Apple agrees to pay out $25M to settle lawsuit over Family Sharing

Apple says it plans to appeal the historic €1.84 billion fine issued today by the European Commission over Apple’s anticompetitive practices in the streaming music market. In a newsroom post, Apple called out Spotify, a company based in Stockholm, Sweden as the “primary advocate” and “biggest beneficiary” of the EC’s decision — noting the streamer had a 56% share of the streaming music market in Europe.

The Cupertino-based tech giant had already aired its views on Spotify in the days leading up to the EC’s ruling, saying that Spotify’s complaint was about “trying to get limitless access to all of Apple’s tools without paying.”

Apple had also earlier shared various non-public details about Spotify’s business on Apple’s platforms by noting that the streamer accessed “thousands of Apple’s APIs across 60 frameworks;” that it tested its apps using Apple’s Testflight platform; that it had submitted over 420 versions of its app to Apple’s app review; and that its app had been downloaded re-downloaded or updated more than 119 billion times across Apple devices.

In its reaction today to the EC fine, Apple points to the scale of Spotify’s business, and that of the European digital music market as a whole — a market that as of last year encompasses nearly 160 million subscribers, up from 25 million in 2015.

Apple again stressed that Spotify pays Apple nothing in terms of App Store commissions because it sells its subscriptions only on Apple’s website. This goes to the heart of Spotify’s complaint — it wants to communicate with its customers about those subscriptions plus other promos and discounts from within its iOS app. Apple’s anti-steering rules for years largely prevented this, but Apple in 2022 introduced an exception for “reader apps,” like streamers, that allow apps to link their users to a website. However, Apple is still in charge of approving who can implement this exception as a means of controlling the situation, rather than just updating its rules to openly allow links.

Spotify did not take advantage of the reader app exception, Apple says, but rather wants to “wants to bend the rules in their favor by embedding subscription prices in their app, without using the App Store’s In-App Purchase system,” its announcement states.

“They want to use Apple’s tools and technologies, distribute on the App Store, and benefit from the trust we’ve built with users — and to pay Apple nothing for it,” Apple says. “In short, Spotify wants more.”

Apple says that while it respects the European Commission, the facts don’t support the decision, and ” as a result, Apple will appeal.”

“Every day, teams at Apple work to keep that dream alive,” Apple wrote. “We do it by making the App Store the safest and best experience for our users. We do it by giving developers the means to make incredible apps. Most of all, we do it because apps have an incredible capacity to drive innovations that empower people and enrich their lives.”

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