I bet no one saw this one coming: In the wake of an interview in which Spotify CEO Daniel Ek complained about Apple’s closed ecosystem yet again, Sonos co-founder John MacFarlane says that Spotify is even worse than Apple.
“Solid irony here,” Mr. MacFarlane tweeted after reading a recent Bloomberg interview with Mr. Ek. “Having worked closely with both Apple and Spotify, I would say it’s more significantly more difficult to work within Spotify’s ‘closed’ ecosystem than Apple’s. Respect and appreciate both companies, but ‘open’ Spotify is not.”
With all due respect to MacFarlane, that both companies are perhaps terrible in their own ways doesn’t excuse Apple: Spotify’s complaints against Apple are correct. And Apple, as an abusive monopolist, is being investigated by antitrust regulators in the United States and EU as a result. Yes, Spotify is the number one player in streaming music, but it doesn’t have a monopoly, nor does it have monopoly power to wield over competitors; instead, Apple does and it abuses this power by competing unfairly with Spotify and other companies.
And Apple knows all this: The changes it is apparently making to iOS with regards to default apps are only happening because Spotify’s complaints caught the attention of antitrust regulators. Apple is now scrambling the defang the accusations by making its mobile platform a bit more mobile, changes that will benefit its own customers immensely.
But MacFarlane’s complaint is curious, and without more information, it’s hard to understand what he’s referring to. One might think that Apple’s move into Sonos’ market with its HomePod smart speaker would trigger at least a bit of animosity towards Cupertino.
Then again, MacFarlane doesn’t even work at Sonos anymore: He left the firm three years ago and has allegedly only been involved in a consulting role since. So I assume everyone at Sonos is just ecstatic about this little attack.