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This article was published on July 1, 2016

Apple fires back, says Spotify is asking for ‘preferential treatment’

Apple fires back, says Spotify is asking for ‘preferential treatment’
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

After news broke yesterday of Spotify accusing Apple of attempting to “exclude and diminish” its competition through rather shady business practices, it took Apple less than 24 hours to fire back.

“We find it troubling that you are asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers and are publicly resorting to rumors and half-truths about our service.”

Spotify had alleged Apple was flexing its muscle in an attempt to drive competitors out of the market to clear space for Apple Music. To do this, Apple required applications (like Spotify) to use its own in-app billing system to sell subscriptions — a move Spotify once circumvented by sending users to its website to subscribe, or adding an additional three dollars to the price (monthly) to cover Apple’s 30 percent cut.

Apple has since brought the hammer down on this practice, leading Spotify to claim the company is acting anticompetitively.

Spotify general counsel, Horacio Gutierrez wrote:

“It continues a troubling pattern of behavior by Apple to exclude and diminish the competitiveness of Spotify on iOS and as a rival to Apple Music, particularly when seen against the backdrop of Apple’s previous anticompetitive conduct aimed at Spotify.”

It should come as no surprise that Apple disagrees.

Apple general counsel and VP of Legal and Global Security Bruce Sewell explains:

“Our guidelines apply equally to all app developers, whether they are game developers, e-book sellers, video-streaming services or digital music distributors; and regardless of whether or not they compete against Apple. We did not alter our behavior or our rules when we introduced our own music streaming service or when Spotify became a competitor.

Ironically, it is now Spotify that wants things to be different by asking for preferential treatment from Apple.”

As far as Spotify’s suggestion that Apple is stacking the deck in its own favor, Sewell wanted to point out that “nothing in Apple’s conduct ‘amounts to a violation of applicable antitrust laws.” In fact, as Sewell noted, Apple is responsible for “hundreds of millions” of dollars in incremental revenue for Spotify and its app still isn’t in compliance with App Store guidelines.

He quips:

“I would be happy to facilitate an expeditious review and approval of your app as soon as you provide us with something that is compliant with the App Store’s rules.”

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