Spotify CEO Daniel Ek says Apple’s recently proposed changes to its App Store policies represent a “new low” for the tech giant. The Spotify boss, a constant critic of Apple’s stranglehold on the marketplace for apps and the “tax” it places on in-app purchases, calls Apple’s proposed changes “extortion, plain and simple.”
Business Insider reports that Apple recently announced it will allow iOS developers to distribute apps through third-party marketplaces, but only in the EU. The move comes as Apple complies with the EU’s Digital Markets Act, aimed at limiting the power of big tech companies. However, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek argues Apple’s response “mocks the spirit of the law.”
After sitting with our legal team to parse through the fine print of Apple’s DMA announcement (that took a while), which is, at best vague and misleading, I wanted to share my thoughts.
While Apple has behaved badly for years, what they did yesterday represents a new low, even…
— Daniel Ek (@eldsjal) January 26, 2024
Under the new policies, Apple will still control which third-party marketplaces can operate on iOS and will also charge developers a “core technology fee” for downloads through third-party marketplaces. For an app like Spotify with over 100 million EU downloads, this fee will make customer acquisition drastically more expensive.
In a blog post, Ek described the fee as “extortion, plain and simple.” He added that he believes that Apple’s tactics will hurt smaller developers and potential startups lacking funds to pay. Ek said that the new policies made it likely that Spotify would be forced to “stick to the status quo” and remain on Apple’s App Store in order to remain profitable.
Ek accused Apple of distorting the facts and failing to provide clarity on the new fees, adding that he hopes the EU “recognizes this for exactly what it is and stands firm and doesn’t let their work over the years all be for nothing.” Ek argues Apple’s response reinforces the company’s tight control over the iOS ecosystem to the detriment of competition and innovation and continues to allow Apple to leverage the power of its platform over developers.
Ek believes that the result of Apple’s proposed policies would be fewer innovative apps reaching iOS users and Apple’s continued dominance over app distribution and in-app payments. Developers will face limited choices, high costs, and restrictive policies that favor Apple.
In Ek’s view, Apple fails to justify the new marketplace fees, claiming that the company has provided no transparency into how the fees are calculated or what value developers receive in return. Ek calls this an abuse of power and violation of fair competition principles.
An Apple spokesperson stated: “The changes we’re sharing for apps in the European Union give developers choice — with new options to distribute iOS apps and process payments. Every developer can choose to stay on the same terms in place today. And under the new terms, more than 99% of developers would pay the same or less to Apple.”
However, Ek believes that the policies reinforce Apple’s tight control over iOS to the detriment of competition and innovation and that this latest move shows Apple is failing to become an “open and fair platform” for developers.
In January 2023, Breitbart News reported that Spotify and eight other app developers and associations sent a letter to Margrethe Vestager, the executive vice president of the EU Commission, urging her to take legal action against Apple’s app distribution methods. The letter stated that “Apple benefits from a monopoly position over its mobile ecosystem and extracts exorbitant rents from app developers who have no choice but to remain on the App Store to reach European consumers.”
Spotify has been one of the loudest critics of Apple’s alleged unfair and anti-competitive business practices in the App Store. In a press release from October 2022, Spotify claimed that Apple’s restrictions “hurt both creators and consumers alike,” impairing “Spotify’s and other developers’ abilities to provide a seamless user experience.”
Read more at Business Insider here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.