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Spotify and Deezer back call to regulate app store owners

By | Published on Monday 8 May 2017

Spotify

Spotify and Deezer were among the companies to sign a letter to the European Commission last week complaining about what they see as an abuse of power by the likes of Apple and Google in relation to their respective mobile operating systems and app stores.

Although the letter didn’t mention Apple or Google by name, according to the Financial Times it did talk about the operators of certain mobile operating systems, app stores and search engines abusing their “privileged position” to the detriment of smaller companies which rely on those channels to reach their customers.

Complaints commonly raised by app operators about the two big app stores include not being able to access key consumer data when people sign up to their services within an app, and the app store owners giving preferential treatment to their own products.

Spotify has hit out at Apple in particular in the past, especially since the tech giant launched its rival music service. If people sign up to Spotify via its iOS app, Apple charges a fee which the streaming firm has to pass on to the consumer because of its tight profit margins. But Apple rules mean that Spotify can’t make it clear to the consumer that if they were to sign up via the streaming company’s own website, they’d not have to pay the extra fee and their subscription would be cheaper. This means that – to anyone reviewing their streaming music options within the Apple app store – Apple Music appears cheaper than its rivals.

The European Commission is already considering measures to help smaller businesses which claim they are disadvantaged by unfair contractual clauses forced on them by the tech and web giants. Those smaller businesses argue that, while they could take their grievances to court and sue Apple or Google for allegedly violating European competition law, such litigation is costly and time-consuming, and therefore often not a realistic option.

According to the FT, solutions being considered by EU officials include sector-specific codes of conduct and an independent dispute settlement body that could consider and settle disputes between big platforms and their smaller business customers in a more speedy and cost efficient way.

Neither Google or Apple have commented on last week’s letter.



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