Apple Writes Scathing Response to Spotify’s Request for “Preferential Treatment”


It took only a few days for Apple to issue an official response to Spotify’s claims that the company is using its App Store approval process as a “weapon”.


In a letter sent today to Spotify general counsel Horacio Gutierrez — obtained by BuzzFeed News — Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell says the company finds it “troubling” that Spotify is “asking for exemptions to the rules we apply to all developers and are publicly resorting to rumors and half-truths about our service.”

Sewell points to the 160 million downloads the Spotify app has had since it has been available in the App Store and the millions of dollars in “incremental revenue” the storefront has brought to the music streaming service. Gutierrez says Apple insisted on using its billing system to sell subscriptions (which means Apple takes a 30% cut, obviously), which prompted him to characterize the move as anticompetitive.

This looks different from Apple’s perspective, so, as a result, the company (and owner of the platform) disagrees. Sewell says the same rules apply to all app developers, and the App Store guidelines “help competition, not hurt it.” He goes on to mention that competition has never influenced how the company treats Spotify or Google Play Music, Tidal, Amazon Music, Pandora, or others.

“Ironically, it is now Spotify that wants things to be different by asking for preferential treatment from Apple”, Sewell notes.

He closes by saying that the Spotify app is still in violation of the App Store’s guidelines, and urges Gutierrez to submit an app that complies with the rules. He then and offers his help: “I would be happy to facilitate an expeditious review and approval of your app as soon as you provide us with something that is compliant with the App Store’s rules.”


  • SkAshe

    He totally missed the argument of Spotify. Every subscription music service has to pay 30% to Apple while Apple can just sell their subscription for a lower price since they don’t have to pay the 30% which clearly give them an advantage over every other music subscription service.

  • HereHere

    To make even costs with other ios streamers Apple should pay 30% of thier Apple Music subscription revenue to non profit artist support associations.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Apple called what Spotify said to be “rumors and half-truths about our service.” Well, at least Apple admits what they said was half true 😉

  • Brad Fortin

    Apple only charges 30% if a customer signs up through the App Store. If a customer signs up on Spotify’s website there’s no 30% cut.

    The 30% cut is the cost of doing business through the App Store. A lot of people forget that the App Store is just that: A store. Like with any other store in the world, digital or physical, the store owner takes a cut of all sales in the store.

  • Brad Fortin

    Why? If people sign up for Spotify via the Spotify website does Spotify give 30% of their subscription revenue to non profit artist support associations? What about Google Play Music? Slacker? Pandora? Groove Music? No.

    The 30% cut is to help run the store, and just about every store in the world works the same way. You think WalMart, Best Buy, Target, etc, don’t take a cut from the sales in the store? Of course they do, they have a store to run. Just because the App Store is digital instead of physical doesn’t mean it’s free of operating costs.

  • Nick

    I don’t really understand why Spotify doesn’t just remove the Apple Store subscriptions and just replace it with a web page sign up in app. Just like the xbox and playstation apps.

  • Brad Fortin

    I think having a web sign-up page in the app also violates the App Store rules, although I don’t think it’s as strictly enforced.

  • They can easily link to the URL (which would open out of app in the default web browser)

  • Brad Fortin

    I think the rule is basically “users have to find their own way to subscribe outside the app, no links, no emails, etc”.