June 20, 2024
Spotify, Epic Games and others pen letter to EC, claiming Apple has made a 'mockery' of the DMA

The Coalition for App Fairness (CAF) released a statement on Thursday cheering on the Department of Justice’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple. The group includes a number of key app makers, including Epic Games, Spotify, Deezer, Match Group, Proton and others.

“With today’s announcement, the Department of Justice is taking a strong stand against Apple’s stranglehold over the mobile app ecosystem, which stifles competition and hurts American consumers and developers alike,” said Rick VanMeter, executive director of the CAF. “The DOJ complaint details Apple’s long history of illegal conduct – abusing their App Store guidelines and developer agreements to increase prices, extract exorbitant fees, degrade user experiences, and choke off competition. The DOJ joins regulators around the world, who have recognized the many harms of Apple’s abusive behavior and are working to address it.”

Some of the CAF’s members, like Epic and Spotify, have been embroiled in high-profile legal proceedings over Apple’s anticompetitive practices.

For years, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has been vocal about his displeasure with Apple’s 30% cut of in-app payments, which he thinks is monopolistic and predatory. In 2020, Epic made it possible for Fortnite players to pay Epic directly, rather than giving a cut to Apple. Then, Apple removed Epic from the App Store, which sparked a slew of legal proceedings. Though Epic has seen some victories — now, developers are allowed to route users to alternative payment methods — Apple has not been proven to be a monopoly in any of these lawsuits. 

As the Digital Markets Act (DMA) took effect in the European Union, Spotify has become more antagonistic toward Apple. The DMA was supposed to facilitate competition in the EU, but Spotify called Apple’s plans for DMA compliance — which add additional developer fees — “a complete and total farce.”

In a thread on X, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said: “I was skeptical of Apple’s intentions to comply after years of watching them get away with such extreme abuse with all the ways they skirt regulations around the world. Who wouldn’t be? But the law is the law, right? Not if you are Apple…”

But Apple sees the CAF as the bad guy. In a briefing with journalists about the DOJ’s antitrust lawsuit, Apple displayed a slide that positioned the CAF as part of a web of corporations trying to take Apple down for their own gain.

In a statement, Apple said: “This lawsuit threatens who we are and the principles that set Apple products apart in fiercely competitive markets. If successful, it would hinder our ability to create the kind of technology people expect from Apple—where hardware, software, and services intersect. It would also set a dangerous precedent, empowering government to take a heavy hand in designing people’s technology. We believe this lawsuit is wrong on the facts and the law, and we will vigorously defend against it.”

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