On Wednesday, Spotify filed a complaint with the European Commission regarding Apple’s App Store policies and started an aggressive PR campaign to back it up. Apple has today published a public statement in response to Spotify’s argument.
Apple says that Spotify is spreading a ‘misleading rhetoric’. They cite how Spotify makes most of its revenue from advertising and mobile carrier partner deals, of which Apple takes no cut at all. The In-App Purchase subscriptions are a small percentage of Spotify’s business — and Spotify wants to pay Apple zero for those subscription sales meaning they are essentially taking the benefits of a free app and Apple receives no compensation at all from Spotify’s operations.
Apple’s statement today does not address whether the 30% cut (dropped to 15% if a subscriber renews for a year) is ‘fair’. It argues from the position that Spotify wants 0%, rather than debate the merits and downsides of a figure somewhere in between. This will undoubtedly become a detailed subject of discussion down the road if the EU complaint is taken on by the European Commission.
In regard to the idea that Apple is blocking Spotify’s app updates, Apple says it has only ever blocked updates which do not comply with the rules of the App Store such as when Spotify tried to promote its alternative payment options inside the app. This matches Spotify’s timeline of events, if you look behind the exaggeration of their words.
In regard to app features, Apple says they have been cooperative, including reaching out to Spotify about features like ‘AirPlay 2 and Siri’ integration. We presume this means Siri Shortcuts, not SiriKit as Apple does not support third-party audio app integrations which would enable competitors to Apple Music to offer the same Siri experience.
Apple says this about the process of submitting Spotify’s application for Apple Watch:
We found Spotify’s claims about Apple Watch especially surprising. When Spotify submitted their Apple Watch app in September 2018, we reviewed and approved it with the same process and speed with which we would any other app. In fact, the Spotify Watch app is currently the No. 1 app in the Watch Music category.
The Spotify app for Apple Watch was not released to customers until November, not September. This seems contradictory to Apple’s position. However, it is possible that Apple approved the app in September but Spotify elected not to release the binary to users for a couple of months, perhaps to complete final quality assurance testing.
Apple’s statement concludes by summarizing its own morals about music. Apple says it wants to grow the pie, whereas Spotify wants to make more money for itself. It references the fact that Spotify (and other music services apart from Apple Music) are suing artists after the Copyright Royalty Board said streaming service must increase their payout rates. This aspect of the statement may make Spotify look bad, but is largely irrelevant to the core point of Apple’s App Store monopoly.
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