The European Commission updated its antitrust case against Apple on Tuesday, sending the tech giant a new statement of objections that clarified its concerns about App Store rules for music streaming providers.
According to the Commission, Apple violated antitrust laws by preventing rival music companies like Spotify from advertising where and how users could subscribe to their apps.
Apple abused its dominant position, according to the statement of objections, by imposing its own in-app purchase payment technology on music streaming app developers and limiting 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 filed its first complaint against Apple in 2019. In June 2020, the Commission launched formal proceedings into Apple’s App Store distribution rules for app developers. The Commission issued a Statement of Objections to Apple in April 2021, to which Apple responded in September 2021.
In 2021, the Commission issued an initial “statement of objections” against Apple, outlining potential antitrust violations.
“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 decision, and Apple must now prepare its defence.