Desperate Spotify tries to manufacture an Apple App Store antitrust issue that does not exist

“Spotify’s general counsel Horacio Gutierrez — who used to be Microsoft’s second-highest-ranking in-house lawyer — has reportedly sent a letter to his counterpart at Apple alleging violation of U.S. and EU antitrust laws as Apple has so far rejected an update to Spotify’s iOS app,” Florian Mueller writes for FOSS Patents. “More generally, Spotify complains about a ‘troubling pattern of behavior by Apple to exclude and diminish the competitiveness of Spotify on iOS and as a rival to Apple Music,’ referring to “previous anticompetitive conduct aimed at Spotify.”

“At this stage, Spotify’s obvious objective is to instigate formal antitrust investigations of Apple’s conduct in the U.S., the EU (Spotify is a Swedish company), and potentially in Asia, where the scope of an ongoing investigation (in South Korea) is unclear,” Mueller writes. “Getting antitrust authorities to investigate a company like Apple requires a mix of demonstrating a genuine competition issue, broadbased support for a formal or informal complaint, and some publicity. Leaking letters is common in this situation.”

“Does Spotify have a genuine, meritorious antitrust case at this juncture?” Mueller writes. “I don’t think so. If one focused strictly on the facts, leaving aside political considerations and everything else, then antitrust authorities should either require Apple to expand the 85-15 split or move on.”

Much more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Desperate Spotify’s fear couldn’t be more palpable or well-founded.

Oh ok. So, enjoy your IPO, Spotify. (smirk)

SEE ALSO:
Spotify claims Apple causing them ‘grave harm’ – July 1, 2016
Elizabeth Warren accuses Apple of monopolistic-like actions; Spotify concurs – June 29, 2016
Apple Music turns one year old, already has half as many paying members as Spotify – June 29, 2016
Apple Music accumulating subscribers much more quickly than Spotify or Pandora – June 21, 2016
Spotify dims as Apple Music shines – April 27, 2016
Apple Music nabs 10 million subscribers in 6 months, which took Spotify 6 years – January 10, 2016
Oh ok, Spotify listeners are upgrading to Apple Music – July 19, 2015
Spotify urges subscribers to stop paying through Apple’s App Store – July 9, 2015
Oh ok, Spotify: Apple’s iOS 8.4 adoption already at 37 percent – July 7, 2015
Apple Music could kill more than just Spotify, it could kill music labels, too – June 25, 2015
Spotify founder: Oh ok, we don’t need to be number one in music streaming – June 11, 2015
Why Apple Music will gut and publicly execute Spotify – June 10, 2015
Spotify CEO claims to be ‘ok’ with Apple Music – June 9, 2015
Jimmy Iovine and Eddy Cue: Apple Music gunning for Spotify, YouTube, and terrestrial radio – June 9, 2015
Something about Apple Music betraying Apple’s brilliance by ignoring ‘The Harry Potter Theory of Marketing’ or some such nonsense – June 9, 2015
Bob Lefsetz on Apple Music: What team is Jimmy Iovine on? – June 9, 2015
Apple Music’s huge advantage over Spotify – June 9, 2015
Apple Music is a major mess and it won’t beat Spotify or something – June 9, 2015
When Apple Music arrives, what happens to iTunes Match? – June 9, 2015
What Apple Music says about how Apple views musicians – June 8, 2015
Apple’s revolutionary Apple Music just might prove its skeptics wrong – June 8, 2015
Apple unveils revolutionary Apple Music service – June 8, 2015

30 Comments

  1. Paint this horse any color you like… the fact remains that this action by Apple is Microsoftian at best and cowardly at worst. Leave the app on the store and COMPETE show them who has the best user experience, song catalogue, exclusives, etc. and let the public decide. If you have the better product then you will win.

      1. The same terrible rules that make using any non-apple service painful for apple clients. Why should apple diminish my iOS experience? Anti-competitive greed. That is the only answer.

  2. Apple shouldn’t be controlling how people’s software or businesses run. The only app store check should be “does it cause harm?” no? approved. I can buy amazon items via the amazon app, but I can’t buy books or video via that same application. It causes the user NO harm to be able to subscribe to Spotify via their application. That policy is in place for purely anti-competitive purposes.

  3. Many who complain about supposed “anti-competitive” behavior (because they have no grasp of the basic economics of free market capitalism) don’t realize that that any advantage that any business has over competitors is, by it’s nature, anti-competitive.

    1. Incorrect. What you are describing is “competition”. iOS and Android are competitors in the market. iOS has several competitive advantages over Android. Anti-competitive practices are those in which competition is reduced in the market. Apple dictating what you can and cannot sell in your own application is anti-competitive. Android allowing you to include whatever subscription models you desire is pro-competitive.

      1. Except that you are wrong – Apple is not “dictating what you can sell”. The rules have always been that you use an app as an entree into Apple’s ecosystem, you pay the 30%, no exceptions, no free ride. And now that goes to 15% after a year for subscriptions. Spotify, cry baby, cry.

    1. One competitor demanding the right to put anything they want into an application on the other’s primary platform and be exempt from the rules that everyone else has to follow… Nothing anti-competitive about that either, I guess.

      1. That logic fails because at that point, it’s MY device, not Apple’s. Apple is restricting what I get to do with MY property.

        Would you have been okay in 2001 if Windows didn’t “allow” iTunes? I wouldn’t.

  4. Just as Microsoft became too focused on tying everything to Windows, and then played dirty pool to strongarm small software developers to enable the de facto monopoly, now Apple leaders are completely focused on maintaining their corralled app store and herding everyone onto the iCloud, where you can pay Apple to store & sync your data. If Apple doesn’t like your software or the service you provide, it can indeed change the house rules at any time to suit their own desires. Also, there is no independent auditor checking to see if Apple is fair when they ban apps or drag their feet approving competitor apps.

    Subscription-based computing. “Software as a service”. Call it whatever you want, it’s crap. Spotify is absolutely correct that Apple Music is stealing interface design and ideas and implementing them as default apps.

    Independent search engines and web browsers also have been given little opportunity on iOS. The user cannot truly choose his preferred defaults. For purposes of greed alone, Apple continues to make Google Search the default. iXQuick on the other hand has to be installed as an app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ixquick-search/id689533855.

    Some people just don’t even realize that Apple will always ensure that competitors to its apps will always be given second-tier status even if it inconveniences the user. Because Apple cares more about profits than it does user experience.

  5. Let’s take a step back and understand that Apple is a business. It’s under no obligation to provide free services to competitors. Also, Apple is not remotely a monopoly, and so is certainly not in a position to be taking actions that would drive its competitors out of business. If competitors don’t like dealing with Apple, then they’re free to take their business elsewhere.

    Apple customers complaining about Apple taking actions to encourage use of their ecosystem products, and other actions to deny competitors an equal footing with their products in the Apple ecosystem are missing the point. Those customers who would prefer to use a third party product over Apple’s available options are free to take their dollars elsewhere. There’s no requirement to be fair with competitors. No one complained when Amazon decided to not offer Apple’s Apple TV in its online store because it competed with Amazon’s comparable product. No one complained when Amazon used its near eBook monopoly power to stifle Apple’s entry into the eBook arena and drag the U.S. Government into the fray, costing Apple $400 million plus court costs. This is not softball.

    I hear people complaining online all the time how Apple prevents competitors doing this or that, as if Apple were a public resource. It’s not. If one would prefer the more open environment provided by another ecosystem, and don’t find adequate value in Apple’s ecosystem, then perhaps it’s time for a change.

    1. iOS is the only computer that I can think of where you can’t install whatever software you want. This is not an apple ecosystem issue. This is a software development and installation issue. Apple’s competitor is not asking to use apple pay for free (or at all). They simply want to write software, and give people the chance to install that software on their iOS devices. Apple is removing choice. This is why so many OSX developers don’t use the mac app store. But at least with your mac, you have the option to install things without using the app store. I support apple’s walled garden to keep malicious software off our phones. I even support their quality policies. I do not however support this insane policy of not allowing people to subscribe to things… or buy books… or buy music.. using OTHER company’s software… on your own phone. That is a level of control that I consider to be inappropriate.

      Just think about it this way, you can order uber, pizza, groceries, plane tickets, and just about anything you can imagine via various apps on your iPhone. Using amazon alone you can buy just about anything… until you get to a music subscription or an ebook. THOSE items are against apple’s policy and you’d have to pay them an extra 30% (PER MONTH for subscriptions) because apple happens to sell those items as well. How does that benefit the customer? It simply makes for a bad experience.

      if you use apple’s payment services, apple has a right to take a cut. i think that makes sense. but using your own service should be possible as well. just like with every other item except for ebooks and music subscription services…

    2. A monopoly doesn’t have to be across OSes.. To make an analogy, an electric/cable company can have a monopoly in an area without being the largest.. Apple’s App Store is a ‘monopoly’ in the same sense that if you are using iOS you don’t really have a choice short of jailbreaking.

      1. Customers are free to leave the Apple ecosystem to use Spotify if they so choose. Spotify continues to be able to solicit customers and gain their subscriptions via the web, even on iOS. Calling Apple’s App Store a monopoly for Apple customers is just being disingenuous. There is no harm here to Spotify, other than a reduced option to acquire new subscriptions within the App Store app, and if Spotify isn’t willing to pay the rent they’re free to find cheaper digs to peddle their wares. They’re simply trying to extort Apple into giving them a special deal. There’s nothing here. Time to move on.

        1. I was under the impression that the current suit was primarily about Apple denying Spotify’s upload of an updated App to the App store and not about subscriptions. Or did you mean that customers can actually download the iOS Spotify App directly from the Spotify website?

          1. Apple is rejecting the new version of the application because it enables users to subscribe to Spotify via the app. Apple wants non-Apple subscriptions to be as inconvenient as possible.

            1. If that was all there was to it, I don’t see how Spotify could prove their case since years ago when the policy that inapp subscriptions were charged a fee was implemented so many companies pulled their Apps and replaced them (e.g. Netflix, many newspapers and periodicals, etc.). Maybe Spotify didn’t have an App at that time? Even then I’m surprised their case got as far as to even make news. Assuming it is the case that they are trying again, perhaps they hope to ‘even’ the field by forcing Apple to either 1)allow inApp purchases w/o charges for everyone or 2)have Apple create a website where Subscriptions to Apple services could be made and change Apple’s own Apps to charge a 30% markup on inApp subscriptions for those same services.

            2. I see. I should have specified “subscription” in (1), but thought it redundant since I mention it in (2) and I was replying to you mentioning the problem being “subscribe to Spotify via the app”.

  6. Apple doesn’t allow certain items in their store like porn, so why would they allow a service like steaming music? I guess one could make an argument that cloud services also compete with Apple, but those guys aren’t complaining. Maybe it’s time Apple should disallow streaming music services.

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