House Judiciary Committee asks Spotify to rat on Apple

House Judiciary Committee asks Spotify to rat on Apple
Back in March, music streamer Spotify lodged a complaint against Apple with the European Union (EU). Spotify complained that rival streamer Apple Music had an unfair advantage in Apple's App Store thanks to the so-called "Apple Tax." This is the 30% of in-app revenue that Apple takes as its cut. It also applies to the first year of subscription fees that an app like Spotify collects from iOS users for its premium service (and Apple's cut drops to 15% starting with the second year and every year afterward). Two months later, the EU competition commission said that it would investigate Apple with tens of billions of dollars in fines at stake.

Today, Reuters is reporting that Spotify is ratting out Apple again, this time to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. Actually, Spotify didn't initiate the conversation this time and merely responded to the committee's request for intelligence on Apple. The House committee first asked Spotify for a wide range of information before narrowing down the scope of their questions during subsequent phone calls. It's believed that the House is looking at the App Store as the centerpiece in any investigation to see whether Apple violated antitrust laws. Remember, unlike Android users, those with an iOS device are not allowed to sideload apps.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a class-action suit against Apple could proceed. The suit claims that because of the 30% Apple Tax and the company's refusal to allow device owners to sideload apps from third-party storefronts, iOS users pay higher prices than they should have to for apps and games. The majority opinion was written by Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh who teamed up with four of the more liberal justices. The court defined Apple's role in the App Store as the actual seller of apps and games to iOS users; Apple said it is only an "intermediary" and should not have been named in the suit. The Supreme Court ruling means that the case will now go back to the lower courts to be heard.

Spotify has also met with a special internet-focused group that is part of the Federal Trade Commission


The same issues found in the class-action suit mirror what the House is hearing about Apple from Spotify. Being a closed system, the App Store is the only place where third party developers can do business with 900 million active iPhone users. By the way, these are the same users that Apple is targeting with its focus on the Services segment of its business. With global iPhone sales peaking in 2015, the manufacturer has focused on making money by selling active users a number of subscription services including Apple Music. Included under the Services umbrella is the revenue generated by the Apple Tax. Apple has already publicly stated its goal of hitting $50 billion in Services revenue by next year.


According to one unnamed source, Spotify has met to discuss Apple with officials of the Justice Department (DOJ) and the FTC’s Technology Task Force. The latter is a group of 17 attorneys who investigate competition among internet companies and online platforms.

Reuters' report also points out that Apple has been known to copy some features of third-party apps that it adds to its own listings in the App Store. This obviously could be an example of anticompetitive behavior that lawmakers will have to sift through. The news agency mentions as an example that several third-party apps found in the App Store already offered a way to track a female's monthly reproductive cycle; Apple announced that this would be added as a feature on the company's own health tracking app this year. Another complaint made by developers is that virtual assistant Siri has much more limited functionality on their apps compared to the apps developed by Apple itself.

Even though the House is currently bogged down and is in the middle of what many would consider to be more important investigations, it does appear that tech firms like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon are still going to be probed for antitrust violations in the year ahead.

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19 Comments

1. apple-rulz

Posts: 2195; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

1) If Spotify is unhappy with Apple's business practices, then they should pull their app from iOS. Simple. 2) Side loading apps is potentially dangerous. Well actually it's not dangerous on android devices, since all android users are "tech savvy", but us dimwit iPhone sheep will be heading into a minefield if allowed third party store access. Bottom line is Spotify is feeling the pressure of Apple Music and is crying wolf in order to try to stave off the inevitable.

2. cmdacos

Posts: 4261; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Welp, you got one thing right in that word soup...

18. tedkord

Posts: 17410; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

That's one more than he usually gets.

8. slim3bdo

Posts: 186; Member since: Jun 05, 2017

Same pressure apple felt 2 years back which led to Huawei to be banned fro us carriers after it got deal with them to offer their devices to us consumers . And yes you are dimwit but doesn't mean ppl who buy iPhones should not use they device they bought with their money as they like in any way . But again apple rents their devices to costumers not selling them .

15. XyAzario

Posts: 53; Member since: Mar 15, 2019

Lol I like that: "But again apple rents their devices to costumers not selling them"

3. gadgetpower

Posts: 283; Member since: Aug 23, 2019

Maybe they aren’t happy with millions of android who subscribe for free.

4. DBozz

Posts: 66; Member since: Sep 19, 2019

No sense bro... U and Ur comment! No sense at all!

5. maherk

Posts: 6949; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Think of what Apple is doing like this: Someone opens a mall, you rent a store in that mall, you offer a service that no one does, then when business starts booming, the mall's owner steals your idea, even your decor, and opens a bigger store right across yours. Not only he's not paying rent, but he's advertising his new store all over the mall, again, for free! You see how absurd and unethical this is? Apple has a long history of doing this, they see a developer succeeding, then steal their ideas and implement them into iOS. Washington Post had an article a month ago about this, detailing how Apple has been stealing ideas from app developers on iOS, never giving them credit, and doing their best to crush their competition.

6. apple-rulz

Posts: 2195; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

So gather evidence of Apple's stealing and turn that evidence over to the proper authorities.

10. maherk

Posts: 6949; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

A quick Google search will show plenty of examples where Apple ripped off other developers' ideas. I just love how sometimes you try to pretend that you're unbiased by dropping a slight jab at Apple, yet get all soft and defensive whenever someone points the obvious.

13. sgodsell

Posts: 7437; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Your talking to Apple-Nutz. Just looking at timelines can easily tell you the truth. Spotify was on Apples app store for years before Apple introduced their Apple Music streaming service. Only a complete moron would defend Apple's despicable ways.

14. apple-rulz

Posts: 2195; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

So take that Google search evidence to the proper authorities, what's stopping you?

16. maherk

Posts: 6949; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Did you even bother to read the article? Apple is already getting sued for billions of dollars for their unethical business. So yeah, I don't need to present any evidence to anyone, I was just pointing out how blind you're to these facts.

17. DBozz

Posts: 66; Member since: Sep 19, 2019

Please aware that u r taking to a 10 yrs old kid...

20. tedkord

Posts: 17410; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Remember to whom your talking. Apple invented everything, even when others did it first. Everything is stolen from Apple.

19. tedkord

Posts: 17410; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Ummmm...that's exactly what the article is about.

21. mackan84

Posts: 550; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

Yeah I agree with you but Apple isn’t the only one stealing the idea. Even google have a music streaming service. Then we have had some failed ones too. Now Apple has a pretty big mall I agree but Spotify’s main problem now is that they want to grow even bigger and they’re already trying by increasing the subscription fee here in the Nordic countries. Apple is pretty happy about where their music service is at right now. If Spotify increases the price worldwide that would mean a death sentence for them unless Apple rides along with them. Now let’s say that if a side loaded app gets allowed after a trial. Apple is going to go horrible lengths to f*** it up for anyone that has a side loaded app. Let’s say it bricks the phone, they’ll refuse to fix it. That’s another trial. They’ll always have App Store pre installed and refuse to have any other store in it. That’s another trial. Are we up to about ten, fifteen years until Spotify will get where they want? Me as a consumer will not even care how this ends in one year... If Spotify even exist by then

7. shawman

Posts: 70; Member since: Sep 18, 2012

At some point Apple should let 3rd party App Stores. I dont think Amazon App store for IOS will be dangerous. Nor would a google app store or some other. There is no argument that app providers can pull their apps. Windows did not get away with monopolistic practice and that was with customer having ability to download applications over the browser. So at some point Apple will be dinged for this practice. You cannot have an ecosystem of 900 million devices be this restrictive.

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