Spotify Issues Antitrust Complaint About Apple One

Spotify has already issued an antitrust complaint about Apple One, Apple’s bundling of its own online services.

“Once again, Apple is using its dominant position and unfair practices to disadvantage competitors and deprive consumers by favoring its own services,” a Spotify statement notes. “We call on competition authorities to act urgently to restrict Apple’s anti-competitive behavior, which if left unchecked, will cause irreparable harm to the developer community and threaten our collective freedoms to listen, learn, create, and connect.”

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As you may know, Apple yesterday announced Apple One, which provides users with access to multiple Apple services, including Apple Music, for $14.99 to $29.99 per month. And while Spotify is just one of many companies now complaining about Apple’s anticompetitive business practices, it was the first to finally get antitrust regulators to take notice. Now, Apple is under investigation by multiple regulatory bodies in the U.S., EU, and elsewhere.

Apple, naturally, disagrees with Spotify’s assessment.

“Customers can discover and enjoy alternatives to every one of Apple’s services,” an Apple statement retorts. “We’re introducing Apple One because it is a great value for customers and a simple way to access the full range of Apple’s subscription services. We’ll be recommending the Apple One plan that saves you the most money based on the subscriptions you already have. It’s perfect for anyone who loves any of our services and wants to get more for less, and it’s especially great for families. Also[,] select services included in Apple One are available to enjoy on non-Apple devices, and you can cancel anytime.”

I suspect we’ll see other companies impacted by Apple One—like cloud storage vendors, game services, video services, and so on—complain about this bundling in the days ahead as well.

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Conversation 46 comments

  • Chris_Kez

    Premium Member
    16 September, 2020 - 10:09 am

    <p>”Threaten our collective freedoms”? ?</p><p>I’m all for making the App Store a better, fairer place but come on with the hyperbole.</p><p>Edit: doesn’t Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service, offer their own bundle that includes Hulu? </p>

    • yoshi

      Premium Member
      16 September, 2020 - 10:45 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#575348">In reply to Chris_Kez:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>They did at one point, not sure if they still do. I think it was a student deal. But the difference is, Spotify doesn't own Hulu. It was a mutual thing.</p>

    • jimchamplin

      Premium Member
      16 September, 2020 - 10:56 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#575348">In reply to Chris_Kez:</a></em></blockquote><p>I believe that is called a dog whistle. ?</p><p><br></p><p>That’s the kind of verbiage that certain people in government and their supporters hone in on. “Our freedom!? Uh oh, better not be taking my freedom! Freedom!!!”</p><p><br></p><p>A different camp will get fired up because “Competitors and consumers are being hurt. How dare they hurt their competition, because that only hurts their own customers! Aaarrrglebargle!”</p><p><br></p><p>I mean, Apple does some pretty crummy stuff and they need to be taken to task for those things. I… don’t really think that this is one of them.</p><p><br></p><p>PS I find it humorous that a huge corporate body like Spotify is going to be all “Won’t somebody think of the developers!?”</p>

    • wright_is

      Premium Member
      17 September, 2020 - 2:37 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#575348">In reply to Chris_Kez:</a></em></blockquote><blockquote>doesn’t Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service, offer their own bundle that includes Hulu?</blockquote><p>No idea, but Spotify doesn't own its whole distribution chain. Apple has the hardware, the exclusive distribution method and the services on top and now a single subscription for those services.</p><p>For somebody all-in on Apple, a great solution. From a choice point of view, it is strangling the competition out of the market.</p><p>Spotify have to pay 30% of their subscription to Apple, Apple can ignore that 30% in their pricing model, allowing them to undercut the competition. Then you have to calculate in, say, Netflix, FitBit+, a newspaper subscription,cloud storage and a streaming games service (oh, right, that isn't even allowed on iOS), say. All of those probably cost $9 or so a month <em>each</em>, yet Apple bundles all of its versions of those services into a single bundle for under $15. There is no way that all of those services can cut, say, 80% off their subscription, to make an equivalent of the Apple bundle, and still pay Apple 30% of what is left and stay in business…</p><p>As I said above, for somebody who only wants to use Apple services, it is a great choice. But in the long term, it is a strategic move to kill off all competition. This is the same argument that we have with Google, being the major search destination, major advertising platform and providing services which are promoted in their advertising and search results.</p><p>The question is, if Apple is the hardware provider and the provider of the sole way of distributing apps on iOS devices and they are the sole payment provider, taking a 30% cut, should they also be allowed to compete with the apps that are forced to be distributed through the store and pay that 30%? </p><p>Yes, those apps are well integrated into the Apple ecosystem, because only Apple has that level of access, which make the Apple experience smooth. And, because they own the whole chain, they can essentially price all competition out of the market. Is that really good for Apple users in the long term?</p><p>There is merit to the claim and it isn't just hyperbole. It will be interesting to see how the judges argue this.</p>

      • ivarh

        Premium Member
        19 September, 2020 - 7:15 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#575626">In reply to wright_is:</a></em></blockquote><p>And i have never paid for my spotify sub through the ios app. so apple gets 0% of what i pay spotify…</p>

  • davidblouin

    16 September, 2020 - 10:30 am

    <p>So glad i made the switch from Spotify to a competitor…</p>

  • RobertJasiek

    16 September, 2020 - 10:46 am

    <p>Please explain: what is Spotify complaining about WRT Apple One and what is the alleged disadvantage for Spotify? I just want to understand. So far, I only understand that Spotify does complain at all about Apple One.</p>

    • codymesh

      16 September, 2020 - 11:41 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#575364">In reply to RobertJasiek:</a></em></blockquote><p>using apple's dominance in the smartphone space to push their music service on their platform with pricing advantage over spotify? not too difficult to understand.</p>

      • cavalier_eternal

        16 September, 2020 - 4:57 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#575384">In reply to codymesh:</a></em></blockquote><p>What are the damages? To date Spotify has yet to show damages from Apple’s alleged abuse and damages are kinda required in most (if not all) antitrust. So far Spotify has managed to not only maintain but grow their user base. The crux of their complaint really seems to be that they have competition.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      17 September, 2020 - 11:10 am

      Dear God man. 🙂

  • jm2016

    Premium Member
    16 September, 2020 - 11:28 am

    <p>This is nonsense. If you really wanted to go after someone on a "bundling case", I would think Amazon is the best target. I've been a prime member since it started out as just shipping and I don't know EVERYTHING that comes with it. Music, Photo storage, video, whatever else is in there… does anyone offer a comparable bundle of services?</p>

    • jgraebner

      Premium Member
      16 September, 2020 - 12:54 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#575382">In reply to jm2016:</a></em></blockquote><p>The difference is that Amazon doesn't also run and tightly control a dominant OS that their competitors have to support in order to survive. I suppose that Alexa might cause them some problems in this area, but that's still much more of a niche than iOS.</p>

      • behindmyscreen

        21 September, 2020 - 1:34 pm

        <blockquote><em><a href="#575422">In reply to jgraebner:</a></em></blockquote><p>19% of the market is "Dominant" now?</p>

        • Paul Thurrott

          Premium Member
          22 September, 2020 - 7:27 am

          Can we please, please stop pretending that Apple isn’t dominant? Please.

    • Chris_Kez

      Premium Member
      16 September, 2020 - 1:02 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#575382">In reply to jm2016:</a></em></blockquote><p>I think Amazon's defense is that, though it is a huge company, it is not <em>technically </em>a monopoly player in any of those bundled verticals. I think it comes closest in E-Books, but really it is leveraging its base of people interested in Prime shipping as the foundation for everything else. And amazingly, they don't have even half of e-commerce in the US. This whole situation highlights the reason why we need reforms in the US around how we define monopolies, encourage competitive marketplaces, and protect consumers. To my mind, Amazon's <em>absolute </em>size gives it far-reaching impact that needs to be checked, legal/technical definitions notwithstanding.</p>

      • Paul Thurrott

        Premium Member
        17 September, 2020 - 10:57 am

        Well. That is almost certainly its defense. But % marketshare isn’t the only definition of a monopoly. And this company is absolutely abusing its market power.

    • crfonseca

      Premium Member
      17 September, 2020 - 4:43 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#575382">In reply to jm2016:</a></em></blockquote><p>Amazon, for all it's *many* faults, doesn't own the platform, so they can't preinstall and force as system default their own services, and doesn't take a 30% cut of it's competitors revenue, on the off chance you ignored the preinstalled apps and can work around the system defaults.</p><p><br></p><p>Apple does.</p><p><br></p><p>Of course, in the early days Apple would simply take down from the App Store any apps that competed with its own, so the fact that they only make them hard to use and take almost a third of their money is already progress.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      17 September, 2020 - 11:07 am

      Apple has been able to quickly steal a lot of share in music streaming thanks to its unfair business practices. Amazon has not.

  • scovious

    16 September, 2020 - 12:53 pm

    <p>Apple allows bundles of apps and services, so long as they are the only ones who are offering it. They treat their developers like a free idea tank; they block ideas they can't compete with like Game Streaming and undercut the remaining developers subsidized by the App Store Apple Tax.</p><p>It's almost like Apple has exclusive control of the App Store service to manipulate and undercut the prices of it's competition – or something.</p>

  • JerryH

    Premium Member
    16 September, 2020 - 12:59 pm

    <p>1) Create some also-ran level services</p><p>2) Bundle them together and don't have to pay yourself the 30% vig</p><p>3) Profit while the other, best of breed, services go under</p>

  • randallcorn

    Premium Member
    16 September, 2020 - 3:38 pm

    <p>I like this line: <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">“Customers can discover and enjoy alternatives to every one of Apple’s services,”</span></p><p>I am thinking along the line of the app store. Third party apps not being allowed because Apple already has something like that?</p><p><br></p><p>Just saying</p>

  • SvenJ

    Premium Member
    16 September, 2020 - 4:33 pm

    <p>I'm going to file a class action lawsuit against Spotify. It is the only music service I can initiate with a triple tap on my Surface Earbuds on my Surface Duo. I want my freedom.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      17 September, 2020 - 10:01 am

      You seriously don’t understand why this is serious? Really?

  • elv

    16 September, 2020 - 4:54 pm

    <blockquote><em><a href="#575444">In reply to lvthunder:</a></em></blockquote><p>Yes they blocked xbox streaming. Please read before commenting.</p>

  • red.radar

    Premium Member
    16 September, 2020 - 7:27 pm

    <p>I see the obvious concern that spotify is raising. They can't compete with apple music because they can't provide the same value as apple offering cloud storage…gaiming…ect… </p><p><br></p><p>The policy issue is that Apple's product and bundling incentiizes aggressive market consolidation. It makes it hard for these stand-alone services to survive. …. I mean who cares about drop-box once you are a Microsoft 365 subscriber? </p><p><br></p><p>I think bundling is a nefarious issue that needs addressed but I think going through the legal channels isn't going to work. We need new competition laws that address these kind of issues. </p><p><br></p><p>Insurance industry is the worst about this.</p><p><br></p><p> </p>

  • nbplopes

    16 September, 2020 - 8:13 pm

    <p>I like Spotify. I don’t condone Apple practices on the matter of the App Store.</p><p><br></p><p>Still, they are getting what they saw … they fed the beast. I remember Spotify craping over Windows Phone …</p><p><br></p><p>This space needs three players. It was devs that wanted two … well Microsoft really helped.</p><p><br></p><p>Now it’s a good time to bring Windows Phone Back.</p>

  • Jorge Garcia

    16 September, 2020 - 8:22 pm

    <p>So, this is "Internet Explorer vs. Netscape" all over again. And, of course Paul is correct that is just the Tim of the Iceberg when it comes to this type of platform monopoly backlash. (Spelling error on "tip" but it was probably a subconscious move so I left it in :)).</p>

  • Jorge Garcia

    16 September, 2020 - 8:26 pm

    <blockquote><em><a href="#575490">In reply to cavalier_eternal:</a></em></blockquote><p>It's the Tyranny of the default. Much easier (and now cheaper) for people to use what is deeply linked to their smartphone platform of choice. Just like the Internet Explorer issue of the 90's if you ask me.</p>

    • cavalier_eternal

      16 September, 2020 - 9:52 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#575538">In reply to JG1170:</a></em></blockquote><p>That is no way answers the damages question. What tangible damages can Spotify point to? All they have at the moment is what you have. They don’t like it and you don’t like it but that doesn’t amount to an antitrust violation. </p>

  • brika

    16 September, 2020 - 8:37 pm

    <blockquote><em><a href="#575444">In reply to lvthunder:</a></em></blockquote><p> Yes they are since they are placing rules on it that would make it onerous and difficult.</p>

  • brika

    16 September, 2020 - 8:46 pm

    <blockquote><em><a href="#575490">In reply to cavalier_eternal:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>Spotify is forced to pay a 30% fee to their competition for customers on that platform. And then Apple uses that revenue to turn around and offer a cheaper product that will harm Spotify's business with their customers on Apple.</p>

    • inkgoshe

      23 September, 2020 - 2:48 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#575541">In reply to brika:</a></em></blockquote><p>You do know there has to be money made in order for Apple to have the ability to take a cut of it, right? It doesn't cost 30% to be on the store. Like Cavalier said, they only take 30% if you make money from in-app purchase.</p>

      • Paul Thurrott

        Premium Member
        23 September, 2020 - 8:57 am

        Guys. Seriously.

        That is so simplistic that it’s not true. Apple does not “only” take 30 percent if you have in-app purchases. Apple also takes 30 percent when you sell a customer a subscription, and it will take that fee every time a subscription charge is made (monthly/yearly whatever) forever (it turns to 15 percent after one year). If you do offer such a subscription, you as the app maker cannot use a non-Apple payment system and you can’t just not offer the subscription from within the app; if you do, you can’t even tell your own customers that such a thing exists elsewhere. Furthermore, when you as the app developer make this deal with the devil, you’re also handing over interaction with your customers in the app to Apple.

        Apple’s hosting of an app store that benefits the sales of its own devices is a benefit for Apple not a cost. This 30 percent fee thing is just an opportunistic money grab.

  • michael_goff

    16 September, 2020 - 8:48 pm

    <p>I guess complaining is a valid strategy when you can't compete.</p>

    • geoff

      17 September, 2020 - 12:13 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#575542">In reply to Michael_Goff:</a></em></blockquote><p>Spotify is simply asking to be *allowed* to compete on equal terms.</p><p><br></p><p>At the moment, Spotify must hand over 30% of revenue to their competitor. That's not fair. Obviously.</p><p><br></p><p>Even in the darkest of the Netscape versus Internet Explorer days, Microsoft didn't harvest 30% of Netscape's revenue in order to compete against them. </p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      17 September, 2020 - 9:52 am

      Come on.

      Complaining when a monopolist is abusing its market power isn’t “not being able to compete,” it’s the right thing to do.

  • ebraiter

    16 September, 2020 - 11:24 pm

    <p>I wonder if Apple Corp. will get involved. They are the business arm for The Beatles and the original deal between the 2 deals was that Apple [the tech company] wouldn't get into the music business. They have and now they are going further.</p>

    • geoff

      17 September, 2020 - 12:09 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#575617">In reply to ebraiter:</a></em></blockquote><p>That was settled years ago. The Beatles lost.</p>

  • Jorge Garcia

    16 September, 2020 - 11:54 pm

    <blockquote><em><a href="#575603">In reply to cavalier_eternal:</a></em></blockquote><p>If over time, they show an appreciable drop-off in subscribers that can be matched to the time Apple One launches, then I think think that could be at least presented to a court as damages (for them to consider). But yes, they'd have to wait for that to happen first.</p>

  • crfonseca

    Premium Member
    17 September, 2020 - 4:49 am

    <p>Bundling things and being first to market because they own the platform is pretty much how Microsoft killed off all the Office competitors. And Netscape. And Novell. And…</p><p>But I'm sure Apple doing exactly the same thing will have absolutely no impact on its competitors. </p>

  • codymesh

    17 September, 2020 - 5:22 am

    <blockquote><em><a href="#575444">In reply to lvthunder:</a></em></blockquote><p>bruh…do you even read the news?</p>

  • codymesh

    17 September, 2020 - 5:35 am

    <blockquote><em><a href="#575490">In reply to cavalier_eternal:</a></em></blockquote><p>Apple doesn't take a 30% cut in their own music service, where Spotify was forced to increase the price on iOS to make up for the 30% cut making it impossible to compete with Apple on pricing, and now they've resorted to not offer subscribing from iOS altogether just to not to unnecessarily hurt customers.</p><p><br></p><p>Also Apple Music throws up notifications and advertises itself to the user, something no 3rd party app can do.</p><p><br></p><p><span style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">Growth is not the absence of damages. </span>Seriously man, you people can't be pretending to not know at this point.</p>

  • spiderman2

    17 September, 2020 - 7:34 am

    <p>time to join forces against apple anti competitive practices&nbsp;</p>

  • behindmyscreen

    21 September, 2020 - 1:29 pm

    <p>Someone doesn't know what a monopoly is.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      22 September, 2020 - 7:28 am

      That’s true. But that person is you.

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