Monday, December 4, 2023

Spotify accuses Apple of stifling competitors over audiobooks sales

Spotify has accused Apple of engaging in “anti-competitive” behaviour by blocking its audiobook purchasing system and making it hard to sell audiobooks.

• October 28, 2022

Streaming platform Spotify has accused Apple of engaging in “anti-competitive” behaviour by blocking its audiobook purchasing system and making it hard to sell audiobooks. 

On Tuesday, the company said Apple was “choking competition.”

“Apple continues to stand in the way of Spotify’s and other developers’ abilities to provide a seamless user experience, and its restrictions hurt both creators and consumers alike,” Spotify said. “Spotify’s recent launch of Audiobooks in the U.S. is the perfect example of just how far Apple will go to disadvantage competitors.” 

Last month, Spotify launched 300,000 audiobooks but said Apple had rejected its audiobook purchasing system thrice due to a violation of its rules. To comply, Spotify had to conceal the prices of the audiobooks and carry out sales outside of the main app via an email link.

“(This) harms not only consumers, but, this time, also authors and publishers who now find themselves under Apple’s thumb,” the streaming platform said.

Apple told The New York Times that Spotify’s audiobooks could have readily been accepted if the company followed the App Store rules. 

“We provided them with clear guidance on how to resolve the issue and approved their app after they made changes that brought it into compliance,” an Apple spokesperson said.

Through the App Store’s purchasing system, Apple would take a 30 per cent cut on all sales, placing Spotify’s audiobooks at a considerable disadvantage against Apple Books. 

“With our audiobooks launch, Apple has once again proven just how brazen it is willing to be with its App Store rules, constantly shifting the goalposts to disadvantage their competitors,” said Spotify CEO Daniel Ek.

Spotify intended to let customers know an audiobook was for sale and email them a link to buy it from the web. Still, Apple rejected two proposed fixes before finally allowing the Spotify app on the App Store.

In September 2021, Apple told developers that it would allow “reader” apps to provide an in-app link to set up or manage accounts off-site.

This is not the first time Spotify has called out Apple. In 2019, It filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in Europe, claiming the company is harming consumer choice by imposing its 30 per cent “Apple tax.”

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