Two of the world's biggest music-streaming companies were out of harmony Wednesday as Spotify has filed an anti-competition complaint against Apple with the European Commission.
In its claim, Spotify, which is based in Sweden, alleges that Apple has spent the past few years putting in place rules and limitations designed to tamp down on innovation in music-steaming apps and reduce consumers' choices for music options.
"(Apple is) essentially acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers," Spotify Chief Executive Daniel Ek wrote in a blog post in which he outlined his company's reasons for bringing the complaint to the EC.
Among the methods Ek said Apple uses to stifle its rivals is the levying of a 30 percent "tax" that Apple place on purchases consumers make from within the music-streaming apps they are using. Ek said the Apple fee drops to 15 percent if a subscriber has been paying for their particular service for a year, but such fees would force Spotify to raise its prices beyond a level it is sees as reasonable
"If we pay this tax, it would force us to artificially inflate the price of our Premium membership well above the price of Apple Music," he said. "And to keep our price competitive for our customers, that isn't something we can do."
Apple currently charges $10.99 a month for Apple Music, which offers ad-free, unlimited music streaming. Spotify's Premium music-streaming service costs $9.99; new users can sign up and get Hulu's ad-supported TV-streaming plan for free.
Ek said that Apple also has taken what he called "experience-limiting restrictions" on Spotify if it chooses to not use Apple's own payment system for purchases. Among the allegations Ek made is that that Apple limits "our communication with our customers -- including our outreach beyond the app. In some cases, we aren't even allowed to send emails to our customers who use Apple."
Ek said that with EC filing, Spotify is looking to get Apple to lift the measures, which he believes are unfair and anti-competitive.
Apple didn't immediately return a request for comment about Spotify's filing.
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