Spotify CEO Calls Apple’s App Store Changes “Extortion, Plain and Simple”

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek pulled no punches in response to Apple’s announced App Store changes for the EU market. In a lengthy Twitter thread, Ek accused Apple of distorting the EU’s Digital Markets Act and creating a “masterclass in distortion” with its misleading plan, (Apple Overhauls iOS, App Store, and Safari for EU Users to Satisfy Regulators).

Ek expressed skepticism of Apple’s intentions to comply given years of App Store abuse. He sees the changes as an attempt to skirt regulations rather than sincerely adapt. In Ek’s view, Apple is an “old, dominant company” that believes rules don’t apply to them.

Specifically, Ek argues the alternative payment option Apple proposed is no real alternative. It could lead to even higher fees in some cases, becoming almost an “astronomical tax” on free apps with large EU user bases.

As an example, Ek claims a popular free app with 100+ million EU users could incur “tens to hundreds of millions” in annual Apple fees under the new terms. This makes alternate app stores unviable if major apps aren’t present.

For Spotify itself, Ek warns its EU Apple install base of around 100 million could see tenfold increases in customer acquisition costs. This “tax” applies whether users are active subscribers or not.

Faced with such high potential fees, Ek says Spotify’s only option is sticking with the status quo 30% commission model to remain profitable. Ironically, this is precisely what Spotify has fought against for years.

In Ek’s view, Apple is using classic monopolistic tactics by threatening consequences for disrupting its “toll-booth operation.” He believes the message is clear – comply, or Apple will make companies regret resisting.

While praising Apple’s design ethos and products, Ek argues the company has turned its back on true innovation and principles. In his opinion, Apple is clinging to its monopoly under a “mask”, directly violating the spirit of the EU’s Digital Markets Act.

Ek concluded by urging the EU to recognize Apple’s announcement for what he sees it as – an attempt to undermine regulatory efforts and continue exerting unfair control. With brands like Spotify stuck in untenable positions, Ek hopes the EU stands firm against Apple’s “extortion, plain and simple.”

The fiery thread underscores ongoing tensions between Apple and developers despite the App Store changes. Ek clearly feels Apple is still leveraging its monopoly power rather than embracing fair competition. How this war of words impacts further negotiations around App Store reform remains to be seen.

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Max Hyland
Max Hyland
Long form contributor Apple iPhone, iPad, watch reviews, opinion, editorial

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