Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s top antitrust officer, said on Friday that Apple was violating competition law by charging app developers high commission fees and forbidding them from providing users with cheaper alternatives.
“Our preliminary conclusion is that Apple has abused its dominant position in the distribution of music streaming apps through its app store and has distorted competition in the music streaming markets,” she told reporters during a press conference.
The commission said in a statement on Friday that it wasObjections to the mandatory use of Apple’s in-app purchase system for streaming services. It is “also concerned that Apple is putting certain restrictions on app developers” preventing them from advising iPhone and iPad users of alternative purchase options.
This “robs users of cheaper music streaming options and distorts competition,” Vestager said in the statement.
Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify, praised the commission and said in a Twitter post: “Fairness is the key to competition.”
“We are one step closer to creating a level playing field that is so important to the entire European developer ecosystem,” he added.
The allegations are the latest in a series of high profile battles between the European Union and big tech companies that have resulted in heavy fines. Apple could eventually be fined up to 10% of its annual sales for breaking competition rules.
Apple said in a statement Friday that “the Commission’s argument on behalf of Spotify is the opposite of fair competition”.
“At the heart of this case is Spotify’s request to promote alternative offers for their iOS app, a practice that no business in the world allows. Here, too, they want to take full advantage of the App Store, but they shouldn’t think so have to pay, “it added.
Apple now has the opportunity to reply in writing to the commission and request a hearing. It usually takes years for the European Union to conduct and complete antitrust proceedings.
Europe has evolved into a police officer at the pace of big tech, repeatedly enforcing its rules and fines the leading American companies in the industry with heavy fines.
Last year, Apple appealed a landmark 2016 decision by the European Commission that Ireland owed € 13 billion ($ 14.9 billion) in taxes.
The second highest court in the European Union ruled that the Commission had not shown that the company had received illegal state aid from Ireland through favorable tax treaties. Vestager has appealed the decision.
– Hadas Gold contributed to this article.