Spotify standing up to Apple

I’ve been waiting years for this. Bigger companies have finally had enough of Apple’s 30% in-app purchase tax. Spotify founder Daniel Ek writes about Apple’s restrictions on telling users how to upgrade to Spotify Premium outside the app:

As an alternative, if we choose not to use Apple’s payment system, forgoing the charge, Apple then applies a series of technical and experience-limiting restrictions on Spotify. For example, they limit 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. Apple also routinely blocks our experience-enhancing upgrades.

Spotify has a companion site TimeToPlayFair.com with more details, and they’ve also filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission. (As a side note, I hope Spotify’s pursuit of fairness will also apply to how they treat the podcast ecosystem after acquiring Gimlet Media and Anchor.)

Apple’s anti-competitive behavior was also a theme of Ben Thompson’s Stratechery this week:

What is even more striking, though, is that the App Store does have a massive antitrust problem: it is not Apple unfairly competing with app developers, it is Apple unfairly imposing massive complexity and extracting 30% of revenue with its contractual requirement, enforced by App Review, that developers use Apple’s payment mechanism.

Now if only more indie developers would speak out about this, maybe we’d make some progress with Apple. As I’ve said many times: 15% for paid downloads and in-app purchase is reasonable for the value that Apple provides. Just as importantly, Apple should relax the rules against linking to web sites outside the store.

Manton Reece @manton
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