Business News Digital

Apple and Spotify entertain the masses with some public beefing

By | Published on Monday 4 July 2016


So this is fun. While the music industry conducts its war of words with YouTube, elsewhere in the world of streaming a pretty decent public beef is heating up between Spotify and Apple. Do beefs heat up? Depends how you like your meat, I guess.

Anyway, after US senator Elizabeth Warren last week criticised Apple for placing “conditions on its rivals that make it difficult for them to offer competitive streaming services”, Spotify spokesman Jonathan Prince quickly chipped in: “Apple has long used its control of iOS to squash competition in music, driving up the prices of its competitors, inappropriately forbidding us from telling our customers about lower prices, and giving itself unfair advantages across its platform”.

Spotify then seemingly hit out at Apple once again for rejecting a recent update to the streaming service’s iOS app, adding that the tech giant’s decision was “causing grave harm to Spotify and its customers”. But not so, says Apple legal beagle Bruce Sewell, whose response to Spotify lawyer Horacio Gutierrez has been published by BuzzFeed News.

“We find it troubling that you are asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers and are publicly resorting to rumours and half-truths about our service”, writes Sewell in his letter. “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”.

Spotify does now, of course, compete head on with Apple, since the latter entered the streaming music game last year. The other streaming services have never liked the fact that Apple charges a 30% commission on any subscription fees charged from within an iOS app, and more so the fact that the tech giant forbids app operators from directing users to their own websites, where they can collect subs without paying Apple its cut.

Because the streaming services’ own profit margin is (at best) 30%, the platforms have to pass the Apple charge onto the customer if and when they choose to subscribe via the iOS app. Which is all the more annoying since the IT firm moved into streaming itself, because it means – from an iOS perspective – Apple Music looks like it’s £3 a month cheaper than its rivals in the streaming music space.

However, adds Sewell: “We did not alter our behaviour 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. 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”.

But don’t worry, Prince was on hand with a quick response to this too. Tweeting a screen grab of the updated Spotify app, he stated: “This is what Apple wants you to believe violates their rules. No offer, no purchase, no link to anywhere at all”.

Next move Apple.