Yesterday, Spotify publicly filed a complaint against Apple to the European Commission over "unfair" App Store rules, which allegedly make it hard for Spotify to compete with Apple Music on equal ground.
Apple said that Spotify "seeks to keep all the benefits of the App Store ecosystem - including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store's customers - without making any contributions to that marketplace". Ultimately, Apple claims, only a "tiny fraction" of Spotify's subscriptions pay the 30% Apple tax.
With regard to the 30 percent charge on in-app digital content in the App Store, Apple notes that 84 percent of apps pay nothing, including Spotify's own ad-supported app.
Unhappy with simply ripping into Spotify's complaints about Apple's business practices, Apple made a decision to then take issue with Spotify's treatment of music artists.
Ek also asserted that Apple blocked its "experience-enhancing upgrades", partially in reference to a 2016 incident.
It's an interesting criticism for the company that brought us iTunes, the App Store and Apple TV to make, but there we are. It said that it has approved almost 200 app updates, and "the only time we have requested adjustments is when Spotify has tried to sidestep the same rules that every app follows". It suggested the ball was in Spotify's court regarding Siri and HomePod, saying it's reached out "on several occasions" and ready to help out on adding support whenever Spotify's ready.
Spotify launched a website earlier this week laying out its accusations against Apple, including claims of app-update rejections.
It added that it had made almost 200 app updates on Spotify's behalf, resulting in more than 300 million downloads of Spotify's app. Indeed, it's the most popular app in the Watch's (probably not very competitive) music category.
It's a little freakish to see Apple respond to Spotify by way of a public press release, but regardless, Apple's statement doesn't really leave much hope for an amicable resolution to Spotify's complaint.
First published at 3:11 a.m. PT. Updated at 4:43 a.m. PT: Adds more details.
It went on to point out that the majority of Spotify's customers are either free users or those who signed up for Premium accounts through deals with their carrier (or though other promotions like the one with Hulu that was recently announced). We share critical software development tools to support Spotify's app building.
If a company is big enough to take the risk, however, it's possible to get users to enter their payments through a web browser and then link their accounts to the app without handing over fees to Apple.
"Spotify wouldn't be the business they are today without the App Store ecosystem, but now they're leveraging their scale to avoid contributing to maintaining that ecosystem for the next generation of app entrepreneurs", Apple said. Spotify is asking to keep all those benefits while also retaining 100 percent of the revenue. This isn't just wrong, it represents a real, meaningful and damaging step backwards for the music industry.
Apple's approach has always been to grow the pie.