Spotify says its big iPhone update with new subscription options is being blocked by Apple in the EU


There's more bad blood between Spotify and Apple than you'd find in a Taylor Swift song, and in the latest instalment of the best music streaming service's battle, Spotify is accusing Apple of yet more bad behavior. Despite Apple incurring a whopping $2 billion fine from European regulators over its restrictions on third party streaming apps, Spotify says that Apple is still seeking to "circumvent and/or not comply with the Commission's decision".

According to The Verge, Spotify's anger is over its latest app update, which it submitted to Apple on March 5 and has still not been approved. The update includes changes that Spotify says the EU allows it to make, so it includes direct links to Spotify's website and information on pricing options that don't require customers to use Apple's payment system.

Apple's own submission to the EU, in which it's appealing the latest decision, included a bit of an own goal. While it's now ten days since Spotify submitted its app without a response, Apple told the EU that "our app review team has reviewed and approved 421 versions of the Spotify app – usually with same-day turnaround".

So what's going on?

War! Huh! What is it good for?

According to Spotify, Apple is deliberately delaying approving the app – and that delay is flying in the face of the EU ruling. For the streamer, "Spotify is concerned that Apple’s delay is intentional and is aimed at delaying or avoiding compliance altogether", it reportedly wrote in an email to the European Commission. The Verge asked Apple for a response and so far they haven't replied.

It's important to look at this in the wider context of the four-year legal battle between the two firms. Spotify isn't calling the manager because it thinks Apple is being slow, it's strongly hinting that Apple is using a tactic of malicious compliance. That's when you stick with the letter but not the spirit of legislation. For example, by responding to a ruling telling you to stop demanding a 30% cut via your App Store by demanding up to a 27% cut of non-App Store sales instead. Or when app updates that normally get processed the same day suddenly start taking 10 days and counting.

This particular battle isn't the same one that's compelling Apple to allow side-loading of iOS apps in Europe, but it is part of the same war, a war that's also being waged between Apple and Electronic Arts. Apple wants to retain a walled garden and take a large cut of the revenues from the apps in it, while the app creators would really rather Apple didn’t – and so far it seems that the EU is very much on the developers' side, not Apple's.

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