European Commission Rules that Apple Breached Antitrust Law in Spotify Case

The European Commission on Tuesday updated its anti-trust case against Apple, sending a fresh statement of objections to the tech giant clarifying its concerns over App Store rules for music streaming providers.

The Commission said that Apple breached antitrust laws by stopping rival music firms like Spotify from advertising where and how users could subscribe to their apps.

A man looks at the screen of his mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside its store in Shanghai, China on July 30, 2017.

According to the statement of objections, Apple abused its dominant position by imposing its own in-app purchase payment technology on music streaming app developers and restricting app developers' ability to inform iPhone and iPad users of alternative music subscription services.

"If the Commission concludes, after the company has exercised its rights of defence, that there is sufficient evidence of an infringement, it can adopt a decision prohibiting the conduct and imposing a fine of up to 10 per cent of the company's annual worldwide turnover," said the ruling.

Spotify Complaint

Spotify first made a complaint against Apple in 2019. In June 2020, the Commission opened formal proceedings into Apple's rules for app developers on the distribution of apps via the App Store. In April 2021, the Commission sent Apple a Statement of Objections to which Apple responded in September 2021.

The Commission issued an initial "statement of objections" against Apple in 2021, laying out the possible breaches of antitrust law.


"The Commission takes the preliminary view that Apple's anti-steering obligations are unfair trading conditions in breach of Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union ('TFEU')," according to the latest statement of objections.

"In particular, the Commission is concerned that the anti-steering obligations imposed by Apple on music streaming app developers prevent those developers from informing consumers about where and how to subscribe to streaming services at lower prices," it added.

This is not a final ruling, and it's now up to Apple to prepare its defense.