Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

EU regulators accused Apple Inc. on Friday of distorting competition in the music-streaming market, siding with Spotify Inc. in a case that could lead to a hefty fine and changes in the iPhone maker’s lucrative business practices.

The preliminary findings are the first time Brussels has levelled anti-competitive charges against Apple, although the two sides have had bruising clashes in the past, most notably a multibillion-dollar tax dispute involving Ireland.

Apple, Spotify and other parties can now respond. If the case is pursued, the EU could demand concessions and potentially impose a fine of up to 10 per cent of Apple’s global turnover – as much as US$27-billion, although it rarely levies the maximum penalty.

Story continues below advertisement

Apple found itself in the European Commission’s crosshairs after Sweden-based Spotify complained two years ago that the U.S. tech giant unfairly restricted rivals to its own music-streaming service Apple Music on iPhones.

The EU competition enforcer, in its so-called statement of objections setting out the charge, said the issue related to Apple’s restrictive rules for its App Store that force developers to use its own in-app payment system and prevent them from informing users of other purchasing options.

European Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said there were clear signs Apple’s App Store rules were affecting music-streaming rivals’ business development and affecting app developers more widely.

“They [app developers] depend on Apple App Store as a gatekeeper to access users of Apple’s iPhones and iPads. This significant market power cannot go unchecked as the conditions of access to the Apple App Store are key for the success of app developers,” she told a news conference.

Ms. Vestager said Apple should end restrictive practices and refrain from doing anything that would replicate them.

She also said other authorities were looking into the issue.

“We have contact with other jurisdictions doing similar cases, that could be the Dutch, the Australians, the Americans,” she said, adding she was also interested in the app gaming market, although it was early days.

Story continues below advertisement

Apple rebuffed the EU charge.

“Spotify has become the largest music subscription service in the world, and we’re proud of the role we played in that,” it said in a statement.

“They want all the benefits of the App Store but don’t think they should have to pay anything for that. The Commission’s argument on Spotify’s behalf is the opposite of fair competition,” it added.

INTERNET GATEKEEPERS

Spotify welcomed the EU move, describing it as “a critical step toward holding Apple accountable for its anticompetitive behavior, ensuring meaningful choice for all consumers and a level playing field for app developers.”

Reuters was first to report about the imminent EU antitrust charge in March.

Spotify, one of Europe’s few global success stories in consumer technology, is the market leader in music streaming with 356 million active users and 158 million paid subscribers.

Story continues below advertisement

Apple Music, launched more recently in 2015, is estimated to have more than 70 million subscribers although the company does not give a separate figure for that part of its business.

Competition between the two companies has intensified in recent weeks, with both seeking to build their customer base via supremacy in the market for podcasts.

“Europe’s consumers expect and deserve access to a full range of music streaming services without their choices being restricted or prices being inflated unfairly by internet gatekeepers,” said European consumer organization BEUC.

The EU charge comes a week before Apple’s face-off with Epic Games in a U.S. antitrust trial following a lawsuit by the Fortnite creator alleging that Apple has abused its dominance in the market for mobile apps.

Epic has complained to the Commission on the same issues.

Last month, the UK Competition and Markets Authority opened an investigation into Apple after complaints the iPhone maker’s terms and conditions for app developers were unfair.

Story continues below advertisement

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies