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Spotify, Others Urge European Commission to Take Action Against Apple

Posted January 18, 2023 | Antitrust | Apple | iOS | Spotify | Windows

Spotify, Basecamp, Deezer, and other companies have sent an open letter to Margrethe Vestager, asking the European Commission to stop Apple’s anticompetitive business abuses.

“We are different companies and associations operating across a wide range of digital sectors, including publishing, audio streaming, web software, communications, and marketplaces,” the letter begins. “We are writing to you to call for swift and decisive action by the European Commission against anticompetitive and unfair practices by certain global digital gatekeepers, and Apple in particular.”

The complaints should be familiar because Spotify and others have been making them for years and in multiple locales: Apple unfairly restrictions companies from doing business with their own customers when those customers use Apple devices, it has tied its proprietary and expensive payment system to its monopoly mobile app store, and it continues to defy every court and regulator that tries to address its business practices.

“While Apple continues to reap unfair rewards, the harm to developers and, more importantly, to consumers is immeasurable,” the letter continues. “The time has come for urgent action from the EU to end Apple’s abusive behaviors. The EU has the opportunity to take the lead, but it must act fast as every day that passes is a loss for innovation and for the welfare of European consumers.”

The letter then calls for the EC to undertake a rapid decision against Apple for its illegal, anticompetitive behavior involving music streaming services because these behaviors impact many of the other businesses that are forced through Apple’s mobile monopoly. It points out that an EU Statement of Objections against these behaviors is now almost two years old and that the abuses and consumer harm have continued unabated while the EU does nothing.

“The Commission should also swiftly enforce the Digital Markets Act (DMA), prioritizing Apple’s designation as gatekeeper and ensuring that it complies with all the obligations related to app stores and mobile ecosystems,” the letter continues. “The DMA is a much welcome and groundbreaking legislation. Its effects are already being felt in other regions across the world, [which] are keen to follow the EU lead. However, its success will be measured by its enforcement. Any attempts by Apple and other gatekeepers to circumvent the rules—including on misleading and vague grounds of privacy and security—should be resisted.”

The EU is a lot of things, but “swift” is not one of them. Good luck, Spotify.

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