Apple rejects Spotify’s update with pricing information for EU users

Update April 25, 2024 8.30AM ET: Spotify told TechCrunch that Apple has rejected the music streaming service’s update. 

“Apple has once again defied the European Commission’s decision, rejecting our update for attempting to communicate with customers about our prices unless we pay Apple a new tax. Their disregard for consumers and developers is matched only by their disdain for the law,” a Spotify spokesperson said.

In a reply to Spotify, Apple said that Spotify’s changes would be approved if the company accepted Apple’s terms related to Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA). Here is Apple reply to Spotify in full:

Hello team at Spotify,

We are reaching out to let you know about new information regarding your app, Spotify – Music and Podcasts, version 8.9.33.

As you may be aware, Apple created a new Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA) for iOS and iPadOS music streaming apps offered in EEA storefronts. The entitlement allows music streaming apps to use buttons, external links, or other calls to action to direct customers to a purchase mechanism on a website owned or controlled by the developer. You must accept its terms before adding any of these capabilities to your app. Please find more information about the entitlement here.

We note that your current submission includes a call to action to purchase a Spotify subscription on your website. As such, you must accept the terms of the Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA) and include the entitlement profile in your app for submission. To be clear, this entitlement is required even if your app does not include an external link (nor does it require that you offer an external link). We will, however, approve version 8.9.33 after you accept the terms of the Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA) and resubmit it for review.

The European Commission said it assesses if Apple has fully complied with its decision. The commission also said that it will assess Apple’s App Store changes in relation to DMA.

“In general, if the Commission suspects that there is non-compliance with an adopted decision, it will send the undertaking concerned a Statement of Objections (‘S0’) explaining why it believes there is non-compliance,” a spokesperson for the European Commission told TechCrunch.

The headline has been changed to reflect that. The original story follows.

Spotify said Wednesday that it has submitted a new version of its app for EU users with pricing information and basic site information. Critically, the version doesn’t contain the link to the website.

The music streaming company said it is not opting into Apple’s new Digital Markets Act (DMA) changes that charge a “core technology fee” for developers with more than 1 million annual downloads.

The company said that the new update features bare minimum details that are in line with the European Commission’s ruling.

“Despite Apple’s attempts to punish developers with new fees, we remain committed to giving consumers a real choice in our app at no increased cost. That’s why we have submitted a new update to Apple. It features basic pricing and website information – the bare minimum outlined under the European Commission’s ruling in its music streaming case,” Dustee Jenkins, Spotify’s chief public affairs officer, said in a statement.

“By charging developers to communicate with consumers through in-app links, Apple continues to break European law. It’s past time for the Commission to enforce its decision so that consumers can see real, positive benefits.”

The version is yet to be approved by Apple, so Spotify will still have to wait until it goes live. Once Apple approves this, Spotify’s free users in the EU will be able to see the perks and pricing information of different premium plans.

However, they won’t be able to click on a link to go to the company’s website and buy those plans. Spotify said that the final version will have language indicating that users will need to visit the website via their browsers and buy a plan.

Last month, Spotify submitted a similar update to the App Store with a link to its website. However, Apple didn’t approve that version, and the music-streaming company didn’t hear back from Apple.

Spotify argues that under the DMA, gatekeepers (in this case, Apple’s App Store) should allow businesses to promote different offers to users on their apps.

Spotify submitted the previous update after the European Commission slapped a fine of €1.84 billion ($ 2 billion) on Apple for the company’s anticompetitive practices in the music-streaming market. In response, Apple said it plans to challenge EC’s decision.

“From now on, Apple will have to allow music streaming developers to communicate freely with their own users, be it within the app, or by email, or any other way of communicating,” EC commissioner Margrethe Vestager said at that time.

Natasha Lomas contributed to the report.

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