The EU has officially accused Apple of breaking antitrust law by charging high commission fees in its App Store and banning app developers from telling their customers of other ways to subscribe to their services.
The charges relate to a complaint filed two years ago by the music streaming service Spotify.
After investigating the complaint, Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, said Apple “deprives users of cheaper music streaming choices and distorts competition”.
Apps that want to use Apple’s App Store, the only official way to reach the world 1 billion iPhones, must pay up to 30 percent commission and agree to a strict set of rules that Apple says are designed to ensure quality.
“The Commission’s preliminary view is that Apple’s rules distort competition in the music streaming service market by raising the costs of competing music streaming application developers,” a statement said on the. case.
“This in turn leads to higher prices for consumers for their in-app music subscriptions on iOS devices. In addition, Apple becomes the intermediary for all IAP transactions (in-app purchases) and takes care of the billing relationship, as well as the associated communications for the competitors. “
The case is the most high-profile antitrust case currently open in Brussels and the ruling marks the first time that EU regulators have issued formal charges against Apple.
The case will likely take many years to get to EU courts in Luxembourg and any verdict is subject to appeal. If it turns out that Apple has violated EU law, it could face a fine of up to 10% of its worldwide revenue.
The move comes days before a lawsuit in the United States led by game developer Epic, which has also accused Apple of abuse of competition over its App Store rules, and comes the same week Apple has reported a year of 27%. year-over-year increase in sales of services, the division that includes the App Store.
Apple said, “Spotify has grown into the world’s largest music subscription service, and we’re proud of the role we’ve played in that regard. Spotify does not pay Apple any commission on more than 99% of its subscribers and only pays a 15% commission on the remaining subscribers they have acquired through the App Store.
“At the heart of this matter is Spotify’s demand to be able to advertise alternative offers on their iOS app, a practice that no store in the world allows. Again, they want all the benefits of the App Store but don’t think they have to pay anything for it. The Commission’s argument on behalf of Spotify is the opposite of fair competition. ”