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Spotify says Apple a 'monopolist' in escalating war of words

Spotify described Apple as a "monopolist" late Friday, dissecting the latter's reaction to a competition complaint Spotify submitted to the European Commission.

"Every monopolist will suggest they have done nothing wrong and will argue that they have the best interests of competitors and consumers at heart," a Spotify representative told Variety. "In that way, Apple's response to our complaint before the European Commission is not new and is entirely in line with our expectations.

"We filed our complaint because Apple's actions hurt competition and consumers, and are in clear violation of the law," the person continued. "This is evident in Apple's belief that Spotify's users on iOS are Apple customers and not Spotify customers, which goes to the very heart of the issue with Apple. We respect the process the European Commission must now undertake to conduct its review."

Apple's statement, released earlier on Friday, claimed that Spotify is disguising "financial motivations in misleading rhetoric about who we are, what we've built and what we do to support independent developers, musicians, songwriters and creators of all stripes," further attacking the Swedish service for joining Amazon, Google, and SiriusXM/Pandora in opposing higher royalty rates for songwriters.

It barely touched on Spotify's main argument though, which is that Apple has constructed barriers making it hard for third-party services to compete. In the case of on-demand music, Apple takes a 30 percent cut from new in-app subscriptions, and 15 percent from those a over a year old. Apple Music doesn't have any such split, and is moreover integrated across Apple platforms in a way third parties aren't allowed — HomePod owners can't set Spotify as their default music service, for example.

Apple's most direct response was suggesting that Spotify wants "all those benefits [of the App Store] while also retaining 100 percent of the revenue," pointing out that it supplies development resources, a platform, and a secure payment system.

Spotify did offer in-app subscriptions at one point, but charged more to compensate for Apple's take, and ultimately decided to scrap the option. Another complaint developers have had is that they're not allowed to direct people to Web-based purchase options, which means Spotify subscribers have to learn elsewhere about how to unlock a Premium plan.