You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Apple Fires Back at Spotify in App Spat, Charging That Spotify Is Trying to ‘Circumvent’ Rules

Apple came out swinging against Spotify, releasing a letter Friday in which the tech giant said the streaming-music rival is seeking special treatment for its app that — as it currently exists — violates the terms of the iTunes App Store.

The letter, distributed to TechCrunch and other outlets, was sent by Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell to his counterpart at Spotify, Horacio Gutierrez. Apple’s response comes after Spotify publicized its displeasure over Apple’s rejection of the latest update to its app and alleging that Apple is trying to force the company to use Apple’s own billing system to sell subscriptions.

“We find it troubling that you are asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers, and are publicly resorting to rumors and half-truths about our service,” Sewell said the letter, dated July 1. “Spotify’s app was again rejected for attempting to circumvent in-app purchase rules, and not, as you claim, because Spotify was simply seeking to communicate with its customers.”

The current Spotify app “as far as I can see” is in violation of Apple’s App Store requirements, Sewell said, a seemingly implicit threat that the app could get booted if it doesn’t come into compliance.

At the heart of the dispute: Apple’s policy that requires app publishers like Spotify to pay 30% of the fees they charge for subscriptions purchased through Apple directly. According to Sewell, Spotify’s app submission on May 26 had removed the in-app payment feature and replaced it with a feature “clearly intended to circumvent Apple’s in-app purchase rules.” On June 10, Spotify submitted another version of the app, which had a signup feature directing users to enter their email instead of going through the Apple billing system.

Apple confirmed the authenticity of the letter but declined to comment further.

“Our guidelines help competition, not hurt it,” Sewell wrote in the letter, saying that the company treats apps from streaming-music competitors like Google Play Music, Pandora, Tidal and Amazon Music in the same way.

Asked for comment, Spotify directed reporters to a tweet by Jonathan Prince, head of communications and public policy, with a picture of the app’s signup screen and the comment, “This is what @Apple wants you to believe violates their rules. No offer, no purchase, no link to anywhere at all.”

Spotify has reached out to members of Congress in its fight with Apple on the App Store issue, and the Sweden-based company has complained that Apple is abusing its power to engage in anticompetitive behavior.

In the letter, Sewell said Apple was “disappointed with the public attacks” lobbed by Spotify in standoff. He also noted that the company recently introduced a new revenue split for subscriptions purchased through Apple under which the company will take 15% of fees after one year of paid service.

According to Apple, Spotify’s app has been downloaded more than 160 million times since it first launched in 2009.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Three Minute Film Lecture

    Hong Kong Protest Movement Gets Its Own Streaming Platform

    The team behind the award-winning controversial Hong Kong dystopian drama “Ten Years” has launched a new streaming platform focusing on short films about the ongoing protests that have gripped the city since June. Backed by Next Digital, which publishes Apple Daily and Next Magazine, Next Film is headed by Jevons Au, one of the co-directors [...]

  • Memories of the Alhambra

    South Korean Producer Studio Dragon Sets Partnership With Netflix

    Global streaming giant Netflix has struck a multi-year deal with Studio Dragon, a three-year old production company that has become one of the hottest content houses in Korea. The deal is described as a three-year strategic partnership, highlighted by a multi-year content production and distribution agreement, that begins from 2020. Studio Dragon’s parent company, CJ [...]

  • Google headquartersGoogle headquarters, Dublin, Ireland -

    Google Won't Allow Political Campaigns to Target Voters by Affiliation Anymore

    Google is tweaking its policy for political ads, which includes doing away with microtargeting by political affiliation or voting records. The search giant also announced Wednesday that it would clarify its advertising policy to make sure that political advertisers can’t make grossly misleading statements. “We’re limiting election ads audience targeting to the following general categories: [...]

  • Sonos Q4 Results: Revenue, Losses Grow,

    Sonos Acquires Voice Assistant Startup Snips for $37.5 Million

    Smart speaker maker Sonos is getting ready to take a more active role in voice control: Sonos announced the acquisition of Paris- and Tokyo-based voice assistant startup Snips Wednesday. Snips had been developing a platform to launch dedicated voice assistants for smart speakers and other devices. Sonos spent $37.5 million in cash on the startup, [...]

  • Ramin Arani - Vice Media

    Vice Hires Fidelity Veteran Ramin Arani as CFO (EXCLUSIVE)

    Vice Media Group appointed Ramin Arani, a 26-year veteran of Fidelity Investments and an early adviser to Vice, as its new chief financial officer. Arani, reporting to CEO Nancy Dubuc, will lead all financial and accounting functions for Vice Media Group. Following Vice Media Group’s recent acquisition of Refinery29, Arani will also work to unify [...]

  • Jim Cornette

    Jim Cornette Resigns From National Wrestling Alliance After 'Offensive' On-Air Statement

    Professional wrestling mainstay Jim Cornette has resigned his position with the National Wrestling Alliance. “Effective immediately: Jim Cornette has resigned from the National Wrestling Alliance,” the company said in a statement released Wednesday. “As an announcer on the November 19th edition of ‘NWA Power,’ Jim made remarks during a singles match between Nick Aldis and [...]

  • Sarah Silverman

    As TV Consumption Shifts, Streamers Struggle With How to Apply Programming Standards

    When she launched her ultimately short-lived Hulu talk show  “I Love You, America” in 2017, Sarah Silverman wanted to make a point. This wasn’t a traditional broadcast or cable talk show with content restrictions or language limits — and so she experimented with that freedom on her very first episode. “Because we can — we’re [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content