Spotify Woke The Apple Dragon: Here's The Result

If Spotify thought it could put Apple on blast publicly for being "anti-competitive" and get away with it, the streaming music service was sorely mistaken. Having felt the brunt of Spotify's scathing critique about the cut the App Store takes for subscriptions like that of Spotify Premium, Apple has now responded with its own accusations that the rival service is expecting "unfair and unreasonable" preferential treatment.

Spotify came out swinging earlier this week, when it accused Apple's App Store guardians of blocking its latest app update for iOS and, moreover, of taking advantage of its privileged position to make Apple Music more appealing than third-party services.

"You know there's something wrong when Apple makes more off a Spotify subscription than it does off an Apple Music subscription," the company's General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez sniped, referring to the up to 30-percent take of subscription fees the Cupertino firm expects for any business carried out through its App Store.

As a result, Spotify sells its Premium subscriptions for $9.99 if bought directly from the company, but for $12.99 if bought on an iOS device. Previously, it has contacted users to suggest they cancel the iOS subscription and re-subscribe directly instead.

Now, in an email from General Counsel Bruce Sewell and acquired by Buzzfeed, Apple is taking the opportunity to reply.

"There can be no doubt that Spotify has benefited enormously from its association with Apple's App Store," Sewell writes. "Since joining the App Store in 2009, Apple's platform has provided you with over 1560 million downloads of your app, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental revenue to Spotify."

Sewell then goes on the offensive, accusing Spotify of, rather than highlighting potential antitrust behaviors by Apple, in fact looking for preferential treatment.

"That's why we find it troubling that you are asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers, and are publicly resorting to rumors and half-truths about our service," the lawyer writes.

"Our investment in the App Store is not trivial ... To imply that Spotify should not have to pay to avail itself of the benefits of Apple's hard work, just as every other developer does, would give you a tremendous advantage over other developers" Bruce Sewell, General Counsel, Apple

According to Sewell, what made the new version of the Spotify app contentious was how it aimed to contact potential subscribers. An initial submission, on May 26, was found to have in-app purchase removed and a sign-up feature added that would allow direct contact between Spotify and the user, pointing them to its own subscription page.

Spotify submitted a second version on June 10, Sewell writes, but which still showed signs of looking to circumnavigate the in-app subscription rules.

"As far as I can see the Spotify App currently up on the App Store is still in violation of our guidelines," Sewell concludes. "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."

If Spotify was hoping to get public sentiment on its side with its high-profile attack, that may prove trickier than expected. Still, the company's accusations have been heard by at least one lawmaker, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has called out Apple, Google, and Amazon for using their market heft to keep out startup competition.

While the trio of big tech firms deserve the right to be profitable, Senator Warren said, "the opportunity to compete must remain open for new entrants and smaller competitors that want their chance to change the world again."