Jan 19, 2024 2 min read

Spotify hits out at Apple's "outrageous" new App Store rules

Spotify has joined Fortnite maker Epic in criticising Apple over a change to its rules around in-app payments. The change, made to comply with a court order secured by Epic, is meant to help app-makers, but Spotify says it has been implemented in a way that means app-makers are no better off

Spotify hits out at Apple's "outrageous" new App Store rules

Spotify has declared that the way Apple has decided to comply with a US court order relating to in-app payments is "outrageous" and proves that the tech giant will "stop at nothing" to protect its profits. 

Apple has been forced to make a change to its app stores rules in the US after the country's Supreme Court declined to consider its long-running dispute with Fortnite maker Epic Games, which means an order previously issued by a lower court in California stands. 

Both Spotify and Epic have long criticised Apple's rules that force many app-makers to use the tech giant's commission charging transactions platform to take in-app payments and which prevent the signposting of alternative payment options outside of the app, for example on the app-maker's website. It is the signposting rule that was deemed to violate Californian law. 

As a result, Apple announced earlier this week that all app makers in the US will now be able to link to other payment options within their apps. However, that will only be allowed on the condition that the app maker pays Apple a 12-27% commission on any sales processed via the link. Which is only a 3% discount on the 15-30% charged by Apple's own system. 

Given there will be processing fees associated with the alternative payment platforms too, it's likely the app-maker will be no better off - or perhaps even worse off - if it chooses to circumvent Apple's transactions platform. 

While Apple seems confident that this move satisfies the court order, app-makers are not impressed. Earlier this week Epic said Apple's plan "totally undermines” the court's injunction. Now Spotify has said it "flies in the face" of what the court intended. 

According to the BBC, the music service added: "Once again Apple has demonstrated that they will stop at nothing to protect the profits they exact on the backs of developers and consumers under their app store monopoly". 

Whereas Epic has gone the litigation route to try to force a change to Apple's rules, Spotify has adopted a lobbying approach, urging lawmakers to intervene. That includes in the UK, where the music streaming service hopes that the proposed Digital Markets, Competition And Consumer Act could force a change. 

"The UK's Digital Markets, Competition And Consumer Bill must put an end to this false posturing, which is essentially a recreation of Apple's fees", Spotify's statement to the BBC continued. "We strongly urge UK lawmakers to pass the bill swiftly to prevent Apple from implementing similar fees, which will help create a more competitive and innovative tech industry for UK consumers and businesses".

In the US, lobbying efforts to force a change to Apple's rules through legislation are led by the Coalition For App Fairness, of which Spotify is a member. It supports the Open App Markets Act, which would regulate app stores. And its Executive Director, Rick VanMeter, has also criticised Apple's proposal for complying with the Californian court order. 

"The new 27% commission on payments [which Apple] does not process defies the intention of the district court’s injunction and undermines competition", he said. "These changes do nothing to enhance consumer choice, lower prices for in-app purchases or inject competition into Apple’s walled garden. It is precisely this type of abusive, monopolistic behaviour that makes it imperative for Congress to pass the Open App Markets Act". 

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