Apple Fined €1.8 Billion for Keeping iOS Users Away From Other Music Apps

Apple is still not out of hot waters for abusing its dominant position on iOS and other platforms. This time, Apple is being hit with a whopping €1.8 billion fine for so-called ‘anti-steering provisions’ in the market for the distribution of music streaming apps to iOS and iPadOS users through its App Store.

The European Commission (EC) has found that:

Apple applied restrictions on app developers preventing them from informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services available outside of the app.

Under the EU antitrust rules, this is deemed illegal according to the EC. The official press release from EC states that the investigation on the matter also found that Apple is not only restricting app developers from fully informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscriptions but also prevents them from providing instructions on how to subscribe to alternative offers.

On iOS, users have the option to subscribe to third-party music streaming services either via the App Store or directly through the service’s website. Opting for the latter route proves to be more cost-effective, as Apple does not take a commission, unlike its App Store counterpart. However, the platform’s policy prohibits any advertisement of this pricing disparity, likely driven by Apple’s financial interests. This crucial detail might escape the notice of those not closely following tech developments.

These restrictions prevent app developers from even including links in their apps to lead users to their websites for subscriptions. They can’t even contact iOS users via email to inform them of alternative options for music streaming.

The decision to impose a €1.8 billion fine aims to serve as a significant deterrent for Apple and other large companies considering similar infringements. In addition to the hefty penalty, the European Commission (EC) has mandated that Apple remove the anti-steering provisions and avoid any repetition of such infringements in the future or any practices with similar objectives or effects.

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