Spotify's Comment on Apple's $2 Billion Antitrust Fine Hints at Possible Malicious Enforcement

Yesterday we noted that Spotify welcomed Apple's $2 billion fine for antitrust violations related to streaming music services.

However, the tone of the company's response strongly suggests that it believes the iPhone maker will repeat what some are calling Apple's “malicious compliance”; in another antitrust case …

Briefly about the dispute

Apple App Store rules do not allow Spotify to directly refer to the opportunity to sign up for a paid subscription to the service without transferring a 30% cut to the iPhone manufacturer. The App Store's policy in this regard is known as an anti-steering provision, since it prohibits developers from directing users to their own payment links.

Spotify considered this tantamount to Apple Music giving Apple Music an unfair advantage over Spotify and another competing music service and complained to the European Union. The EU ruled that Apple was indeed guilty of anti-competitive behavior and fined the company $2 billion.

Apple has not admitted any wrongdoing and says that since Spotify is the largest streaming music app on the market, it is proof that it has not been harmed by App Store policies. Accordingly, the company is appealing this decision.

Spotify hints at possible malicious compliance

In addition to the fine, the EU regulation requires Apple to cancel its anti-steering policy. Apple has made some progress in this direction, but it is likely that the EU will wait for further changes to be fully compliant.

Last time, Apple was required to comply with antitrust rules by allowing the use of third-party apps. stores, the company responded aggressively. It says that, of course, you can sell iPhone apps outside of the App Store, but we're still expecting a 27% reduction. This reaction has been described as “malicious consent”. as it defeats the purpose of the regulation by preventing third-party app stores from competing effectively.

Spotify strongly implies that Apple will likely take a similar approach here:

While we appreciate that the EC has considered this important case, we also know that details matter. Apple regularly ignores laws and court decisions in other markets. We therefore look forward to the next steps, which we hope will clearly and definitively address Apple's long-standing unfair practices.

In Europe, as in the US, this issue is unlikely to occur. will be settled for some time until Apple's appeal works its way through the court system.

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