Spotify and friends complain to the EU about Apple again

A group of European digital economy stakeholders have written to the European Commission, urging it to belatedly act on claimed anticompetitive practices by Apple.

Led by Europe’s biggest app – Spotify – the subject of the letter is a ‘Call for swift and decisive action against anticompetitive practices by digital gatekeepers’. This latest move is a reiteration of the long-standing gripe against Apple (and Google’s Android) about it imposing high commissions and its own billing system on app developers as a precondition of their products and services being available through the App Store.

While the tone of the letter is respectful throughout, the signatories, which include Deezer and Proton, are clearly frustrated (but presumably not surprised) at the EU’s inertia on this matter. Spotify first flagged this issue up almost four years ago, with the EU taking a mere two years to subsequently spring into action. The result was a ‘statement of objections’, which allowed the EU to apparently sweep the matter under the rug.

“That Statement of Objections is nearly two years old and the abuses and consumer harm will continue until a remedy is enforced,” laments the letter. “Beyond the specific App Store case, the EU authorities urgently need to look at Apple’s abusive behaviour in other areas as well, such as publishing, web softwares, communications, and marketplaces.

“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 timing may also have something to do with the ‘fair contribution’ debate, which the European Commission has promised to have another look at soon, so it might as well look at other matters of digital fairness while it’s at it. While we’re happy to criticise the EU for its lack of urgency, and it’s easy to sympathise with developers and publishers forced to pay the ‘Apple Tax’, as Foss Patents notes, there’s no point in the EU acting unless it’s confident its ruling will survive the trial by lawyer that Apple will inevitably put it through.

Also, why not just pass on the app store premium to customers, as Twitter has?


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