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Apple says it already changed its rules enough to satisfy Spotify EU complaint

Spotify's App Store icon (left), Apple Music (right)

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The European Union is to hear Apple's argument on Friday, against an anti-steering accusation that was initiated by Spotify, and could lead to an almost $40 billion fine.

Back in 2019, Spotify complained to the EU that Apple was abusing its monopoly by forcing developers to use the App Store's payment system. At the same time, the music streamer claimed that Apple was also unfairly denying it the ability to inform users of lower prices on its website.

In response, the EU began an investigation, and in 2021 issued a preliminary report. That report did say that Apple was in breach of EU laws over the promotion restrictions, or anti-steering measures, but not the App Store payment issue.

Spotify did not take that ruling well.

As part of the preliminary report, though, the EU issued Apple with a Statement of Objections, to which the company must respond.

Now, according to Reuters, European Commission officials and what are described as their peers in national competition agencies, will hold a closed session with Apple.

In the session scheduled for Friday, Apple is expected to argue that Spotify's complaint about the dominance of Apple Music has no merit. Currently Spotify is the dominant streamer in Europe, with Apple Music reportedly coming in either third or fourth place over most EU countries.

Apple is also expected to argue that it has revised its rules so that what it calls "reader apps," such as Spotify, can link to their websites for account setup and management.

It's not clear when the European Commission will issue a final ruling after this hearing. But if Apple is still deemed to have breached the anti-steering laws, it could face a fine of $39.4 billion.