Affiliate Disclosure
If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Read our ethics policy.

Apple faces 500M euro fine following EU music probe

EU flags

Apple may be the target of a 500 million euro ($538 million) fine from the European Commission, with the regulator expected to impose the charge following its competition probe into how it treats Apple Music's competitors.

The European Commission has been investigating whether Apple broke antitrust laws following a 2019 complaint from Spotify, which resulted in a 2020 probe launch. Almost four years later, the European Commission is allegedly preparing to hand out punishments.

According to five people with knowledge of the investigation, the Financial Times reports that the Commission is expected to announce a fine against Apple early in March. The fine, thought to be in the ballpark of 500 million euro, will supposedly be accompanied by a ruling that Apple broke EU laws with its App Store anti-steering rules.

As part of the ruling and fine, Apple also faces being banned from preventing music streaming services from advising customers that they could get a better deal elsewhere than the App Store and the In-App Purchases system. These will apparently be referred to by the EU as "unfair trading conditions."

The wording of the report seemingly indicates the ban will be limited only to streaming services, with Apple potentially still able to apply them against other types of apps.

The timing of the ruling coincides with Apple's efforts to abide by the EU Digital Markets Act, which enables sideloading of third-party app stores and other rule changes affecting only EU citizens, including allowing alternative payment services to be used. Long-time courtroom rival Epic Games already plans to take advantage of the changes, with a return of "Fortnite" to the App Store in EU member states.

In the United States, the anti-steering rules are being changed following the Epic-Apple legal fight, but with significant limitations that make it difficult for developers to actually use.