EU fines Apple €1.8 billion for music streaming competition violations

Apple has incurred a €1.8 billion fine from the European Union (EU) for violating competition laws in the realm of music streaming. The European Commission found that Apple, over a decade, had prevented streaming services from communicating payment alternatives outside its app store.

Margrethe Vestager, the competition commissioner, accused Apple of exploiting its dominant market position and directed the removal of all imposed restrictions. Apple, however, declared its intention to appeal the decision, asserting the absence of evidence showcasing consumer harm.

The EU investigation was prompted by a complaint from Spotify, a Swedish music streaming service, dissatisfied with both the restrictions and Apple’s 30% fee. Vestager highlighted Apple’s infringement by limiting developers from informing users about alternative, cost-effective music services beyond the Apple ecosystem, deeming it illegal under EU antitrust regulations.

In response, Apple defended its position, emphasizing the Commission’s failure to uncover credible evidence of consumer harm and portraying the music streaming market as vibrant and competitive.

Notably, Spotify hailed the fine as a significant moment, emphasizing the message that even a monopoly like Apple cannot wield power abusively. The ongoing legal landscape includes Apple’s planned appeal, Spotify’s accusations that the restrictions favor its rival, Apple Music, and the broader context of the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The DMA, aimed at fostering competition in the technology sector, necessitates compliance from major tech players or potential fines of up to 10% of their annual turnover.

Industry experts predict a substantial impact on designated platforms within the EU, emphasizing the DMA as an effective yet blunt tool against digital market concentration. The current scenario sees tech giants like Apple, Meta, and TikTok navigating compliance with evolving regulations, with potential ramifications for their market influence.