Oct 23, 2023 3 min read

Spotify boss urges UK government to not water down its Apple regulating Digital Markets Act

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek continues in his global campaign to force a change to Apple’s rules on in-app payments, this time urging the UK government to not water down proposed new laws for regulating the tech giants

Spotify boss urges UK government to not water down its Apple regulating Digital Markets Act

Spotify chief Daniel Ek continues to pursue his multi-national campaign to force a global change to Apple's App Store rules, this time writing an article for the Daily Mail urging the UK government to not water down its proposed Digital Markets, Competition And Consumers Bill.

The proposed new laws will, according to the government, stop tech giants from "using their size and power to limit digital innovation or market access - ensuring the UK remains a highly attractive place to invest and do business for all". This is good news for Spotify, which has long accused Google and especially Apple of putting unfair restrictions in place for app-makers that rely on those companies' mobile operating systems.

However, Ek warns in his article, "a few of the companies who would be most affected by this bill, including Apple, have taken to criticising the Digital Markets Bill as anti-innovation, implying it will somehow hurt business and investment in the UK. To no one’s surprise, these companies are aggressively fighting this action. In fact, the Prime Minister has faced intensive lobbying from Apple to either kill the bill or water it down, rendering it essentially ineffective".

For Spotify - and many other app-makers - the most problematic app store rules relate to in-app payments. Many app-makers are obliged to use Google and Apple's commission charging transaction platforms for in-app purchases and often aren't allowed to sign-post alternative payment options online.

This stops Spotify from selling premium subscriptions from within its app. And also hinders any efforts to build direct-to-fan and pay-walled content experiences within the Spotify platform, which has always been annoying for the streaming firm, but all the more so since it launched its pay-as-you-go audiobooks service.

Far from hindering innovation, Ek argues, ramped up regulation of Apple would "give consumers more choice, allow smaller tech businesses to grow and compete with larger players, and make the UK a world-leading tech marketplace".

Noting that it’s now fifteen years since Spotify arrived in the UK, Ek ramps up the drama somewhat by asking if it would even be feasible to launch a service like his today in a mobile-centric digital world so controlled by Apple and Google.

"My guess is no", he then declares. "It is our view that when competition is fair, everyone wins - consumers, companies and the country. That’s why it’s crucial that the government passes a strong bill, giving consumers greater choice and control over their digital lives, and why we’re urging the UK to show leadership on this issue".

Pandering a little to the patriotic Brexiteers in government and Parliament, he goes on: "The UK stands out because it has a rare combination of significant global influence while being independent enough to be nimble. This is a unique advantage. The UK is an epicentre for business and has produced many of the biggest thinkers and pioneers the world has ever seen".

"Other global governments have been trying to set rules like the DMCC, but Apple has spent millions in country after country lobbying to stop those laws from taking effect", he adds. "If Parliament passes a robust version of the Digital Markets Bill, Apple will no longer be able to use its market power at the expense of UK innovators".

You can read the full article below.

DANIEL EK: I couldn’t launch Spotify today because of Apple
DANIEL EK: I distinctly remember sitting in our makeshift London office when we first launched and the early data coming in showed that listeners couldn’t get enough of the UK artist Coldplay.
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