The EU Fines Apple $2 Billion for Antitrust, following a Lawsuit by Spotify

The EU Fines Apple $2 Billion for Antitrust, following a Lawsuit by Spotify
EU competition policy chief Margrethe Vestager said that Apple had “abused its dominant position in the market for the distribution of music streaming apps.”Give credit…Joel Hoslet/EPA, sourced from Shutterstock

Regulators in the European Union penalized Apple 1.8 billion euros ($1.95 billion) on Monday for impeding competing music streaming companies’ ability to compete. This is the harshest penalty to the tech behemoth in an ongoing dispute over its dominant position as the App Store’s gatekeeper.

The EU declared on Monday that it would punish Apple (AAPL), the US tech giant, for the first time for violating antitrust laws by keeping competitors like Spotify from informing iPhone consumers that they could subscribe to their services for less money outside of Apple’s app store.

The European Commission declared that Spotify’s 2019 complaint that Apple had stopped music-streaming providers from alerting customers to payment choices outside of its App Store set off the penalty.

Apple’s limitations, according to the competition authority of the European Union, constituted unfair trade conditions. Although it is a rather new defense in an antitrust case, the Dutch antitrust authorities employed it in a 2021 ruling against Apple in a lawsuit brought by dating app providers.

“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 could pay less if they subscribed outside of the app,” Vestager said.

The latest in a slew of laws and fines aimed at the App Store is the move taken by the European Commission, the executive part of the European Union. Apple mandates that applications utilize its in-app payment mechanism for purchases, which is the main cause of disagreements. Each transaction can result in a commission of up to 30%, which many developers consider to be exorbitant.

Authorities in South Korea and the Netherlands have enacted legislation or decrees compelling Apple to accept other payment providers, but Apple has mainly rejected these demands. Regulators in those nations are challenging the practice of permitting alternatives but imposing a 27 percent commission.

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