Apr 26, 2024 2 min read

Spotify says Apple “defying” European law as its updated app is knocked back

Spotify is still trying to update its iOS app in the EU to take advantage of the recent regulator ruling in relation to Apple’s App Store rules. But Apple won’t approve the updates until Spotify agrees to new terms, including a new commission fee. That “defies” European law, says Spotify

Spotify says Apple “defying” European law as its updated app is knocked back

Spotify has accused Apple of “once again defying” a ruling made by the European Union regarding the App Store rules on signposting alternative payment options within an app.

The streaming service says that Apple has refused to approve updates to its iOS app which were made in response to the EU ruling “unless we pay Apple a new tax”. It then added, “Apple’s disregard for consumers and developers is matched only by their disdain for the law”.

Spotify has long objected to the Apple rules which say that in-app purchases must be taken via the tech giant’s commission charging transactions system, and alternative payment options outside the app cannot be signposted. Those rules, it argues, are anticompetitive.

The EU’s competition regulators investigated the matter following a complaint by Spotify, ultimately focusing on the rule prohibiting the sign-posting of other payment options, aka the anti-steering provision. 

They ultimately ruled that that provision was anticompetitive and ordered Apple to start allowing app developers to include information about and links to other payment options in their iOS apps. As it happened, by that point, Apple was already obliged to do just that by the new EU Digital Markets Act.

As a result, Apple is now allowing the signposting of those other payment options. But with a big catch: An app developer must agree to still pay a commission on any transactions that begin in an iOS app. Unsurprisingly, Spotify does not want to agree to that new commission. 

It has had two goes at updating its app since the EU ruling. First it inserted links to alternative payment options. Then, when that didn’t get approved, it added text describing where payments could be made, but without any links. But Apple argues neither of those updates are possible until Spotify agrees to the terms of a document called the Music Streaming Services Entitlement, which include the commission agreement.

“This entitlement is required even if your app does not include an external link”, Apple said in a message to Spotify. The new version of the app will be approved, it added, “after you accept the terms of the Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA) and resubmit it for review”.

Spotify’s Chief Public Affairs Officer, Dustee Jenkins has now called on the EU to intervene. “By charging developers to communicate with consumers through in-app links, Apple continues to break European law”, he said in a statement. “It’s past time for the European Commission to enforce its decision so that consumers can see real, positive benefits”. 

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