Saturday, June 15, 2024

EU to ban anti-steering App Store rules for Apple Music competitors after Spotify complaint – 9to5Mac

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Apple will soon be handed a major loss in its antitrust battle with Spotify in the European Union. According to Bloomberg, EU regulators are preparing a ruling that would prohibit Apple from “blocking music services from pushing their users away from the App Store to alternative subscription options.”

Apple could also face a hefty fine as part of the ruling, potentially reaching as much as 10% of its annual sales in the EU.

The EU reached its preliminary conclusion in 2021 that the App Store unfairly favored Apple Music over Spotify and other music streaming services. The investigation was first prompted by a complaint from Spotify filed with EU regulators almost four years ago.

EU regulators are said to be “putting the finishing touches” on a final decision in this case. As part of the ruling, Apple will reportedly be barred from prohibiting Apple Music competitors like Spotify from directing users to outside payment methods. This is commonly referred to as Apple’s “anti-steering” rules.

EU regulators are putting the finishing touches to a decision that would prohibit Apple’s practice of blocking music services from pushing their users away from the App Store to alternative subscription options, according to people familiar with the investigation. The decision is slated for early next year, they added.

This EU ruling will only focus on how the anti-steering rules impact music streaming services like Spotify. The looming Digital Markets Act in the EU, however, could force broader changes, such as Apple opening up the iPhone to third-party app stores and sideloading.

The decision could also include a fine of up to 10% of Apple’s annual sales in the EU. Bloomberg notes, however, that “EU penalties seldom reach that level and orders for companies to change their business models can be more hard-hitting..”

Apple’s App Store guidelines currently say that Spotify is not allowed to use in-app payment platforms other than Apple’s own In-App Purchase system. Spotify is also not allowed to direct users to other payment platforms. As such, Spotify doesn’t let users subscribe in-app whatsoever.

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