The crux of the matter revolves around Apple’s alleged “anti-steering” rules, accused of inhibiting platforms like Spotify from effectively promoting alternative payment methods.
This ruling – set to impact not only the music-streaming industry but also any software requiring a monthly subscription – is currently awaiting finalisation with a formal decision expected early next year, according to Bloomberg.
Sources suggest that along with the ruling, Apple will face penalties and a potential outright ban on the contentious practice. Financial repercussions for Apple could be substantial—with experts hinting at a fine reaching up to ten percent of its annual global revenue, translating to a figure of almost $40 billion.
However, the EU’s approach leans towards rectifying abusive practices rather than solely relying on hefty fines as a deterrent. Therefore, the crux of the matter lies in Apple conforming to EU regulations and putting an end to anti-steering practices within Europe.
This regulatory scrutiny could potentially bring an end to Apple’s restrictive policies that prohibited rival streaming services, like Spotify, from including links to their own subscription sign-ups within third-party apps. While Apple has slightly relaxed these restrictions, the EU ruling may further chip away at these constraints.
The EU regulatory commission’s focus remains on accusations that Apple impeded companies from advertising alternative subscription methods, leaving in-app purchases untouched. Notably, a separate investigation is ongoing into Apple’s tap-to-pay technology.
The ramifications of this decision extend beyond European borders. A similar antitrust case is unfolding in the US, led by Epic Games against Apple. While a judge has already sided with Epic, Apple’s recent appeal to the Supreme Court has granted a temporary reprieve that allows the tech giant to maintain its current App Store practices.
Nonetheless, the global reach of Apple means that changes prompted by a few countries could have widespread implications—as demonstrated in Apple’s recent shift towards USB-C ports following EU rules.
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