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Apple gets fined nearly $2 billion by EU over music streaming rules; Apple will appeal

Apple App Store is sued by developers

Apple may be hyping up the launch of some new MacBook Air notebooks today, but the folks in Cupertino also got hit with a massive fine from the European Union today as well. The EU's regulatory body, the European Commission, has imposed a €1.8 billion ($1.95 billion) fine against Apple, ruling that the company was "abusing its dominant position" with its App Store rules in the music streaming industry.

The music streaming service Spotify first complained to the EC in March 2019 about Apple, claiming it forced its App Store payment rules on the company and limited how Spotify could inform customers about alternative payment options. The EC launched a formal investigation into Spotify's complaint against Apple in 2020.

In today's press release, the EC stated it agreed with Spotify. It said:

The Commission's investigation found that Apple bans music streaming app developers from fully informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services available outside of the app and from providing any instructions about how to subscribe to such offers.

The press release added that Apple's actions violated the EU's antitrust rules. The "anti-steering provisions" that Apple put in place made iOS owners pay much more money for music streaming services, according to the EC.

apple anti-steering

This is the first fine ever imposed on Apple by the EC. It's also far more than the €500 million amount that some media outlets claimed the EC was going to put in place just a few weeks ago.

Apple posted a lengthy response to the EC's fine on its news site. It said Spotify and others allow people to subscribe to its paid services on websites outside of the App Store. It also points out that in Europe, Spotify has a 56 percent share of the music streaming market.

The company says those factors and others show Apple is not participating in anti-competitive behavior. It added that the upcoming enforcement of the EU's Digital Markets Act later this week will cause Apple to make changes to its App Store rules and that this new fine is "an effort by the Commission to enforce the DMA before the DMA becomes law." Apple says it plans to appeal the fine and rulings by the EC.

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