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Apple Blocks Spotify Update

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Apple Music Antitrust Court Case

When given the choice, as with Mac OS X, a lot of developers opt out of the App Store completely. In the case of Spotify, Apple just hosts the app. They do not host the music. Running a high scale music streaming service that “just works” is something Spotify does well. Apple… uh, not so great. In fact, all of Apple’s server-side endeavors are less reliable than their competitors’. They do not have the industry standard “five nines” uptime (99.999% server availability). Apple’s services are constantly going offline. Why should Spotify pay $36 per app download, per year, in perpetuity for the App Store? It’s extortion. They can’t deliver their app to iOS users with a third-party app market. User’s can’t download the app from Spotify’s website.

Apple is Violating Antitrust Laws

In the 1990s, Microsoft was sued by the U.S. government because they included the Internet Explorer browser in Windows. Microsoft did not prevent installation of other browsers. Indeed, it’s difficult to download another browser when you don’t have one to begin with. Few people knew how to use FTP. You’d also need to know the FTP address for Netscape. Nonetheless, they settled this lawsuit and changed their practices.

Apple is doing something far worse. They completely control app installation on iOS. Users have no way to side-load apps onto iOS. Developers can only distribute their apps through the App Store. This is a classic robber baron tactic. They control the railroad and can charge farmers whatever they want to transport their crops to market. They’re now trying to take Spotify’s farm by gradually bleeding them dry. Perhaps this strategy was conceived by someone who attended a famous robber baron’s namesake university?

This anti-competitive behavior is actually against the law. Yes, it’s Apple’s App Store, but the customers have no choice on iOS. Users can only install apps from the App Store. That’s unlike any other OS out there. Even the Mac can side-load apps, for now. You can jailbreak, but Apple tries to thwart that. The antitrust laws that thwarted robber barons of the past apply to Apple. The problem is, Apple can tie this up in the courts and bankrupt Spotify in the process. They may pay a small fine and get a slap on the wrist. It’s a small consequence for dominating the music industry.

Apple Needs to Allow Side-Loading Apps on iOS

I think the best solution would be if Apple were forced to allow side-loading apps from third-party app markets or websites. They can put up the notifications to scare people into thinking it’s malware, which they do on the Mac. What they have now is monopolistic and anti-competitive, to the extent that it is illegal.

Apple has so many advantages, and they already picked Spotify’s brain to create Apple Music. They had a free ride on all the negotiations that put together music streaming deals. How much more harm can they do to Spotify, an app that is loved by so many users around the world?

iPhone sales are in decline. Apple needs to show that Apple Music is a success. They seem incapable of building a better product than Spotify, despite their vast resources. Instead, they have resorted to cheap tricks. (continue…)

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