Why Spotify Is Really Mad at Apple Over ‘Unfair’ Fees Related to Big New Feature
The audio streaming landscape is one that is ever-changing and, as Spotify expands its services to include in-app service transactions, most prominently via audiobooks. Apple's App Store, however, takes a sizable percentage of those purchases and Spotify has issued a statement expressing the company's grievances with this policy.
On Sept. 20, Spotify launched its audiobook feature, which affords users the opportunity to peruse over 300,000 titles, increasing its presence in the ever-competitive digital audio streaming industry, expanding beyond music and podcasts. Just five weeks after debuting this new feature, Spotify withdrew all audiobook purchases in the iOS version of its app (compatible with Apple devices) because the tech giant takes up to a 30 percent cut of all user-made purchases within the Spotify app.
Spotify offered three proposals to Apple regarding what The Verge describes as a "purchasing process," all of which were rejected by Apple for going against the App Store policies. It's another butting of heads between the two companies and, in 2019, Spotify even filed an antitrust complaint over the App Store fees.
The streaming service is again beating that drum.
“We are talking about this because it is reflective of Apple’s anti-competitive practices across the board,” Harry Clarke, associate general counsel and Spotify’s lead competition lawyer, tells CNN, "We think it is critical that users, policymakers, and competition authorities really understand what is happening because we have found that once they do understand what is happening, there is almost unanimous agreement that it is unfair.”
Previously, users looking to purchase an audiobook through Spotify would receive an email with a purchase link to their desired title, circumventing the in-app purchase method. Now, a message reads, "You can't buy audiobooks in the app. We know, it's not ideal," though purchases can still be made through Spotify's audiobooks section of their web browser and through the desktop app, just not on mobile devices and tablets.
“One of the challenges of Apple’s rules is that they effectively put a gag order on us to talk about this in the app,” adds Clarke, offering clarity on some of Spotify's messaging tactics. "We are going to continue to amplify this issue to help people understand the negative impact Apple’s policies are having."
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