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4 Mar, 2024 17:18

EU fines Apple $2 billion

The US tech giant has been accused of abusing its dominant position in the market for the distribution of music streaming apps
EU fines Apple $2 billion

The EU announced on Monday it has fined tech giant Apple €1.84 billion ($2 billion) for breaking the bloc’s competition laws. This is the company’s first ever EU antitrust penalty.

According to the EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, the company prevented rival music streaming services such as Spotify from telling iPhone users that they could find cheaper ways to subscribe outside of Apple’s app store.

Apple has “abused its dominant position” as a distributor of music streaming apps, the EU’s competition and digital chief Margrethe Vestager said, adding that European consumers did not have “a free choice as to where, how and at what prices to buy music streaming subscriptions.”

“This is illegal and it has impacted millions of European consumers,” Vestager stated during a press conference.

Apple has disputed the accusations, warning it would challenge the decision, which was “reached despite the Commission’s failure to uncover any credible evidence of consumer harm” in court. The EC’s decision “ignores the realities of a market that is thriving, competitive, and growing fast,” the company said in a statement.

“The primary advocate for this decision – and the biggest beneficiary – is Spotify, a company based in Stockholm, Sweden. Spotify has the largest music streaming app in the world, and has met with the European Commission more than 65 times during this investigation,” Apple claimed.

The EC opened a formal antitrust investigation into Apple in 2020 after Spotify lodged a complaint against the US company the previous year, accusing it of unfairly disadvantaging its competitors. The Swedish firm on Monday cheered the EC’s ruling, calling it “an important moment in the fight for a more open internet for consumers.”

Apple’s policies have also drawn the attention of antitrust regulators. Last month, the company said it would allow EU customers to download apps without going through its own app store, a response to the bloc’s Digital Markets Act.