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Photo: Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images

The European Union on Friday charged Apple with antitrust violations, alleging the U.S. company abuses its dominant position in the marketplace, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The European Commission said Apple violated antitrust laws by requiring music-streaming apps to use its in-app payments system to sell digital content, and by charging high commission fees on apps that compete with its music-streaming app, Apple Music.

  • The Commission alleges that Apple also abused its power by limiting how app developers can inform users about cheaper subscription services.

Context: The EU's investigation into Apple stems from a complaint against Apple's commission fees from Spotify, a music streaming app in direct competition with Apple Music.

  • Apple will have a chance to argue against the antitrust charge. If found guilty, the company could face a fine of up to 10% of its annual revenue and will be required to change its business practices.

What they're saying: "Our preliminary conclusion: Apple is in breach of EU competition law. Apple Music compete[s] with other music streaming services. But Apple charges high commission fees on rivals in the App store & forbids them to inform of alternative subscription options. Consumers losing out," EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager tweeted Friday.

  • “Ensuring the iOS platform operates fairly is an urgent task with far-reaching implications. The European Commission’s Statement of Objections is a critical step toward holding Apple accountable for its anticompetitive behavior, ensuring meaningful choice for all consumers and a level playing field for app developers," Spotify said in a statement Friday.

The other side: "Spotify has become the largest music subscription service in the world, and we’re proud for the role we played in that," Apple said in a statement Friday.

  • "Spotify does not pay Apple any commission on over 99% of their subscribers, and only pays a 15% commission on those remaining subscribers that they acquired through the App Store."
  • "At the core of this case is Spotify’s demand they should be able to advertise alternative deals on their iOS app, a practice that no store in the world allows. Once again, they want all the benefits of the App Store but don’t think they should have to pay anything for that."
  • "The Commission’s argument on Spotify’s behalf is the opposite of fair competition."

Thought bubble, via Axios' Ashely Gold: The EU decision comes as Apple comes under increasing scrutiny for its App Store practices in the U.S. Expect Apple to fight hard on both fronts.

The big picture: Epic Games, the developer of the video game Fortnite, filed a similar antitrust complaint against Apple's in-app payment system in February.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Updated Jul 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

Robinhood stumbles out of the gate

Data: YCharts Chart: Axios

Robinhood, the company that was founded to disrupt Wall Street, was taught a painful lesson by Wall Street investors on Thursday.

Why it matters: Robinhood attempted to revolutionize the initial stock offering by allocating a large number of shares to its own small-dollar investors. Those investors are now sitting on a significant loss, even as Robinhood's multibillionaire founders both sold about $50 million of shares at the IPO price.

25 mins ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.