Apple Fined $539M in EU Over Spotify In-App Tax Complaint

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Apple will have to pay €500 million (about $539 million) in the European Union for stifling competition to favor its own Apple Music on the iPhone, the Financial Times reports.

The decision comes after a complaint from Spotify in 2019 that Apple prevented rival music-streaming services from sharing cheaper alternatives to Apple Music on iOS. Doing so would allow companies such as Spotify to sell users subscriptions to their service that would not include Apple’s 30% fee on in-app transactions.

For several years, those who signed up for Spotify Premium and other apps via their iPhone paid more ($12.99 versus $9.99 per month for Spotify) to cover that 30% charge. Apple later reduced that to 15%, but only for small businesses.

Spotify eventually stopped accepting in-app Premium sign-ups, telling people to continue their subscriptions via Spotify’s website. But Sweden-based Spotify took its fight to the EU, which is usually more amenable to these types of complaints than regulators in the US. (Spotify reportedly has a sweetheart deal with Google to avoid the same fees on Google Play.)

The EU ultimately focused its investigation on Apple’s decision to prevent developers from linking out to their own subscription options within their app. Apple changed its policy on the links in 2022 after facing regulatory pressure in Japan.

At one point, the fine being considered was 10% of Apple’s annual global income, which would have been close to $40 billion, so $539 million is just a tad lower.

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