July 15, 2024
€1.8B for stifling music streaming

The EU has fined Apple €1.8bn for stifling music streaming rivals — the first penalty that the bloc has imposed on the tech giant.

Antitrust regulators intervened following a complaint made by Spotify back in 2019. The Swedish streaming giant argued that Apple’s App Store rules harmed consumer choice and broke competition law. After a lengthy investigation, the EU took Spotify’s side.

Brussels announced on Monday that Apple had unfairly stopped app developers from informing iOS users about cheaper music subscription services available outside the App Store. Known as “anti-steering” provisions, these restrictions are illegal under EU antitrust rules.

“For a decade, Apple abused its dominant position in the market for the distribution of music streaming apps through the App Store,” said Margrethe Vestager, the union’s competition chief.

They did so by restricting developers from informing consumers about alternative, cheaper music services available outside of the Apple ecosystem. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules, so today we have fined Apple over €1.8 billion.”

The eye-popping sum is the third-biggest antitrust penalty ever imposed by the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch. It’s also far larger than reports had predicted. Citing multiple sources, both the Financial Times and Reuters had expected a fine of around €500mn.

In addition to the financial penalty, the commission has ordered Apple to allow other music streaming services to advertise cheaper deals outside of the App Store.

The EU’s intervention, however, will not end the dispute. Apple has already pledged to appeal the decision.

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