Yesterday Kara Swisher of the New York Times interviewed the EU Competiton Commissioner Margrethe Vestager who has over the years investigated and/or charged Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook with massive fines. Our report focuses on the part of the interview that relates to Vestager's work against Apple and more specifically on the work focusing on ending the App Store as we know it.
Although Apple won their case in Europe over a $15 billion Irish tax bill, Vestager made it clear that the new laws in Europe are close to being finalized, intimating that the appeal should go their way against Apple. Vestager was also happy to say that President Biden's policies will now support their positions taken against U.S. tech companies.
Swisher: So I want to also know what’s going on with the Spotify case. You’ve accused Apple’s App Store of antitrust violations, basically alleging the App Store gives preferential treatment to Apple’s music streaming service. If Apple loses, it could face a fine of up to 10% of its annual turnover. Fines make good headlines, but are fines the right remedy when it’s really needed is to change bad behaviors? Talk a little bit about this case.
Vestager: Yeah, the Apple music streaming case is about the way Apple treats competitors to their own products. Here, you have Apple Music. Then you have Spotify, Deezer, SoundCloud — those will be familiar European names, at least. And here, if you want to subscribe, you will have to pay a 30% commission fee. And also, if for instance, you’re then Spotify, you cannot tell your subscribers that you can get it without the commission fee if you sign up via the Spotify website. And that lack of communication that is simply forbidden of course makes it really difficult, because if you sign up for Apple music, you’re not paying the commission fee.