Why are spotify and apple fighting...again.

Oct 30, 2022

Spotify and Apple recently got into a pickle. Spotify has enabled an all-out attack, by saying that Apple has forced it into a tough spot by purposefully delivering bad user experience and would do nothing to rectify that behaviour. Unless of course, the company decides to pay a handy commission (30%) to the app store on all sales made from Spotify. Apple in response claimed that Spotify is trying to skirt the legal guidelines of the App Store rules by directing customers to purchase audiobooks outside of the app, although the same initially was agreed upon. Let’s take a dive into this model and understand why Apple might be in the wrong for this.

Spotify has promised it’s users a super-easy and exciting interface, but the problem with providing the same for iOS users is Apple’s stance on the purchases made in the app. Apple wants all transactions to be made via its built-in iOS purchasing system, and not via a particular app’s or brand’s. This is also not the first time something like this has occurred as a similar situation with Epic Games, the makers of the incredibly popular game Fortnite that is no longer available on the App Store after being banned for allowing purchases that side-stepped Apple purchasing policies.

In short, Spotify doesn’t feel the need to pay the 30% commission on all sales to Apple, as it would inculcate making the audiobook business much less profitable, and forced to adopt a convoluted, difficult process for audiobook purchases. In fact, it’s tried three times to redesign the process, the company says, but Apple has rejected the app for breaking App Store guidelines.

We have compiled a list of 8 pointers listing out where Spotify believes the problems with Apple lie:

  • Not being able to make a sale without Apple’s in-house purchase technology.

  • Not being allowed to explain to consumers why they can’t purchase audiobooks directly from the app.

  • Not being allowed to provide consumers with the information of where they can get their audiobooks.

  • Not being allowed to share a link to send customers to a website to buy the audiobook.

  • Being unable to send people an email with purchase information outside of the App Store.

  • Being unable to communicate with their consumers about an audiobook via an email.

  • Being unable to let the customers the cost of the audiobook either in their app or in an email.

  • Not being allowed to direct people on how to navigate a non-Apple purchase process.

That’s a blockage too many, the most senseless and futile is perhaps, is not allowing Spotify to send an email via its own mail servers to its own customers, a process that doesn’t concern Apple at all. In a statement released by Spotify recently it stated, “Basically, Apple rules mandate a cumbersome Audiobooks purchasing process that makes it harder for you to find your next favourite author or book. Apple doesn’t just make the rules. They also arbitrarily change them to favour their own services and punish app developers who choose not to implement in-app purchases (IAP). And in this case that means audiobook listeners as well as authors and publishers bear the brunt, too.”

The reality of this situation is however sooner or later, competition authorities will most likely force Apple to open in-app purchases. In Europe, that’s via the new Digital Markets Act, which will likely require significant changes in both the App Store and Google Play, thereby allowing Spotify to continue with its model of providing audiobooks in an affordable and easy way.