15th March 2019
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So, Apple have now posted their response to Spotifys long list of complaints against them.

It’s pretty huge, and they go against nearly every point they made. I’m hugely biased as I’m an Apple fan, but to me, everything they said makes a lot of sense.

Here are some of the sections that I found the most interesting:

What Spotify is demanding is something very different. After using the App Store for years to dramatically grow their business, Spotify seeks to keep all the benefits of the App Store ecosystem — including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store’s customers — without making any contributions to that marketplace. At the same time, they distribute the music you love while making ever-smaller contributions to the artists, musicians and songwriters who create it — even going so far as to take these creators to court.

That’s a dig at Spotify already, and they also go a bit further than their complaints, by mentioning their relationship with artists.

One thing that surprised me, was their response to Spotifys claims about Apple restricting them from platforms such as the HomePod or Apple Watch:

  • When we reached out to Spotify about Siri and AirPlay 2 support on several occasions, they’ve told us they’re working on it, and we stand ready to help them where we can.
  • Spotify is deeply integrated into platforms like CarPlay, and they have access to the same app development tools and resources that any other developer has.
  • We found Spotify’s claims about Apple Watch especially surprising. When Spotify submitted their Apple Watch app in September 2018, we reviewed and approved it with the same process and speed with which we would any other app. In fact, the Spotify Watch app is currently the No. 1 app in the Watch Music category.

That all sounds like Spotify have actually been working with Apple successfully already.

They then went into detail on the number of free apps in the App Store, how different apps make money while Apple not taking a cut (free, ad-supported, external subscriptions, and physical good sales). They turned this at Spotify by stating that only a small fraction of their subscriptions are going through their payment platform, and that their target is to reduce that to zero. So in effect, reducing their contribution to the platform to zero.

They end with a statement about what it means to music, and also how Apple’s approach is to help grow opportunities for artists, businesses, and every person with a big idea:

We share Spotify’s love of music and their vision of sharing it with the world. Where we differ is how you achieve that goal. Underneath the rhetoric, Spotify’s aim is to make more money off others’ work. And it’s not just the App Store that they’re trying to squeeze — it’s also artists, musicians and songwriters.

Just this week, Spotify sued music creators after a decision by the US Copyright Royalty Board required Spotify to increase its royalty payments. This isn’t just wrong, it represents a real, meaningful and damaging step backwards for the music industry.

Apple’s approach has always been to grow the pie. By creating new marketplaces, we can create more opportunities not just for our business, but for artists, creators, entrepreneurs and every “crazy one” with a big idea. That’s in our DNA, it’s the right model to grow the next big app ideas and, ultimately, it’s better for customers.

We’re proud of the work we’ve done to help Spotify build a successful business reaching hundreds of millions of music lovers, and we wish them continued success — after all, that was the whole point of creating the App Store in the first place.

This is going to be really interesting to watch play out. Especially the EU court case.

There is one thing that I agree with Spotify on, and that’s the 30% cut Apple take. But I wouldn’t class that as being anti-competitive, as it’s a rule for the entire App Store. I just want it to be lower.

In general, I’m against Spotify on this one. I was unsure on a few things after the complaint was published, on things like the App Store rejections, their claim that Apple dismissed their Apple Watch app proposals, and Apple apparently not letting them on the HomePod. Apple cleared a lot of this up. And while both sides of the argument will include biases, I feel that Apple have quashed a lot of Spotifys claims.

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