Music

Group Backed by Spotify, Deezer Praises DOJ’s Antitrust Lawsuit Against Apple

A group of companies representing Spotify, Deezer, Epic Games and others, applauded the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust lawsuit filed against Apple on Thursday (March 21), calling it a “strong stand against Apple’s stranglehold” on mobile apps.

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“[Apple] stifles competition and hurts American consumers and developers alike,” Rick VanMeter, executive director for The Coalition for App Fairness (CAF), said in a statement. “As this case unfolds in the coming years more must be done now to end the anticompetitive practices of all mobile app gatekeepers.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In its sweeping lawsuit filed in New Jersey federal court on Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department alleged that Apple violated antitrust laws by undermining apps and products that could compete with Apple or that could make customers less reliant on its iPhone systems, such as its digital wallet.

The U.S. case follows similar legal actions brought against Apple in the European Union, the United Kingdom and Asia, and it addresses some of the Apple policies that Spotify founder/CEO Daniel Ek has railed against for years.

“There’s global consensus that Apple’s abuses of its monopoly power have stifled innovation and threaten the digital economy,” Avery Gardiner, a lawyer and competition policy advocate for Spotify, wrote on X. “The DOJ case makes it clear that Apple harms the developers and creators who are hard at work to build the very best products and services for consumers.”

Both CAF and Gardiner acknowledged the DOJ’s case will take time to have any impact, and they urged Congress to pass The Open App Markets Act, a bill Ek has lobbied for since it was introduced in August 2021.

The Open App Markets Act would bar Apple, Google and other app stores with more than 50 million users from forcing app developers to use their payment systems as a condition of distribution. It would also block app store owners from punishing app developers if they extend deals to customers or offer their app for lower prices elsewhere.

Ek has argued that Apple and others act as anti-competitive gatekeepers because the terms required for inclusion in their app stores prevent Spotify and others from telling consumers about potentially cheaper bundle options, like Spotify’s duo and family plans. Currently, Spotify has to send customers to its website to sign up for those plans.

The Justice Department’s case also seeks for Apple to loosen restrictions on its messaging tools and to add features to the Apple wallet. Gardiner and CAF praised the case for what they described as an attempt to level the playing field.

“Competition is the foundation of innovation, and [this case] represents the latest step in the fight for a fair and competitive internet,” Gardiner wrote.

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