Apple to be fined over $500 million under EU antitrust law

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Apple will reportedly have to pay around €500 million (about $539 million USD) in the EU for stifling competition against Apple Music on the iPhone. Financial Times reported this morning that the fine comes after regulators in Brussels, Belgium investigated a Spotify complaint that Apple prevented apps from telling users about cheaper alternatives to Apple’s music service.

The issue comes down to Apple’s efforts to keep apps and users corraled inside its App Store payments system. Spotify complained in 2019 that Apple’s policies muted competition against Apple Music, kicking off an EU investigation the next year. The EU whittled its objections down to oppose Apple’s refusal to let developers even link out to their own subscription sign-ups within their apps — a policy that Apple changed in 2022 following regulatory pressure in Japan.

$500 million may sound like a lot, but a much bigger fine of close to $40 billion (or 10 percent of Apple’s annual global turnover) was on the table when the EU updated its objections last year. Apple was charged over a billion dollars in 2020, but French authorities dropped that to about $366 million after the company appealed.

Apple representative Emma Wilson told The Verge via email that the company is “not commenting on speculation” and referred us to previous statements made by another Apple spokesperson, Hannah Smith, who said in February last year that the company hoped the Commission would stop pursuing the case, which Smith said “has no merit.” European Commission spokesperson Lea Zuber declined to comment.

Spotify did not respond by press time.

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