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EU questions whether Apple has changed anything after its $1.95 billion fine

EU flags in Brussels

Following the European Union's fining Apple for blocking music streaming firms from promoting cheaper alternatives to the App Store, regulators are assessing whether Apple has now complied.

The $1.95 billion fine on March 4, 2024, was specifically regarding this anti-steering issue. Apple at the time objected, saying that the EU had failed "to uncover any credible evidence of consumer harm."

According to Bloomberg, Apple has subsequently accepted the EU's decision. In a change made on Friday to the App Store rules, Apple said it will no longer block developers in the EU from linking out to alternative methods of payment.

However, it will still charge a 27% fee for subscriptions bought this way.

Now according to gamesfray, the EU is "currently assessing whether Apple has fully complied with the decision."

This could in theory be the latest of multiple compliance investigations brought by the EU against Apple. However, it's unlikely to be a full compliance investigation along the lines of the previous inquiry, because the answer should be plain.

It will be straightforward for the EU to spot whether Apple has really lifted its anti-steering processes. Then although Spotify continues to complain over Apple's fees, there is nothing in the Digital Markets Act that says Apple can't charge for sales generated through links on App Store apps.

Spotify claims to not agree and has recently re-issued a comment that was originally made before Apple was fined.

"Following the law is not optional, but Apple continues to defy that decision," said Spotify's Jeanne Moran. "Effective April 6th, the Commission can start noncompliance proceedings and impose daily fines."

"It's time for decisive action to once and for all give consumers real choice," continued Moran. The statement about consumer choice comes despite 56% of streaming consumers having already chosen Spotify over Amazon Music, YouTube Music, and Apple Music, in that order.

Apple's latest App Store rules include a section about how "music streaming apps in specific regions can use Music Streaming Services Entitlements to include a link (which may take the form of a buy button) to the developer's website to purchase digital music content or services."