A huge legal war is brewing between Apple and Spotify, all based around how Apple controls developers who use the Apple App Store to distribute their apps.
Spotify kicked off proceedings by publicly accusing Apple of trying to freeze them out of the music app market. They claim that Apple have blocked their latest app update until they agree to Apple’s own billing system. By doing so, Spotify say, Apple are hoping to remove Spotify from the competition to make way for their own Apple Music service.
On the surface, it sounds as though Apple’s app verification process is rather strict and unfair. With Apple Music being so recent and Spotify being so established, having been set up 2006, it’s easy to believe that Apple are trying to remove the competition to give their own product a chance.
However, Apple say that this isn’t the case. The Next Web reports that in fact, Apple is being far too lenient with Spotify. They outline Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, pointing out that if a company wants to put an app on the store, they have to agree that features are unlocked by using Apple’s in app purchases system. Furthermore, users are banned from using any methods that would take app users away from Apple in order to pay, such as buttons or external links. It seems that the rules are very clear, and that Spotify are apparently in breach of them.
At time of writing, it seems as though this issue is going to go to court, with top senators in Washington even getting involved and commenting on the case.
We can see where both sides are coming from. Spotify have clearly never been happy with the way Apple does business, and are annoyed with what seems like one more constriction on the way they market their app. With Apple now having their own competing app, surely this is a conflict of interest?
On the other hand, the rules are very clearly laid out in Apple’s guidelines. It’s very likely that Spotify knew this when they began putting together the update for their app, but carried on anyway and are now annoyed that Apple are upholding their own rules.
No matter who’s in the right, it’s easy to see why it’s become such a huge issue. Anyone creating an app knows that Apple has one of the single largest market shares out there. If you want to get noticed, you need to be on the Apple App Store. However, with the company taking so much of the profit share and the rules being arguably so restrictive, how much are up and coming developers going to put up with?
If this does end up going to court, we’ll be interested to see who wins and how the app industry will be affected by the outcome. Will Apple be convinced to loosen their grip on their marketplace slightly, or will Spotify be made to toe the line?