The European Commission has taken the first step in an investigation into Apple’s position in the music-streaming market, following a complaint by Spotify.
The EU body has sent Apple a Statement of Objections, saying it had abused its dominant position in the distribution of music-streaming apps through its App Store.
Companies developing music-streaming apps must use Apple's own in-app purchase mechanism, in order to distribute their apps through the App Store.
Apple charges developers a 30% commission on subscriptions bought, which the EU’s competition body says is passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.
The commission is also concerned that Apple imposes certain restrictions on app developers that prevent them from informing iPhone and iPad users of alternative, cheaper purchasing possibilities.
“By setting strict rules on the App Store that disadvantage competing music-streaming services, Apple deprives users of cheaper music streaming choices and distorts competition,” said the commission’s executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager (pictured).
The Statement of Objections concerns the application of these rules to all music-streaming apps that compete with Apple's own Apple Music app in the European Economic Area (EEA).
The move is Vestager's latest tussle with Apple, after the General Court of the EU last year ruled in favour of the company and Ireland in their appeal against a 2016 European Commission decision which ordered the tech giant to pay more than €13 billion in back taxes to Ireland. The commission is to appeal the ruling.