Apple has been known to exercise an iron hand when it comes to apps in its iTunes Store, sometimes rejecting updates or even entire apps based on what some claim to be whimsical or downright anti-competitive rules. That is the picture that Spotify is painting in a letter addressed to Apple’s general counsel over Apple’s recent rejection of an update to Spotify’s iOS app. According to the music streaming giant, Apple cites “business model rules” as the reason for the rejection. Which is just another way of saying that it wants Spotify to reinstate in-app billing via iTunes, which would require Spotify to fork over 30% of subscription fees to Apple.
Apple is also notorious for its cut in app revenue, which presently stands at 30%. That is for both straight purchases as well as in-app billing, like subscription fees. Although developers continually bemoan this rather large portion, they simply swallow the bitter pill in exchange for having access to one of if not the biggest mobile platform in the world. Some, however, do still make a big stink out of it, and continually find ways to circumvent that system, like what Spotify does.
Spotify never liked paying that 30% and it isn’t shy of making its opposition felt by its own subscribers. In fact, it makes its own subscribers pay for that 30% themselves, increasing the subscription fee from the regular $10 to $13 on iOS only. But most recently, Spotify has turned off iTunes billing and has instead directed users to its website to pay their fees there directly, for a lesser fee of course. Naturally, Apple isn’t amused, which gave it grounds block Spotify’s app update until the latter reverses course.
Spotify is, of course, using this as an opportunity to raise awareness over what is insists is Apple’s anti-competitive behavior. Normally, it would seem simply as a developer not wanting to pay his dues, but there is a complication in the story. As of last year, Apple has become a direct competitor to Spotify with its own Apple Music service, and for the same $10 monthly fee that Spotify normally collects. Spotify claims this latest incident is simply Apple’s way of striking at its rivals instead of a simple case over revenue cuts.
Neither company has officially commented yet on the matter, though if they do, it will undoubtedly be a case of “he said, she said”. On the one hand, Apple is indeed entitled to exact some fees from developers profiting from their presence on its platform. On the other hand, there is also a sliver of doubt on whether Apple’s intentions in this particular case is anything but innocent.