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What Spotify CEO Daniel Ek finds mind-boggling about Apple and Google

Best of foes, Spotify and Apple are at it again: Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek spoke to the Financial Times, taking aim at the Cupertino giant yet again.

“I find it insane that two companies [Apple and Google] essentially control how over 4 billion consumers access the internet around the world. Not only are they dictating the rules, they also compete directly downstream with those providers”, Daniel Ek said, adding the UK legislation needed to ensure that “if you want to be the referee you can’t also be the player” in the digital market.

According to Ek, his problem with Apple is not so much about the cost of using the App Store but that Apple is so “dominant” for a large group of consumers, functioning as a “gatekeeper” while also offering competing services.

“Imagine that this was a mall and literally half of the UK population is in this mall,” Ek says, adding that businesses competing directly with Apple were forced to pay commission on in-app sales. “That’s where it becomes anti-competitive. This is for every single developer. More and more of these developers are now finding that Apple is a competitor” (via 9to5Mac).

A brief history of a true passion

Spotify and Apple just love each other: we’ve covered their beef as far back as 2012 when Spotify executives were asked about Spotify’s then much-delayed entrance into the US. While they didn’t directly blame it on Apple, hints were made on why negotiations and licensing agreements took 128 weeks, instead of the expected 6-12 weeks.Then came 2018, when Samsung collaborated with Spotify in order for both parties to secure themselves against Apple Music.

Things got real in 2019, when the founder and CEO of Spotify, Daniel Ek, announced that Spotify had filed a formal complaint against Apple with the European Commission (EC). The problem was (is) that when it comes to Apple Music and the App Store, the company gives itself an unfair advantage, violating EC antitrust regulations. Daniel Ek says that Apple does this through the “Apple Tax” – the 30% of monthly subscription fees that Apple takes on subscriptions made through its own payment system.

In March 2023, an open letter (by Spotify and 7 other companies) was sent to the Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager. In the letter, the companies request “swift and decisive action” to be taken from the European Commission against “anti-competitive and unfair practices by certain global digital gatekeepers” – namely Apple.

Just a few weeks ago, in September 2023, a statement from Spotify was released, accusing Apple of playing an unfair game on which it claims “the future of the internet economy depends”.

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