Apple Will Face Yet Another Antitrust Charge Soon

Apple is facing yet another music streaming-related antitrust charge in Europe, closely following the previous antitrust charge laid down by the European Commission in April of 2021, which itself followed a charge made in March of 2019. The original charges painted Apple as allegedly attempting to monopolize the App Store EU, however, few exact details about the latest charges, which will reportedly be issued within the next few weeks, according to MacRumors.

The series of complaints made by Spotify take aim at Apple's monetization practices, claiming that by taking a mandatory 30% from all sales on its App Store, companies have been forced to raise their prices in order to accommodate the lost margin collected by Apple. The complaint is exacerbated by the observation that the general price hike in applications had, in-turn, created an environment that funneled customers into using apps offered by Apple instead of those offered by competitors on Apple's store.

Leveraged against Apple by the European Commission, the new antitrust charge is set to deepen an already vast series of fines. Spotify launched the original claims against Apple, citing that it would need to charge its customers $12.99 for a standard subscription just to earn the same $9.99 it normally would in any other environment. Since a single Apple Music subscription costs $9.99 with no additional fees, it seems like the subtle price difference is aligned to gouge customers who'd otherwise opt into subscribing to Spotify.

Apple hasn't budged much

Apple has not voluntarily backed down from its 30% commission policy. The legal battle has been ongoing since 2019, and Apple's deepening antitrust charges haven't swayed the megacorporation's stance. In fact, Apple countered Spotify in 2019, temporarily blocking Siri integration into the Spotify app before later lifting the block. The former also accused the latter of wanting all the "benefits of a free app without being free." 

Apple is standing its ground on the basis that it doesn't collect any commission from alternate monetization practices, such as in-app advertisements, and that option was always open for Spotify and other app developers looking to make up for the lost revenue margin.

Apple expanded its argument, claiming that Spotify is trying to claim 100% of the bounty of the App Store ecosystem for itself without paying a tithe to the ecosystem's owner. Whether or not that argument could hold up is dependent on whether or not Apple's ecosystem is so unavoidable for app developers to participate in that Spotify wouldn't have the means to compete against Apple Music if it were to exit the Apple platform. 

So far, the European Commission has been willing to see Apple as the offender in this case, although, we may not see any changes in Apple's policy until the EU's new DMA (Digital Markets Act) comes into effect in 2024.

According to Reuters on April 11, neither the European Commission or Apple have made public comments on the latest charges.