Apple gets fined nearly $2 billion by the EU for hindering music streaming competition

EU Commission vice president Margrethe Vestager addresses the media on Apple Music streaming services at EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, March 4, 2024. Vestager addressed the media after the 27-nation bloc slapped a massive 1.8 billion fine on Apple for allegedly abusing its dominant position when it comes to music streaming services. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

LONDON — The European Union leveled its first antitrust penalty against Apple on Monday, fining the U.S. tech giant nearly $2 billion for unfairly favoring its own music streaming service by forbidding rivals like Spotify from telling users how they could pay for cheaper subscriptions outside of iPhone apps.

Apple muzzled streaming services from telling users about payment options available through their websites, which would avoid the 30% fee charged when people pay through apps downloaded with the iOS App Store, said the European Commission, the 27-nation bloc’s executive arm and top antitrust enforcer.


“This is illegal. And it has impacted millions of European consumers who were not able to make a free choice as to where, how and at what price to buy music streaming subscriptions,” Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, said at a news conference in Brussels.

Apple — which contests the decision — behaved this way for a decade, resulting in “millions of people who have paid two, three euros more per month for their music streaming service than they would otherwise have had to pay,” she said.

It’s the culmination of a bitter, yearslong feud between Apple and Spotify over music streaming supremacy. A complaint from the Swedish streaming service five years ago triggered the investigation that led to the 1.8 billion-euro ($1.95 billion) fine.

The decision comes the same week new rules take effect to prevent tech giants from cornering digital markets.

The EU has led global efforts to crack down on Big Tech companies, including three fines for Google totaling more than 8 billion euros, charging Meta with distorting the online classified ad market and forcing Amazon to change its business practices.

Apple’s fine is so high because it includes an extra lump sum to deter it from offending again or other tech companies from carrying out similar offenses, the commission said.

It’s not the only penalty that the tech giant could face: Apple is still trying to resolve a separate EU antitrust investigation into its mobile payments service by promising to open up its tap-and-go mobile payment system to rivals.

Apple hit back at the commission and Spotify, saying it would appeal Monday’s fine.

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