Apple is set for another showdown with European Union antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, as she escalates a probe into anti-competitive behavior of Apple within the music streaming space.
This comes some four years after Vestager ordered Apple to pay billions of dollars in back taxes.
In a statement to journalists in Brussels, The EU Antitrust Chief noted that Apple broke local laws by distorting competition in the music streaming market and is also abusing its dominant position in the segment through its App Store in favor of Apple Music.
The said abuse was contained in a complaint by global music streaming platform, Spotify, which triggered investigations two years ago.
Per the complaint from Spotify, Apple is said to be putting stumbling blocks in the way of the distribution of other music streaming apps in the Apple Store, in order to drive its own streaming app, Apple Music.
The European Commission (EC) said it had sent objections to Apple over its practices related to the distribution of music streaming apps.
It highlighted the mandatory use of Apple’s purchase mechanism in the App Store, noting it had concerns the US company placed certain restrictions on app developers, which prevented them from informing iPhone and iPad users “of alternative, cheaper purchasing possibilities”.
The EC also cited Apple’s 30 per cent commission rate and requirements for developers to adhere to strict rules to access the App Store.
But Apple argued the 30 per cent commission rate is part of factors designed to ensure quality.
“With Apple Music, Apple also competes with music streaming providers. By setting strict rules on the app store that disadvantage competing music streaming services, Apple deprives users of cheaper music streaming choices and distorts competition,” Vestager said.
With the EC formally charging Apple, the case could now go to court, although an appeal by the company is likely and would hold up proceedings.
Reports say this was the first time EU regulators have formally charged Apple.
Meanwhile, apart from Spotify, US games developer Epic Games is another avowed critic of Apple’s App Store rules, which disadvantage more affordable alternatives to Apple’s own apps .