As $500m EU fine looms, Apple accuses Spotify of wanting ‘limitless access’ to its tools for free

Over the weekend, it was reported that the EU commission is preparing to hit Apple with a $500 million fine over anticompetitive App Store policy for music streaming services. The decision from the EU investigation comes following a complaint from Spotify that began in 2013.

In a new statement to 9to5Mac today, Apple reiterated its belief that Spotify’s complaint is about it “trying to get limitless access to all of Apple’s tools without paying anything for the value Apple provides.”

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Updated 6:42pm ET with Spotify’s statement.

Apple’s full statement:

We’re happy to support the success of all developers — including Spotify, which is the largest music streaming app in the world. Spotify pays Apple nothing for the services that have helped them build, update, and share their app with Apple users in 160 countries spanning the globe. Fundamentally, their complaint is about trying to get limitless access to all of Apple’s tools without paying anything for the value Apple provides.

The investigation was first prompted by a complaint from Spotify filed with EU regulators that first surfaced in 2013 and was formally filed four years ago. The EU reached its preliminary conclusion in 2021 that the App Store unfairly favored Apple Music over Spotify and other music streaming services.

This EU ruling will only focus on how the anti-steering rules impact music streaming services like Spotify, not any other category of apps. The news of the $500 million fine for Apple was first reported last weekend. The decision hasn’t been formally announced by the EU commission yet, so the amount of the fine could vary.

In addition to the $500 million fine, the EU’s ruling will likely force Apple to allow Spotify and other streaming music services to direct users to outside payment methods. This is commonly referred to as Apple’s “anti-steering” rules.

Apple, however, has made notable changes to the App Store Guidelines over the years since Spotify’s complaint was filed. Apple updated the “Reader” app guideline to give Spotify and other services permission to link out to their website for account management.

Apple also now allows developers like Spotify to communicate directly with customers via methods such as email to share information about payment methods outside their iOS app.

Apple’s response to Spotify’s accusation

In response to Spotify’s complaint, Apple argues that Spotify pays nothing other than $99 per year for a developer account to Apple.

Apple only charges developers a commission on paid apps and digital goods and subscriptions. Spotify is a free app to download and does not support Apple’s In-App Purchase system, so it pays nothing to Apple. Spotify isn’t alone in this, as Apple also points out that 88% of active developers on the App Store in the EU pay zero commission.

Some other statistics:

  • Spotify has used TestFlight, Apple’s developer testing tool, for over 500 versions of its app.
  • Spotify uses thousands of Apple’s APIs and 60 frameworks for its app.
  • Apple’s App Review team has reviewed and approved 420 versions of the Spotify app.
  • In total, Spotify has been downloaded or updated on Apple devices more than 119 billion times.

The EU’s official decision is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Spotify’s response


Spotify’s success has happened despite Apple’s best efforts to gain an artificial advantage by favoring their own music service at every turn while placing roadblocks and imposing unfair restrictions on ours. Under their current rules Apple controls Spotify’s access to its own customers and gives Spotify one of two untenable options: We either have to deliver a poor user experience where we can’t directly communicate how to buy or subscribe to Spotify on iPhones or we have to accept a 30% cost disadvantage against our biggest competitor. This is not a level playing field. We support the European Commission and trust that they will take action soon to create a fair ecosystem for everyone involved.”

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