Apple hit with $2 billion EU antitrust fine in Spotify case ( www.theguardian.com )

  • Apple has been fined €1.8bn ($2bn) by the EU after an investigation found it had limited competition from music streaming services such as Spotify.

  • The European competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said a smaller fine would have been nothing more than the equivalent of a parking fine and the €1.8bn was designed to act as a deterrent against a repetition of such practices by Apple or others.

  • “Apple’s rules ended up harming consumers. Critical information was withheld so that consumers could not effectively use or make informed choices. Some consumers may have paid more because they weren’t aware that they can pay less if they subscribed outside of the app,” Vestager said.

  • Vestager said consumers may have paid two or three euros a month more for music streaming because of the lack of open competition. However, she conceded that the fine would not be distributed to customers who had been allegedly exploited but to individual member states.

  • She said the fine represented 0.5% of Apple’s global turnover.

cheese_greater ,

While we're on the subject, other Music apps (like iTunes or the old iPod app replacements) need to be able to become default music handling apps and totally default away from their dogshit AppleMusic app that takes every opportunity to let you know they prioritize subscribers and you're up against the current.

TheGiantKorean , (edited )
@TheGiantKorean@lemmy.world avatar

The European competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said a smaller fine would have been nothing more than the equivalent of a parking fine and the €1.8bn was designed to act as a deterrent against a repetition of such practices by Apple or others.

Still a drop in the bucket for them (that sounds crazy just saying that) but def a step in the right direction.

abhibeckert ,

Still a drop in the bucket for them

It's really not - this is something like two years of revenue for Apple Music in Europe.

Spotify is free to sue Apple in every other jurisdiction around the world. Imagine if Spotify wins the same amount of money in a couple hundred more countries? Anti-competition law is largely the same everywhere in the world and Apple has the same business practices everywhere, so Apple would lose the same lawsuit elsewhere. It could easily end up with hundreds of billions in damages and why wouldn't Spotify sue Apple in every country?

I bet Spotify and Apple are working as we speak to settle this dispute out of court with a settlement that applies globally — this one is only for the EU.

Kazumara ,

in a couple hundred more countries

There are only around 195 countries in the first place and the EU represents 27 of them. So I'm afraid there isn't a couple hundred more available to fine Apple.

ma11en ,

How much goes to those that were affected?

A big fat 0!

Johandea ,

That depends on how you define who's affected. The fine is part of EUs budget and the fees paid by member states will be reduced by the same amount for next years budget. Every* member of the EU profits from this. And since anti competitive behaviour affects the entire market, the involved parties got compensated.

*Except perhaps apple users... And one might argue they're the ones affected. But it's also self-inflicted.

lurch ,

EU not messing around no more

Ghostalmedia ,
@Ghostalmedia@lemmy.world avatar

Apple: If the App Store helps your app facilitate a sale, we should get a cut.

Developers: Makes sense. So, if I don’t want to pay your finder’s fee, I have to let people download my app from my site?

Apple: Doing that isn’t secure. If you want people to download your app, you have to use our App Store, or an App Store that we’ve blessed.

Developers: Ok, so I avoid paying you if I use a different App Store?

Apple: 3rd party app stores must pay us a commission.

CaptainEffort , (edited )
@CaptainEffort@sh.itjust.works avatar

Developers: I don’t find your rules worth access to your user base. Luckily I have the option to release my app on other stores on Android, so I’ll simply do that.

Ghostalmedia ,
@Ghostalmedia@lemmy.world avatar

Developer here.

I usually need to develop for iOS in North America, the UK, Japan, or any other country where iOS holds a bigger slice of the pie.

And even when I do release in the EU, where Android is king, the money that iOS users spend can be too tempting to ignore. They might be 1/3 of the users, but they might also spend more.

I say this as someone who has released a lot of e-commerce apps all over the globe and is close to the sales data.

derpgon ,

Top 20% generate 80% of the total revenue. High chance those 80% buy iPhones because they are more expensive and money is not a problem for them.

Ye, fuck that company. Great software (except the part about being locked in) backed by a greedy corpo.

abhibeckert ,

Developers: I don’t find your rules worth access to your user base

What are you talking about? You really think Spotify is going to cancel their iPhone app? That's never going to happen.

Small developers can be android only (I'd even argue they should, since they don't have the resources to spread their engineering across multiple platforms). But no large established developer will limit their customer base to just Android users.

maynarkh ,

So the question really is, does the user base belong to Apple just because they bought an Apple product?

If it was a car, would it be reasonable for Ford to demand a revenue share just because someone manufactures "compatible" tyres?

How is Apple different that it deserves having an "ecosystem"?

CaptainEffort , (edited )
@CaptainEffort@sh.itjust.works avatar

Apple’s ecosystem isn’t unique, take Cosco or Sam’s Club for example. If you want access to their “user base” then you’ll need to follow their rules and accept that they’ll be taking a bigger cut than other markets. You can choose to sell elsewhere, but that’s the price for access to their customers.

And as for your Ford example, that’s hardly a crazy concept. Plenty of manufacturers have to pay a premium to manufacture parts for certain companies.

maynarkh ,

Yeah, but I imagine Costco or Sam's Club don't manufacture products that then can't be used together with products made somewhere else, do they?

I'm not saying Apple is out of line because of charging for putting stuff in their app store, I'm saying Apple is out of line because they don't let other people develop software compatible with their products and sell it without taking a cut.

It's as if I was manufacturing trailers, and had to pay Ford a 30% cut just because it can be hitched to a Ford. Even John Deere isn't as egregious, because while they are as bad with regard to repairing stuff, even they don't want to take a cut of every hoe and plow that can be hitched on their stuff.

By the way, this is how you know Apple is monopolistic; in a competitive market standards and interoperability increase your revenue, since if there is competition, and they adhere to standards, you become a worse option and uncompetitive. Only monopolistic companies profit off of walled gardens. Competition kills them.

CaptainEffort ,
@CaptainEffort@sh.itjust.works avatar

Yeah, but I imagine Costco or Sam's Club don't manufacture products that then can't be used together with products made somewhere else, do they?

This is an entirely different argument about whether companies should be allowed to make their products proprietary and only work with stuff sold by them, which btw is also common outside of Apple.

This discussion is about whether or not Apple has the right to enforce certain rules and demand a bigger cut from those who want to use their market place, and as we’ve gone over plenty of other markets do this as well. Apple isn’t unique here.

I'm saying Apple is out of line because they don't let other people develop software compatible with their products and sell it without taking a cut.

Is Sony out of line because they won’t let you put your games on their marketplace and sell it without taking a cut? Nintendo? Microsoft?

Hell, even ignoring Costco and Sam’s Club, nearly any market you decide to sell your product in will be taking a cut, some more than others. This isn’t a new concept - if you want access to a company’s “user base” then you’re going to have to give the company a cut.

It's as if I was manufacturing trailers, and had to pay Ford a 30% cut just because it can be hitched to a Ford.

Not quite, as the ability to hitch your trailer to a car, luckily, isn’t proprietary and works the same across the board. If instead you wanted your trailers to make use of a proprietary feature of Ford’s then yes, you’d have to pay a premium. Whether that’s parody with their OS throughout the trailer, or some other feature that’s specifically theirs, you don’t get access to that for nothing.

A better analogy though, as we’re talking about markets, is if you wanted to sell your trailers on Ford’s car lots. Yes, you alone manufactured these trailers, but if you want to sell them on Ford’s lots, to their clients, then you’re going to have to pay a premium.

By the way, this is how you know Apple is monopolistic; in a competitive market standards…

But you’re not talking about Apple here, you’re talking about the App Store. Apple itself isn’t a monopoly, as it quite literally has direct competitors. While the App Store is a “monopoly” in the same way that the PlayStation Store is a monopoly.

maynarkh ,

This discussion is about whether or not Apple has the right to enforce certain rules and demand a bigger cut from those who want to use their market place, and as we’ve gone over plenty of other markets do this as well. Apple isn’t unique here.

The tech company disadvantaged users by restricting app developers from openly promoting cheaper music subscription services available outside the Apple “ecosystem” , the commission found.

The problem is not that they ask money for advertising on their platform. The problem is that they banned "trailer sellers" from advertising their trailers as purchasable "outside of the car dealership".

Hell, even ignoring Costco and Sam’s Club, nearly any market you decide to sell your product in will be taking a cut, some more than others. This isn’t a new concept - if you want access to a company’s “user base” then you’re going to have to give the company a cut.

The main disagreement here I think is that the EU does not accept Apple as the owner of the iPhone app market. iPhone users don't belong to Apple as customers beyond their device, and are free to buy iPhone-complementary products elsewhere.

And the point with this ruling, other companies are free to advertise that you can buy stuff elsewhere, which Apple didn't let them before.

Not quite, as the ability to hitch your trailer to a car, luckily, isn’t proprietary and works the same across the board. If instead you wanted your trailers to make use of a proprietary feature of Ford’s then yes, you’d have to pay a premium. Whether that’s parody with their OS throughout the trailer, or some other feature that’s specifically theirs, you don’t get access to that for nothing.

That's what I'm saying, cars are a competitive market, because if your car has some "proprietary feature" that only lets some trailers be usable with it, the market will react to it as if your car could not tow trailers. While with the iPhone, it's on the trailers to beg for compatibility. That's the point with these rulings, in a healthy market, everyone having access to Apple's interfaces would be good for Apple. For cars specifically, it's usually the manufacturer who has to license the standard, not the other way around. And that holds true to most tech standards, like HDMI for example. Somehow phone OS APIs seem to be an exception. Wonder why that might be.

Apple itself isn’t a monopoly

I didn't say "Apple is a monopoly", I've said Apple is behaving monopolistically, as in against the ideal of a competitive market. And the EU agrees, hence the fine. What you or I or Apple thinks does not really matter, what matters is what the EU thinks, because the European mobile app market belongs to the EU, and Apple is participating at the EU's pleasure.

pineapplelover ,

Also if you're a developer they won't let you develop unless you own their apple device.

BorgDrone ,

Which is a complete non-issue.

0xD ,

lol

BorgDrone ,

Why do you consider it an issue?

Let me put it this way: if the costs of buying a Mac is too much, you certainly can’t afford the developer that needs to use that Mac. The cost of the hardware is such a tiny part of the total cost of developing an app that it’s laughable to consider it a major obstacle.

0xD ,

It's a completely arbitrary and unnecessary bullshit hoop Apple makes you jump through to spend money on their crap.

Furthermore, development is not the only existing field. Security research is actively hindered and made harder because Apple is a greedy snowflake.

BorgDrone ,

What is arbitrary about it? Porting the iOS developer tools to Windows would be an enormous amount of work with little benefit.

Developer time is expensive, hardware is cheap.

PrivateNoob ,
@PrivateNoob@sopuli.xyz avatar

1.8 billion fine and that's only 0.5% of Apple's yearly revenue. That's insane.

ObviouslyNotBanana , (edited )
@ObviouslyNotBanana@lemmy.world avatar

Their writeup that they published makes them sound very petty and hurt however.

lud ,

Fucking hell, that's reads like they are a kid at a playground that took all the toys and is mad that a parent forced them to share some toys with the other kids.

It's extremely embarrassing that a company of their size acts like this. Grow up.

CaptainEffort ,
@CaptainEffort@sh.itjust.works avatar

Honestly tho… it seems like they have a point. It isn’t just blind ranting, there’s a lot of truth here.

And I say that as someone that doesn’t even particularly like Apple, I use Windows and prefer Android.

nialv7 ,

Well they have successfully gas lit you

FilthyHookerSpit ,

Yeah, for a second I was "fuck apple" but what they wrote in there does make sense. Now, I'm still "fuck apple" but I am also "fuck Spotify too".

hamsterkill ,

Which point would that be?

Giooschi ,

They do kinda have a point against Spotify but they conveniently omit the fact that Apple Music, their own music app, competes against Spotify without those restrictions that Spotify wants to remove.

autotldr Bot ,

This is the best summary I could come up with:


The fine is nearly four times higher than expected as the European Commission attempts to show it will act decisively on tech companies who abuse their dominant position in the market for online services.

“Apple’s conduct, which lasted for almost 10 years, may have led many iOS users to pay significantly higher prices for music streaming subscriptions,” the European Commission said in a statement.

The tech company disadvantaged users by restricting app developers from openly promoting cheaper music subscription services available outside the Apple “ecosystem” , the commission found.

Responding to the fine, Apple said: “The decision was reached despite the commission’s failure to uncover any credible evidence of consumer harm, and ignores the realities of a market that is thriving, competitive, and growing fast.

“Today, Spotify has a 56% share of Europe’s music streaming market – more than double their closest competitor’s – and pays Apple nothing for the services that have helped make them one of the most recognisable brands in the world.

Max von Thun, the Europe director of the Open Markets Institute, which researches the impact of corporate monopolies, said the large fine “sets a positive precedent which the EU would do well to draw on in future enforcement actions against tech giants”.


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