the case is still pending in court.
The European Union is working on new regulations that could affect many of the world’s tech companies, in the hopes of overcoming lengthy legal battles and making its markets more equal.
The Digital Markets Act is expected to put an end to what’s known as “self-preferencing,” which occurs when an Apple product’s app search results favor those created by the company. The aim is to provide smaller app developers with the same opportunity to be discovered and selected by customers.
European legislators are also debating the legislation. However, in addition to making practical reforms, it would have the authority to fine firms up to 10% of their global annual turnover.
On September 10, 2019, Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at an event at the company’s Cupertino headquarters.