EU slaps Apple with record fine for unfairly favoring its music service

Author: Editorial
event 06.03.2024.
Foto: Shutterstock

The European Union has issued its first-ever antitrust penalty against tech giant Apple in the amount of nearly $2 billion. The fine stems from accusations of Apple’s anti-competitive behavior, specifically related to its treatment of rival music streaming services like Spotify.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU responsible for antitrust enforcement, alleges that Apple engaged in unfair practices by restricting rival streaming services from informing users about alternative payment options available outside of iPhone apps. This, the Commission argues, gave Apple’s own music streaming service an unfair advantage in the market.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, condemned Apple’s actions, stating that they had “impacted millions of European consumers who were not able to make a free choice” in selecting their preferred music streaming subscription.

The fine, totaling €1.8 billion, marks the culmination of a years-long feud between Apple and Spotify over music streaming dominance. Swedish Spotify filed a complaint with the EU five years ago, triggering the investigation that led to the substantial penalty.

The EU’s decision comes amidst increasing scrutiny of Big Tech companies and their dominance in digital markets. The European Commission has been at the forefront of efforts to rein in tech giants, imposing significant fines on companies like Google and Meta for anti-competitive practices.

Apple, however, has pushed back against the Commission’s ruling, vowing to appeal the fine. The tech giant maintains that the decision lacks credible evidence of consumer harm and overlooks the competitive nature of the market.

The Commission’s investigation revealed that Apple not only charged a 30% commission on subscriptions through its App Store but also prohibited app developers from informing users about alternative payment options. This restriction, according to Vestager, left millions of European consumers unaware of cheaper subscription options available outside of Apple’s ecosystem.

The hefty fine comes just ahead of the implementation of new EU rules aimed at curbing the dominance of tech giants in digital markets. The Digital Markets Act (DMA), set to take effect this week, imposes stringent regulations on “gatekeeper” companies like Apple, Google, and Meta, with provisions designed to prevent anti-competitive behavior.

As Apple faces mounting pressure to comply with EU regulations, Vestager emphasized that the European Commission would closely monitor the tech giant’s adherence to the new rules. The EU’s actions signal a broader effort to foster competition and protect consumer choice in the digital marketplace.


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