Apple Faces Extra EU Antitrust Charge Over Music Streaming – Report

Image credit: European Commission

European Commission is reportedly mulling an additional antitrust charge, amid its ongoing music streaming investigation of Apple

European Commission officials are reportedly considering filing an additional EU antitrust charge against Apple over music streaming.

Apple has been under investigation, ever since music streaming giant Spotify filed an official complaint against it in March 2019.

The central thrust of Spotify’s complaint is that Apple unfairly limits rivals to its own Apple Music streaming service, and the large fee that Apple charges for all purchases via its app store.

Music streaming

Spotify said at the time that Apple’s fee of 30 percent on all subscription fees through the App Store was “limiting choice and stifling innovation”.

In May 2021, the European Commission decided to charge Apple with violating antitrust rules over its App Store rules for music streaming services.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said at the time that Apple effectively has a “monopoly” on music services for Apple devices.

Now Reuters, citing a person familiar with the matter, has reported that Apple faces an additional EU antitrust charge in the coming weeks.

This is apparently a sign that EU enforcers are strengthening their case against the iPhone maker.

According to Reuters, extra charges set out in a so-called supplementary statement of objections are usually issued to companies when the EU competition enforcer has gathered new evidence or has modified some elements to boost its case.

The Commission declined to comment, Reuters reported.

Apple also had no immediate comment.

DMA rules

Apple launched its Music streaming service back in 2015, and it competes directly against the music streaming goliath that is Spotify, which was launched back in 2007 in Sweden.

The EU has been seeking to clamp down on big name tech firms in recent years.

Last month the European Union agreed the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which is one part of a long-awaited overhaul of regulations governing the tech space.

The DMA still needs formal approval, but it essentially seeks to stop big name tech firms such as Apple, Google and Meta from dominating digital markets.

However, the DMA will only likely to apply to companies such as Apple and Google from 2024, so in the meantime the EU is relying on its antitrust investigations to keep big tech practices in check.

Companies found breaching EU antitrust rules risk fines of as much as 10 percent of their global turnover, and orders to halt their anti-competitive practices.

In addition to the music streaming investigation, Apple is also being investigated over it’s practices in e-books.

Apple Pay is also in the EU antitrust crosshairs.