Tech giants protest as Apple enjoys the fruits of their labor
The Future. After initially letting Spotify tell iOS users how to purchase audiobooks outside the App Store, Apple has stonewalled the music titan. Now they’re virtually forcing Spotify to use the App Store and pay Apple a 30% cut of every purchase, a move that’s driven Spotify to join forces with Meta and Snap in demanding that Apple relax their grip on other companies’ profits.
The sound of silence
Spotify’s audiobook sales have tanked since Apple stonewalled the music streaming service.
- Until recently, Apple allowed Spotify to email users with an external link where they could purchase an audiobook without going through Apple at all. (Google has always allowed Spotify to do this with Android users.)
- In September, Apple took that back. Now, iOS users who try to purchase an audiobook on the Spotify app receive a notification stating that audiobooks are unavailable on the app without any further info about how else to access Spotify’s audiobooks.
- Facing a steep decline in audiobook sales, Spotify has called Apple’s conduct “arbitrary” and “completely inconsistent,” adding that surrendering to the App Store’s fee would force Spotify to either raise prices or cut into their own margins, making their business model unsustainable.
- Apple has responded by claiming that they restored Spotify’s privileges once the latter company started obeying Apple’s explicit rules regarding external communications with users.
This isn’t the two companies’ first spat– in 2019, Spotify filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Commission. The investigation is ongoing.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend
Apple has been making lots of enemies recently. Epic Games sued Apple (and is still in appeals) over similar App Store conduct, and Meta has protested Apple’s October 24th announcement that it will take a 30% cut of all boosted posts sold on iOS apps.
This recent announcement is an especially bitter pill for digital advertising companies in light of the “App Tracking Transparency” initiative Apple rolled out last year. The program lets iOS users choose not to share data with the apps they use, and led to a precipitous decline in the data available to digital advertisers like Snap and Meta.
As Apple continues to flourish, more and more of its struggling rivals have joined the chorus demanding that their control over software be diminished.