The European Commission (EC) heaped more pressure on Apple, declaring it broke local laws by distorting competition in the music streaming market and abusing its dominant position in the segment through its App Store.
In a statement explaining the outcome of a two-year investigation prompted by a complaint from Spotify, the EC announced it had sent objections to Apple over its practices related to the distribution of music streaming apps.
It highlighted the mandatory use of Apple’s purchase mechanism in the App Store, noting it had concerns the US company placed certain restrictions on app developers which prevented them from informing iPhone and iPad users “of alternative, cheaper purchasing possibilities”.
The EC cited Apple’s 30 per cent commission rate and requirements for developers to adhere to strict rules to access the App Store, factors the company argues are designed to ensure quality.
EC EVP Margrethe Vestager said app stores in general play a central role in today’s digital economy, and Apple was the gatekeeper for iOS users.
“With Apple Music, Apple also competes with music streaming providers. By setting strict rules on the app store that disadvantage competing music streaming services, Apple deprives users of cheaper music streaming choices and distorts competition,” she said.
With the EC formally charging Apple, the case could now go to court, although an appeal by the company is likely and would hold up proceedings.
Financial Times reported it was the first time EU regulators have formally charged Apple.
Along with Spotify, US games developer Epic Games is another high-profile critic of Apple’s App Store rules.