Spotify’s audiobooks fight for a spot on Apple’s shelf
The Future. Spotify has been through the ringer trying to get a new version of its app approved by Apple, clashing over how to direct users to buy an audiobook on the App Store. Spotify’s plans were rejected three times, with the final approval only letting Spotify inform users that they can’t buy audiobooks on the app. Considering that the streamer plans for audiobooks to be a big revenue-booster similar to podcasts, expect Spotify to take Apple to court (again) to save its investment from a terrible user experience.
Spotify is having some trouble starting a new chapter in audiobooks because of a battle with Apple.
- According to NYT, Spotify developed a nine-step process to buy audiobooks, including adding a link on its app to allow users to receive an email to buy them off the platform, and then go back into the app to listen to it.
- Apple rejected that, saying that Spotify couldn’t sell audiobooks “by circumventing rules against providing web addresses and language that encourages customers to make purchases outside its app.”
- So Spotify updated the app to include a link on the app that lets users browse audiobooks outside of the app… where they could then decide to purchase something. But Apple said that still violated App Store rules.
- Now, Spotify’s app just includes a message that says “you can’t buy audiobooks in the app.” Users need to figure out the rest. Apple approved that version
Meanwhile, Spotify’s Android app was approved with the original plan in place.
The large print
The audiobook battle is just another front in Spotify and Apple’s long-running war over App Store rules. The audio streamer says that letting Apple take a 30% cut of audiobook sales (as it does with all in-app purchases) wouldn’t make financial sense, so it tried to create a convoluted workaround to avoid that. Spotify seems to imply that Apple’s own audiobook business may be a reason why the tech giant is being so strict.
While Apple’s App Stores rules are still being investigated by the EU’s antitrust regulators and the US Congress, app developers were successful in a handful of lawsuits in the US and Japan that gave them permission to communicate with users about deals outside of their Apple-based apps. Spotify thought it was staying within the bounds of those rulings, but Apple thought differently.