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Apple faces antitrust fine of more than 1.8 billion euros in Spotify affair

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BRUSSELS: Apple was hit with an EU antitrust fine of more than 1.8 billion euros ($1.95 billion), its first, on Monday for preventing Spotify and other music streaming services from ‘inform users of payment options outside of its App Store.

The European Commission’s decision was triggered by a 2019 complaint from Swedish music streaming service Spotify over the restriction and Apple’s 30% App Store fees.

The European Union’s competition authority said Apple’s restrictions constituted unfair trading conditions, a relatively new argument in an antitrust case and also used by the Dutch antitrust agency in a 2021 ruling against Apple in a case brought by dating app providers.

The European competition authority said it added an additional lump sum of 1.8 billion euros to the base amount for deterrent purposes for Apple and because a significant part of the damage caused by Apple’s behavior was not It wasn’t monetary. It was not specified what the base amount was.

“For a decade, Apple has abused its dominant position in the market for the distribution of music streaming applications through the App Store,” EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

“They did this by preventing developers from informing consumers about alternative and cheaper music services available outside the Apple ecosystem. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” he said. she declared.

Apple criticized the EU decision, saying it would challenge it in court.

“The decision was made despite the Commission’s failure to uncover any credible evidence of consumer harm and ignores the realities of a thriving, competitive and rapidly growing market,” the company said in a statement.

“The main supporter of this decision – and the biggest beneficiary – is Spotify, a company based in Stockholm, Sweden. Spotify owns the world’s largest music streaming app and has met with the European Commission more than 65 times over the past year. this investigation.” It said.

The Swedish company does not pay any commission to Apple because it sells its subscriptions on its website and not in the Apple App Store.

Vestager’s order for Apple to remove App Store restrictions echoes the same requirement under new EU tech rules known as the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which Apple must comply with on March 7.

Apple’s fine, however, represents about a quarter of the 8.25 billion euros in fines that the European regulator imposed on Alphabet’s Google in three cases over the previous decade.

Unlike the music streaming case, Apple is seeking to settle another EU antitrust investigation by proposing to open its tap-and-go mobile payment systems to competitors.

European regulators, who then sought feedback from competitors and users, will likely accept his offer without fining the company.

($1 = 0.9213 euros)

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