EU To Investigate Apple Over Antitrust Claims

Regulators in Europe reportedly plan to investigate an antitrust complaint filed by Spotify against Apple over allegations related to its fee structure.

Apple didn't respond to requests for comment, and Spotify declined to comment on the report, published this weekend in theFinancial Times.

The report comes nearly two months after music streaming service Spotify public accused Apple of charging an unfair “tax.”

“In recent years, Apple has introduced rules to the App Store that purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience -- essentially acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in March, when the company filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission.

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He added that Apple requires Spotify and other digital services to “pay a 30% tax” on purchases made through Apple.

“If we pay this tax, it would force us to artificially inflate the price of our Premium membership well above the price of Apple Music,” Ek wrote. “And to keep our price competitive for our customers, that isn’t something we can do.”

Ek added that when Spotify doesn't use Apple's payment system, the company “applies a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions,” including limiting communication with customers and blocking upgrades.

Apple countered in March that it helped Spotify to build its business. “Spotify wouldn’t be the business they are today without the App Store ecosystem, but now they’re leveraging their scale to avoid contributing to maintaining that ecosystem for the next generation of app entrepreneurs,” Apple wrote in a publicly posted statement.

“Apple connects Spotify to our users. We provide the platform by which users download and update their app. We share critical software development tools to support Spotify’s app building. And we built a secure payment system -- no small undertaking -- which allows users to have faith in in-app transactions,” Apple said. “Spotify is asking to keep all those benefits while also retaining 100 percent of the revenue.”

Apple also notes that the revenue share is only 30% for the first year, and then drops to 15%.

Spotify isn't the only one to criticize Apple's fees. The company also was hit with an antitrust lawsuit in the U.S., where a group of iPhone users are alleging that the 30% commission Apple charges to developers gets passed on to consumers.

The iPhone users in that case argue that Apple is only able to charge the 30% mark-up because it wields monopoly power over the distribution of iPhone apps.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in that matter last November, and is expected to decide within two months whether the consumers can proceed with their claims.

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