EU imposes a record €1.8B antitrust fine on Apple in Spotify dispute

The European Union has imposed a record antitrust fine of more than €1.8 billion ($1.95 billion) on Apple, marking the company's first such penalty.

Publication: 04.03.2024 - 16:10
EU imposes a record €1.8B antitrust fine on Apple in Spotify dispute
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This decision stems from Apple's practice of preventing Spotify and other music streaming services from directing users to payment options outside its App Store. The European Commission's action follows a 2019 complaint from Spotify, which challenged both this restriction and Apple's 30% fee on App Store transactions.

The EU's competition authority labeled Apple's restrictions as unfair trading conditions, a novel approach in antitrust litigation, echoing a similar stance taken by the Dutch antitrust agency in 2021 related to a case involving dating app providers. The Commission added a significant penalty to deter Apple and address the non-monetary damage caused by its actions, though it did not disclose the base amount of the fine.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU's antitrust chief, criticized Apple for abusing its market dominance in distributing music streaming apps via the App Store for a decade. She highlighted that Apple illegally restricted developers from informing customers about alternative, more affordable music services outside the Apple ecosystem.

Apple has contested the EU's decision, planning to appeal and arguing that the Commission failed to find any credible evidence of consumer harm. The company emphasized the competitive and rapidly growing market, pointing out that Spotify, the main beneficiary of this decision, has engaged with the European Commission numerous times during the investigation. Apple also noted that Spotify does not pay any commission to Apple since it sells its subscriptions through its website, not the App Store.

This ruling aligns with the forthcoming requirements of the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA), which mandates Apple to eliminate such App Store restrictions by March 7. The fine represents a fraction of the €8.25 billion in penalties that the EU previously levied against Google in three separate cases. Apple is concurrently aiming to settle another EU antitrust probe by proposing to open its mobile payment system to competitors, a move likely to be accepted by the EU without additional fines.

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