Jan 24, 2024 - Technology

Spotify previews new EU app with App Store bypass

Illustration of podcast symbol with headphones on and smiling

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Spotify will unveil a newly designed iPhone app in March that takes advantage of options that weren't possible before the EU's Digital Markets Act takes effect around then, per a preview shared with Axios.

Driving the news: Thanks to the EU's major tech competition law, Spotify will soon be able to advertise promotions and enable purchases for products like audiobooks in the app without having to go through Apple, and without paying Apple a 30% commission.

  • Spotify and other apps like Sonos have been fighting for policies like the DMA for years. A similar law, the Open App Markets Act, fizzled out in U.S., but supporters expect re-introduction soon and are still fighting for it, Axios previously reported.

What they're saying: "With the Digital Markets Act rolling out, your Spotify is about to become a whole lot better, and that means more opportunities for developers and creators everywhere," a Spotify release reads.

  • "It should be this easy for every single Spotify customer everywhere. But if you live outside certain markets, you will continue to encounter frustrating roadblocks because of Apple's ridiculous rules," the company writes in the release.
  • "That's why developers everywhere are continuing to ask other governments to pass their own laws like the DMA."
  • Apple has argued such laws would hurt user security and open up iPhones to spam and degraded user experiences.

How it works: Spotify's preview highlights the ability to tell users the pricing for Premium or Family accounts and to provide links to pay directly through Spotify.

  • The new experience also lets users see when audiobooks are on sale and pay for them in the app, which currently is not allowed on Spotify.
  • Spotify also wants to roll out alternative app stores and give creators and artists the ability to download apps like Spotify for Artists or Creators directly off the Spotify site instead of the App Store.

Yes, but: Apple has not yet made clear how it will change the App Store to comply with the DMA, and may have different ideas for how apps like Spotify are going to operate under the new law.

  • Already, the tech giant is arguing with the European Commission over how the App Store is treated by the law, saying its app stores for iPhones, iPads, laptops, Apple TVs and Apple Watches should be considered separate.
  • Bloomberg reported last week that Apple plans to split the App Store into a version for EU users and another version for everyone else.

Be smart: App makers like Spotify should be prepared for anything. After the Supreme Court upheld part of a ruling in Apple's litigation with Epic Games, Apple allowed developers to advertise alternative payment methods — but slapped on a 27% commission for such transactions.

What we're watching: If Apple adopts this strategy with the EU, its regulators will have to decide whether that approach conforms to the DMA.

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